UCI Undergraduate Journal: Volume XII, 2009

A Letter from the Advisors

Undergraduate research allows students to pursue their interests beyond what is taught in the classroom. From the aging process in fruit flies to the details of saints’ lives, from the accountability of private security companies to the balance of matter and anti-matter in the universe, students at the University of California, Irvine are encouraged to seek answers to the questions that interest them most. Regardless of their field of study, students’ faculty-mentored research projects and creative activities are a vital part of a UCI education; 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-four 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 earnest 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 annual UCI Undergraduate Research Symposium provides an opportunity to celebrate 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

Julia Damron
Christina Diep
Sandy Liu
Aram Modrek
Shaudee Parvinjah
Sourav Rov
Travis Thompson

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 ~

The Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program (UROP) at UC Irvine provides an unusual opportunity for undergraduate students to make significant research contributions, and The UCI Undergraduate Research Journal displays the outstanding results of this research from the past years. By undergraduates and for undergraduates, this journal represents the best in faculty-mentored undergraduate research. As members of the Student Editorial Board, we worked to select and edit the following papers from among many excellent submissions. The articles in this journal were published because we identified them as exceptional examples of creative inquiry that communicate their significance and findings to a multidisciplinary audience. The editorial process not only resulted in the Journal but also in reflection on our own research methods and potential journal submissions. We hope that the papers we selected will similarly inspire you to reflect on your research and writing, on the role of undergraduate research in the university system, and on the future of the various disciplines explored in this volume of the Journal.