Student Abstracts




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Anita Famili Faculty Mentors: Dr. Nancy Naples, Dr. Mark Petracca

What About Middle Eastern American Ethnic Studies?

Middle Eastern Americans remain an invisible group. They are both interpolated into the category of Caucasian while simultaneously racialized as an "other". They are both denied minority recognition while simultaneously identified as distinct. Middle Eastern Americans do not appropriately fit into the prevailing categories of race. Rather, their ethnic/racial identity is constantly contested. An examination of their history in the United States reveals that Middle Eastern Americans have undergone similar processes of racialization as Chicanos/Latinos, Asian American, African Americans, and Native Americans have experienced. Distorted representations produced by the government and media foster a sense of fear and discrimination towards Middle Eastern Americans. Given the egregious depiction of Middle Eastern Americans, it would seem reasonable that their study would fall under the rubric and endeavors of Ethnic Studies. No body of knowledge produced in the university addresses such issues. The contradictory and inconsistent way in which Middle Eastern Americans are treated have impinged the consideration and, consequent, development of a Middle Eastern American Ethnic Studies program. Through a critical examination of the rhetoric that institutionally paralyzes Middle Eastern Americans as "white" and the parallel methods that serve to racially dichotomize them as "other", Middle Eastern American Ethnic Studies will be situated as a worthy and necessary field for scholarship. The concluding analyses of this study will increase awareness of the racialized experience of Middle Eastern Americans and will challenge the invisibility of Middle Eastern Americans representations in academia. Such findings are hoped to prompt further discussion and consideration for a possible Middle Eastern American Ethnic Studies program.

Nadia Yamel Flores Faculty Mentor: Kristen Hill Maher

Notes From the Field on Qualitative Research

This presentation is going to address the benefits, processes, and implications of doing qualitative research. As my first undergraduate research experience, I became involved in a qualitative research project on immigrant women working as domestics. The project appealed to me since I had passed through that experience myself. My involvement in this research consisted of first doing interviews and later transcribing these interviews. Despite the wonderful experience and human interaction that is part of this kind of research, I find important to address several issues about the process: First, how to confront erroneous stereotypes that we hold as researchers; and second, the desire to step in and influence the lives of the people being interviewed. These issues become more critical in circumstances when the researcher considers herself to have many of the same life experiences, and when the circumstances have been difficult for her as well as for the person being interviewed. I think that these issues are essential to be considered by the research community in general, having in mind that after all, social research is a matter of human interaction, which is always fragile and complex.

Katherine Marie Fookes Faculty Mentor: Dr. Kristen Day

Men's Experiences of Being Feared

Fear of crime has a large impact on the lives of most people. It pervades their thinking and affects their decision making. Research has focused on who fears, the circumstances under which fear is experienced and the effects of being afraid. This exploratory study looks at fear from the perspective of those who are feared. Past research has identified young men as sources of fear, especially for women. Therefore, this study explores young men’s awareness of other people’s fear of them in public places, their reactions to being feared and the consequences of their perceptions that they are feared. Racial differences in these experiences are investigated. In-person interviews are being conducted with 10 White and 10 African American male UCI students. Qualitative analysis is underway. Preliminary analysis shows that Whites and African Americans’ experiences are very different. Whites seem not to be able to relate to being feared. African American men, for the most part, have experienced being feared. They are more aware of people’s fear of them and are able to talk about the effects of being feared. However, there appear to be differences in awareness of, reactions to, and consequences of being feared among African American respondents as well. Further analysis will increase our understanding of men’s experiences of being feared and help explain the differences in their experiences. It will lead to a better understanding of the implications of being feared for those who are feared, those who fear, and their interactions.

Selena Yue Fu Faculty Mentor: Dr. Francisco J. Ayala

Nucleotide Polymorphism in Plasmodium falciparum

Plasmodium falciparum which are resistant to the drug, pyrimethamine, have been reported in virtually every malaria endemic location worldwide. We hypothesized that the drug resistant genotypes (DRGs), identified by five amino acid changes in the dihydrofolate reductase (DHFR) gene, may have independent origins in each geographic location. To test this hypothesis, we examined the DHFR gene for intragenic recombination of silent nucleotide polymorphisms. DRG could arise by a chromosomal amplification mechanism in each population with strong selection fixing resulting mutants. Therefore we would expect no association between particular silent substitutions and amino acid replacements in the DRGs. Silent sites would retain polymorphisms, unaffected by selection. Alternatively, if the DRGs share common origin, and have proliferated globally by sexual recombination, we would predict that the DRGs would have low levels of silent site polymorphism. We examined several P. falciparum DHFR nucleotide sequences previously reported. These parasite isolates were collected from sites in South America, Africa and Southeast Asia. Surprisingly, no silent site substitutions were found in any of these isolates. In fact the only nucleotide substitutions reported are those that result in amino acid replacements associated with pyrimethamine resistance. Silent site polymorphisms should accumulate as a function of time since common ancestry and the neutral mutation rate. Given that the mutation rate is relatively constant, the lack of accumulated polymorphisms in global populations of Plasmodium observed herein can only be explained by a relatively short time to common ancestor of these strains.

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Deborah Lynn Garza Faculty Mentor: Dr. Carol Whalen

Self-Perceived Attentional Problems and Time Perception in University Students

Whereas childhood attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), and attentional problems in general, have been topics of a considerable body of scientific investigation, such phenomena have, until recently, been largely ignored in the study of adults. Clinical and epidemiological studies suggest that certain characteristics of ADHD are pervasive in adulthood, yet there has been little systematic investigation of specific problem domains in adults. This study sought to fill in some gaps in the literature by assessing cognitive impulsivity in young adults. Seventy-nine participants were selected from a larger study that examined the prevalence of self-reported ADHD symptoms using a questionnaire based on the diagnostic criteria specified in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of the American Psychiatric Association (4th rev.). Four groups were selected: males and females with high symptom counts and males and females with low symptom counts. These students participated in a time-perception task in which they estimated one-minute intervals under both distraction and non-distraction conditions. The effects of gender, distraction, and ADHD symptom level on time perception were examined using analyses of variance. These findings will add to our understanding of self-perceptions and attentional problems in young adults.

Marie Sarita Gaytan Faculty Mentor: Dr. Hector Delgado

Affirmative Distraction: Examining College Students' Opinions of Affirmative Action

Despite numerous civil rights laws, court decisions and executive orders, social and sex inequality remain entrenched in American society. Women and members of ethnic minority groups still suffer discrimination both direct and institutional in employment, income, and education. Yet, affirmative action, one of the most important goals of the Civil Rights and women's movement is in danger of being overturned at both the state and federal levels. Recently there has been a re-emergence of the debate related to the underlying motives of peoples' resistance to affirmative action. This re-emergence however has been limited to issues of black and white opinions of affirmative action, without the consideration of other ethnic groups. Because affirmative action is no longer simply a black and white issue, especially in the state of California, this research seeks to investigate what accounts for negative or positive sentiment among students of different ethnic groups.

Glenn Makoto Gaza Faculty Mentor: Dr. Raju Datla

Blackbody Calibration Assessing Diffraction Effects

In calibrating optical devices, such as light sources and optical detectors, a small error in the calibration is produced due to the effects of diffraction. Diffraction occurs when light or any electromagnetic wave passes through a small aperture. This effect may cause an increase or a decrease in the intensity of light detected, depending upon the parameters of the experiment, and will in turn produce errors in the calibration of the source as well as in the detector. Computer simulations have been produced to calculate the effects of diffraction, but experimental confirmation is necessary to test the accuracy of the programs. A Blackbody source was chosen to be the source of electromagnetic waves due to the fact that its intensity can be accurately determined. A table top experiment was designed and set up and is currently in the process of being executed. Data analysis and confirmation are to be performed when experimental data has been collected. In accurately determining the effects of diffraction, errors will be reduced when using any type of optical equipment, such as spectrophotometers, photodiodes, or radiometers. The results of this research will impact many experimental disciplines as well as many scientific industries.

Ginger Glayzer Faculty Mentor: Dr. Ronald L. Meyer

Activation of Thrombin Receptors Causes Retraction of Adult Mouse Optic Axons

Axons of the adult mammalian central nervous system (CNS) fail to regenerate after injury. However, the cellular and molecular mechanisms underlying regenerative failure are largely unknown. In this study, we evaluate the possibility that thrombin, a blood-borne clotting factor released during injury, may activate receptors on axons and inhibit regeneration. Thrombin causes neurite retraction in neuroblastoma cell lines, however these cells display important differences from the adult mammalian cells which undergo regenerative failure. To test the effect of activating thrombin receptors on adult mammalian cells, adult mouse retinal sections in organotypic culture were allowed to extend axons onto a laminin substrate. The thrombin receptors were activated by applying a six amino acid peptide (TRAP) at various concentrations to the growing axons. Axonal growth was evaluated using time lapse videomicroscopy. Axon outgrowth was halted at concentrations of TRAP as low as 40 mM, and axons began to retract at concentrations of 60 mM.

Jacqueline Guzzetta Faculty Mentor: Dr. Daniel Stokols

The Physiological & Psychological Impacts of the Workplace Environment

Historically, the workplace has been a key research component for psychologists, providing an environment for empirical research on behavior since the turn of the century. Considering the majority of the waking hours spent by the typical full-time employee is in their respective workplace, it becomes apparent that the workplace can be an extremely influential environment. This pilot study examines the significance of the workplace environment from a multi-contextual perspective, focusing on the many variables that can be controlled (or responded to) by the employer and discusses the respective physiological and psychological impacts on the individual employee. In addition to "diagnostic walk-throughs", approximately 100 employees within various departments at a targeted corporate environment have been surveyed. Departments will be scored along a continuum ranging from low to high "responsiveness" in an effort to determine a correlation, if any, between employer "responsiveness" and individual well-being. Specific areas examined will be the effects of lighting, ambient environmental conditions, spatial layout, privacy, personalization of workspace, and access to internet resources. The effect of perceived workplace controllability and flexibility from the employer as well as the quality and effectiveness of worksite health promotion and health benefit programs will also be reviewed. Data collection and analyses are currently underway. The anticipated implications of this study will allow corporate decision making personnel the opportunity to provide for the overall health of the employee while optimizing organizational effectiveness and lowering health costs through implementation of preventive measures environmentally.

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Marcia Sanaye Henjyoji Faculty Mentor: Dr. Robin Scarcella

Academic English Vocabulary Acquisition in ESL-Learners at UCI

There has been limited research on the subject of the vocabulary acquisition of students who study English as a Second Language (ESL), even though vocabulary is vital to a student’s education, particularly at the university level. Once students enter the university, it is assumed that they are sufficiently advanced in their English language development to understand the speech of their highly educated professors, and the language of the great writers, thinkers, and scientists who write their textbooks. Because there is a wide variation in how well a student knows a word, ranging from complete unfamiliarity to complete understanding of the pronunciation, use, and meaning of a word, how can educators ensure that the students learn the vocabulary they need to take full advantage of their education at UCI? In 1996, Scarcella and Zimmerman conducted a study at the University of California, Irvine (UCI) of academic words in a second language. Because, overall, the students knew less than 50% of the words, the study implied that the ESL students had a weakness in academic English vocabulary. Extending that study, this project involves the analysis of ten audio-taped interviews of ESL students at UCI. The interviewer asked each student about the pronunciation, definition, context, and usage of 50 academic English vocabulary words. By identifying the problems ESL students are having with the acquisition of academic English vocabulary, this project brings a new understanding of the students’ language development. This understanding prefaces further research and educational reform, so that educators may provide a better education for language minority students.

Brook Lewis Henry Faculty Mentor: Dr. R. Duncan Luce

Influence of Affect on Decision Making

Rank and sign dependent decision-making behavior models such as prospect theory (Kahneman and Tversky, 1979) predict individuals are risk-aversive for gains and risk-seeking for losses. Mennuti (1977) used decision theory gambles to demonstrate that depression is associated with greater risk-aversive behavior for gains, finding that depressed individuals became more risk- seeking as their mood improved. Costello (1983) found that depressed individuals given real life scenarios were more risk-aversive than controls when evaluating losses. The current experiment tested the hypothesis that if presented gamble pairs of equal expected value, normal individuals will be risk-seeking for losses and risk-aversive for gains, but depressed individuals will be risk-aversive for both gains and losses. The prediction that depressed individuals would be more risk-aversive than controls for gains and losses was also examined. Participants were UCI undergraduates, and affect was measured twice with the Center for Epidemiological Studies - Depressed Mood Scale (CSE-D). Data was analyzed using the Kruskal-Wallis and sign tests. For gains, controls did not show any preference, but depressives chose significantly more of the less risky gambles. For losses, controls demonstrated significant preference for high risk gambles, while depressives showed no preference. Depressed participants were significantly more risk-aversive than controls for gains, but no difference was found for losses. These results provided support for the contention that depressed affect causes greater risk-aversive decision-making behavior in gain situations, but did not support the hypothesis of consistent risk-aversive behavior for both gains and losses.

Ronald Lapasaran Ho Faculty Mentor: Dr. Laura Kang

A Feminist Analysis of the Mail Order Bride Phenomenon

How are women commodified? Moreover, how are women commodified when a transnational economy enters various institutions such as marriage? Such questions arise in conducting research on domestic violence. By utilizing a psychological approach, I would like to investigate how abuse is perpetuated in relationships or marriages that occur through the mail order bride industry. I will specifically focus on Pilipina-Caucasian relationships or marriages asking questions such as: What role(s) do cultural and gender stereotypes play in possibly instigating the abuse? Do such relationships commence out of mere loneliness or do they really exist to exercise male power and control? I will define domestic violence through a feminist standpoint and relate it to Pilipina victims. I will also analyze the interrelatedness of specific Asian values such as shame and family loyalty and uncover the degree to which Pilipina/os rely on these beliefs. I also want to examine perceptions of Pilipina sexuality and compare the findings to stereotypes held by Asians and Westerners concerning Asian femininity. I plan to conduct field research and interview workers in GABRIELA, a Pilipina feminist group. I will document their efforts in eradicating/regulating the mail order bride industry and publicize them in my project. I want to learn how they have galvanized their efforts to effect changes in the United States and in the Philippines.

Daniel B. Horne Faculty Mentor: Dr. Ken J. Shea

Bridged Polysilsesquroxane Synthesis and Characterization

The synthesis of hybrid organic-inorganic materials is currently an area of intense research. These materials are unique in that the desirable properties of organic polymers (strength, ease of synthesis) can be combined with the desirable features of inorganic polymers (optical clarity, hardness). Sol-gel polymerization is used for the preparation of these materials which exhibit a unique combination of properties such as high surface area and porosity, thermal stability, and optical non-linearity. The combination of these properties may lead to applications in optical devices, coatings, resins, and as solid support for catalysts in the manufacture of chemicals. Bridged polysilsesquioxane xerogels are hybrid organic-inorganic polymers that are prepared by sol-gel chemistry. It has been shown that the porosity and surface area in the xerogels can be affected by both the selection of the bridging organic group and the method of sol-gel processing. Bis(trialkoxysilyl) monomers were chemically synthesized, and converted into xerogels by hydrolysis and condensation of the bis(trialkoxysilyl) monomers. The purpose of my research was to establish correlations between sol-gel polymerization conditions and the organic bridging functionality with the properties of the final material.

Tracie Ann Horsley Faculty Mentor: Dr. Arthur J. Rubel

Measurement of Complementary & Biomedical Efficacy

This research attempts to measure the efficacy of medical systems. This approach focuses on Chronic Fatigue Immune Dysfunction Syndrome (CFIDS) sufferers’ participation in one of three medical systems: biomedicine, complementary and alternative medicine (CAM), and/or the integration of both systems. The hypothesis of this research is that those CFIDS sufferers who participate in complementary medicine and/or the integration of both will be more likely to have an improved status of their health. Since CFIDS is based on a clinical diagnosis and the causative factors are yet to be identified, there is not a standardized treatment protocol for this disease. As an alternative to bioscience measurements, the Sickness Impact Profile (SIP) will be used to assess the degree to which the illness effects behavior and quality of life. Disease causation beliefs will be analyzed by multi-dimensional scaling. This data will provide details about how participation in a specific medical system corresponds with beliefs about disease. This will provide a way to analyze whether the efficacy of one medical system can be attributed to symbolic meaning or instead suggest physiological efficacy. This research provides an alternative methodology for testing the effectiveness of medical systems and could be applied specifically to controlled experimental research of non-biomedical healing treatments that cannot be measured bioscientifically.

Trasa Hung Faculty Mentor: Dr. Norman M. Weinberger

Tuning of Evoked Potentials in the Primary Auditory Cortex of the Awake Rat

Neurons in the auditory cortex (ACx) are tuned to specific acoustic frequencies. This tuning is not fixed but rather can be shifted to the frequency of an acquired behaviorally important stimulus (Weinberger, 1995). Evoked potentials, the summation of post-synaptic potentials, might reveal learning effects that are below threshold for cellular discharge. Previous studies have investigated evoked potentials in the primary auditory cortex of awake rats using clicks at a high intensity (Shaw, 1995). However, the tuning of evoked potentials have not been reported for the waking animal. The purpose of this experiment is to determine and characterize the tuning of primary cortical auditory evoked potentials. Recordings were made from awake, semi-restrained rats bearing an electrode chronically implanted in the ACx previously (3 - 10 days). Sequences (n = 20 - 64) of 11 tones ranging from .972 kHz to 30 kHz over a range of 20 dB to 90 dB were delivered monaurally at a rate of 1/s to the ear contralateral to the ACx. Tuning was found in all subjects, with a threshold of 20 dB to 40 dB. The amplitude of the evoked potentials and the bandwidth (frequency range of responses) increased with increasing intensity. The best frequency (the peak of the tuning curve) was approximately the same across intensities within a subject. It was concluded that evoked potentials can be used to show subthreshold, frequency-specific tuning in the primary auditory cortex.

Lisa Hunt Faculty Mentor: Dr. Douglass-Scott Goheen

Much Ado About Design

The world of the theater is a magical one. In this realm of imagination, scenic and costume designers apply their inspiration and ingenuity to paint and cloth, resulting in a visual picture that has impact on the audience before the actors speak a word. Within the limits of the director’s vision, a designer may choose any approach he or she wishes to take on a play and breathe new life into a production. In particular, classic theatrical works possess a timeless quality that facilitates translation into different time periods and locales. Just imagine the comedy and spectacle of William Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing, set in post-World War II New Orleans, at the time of Mardi Gras. The possibilities for design are endless: The Cities of the Dead, The French Quarter, Cajuns and Creoles, masquerades, King Rex. The lights, color, dazzle, glitz and mystery of the Carnival. Swing music gliding through lantern-lit darkness. Ladies and Gentlemen of the Royal Court. Wrought-iron railings and shuttered windows. Banners in the official colors of Mardi Gras - purple for justice, gold for power and green for faith. The theatrical themes of trickery and mistaken identity easily make themselves at home amidst these splendid settings. The words of Beatrice and Hero, Benedict and Don Pedro come to life here, resurrected in the joie de vivre of "the City that Care Forgot." Shakespeare could not help but approve...

Judy Hwee Faculty Mentor: Dr. Sanjoy Mazumdar

Groups at Work & Social Networks in an Organizational Environment

Communication is a key to interaction with others. As a society who scurries and rushes off to perform lists of duties, technology and ingenious inventions have given people new ways to communicate and adapt to time demanding schedules. The use of pagers, e-mail, internet, and other mechanisms affect how people on-the-go, especially co-workers, interact and communicate on a day-to-day basis. A review of the literature reveals that areas of organizational communication focuses solely on a quantitative basis and in a laboratory setting. Past researchers fail to study the qualitative content of the interaction in a natural setting, whether communication is oriented around business or personal matters, and how informal and formal means of communication is affected from a employees perspective. A case study on an orange county organization plans to describe the informal and formal modes of communication which can influence job efficiency and satisfaction. Data collection in the form of interviews with approximately 30 subjects has begun. The findings will help open a direction to prospective research in effective modes of personal and business communication in the workplace.

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