~A Letter from the Advisors~

The University of California, Irvine (UCI) takes pride in the numerous invaluable roles research can play in the life of an undergraduate. Undergraduates involved in research or creative projects develop communication skills and leadership qualities, and gain the confidence that will allow them to excel in the professional world. The most important aspect of the research experience is learning how to read, write and think critically, effectively and independently––skills that are indispensable in light of current global dilemmas. The Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program (UROP) at UCI seeks to provide today’s students with the talent and expertise needed to become tomorrow’s leaders, thinkers and scholars.

The future of research and higher education lies in the interdisciplinary pursuit of new knowledge. Only by approaching long-standing problems from nontraditional perspectives can innovative solutions be developed. The humanist must consider the perspective of the physicist, the economist must contemplate the issues of the artist, and the engineer must weigh the problems of the biologist if any significant advances are to be made. Likewise, multiculturalism must remain a vital part of the academic community. By working alongside people of diverse backgrounds and experiences, we will improve our collective knowledge.

Over the past five years, The UCI Undergraduate Research Journal has published outstanding research papers by some of UCI’s finest students. Since 1998, we have had the privilege of reading and reviewing the results of hundreds of exceptional undergraduate research projects, and each year the selection process becomes more difficult as the quality of the submissions continues to rise. Nevertheless, we carefully select the few papers that we believe represent UCI’s undergraduates at its very best. Although we have chosen to present only eight papers this year, some 34 percent of students enroll in an independent research course, and thousands more carry out research projects or take other classes with research-related components.

A volume of this size and scope could not have been produced without the assistance of 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 efforts were essential in the evaluation, editorial and production processes. 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 exciting and innovate scholarship they provide the UCI community. The Journal will continue to be a valuable part of how UCI’s undergraduate research community demonstrates UCI’s excellence on a national level.

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 undergraduate research projects through calls for proposals in the fall and spring quarters of each academic year and sponsoring the annual UCI Undergraduate Research Symposium, in addition to the Journal. In the summer of 2001, UROP launched the Summer Undergraduate Research Program (SURP), through which close to 170 students have already conducted research projects. As the scope of undergraduate research continues to grow, a corps of young inquisitive, boldly imaginative, and idealistic scholars is emerging––and we present just a few of them here. We welcome your comments on Volume V of The UCI Undergraduate Research Journal.

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


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