2018 Research Projects

Research Projects by Subject

Each research project will involve background reading for the interns provided by their mentors.
Each research project will involve a final presentation by the interns.

Interns are expected to work collaboratively on the same project and/or data set.
This may preclude rising seniors from submitting papers based on such projects to the Regeneron Science Talent Search competition.


Code Research Project Descriptions
ANT-01 Title:
Right-Wing Politics in Europe
Primary mentor: April Reber
Faculty advisor: Prof. Melissa Caldwell
Location: UCSC Main Campus
Number of interns: 2

Project description:
Racial nationalism – the idea that only one ethnicity should live in and have citizenship in a country – is a major issue in current politics and right-wing or ultra-conservative political movements. This project researches: (a) how German/European right-wing movements collaborate with other nationalist groups; (b) how movements interpret citizenship rights, free speech, and democracy; (c) how such movements use historical symbols as persuasive political tools; and (d) how the German state and EU maintain sovereignty in spite of these ultra-conservative groups. This research project will make use of ethnographic, archival, legal, and statistical data.

The SIP interns will have many opportunities to learn new skills, analyze qualitative and quantitative data, perform research using historical and present-day documents, and follow current events and politics. In addition, the interns may have the chance to research the details of German film and literature as well as to learn from court records from recent Nazi trials. In this role, the SIP interns will get to attend an in-depth week-long workshop to learn Python, participate in collaborative research meetings with experts in the field, and contribute directly to the direction of the research for this project. Weekly reports will also be drafted by the SIP interns to show progress being made and achievements that have been accomplished. SIP interns who are German speakers will fit the needs of the project particularly well.

Required skills for interns prior to acceptance: None
Skills intern(s) will acquire/hone: Computer programming; lab work

Program Week Number: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
Mentor’s availability: ON REM ON ON ON ON REM OFF OFF OFF
Code Research Project Descriptions
ANT-02 Title:
Technology and Oral Story Collection of Indian Immigrants in the USA
Primary mentor: Prof. Annapurna Pandey
Other mentors: Erick Msumanje, Nita Ganapathi
Location: UCSC Main Campus and various South Bay locations
Number of interns: 4

Project description:
These days, one often hears that we human beings are primarily story tellers. We tell stories about ourselves as well as about others. What these stories tell us is the rich experience human beings have acquired in their life. The world in which we live in today is largely created by technology. The mentor and SIP interns will use various tools provided by technology in our digital story telling research. This project will encourage SIP interns to collect stories about the immigrant experience in the United States. For the last three decades the mentor has been working on the Indian diaspora in the Greater Bay Area, California. The mentor has made two films, “Homeland in the Heart” and “Life Giving Ceremony of Jagannath” documenting the Odia people’s (people from the state of Odisha) involvement in building a community and developing a sense of belonging to the United States. The mentor would like to broaden the scope of this research by incorporating experiences of other Indian immigrants.

This project will give an opportunity to SIP interns to collect oral history material about the experiences of immigrant parents, grandparents, and their American-born children, which will include both streaming audio and written transcripts accessible online in digital formats. The mentor and SIP interns will use various available technology tools. The mentor’s aim in this project is to collect interviews of Indian immigrants in the USA. The SIP interns will interview various members of the Indian community and collect their experiences in this country compared to their experience in their homeland that they have left behind. These interviews are a unique source of contemporary history through the experiences of the immigrants. Past studies have shown that this kind of research has revealing consequences for both the researchers as well as the subjects of their research. The tentative plan is for the SIP interns to spend weeks #3–#6 doing off-campus field work in various South Bay locations and to spend the remaining weeks working on the UCSC campus.

Required skills for interns prior to acceptance: None
Skills intern(s) will acquire/hone: Statistical data analysis; field work

Program Week Number: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
Mentor’s availability: ON ON ON REM ON OFF REM ON ON ON

Astronomy & Astrophysics

Code Research Project Descriptions
AST-01 Title:
Using Deep Learning Techniques to Classify Astrophysical, Atmospheric, and Instrumental Features in Keck DEIMOS Spectra
Primary mentor: Prof. Raja GuhaThakurta
Location: UCSC Main Campus
Number of interns: 1

Project description:
The combination of the Keck II 10-m telescope and DEIMOS instrument is arguably the world’s most powerful combination for spectroscopy of faint astronomical objects. Our research group at UCSC has access to a large set of high quality Keck/DEIMOS spectra of a variety of interesting sources ranging from different types of stars in our Milky Way galaxy to galaxies and quasars in the distant Universe. These raw Keck/DEIMOS spectra have been put through a standard data processing pipeline in an effort to remove the Earth’s atmospheric signatures and instrumental signatures. The products of the pipeline include 2D and 1D spectra. The pipeline typically does an imperfect job and a handful of very experienced experts have been able to visually identify a range of residual atmospheric/instrumental artifacts in the pipeline processed data (e.g., cosmic rays, scattered light, bad sky subtraction, bad wavelength solution, telluric absorption, bad extraction windows, etc.) and subtle spectral features (e.g., emission and absorption lines) that allow for the distinction between different types of astrophysical sources. This project plans to employ machine learning/deep learning techniques to classify these astrophysical, atmospheric, and instrumental features in Keck/DEIMOS spectra thereby leveraging the huge investment of time and effort that has already gone into the visual inspection by experts.

The SIP intern will assemble the training datasets required for supervised learning, and use tools like TensorFlow and AutoML to explore different network architectures. They will evaluate the performance and tune several hyperparameters to build the best-performing multi-class classifier. Depending on the initial results, there could be follow-on tasks like collecting more training data. Finally, we may integrate the learned model into the existing data processing pipeline to provide automated filtering of different types of astrophysical sources.

URL: https://www.astro.ucsc.edu/faculty/index.php?uid=pguhatha

Required skills for interns prior to acceptance: Computer programming
Skills intern(s) will acquire/hone: Computer programming

Program Week Number: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
Mentor’s availability: ON ON ON REM ON ON ON ON ON ON
Code Research Project Descriptions
AST-02 Title:
The Globular Cluster Systems of Virgo Cluster Dwarf Galaxies
Primary mentor: Prof. Eric Peng
Faculty advisor: Prof. Raja GuhaThakurta
Other mentors: Youkyung Ko, Alessia Longobardi, Yuting Feng
Location: UCSC Main Campus
Number of interns