~A Letter from the Advisors~

Undergraduate research allows students to pursue their interests beyond what is taught in the classroom. From the aging process in fruit flies to the details of saints’ lives, from the accountability of private security companies to the balance of matter and anti-matter in the universe, students at the University of California, Irvine are encouraged to seek answers to the questions that interest them most. Regardless of their field of study, students’ faculty-mentored research projects and creative activities are a vital part of a UCI education; more than one third of the students in each graduating class have enrolled in independent research courses, and thousands more undergraduates have carried out research projects or taken other classes with research-related components.

Since 1998, the UCI Undergraduate Research Journal has demonstrated the quality and diversity of these projects. Distributed nationwide, it is a highly visible element of the research culture at UCI, and has helped to ensure the university’s ranking among the nation’s top research institutions. The papers published in the Journal represent the very best of the research and creative projects that have been conducted over the previous year. Through a rigorous evaluation process, the dozens of papers that are submitted each year are thinned until only the best remain. Of the sixty-four papers submitted this year, the seven selected for publication are excellent examples of undergraduate research at its finest.

Many people have contributed to the lasting success of the Journal, and deserve our earnest thanks. The members of the Journal’s Student Editorial Board, undergraduates from a wide variety of disciplines, have put in endless hours evaluating submissions and editing the final selections. The members of the UROP Faculty Advisory Board have lent their expertise, ensuring that the papers selected represent the highest standards of research in their fields. We also commend the student authors, who have dedicated themselves to excellence, developing sincere passions for research. Finally, we cannot thank enough the countless faculty mentors, represented in the Journal or not, who express their own passion for research every day by passing it on to their students. Through their continuing efforts, the future of undergraduate research at UCI remains bright.

The Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program (UROP), the organization responsible for the Journal, is dedicated to supporting the research community at UCI. Founded in 1995, UROP has supported thousands of undergraduates, providing unique opportunities for them to engage in research and creative projects, and inspiring them to lives of discovery and inquiry-based learning. In addition to the Journal, UROP advises and assists students in pursuing on-and off-campus opportunities, funding undergraduate research projects through two annual Calls for Proposals. UROP also sponsors several programs that provide students with stipends, enabling them to dedicate themselves to their research full-time over the summer. The annual UCI Undergraduate Research Symposium provides an opportunity to celebrate the students’ research accomplishments.

We hope that this volume of The UCI Undergraduate Research Journal will inspire its readers to participate in the research process. The important tools of research—maintaining a curious and open mind, never being satisfied with easy answers, accepting failures as challenges, and passionately moving forward—are important elements of success in any field. UCI undergraduates are using these tools every day to prepare themselves for future excellence, and we are proud to present the work of a few of them here.

Sharon V. Salinger
Dean, Division of Undergraduate Education 
Said M. Shokair
Director, UROP


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