~A Letter from the Advisors~

In a year that left many individuals feeling powerless and vulnerable, the University of California, Irvine continued to uphold its standards of excellence in providing the necessary tools for students to determine their future. More than ever the ideas of "taking control" and "overcoming the fear of uncertainty" ring true, pervading not only the arena of world politics and current events, but equally the realm of academia. Even in the face of economic downturn and the possibility of fewer job prospects, our students have continued to exemplify these very ideas through their hard work and determination. They remind us that we write the definition of our own future, be it through scholarship, research or simple perseverance. It is with pride that we look to these students.

Research plays an invaluable role in helping the undergraduate find his or her own path. It is an opportunity for students to encounter real-world experiences outside of the traditional classroom setting, while building confidence in their abilities to think and reason for themselves. The exposure to methods, problem-solving techniques and documentation provides the student researcher the opportunity to build skills that are applicable above and beyond any single field of study. This is one aspect of research, among many, to which the Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program (UROP) has devoted its resources.

Over the past four years, The UCI Undergraduate Research Journal has published outstanding research papers by some of UCI's finest. Each year, we have been granted the privilege of reading and reviewing the results of many exceptional undergraduate research projects. Though the selection process is always difficult due to the number of insightful and articulate submissions, we carefully select the few papers which we believe are representative of UCI undergraduate research at its very best. Though we have chosen to present only 9 papers, more than 34 percent of students are enrolled in an independent research course while at UCI, not to mention the thousands involved in research projects or other classes with research-related components.

A volume of this size and scope could not have been produced without the assistance we received from so many participants. We commend the undergraduate authors and their faculty mentors for the excellence of their research. We thank the UROP Student Editorial Board whose comments and assistance were essential to the review, editorial and production process. We express sincere gratitude to the UROP Faculty Advisory Board, whose distinguished members provided final evaluations of the papers selected for publication. Finally, we acknowledge the hundreds of students and faculty who participate in research each year, whether associated with UROP or not, and thank them for the wide array of collaboration and intellectual integrity they presented to us during our review process.

UROP is committed to supporting and facilitating faculty-mentored undergraduate research projects and creative activities. Launched in 1995, UROP's programs now include: advising and assisting students in pursuing on- and off-campus research opportunities, funding their research projects through two annual calls for proposals in the fall and spring quarters of each academic year, and sponsoring the UCI Undergraduate Research Symposium, in addition to the Journal. In the summer of 2001, we launched the Summer Undergraduate Research Program (SURP). From all over the world, as the reach of undergraduate research continues to grow, a corps of young scholars is emerging: inquisitive, boldly imaginative and idealistic. We present just a few of them here. We welcome your comments on Volume IV of The UCI Undergraduate Research Journal.

 

Meredith Lee
Dean, Division of Undergraduate Education 
Said M. Shokair
Director, UROP


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