UCI Undergraduate Journal: Volume XIII, 2010

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 Julia Lupton
Professor Lisa Naugle
Professor Jane O. Newman
Professor James S. Nowick

UROP Student Editorial Board

Ariana Keil
Chesca Barrios
Dhivya Sridhar
Julia Damron
Lenna Stites
Natalie Goudarzian
Rahaf Baker
Ryon Tanara
Bobby Gramer

UROP Journal Assistant

Jerry McMillan, Journal & Symposium Student Advisor

~ A Letter from the UROP Student Editorial Board ~

The pursuit to advance society’s knowledge through novel research is a formidable and arduous endeavor. Preeminent research is provoked by personal passion, obliged by a hole in the quilt of mankind’s understanding, and actualized through earnest enthusiasm and definitive diligence. The continual conglomeration of new knowledge, irrespective of sphere, sector, or subject, powers the piston that propels humankind into a promising and enticing tomorrow. Whether the students’ research demonstrates a larvacide’s off-target consequences upon a bionetwork or expounds the immediate and enduring sociological impacts wielded by literary works published during an era nearly a century ago, the aim of these emerging investigators is common—to enrich the understanding of our incredibly dynamic world. This journal aims to illustrate that it is not necessarily the area of the research that qualifies its worth to society, but also its capacity to challenge the bounds of human understanding. Since 1995, the Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program (UROP) has afforded UC Irvine undergraduates the invaluable chance to delve into each niche of this intellectual journey. Through UROP, students have entertained the privilege to fully engross themselves in the entirety of the research process—from formulating a compelling proposal in pursuit of adequate funding to appositely conveying their respective findings in hopes of publishing their results. With its mission to enhance the education of the university’s scholars, UROP continues to prepare students so that they may progress from passively learning about the world surrounding them to actively scrutinizing, discovering, and thus teaching the world they constitute. As a consequence, UROP has been conducive to the preparation of the leaders of tomorrow by cultivating student innovation, scientific inquiry, and global participation. The papers published in this volume of the Journal typify the best of UC Irvine’s undergraduate submissions in terms of investigative content, intellectual rigor, and field contribution. As members of the Student Editorial Review Board, we trust that the papers we have selected will leave you contemplating beyond the topics themselves. Above all, we hope to elicit your curiosity in research, either by inspiring your personal journey of inquiry, or at the very least through the acknowledgement of research and its significance to society.