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UCLA Electronic Theses and Dissertations

The Migrant, The Mediterranean, and the Tourist: Figures of Belonging in Post-Austerity Palermo


This dissertation is grounded in twenty months of ethnographic research conducted during the touristic development of the centro storico, or historical center, of Palermo, Sicily. It investigates the effects of this development on the everyday experiences of residents – including migrants and locals – and examines how urban requalification and tourism are unsettling the sociospatial order of the city and disrupting the politics of belonging. Each chapter of this dissertation explores how the large-scale phenomena now defining Mediterranean cities – economic restructuring, international tourism, and the so-called “crisis” of immigration – are experienced in the microcosm of the everyday. This dissertation demonstrates how, in the midst of liberal development in Palermo, the racialized figures of the migrant and the poor southerner emerge more clearly than ever before. It ultimately argues that Palermo emerges as a battlefield defining the future of Mediterranean cities. Palermo is a historically poor and working-class city, held tightly under mafia control until the late 1990s. Since the 2010s, it has also become a migrant city: in its centro storico, migrants are highly visible and share the same dilapidated neighborhoods that unofficially belong to the local underclasses. But the recent funneling of structural funds into the city for tourist development – and the ensuing changes to the urban environment and the sociospatial order – heightens the stakes for belonging. Official discourse is positioning Palermo as a city emerging from the clutches of the past, catapulting towards a future of ‘smart,’ sustainable development, and as a cosmopolitan “citt� aperta” (open city) for migrants. This dissertation documents how liberal development strategies are moving the local poor and migrants out of the city. It shows how the regeneration agenda became, along with tourism, the main response to the Eurozone crisis and the so-called Southern Question, or southern Italian underdevelopment. Drawing from walk-along interviews with ‘locals’ and ‘migrants,’ and following guided tours of the city, this dissertation examines the everyday experiences of tourist development from a variety of angles.

An evaluation of factors affecting child health outcomes in Africa


Despite substantial global progress in reducing child mortality, the burden remains high in sub-Saharan Africa. Although affordable and effective treatments exist, many children die each year because of poor access to medical care. Expanding access to treatment and reducing barriers to care are key to improving child health outcomes. My three-paper dissertation examines how access to health services was associated with care utilization and child mortality in sub-Saharan Africa. In Chapter 2 (Study 1), I evaluated the association between two dimensions of access -- geographic distance and quality of care -- on care-seeking during childhood illness among rural households in Malawi. I used geospatial methods to link national household survey data with health facility data, to estimate households’ distance to health facilities and operationalize the quality of health services within households’ service environments. In accordance with previous literature, I found that longer distances to care and poor health facility quality were associated with reduced care utilization of sick child care: each additional kilometer in distance between households’ residence and health facilities was associated with a 5% reduction in the odds of care-seeking (aOR 0.95, 95% CI 0.91- 0.98; p<0.05); and those living in high quality health service environments were 36% more likely to have sought sick child care compared to mothers living in areas with low quality service environments (aOR 1.36, 95% CI 0.99 – 1.86, p=0.05). In an innovative new approach of evaluating the interaction between these two components (distance and quality), I found evidence of a trade-off between these two factors: the effect of higher health service quality on care-seeking decreased as the average distance to health facilities increased, indicating that geographic distance to facilities may be the most important influence on sick child care utilization. In Chapter 3 (Study 2) I examined how policies to make health care free for children affected child mortality in sub-Saharan Africa. I used a quasi-experimental difference-in-differences research design to compare countries that have, and have not, removed user fees (out-of-pocket payments) for children’s health services. I found that removing these fees was associated with a 19% reduction in the odds of infant mortality (aOR 0.81, 95% CI 0.72-0.91, p<0.001), and a 26% reduction in the odds of under-five mortality (aOR 0.74, 95% CI 0.70 – 0.87, p<0.001). The effects on reduced child mortality were strongest in the first year after the policy change, and attenuated over time. I expanded on these findings in Chapter 4 (Study 3) by examining differential effects of under-five fee removal policies across three key socioeconomic indicators: household wealth quintile, household residence (rural versus urban), and level of maternal education. I found that the impact of user fee removal on child mortality varied across all socioeconomic categories, and the largest reductions in child mortality were observed among children from the poorest households (1.7 percentage point reduction, 95% CI -2.42 - -0.009, p<0.001) and those residing in rural areas (1.4 percentage point reduction, 95% CI –0.019 - -0.008, p<0.001). Removing user fees also significantly narrowed socioeconomic disparities in child mortality across all indicators (household wealth, household residence, and level of maternal education). The greatest impacts of removing user fees (biggest reductions in child mortality) were observed among children from the poorest households: the gap in the predicted probability of child mortality between the wealthiest and poorest households prior to fee removal was 2.0 percentage points, and decreased to 0.6 percentage points after the policy change. Together, these papers provide new insights into factors influencing child outcomes in the highest-burden settings, which can be used to inform future research and policymaking about how to improve service coverage and access, and strengthen standards of health care delivery.

Transformations of Animal Materials in Early Greece


From the earliest periods of Greek history, bone, antler, ivory, and other materials were consistently created into objects for use within social practices, and archaeological evidence suggests that these objects took on new forms and functions during the Early Iron Age and early Archaic period (ca. 1100–600 BCE). Between the 11th and 8th centuries BCE, worked animal objects were sporadically used as grave goods, while by the 7th century, hundreds of such objects were dedicated at major sanctuaries across the Greek world, including at Sparta, Ephesus, and Thasos. In this dissertation, I ask how worked animal objects were created and understood during a period of great social change in the Greek world. Using perspectives from the environmental humanities, aimed at de-centering the human, as well as problematizing the nature-culture divide, I posit that worked animal objects acquired values rooted in their organic histories.

Within my dissertation, I examine how the larger patterns of ivory production in the Iron Age Mediterranean, as well as the exploitation of elephant populations in the Near East, impacted the development of ivory carving in the Greek world. The creation of these objects coincided with a return to long-distance trade after a period of disruption brought on by the instability at the end of the Bronze Age. While the Mycenaeans used foreign trade connections to maintain a tradition of ivory carving, archaeological evidence suggests that the availability of the material was limited between the start of the Early Iron Age (ca. 1100 BCE) and the 9th century BCE. With the increase of other worked animal object dedications in the 7th century, ivory objects took on a variety of new forms in Greek sanctuaries. By the end of the century, craftspeople were using ivory to create larger, more complex works (e.g., the chryselephantine statues at Delphi).

This dissertation also considers how worked animal objects were employed within Greek social contexts. By comparing finds from funerary and dedicatory contexts, I demonstrate that specific types of worked animal objects (e.g., ivory carvings of recumbent animals, circular seals, miniature double axes) were reserved for use in sanctuaries and employed across the Greek world. However, certain sanctuaries also show evidence for unique forms of worked animal object dedications which were not found at other sites (e.g., worked long bone shafts at the sanctuary of Artemis Orthia at Sparta, decorated bone shafts at the Kamiros well on Rhodes). I conclude that, within the venue of dedication, worked animal objects had a specific value rooted in the organic origins of the material.

Finally, using the site of ancient Methone as a case study, I examine the production practices used to create worked animal objects. Methone shows evidence for the production of worked animal materials (including ivory) dating to between the end of the 8th century/start of the 7th century and the 6th century, a period concurrent with the increase of dedications of such objects across the Greek world. I interpret these technical acts as a form of human-animal relationship, in which craftspeople are interacting with the organic qualities of the materials. Worked animal materials from Methone demonstrate that craftspeople used a diversity of wild and domesticated species to make a variety of objects.

Cover page of Discovering the Invisible from Visual Data

Discovering the Invisible from Visual Data


This thesis attempts at discovering features from visual data which cannot be obtained or observed directly using standard computer vision algorithms. We refer to these features as Invisible features. In particular, we focus on two types of invisible features. First, the physics of a scene which governs the visual cues for the objects in the scene. In this part of the thesis, we teach a machine to discover the laws of physics from video streams. We assume no prior knowledge of physics, beyond a temporal stream of bounding boxes. The problem is very difficult because a machine must learn not only a governing equation (e.g. projectile motion) but also the existence of governing parameters (e.g. velocities). Second, texture information that is invisible in standard RGB images but can be seen in other imaging modalities such as polarization. Texture in some scenes is challenging for intensity images to capture. Imagine a black car in shadow or an oil slick on road. We exploit this adversity of contrast in the intensity domain to adapt a new representation for polarization cues, proposing a new degree of linear polarization (DOLP) that has favorable statistical properties. The new representation of DOLP we obtain is not only more robust in the context of noise, but can also preserve the scientific information in the original DOLP that allows geometry and photoelastic effects to be discerned. We hope this work lays a foundation for the future of a Polarized ISP process, particularly for sensor fusion applications.

Cover page of The Effect of Resin Formulation and Processing on Stability of UV Cured Precision Replicated Composite Optics

The Effect of Resin Formulation and Processing on Stability of UV Cured Precision Replicated Composite Optics


Replicated composite optics (RCO) are a promising technique to fabricate high-quality mirrors with reduced weight and processing time compared to conventional glass mirrors for space imagery technology, however, the optical layer is organic and susceptible to environmentally induced dimensional distortions that critically degrade performance. Therefore, environmental stability is the critical barrier to entry, and due to the lack of parametric material studies, little progress regarding critical controlling factors has been achieved. Conventional solutions, such as thermal curing to enhance polymeric cure state are not feasible due to the generation of CTE mismatch stresses in the bonded RCO structure that degrade optical quality. In this study, optical quality and stability are balanced by the utilization of a UV-cured epoxy resin; furthermore, significant modifications to the cure state are attained at room temperature. Replication surface quality was monitored as a function of processing conditions, cure temperatures, and exposure to different environments. Optical distortion in each was directly linked to a change in the residual stress state. It was found that replication optical quality degraded from that of the glass master due to the formation of residual curing stress, however, values were an order of magnitude smaller than those induced by a thermal cure. In response to hygrothermal environments, optical distortion was believed to be controlled by conventional material properties, specifically CTE and CME. However, stress relaxation was found to dominate optical stability by dictating dimensional drift and optical hysteresis in response to a hygrothermal environment. Even storage at RT can induce degradation over long periods of time, i.e. years. It was discovered that the relaxation rates are significantly accelerated by high stress, temperature, and humidity. As a result, maximized optical quality and stability are achieved in systems with a zero-stress state, high degree of crosslinking to resist relaxation, and enhanced properties. By utilizing photopolymerization and manipulating its formulation and processing, a zero-stress replication with high thermal stability was fabricated at RT. This optimized processing protocol is very specific to this material system, and in general, all properties characteristic of maximized replication quality and stability are not simultaneously achieved. Several techniques were employed to minimize optical distortion; increasing CFRP laminate stiffness to reduce impact of stress on SFE change, performing gamma irradiation to induce additional crosslinking at RT and slow relaxation rates, and developing a novel processing technique to accelerate built-in residual stresses at room temperature with humidity cycling. The humidity cycling post-process is specifically desirable to relieve large distortions from thermal curing in order to enhance optical quality, material properties, cryogenic performance, and long-term stability. Furthermore, this processing protocol is globally applicable to all resin systems and curing techniques.

Modeling the reactivity of Chemical Warfare Agents on metal oxides using computational chemistry methods


To design efficient personal protective equipment against chemical warfare agents, there is a need to understand the fundamental pathway of decomposition of these chemicals on solid surfaces. In this thesis, the author investigates such pathways by employing computational chemistry methods, namely density functional theory (DFT) in link with experimental results obtained by temperature-programmed desorption (TPD), scanning tunneling microscopy (STM), and X-ray Photoelectron Spectroscopy (XPS).The thesis is divided into three parts, with the first part focused on the thermodynamic analysis of dimethyl methyl phosphonate (DMMP), a simulant of the nerve agent Sarin, interaction on Fe3O4(111) films grown on a Fe2O3(0001) crystal. DFT calculations reveal that dissociative adsorption of DMMP on Fe3O4(111) is very stable, which dissociates DMMP to surface methoxy and methyl methylphosphonate (MMP). Collaborative result of TPD and DFT shows three decomposition channels of DMMP: self-rearrangement of MMP to produce dimethyl ether (DME) at 600 K, surface methoxy disproportion reaction to produce CH3OH and CH2O at 700 K, and combustion of the remaining carbon-containing intermediates at 850 K. It was found that the dynamic interaction between Fe3O4 and subsurface Fe2O3 films results in dimethyl ether as an additional product, a behavior that is unique to this surface. The second part deals with elucidating the oxidative decomposition pathways of DMMP on pristine and defective rutile TiO2(110). Pathway searches were performed with the Nudged Elastic Band (NEB) method. Rate constants from Transition State Theory (TST) show that the decomposition of DMMP is slow. DMMP decomposes via O-CH3 bond cleavage on the pristine surface and P-OCH3 bond cleavage on the surface with oxygen vacancy, both cleavages happening at 600 K. Thermodynamic analyses show that P-CH3 bond cleavage of DMMP on pristine and defective surfaces are unlikely. We found that the presence of O vacancy facilitates P-OCH3 bond cleavage, adding another possible channel for active surface methoxy species creation. The last part investigates the decomposition of sarin on selected pathways over r-TiO2(110) to determine if DMMP is an adequate simulant of sarin. We conclude that the chemistry of DMMP does resemble Sarin’s well if only P-Oalko and O-C bond cleavages are considered, whereas P-F bond dissociation may show a different reactivity not seen on DMMP.

Cover page of Development and Validation of pH- and Oxygen-Sensitive Magnetic Resonance Imaging for Metabolic Characterization of Glioma

Development and Validation of pH- and Oxygen-Sensitive Magnetic Resonance Imaging for Metabolic Characterization of Glioma


The reprogrammed energy metabolism and the dysfunctional vascular network of tumors create a hypoxic and acidic microenvironment, which is related to various malignant properties of cancer and poor patient prognosis. We have developed an amine chemical exchange saturation transfer (CEST) sequence with spin-and-gradient echo (SAGE) echo-planar imaging (EPI) readout to evaluate tumor acidity and hypoxia in human gliomas simultaneously. Amine CEST provided pH-sensitivity through labeling the endogenous amine protons that undergo chemical exchange with water protons, with a pH-dependent exchange rate. On the other hand, the reversible transverse relaxation rate quantified using the multi-echo EPI readout reflects oxygen extraction through sensitivity to paramagnetic deoxyhemoglobin.

This dissertation focused on developing and validating this novel dual-function imaging technique, mainly from three aspects: the technical development and validation, the biological validation, and the clinical validation of the proposed pH- and oxygen-sensitive CEST-SAGE-EPI technique in human gliomas. We have developed a new post-processing method for improved $B_0$ correction. A customized CEST physical phantom was designed and developed with validated temporal stability. We also evaluated the CEST contrast variability in healthy volunteers and the normal-appearing contralateral brain regions in glioma patients. The proposed pH- and oxygen-sensitive imaging biomarkers showed significant correlations with the tumor cell metabolomics features and MRI-guided biopsy tissue biomarkers, which validated the biological bases of the imaging biomarkers. Additionally, we have examined the association between tumor acidity with tumor vascularity, as measured by perfusion MRI. Lastly, we investigated the clinical usefulness of the biomarkers to characterize different glioma genotypes, predict patient prognosis, and monitor treatment responses.

In summary, this dissertation demonstrated that the novel dual-function pH- and oxygen-sensitive imaging technique reflects the abnormal metabolism in glioma patients and has the potential to provide clinical values for patient diagnosis, prognosis, and treatment efficacy assessment.

Cover page of Circulation and Soil Moisture Contributions to United States Heatwaves

Circulation and Soil Moisture Contributions to United States Heatwaves


Extreme heat events are a threat to human health, productivity and food supply, so understanding their drivers is critical to adaptation and resilience. Anticyclonic circulation and certain quasi-stationary Rossby wave patterns are well-known to coincide with heatwaves, and soil moisture deficits amplify extreme heat in some regions. However, the relative roles of these two factors in causing heatwaves is still unclear. Here we use constructed circulation analogs to estimate the contribution of atmospheric circulation to United States heatwaves in the Community Earth System Model version 1 (CESM1) preindustrial control simulations. After accounting for the component of the heatwaves explained by circulation, we explore the relationship between the residual temperature anomalies and soil moisture. We find that circulation explains over 85% of heatwave temperature anomalies in the eastern and western US, but only 70-80% in the central US. In this region, there is a significant negative correlation between soil moisture the week before the heatwave and the strength of the heatwave that explains additional variance. Further, for the hottest central US heatwaves, positive temperature anomalies and negative soil moisture anomalies are evident over a month before heatwave onset. These results provide evidence that positive land-atmosphere feedbacks may be amplifying heatwaves in the central US and demonstrate the geographic heterogeneity in the relative importance of the land and atmosphere for heatwave development. Analysis of future circulation and soil moisture in the CESM1 Large Ensemble indicates that over parts of the US, both may be trending towards greater heatwave likelihood.

Cover page of The Effectiveness of EMIC Wave-Driven Relativistic Electron Pitch Angle Scattering in Outer Radiation Belt Depletion

The Effectiveness of EMIC Wave-Driven Relativistic Electron Pitch Angle Scattering in Outer Radiation Belt Depletion


The dynamic variability of Earth's outer radiation belt is due to the competition among various particle transport, acceleration, and loss processes. The following dissertation investigates electron resonance with Electromagnetic Ion Cyclotron (EMIC) waves as a potentially dominant mechanism driving relativistic electron loss from the radiation belts. EMIC waves have been previously studied as contributors to relativistic electron flux depletion. However, assumed limitations on the pitch angle and energy ranges within which scattering takes place leave uncertainties regarding the capability of the mechanism to explain sudden loss of core electron populations of the outer radiation belt. By introducing new methods to analyze EMIC wave-driven scattering signatures and relativistic electron precipitation events through a multi-point observation approach, this dissertation reveals the effectiveness of EMIC waves to drive losses of outer radiation belt electrons with a new resolution.

The research that composes this dissertation focuses on three key areas of the EMIC wave-relativistic electron relationship. A chapter comparing a single EMIC wave event with a pitch angle scattering signature shows that these waves can cause scattering of electrons at energies and pitch angles predicted by the wave-particle resonance condition. This initial study establishes the motivation and methodological groundwork for a statistical study which provides evidence for the common occurrence of these scattering signatures and shows that the energies and pitch angles affected by EMIC waves are often within the core radiation belt population.

A subsequent study then links scattering signatures to observations of relativistic electron precipitation events, revealing a significant coincidence rate between EMIC waves and precipitation events.

These three investigations together provide the first quantifiable tracing of relativistic electron precipitation events back to the driving EMIC wave, through verified scattering signatures. The results support EMIC wave-relativistic electron resonant interaction theory and provide strong quantitative evidence that EMIC waves can effectively drive losses of core radiation belt electrons.

The new knowledge gained here benefits the space physics community by informing space weather modelers and forecasters of the conditions that increase the efficiency of EMIC wave-driven radiation belt losses, and by introducing new and effective ways of identifying and analyzing EMIC wave-driven scattering to be used in future investigations.

Cover page of Image-based Attribute Association in Market Research Surveys

Image-based Attribute Association in Market Research Surveys


This paper explores methods of understanding the connection between culturally relevant images and descriptive characteristics that are attributed to them by US consumers. Using image associations as the primary means of measurement, I describe the perceptions of large multi-national consumer brands in the minds of US consumers. I directly compare image-association implied attributes of brands to traditional survey ratings scales of the same dimension. While this work is still preliminary and not instructing a particular strict methodology, it is necessary evidence that a connection can be made from descriptive characteristics to images to brand perception to brand ratings and attributed qualities.