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Are First-Borns More Likely to be Abused? Birth Order as a Risk Factor for Child Abuse in Abusive Multi-Child Households

Julianne Ohlander
Mentor: Dr. Kenneth Chew

Are first-borns more likely to be abused than later-borns? This is an important question to answer as child abuse reports are increasing at alarming rates. This study focuses on birth order as a risk factor for child abuse in abusive multi-child households. A sample of approximately two hundred and thirty physical and sexual abuse incidents from multi-child households were obtained from the child protective agency in a large California county. The sample consists of court cases (severe abuse occurred). Incidents were included based on the following criteria: occurrence of physical or sexual abuse, multiple children in the household, a caretaker as the perpetrator, and the ages of the children could be determined. The majority of the project involved reviewing literature, defining birth order, deciding whether to analyze the household or the incident, creating a method of coding and analyzing the data, and hand-coding child abuse case files. Preliminary analysis suggests that a greater percentage of reported incidents involve first-born victims. Possible explanations include a lack of parenting skills combined with the younger age of parents, presence of more first-borns than later-borns in households, and failure to fulfill high parental expectations combined with high demands placed on first-born children. Further analysis will control for age, sex, sibship size, household size, and the presence of parents.



Don Ojoko-Adams
Mentor: Dr. John Dombrink

During a period when the prison population is increasing at an astronomical rate in tandem with an expanding correctional system it is inadequate to solely investigate why individuals are committing illegal acts. It is additionally required that we discern why offenders maintain a criminal pattern of behavior upon release from correctional facilities. Perhaps through studying ex-offenders who have ended their own criminal careers can we obtain a viable solution to our dilemma. Through interviews with those who "desist" this study will attempt to ascertain their strategies that would conceivably reduce the rate of recidivism. Thus the focus of the study would be to observe the motivating factors driving the termination of criminal activity, also to observe methods utilized by ex-offenders in maintaining non-criminal behavior. Data gathering and analysis are currently underway. At present 20-30 interviews are scheduled to be completed. During interviews the investigator will inquire regarding subject’s past offending history and methods utilized to overcome barriers to re-entry into society.


The Accessibility of Advanced Placement Courses

Lorena Olivarez
Mentors: Dr. Caesar Sereseres & Ms. Susan Wilbur

In the past, Advanced Placement courses have proven to be successful in terms of increasing the confidence level of students enrolled in AP classes, by preparing them for college level work, and by increasing their performance standards. Unfortunately, the same opportunities, the quality of education and accessibility of AP classes is not the same for all high schools in California. This is due to numerous reasons, but for the purpose of this research, only the accessibility of the AP classes in different high schools will be studied. The aim of this project is to determine what the mechanism is in order for students to enroll in AP classes. Ten high schools were selected from suburban, urban, and rural areas. One AP coordinator or teacher was interviewed from each school to determine the accessibility of AP classes and what each school is doing to motivate and offer more students the opportunity to take advantage of these classes. The interviews are set up to explore the attitudes of the coordinators/teachers towards the AP Program at their school. Furthermore, this study will define the criteria each school uses to allow the student to enroll, how many AP courses each high school offers, and how many students take the exam. The findings of this study are expected to be unique among each school. It is predicted that each school will have similar selection processes. However, the availability of the AP classes will be limited in some schools particularly those in rural and urban areas.


Subjective Experience in an Objective World

Joan Pan
Mentor: Dr. David Woodruff Smith

What is human existence? It seems in this triumphant age of science and technology, we are explaining more and more of the world around us, but there are still aspects of human existence which elude the explanatory grasp of science. These aspects include the subjectivity and the first-person perspective through which the world is consciously experienced. How is this subjective consciousness which carries human existence reconciled with the fact that we are biological, physical beings with brains? Physical science at present, by virtue of its objective nature, fails to answer this completely. In hopes of attaining a comprehensive answer for the undeniable subjectivity of human experience, this project studies phenomenological and contemplative traditions as well. While neurobiology and the cognitive sciences view conscious experience as a function grounded in neural networks, phenomenology further describes how it is through consciousness that a person reaches beyond self and experiences the world. Husserl propounds a rigorous scientific method with which to study the subjective conscious experiences a person has of the world. Following Husserl, Sartre declares consciousness and its resulting free will as processes which define the person in the world. Contemplative practices present a notion of consciousness, of which the conventional western conception of consciousness is but a distorted derivation, containing no dualisms. In attaining this enlightened consciousness, one transcends the dualisms of self and world, subjective and objective; it is thus that the contradiction of human existence—subjective experiences of an objective world—can be conciliated.


The World of Reedmaking

Dwight Parry
Mentor: Dr. Jonathan Davis

Since early in the seventeenth century, when the oboe was developed, the double reed of the instrument has been a constant source of frustration to oboists everywhere. Of course, the process of reed-making has changed a lot since the early seventeenth century, but the basics have actually changed very little. The same type of cane is used (a bamboo from the Var region of France), the process of gouging the cane is practically identical (although there have been improvements to the gouging machine), and the fundamental principles behind scraping the reed are nearly the same. However, the "shaping" of the cane has not only changed dramatically since the Renaissance and Baroque periods of music, but the shapes used even today vary greatly among professional oboists. The shape determines the quality of sound, the relative intonation of the reed, and it’s ease of response. Of course, these things are also governed by the way the reed is scraped, but with a consistent scrape, one will find marked differences between reeds of varied shape. Therefore, this study involves creating dozens reeds using a consistent scrape while varying the shape of the cane. The secret to a good reed lies in the way the cane is shaped and by probing that variable with this type of study we benefit the professional lives of not only myself, but of any oboist who finds it worthwhile to peruse the findings.


Sexual Health Attitudes & Behaviors of UCI Undergraduates

Padmini Parthasarathy
Mentor: Dr. Ross Conner

Sexual health is a pressing issue today, with the fear of HIV and the high incidence of unintended pregnancy in the United States. These are special concerns in the college student population. In one study (Prince and Bernard, 1998) of a university, half of those sample reported that they never used condoms and only one-tenth reported using condoms 100% of the time. The current study gathered information about the sexual health attitudes and behaviors of 203 UCI undergraduates, who were surveyed in two large undergraduate classes at UCI. Data analysis is currently underway and will focus on evaluating: 1) subjects’ attitudes and behaviors regarding HIV/Sexually Transmitted Infections and condom use; 2) subjects’ attitudes and behaviors regarding pregnancy and contraceptive use; and 3) peer and sociocultural influences on sexual health. Models of health behavior change are useful in understanding sexual health behaviors and practices. One such model is the Health Belief Model (Fan, Conner & Villareal, 1996). Three main variables in this model explain why many people do not take action to prevent asymptomatic diseases: 1) the individual’s perceived susceptibility to a health risk, 2) the individual’s estimate of the severity of the risk, and 3) the individual’s assessment of the effectiveness of the suggested illness-preventing or health-promoting action. The assessment of the needs of one’s target population is a necessary component to planning effective health education programs, thus the results of this study will be provided to UCI Health Education for use in planning and implementing sexual health education programs.


Opiate Activity in Self-Injurious and Agitation Behavior

Piyal Patel
Mentor: Dr. Aleksandra DeMet

Opiate blockers have been effective in decreasing self-injurious behavior (SIB) in adults with developmental disorders. Treatment efficiency has been associated with the degree of endogenous beta-endorphin (b E) elevation after an SIB episode. The present study examines the opiate and hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis system in 41 institutionalized adults (ages 23-71years) divided into four behavior groups: SIB (N=12), agitation behavior (AB; N=9), SIBAB (N=10), and nonSIBnonAB (control; N=10). Plasma b E, ACTH, and cortisol levels were measured in the morning (peak 8am), evening (nadir 4pm), after AB or SIB, and at target behavior control periods. Among the four groups, b E and ACTH levels were highest in the AB group. Morning ACTH (pooled t=-2.43, p=0.03, df=17) and evening b E levels (pooled t= -2.53, p=0.02, df=16) were significantly elevated in the AB group compared to the control and SIBAB group, respectively. As expected, cortisol levels were higher in the morning than in the evening, but did not differ significantly between groups at other samplings. While plasma b E, ACTH and cortisol levels were higher after an AB or SIB episode compared to a target behavior control period, highly significant (p<0.05) increases in b E and ACTH were observed after an AB episode in the AB group compared to the SIBAB group. These results establish a profile of neuroendocrine measures which may serve as predictors of opiate blocker treatment response in SIB.


Langmuir Monolayer of Protein Binding

Forest Patton
Mentor: Dr. Michael Dennin

Annexins are a class of membrane proteins that are characterized by a high affinity binding to phospholipid  membranes in response to various triggers. However, the details of the mechanisms and their physiological function have not been clearly defined. We will report on measurements of isotherms of Langmuir monolayers made with mixtures of phospholipids both in the presence and absence of the annexins. Langmuir monolayers are monomolecular films at the air-water interface that are a useful model for biological membranes. By measuring isotherms (surface pressure as a function of area/molecule) under a range of conditions, we will be able to infer information about the mechanisms of the binding between the monolayer and the proteins. From this knowledge, we hope to glean some new understanding of how proteins interact with cell membranes within the body.


Strength and Stiffness Analysis in Timber Structures

Regina Pau
Mentor: Dr. Gerald Pardoen

The design and construction of buildings to withstand wind and seismic loads affect their ultimate performance. Studies to find the ideal construction material, especially in areas with frequent earthquake occurrences, are turning to timber. Wood is an abundant, cost-effective resource that safeguards against seismic forces due to its light-weight and flexibility to absorb forces. Additionally, it is not only a renewable resource, but through photosynthesis, wood removes carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and replaces it with oxygen. The current research draws upon wooden shear walls and diaphragms as the dominating structural elements investigated to resist lateral loading. Diaphragms and shear walls are similar in construction (main members, 2x4’s, plywood), even though shear walls are vertical, while diaphragms are horizontal structures. Initially, numerous timber structures are constructed in the Structural Testing Hall, comprised of different model sizes and nail types, as well as varying nail patterns. All repair, retrofit, and newly constructed models then undergo cyclic loading that subjects these panels to ever increasing reversed-cyclic (push/pull) loads. This testing procedure simulates the ground’s motion as seen in earthquakes. Consequently, the timber research explores possible failure modes and the significance of nails to extend the strength and stiffness of the structures. Knowledge about the properties of wood panels improves the design of shear walls and diaphragms, in hope of preventing catastrophic consequences, as in past earthquakes. Understanding the behavior of timber structures will enhance the use of wood as a valuable alternative to the construction industry.


Hemispheric Free Trade and Fast Track Politics: A Case Study of Chile

Maria Pelayo
Mentor: Dr. Caesar Sereseres

United States foreign policy is increasingly aiming for political and economic cooperation. Trade blocks are an important element in this goal. President Bush pioneered the idea of "Hemispheric Free Trade." He introduced a vision of free trade throughout the Americas. In 1997, Bush’s vision resurfaced. Debates in Washington over granting the President "Fast track" authority ensued. Fast track would enable President William Clinton to invite Chile to be the fourth member of NAFTA. Various analysts investigated the politics in Washington or defined Chile’s economic status in detail. This current study builds on these investigations by providing "The Chilean Perspective." The study uses a methodology similar to the one Sergio Aguayo uses to compile his book, Myths and [Mis]perceptions: Changing US Elite Visions of México. This study, like Aguayo’s uses the newspaper as a means of analysis. The analysis leads to a revelation of the inside politics that form the Chilean perspective. The findings of this study are expected to increase our understanding of the Chile’s political stance on NAFTA.


Information and Communications Technologies (ICTs) and Local Government

Mei Mei Peng
Mentor: Dr. Mark Petracca

The evolution of technology proves inevitable. It is already seen in the rapid growth of the Internet, an interactive, ubiquitous, world-wide communications system with phenomenal speed and ease. Potentially, electronic town halls, telephone elections, The White House and Congress on-line, grass-roots networks, and interactive television can offer viable forums of interactive participation for citizens. The ways in which citizens and government utilize new technologies in the electronic age will ultimately change traditional forms of participation at the local, state, national, and even international levels. Traditionally in American representative democracy, citizens participate indirectly through the election of representatives. With ICTs, previous practical arguments against direct participatory democracy become insignificant. In light of the debates between direct and representative government and specific debates in the literature on ICTs, this research project will discuss the extent to which local elected and appointed municipal officials observe, support, and actualize the prediction that ICTs will facilitate more participation. Data collected from the 31 cities in Orange County produce findings that are expected to increase our understanding of the current uses and practicalities of ICTs for future application and usage.


The Street Vendors of Santa Ana: A Case Study in Immigrant Informal Economy and Ethnic Politics

Evelyn Perez
Mentor: Dr. Caesar Sereseres

My research project was mainly to learn about the process of change that culminated in the termination of Fourth Street's vendors in Santa Ana. I looked closely at the policies and practices of Santa Ana City officials and the role of the Downtown Santa Ana Business Association with reference to street vendors. In gathering this information I was able to learn what effects these policies have had on the vendors' social, economic and political lives. In this paper, I analyze data gathered in a voluntary and an anonymous surveys and interviews of the vendors that have been affected by these new policies. In addition to the survey and interviews, I took pictures to capture the unique environment of Fourth Street that has been part of the character that has built Santa Ana’s downtown history. The pictures, surveys and interviews are valuable tools to better understand the effects of the current policy aimed at removing the vendors. This combination of recording history through pictures, surveys and personal interviews will be critical in completing my research report.


Effect of Breathing Conditions on the Measurement of the Diffusing Capacity of Nitric Oxide

Federico Perez
Mentor: Dr. Steven George

This present study focuses on the lungs’ diffusing capacity of nitric oxide (NO, DL,NO) by using absorption of exogenous NO in the lung tissue. Assuming the lung behaves like a sphere and conserves the volume of lung tissue, and knowing DL,NO is related to alveolar volume (VA) exponentially we can derive a relationship; DL,NO = a Vb. By mass balance equations we can derive a mathematical model during a single exhalation at constant F, where alveolar concentration (CA) will decrease according to the following model:


where CA0 is the initial concentration, FE is the expired flow rate of NO, FI is the inspiratory flow rate of NO, VA0 is the initial alveolar volume, and tbh is the breath hold time. Estimates of a , K and b are accomplished by non-linear least square methods. Preliminary results suggests that 2/3 < b < 4/3, which is consistent with physical and theoretical limitations. K is a constant parameter that ranges from 0 to 1 and that relates how well the lung is well mixed and sequentially filled. K reaches a maximum of 1 when the lung perfectly mixes the gas inside it while 0 when it does not mix the gas at all. The variables FI, FE, and tbh are the breathing conditions that will be tested experimentally. The impact of FI on the predicted value of DL,NO is analyzed and measurements are reported. Our goal will be to verify that the DL,NO does not change with any given FI.


Three Generations of Vietnamese Americans: The Refugee Experience from War to Orange County

Julie Pham
Mentor: Dr. Caesar Sereseres

America is a land built on the rich and diverse culture of the immigrant population. The stories of each group gives us a glimpse into their past. In 1975, America was introduced to a new term "refugee," as thousands of South East Asians flooded into the country. Many Vietnamese nationals came to America to rebuild their lives and their children’s because communism completely disrupted their lifestyle. Little has been written about their perception of the French occupation, the Vietnam War or their struggles to adapt to American culture. Through interviews with my family on their background, I am attempting to capture a piece of this history. It was very difficult to obtain information from my family because they had lived in an environment of fear and distrust in Vietnam. This is a common problem researchers face when they try to investigate further into the Vietnamese American community. The Vietnamese Americans can never forget the horrors they experienced in Vietnam even though they have rebuilt their lives here. Symbols of communism continue to spark resentment, anger and bitterness such as the recent protest in Little Saigon. I want to document the Vietnamese American experience through my family’s story, so that future interactions with the Vietnamese community will not be clouded by ignorance.


The Effects of Introspectiveness on Depression in College Students

Katrina Ptucha
Mentor: Dr. David Dooley

For reasons not yet completely understood, college students suffer from a higher incidence of depression than their peers who do not attend a four-year institution. In 1985, Hansell and Mechanic found that self-awareness led to negative self-evaluations and an increase in the intensity of reported emotions. They defined the characteristic of introspectiveness as the tendency to devote diffuse attention to thoughts and feelings about the self, and they found that this trait was linked to depression. One year later, in 1986, Hansell, Mechanic, and Brondolo proposed that the more introspective the student, the more likely they will major in self-oriented fields such as the Arts, Humanities, and Psychology. In the current investigation, over 100 students from over 4 different majors were given a questionnaire to ascertain their major, level of depression, and level of introspectiveness in order to determine if the 1986 postulation was true. The results will show what the relationship is between depression, the trait of introspectiveness, and the student’ choice of major. Data analysis is currently underway. The findings of this study are expected to shed light on the reasons why college students suffer from depression more often than their peers who do not attend college. Hopefully, with greater understanding of the related traits, school counseling centers can address the problem of student depression more successfully.


An Oral History of Filipina Experiences During the Japanese Occupation of the Philippines

Roman Racela
Mentor: Dr. Anne Walthall

Historical accounts written on World War II in the Philippines have traditionally omitted women’s experiences. Not until recently has this been rectified. However, such accounts have only been published in obscure places and very few can be found in academic journals. This research is an attempt to give a female participant’s voice to documentation about life in the Philippines during the Japanese occupation. This research also focuses on creating an understanding of this particular event by emphasizing the important details about how women saw and experienced the war. Most of the information and findings contained in this work came from interviews with two elderly Filipinas who experienced the war and are now residing in San Diego, California. However, this project got its inspiration primarily from an article published on the Internet, Americanitos: Life During the Japanese Occupation of the Philippines written by Ray Bacon. This article is a biography of a young Filipina, Leonie Faulve, and how she saw and experienced life during the Japanese occupation. Nevertheless, this research draws from a variety of women’s experiences. These range from starvation, avoiding Japanese soldiers, the misfortune of being displaced from homes, to the heart-breaking experiences of rape victims. The price of life and freedom were high for these women as their spirits were tested; they suffered horribly in the middle of trying times.


Expression of a Soluble Type II Receptor Inhibits TGF-b Actions in COLO-357 Pancreatic Cancer Cells

Sonia Ralli
Mentor: Dr. Murray Korc

Human pancreatic cancers express TGF-b , and its overexpression has been correlated with decreased survival of pancreatic cancer patients. TGF-b actions are dependent on its ability to bind Tb RII, which heterodimerizes with Tb RI, thereby activating downstream signaling. It was hypothesized that in the presence of an antagonist, such as soluble Tb RII, the TGF-b would bind the latter and exhibit a decreased capacity to bind membrane-bound Tb RII, thus blocking the TGF-b signaling pathway. COLO-357 pancreatic cancer cells are growth inhibited by TGF-b . The purpose of this project was to obtain other soluble Tb RII clones via stable transfections into COLO-357 and identify the most biologically active clones in vitro. Northern analysis confirmed that COLO #16, #22, and #36 express soluble Tb RII. Western Blot analysis revealed that the three soluble receptor clones exhibit decreased induction, compared with Sham (control) cells, of a cyclin-dependent protein kinase (p21) in response to TGF-b . In addition, cell growth assays indicated that clone #16 was the least growth inhibited by treatment with TGF-b . The biological effects of clones expressing soluble Tb RII will be assessed in vivo in nude mice. We will thus be able to test the hypothesis that the soluble Tb RII inhibits the paracrine actions of TGF-b and may play an important role in suppressing tumor formation in vivo.


Isolation of Fibrinogen Phosphopeptides by Affinity Chromatography

Andrea Randall
Mentor: Dr. Agnes Henschen-Edman

The intent of this study was to devise a method for the isolation of phosphopeptides from fibrinogen. It is known that there is an increase in the amount of fibrinogen phosphorylation in babies. There is also an increase in the amount of fibrinogen and its phosphorylation after surgery which may be linked with an increased risk of thrombosis. There has not been an investigation into whether conformational or functional changes occur with this increase. For this reason, I studied iron 3+-chelate affinity chromatography and its ability to isolate phosphopeptides from fibrinogen. By isolating phosphopeptides, the amount and position of phosphorylation can be determined. I cleaved the fibrinogen disulfide bridges with mercaptoethanol in the presence of guanidine. I then digested the sample with trypsin to obtain suitably small fragments. I ran the fibrinogen digest over an iron 3+-chelate-sepharose column that selectively binds phosphopeptides. The phosphopeptides were eluted when I added a competing buffer. Two phosphopeptides were retained along with two nonspecific binding peptides. It was found that the two contaminant peptides bound nonspecifically to the column because they continued to bind after I treated the sample with phosphatase, which removed all phosphate groups. This method is useful because it can be used to isolate phosphopeptides from proteins without knowing where the phosphate groups are located.


Phonological Awareness & Working Memory: Their Relation to Reading Ability in Adulthood

Gina Rappleye
Mentor: Dr. Virginia Mann

In order to successfully read an alphabetic writing system, one must be able to break words down into individual units of sound called phonemes, from which language is comprised. Another important aspect of reading ability may be the holding of such units of language in working memory for the appropriate application of rules necessary for understanding written text. This implies that the effectiveness of working memory may be positively related to a greater ability to read. To date these observations are predominantly supported by studies of elementary age children. The current study explored this role of phonological awareness on reading ability, along with the need for working memory to contain and manipulate these phonetic representations of language, but looked instead at young adults. Also incorporated into this study were measures of morphological awareness and naming speed which have similarly been shown to have an influence on reading ability. Thirty undergraduate volunteers were tested with measures of phonological awareness, working memory, morpheme analyses, naming speed, reading ability and reading comprehension. Along with these, a motor skills task was given as a control for non-verbal influences in the reading process. Data analysis for this study is currently underway. The findings are expected to aid in defining the relationship between working memory and the ability of experienced adult readers to phonologically represent and manipulate written words. These results will aid in a better understanding of reading processes, which in turn will help improve methods to successfully teach the ability to read.


Searching for Evidence of Neutrino Mass with AMANDA

Corey Reed
Mentor: Dr. Steven Barwick

Neutrinos were once thought to be elementary particles having no electric charge and no mass. However, recent evidence by the Super Kamiokande experiment suggests that neutrinos have a small mass. These tiny particles, of which more than 40 billion pass through every square centimeter of the earth every second, come in three different flavors: electron, muon and tau. Neutrinos can change in flavor, but only if they are massive particles. Because they are so numerous, massive neutrinos may be a candidate for the dark matter in the universe. This study explores the possibility of detecting neutrino oscillations using the Antarctic Muon and Neutrino Detector Array (AMANDA), a telescope constructed at the south pole designed to search for astrophysical sources of high energy neutrinos. The probability that a neutrino will change flavor depends on its energy; thus, neutrino oscillations can be observed by counting the number of neutrinos at a given energy. Computer simulations are used to test AMANDA’s ability to measure the energy of a neutrino. The direction and energy of the simulated events are reconstructed and compared to the known values.


Cross-Cultural Perceptions of Self

Alicia Rocha
Mentor: Dr. Nancy Naples

Various factors influence the ways in which individuals view themselves as active or inactive participants of society. Such factors include ethnic background, economic class, geographic origin and political affiliation. Dependent upon an individual’s interaction with these variables, the individual may be seen as an active or inactive participant in society. Caucasian-American’s tend to feel more comfortable with and participate more in politics than do minorities. This due to the fact that minorities and individuals from lower economic classes, feel that their opinions in politics does not matter. This is thought to be one of the many causes for individuals in minority communities not participating in political campaigns and activities.


Nucleophilic Addition to a C-5 Substituted Pyran Oxonium Ion

Jan Antoinette Romero
Mentor: Dr. Keith Woerpel

Substituted pyran rings are important targets for chemical synthesis due to their presence in many sugars, therapeutic agents, and functional membranes of living organisms. For example, glucose, a major energy source for living organisms, is a pyranose ring. Pharmaceutical companies attempt to synthesize pyran derivatives in their search for biologically important drugs. The synthesis of pyran-derived substrates would be facilitated by a fundamental understanding of the chemical reactivity of the pyran system. My research focused on the conformational effects of a C-5 substituent upon nucleophile additions to pyran oxonium ion intermediates. I synthesized various C-5 substituted pyrans, and after treating with a Lewis acid catalyst, generated the oxonium ion. Generally, six-membered rings favor the conformation where the substituent is equatorial rather than axial. However, Miljkovic et. al. had demonstrated that the galactose derived oxonium ion is formed faster than the glucose (the C-5 epimer of galactose) derived oxonium ion, thus implying that an axial substituent at C-5 of a pyran ring helps to stabilize the pyran oxonium ion by donating electron density across the ring. Upon trapping in situ of the oxonium ion with a nucleophile, analysis of the final product indicated that the favored oxonium ion orientates the C-5 substituent in the axial position. Relative stereochemistry of the products was determined by 1H NMR spectroscopy and the product diastereomeric ratios were determined by gas chromatography.


Interleukin 4 (IL-4) Production During Development of Type I Diabetes

Ramon Ruiz
Mentor: Dr. Monique Berman

Insulin Dependent Diabetes Mellitus (IDDM) is an autoimmune disease in which the insulin producing b -cells in the pancreas are destroyed by the body's immune system. Possible inducers of IDDM include viruses that resemble auto-antigens, genetics, and an imbalance of Th1 and Th2 cytokine production. The levels of the Th2 cytokine, Interleukin-4 (IL-4), were measured from Peripheral Blood Mononucleur Cells stimulated with the mitogen PHA using a sandwich ELISA. This experiment was part of the NIH's Diabetes Prevention Trial, whose goal is to try to find a way to predict and prevent the onset of IDDM. The results indicate that there is as statistically significant difference (p<0.05) between the IL-4 levels of control subjects and those who acquired IDDM during the trial. Other factors such as allergies, genetic predisposition, and pathogen infection have to be considered before making a direct connection between IL-4 levels and the degree of susceptibility to IDDM.


The Occurrence of the LTIIa Toxin Gene in Small and Large Human Sewage Treatment Facilities

Hector Salas
Mentor: Dr. Betty Olsen

Non-point source runoff from animals can create a disease potential in drinking water sources which is a major concern in watershed management. Indicators of fecal pollution in watersheds do not identify the source of the contamination. Enterotoxigenic E. coli toxin genes provide a promising index to identify the type of fecal pollution in water. A method previously developed by Oshiro and Olson (1997) used the STIb toxin gene associated with E. coli to identify human fecal pollution. Sewage samples of one liter were collected, the DNA was extracted followed by PCR to determine the presence of the toxin gene. From this research, the STIb toxin gene was present in large sewage treatment facilities [> 2 MGD(Million Gallons per Day)] but not in smaller treatment facilities (<2 MGD). Further research in this laboratory showed that smaller human sewage treatment facilities were positive for the LTIIa toxin gene but not in larger treatment facilities; therefore LTIIa may be used as an alternative biomarker for human sewage. Due to this result, the research project is addressing the question, does the LTIIa toxin gene occur in small treatment facilities rather than large. Current results have shown that the LTIIa toxin gene was neither detected in large sewage treatment facilities (IRWD, Los Alisos WD, OCSD, Yucaipa Valley WD) nor in one small sewage treatment facility screened (Beaumont WD). However, other small treatment facilities have yet to be determined. If we find that the LTIIa toxin gene occurs in small human sewage treatment facilities then LTIIa can be used as an alternative indicator of human sewage in watersheds.


Why a Revolutionary Movement Fragments after Armed Conflict: The Case of the Salvadoran FMLN

Oscar Salgado
Mentor: Dr. Caesar Sereseres

The armed guerrilla movements in Latin America have experienced a great deal of change during the 1990s-from the fall of Sandinismo to the rise of the left in Venezuela. The revolutionary left has agreed to lay down their weapons and opted for the ballot box as a means of fighting an old war. However, in moving from a political military front to a civilian political party, the revolutionary left has been shaken up by internal conflicts ranging from ideological restructuring to personal attack between the party’s leadership. No other guerrilla movement has experienced such an internal turmoil than the Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front (FMLN). During the 12-year civil war in El Salvador, the FMLN scored major victories against the U.S financed Salvadoran military. But upon the FMLN returned to civilian politics, an internal conflict exploded within the party. Through interviews with FMLN officials, I will understand the reasons why the revolutionary party is going through an identity crisis.


Human Reaction Time as Indexed by Electroencephalography (EEG)

Debora Sedaghat
Mentors: Dr. Ronald Gordon & Dr. Arnold Star

In humans, reaction time to sensory stimulation is highly variable. For example, reaction time to tones can vary between 200-350 ms for an individual. Between individuals, this variability is even higher. Previous studies on behaving rhesus monkeys suggest that this variability is due in part to the number of neurons activated prior to movement (Hanes and Schall, 1996.) In our experiment, we studied this variability in humans by using non-invasive EEG to measure the electrical activity of the brain both before and during movement in a target detection task. Subjects listened to a sequence of tones and were instructed to respond to an infrequently occurring high tone (target) by pressing a button. We hypothesized that brain potentials of greater amplitude (due to increased neuronal activity) would occur when reaction times are fast. Results showed, on average, that fast reaction times were associated with larger pre-movement brain potentials. When pre-movement potentials were small, the reaction time was slow. However, we also revealed that practice tends to weaken this correlation. We suspect that practice enables the individual to generate a maximum brain potential for all trials and thus reduce variability in reaction time.


A Neurocorrective Approach to the MMPI-2 Profiles of Patients with Multiple Sclerosis

Ankur Shah
Mentor: Dr. Linda Nelson

Multiple Sclerosis (MS) is a disease characterized by damage of the myelin sheaths surrounding axons in the Central Nervous System or Peripheral Nervous System, or both. It results in slow progression of disease course and may affect motor, visual, and cognitive functions. In patients with MS it is very difficult to evaluate psychopathology through traditional testing because physical signs of the disease may artificially increase psychopathology. To overcome effects of physical problems and to better elucidate the subjects emotional condition, a procedure was developed which considers these effects in scoring. This scoring procedure effectively removes physical symptoms when determining psychopathology and thus allows for a purer measure of psychiatric problems. This correction procedure was first applied to results of one of the most widely used personality tests, the MMPI-2. The aim of this one-year retest was to determine if MS patients have experienced any change in emotional functioning over the last year. Equally important, we hope to demonstrate that when physical disabilities are removed from item analysis (using a correction) emotional levels will be significantly reduced. This follow-up is particularly important because we are able to evaluate how emotional functioning changes in MS based upon different courses of the disease type. Furthermore, if in fact psychopathology increases in MS patients, perhaps proper aid can be given to prevent or remediate such emotional change early on. Having early intervention available in a more timely manner will prove invaluable to patients with MS.


The World is a Stage: Theatricality, Conventionality, and the Role-Playing of Charlotte Charke

Priya Shah
Mentor: Dr. Robert Folkenflik

Eighteenth-century British actress, Charlotte Charke, was notorious for her cross-dressing both on- and off-stage. A common theme found in research done on Charke is the theatricality inherent in her life. Theatricality is a heightened concern for representing the elements of theatre, such as performance, acting, and the dramatic, both on the stage and in other contexts. The roles Charke undertakes support her theatricality and also unearth Charke’s conflicted relationship with conventionality. Firstly, along with dramatic roles, Charke played a number of real life male avocational and occupational roles, all retold in A Narrative of the Life of Mrs. Charlotte Charke (1755). Although motivations for the taking of each role differ, the underlying motivation of theatricality always exists. Secondly there are the stage roles which Charke debuted. The existence of typecasting allows for strong assumptions regarding her audience-perceived identity: it is apparent that by 1736, her audience considered Charke an irrevocably unconventional woman. In writing the Narrative, Charke interprets the role of author as that of playwright and attempts to reconcile the dichotomy that exists between her untraditional life and the conventional persona she seeks to forward to her readers by emphasizing the theatricality in her transgressions. However, a thorough analysis of critical responses to Charke from 1755 through the early twentieth century show that Charke’s attempt was unsuccessful. Her Narrative is, almost uniformly, taken as attestation of a most unconventional life and Charke is used to make a moral example of corrupted womanhood.


Phonological Awareness, Letter Knowledge, and Home Literacy in Early Reading Ability

Sheela Shah
Mentor: Dr. Virginia Mann

Successful reading is an essential component of learning, yet it is a difficult task for many young children to acquire. Many past researchers have argued that approaches stressing the phonological aspects of written language may be more beneficial in helping young children in starting to read (Elbro, Borstrom, & Petersen, 1998; Wagner & Torgesen, 1987). Phonological awareness is the ability to understand, control, and manipulate small units of sound within words and syllables. Since the English alphabet is a phonological system, it may be essential to have a basic phonemic sensitivity in order to read. The present study investigates home environment and different parental teaching techniques, along with other factors such as phonological awareness, letter knowledge, and working memory, in predicting young children’s later reading ability. This study will compare 30 preschoolers’ home literacy environments (measured through parental questionnaires) with the preschooler’s performance on pre-reading tasks of phoneme sensitivity, morphological knowledge, vocabulary, letter/sound knowledge, and working memory. Through data analysis, results from the different reading tasks will be compared to answers on the parental home literacy questionnaires in order to determine which factors influence young children’s reading ability. If phonological awareness, and home literacy, are critical factors in early reading ability, then perhaps a greater emphasis on appropriate phoneme-related reading instruction in the classroom, as well as a richer home reading environment, will give children an early advantage to reading.


Responses of Hydra vulgaris to Temperature Gradients

Farah Shamszadeh
Mentor: Dr. Hans Bode

The effect of temperature gradients on Hydra vulgaris was investigated. When hydra that were cut into a variety of sections were placed in a heated temperature gradient producing apparatus, the sections were observed to move toward the heated side of the apparatus over a twelve-hour time course. When using a cold method to produce the temperature gradient, the hydra body sections were observed to move away from the cold side of the apparatus. This study shows not only that H.vulgaris exhibits thermotaxic behavior as a reflex reaction but it is also evident that most of the thermoreceptivity lies in the head region of the hydra. Further studies will examine the rate of thermotaxis as a function of temperature.


Simulated Microgravity Induces Differential Responses to Norepinephrine and Serotonin Induced Contractions

Sarah Sheibani
Mentor: Dr. Ralph Purdy

Exposure to microgravity causes a reduction in the contractility of arteries in response to norepinephrine (NE) but not to 5-Hydroxytryptamine (5-HT). In the present study, the role of possible alterations in receptor and second messenger mechanisms for the two agonists were assessed in the rat hindlimb unweighting (HU) simulation model of microgravity. Abdominal aortas were isolated from C and 20 day HU rats. Isometric contraction was measured in aorta rings and concentration response curves (CRC) were obtained. Ketanserin, a 5-HT2A antagonist, produced an equivalent rightward shift in response to 5-HT in both the C and HU arteries. Similarly, prazosin, an a 1 antagonist, caused a parallel rightward shift of NE CRC in both aortas. To assess alterations in the second messenger mechanisms, various antagonists were used to block subsequent steps in the 5-HT and NE contractile pathways. The contractile contributions of arachidonic acid metabolites, voltage operated calcium channels, and the MAP Kinase and phospholipase C pathways were blocked using indomethacin, nifedipine, genistein, and NCDC, respectively. Genistein, indomethacin, and nifedipine inhibited the contractile responses to 5-HT equally in both the C and HU aorta. However, in the presence of NE these three antagonists inhibited contraction in the C, but not HU arteries. In contrast, NCDC equally blocked contraction to NE and 5-HT in both C and HU arteries. The results of this study demonstrate that the a 1 and 5-HT2A receptor subtypes of the rat aorta are not altered by HU treatment and that the observed HU effect may be induced by a possible selective uncoupling of the a 1, but not 5-HT2A receptors to some, but not all, of the second messenger pathways.


In Relation to the Constructed

Inbal Shem-Tov
Mentor: Dr. Daniel Martinez

Cognitive scientists, psychologists, and philosophers continue to explore the nature of human perception and how we understand what is real. Baudrillard, the French post-modern thinker, explains that we can no longer distinguish what is real from what is fabricated. We live in an age in which everything is simulated. But even without modern simulacra, perception itself is so subjective that it ultimately does away with the notion of "Truth." Media theoretician Marshall McLuhan sees the breakdown of what we know to be true with the advent of mass media. Information is repeatedly filtered through numerous sources before it is presented to the masses. These are the ideas that I am exploring in my three part series In Relation to the Constructed. The first piece, entitled Time Reveals, welcomes the viewer into a simulated nature environment where he/she must actively look and decide what is real and what isn’t. The second piece, Family History: Question #1, is an installation dealing with memory and the creation of self-identity through old family snapshots. How truthful are photographs, and how much of our own histories do we construct, are questions raised here. The third piece, as of yet untitled, explores how our culture regards historical "facts" through the romanticized renditions of Hollywood films. As generation after generation views award winning films such as Patton or Titanic, a sort of "fictionalized" history enters the subconscious of the media consumer. With technological advancement and such things as virtual reality, it is especially important for the contemporary viewer to understand the delicacy of human perception.


Geographic Data Acquisition and Hydrodynamic Modeling of Talbert Watershed

Robert Sherwood
Mentor: Dr. Brett Sanders

Coastal wetlands represent an important natural resource. Recently, such wetlands have been utilized for pollution mitigation. In the late 1980s, the Talbert Marsh in Huntington Beach, California, was restored to a natural condition. Three flood control channels feed into this wetland, including: DO1 (Huntington Beach Channel), DO2 (Talbert Channel), and DO5 (Fountain Valley Channel). To assist Dr. B. Sanders and Dr. S. Grant, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, a detailed mapping of this system was achieved. This study will provide them with invert elevations (bottom of channel) and Manning’s n values (hydraulic friction coefficients) as well as give cross-sectional dimensions at critical intervals along the channel system. The end result will ultimately assist them in tracing contaminants within the Talbert watershed.


A Medical Technique for the Time-Resolved Analysis of Trace Gases Present in Human Breath

Luke Short
Mentor: Dr. Thorsten Benter

Trace-analysis of human breath has been widely studied by use of gas and liquid chromatography, chemiluminescence, and chemical ionization mass spectrometry. These measurements, taken as a time-integration, generate a time-average of gas concentration rather than a more detailed in situ analysis. Recently, a technique that can take in situ measurements of exhaled NO has been presented applying the NO2 Chemiluminescence. However, this lacks a multi-component detection scheme. We propose a technique which allows time-resolved measurements of multi-component trace-gases in human breath. The detection scheme is a resonant multiphoton ionization mass spectrometry (REMPI MS). A novel ionization technique, Atmospheric Pressure LASER Ionization, permits selective detection of trace gases in complex samples at pptv concentrations. Using this scheme, we intend to show the utility of REMPI MS as a new and potentially useful non-invasive medical diagnostic technique. Detection of exhaled NO is presented as an example, though potential and applicability are stressed.


Transcription Factor Activation by Arsenite in Human Skin Cells

Rose Siengsubcharti
Mentor: Dr. Daniel Menzel

Arsenic and its genotoxic effects has been the subject of research scrutiny for quite some time. Available research data indicates that arsenic and its metabolites do not seem to act as direct genotoxicants. Increasing evidence show that arsenic acts as a promoter rather than an initiator in carcinogenesis. This study reports a plausible mechanism by which arsenic could promote skin carcinogenesis with UV irradiation as an initiation step. The experiment used the spontaneously immortalized human kerotinocyte cell line (HaCat) carrying UV-specific mutations in both alleles of the p53 gene as an in vitro model of an initiated cell. Keratinocytes were exposed to sodium arsenite (concentration: 0, 0.001, 0.01, 0.05, 0.1, 0.5, 1.0 m M) for 14 days. Cell viability was not affected throughout the study. The exposure media were changed every day and cell samples were harvested every other day. We assayed p53 levels by western blotting using chemiluminescence as the detection system. We found p53 protein levels decreased in a dose-dependent manner. We assayed the transcription factor activation of NF-k B and AP-1 but could not correlate their levels with the changes in p53 protein levels. We conclude arsenite treatment, after a latent period, either inhibits the activation or accelerates the degradation of the p53 protein. Decreased p53 protein levels might lead to a decrease in cell division arrest time thus increasing the probability of the cell to incur DNA damage that is left unrepaired, leading to excessive DNA mutations and ultimately, carcinogenesis.


A Guide to European Modern Dance Companies

Jennifer Silacci
Mentor: Dr. Mary Corey

"A Guide to European Modern Dance Companies" is an interactive CD-ROM which allows viewers become knowledgeable about numerous companies in England, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, the Netherlands, and Scotland. Information regarding the audition process, company requirements, contact information, as well as general company information is included in the CD-ROM, and is accompanied by both video and still pictures. This project was created to satisfy the need for hard to find information for modern dancers who are considering joining European dance companies. It is continually being updated as new materials become available, and is directed toward all dancers interested in modern dance in Europe.


A Test on the Effects of Robustness on Late-Life Mortality Rates in Drosophila melanogaster

Michael Simison
Mentor: Dr. Michael Rose

The purpose of this study is to determine the effect of robustness on late-life mortality rates in a population of Drosophila melanogaster. Late-life mortality rates have been shown to plateau in a number of species and a variety of studies have been done to test the genetic factors behind this. This study tests physiological effects on mortality plateaus. It has been suggested that a population’s ability to resist stress, also known as robustness, is responsible for the differences seen between the mortality plateaus in the populations of some species. In this study three groups of populations of D. melanogaster were checked every other day to determine mortality rates over the lifetimes of the groups. The groups had no demographic differences but each group had a different effectiveness at starvation resistance through laboratory evolution. No significant differences were found among these three groups in the mortality rate plateau or the beginning of the mortality plateau, the breakday. However, differences in average lifetimes among these three groups were found. From this I can conclude that although robustness has an impact on life expectancy it has no significant effect on the late-life mortality rate plateau.


The Measurement of Stress in Thin Films

Stephen Sleva
Mentor: Dr. Richard Nelson

Thin Films, that is, films of materials from one to several hundred molecules thick deposited on a solid substrate, are used extensively in the manufacture of integrated circuits and micro-electro-mechanical systems (MEMS). However, as the result of manufacturing processes and significant differential coefficients of thermal expansion, it is almost always the case that a stress exists in these films. I present and discuss in this research three possible methods for determining the radius of curvature of a thin film on a circular substrate; each of these techniques requires that the strain induced by the state of stress be within the limits of elasticity for all materials involved. The first method applies the interference properties of light to determine the radius of curvature of the thin film-substrate composite, the second method uses an optical microscope to determine this radius of curvature, and the third method uses a flatbed scanner to determine this radius of curvature. This value for the radius of curvature can then be used to estimate the magnitude of stress in the thin film.


Evolution of the Guatemalan Army

Erwin Soto
Mentor: Dr. Caesar Sereseres

The aftermath of the Guatemalan Peace Process in late December of 1996 left the army with an immense hole to fill. For decades before this peace agreement, the leftist guerrillas were the number one priority of the Guatemalan army. Without the worries of any guerrilla activity, the army could now focus of mending years of distrust with the Guatemalan population. Corruption, abuse of power, and alleged participation in kidnappings of anti-government/army activists left the army with a very unfavorable image. The army, I believe, took this period of peace to rediscover itself, and believed that they would have to improve their image. With a new and improved officer core, the army is now focusing its attention on Environmental and Archeological crimes. It is also participating against the war on drugs plus aiding the national police while they too go through their own metamorphosis. It is very unclear what path the army will take. There are people who want them to focus just on national security, which would include drug smugglers, archeological crimes against Mayan artifacts, cutting of the rain forest illegally, etc. Others want them to take a greater role in patrolling the city along with the police. What is clear is that the army wants to be regarded as a highly professional organization, one in which the entire could be proud of. The findings of this study will shed a light in the future of the Guatemalan army and the nation as a whole.


Neutrophil Activation in an In Vitro Ventricular Assist Circulation

Chien-Pin Sun
Mentor: Dr. John Chen

Left ventricular assist devices (VAD) are being investigated as alternatives to heart transplantation. However, VAD use is limited by inflammatory changes associated with its use. Complement activation occurs during early VAD circulation and may mediate neutrophil activation. Neutrophil activation may contribute to VAD morbidity by the release of proinflammatory enzymes or by conjugation with platelets. The purpose of this study is to compare the time course of complement and neutrophil activation during VAD circulation. Four in vitro non-pulsatile centrifugal VAD circuits were simulated for 3 days using 450 ml of fresh human whole blood. Serum samples were collected prior to circulation, at 0, 1, 2, 3, 4, 6, 12, 24, 48, and 72 hrs. Levels of neutrophil elastase and C3a fragment in serum were determined using ELISA technique. C3a concentration increases by 33.8% during the first 5 hours of circulation, while elastase concentration rises from 83.8 ug/L at baseline to 1073 ug/L at 24 hrs and 2267 ug/L at 72 hrs of in vitro VAD circulation. These results suggest neutrophil activation and degranulation occurs during in vitro VAD circulation, but after terminal complement cascade activation. Complement may mediate neutrophil activation during VAD use. Pharmacologic therapy directed at complement inhibition may attenuate both complement and neutrophil generation during VAD circulation.


Technical Read-Ons: Therac, the Story

Wayne Sung
Mentor: Dr. Mark Ackerman

We are living in an age of technology where our very lives are often in the metaphorical hands of our digital and mechanical counterparts. But many people take for granted the scientific advances of the human race while at the same time they are oblivious to the inherent problems. Yet technical journals present their findings and studies either in more advanced English than the general public is accustomed to or they are just plain dull, thereby alienating the said general public from the many pertinent issues that may affect it. The Technical Read-Ons project takes an academically well-known software safety incident and presents it as a work of fiction based on the incident to increase accessibility and add flavoring to what otherwise might have been less appealing reading material. The fiction is written from the several points of view of the people involved in the incident and formatted in hypertext, using HTML for Web compatibility. These two attributes contribute to the interactivity of the reading experience by allowing more freedom of movement via links and inducing better understanding of the personal trials and dangers involved via the characters. By creating a real world around the reports and statistics, this project aims to bring the technical issues closer to the home and to the heart.


Individualism and Shoplifting

JoAnne Sweeny
Mentor: Dr. David Dooley

Despite its astounding dollar losses each year, shoplifting is seldom studied. Most of the research that exists on shoplifting today analyzes both self-report surveys and store records to attempt to determine the psychological, social and economic causes of shoplifting. A possible and previously unstudied social cause is individualism and collectivism. Individualism and collectivism are broad concepts that can categorize cultures fairly effectively and explain many cultural differences such as widely varying crime rates. This current study was conducted to attempt to find a connection between a subject’s level of individualism or collectivism and their corresponding shoplifting attitudes and behaviors. Over 150 college students over the age of 18 completed surveys measuring the value they place on individualistic and collectivist goals and values. The survey also contained items measuring the subject’s rates of shoplifting during adolescence and their current attitudes towards the activity. The final round of surveys is currently being conducted and data analysis will begin shortly. The findings of my study should provide both answers as to specific motivations behind petty crimes and specific consequences of being an individualist or collectivist. Besides academic benefits, my study could also have some practical value in finding new methods of preventing potential shoplifters and deterring first-time offenders.


Zapatista Rebellion

Rosaura Tafoya
Mentor: Dr. Kathy Canul

The state of Chiapas represents a national tragedy in terms of poverty and human rights violations. The Zapatista movement, indigenous peoples together with sympathizers from all around the world, has staged a war against the Mexican government demanding human rights and an end to the centuries of enslavement. In 1994, the Zapatista movement exploded onto the international scene by taking over the former capital of Chiapas, San Cristobal de las Casas. It was not long before they took over most of the indigenous communities up in the highlands of Chiapas making them "rebel communities". Over the course of time, the rebel movement has gained significant international attention. We owe this to the modern day Internet, newspapers and magazines, and grass root level organizations. In this study, we will begin to see how the international community has become the strongest weapon of the Zapatista movement in spreading the news of what is happening in Chiapas. The outcome of their uprising has not been decided. It is up to people like ourselves to make a change in the state of Chiapas. We must "utilize the weapon of truth, and expose the injustices in Chiapas not only to our friends and family but to the entire world. Ellos caminan con la verdad, and so should we".


Asian American Females' Assessment of "Stereotypical" Images of Asian Women in American Film

Lisa Tang
Mentor: Dr. Nancy Naples

Throughout the twentieth century motion pictures have been a popular form of entertainment. Images of Asians in motion pictures have existed since the late nineteenth century. Over time, depictions of Asians in American cinema have remained one-dimensional, and often stereotypical. In particular, Asian females have either been portrayed as the dragon lady (prostitutes, devious madames) or as the lotus blossom (China doll, Geisha girl, shy Polynesian) type. Both images depict Asian women in simplistic and inaccurate terms. In fact, the perpetuation of such narrow portrayals of Asian females, as well as Asian males, diminishes the possibility of viewing Asians and Asian Americans as individuals. Cinematic stories and characters influence perceptions and opinions of many viewers. Studying film depictions, therefore, provide a unique perspective on society’s views of individuals from different backgrounds. Instead of examining how historical events and the Hollywood industry have contributed to the perpetuation of Asian stereotypes in film, I have focused on viewers’ reception of films, specifically how Asian American females perceive film images of Asian females. In a focus group setting, I spoke to eighteen Asian American females from the University of California, Irvine, using film clips as a vehicle to discuss issues of identity and of gender and race relations in American society.


Isolation and Characterization of Xenopus Floating Head Promoter Region

Wei Stephanie Tang
Mentor: Dr. Ken Cho

The formation of the notochord is one of the most important patterns in development of modern vertebrates. Not only does the notochord give rise to the vertebral column, it also dictates the development of the overlying neural tube. By identifying the genes which dictate notochord development in Xenopus, conservation of these genes can be analyzed, thus elucidating a better understanding of the evolutionary path of vertebrate development. In 1995, a study conducted by Kimelman et al showed that the floating head gene was specifically expressed in notochord, and that mutations in this gene affected CNS development. This current study aims to determine the role of the molecular mechanisms regulating the expression of the floating head gene (flh) in notochord development. The floating head promoter region has already been isolated, and as soon as it is characterized it will be compared with similar genes in other species to determine which sequences within the promoter region are conserved. Finally, the biological characteristics of flh expression will be identified through the use of GFP tagging in transgenic animals. The implications of this study are expected to provide information regarding the development of the central nervous system in organisms, as well as provide a better understanding of the evolutionary path of vertebrate development.


Inbreeding Depression in Alsinidendron viscosum, a Highly Selfing Species

Dung Thai
Mentor: Dr. Stephen Weller

Inbreeding depression level was examined for four populations of Alsinidendron viscosum, a hermaphroditic, self pollinating species found in mesic habitat on Kaua'i in the Hawaiian Islands. Field collected plants were hand-pollinated in the greenhouse to produce selfed progeny and outcrossed progeny from parents of the same population (within population outcrosses) and outcrossed progeny from parents in different populations (between population outcrosses). Progeny from self, within-population outcrosses, and between-population outcrosses were grown in the greenhouse. Seed mass, percent germination, vegetative biomass, and inflorescence biomass were compared for inbred versus outcrossed progeny. All traits showed little to no inbreeding depression, with the magnitude depending on population. Progeny of each population were also compared using a multiplicative fitness function based on percent germination and inflorescence biomass. In three of the four populations, inbreeding depression of self versus within-population outcrosses was low, ranging from 0.01 to 0.21. For the same three populations, the inbreeding depression value of self versus between-population outcrosses was also low, ranging from 0.14 to 0.34. In the fourth population the cumulative fitness was 1.59 for self versus within-population outcrosses and 1.00 for self versus between-population outcrosses, indicating a selfing advantage for this population. Low inbreeding depression and high selfing rate in Alsinidendron viscosum favor the maintenance of selfing for this species.


Telomere Dynamics in Drosophila melanogaster

Gaurav Thakral
Mentors: Dr. Peter Bryant & Dr. Harold Biessmann

The Het-A element in Drosophila is a very complex molecule. Trying to understand its complex role and the effects in Drosophila eye color has become our goal. The objective of our experiment is to analyze Het-A and to observe whether eye color depends on the presence of the Het-A. Previous experiments have demonstrated that an attachment of a Het-A upon the white eye color region of the Drosophila genome will result in orange eye color rather than the expected white eye color. Whereas the attachment of two Het-A, will result in red eye color. With further analysis, it was noticed that in every mutation there is an eye-specific enhancer connecting the Het-A to the rest of the gene. Het-A is a Class I Transposable Element involving a RNA intermediate. Transposition begins by the binding of the TE to a transposase. Both strands of the targeted site are cleaved, followed by ligation of the 3' end of the excised transposon to the 5' end of the recipient site. Another goal of our projects is to observe the junction of Het-A to the 5' end. It is our theory that as Het-A attaches to the 5'end, a fragment of the gene is lost in the process.


Sex Allocation Patterns of Schiedea salicaria at the Whole-Plant Level

David To
Mentors: Dr. Ann Sakai & Dr. Stephen Weller

Sex allocation theory predicts that dioecy (separate male and female individuals) may evolve from gynodioecious species (hermaphrodites and females in the population) if increasing female frequency favors those hermaphrodites with more specialized male function. As hermaphrodites become more specialized toward male function, trade-offs should occur which redistribute resources toward greater male function than female function. In this study, the sex allocation patterns of Schiedea salicaria, a gynodioecious species, were investigated to determine whether females and hermaphrodites differ in sex allocation patterns at the whole plant level. I expected hermaphrodites, which presumably have high resource demands, to exhibit trade-offs, and females to exhibit no trade-offs. To test this prediction, ten families each consisting of two females and two hermaphrodites, were divided into an experimental group that received saturating pollination and a control group that received no supplemental pollination. Data on the total number of infloresences, flowers, capsules and an estimated numbers of seeds per capsule were recorded to compare allocation patterns between the sexes. The experimental group initiated new inflorescences at a greater rate than the control group. This result conflicted with our expectations that control groups would initiate a greater number of inflorescences because they would have more available resources with less fruit set. Hermaphrodites and females did not differ in inflorescence production which was also contrary to our predictions. These results do not indicate anticipated trade-offs. Capsule production may act as a cue for the plants to initiate inflorescences if resources are not a limiting factor.


Interaction Between Life History and Resource Allocation in Alsinidendron viscosum

Jason Tom
Mentor: Dr. Stephen Weller

The association of the annual habit and self-fertilization in flowering plants is well known. Two hypotheses exist to help explain this association. One hypothesis for the occurrence of selfing is that annual plants must insure that seeds are produced or else die without contributing to the next generation. Therefore, annuals evolved the self fertilizing breeding system in order to guarantee seed production. Alternatively, due to the effects of late acting inbreeding depression and the substantial allocation of resources to reproduction in selfing species, survival of plants past flowering and fruiting may have been uncommon and the annual habit may have evolved as a result. In this second hypothesis, a trade-off exists between reproduction and survival that is exacerbated by late-acting inbreeding depression. The resources allocated to reproduction in the self-fertilizing plant Alsinidendron viscosum, a short-lived perennial, were manipulated and the effects on growth and survival were observed. The plants were produced in an artificial crossing program such that plants were of varying levels of inbreeding depression. Plants that were not allowed to reproduce were expected to have a larger pool of resources allocated for other life history traits such as survival. The effect was expected to be most pronounced in the plants with the largest levels of inbreeding depression. Contrary to predictions, there was no evidence that elimination of reproductive allocation affected survival of plants, regardless of the level of inbreeding depression. Late acting inbreeding depression was apparent, however, suggesting conditions that could favor the evolution of the annual habit.


Synthetic Melanin as Models to Understanding Melanoma

Michelle Tran
Mentor: Dr. Patrick Farmer

My project is to synthesize monomeric precursors to pheomelanin polymers. Melanins are colored pigments found in the hair, epidermis, and eye. In normal mammals, melanocytes produce two known types of melanin, black eumelanin and red/brown pheomelanin. Both are formed from the oxidation of tyrosine, an amino acid, however, pheomelanin is formed in the presence of cysteine of which leads to the formation of benzothiazine monomers which are then polymerized. We address pheomelanin because of its association to skin cancer and melanoma and its sulfur content, which is absent in eumelanin. Our initial approach is to synthesize benzothiazine derivatives, which serve as chemical models of pheomelanin precursors. The benzothiazine precursors are characterized by nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR), ultra-violet visible (UV/vis) spectroscopy, mass spectroscopy and elemental analysis. Our next step is to format melanin polymers from the precursors. The polymers are formed by the oxidation with air, chemicals, enzymes, or utilizing electrochemistry. UV/vis coupled to specto-electrochemistry and mass spectroscopy are used to characterize these polymers.


From Slave to Free: Portraits of Females within Toni Morrison's Novels

Beth Trinchero
Mentor: Dr. John Hollowell

Toni Morrison has emerged within the past three decades as a premiere novelist and arguably the most well known female African-American writer. Her novels have received not only literary and critical acclaim, but have become a mainstream piece of popular culture. Morrison’s novels have been featured on Oprah Winfrey’s television show, and one of her novels, Beloved, became a full-length feature film last year. One of the main reasons Morrison has achieved so much popularity is because she challenges traditional stereotypes of African-American women that have permeated "white" culture and literature since the institution of slavery. In my presentation, I will explore how Morrison defies these traditional stereotypes within two of her novels, Sula and Beloved and how through this defiance Morrison advances new paradigms of African-American women that combine both African and American rituals and cultures.


Basal Forebrain Cholinergic Cell Attachment in Hippocamus and Cerebral Cortex Slice Cultures

Elizabeth Tsai
Mentor: Dr. Richard Robertson

Although cell-cell connections are formed in all tissues, connections between cells in the nervous system are special. Interactions between neurons, particularly the establishment of axonal connections, set up the entire circuitry of the nervous system. The mechanisms for the formation of these axon-cell connections are still uncertain and, therefore, must be identified in order for a complete understanding of the development of the nervous system. Studies in the Robertson laboratory have focused on the development of cholinergic projections from the basal forebrain to the cerebral cortex. Previous studies in the Robertson laboratory have shown that in tissue slice cultures of cerebral cortex or entire forebrain hemispheres, basal forebrain cholinergic neurons (BFCN) grow in an organotypic pattern. Most ingrowth occurred into the cortex with few or no ingrowth into the caudate-putamen. We hypothesize that neurons and axons grow in a non-random pattern because of target selection, which is likely to be accomplished by molecular cues involving both the growing axon and the target cell. To test this hypothesis, we are studying the pattern of BFCN attachment and axon growth on organotypic slices of the hippocampus and cerebral cortex. Two levels of analysis, including sites of cell attachment and patterns of axon outgrowth, will be used to study the pattern of growth. Preliminary results have indicated that the BFCN neurons tend to grow and survive better on the dentate gyrus in the hippocampus, inner cortex, and entorhinal cortex. Also, axons tend to grow along the inner cortex and dentate gyrus region.


Prosecutional Discretion: A Study of Hate Crimes in Orange County

Sara Turovitz
Mentor: Dr. Valerie Jenness

The American legal system allows prosecutors a vast area of discretion. Prosecutors are given wide latitude in determining how to pursue a charge. Existing research has examined the impact of many variables, such as the victim-perpetrator relationship, the victim/defendant characteristics, and the types of evidence, on prosecutors’ use of discretionary power. Prosecutors use such variables to determine the likelihood that a charge will result in a conviction. This is termed the ‘prosecutability’ of the case. In this research study the examination of prosecutorial discretion is focused upon hate crimes in Orange County. Hate crimes are a relatively new area of research and are of particular interest to the area of prosecutorial discretion. Hate crimes, by definition, are bias motivated crimes and thus must include the motivation for the crime in the prosecutor’s calculation of prosecutability. This study used a qualitative interview to learn about how hate crimes are prosecuted in Orange County. Following this, the research looked at several case studies of hate crimes that were prosecuted in Orange County.

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