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Open Access Publications from the University of California

School of Social Sciences, Humanities, and Arts

There are 1173 publications in this collection, published between 2000 and 2023.
English Honors Theses (8)

Disney and Disability: Recasting the Normative Body in Immersive Media

Disability studies, Disney, Cultural studies, media studies, film

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Public Health Capstone Projects (21)

 Education and Life’s Simple 7: An evaluation of differential returns by sex, race, and childhood socioeconomic status

Few studies have examined whether the benefits of education for health differ across sociodemographic subgroups. We investigated whether educational attainment is associated with cardiovascular health, as measured by the Life’s Simple 7 (LS7) score, and whether the association differs by demographic characteristics. Data were obtained from the REasons for Geographic and Racial Differences in Stroke study (N=8,759 participants; mean age=63.8).

We used linear regression analyses with interactions by sex, race, childhood socioeconomic status (SES), and geography. Socially vulnerable groups (i.e., men from low childhood SES backgrounds, White people from low childhood SES backgrounds, Black people from low childhood SES backgrounds) benefitted less from each additional year of education than socially advantaged groups in predicting LS7 scores. However, we did not find evidence that differential returns extended to every group. Findings suggest that the inequalities present in the education system may further exacerbate the gap between advantaged and disadvantaged.

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Ozone pollution and asthma emergency department visits in the Central Valley, California, USA, during June to September of 2015: a time-stratified case-crossover analysis

Objective: The San Joaquin Valley (SJV) exceeds the state and national standards for ozone (O3). This study investigates whether short term exposure to O3 is associated with asthma emergency department (ED) visits. Methods: We identified 1101 ED visits in June-September of 2015 in SJV, California, who lived within 15 km of active air monitors. Conditional logistic regression models were used to obtain the odds ratio (OR) and 95% confidence interval (CI) associated with an interquartile (IQR) increase in ozone. We explored potential effect modification by sex (female, and male), race (White, Black, and Hispanic), age (2-5, 6-18, 19-40, 41-64 and >= 65), and by county (Merced, Madera, Kings, Fresno and Kern). Results: An interquartile range (18.1 ppb) increase in O3 exposure three days before an asthma attack (lag 3) was associate with a 6.6% [OR: 1.066 (95% CI: 1.032, 1.082)] increase in the odds of having an asthma ED visit. The overall ORs differed across age groups and races/ethnicities, with strongest for children aged 6–18 years [OR: 1.219 (95% CI: 1.159, 1.280)] and adults 19-40 years [OR: 1.102 (95% CI: 1.053, 1.154)], and Blacks [OR: 1.159 (95% CI: 1.088, 1.236)], respectively. O3 exposure was not positively associated with asthma ED visits for Whites while it was for other underrepresented groups. Fresno had the highest number of asthma ED visits and positive association among all five counties. Conclusion: We found that O3 exposure is associated with asthma ED visits in the SJV.

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Cognitive Science Capstone Projects (4)

User Experience Evaluation of the Simbrain Neural Network Simulator

Don Norman, the author of The Design of Everyday Things, once said, “everything is designed.” Our world is surrounded by many physical and digital products, each with its own purpose. The study of design emphasizes making advancements to products and keeping in mind the ease of users' experience. User experience design provides a way to improve products while also creating better usability. This article will provide an overview of user experience and its different applications, along with a review of an educational application called Simbrain. Simbrain was used to teach a summer program called Frontier of Science at the University of Northern Colorado in Summer 2022.  Experiences from this program will be described here.

Industry User Experience Research: A Detailed Account at a Social Media Startup

The field of industry User Experience (UX) Research is applied by large scale companies, small startups, and all in between. Companies rely on this research to understand their target audience and determine how to make their product successful in the hands of the consumer. The present work details the projects completed during a UX Research internship for a startup company developing a social media app and relates these experiences to both the coursework within UC Merced’s Cognitive and Information Sciences’ graduate program and cognitive science as a field. These projects include an analysis regarding a mood tracking feature and comparisons to competitor apps, literature reviews on conflict related to friend groups and teenager/young adult social environments, and beta testing of the app in development.

Outlining the Diverse Etiologies of Autism Spectrum Disorder

Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a disorder defined by the heterogeneity of its presentations, making diagnosis and treatment for those who need it difficult. Here I examine a set of causal mechanisms which lead to the development of ASD. I support the idea that within and between those mechanisms, what may look like a singular causal tale may instead account for a large variety of individual presentations. I examine how an understanding of the low-level neurobiological mechanisms underlying ASD allows us to begin unraveling the nature of the heterogeneity found in individual and sub-group presentations of ASD.

Understanding the diverse etiologies of ASD can facilitate diagnosis and treatment. It is therefore critical that our understanding of ASD is as nuanced as possible. Here I explore three precipitants of ASD: SHANK3 haploinsufficiency, pre-natal organophosphate exposure, and pre-natal neonicotinoid exposure. I explore why the precipitant is important, how disruption in the mechanisms relevant to the precipitant can lead to ASD, and how mitigating or agitating ancillary factors affect the likelihood of precipitation, severity of effect, and phenotype of presentation of ASD within subgroups and individuals.

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Department of Anthropology - Open Access Policy Deposits (59)

Unveiling California History Through Serious Games: Fort Ross Virtual Warehouse

Between 1812 and 1841, Fort Ross was a Russian fur trading outpost and multi-cultural colony located in the Northern California coast. Current Fort Ross is a popular California State Historic Park visited every year by over 100,000 visitors from all over the world. In March 2011, California State Parks and the University of California Merced started the Fort Ross Virtual Warehouse project— a digital scholarship initiative aimed to enhance a pilot serious game on Fort Ross developed by California State Parks Staff in the early 2000s— with the goal to explore novel ways for archiving, disseminating, and teaching cultural and historical information. After twenty-four months of development, Fort Ross Virtual Warehouse serious game is ready to be tested in a user study with elementary school students. This paper exposes key features, design solutions and game mechanics of Fort Ross Virtual Warehouse along with preliminary assessments of the game performed as an expert evaluation by the leader of the Special Interest Group on “serious games for humanities and heritage” of the GALA Network of Excellence (


AbstractThe Temple of the Inscriptions at Palenque, Mexico, is an outstanding example of Classic Maya architecture erected in the seventh century as the funerary building for ruler K'inich Janab Pakal. For decades, scholars have speculated on its construction sequence and the potential existence of hidden rooms on either side of Pakal's mortuary chamber. This article aims to advance understanding of the Temple's architectural context in light of new 3D data. After reviewing the application of drone-based photogrammetry and terrestrial Light Detection and Ranging in the Maya area, we argue that these techniques are capable of enhancing the architectural analysis of the Temple of the Inscriptions and showing that this structure was part of a larger architectural project, encompassing the adjacent Temple XIII, and the connecting stepped building platform. Our findings demonstrate that the basal platforms for the Temple of the Inscriptions and Temple XIII were erected contemporaneously and that the design of their mortuary chambers follows a tripartite layout we identified in Palenque's elite funerary architecture and associated mortuary practices. We conclude that these three buildings were part of a mausoleum architectural project, the construction of which was initiated by Pakal to reshape Palenque's site-core and enshrine the ruling family's power and ancestors.

3-D Digital Preservation of At-Risk Global Cultural Heritage

Recent current events have dramatically highlighted the vulnerability of the world's material cultural heritage. The 3-D Digital Preservation of At-Risk Global Cultural Heritage project, led by Thomas Levy at UC San Diego, catalyzes a collaborative research effort by four University of California campuses (San Diego, Berkeley, Los Angeles and Merced) to use cyberarchaeology and computer graphics for cultural heritage to document and safeguard virtually some of the most at-risk heritage objects and places. Faculty and students involved in this project are conducting path-breaking archaeological research - covering more than 10,000 years of culture and architecture - in Cyprus, Greece, Egypt, Ethiopia, Israel, Jordan, Morocco, Turkey, and the United States. This project uses the 3-D archaeological data collected in numerous at-risk heritage places to study, forecast, and model the effects of human conflict, climate change, natural disasters and technological and cultural changes on these sites and landscapes. The greater challenge undertaken by this project is to integrate archaeological heritage data and digital heritage data using the recently-announced Pacific Research Platform (PRP) and its 10-100Gb/s network as well as virtual reality kiosks installed in each participating UC campus. Our aim is to link UC San Diego and the San Diego Supercomputer Center to other labs, libraries and museums at the other UC campuses to form a highly-networked collaborative platform for curation, analysis, and visualization of 3D archaeological heritage data.

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Department of Cognitive Science - Open Access Policy Deposits (105)
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Department of Economics - Open Access Policy Deposits (8)

Motivating Whistleblowers

Law-breaking activities within firms are widespread but difficult to uncover, making whistleblowing by employees desirable. We investigate if and how monetary incentives and expectations of social approval or disapproval from the public, and their interactions, affect an employee’s decision to blow the whistle when the social damage from the reported misbehavior is more or less salient. Our analysis also has implications for the design and management of firms’ internal whistleblowing channels. This paper was accepted by Yan Chen, decision analysis.

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Department of English - Open Access Policy Deposits (5)
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Department of History - Open Access Policy Deposits (27)
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Department of Psychology - Open Access Policy Deposits (332)

Early adversity, personal resources, body dissatisfaction, and disordered eating.


Early adverse experiences have been associated with disordered eating, but the mechanisms underlying that association are not well understood. The purpose of this study is to test a structural equation model in which early adversity is associated with disordered eating via intrapersonal resources, interpersonal resources, and body dissatisfaction.


Female university students (n = 748) completed a series of questionnaires online, including measures of early adverse experiences, intrapersonal resources (self-esteem and personal growth initiative), interpersonal resources (gratitude and social support), body dissatisfaction, and disordered eating and exercising to lose weight.


Structural equation modeling indicated that early adverse experiences were negatively associated with interpersonal and intrapersonal resources. Intrapersonal resources were negatively associated with body dissatisfaction, whereas interpersonal resources were positively associated with body dissatisfaction (although negative bivariate correlations in this latter case suggest possible suppression effects). Finally, body dissatisfaction was associated with a range of disordered eating behaviors and exercise.


Early adverse experiences are important to consider in models of disordered eating. The results of this study highlight potential points of early prevention efforts, such as improving personal resources for those who experience early adversity, to help reduce the risk of body dissatisfaction and disordered eating in young women.

The Influence of University Students' Stress Mindsets on Health and Performance Outcomes.


Emerging evidence indicates that holding particular stress mindsets has favorable implications for peoples' health and performance under stress.


The aim of the current study was to examine the processes by which implicit and explicit stress mindsets relate to health- and performance-related outcomes. Specifically, we propose a stress beliefs model in which somatic responses to stress and coping behaviors mediate the effect of stress mindsets on outcomes.


Undergraduate university students (N = 218, n = 144 females) aged 17- 25 years completed measures of stress mindset, physical and psychological wellbeing, perceived stress, perceived somatic responses to stress, proactive behaviors under stress, and an implicit association test assessing an implicit stress mindset. At the end of the semester, students' academic performance was collected from university records.


Path analysis indicated significant indirect effects of stress mindset on psychological wellbeing and perceived stress through proactive coping behaviors and perceived somatic symptoms. Stress mindset directly predicted perceived stress and physical wellbeing, and physical wellbeing and academic performance were predicted by stress mindset through perceived somatic symptoms. Implicit stress mindset did not predict proactive behavior as anticipated.


Current findings indicate that behaviors with the goal of proactively meeting demands under stress and perceived somatic symptoms are important mediators of the effect of stress mindset on health- and performance-related outcomes. The findings from this study provide formative data that can inform the development of future interventions aiming to encourage more adaptive responses to stress.

Do Social Resources Protect Against Lower Quality of Life Among Diverse Young Adolescents?

We examined whether social resources from the family and the community moderate the risk associated with low socioeconomic status (SES) for reduced quality of life (QL) among youth across racial/ethnic groups. Data were from 4,824 fifth-grade youth (age [Formula: see text] = 11.1, SD = 0.6; 49% females) in the Healthy Passages™ study (2004-2006) located in Birmingham, Alabama; Los Angeles County, California; and Houston, Texas. Youth reported their QL using the Pediatric Quality of Life Inventory Version 4.0 and the Global Self-Worth subscale of the Self-Perception Profile and their status for hypothesized protective social mechanisms. Overall, family cohesion, parental nurturance, other adult, and peer support were positively associated with QL across racial/ethnic groups. There were few significant interactions, but all suggested that higher SES youth benefited more than lower SES youth. In fact, family cohesion among African American youth and other adult support among Hispanic youth differentiated QL at higher, but not lower SES. Further research should examine other risk contexts and seek to inform targeted prevention efforts.

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Department of Sociology - Open Access Policy Deposits (66)

Analyzing the Military’s Role in Producing Air Toxics Disparities in the United States: A Critical Environmental Justice Approach

Abstract The negative environmental, health, and social effects arising from U.S. military action in communities both domestically and abroad suggest that the military represents an understudied institutional source of environmental injustice. Moreover, scholars and activists have long argued that the state is an active or a tacit contributor to environmental inequality, thus providing an opportunity to link U.S. military activity with approaches to the state developed under critical environmental justice. We build on these literatures to ask: Does the presence of domestic military facilities significantly increase carcinogenic risks from air toxics? And do communities of color face additional military-associated carcinogenic risks? Multilevel analyses reveal that locales in closer proximity to a military facility and those exposed to greater military technological intensity, independent of each other, experience significantly higher carcinogenic risk from air toxics. We find that proximity to military facilities tends to intensify racial and ethnic environmental inequalities in exposure to airborne toxics, but in different ways for Latinx and Black populations. These results highlight the role of the state in perpetuating racial and environmental expendability as reflected in critical environmental justice and represent an important expansion of nationwide environmental justice studies on contributors to environmental inequality.

Feeling like a citizen, living as a denizen: Deportees’ sense of belonging

The implementation of restrictive immigration laws in 1997 in the United States has led to the deportation of hundreds of thousands of legal permanent residents— denizens who had made the United States their home. Mass deportations of denizens have given renewed importance to territorial belonging and legal citizenship for theories of citizenship, a relatively neglected area of scholarship in this field. This article draws from interviews with 30 deported Jamaicans who were once legal permanent residents of the United States to argue that denizens often feel “like citizens” based on their family and community ties to the United States, yet that their allegiance and sense of belonging is primarily to their family and community—not to the state. In this sense, there is a disconnect between the law—which privileges legal citizenship—and the daily lives of denizens—in which they can experience a profound sense of belonging in their communities.

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Department of Spanish - Open Access Policy Deposits (73)

Decolonizing Western Uni-versalisms: Decolonial Pluri-versalism from Aimé Césaire to the Zapatistas

Decolonizing Western Uni-versalisms: Decolonial Pluri-versalism from Aimé Césaire to the Zapatistas

Bare Life, Indigenous Viscerality and Cholo Barbarity in Jesús Lara’s Yanakuna

Bare Life, Indigenous Viscerality and Cholo Barbarity in Jesús Lara’s Yanakuna

Vanguardia, raza y nación: una lectura de la negritud de la novela mexicana Panchito Chapopote y del estridentismo a la luz del modernismo brasileño y de Macunaíma

Vanguardia, raza y nación: una lectura de la negritud de la novela mexicana Panchito Chapopote y del estridentismo a la luz del modernismo brasileño y de Macunaíma

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Department of World Cultures and History - Open Access Policy Deposits (36)

Introduction: The New Old Europe Sound

Over the past quarter-century, Celtic music has slowly declined on the global stage and been replaced as the de facto pan-European world music by a bricolage of Romani, klezmer and Balkan styles. These primarily East European musics have been adopted, adapted, fused, confused and ultimately claimed by northwestern Europeans as part of a wider project of reimagining their own identities in the post-Cold-war era. The music industry has not given a name to this trend, but the contributors to this volume have come to call it the ‘New Old Europe Sound’.

The Evolution of Student Engagement: Writing Improves Teaching in Introductory Biology

In response to calls for pedagogical reforms in undergraduate biology courses to decrease student attrition rates and increase active learning, this article describes one faculty member’s conversion from traditional teaching methods to more engaging forms of practice. Partially told as a narrative, this article illustrates a.) the way many faculty initially learn to teach by modeling the pedagogy from their own undergraduate programs; b.) the kind of support biology faculty may need to break out of traditional molds; c.) how writing can promote active learning; and d.) the impact of reformed pedagogy on student levels of engagement. The latter will be demonstrated through assessment results gathered from student surveys, reflective writing, and focus group interview. Ultimately, the study challenges misunderstandings some faculty might have regarding the value of writing in science classes and offers inspiration, urging critical reflection and persistence.

Total Rhythm in Three Dimensions: Towards a Motional Theory of Melodic Dance Rhythm in Swedish Polska Music

In this article I present an ethnotheory of the music/dance relationship in Swedish polska, based on dance fieldwork and interviews I have conducted with polska dance musicians. I discuss three mechanisms that these musicians use to communicate movement patterns to dancers: iteration (entrainment via repetition), metaphor (timbral weight conveying motional weight), and sympathy (musicians’ movements mapping dance movements). I then discuss how musicians use these mechanisms to control four motional parameters: pulsation (rate and consistency of tempo), lean (degree and direction of tilt over the dance axis) viscosity (level of perceived air resistance), and libration (degree and timing of vertical motion). The work is intended in part as a case study of how theories of both music and dance can benefit from a focused analysis of the relationship between those two domains, as well as how studies of music/dance relations can benefit from the application of ethnographic research techniques.

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