Research Opportunities

REVU fellows will gain hands-on experience in a research field of their interest for the entire summer. Fellows will work within one of the research groups listed below and regularly meet with one or more mentor(s) from this group. Applicants will select their preferred research group that aligns with their scientific interests when applying. Fellows will be assigned to one project based on preference and availability.
 
Note that some flexibility exists regarding assigned research projects. Please email revu@yale.edu if you have any questions related to potential research projects.
Marla Geha

Astrophysics

Professor Marla Geha

The Geha group uses the world’s largest telescopes to study the Universe’s smallest galaxies. We use observations of small galaxies to understand the nature of dark matter and the underlying cosmology of the Universe. Research projects include measuring the properties (mass, chemical composition) of satellite galaxies around the Milky Way, or using machine learning algorithms to differentiate between dwarf galaxies and more luminous background objects. Students should have a working knowledge of the python computing language, or be ready to learn this skill. Read more about the Geha group’s research: “Is the Milky Way an ‘outlier’ galaxy? Studying its ‘siblings’ for clues” and “The SAGA Survey: I. Satellite Galaxy Populations Around Eight Milky Way Analogs.”

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Robotic Systems

Professor Ian Abraham

Professor Abraham's research lies at the intersection of robotics, optimal control, machine learning, and artificial intelligence with a focus on active sensing and learning. Robotic systems with the ability to independently gather information needed for solving arbitrary tasks are critical for interacting in uncertain and unstructured environments. His group researches these robotics systems through algorithmic developments that tightly integrate theory and applied research, enabling robots to optimally learn, explore, and dynamically interact with the environment and other robots. Their work spans a wide range of problems in optimal control, exploration, sample-efficient learning, reactive and hybrid control, optimization, locomotion, and multi-agent systems. Ultimately, the goal of his group's research is to enhance robotic systems to be self-sufficient and adaptive in unstructured environments, leveraging collaboration with other robots with minimal human intervention.

Paul Turner

Ecology and Evolutionary Biology

Professor Paul Turner

The overarching research focus of Paul Turner’s lab is to study evolutionary genetics and genomes of microbes. This focus has been applied to studying the rise of antibiotic resistance in bacterial pathogens and developing methods by which antibiotic resistant infections might be controlled. One approach, phage therapy, is the use of bacteriophages (viruses of bacteria) to treat infections. We examine how phage exert selection pressure on pathogenic bacteria, especially phage biding to virulence factors that select for bacteria to evolve reduced virulence and re-sensitization to antibiotics and apply this technique to treat human infections in the hospital. Learn more about Prof. Turner’s work listen to Science Friday’s “Old Ideas May Help Us Fight New Superbugs” podcast or read, “A virus, fished out of a lake, may have saved a man’s life — and advanced science.”

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Ecology and Evolutionary Biology

Professor Martha Muñoz

Professor Muñoz is an evolutionary biologist and her work focuses on discovering the motors and brakes for phenotypic diversity. She is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at Yale University and an Assistant Curator in the Division of Vertebrate Zoology at the Yale Peabody Museum. Her research group studies the morphology, biomechanics, ecology, and physiology of amphibians and reptiles to understand the processes that drive their evolution and diversity.

Maureen Long

Geology

Professor Maureen Long

Maureen Long’s research group investigates the structure and dynamics of the deep Earth by studying recordings of earthquake waves measured by sensitive instruments called seismometers. We study a variety of problems, including the dynamics of subduction zones, the structure of the core-mantle boundary region, and the evolution of continents. Projects will focus on collecting and analyzing seismic data from New England, with the goal of understanding how the structure of the crust and upper mantle reflects fundamental plate tectonic processes that have operated in the geologic past (or, in some cases, surprisingly recent activity). Research tasks will include computer-based data analysis as well as field work collecting seismic data in Connecticut, Massachusetts, Vermont, and New Hampshire. No prior coursework in Earth science is necessary or expected, and projects are suitable for physics, astronomy, math, or engineering majors in addition to Earth science majors. Read more about Prof. Long’s seismology research in New England: “New Research Discovers Surprising Seismic Activity Under New England” and “What lies beneath Connecticut? Yale’s SEISConn project will find out.”

Jack Harris

Optics

Professor Jack Harris

The Harris group studies the force exerted by light on solid and liquid objects. This force can be used to produce temperatures close to absolute zero, to study the role of measurement in quantum mechanics, and to control both light and motion in new ways. Research projects could involve building optical paths for laser beams, writing code for data analysis, or assembling vacuum or cryogenic components. Some background with programming, optics, electronics, or machining would be helpful but most projects would involve on-the-job learning. You can read more about the Harris group’s work here: ‘Building a Moebius strip of good vibrations’ and ‘Opening a window on quantum gravity.'

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Neurology

Professor Serena Spudich

Professor Spudich's research group seeks to understand and address the mechanisms underlying damage to the central nervous system in HIV and other infections. The group's studies focus on the effects of acute infection in the central nervous system and the extent to which pathogenic processes established early in the course of disease contribute to long-term viral reservoirs in the central nervous system or sustained, neurologic injury. All of their efforts are concentrated on data and samples collected from humans, with participant recruitment locally in the US and at international sites to understand varied aspects of viral neuropathogenesis. The Spudich research group works in diverse modalities - and with a wide range of collaborators at Yale and beyond - to study the processes of immune activation, neuroprotection, and neuropathogenesis that occur during early and chronic, untreated HIV and during suppressive HIV treatment, as well as after recovery from other acute viral infections. Recent tools include immunologic, viral, and biomarker analysis of cerebrospinal fluid, advanced neuroimaging with positron emission tomography (PET) and magnetic resonance spectroscopy (MRI), and examination of complex, cellular populations and viral persistence in brain tissue.

Michael Caplan

Cellular And Molecular Physiology

Professor Michael Caplan

Epithelial cells serve as the barriers between the inside of our bodies and the outside world. Their ability to transport fluid, salts, nutrients and waste products play an enormous role in defining our body’s composition and maintaining homeostasis. The Caplan group is especially interested in the epithelial cells of the kidney, whose organization and architecture are exquisitely well matched to their function. The cell membranes of kidney epithelial cells are divided into distinct domains that possess dramatically different structures and populations of transport proteins. This asymmetry is required in order for the kidney to carry out its physiological functions. We study the processes through which kidney cells develop their structural specializations. We also study Autosomal Dominant Polycystic Kidney Disease, a common genetic disease that leads to dramatic disorganization of the kidney’s structure. We are working to identify the molecular mechanisms responsible for the disease and to identify new therapeutic targets.

Bluma Lesch

Genetics

Professor Bluma Lesch

Each cell in your body contains the same DNA genome, yet cells differ wildly in their form and function.   Chromatin, the set of RNAs and proteins that packages and organizes the genome, is responsible for this cellular diversity.  The chromatin components (“chromatin marks”) present at a gene determine whether that gene can be used, and the combination of chromatin marks across the whole genome determines the set of genes that is available for use in a given cell. The Lesch Lab studies how this chromatin code works to set up a cell’s identity and function.  We are particularly interested in how chromatin sets up a unique and essential function in gametes (sperm and eggs): the ability to generate an entirely new embryo at fertilization.  We use bioinformatics, mouse genetics, and molecular biology approaches to test how chromatin in developing gametes affects fertility, embryo development, and disease susceptibility in the next generation, as well as how chromatin states evolve across millions of generations. Learn more about the Lesch lab here and coverage in The Scientist article, "Mice Inherit Cancer Susceptibility Via Epigenetic Changes in Sperm."

Daon Clark

Neural Network Computation

Professor Damon Clark

The Clark lab is interested in understanding how small circuits of neurons interact to perform basic computations. To study this, we work with the fruit fly Drosophila, where unparalleled genetic tools allow us to manipulate its brain and measure the activity of individual neurons. In Drosophila, we examine how the visual system recognizes cues to guide navigation, as well as how the fly’s legs coordinate as it walks through the world. In particular, we want to understand how animals extract motion information from the complex visual patterns in the natural world, and how they make decisions based on that information. We want to understand and model how the system computes at a mathematical level, but also use the genetic tools in the fruit fly to discover the neural and biophysical mechanisms that implement those mathematical operations. Projects in lab range from making behavioral measurements and using advanced microscopy to modeling and applying machine learning techniques.

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Chemistry

Professor Gary Brudvig

Professor Brudvig's research aims to define how nature has solved the difficult problem of efficient light-driven, four-electron oxidation of water to O2 and to use this understanding to develop new artificial processes for solar energy conversion. The Brudvig research group uses spectroscopic, biophysical and molecular biological methods to probe the structure and function of the redox centers, the kinetics and yields of electron-transfer reactions, and the chemistry of water oxidation in photosystem II. The studies on photosystem II provide insight into the design of artificial systems that split water. Toward this goal, they are investigating inorganic model complexes of the tetramanganese active site in photosystem II in collaboration with Professor Crabtree. The synergism between the inorganic and biological chemistry is an important aspect of this research and has yielded the first homogeneous oxomanganese water-oxidation catalyst. The group is also working on a collaborative project to develop artificial processes that use solar energy for fuel production together with Professors Batista and Crabtree. The aim of this research is to use a bioinspired approach for solar fuel production based on our water-oxidation catalysts attached to nanostructured TiO2

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Dermatology and Pathology

Professor Peggy Myung

Peggy Myung is interested in hair follicle development and regeneration. Currently, she studies hair follicle development in mice and has a focus on how the dermal niche regulates hair follicle cell fate decisions. In particular, her work is centered on understanding the epithelial-mesenchymal interactions that regulate epithelial growth and differentiation in an effort to re-purpose these same molecular mechanisms to suppress aberrant growth in carcinogenesis.