Summer High School Internship Program -- 2016 Project List

The Summer High School Internship Program is a collaboration between the Sonoma County Office of Education and SSU School of Science and Technology. This year's projects are in the areas of Astronomy, Biology, Chemistry, Computer Science, Engineering Science, Environmental Studies and Planning, Kinesiology, Nursing, and Physics.

Astronomy (1 project)

ASTR-1: Rocketry Experimentation and Investigations

Faculty Mentor: Dr. Lynn Cominsky, Department of Physics and Astronomy and SSU E/PO Group

Project Description:

Prof. Cominsky will be developing a rocketry-based curriculum for community college students, in which students will build model rockets and also scientific payloads with microcontrollers that take environmental data using on-board sensors. The selected SHIP intern will assist in testing elements of this curriculum, and may be able to attend a training and launch event, depending on the schedule.

Biology (1 project)

BIO-1: Gradients in Metabolic Performance Across a Dynamic Intertidal Zone

Faculty Mentor: Dr. Mackenzie Zippay, Department of Biology

Project Description:

Intertidal invertebrates experience some of the most extreme and rapidly changing environmental conditions on Earth, and species in these habitats display a wide array of morphological, physiological, and behavioral and life history adaptations that allow them to thrive in the face of change. Recent evidence suggests that local and biogeographic shifts in intertidal species distributions can result not only from lethal exposures to rare, extreme events, but also from more chronic exposures to sublethal stressors that limit growth and reproduction, and ultimately lead to energetic failure. Animals try to cope with variable environments by altering their cellular stress response. This process is energetically expensive and organisms need to protect metabolic scope by minimizing energy loss when environmental stressors such as low oxygen, sublethal temperatures and decreased food challenges their performance.

This project will enable the intern to gain valuable techniques in the laboratory and assist in the collection of marine mussels in the intertidal. They will help perform biochemical assays for understanding how energy is utilized and conserved during aerial exposure, when the animal is most likely to be impacted by thermal challenges. This work can aid in understanding whether these intertidal mussels truly "shut down" metabolic processes when out of the water, and if so, how does this impact their overall physiological performance.

Chemistry (2 projects)

CHEM-1: Cell Surface Receptor (BAFF-R) and the Molecule (RNA Aptamer) that Specifically Binds it in Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma

Faculty Mentor: Dr. Monica Lares, Department of Chemistry

Project Description:

Current cancer therapies such as surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy can leave residual tumor cells and cause unwanted side effects due to the lack of specificity of current treatments. Aptamers are used in targeted cancer therapy which more precisely identify and attack cancer cells, while leaving unaffected cells unharmed. In non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma there is increased expression of a protein, B-cell activating factor (BAFF), and its cell surface receptor, BAFF-R. Upon binding to its receptor, BAFF increases cancerous B-cell multiplication and survival, allowing cancer cells to proliferate faster than healthy B-cells. An RNA aptamer has been identified that binds BAFF-R with high specificity and affinity, blocking BAFF binding. The aptamer has also been shown to successfully deliver therapeutic reagents that are taken up by the cell and causes the cell to die. However the specific interactions between the RNA aptamer and the BAFF-R protein are unknown. In order to identify these essential interactions this project has the following specific goals: 1) Synthesize and purify the RNA aptamer using PCR and in vitro transcription; 2) Express and purify WT BAFF-R and mutants; 3) Using gel-shift assays and DMS footprinting, identify amino acids of BAFF-R and the nucleotides of its RNA aptamer that are key for their interaction. This contribution will be significant because it will provide the details that allow for fine- tune engineering of aptamers to be used in target cancer therapies, thus improving quality of life and more successful clinical outcomes for patients will B-cell malignancies. The proposed research is innovative, in my opinion, because this is a new way to target B-cells that is currently underdeveloped and therefore underutilized.

CHEM-2: Designing a 3D Printable Spectrometer

Faculty Mentor: Dr. Mark Perri, Department of Chemistry

Project Description:

Low-cost instrumentation is very important to high schools and undergraduate universities. Low-cost instrumentation tends to be the do-it-yourself type, which actually adds value to a student’s program. I propose to build a 3D printable spectrometer at low cost for use in high school and undergraduate laboratories. The spectrometer will be simple enough to be assembled by a student, thus taking away the black-box nature of most of our laboratory work. The spectrometer will consist of a 3D printed enclosure housing a a light source (LED), gear driven turntable with prism (monochromator), a cuvette holder, and a detector (LED with op-amp). A digital multimeter or Labview with an analog-to-digital converter will be used to record absorbance data.

Computer Science (1 project)

CS-1: Using Machine Learning Techniques for Recognizing Object Categories from Brain Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging Scans

Faculty Mentor: Dr. Gurman Gill, Department of Computer Science

Project Description:

Machine learning is a branch of computer science in which the computer (the machine) "learns" how to perform a certain task. Specifically, given some input data and the corresponding output, certain algorithms can be implemented to “train” the computer to learn the relationship between them. In this project, the student intern will work with fMRI (functional magnetic resonance imaging) brain scans of six subjects that were recorded upon viewing images of eight object categories. The goal is to employ machine learning techniques to build a model for correlating fMRI scans with the object categories so that it can be used to predict the object category from a new fMRI scan. The student intern will build upon an existing pipeline that performs this task for a single subject to generalize it across several subjects.

Engineering Science (1 project)

ES-1: High-speed, High Spatial Resolution Photochemistry Using 2D Laser Scanning

Faculty Mentor: Derek Decker, Department of Engineering Science

Project Description:

Low cost laser scanners and lasers have become readily available from China. These allow nearly instant access to a billion points from simple electronics. Applying scanned lasers to resist or resin allows for maskless lithography for MEMs or for high-speed, high resolution 3D printing. The student will get to learn and contribute to design, fabrication, testing, and/or the many applications of laser scanning photochemistry.

Environmental Studies and Planning (1 project)

ENSP-1: Estimation of Rural Electricity Demand

Faculty Mentor: Dr. Daniel Soto, Environmental Studies and Planning

Project Description:

Twenty percent of people around the world don't have electricity because it is too expensive to build power lines to where they live. Instead, we can provide solar panels and batteries once we know how many of each are required to give people the energy they want. The goal of this project is to predict the electricity usage of communities that don't yet have it and accurately estimate the panels and batteries needed. This SHIP intern will analyze and compare measurements of the actual electricity used by villages with the expected electricity use from the appliances that the residents tell us they use. The SHIP intern will develop skills in scientific computing and mathematical modeling. Better electricity use predictions can help us bring electricity to more areas.

Kinesiology (1 project)

KIN-1: The Effects of Varying Dosage of Caffeine Intake on Free Throw Accuracy Before and After Exhaustive Intermittent Exercise

Faculty Mentor: Dr. Bülent Sökmen, Department of Kinesiology

Project Description:

Caffeine, a psychoactive drug, has global effects on the sympathetic nervous system (SNS), and it has been shown to upregulate metabolism and muscular functions during exercise. Since caffeine influences the SNS, it has also additional effects on concentration, mental alertness, decrease in fatigue, etc. Although caffeine ingestion might improve cognitive function in many tasks, it is not clear to what extent under stressful and exhaustive conditions, and how the dose of caffeine might influence a given task. Therefore, the purpose of this study is to evaluate the effect that caffeine has on an athlete’s ability to concentrate on shooting free throws before and after physical exertion. This study will also include a psychological stress, testing the effect of noise on free throw shooting. We will be conducting several exercise protocols with which high school students can help in data collection.

Nursing (1 project)

NURS-1: Quality Improvement for Healthcare of the Uninsured of Sonoma County

Faculty Mentor: Dr. Deborah Roberts, Department of Nursing

Project Description:

Student(s) will work with Dr Deborah A Roberts, Professor and Chair of the Department of Nursing at Sonoma State University and Clinical Director of the Jewish Community Free Clinic (JCFC), on a quality improvement and management research project to improve healthcare for the uninsured patient population of Sonoma County. Located at 50 Montgomery Drive in Santa Rosa, The Jewish Community Free Clinic’s mission is to offer free medical care for anyone in need, without regard to ethnicity, race or religion. They offer an atmosphere of respect, empowerment and partnership with our patients, and strive to assist them in attaining full health and well-being. Each year the clinic provides this care to over 3000 patients.

The student(s) would assist Dr. Roberts in developing a survey tool, implementing with patients and evaluating the patient experience to bring to the Board of Directors outcomes and recommendations based on the research presented. Students will learn population based assessment and the meaning of quality patient experiences in the field of healthcare. The project will provide a sustainable quality assurance program for all patients who have an encounter at the clinic far beyond the scope of the project. For more information about the JCFC please visit the website at Bilingual English/Spanish students are encouraged to apply for this project. The project will provide a sustainable quality assurance program for all patients who have an encounter at the clinic far beyond the scope of the project.

Physics (2 projects)

PHYS-1: Optimization of Surface Condensation through Interfacial Design

Faculty Mentor: Dr. Jeremy Qualls, Department of Physics and Astronomy

Project Description:

SSU is developing and researching novel techniques to harvest water from the air with the potential of meeting future water supply issues. Water continue to be Earth’s most endangered resource and is both a regional and global issue. The project is now at the stage of increasing the efficiency of the device by examining new materials and condenser designs. The selected SHIP student will run diagnostics on existing designs as well as design and construct their own condenser systems with optimal thermal and structural properties. A particular focus will be on developing and analyzing arrays of hydrophilic and hydrophobic strips to enhance efficiency. A starting understanding of materials, basic chemistry and physics will be very useful to the SHIP student. ​

PHYS-2: Nanodiamond Powders and Possible Applications

Faculty Mentor: Dr. Hongtao Shi, Department of Physics and Astronomy

Project Description:

Nanometer (nm) scaled diamond (nanodiamond) particles of 5-70 nm in size have drawn much attention recently due to their unique properties such as extremely large relative surface area, superior hardness, attractive optical characteristics, and excellent chemical stability and biocompatibility. Researchers have demonstrated that these nanoparticles are one of the best delivery agents which shuttle chemotherapy drugs to cells with little negative effects. In this project, we will use the facilities in the Keck Microanalysis laboratory to study the surface morphology and crystal structures of commercially available diamond nanoparticles in different sizes. As-deposited and annealed coatings with and without nanodiamond will be also investigated.