2020 UC MEXUS-Conacyt Collaborative Research Grants

Barbara Blanco-Ulate, Plant Science, UC Davis María Elena Santos Cervantes, Biotecnología Agrícola, Centro Interdisciplinario para el Desarrollo Integral Regional Unidad Sinaloa del Instituto Politécnico Nacional

Analysis of the cuticular resistance of papaya fruits (Carica papaya L.) to Colletotrichum gloeosporioides and Colletotrichum truncatum / Análisis de la resistencia cuticular de frutos de papaya (Carica papaya L.) a Colletotrichum gloesporioides y Colletotrichum truncatum

Angela Brooks, Biomolecular Engineering, UC Santa Cruz Rebeca Débora Martínez Contreras, Instituto de Ciencias, Benemérita Universidad Autónoma de Puebla

Identification and reprogramming alternative splicing signatures relevant in prostate and breast cancer for the Mexican population / Identificación y re-programación de firmas de splicing alternativo relevantes para cáncer de próstata y de mama para la población mexicana 

Mu-Chun Chen, Physics and Astronomy, UC Irvine Saúl Ramos Sánchez, Depto. Física Teórica, Instituto de Física, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México

Solving the flavor puzzle of particle physics / Resolviendo el problema de sabor de la física de partículas

Quan Cheng, Chemistry, UC Riverside Nancy Edith Ornelas Soto, Escuela de Ingeniería y Ciencias, Tecnológico de Monterrey

Development of SPR immunosensors for the detection of Contaminants of Emerging Concern in water resources / Desarrollo de inmunosensores SPR para la detección de Contaminantes de Preocupación Emergentes en fuentes de agua

Charles Chiu, Laboratory Medicine, UC San Francisco Rosa Elena Sarmiento Silva, Microbiología e Inmunología, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México

Viral metagenomic analysis in sylvatic reservoirs and vectors of tropical areas with high biological diversity in Mexico / Metagenómica viral en hospederos selváticos y vectores de zonas tropicales con alta diversidad biológica en México 

Scott Dawson, Microbiology and Molecular Genetics, UC Davis M. Guadalupe Ortega-Pierres, Departmento de Genética y Biología Molecular, Centro de Investigación y de Estudios Avanzados IPN

Bioluminescent imaging of Giardia metabolism and role of parasite´s virulence  factors in host intestinal pathogenesis / Imágenes bioluminiscentes del metabolismo de Giardia y el papel de los factores de virulencia del parásito en la patogénesis intestinal del huésped

Brandon Gaut, Ecology & Evolutionary Biology, UC Irvine Valeria Souza Saldívar, Instituto de Ecología, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México

Landscape genomics of Xylella fastidiosa in Mexico and Southern California / Genomica del paisaje en Xylella fastidiosa en México y en el Sur de California

Emilie Hafner-Burton, School of Global Policy and Strategy, UC San Diego Hugo Concha Cantú, Instituto de Investigaciones Jurídicas, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México

Perceptions on Mexican Democratic Institutions: A Survey of Experts and Citizens / Percepciones sobre las Instituciones mexicanas democráticas: Una encuesta a expertos y ciudadanos

Linda Hirst, Physics, UC Merced Rodrigo Sánchez García and Orlando Guzmán López, Física, Universidad Autónoma Metropolitana - Iztapalapa

Nanoscale active nematics: pushing the lengthscale limit through rational design / Nemáticos activos a nanoescala: alcanzando el límite de escala de longitud a través del diseño racional 

Claudia Holguín Mendoza, Hispanic Studies, UC Riverside María Angélica Castro Caballero, Facultad de Arquitectura y Diseño, Universidad Autónoma de Baja California

Research on Critical and Inclusive Pedagogies, and Relational Structure for the creation of innovative Spanish teaching materials for Deaf people in higher education on the U.S.-Mexico border / Investigación en Pedagogías Críticas e inclusivas y la Estructura Relacional para la innovación de materiales didácticos en español para las personas Sordas universitarias en la frontera entre México y Estados Unidos

Anthony Jerry, Anthropology, UC Riverside Edgar Robles Zavala, Biología Marina, Universidad del Mar

The impact of Climate Change and the Limits to Local Development in the African Descendant Communities of the Lagunas de Chacahua / El Impacto del Cambio Climático y las Limitaciones al Desarollo local en las Comunidades Afrodescendientes en Las Lagunas de Chacahua

Hailing Jin, Microbiology & Plant Pathology, UC Riverside Mario Arteaga-Vázquez, Instituto de Biotecnología y Ecología Aplicada, Universidad Veracruzana

Functional Genomics of Primitive Plant-Fungal Cross-Kingdom Communication / Genómica Funciona de la Comunicación Primitiva a Través de los Reinos Entre Plantas y Hongos

Clifford Kubiak, Chemistry & Biochemistry, UC San Diego Goldie Harikrishna Oza, Laboratorio Nacional de Micro y Nanofluidica, Centro de Investigación y Desarrollo Tecnológico en Electroquímica Jesús Adrían Díaz-Real, Coordinación de Energía, CIDETEQ S.C.

Towards artificial photosynthetic CO2 reduction- Perovskite coupled P2N2 catalyst based photoelectrochemical microfluidic system / Hacia la reducción fotosintética artificial de CO2 – Sistema microfluídico fotoelectroquímico con base en catalizadores de perovskitas decorados con P2N2

Ohyun Kwon, Department of Chemistry & Biochemistry, UC Los Angeles Rubén Omar Torres Ochoa, Departamento de Química Orgánica, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México

C(sp3)–C(sp) bond formation via a copper(I)-catalyzed dealkenylative alkynylation / Formación de enlace C(sp3)–C(sp) mediada por cobre(I) a través un proceso de dealquenilación-alquinilación

Markita Landry, Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, UC Berkeley Edmundo Lozoya Gloria, Ingeniería Genética, Centro de Investigación y de Estudios Avanzados -IPN Unidad Irapuato

Genome editing in plants and microalgae with nanoparticle carriers / Edición del genoma en plantas y microalgas con portadores de nanopartículas

Alana M LeBrón, Population Health & Disease Prevention, UC Irvine María de Lourdes Camarena-Ojinaga, Facultad de Ciencias Sociales y Administrativas, Universidad Autónoma de Baja California

US Immigrant and Migratory Policies and the Wellbeing of Mexican Indigenous Migrant Farmworker Women: A Transnational Approach / Implicaciones de la Política Migrante y Migratoria Estadounidense Actual en el Bienestar de Mujeres Jornaleras Indígenas Migrantes de México: Una Visión Trasnacional

James Letts, Molecular and Cellular Biology, UC Davis Oscar Flores-Herrera, Bioquímica, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México

Building a mechanistic understanding of respiratroy supercomplexes using the model fungal phytophathogen Ustilago maydis / Construyendo una conprensión mechnística del supercomplejo respiratorio usando al hongo fitopatógeno Ustilago maydis como modelo

Amy Litt, Botany and Plant Sciences, UC Riverside Laura Trejo-Hernández, Laboratorio Regional de Biodiversidad y Cultivo de Tejidos Vegetales, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México

Phylogeographic history of Mexican manzanita: shedding light on the diversity of the California Floristic Province

Roberto Manduchi, Computer Science and Engineering, UC Santa Cruz Joaquín Salas, Centro de Investigación en Ciencia Aplicada y Tecnología Avanzada, Instituto Politécnico Nacional - Queretaro

Tracking Poverty between Census Years: Mapping Vulnerable Communities Sprawl via Satellite Imagery and Ground Surveys / Seguimiento de la Pobreza entre Censos: Mapeo de la Dispersión de Comunidades Vulnerables a través de Imágenes Satelitales y Encuestas en Campo

Craig McIntosh, School of Global Policy and Strategy, UC San Diego Mauricio Romero, Economía, Instituto Tecnológico Autónomo de México

The effect of wage transparency: Experimental evidence from Mexico / El efecto de la transparencia de salarios: Evidencia experimental de México

Carl Melis, Center for Astrophysics and Space Sciences., UC San Diego Miguel Chávez Dagostino, Coordinación de Astrofísica, Instituto Nacional de Astrofísica, Óptica y Electrónica

Rise of the Phoenix Giants: exploring the origin of reborn first-ascent giant stars / El Ascenso de las Gigantes Fénix: explorando el origen del renacimiento de estrellas gigantes

Ana Maria Mora-Wyrobek, School of Public Health, UC Berkeley Cynthia Armendáriz Arnez, Laboratorio de Contaminación y Salud Ambiental, Escuela Nacional de Estudios Superiores Unidad Morelia, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México

A community-based participatory approach to assess the effects of pesticide exposure on the health of farm workers from avocado plantations in Michoacán, Mexico / Un enfoque participativo basado en la comunidad para evaluar los efectos de la exposición a plaguicidas en la salud de trabajadores agrícolas de plantaciones de aguacate en Michoacán, México

Atul Parikh, Biomedical Engineering, UC Davis Christian Sohlenkamp, Centro de Ciencias Genómicas, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México

Biophysics of phosphorus-free Microbial Lipids / Biofísica de lípidos microbianos que carecen de fosfato

Paul (Ed) Parnell, Integrative Oceanography Division, UC San Diego Lydia Ladah, Departamento de Oceanografía Biológica, Centro de Investigación Científica y de Educación Superior de Ensenada

How do kelp forests survive thermal stress at their southern limit in Mexico and could they help restore California’s kelp populations in a future warm ocean? / ¿Cómo es que los bosques de kelp sobreviven estrés termal en su límite sur de distribución en México y pueden ser utilizados en la restauración de las poblaciones de California en un mar futuro más cálido?

Laurel Riek, Computer Science and Engineering, UC San Diego Jesús Favela, Departamento de Ciencias de la Computación, Centro de Investigación Científica y de Educación Superior de Ensenada

Socially-Assistive Robots for Dementia Care / Robots de Asistencia Social en la Atención de la Demencia

Sebastian Saiegh, Political Science, UC San Diego Francisco Garfias, School of Global Policy and Strategy, UC San Diego Juan Pablo Micozzi and Adrían Lucardi, Ciencia Política, Instituto Tecnológico Autónomo de México

Democracy, Federalism, and Political Careers in the Contemporary Mexico: Towards a Comprehensive Perspective / Democracia, federalismo y carreras políticas en el México contemporaneo: Hacia una perspectiva integral

Samuel Sandoval Solis, Department of Land, Soil and Water, UC Davis Leopoldo Mendoza Espinosa, Instituto de Investigaciones Oceanológicas, Universidad Autónoma de Baja California

The impact of changes in the water allocations of the Colorado river on agricultural and urban users in Baja California / El impacto de los cambios en las asignaciones del agua del río Colorado en los usuarios agrícolas y urbanos de Baja California

Edward Schwieterman, Earth and Planetary Sciences, UC Riverside Antigona Segura, Instituto de Ciencias Nucleares, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México

Early Earth as an exoplanet: The impact of stellar flares on atmospheric chemistry and remote signatures / La Tierra temprana como exoplaneta: impacto de fulguraciones estelares en la química atmosférica y señales remotas

Nicole Steinmetz, Department of Nanoengineering/Center for Nano-Immuno-Engineering, UC San Diego Abel Gutiérrez Ortega, Biotecnología Médica y Farmacéutica, Centro de Investigación y Asistencia en Tecnología y Diseño del Estado de Jalisco

Assessment of Potyvirus-like particle antigen payload by means of chemical coupling for enhancing the immunogenicity to a Zika virus antigen / Evaluación de la capacidad de carga de antígenos por partículas Potyvirales semejantes a virus mediante acoplamiento químico para potenciar la inmunogenicidad hacia un antígeno del virus de Zika

Sangwon Suh, Bren School of Environmental Science & Management, UC Santa Barbara Adrián Ghilardi, Centro de Investigaciones en Geografía Ambiental, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México

Modeling life-cycle environmental impacts of woodfuel use: development and application of MoFuSS-LCA / Modelado del ciclo de vida de los impactos ambientales por uso de combustibles de madera: desarrollo y aplicación de la herramienta MoFuSS-LCA

Shahar Sukenik, Chemistry and Chemical Biology, UC Merced César Luis Cuevas Velázquez, Departamento de Bioquímica/Facultad de Química, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México

Environmental sensitivity of dehydration-induced intrinsically disordered plant proteins / Sensibilidad al ambiente de proteínas intrínsecamente desordenadas de plantas inducidas por deshidratación

Amber VanDerwarker, Anthropology, UC Santa Barbara Lourdes Budar, Antropología, Universidad Veracruzana

Gulf Lowland Agricultural Strategies / Estrategias agrícolas de las tierras bajas del Golfo

Akula Venkatram, Mechanical Engineering, UC Riverside José Huertas, Ingeniería Mecánica, Tecnólogico de Monterrey

The effects of the road transport system on human health, urban planning, smart mobility and air quality / Los efectos del sistema de transporte terrestre en la salud humana, la planeación urbana, la movilidad inteligente y la calidad del aire

Luat Vuong, Mechanical Engineering, UC Riverside Víctor Ruiz Cortés, Departamento de Óptica / División de Física Aplicada, Centro de Investigación Científica y de Educación Superior de Ensenada

Control of the light-actuated self-assembly of metal nano-particles with an optical tweezers system / Control del autoensamblaje de nano-partículas metálicas activado por luz en un sistema de pinzas ópticas

Joseph Wang, Nanoengineering, UC San Diego Rafael Vázquez-Duhalt, Bionanotecnolgía, Centro de Nanociencias y Nanotecnología, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México

Enhancement of L-lactate oxidase activity in acidic pH by modulating the pKa of the catalytic residue His 265 by site directed mutagenesis / Optimización de la actividad de la L-lactato oxidasa en pH ácido por modulación del pKa del residuo catalítico His 265 por mutación sitio dirigida

Weijian Yang, Electrical and Computer Engineering, UC Davis Israel Rocha-Mendoza, Departamento de Ópica, Centro de Investigación Científica y de Educación Superior de Ensenada

Simultaneous Multiplane Light-sheet Microscopy / Microscopía con hojas de luz multiplanares simultáneas

María Teresa (Maite) Zubiaurre, Department of Germanic Languages/Spanish and Portuguese, UC Los Angeles Sergio Prieto Díaz and Abbdel Carmargo, Grupo Académico Migración y Procesos Transfronterizos, Departamento de Sociedad y Ambiente, El Colegio de la Frontera Sur (Campeche)

Mapping Transborder Complexity: Bridges between Southern Borders / Cartografías de la Complejidad Transfronteriza: puentes entre Fronteras Sur

Papaya is an economically important fruit due to its high nutritional and nutraceutical value. Mexico occupies third place in the global production, and it is the primary exporter to the United States market, with a value of more than $100 million dollars. Papaya fruit is a highly perishable and very susceptible to postharvest fungal infections, including anthracnose, which is mainly caused by Colletotrichum gloeosporioides and Colletotrichum truncatum. Several studies have shown that the resistance of some fruits to fungal pathogens is associated with the composition of the cuticle. Recent research by our group found one genotype with resistance to C. gloesporioides y C. truncatum. Currently, there are no molecular studies of the responses of papaya to anthracnose, the chemical composition of the cuticle in papaya fruits is unknown, and there is a lack of knowledge about the role of cuticular compounds in resistance against C. gloesporioides and C. truncatum. Here we propose to investigate the cuticular resistance of papaya fruits to Colletotrichum gloeosporioides and Colletotrichum truncatum. by: Analyzing the cuticle structure and composition of papaya genotypes displaying resistance and susceptibility to anthracnose, and determining molecular responses associated with the cuticular resistance of papaya fruit to Colletotrichum gloeosporioides and Colletotrichum truncatum

Barbara Blanco-Ulate, Plant Science, UC Davis

María Elena Santos Cervantes, Biotecnología Agrícola, Centro Interdisciplinario para el Desarrollo Integral Regional Unidad Sinaloa del Instituto Politécnico Nacional

Breast Cancer (BrCa) and Prostate Cancer (PCa) are among the most common and lethal types of cancer. Chemotherapeutic agents constitute the regular choice, but additional therapeutic targets are needed. The impact of splice variant expression is critical for understanding and treating cancer, but its actual role in cancer is starting to be elucidated. Our goal is to identify and correct splicing events that are specifically associated with BrCa and PCa in the Mexican population. We intend to use public databases such as The Cancer Genome Atlas (TCGA) and The Pan-Cancer Analysis of Whole Genomes (PCAWG) to identify BrCa- and PCa-associated splicing events. A collection of these events would be validated in BrCa and PCa cell lines versus normal cell lines from these tissues. Functional evaluation of these events will be assesed by analyzing cell growth, cell viability, apoptosis and metabolic behavior in cell lines. The identified splicing signatures will be targeted with antisense oligonucleotides (ASOs) in order to modulate the use of splice sites towards inhibiting the cancer-related isoforms. Successfull ASOs could be tested for therapeuic purposes.

Angela Brooks, Biomolecular Engineering, UC Santa Cruz

Rebeca Débora Martínez Contreras, Instituto de Ciencias, Benemérita Universidad Autónoma de Puebla

The flavor puzzle concerns the pattern of masses of the elementary fermions of the standard model of particle physics. Specifically, the origin of mass and mixing parameters is unknown. That is, as of now there is no established theory of flavor. The aim of this project is to develop such a theory. Flavor symmetries are expected to play a key role in achieving this aim. In particular, newly available tools and ideas, such as modular flavor symmetries, may be instrumental to obtain a better understanding of the flavor sector. These symmetries will be derived from more complete settings such as string compactifications. Apart from progress in this research field, our project will set the foundations of a  fruitful collaboration, in which interested students can be exchanged among UCI and UNAM.           

The present project proposes the combination of an optical system based on the surface plasmon resonance phenomenon with immunoassay techniques for developing sensitive and specific biosensors capable of detecting harmful priority compounds at low concentrations in water resources. In this context, 
Contaminants of Emerging Concern (CECs)
 are a group of unregulated chemicals that comprise pharmacologically active compounds, personal care products, among others; for which no environmental or public health risks have been established. Accumulation of CECs in natural water resources is mainly due to partially treated effluents coming from wastewater treatment plants and their concentrations in the environment are around ugL-1 to ngL-1. Despite these low concentrations, they can present biological activity, showing harmful effects on the environment. Moreover, some of them are liable to bioaccumulate along the food chain 1–3. Chromatographic techniques are the most common analytical tools used in analysis of CECs in water; nonetheless, despite being accurate and reliable, they are expensive and involve highly qualified steps in sample pretreatments. Therefore, there is a clear need for alternative analytical methods that allow the rapid and easy detection of CECs without compromising sensitivity and accuracy.

Quan Cheng, Chemistry, UC Riverside

Nancy Edith Ornelas Soto, Escuela de Ingeniería y Ciencias, Tecnológico de Monterrey

The increase of emerging and reemerging diseases caused by viral pathogens has been recently associated to non-human reservoirs, and zoonotic diseases represent 30% of diseases affecting humans. Strategies to study emerging pathogens must have a comprehensive approach and be considered within the “one health” concept. Among the reported reservoirs, rodents, bats, and birds have been highly associated with diseases like Hantavirus, Lassa Fever, Influenza, and West Nile Virus. Also, mosquitoes are considered vectors for diseases like Zika, and Dengue. Mexico is considered a “megadiverse” country and its tropical regions are considered of high biological diversity with great environmental conflicts that can represent similar areas in America. It is important to identify circulating viruses in sylvatic reservoirs and monitor these hosts to determine their importance in the transmission of diseases. In this study we propose to collect samples form birds, bats, rodents and mosquitos from the Yucatan Peninsula. NGS analysis will be used along with spiked primers for viral sequences enrichment to detect viral diversity in the sylvatic reservoirs. Data from collected specimens will be analyzed to generate spatial statistics models to identify risk areas and understand the impact of the presence of reservoirs and the emergence of infectious diseases.

Charles Chiu, Laboratory Medicine, UC San Francisco

Rosa Elena Sarmiento Silva, Microbiología e Inmunología, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México

Giardia is a widespread zoonotic intestinal parasite and is one of the ten major parasites of humans, causing significant acute and chronic diarrheal disease. Giardiapain-1 is a Giardia protein discovered by the Ortega Pierres lab that causes host cell damage. This work is a collaboration between the Ortega Pierres lab and the Dawsonlab (UC Davis) to quantify physiological dynamics of the giardiapain-1 protein in animal disease models using whole-animal in vivo and ex vivo imaging bioluminescent imaging (BLI) technology developed by the Dawson´s lab. For this project, a graduate student from each lab will create several bioluminescent Giardia strains (bioreporters) for infections and imaging in several animal models of giardiasis.  Animals will then be infected with tagged giardiapain-1 reporter strains, and the spatial and temporal dynamics of giardiapain-1 expression will be quantified using BLI (UC Davis). Analysis of localized pathology and histology associated with infections will be performed in the Ortega Pierres lab. To provide training and support for this project, bioreporter strain construction and imaging will be performed in the Dawson´s lab and at the Center for Molecular Genomic Imaging (CMGI) at UC Davis.

Scott Dawson, Microbiology and Molecular Genetics, UC Davis

Guadalupe Ortega-Pierres, Departmento de Genética y Biología Molecular, Centro de Investigación y de Estudios Avanzados IPN

Several surveys in Latin America have found that support and satisfaction with democracy is at an all-time low in the region. Until 2018, Mexico was in line with Latin America’s trend of lower support and satisfaction with democracy. However, the 2018 presidential election where voters elected by a landslide Andrés Manuel López Obrador and his party, Morena, has bolstered both support and satisfaction with democracy. It remains unclear what are the main factors driving support and satisfaction with democracy. Unlike previous measures of democratic rule, this project proposes a two-pronged strategy by conducting two surveys: one with experts and one with a national representative sample in which respondents evaluate the quality of Mexican democracy across nine dimensions. The first part of the expert survey will be identical to the citizen survey-hence we will be able to directly compare elite and mass opinions on exactly the same issues. However, the expert survey will also include 20 additional questions on recent events that will ask respondents to answer whether a given event has limited or wide-ranging consequences on democratic rule as well as whether it is usual or unusual for democratic rule. No other instrument exists to evaluate the perception on the efficacy of democratic institutions in Mexico. 

Emilie Hafner-Burton, School of Global Policy and Strategy, UC San Diego

Hugo Concha Cantú, Instituto de Investigaciones Jurídicas, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México

S
everal surveys in Latin America have found that support and satisfaction with democracy is at an all-time low in the region. Until 2018, Mexico was in line with Latin America’s trend of lower support and satisfaction with democracy. However, the 2018 presidential election where voters elected by a landslide Andrés Manuel López Obrador and his party, Morena, has bolstered both support and satisfaction with democracy. It remains unclear what are the main factors driving support and satisfaction with democracy. Unlike previous measures of democratic rule, this project proposes a two-pronged strategy by conducting two surveys: one with experts and one with a national representative sample in which respondents evaluate the quality of Mexican democracy across nine dimensions. The first part of the expert survey will be identical to the citizen survey-hence we will be able to directly compare elite and mass opinions on exactly the same issues. However, the expert survey will also include 20 additional questions on recent events that will ask respondents to answer whether a given event has limited or wide-ranging consequences on democratic rule as well as whether it is usual or unusual for democratic rule. No other instrument exists to evaluate the perception on the efficacy of democratic institutions in Mexico. 

Emilie Hafner-Burton, School of Global Policy and Strategy, UC San Diego

Hugo Concha Cantú, Instituto de Investigaciones Jurídicas, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México

We aim to initiate a collaborative project focused on the emerging field of active matter between researchers at UAM-Iztapalapa, Mexico City and the University of California, Merced. Our project will form the basis of a new long-term effort to design and realize a new class of active fluids composed of nanoscale components, which combines complementary expertise from three different labs. Our specific focus will be on doping more traditional, passive liquid crystals materials with active particles.  Experimental work by Sánchez (at UAM) and Hirst (UC Merced) will test the ideas on the macroscale (using a granular experimental system) and on the nanoscale using synthetical nanoparticles. Theoretical and computational work by the Guzmán group (also at UAM-Iztapalapa) will help guide the direction of the project as we explore the parameter space required to achieve sustained active nematic flows in a system composed of synthetic nanoscale particles. We will adopt a collaborative iterative process to guide system design with the ultimate goal of understanding the physical parameters and interactions necessary for nanoscale active fluids. This process will be aimed by several personnel exchange activities between our institutions, including a faculty and student exchange program and a joint workshop at UAM-Iztapalapa.

Linda Hirst, Physics, UC Merced

Rodrigo Sánchez García and Orlando Guzmán López, Física, Universidad Autónoma Metropolitana – Iztapalapa

This proposal presents a research project concerning the acquisition of Spanish by Deaf people in higher education who reside within the border region of Mexico and the U.S., specifically in the states of Baja California and California. As an applied linguistics study, this research will result in the development of innovative pedagogical materials. Educators in higher education often overlook or are unaware of social dynamics that perpetuate the marginalization of Deaf people. This study addresses the needs of Deaf students by developing innovative teaching methodologies through decolonial and inclusive critical pedagogies that, we argue, better attend to these students’ learning needs.

Due to the fact that Mexican Sign Language, a visual language, is the first language for most Deaf students, our proposal considers the Relational Structure theoretical framework as an analytical and graphic methodology for the development of visual pedagogical materials. Thus, this study’s primary objective is the evaluation of the impact that the proposed innovative materials may have on the development of Deaf students’ communicative abilities in Spanish in higher education.

Claudia Holguín Mendoza, Hispanic Studies, UC Riverside

María Angélica Castro Caballero, Facultad de Arquitectura y Diseño, Universidad Autónoma de Baja California

Global Climate Change (GCC) is a pressing issue.  However, the current discourse on “global climate change” overlooks inequalities and vulnerable communities by universalizing the impact of climate change.  This project departs from such a discourse by taking a close look at the impacts of, and possible reactions to, GCC on the African descendant communities of Mexico’s Costa Chica region. Our project interrogates common disciplinary approaches, such as anthropology, marine biology, and economics, to better understand the impacts of climate change, and the limitations to local development in Mexico. Scholars have made an urgent call for broad collaboration to better assess the impacts of climate change, adaptation strategies and mitigation planning. While there is some research that focuses on climate change in Mexico, there are few, if any, ethnographies that address the impacts of climate change and the limitation for autonomous and local development strategies in racialized geographies such as the Costa Chica. Through both ethnographic and traditional scientific methods our research project will provide a rich overview of communities in Chacahua National Park. This project initiates a long-term interdisciplinary collaboration and ethnography focusing on issues of climate change, development, tourism, and sustainability in the Black communities of the Mexican Pacific

Anthony Jerry, Anthropology, UC Riverside

Edgar Robles Zavala, Biología Marina, Universidad del Mar

In eukaryotes, small RNAs (sRNAs) are essential regulators of gene expression involved in development, protection of genome integrity and the response environmental cues. RNA interference (RNAi) encloses diverse gene silencing phenomena triggered by sRNAs acting at the transcriptional and post-transcriptional levels and play a pivotal role in cross-kingdom communication between plant and animal hosts and their interacting organisms. Cross-kingdom RNAi occurs through the transport of extracellular vesicles loaded with sRNAs from pathogens to host to facilitate infection by silencing plant disease resistance genes and/or hijacking the host plant RNAi machinery and it can also occur from host to pathogens to silence genes involved in pathogenicity. The aim of this proposal is to establish a long lasting collaboration with Professor Hailing Jin, that would help us address key questions that will shed light on the biology, function and evolution of cross-kingdom RNAi in land plants. We plan to employ computational, comparative genomics, transcriptomics and functional genomics approaches in combination with genetic and biochemical tools to interrogate if cross-kingdom RNAi occurs in Marchantia polymorpha, a representative of the most basal plant lineages and if present, characterize its components and explore the possibility of reprogram M. polymorpha-pathogen interactions.

Hailing Jin, Microbiology & Plant Pathology, UC Riverside

Mario Arteaga-Vázquez, Instituto de Biotecnología y Ecología Aplicada, Universidad Veracruzana

Removal of anthropogenic CO2 is a complex global challenge that can be circumvented via solar-driven electroreduction. This proposal describes the use of chemically stable and earth-abundant photocatalysts integrated with electrocatalytic centers to convert sunlight and CO2 into reduced carbon species. Perovskite oxides (POs) are state-of-the-art materials that act as solar light harvesters with a wide spectral absorption. POs present highly tunable catalytic properties that strongly depend on their chemistry and microstructure. By sequentially attaching molecular porphyrin and bipyridine based complexes (e.g. P2N2) to the surface of POs, activity, and selectivity towards CO2 reduction reaction (CRR) can be conferred to these composites. Thermodynamic information of these composites in terms of energy bands and feasibility of the process will be obtained through photoelectrochemical measurements. After fundamental studies, such composites will be deposited on electrodic surfaces and inserted into microfluidic photoelectrochemical cells to assess the viability of continuous flow reactors. Through the assessment of such composites and using controllable microfluidics architectures, a screening of the best candidates is devised. Finally, the coupling of cascade-like sequential and selective reactions in a microfluidic platform is proposed to obtain added-value reduced carbon products

Clifford Kubiak, Chemistry & Biochemistry, UC San Diego

Goldie Harikrishna Oza, Laboratorio Nacional de Micro y Nanofluidica, Centro de Investigación y Desarrollo Tecnológico en Electroquímica

Jesús Adrían Díaz-Real, Coordinación de Energía, CIDETEQ S.C.

C–C bond fragmentations represent an alternative to C–H activations to access reactive intermediates that can be used in the preparation of polyfunctionalized molecules. While cleavage of C(sp3)–C(sp3) and C(sp3)–C(sp2) bonds in ring strained substrates are typically involved as a key step in many transformations, their non-strained counterparts have been largely neglected since they do not possess a pronounced driving force that facilitates the bond rupture. In this project, we propose a synthetic methodology that performs the fragmentation of a C(sp3)–C(sp2) bond in acyclic or non-strained substrates via Criegee ozonolysis of alkenes followed by an unprecedented catalytic version of the reduction of a-alkoxyl hydroperoxide intermediates mediated by copper(I). It is expected that the resulting carbon-centered radicals immediately engages in a copper-promoted C(sp3)–C(sp) bond making process with terminal alkynes to afford diverse alkynylated products. The unique dual catalytic role of copper in this protocol would be represented as the facilitator of both the cleavage and formation of C–C bonds. The potential synthetic application of the procedure would be dramatically expanded by using the vast feedstock that holds C(sp3)–C(sp2) bonds as reaction substrates.

Ohyun Kwon, Department of Chemistry & Biochemistry, UC Los Angeles

Rubén Omar Torres Ochoa, Departamento de Química Orgánica, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México

Genetic engineering of plants and microalgae is at the core of environmental conservation: sustainability efforts, renewable energy resources, and agricultural engineering. The predominant bottleneck facing efficient genetic transformation is biomolecule delivery into specific cells through the rigid and multi-layered cell wall. Few delivery tools exist that can transfer biomolecules into these cells, each with considerable drawbacks that either limit the range of transformable species (Agrobacterium) or exhibit incredibly low transformation efficiencies (biolistics). Because of this lack of tools, only four complete biosynthetic pathways are known for plant natural products that have been successfully reconstituted heterologously and none in microalgae (in contrast to the hundreds of biosynthetic pathways for bacteria and fungi). The primary objective of this proposal is to enable the establishment of new collaborative initiatives with the potential for creating permanent ties between the Landry Lab at UC Berkeley and the Lozoya Lab at the CINVESTAV-IPN Irapuato Unit to explore the possibilities of research on plants and microalgae using new methods of genetic modification. Landry’s lab has discovered that high aspect ratio nanoparticles single walled carbon nanotubes (SWNT), can be functionalized to selectively bind and transport biological cargo such as DNA and RNA into mature plant cells. We hypothesize that our collaboration will enable nanoparticle-based transformation of Chlamydomonas reinhardtii (Chr), a single-cell green alga of interest for producing biopharmaceuticals and biofuel and a valuable research tool for making hydrogen, but a species that is recalcitrant to genetic transformation.  We anticipate that our collaboration will enable facile genetic transformation of Chr to engineer microalgae to efficiently clean sewage waters and to produce biofuels to decrease the use of fossil fuels.

Markita Landry, Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, UC Berkeley

Edmundo Lozoya Gloria, Ingeniería Genética, Centro de Investigación y de Estudios Avanzados -IPN Unidad Irapuato

The primary objective of this research project is to conduct an exploratory transnational study of the influence of current US immigrant policies on working conditions of Mexican indigenous migrant women, and implications for their health and well-being. Lacking in the literature are transnational studies of the individual- and community-level impacts of immigrant policies, with a particular focus on how these processes are gendered. This research project specifically aims to: (1) Characterize the larger context of transnational racialized and gendered experiences of Mexican indigenous women farmworkers; (2) Identify the mechanisms by which work and working conditions may promote and undermine social and economic well-being for women, their family, and transnational community; and (3) Analyze how work conditions, migration and immigrant policies, and gender shape indigenous women farmworkers’ health and well-being.  We will achieve these aims by conducting key informant interviews and individual interviews with women farmworkers in Oxnard, CA and members of their home community in San Quintín, Baja California, México. Findings from this study will illuminate women’s unique experiences within the context of increasingly restrictive immigrant and migratory policies and a stratified occupational structure in the US and will highlight the implications for social networks in the US and Mexico.

Alana M LeBrón, Population Health & Disease Prevention, UC Irvine

María de Lourdes Camarena-Ojinaga, Facultad de Ciencias Sociales y Administrativas, Universidad Autónoma de Baja California

Aerobic cellular respiration is central to the energy metabolism of all eukaryotes and many prokaryotes.  The final stages of aerobic respiration are carried out in the mitochondria by the respiratory complexes. These large membrane protein complexes couple the energetically downhill transfer of electrons to the pumping of protons across the membrane.  The large proton gradient generated is used by the Adenosine Triphosphate (ATP) Synthase complex to synthesize ATP. Energy stored in the ATP molecule is used throughout the cell to power many essential processes. It has been demonstrated that the individual respiratory complexes assemble in the membrane to form supercomplexes (SCs). The possible physiological functions of the SCs remain unknown. Here we propose to use the model fungal phytopathogen Ustilago maydis to perform structure-function experiments on respiratory SVs. Using this model system, we will be able to build a mechanistic understanding of respiratory SCs and shed light onto the physiological roles of SCs across all eukaryotes.

James Letts, Molecular and Cellular Biology, UC Davis

Oscar Flores-Herrera, Bioquímica, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México

The California Floristic Province (CFP), a plant diversity hotspot on the Pacific coast of North America, includes around 7,000 species of vascular plants, 60% of which grow nowhere else. Understanding how and why the flora became so diverse can help us predict how this diversity may be affected by a rapidly changing environment. Two hypotheses, with different implications for conservation of CFP diversity, have been proposed to explain this diversity: (1) high diversification and low extinction within the CFP, and (2) retention of species in the CFP that originated more broadly across western North America but have disappeared outside of the CFP.  To test these hypotheses, we will reconstruct the biogeographic history of Arctostaphylos pungens, Mexican manzanita, a shrub that occurs broadly within the CFP, the southwestern US, and throughout most of Mexico. We will sample the species throughout its range, and using molecular genomic and phylogeographic methods, will identify the ancestral range as either within the CFP, supporting hypothesis 1, or outside the CFP, supporting hypothesis 2. By evaluating the evidence for both hypotheses, this study will provide novel insight into the origin of CFP plant diversity, and serve as a template for similar future studies.

Amy Litt, Botany and Plant Sciences, UC Riverside

Laura Trejo-Hernández, Laboratorio Regional de Biodiversidad y Cultivo de Tejidos Vegetales, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México

One of the challenges in the fight against poverty is the precise localization and assessment of the  sprawl of vulnerable communities. This is traditionally accomplished using nation-wide census exercises, a burdensome process that  requires field visits by trained personnel. Unfortunately, censuses are conducted only sporadically (e.g., every ten years in Mexico), which makes it difficult or impossible to track the short-term effect of policies to fight poverty.  In practice, poverty assessment is  carried out through extrapolations, sampling, or indirect indicators. In this project, we propose to build a system that correlates  images from  satellite surveys with data captured in the field by means of machine learning schemes. Given images of the area of interest, the system may infer specific measures of poverty of the communities considered. This will allow for the quick assessment of the degree of vulnerability of new or changing community sprawls, providing quantitative information that can be used to evaluate the effect of governmental policies and socio-economical factors.

Roberto Manduchi, Computer Science and Engineering, UC Santa Cruz

Joaquín Salas, Centro de Investigación en Ciencia Aplicada y Tecnología Avanzada, Instituto Politécnico Nacional – Queretaro

Wage transparency not only addresses critical issues around bureaucratic transparency, it also provides a window into the ways in which and how employees respond to learning about the inequality around them.  We propose an experiment that will encourage all 250,000 Mexico City employees to access a new government pay transparency website. We will overlap multiple messages on top of the pay transparency website invitation, emphasizing the importance of tenure, effort, or productivity of employees in determining wages. We will measure the effect of transparency, as well as competing sources of potentially legitimate wage inequality, on changes in employment outcomes, namely wages, job positions, and quit rates.

Craig McIntosh, School of Global Policy and Strategy, UC San Diego

Mauricio Romero, Economía, Instituto Tecnológico Autónomo de México

Multiple stellar systems are a typical outcome of the star formation process. Understanding how these systems evolve over time, especially when individual components begin the giant phase of stellar evolution, are critical in determining the final states of these groups of stars and how they will affect the evolution of their host galaxies. We propose a research program that will characterize a new class of first-ascent giant stars discovered in a Co-PI’s thesis research. The circumstellar environment of these giant stars resembles that of newly born stars, earning these objects the name of “Phoenix Giants”. What caused these objects to experience their unusual rebirth remains unknown. With the unprecedented capabilities of the Large Millimeter Telescope (LMT).

Carl Melis, Center for Astrophysics and Space Sciences., UC San Diego

Miguel Chávez Dagostino, Coordinación de Astrofísica, Instituto Nacional de Astrofísica, Óptica y Electrónica

Mexico is the world’s largest producer, consumer, and exporter of avocado. About 85% of avocados produced in Mexico are grown in the State of Michoacán. In Mexican avocado farming, pesticides are intensively used, and their use is poorly regulated. The aim of this proposal is to initiate a binational collaboration, integrating the extensive experience of the UC Berkeley researchers with their long-term investigations of farmworkers in California, and the Mexican researchers with their comprehensive understanding of the local context and avocado farming. We aim to determine whether pesticide exposure affects the neurobehavioral and respiratory health of farmworkers from avocado plantations in Michoacán. We will enroll 100 farmworkers, who will be queried about their exposure to pesticides and presence of respiratory symptoms, evaluated on a battery of neurobehavioral tests, and provide a blood and urine sample to measure biomarkers of pesticide exposure. The results of this study will be used in raise awareness of farmworkers and other key actors about pesticide exposure and health hazards and will provide the basis for a grant proposal to conduct an extensive epidemiological study of avocado and other farmworkers throughout Mexico.

Ana Maria Mora-Wyrobek, School of Public Health, UC Berkeley

Cynthia Armendáriz Arnez, Laboratorio de Contaminación y Salud Ambiental, Escuela Nacional de Estudios Superiores Unidad Morelia, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México

All living cells are surrounded by membranes which are formed by amphiphilic lipids. When model membranes and membrane-forming lipids are studied, often only phospholipids are considered. Bacterial membranes, however, can contain a large diversity of membrane-forming lipids, many of much are structurally unrelated to phospholipids, an example being ornithine lipids (OLs), which are a subclass of phosphorus-free aminolipids.  In recent years, several genes involved in their synthesis and modification have been identified, but almost nothing is known about their biophysical properties and about how their presence affects membrane characteristics including structure, assembly, dynamics, stability, and function. In this project, we will set out to study some biophysical properties of OLs and try to understand how their presence changes membrane behavior under standard and abiotic stress conditions. The proposed study should lead to future technological applications of these lipids and help to design synthetic membranes and artificial cells with tailored biophysical characteristics and better adaptiveness to abiotic stresses from their environment.

Atul Parikh, Biomedical Engineering, UC Davis

Christian Sohlenkamp, Centro de Ciencias Genómicas, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México

Although many kelp forest ecosystems have experienced severe declines due to marine heat waves, some populations in Mexico have shown surprising warming resilience. This proposal brings together an interdisciplinary, binational team of scientists, led by kelp forest ecologists from each side of the border who have never worked together, to investigate how the Mexican kelp populations have survived warming, and to explore the possibility of taking advantage of their resistance to restore kelp populations in California, as heat waves increase in intensity and frequency. We propose to determine how kelps at their southern-limit warm distributional range in Mexico tolerate thermal stress compared to those further north, by studying their ecophysiological response to warming in the field and in heat-wave simulation laboratory experiments. Preliminary evidence suggests that some populations are adapted to survive thermal stress, potentially providing an actionable natural resource in Mexico to be applied in restoration measures in the future in California, as oceans warm. By bringing together teams of Mexican and Californian experts in kelp forest ecology, this new binational collaboration will address the important cross-border issue of degrading kelp forest ecosystems, in light of the predicted increase in frequency and intensity of marine heat waves.

Paul (Ed) Parnell, Integrative Oceanography Division, UC San Diego

Lydia Ladah, Departamento de Oceanografía Biológica, Centro de Investigación Científica y de Educación Superior de Ensenada

Socially Assistive Robots (SARs) are interactive, intelligent systems that employ  hands-off, social interaction strategies, including the use of speech, facial expressions, and communicative gestures, to assist in a particular healthcare context . The use of SARs has been recently explored to promote social interaction and support people with dementia in their therapies and activities of daily living. This project proposes the design and evaluation of SARs aimed at assisting informal caregivers in the management of behavioral and psychological symptoms of dementia, one of the main causes of caregiver burden. To achieve this goal we will tap into the combined expertise of the Healthcare Robotics Lab at UCSD, and the Mobile and Ubiquitous Computing Lab at CICESE in the areas of interaction design and evaluation methods, robot design, audio and video analysis for behavior recognition, conversational systems, emotion synthesis, and end-user robot programming.

Laurel Riek, Computer Science and Engineering, UC San Diego

Jesús Favela, Departamento de Ciencias de la Computación, Centro de Investigación Científica y de Educación Superior de Ensenada

What are the prevailing patterns of political competition and recruitment in Mexico? To what extent are successful candidates at different levels of government more likely to climb up in the political ladder? How does democratization alter patterns of political ambition? While these and related questions have been answered for a variety of countries around the world, our knowledge of the Mexican case is limited by the absence of systematic information both across political offices and over time. This project seeks to overcome this dearth of evidence by creating a comprehensive database on candidacies and electoral results in Mexico between 1970 and 2020. Our main goal is to conduct a systematic analysis of career paths in the country during that period. Specifically, we will gather information for every elected office across the country – from mayors and local council members to elected federal officials – at the highest possible level of disaggregation. This data collection effort will open the door to multiple research agendas, thus improving both our own capabilities to create original knowledge and that of a multitude of researchers, journalists and intellectuals interested in Mexican politics.

Sebastian Saiegh, Political Science, UC San Diego

Francisco Garfias, School of Global Policy and Strategy, UC San Diego

Juan Pablo Micozzi and Adrían Lucardi, Ciencia Política, Instituto Tecnológico Autónomo de México

A great portion of the water that the Mexican state of Baja California uses is provided by the Colorado River, through the 1,850 millions of cubic meters per year that the USA provides to Mexico through the 1941 Water Treaty. However, in recent years the Colorado River watershed, that supplies water to 6 states of the USA, has been under great pressure due to growing demands and prolonged droughts. The strong dependency of both countries to the Colorado River has generated interest about the problems that could be presented in the region relation to climate change and the decreases of water allocations to Mexico according to the aforementioned treaty. Therefore, it is essential to tackle these problems from an integrated perspective that considers the possibility of renovation and the links between society and the environment. Moreover, it is necessary to explore new strategies that allow for better management of the current water resources. In this project, a water management model will be used to evaluate the possible impacts of the decrease in the water allocation from the Colorado River to agriculture and urban users in Baja California. The results will help decision makers to identify water management strategies to improve the distribution and supply of water resources in Baja California.

Samuel Sandoval Solis, Department of Land, Soil and Water, UC Davis

Leopoldo Mendoza Espinosa, Instituto de Investigaciones Oceanológicas, Universidad Autónoma de Baja California

Next-generation telescopes will be able to characterize the atmospheres of potentially habitable exoplanets and may reveal signs of life called biosignatures. The coming decades, therefore, hold the promise of answering one of the most compelling questions posed by humanity—are we alone? However, characterizing the atmospheres of distant worlds will be fraught by confounding ambiguities including the influence of stellar flares. Most potentially habitable exoplanets detected thus far are orbiting M dwarf stars, more numerous than Sun-like stars. M dwarf flares are more frequent and energetic than flares from Sun-like stars with energies orders of magnitude larger than any flare produced by the Sun during the last century. We propose a collaborative seed project to study the effects of flares on the atmospheric chemistry and resulting spectral signatures of Proxima Centauri b, the nearest exoplanet. The group in Mexico lead by Dr. Antigona Segura will provide the expertise and tools for simulating the effect of flares on atmospheric chemistry. The UC-Riverside team led by Dr. Edward Schwieterman will provide their knowledge of early Earth atmosphere evolution, spectral modeling, and biosignature detection. This pilot study would form the foundation of what we hope to be a robust and enduring international collaboration.

Edward Schwieterman, Earth and Planetary Sciences, UC Riverside

Antigona Segura, Instituto de Ciencias Nucleares, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México

Virus like-particles (VLPs) are powerful tools for a variety of biomedical applications, from drug delivery for cancer treatment to vaccine development. Their impact on global health has been remarkable, as vaccines that help prevent infections with papilloma and hepatitis B viruses are VLP-based. A VLP approach could also be a promising strategy for the development of a subunit vaccine against Zika virus (ZIKV).  Here, Professors Nicole Steinmetz and Abel Gutiérrez-Ortega will lead collaborative work for the covalent coupling of an engineered ZIKV antigen to Potyvirus-like particles that lead to a protein complex that potentially elicits a high immune response against the antigen. Antigen payload of the VLPs as well as stability of the VLP-ZIKV antigen complex will be determined. Finally, the activation of mouse primary immune cells and a cell line by the VLP-ZIKV antigen complex will be assessed. Beyond this project, a preclinical study in mice to evaluate the immunogenicity and ZIKV neutralizing activity of the VLP-ZIKV antigen complex will be carried out.

Nicole Steinmetz, Department of Nanoengineering/Center for Nano-Immuno-Engineering,

UC San Diego

Abel Gutiérrez Ortega, Biotecnología Médica y Farmacéutica, Centro de Investigación y Asistencia en Tecnología y Diseño del Estado de Jalisco

Traditional woodfuel harvest and use in the global south has been widely acknowledged as a significant driver of environmental degradation. To produce realistic estimates of woodfuel-driven degradation within landscapes also experiencing deforestation caused by other drivers, we developed MoFuSS (Modeling Fuelwood Savings Scenarios), a dynamic model that simulates the spatiotemporal effect of woodfuel harvesting on aboveground biomass, while also accounting for land use changes caused by activities like land cleared for farming or urbanization. MoFuSS currently lacks the ability to account for environmental impacts beyond wood extraction. Integrating a Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) into MoFuSS (MoFuSS-LCA) will allow the model to cover a cradle-to-grave impacts, from wood harvest, towards downstream processes and associated scenarios including charcoal and pellet production, transportation of fuel, and manufacturing and use of cookstoves. Also, bringing the spatial and temporal nature of MoFuSS into an LCA framework could contribute to novel methodological aspects of LCA beyond woodfuel assessments. The aim of this project is to develop a first prototype of MoFuSS-LCA showcasing its functionality for Mexico and Rwanda as first case studies. Given the global reach of the UC-Mexus programme, a longer-term collaborative goal is to develop a web-based tool with applications around the global south.

Sangwon Suh, Bren School of Environmental Science & Management, UC Santa Barbara

Adrián Ghilardi, Centro de Investigaciones en Geografía Ambiental, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México

Water is essential for the proper function of nearly all biomolecules, yet plant seeds can survive for years in a nearly-complete absence of water. This remarkable ability is linked to the accumulation of a family of proteins collectively known as Late Embryogenesis Abundant (LEA) Proteins. LEA proteins are highly abundant in dry seeds, and unlike well-folded proteins, many are intrinsically disordered. Little is known about how LEAs confer their protective activity, or how they adapt and respond to changes in the seed’s environment. We aim to understand the molecular mechanism by which intrinsically disordered LEA proteins function. We will characterize the dynamic range of the conformational response to environment changes in distinct LEA proteins in silicoin vitro and in live cells. We then link this structural response to the protective function of LEAs by measuring the activity of model enzymes (in vitro) and cell viability (in cells) following introduction of desiccation stress in the presence of LEA proteins. Our approach will provide new insight into how disordered proteins help cells sense and respond to changes in their environment. Furthermore, understanding how LEA proteins function can be leveraged to develop novel excipients or biosensors of the cellular environment.

Shahar Sukenik, Chemistry and Chemical Biology, UC Merced

César Luis Cuevas Velázquez, Departamento de Bioquímica/Facultad de Química, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México

The proposed research explores the interrelationships among agricultural intensification, political authority, changes in the natural and social environments, and the trajectory of urbanism in the Classic Gulf Lowlands of Veracruz. We take a collective action and resilience approach to understand why groups in the Classic (AD ~200-850) Gulf Lowlands converted thousands of hectares of wetlands into raised agricultural fields, and why such cooperation ceased around AD cal 800 along with the abandonment of the region’s monumental centers. Today we see the results of past collective action through remnants of raised/drained fields, but we do not know the mechanisms of cooperation/coordination involved in their construction, what social and environmental pressures motivated changes to the agricultural system, or why the system ultimately collapsed. The funding we seek via the UC MEXUS-CONTACYT program will provide seed money to begin the first phase of our project: pedestrian survey of the fields and mound systems, field coring for stratigraphy and acquisition of C14 samples for dating the history of field use.