UCI Undergraduate Journal: Volume XI, 2008

A Letter from the Advisors

Research is a process of making observations and reaching conclusions. At the University of California, Irvine, undergraduate students within every field of study are discovering how they can apply what they have learned in their classrooms to research and creative projects. The faculty-mentored efforts of these students are an integral part of the UCI experience; more than one third of the students in each graduating class have enrolled in independent research courses, and thousands more undergraduates have carried out research projects or taken other classes with research-related components.

Since 1998, the UCI Undergraduate Research Journal has demonstrated the quality and diversity of these projects. Distributed nationwide, it is a highly visible element of the research culture at UCI, and has helped to ensure the university’s ranking among the nation’s top research institutions. The papers published in the Journal represent the very best of the research and creative projects that have been conducted over the previous year. Through a rigorous evaluation process, the dozens of papers that are submitted each year are thinned until only the best remain. Of the sixty-two papers submitted this year, the seven selected for publication are excellent examples of undergraduate research at its finest.

Many people have contributed to the lasting success of the Journal, and deserve our heartfelt thanks. The members of the Journal’s Student Editorial Board, undergraduates from a wide variety of disciplines, have put in endless hours evaluating submissions and editing the final selections. The members of the UROP Faculty Advisory Board have lent their expertise, ensuring that the papers selected represent the highest standards of research in their fields. We also commend the student authors, who have dedicated themselves to excellence, developing sincere passions for research. Finally, we cannot thank enough the countless faculty mentors, represented in the Journal or not, who express their own passion for research every day by passing it on to their students. Through their continuing efforts, the future of undergraduate research at UCI remains bright.

The Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program (UROP), the organization responsible for the Journal, is dedicated to supporting the research community at UCI. Founded in 1995, UROP has supported thousands of undergraduates, providing unique opportunities for them to engage in research and creative projects, and inspiring them to lives of discovery and inquiry-based learning. In addition to the Journal, UROP advises and assists students in pursuing on-and off-campus opportunities, funding undergraduate research projects through two annual Calls for Proposals. UROP also sponsors several programs that provide students with stipends, enabling them to dedicate themselves to their research full-time over the summer. The UCI Undergraduate Research Symposium is an annual celebration of the students’ research accomplishments.

We hope that this volume of The UCI Undergraduate Research Journal will inspire its readers to participate in the research process. The important tools of research—maintaining a curious and open mind, never being satisfied with easy answers, accepting failures as challenges, and passionately moving forward—are important elements of success in any field. UCI undergraduates are using these tools every day to prepare themselves for future excellence, and we are proud to present the work of a few of them here.

Sharon V. Salinger
Dean, Division of Undergraduate Education 
Said M. Shokair
Director, UROP
A Letter from the UROP Student Editorial Board

Journal Advisors  

Sharon V. Salinger
Dean, Division of Undergraduate Education

Said M. Shokair
Director, UROP

UROP Faculty Advisory Board

Professor Sally S. Dickerson
Professor Samuel L. Gilmore
Professor Diana N. Krause
Professor John C. LaRue
Professor Richard H. Lathrop
Professor Hartmut Luecke
Professor Jane O. Newman
Professor James S. Nowick
Professor James W. Penrod

UROP Student Editorial Board

Emily Grothe
Yazeed Ibrahim
Nima Nassiri
Brett Reid

UROP Journal Assistants

Megan Nowell Kaufman, Publications & Web Assistant
Jerry McMillan, Journal & Symposium Student Advisor
Henry Yan, Computer Programmer and Analyst

~ Letter from the UROP Student Editorial Board ~

Enriching one’s studies through research is one of the greatest academic experiences an undergraduate can have. This opportunity is an important part of the undergraduate experience at UC Irvine, as indicated by the sixty-two papers that were submitted for possible publication in this year’s Journal. The papers spanned all academic disciplines, from the Biological and Physical Sciences to the Arts and Humanities. It has been our responsibility and honor to evaluate each paper, selecting only the very best for publication. We based our evaluations on the creativity of the project, the quality of writing, and the significance of the analysis to its discipline, and the result is a tribute to some of the most successful and creative students at UC Irvine. The authors of the papers submitted to this year’s Journal labored for months to complete the research necessary for their papers, and the editors worked nearly as long to ensure the highest quality of the published volume. It is the pleasure of the UROP Student Editorial Board to present the best seven of these papers in Volume XI of The UCI Undergraduate Research Journal. We hope that the research presented here is simply a precursor of great things to come as the authors proceed on their academic journeys and continue to contribute significant works to their respective fields.