~A Letter from the Advisors~

Until recently, students were seldom able to participate fully in research as a part of their undergraduate education. That has changed. In recent years, undergraduates in every field at UC Irvine have included a faculty-mentored research project or creative activity as a part of their 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 showcased some of the best undergraduate research conducted at UC Irvine. Out of 64 papers submitted for possible publication in this volume, the five contained herein demonstrate the breadth and depth of work being done. Looking for a cure to Alzheimer’s disease, considering the nature of time, evaluating the economic ramifications of rapid transit use, analyzing pluralism in Iraq, and studying olfactory mechanisms in fruit fly brains; these five topics have little in common other than their authors’ passion for and commitment to their research.

Publishing the Journal is an enormous task, and our thanks go out to the many people who have contributed to its success. The undergraduate students who comprise the Journal’s Student Editorial Board spent many hours evaluating each of the submissions, debating their merits, and editing those selected for publication. The distinguished members of the UROP Faculty Advisory Board lent their expertise, experience and judgment in ensuring that the papers in this year’s Journal demonstrate only the highest standards of research in their fields. The diligence of the authors is apparent in each of their papers. Finally, we cannot highlight enough the contributions of their faculty mentors; by guiding, questioning, leading, and challenging their students, they have helped ensure that the next generation of researchers and scholars can follow in their accomplished footsteps.

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 a number of 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 Journal inspires you to consider the enormous role that research can play in an undergraduate education. By becoming fully immersed in the research process at this early stage, this volume’s authors and their fellow students are getting an early start in developing the skills, knowledge and expertise that will help propel them to successful and productive careers in whatever fields they choose to pursue.

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


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