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Open Access Publications from the University of California


Welcome to the UC Merced Undergraduate Research Journal, a fully Open Access publication of research conducted by undergraduates at the University of California, Merced.

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Colonialism and the Politics of Space on Guam

Despite colonialism becoming less prominent across the world, the remnants still impact colonized populations. Guam, a territory of the United  States, remains a  colonized nation and colonialism continues to impact the native Chamorro people along with those who call the island home. The islanders have been subjected to unjust treatment including confiscation of land without reparations for military installations and holding US citizenship without having the right to vote. Even with these injustices, many Americans do not know that the island is a territory of the United States, let alone, know of its existence. This marginalization of the island has allowed the United States to maintain its colonial power and continue to make decisions without the consent of the islanders. Therefore, a discussion of the  injustices faced by this population is essential to help achieve fair treatment for these United States Citizens.

Social Sciences

Reforms on the Teaching Profession in the United States

This research is about reforming the teaching profession in the United States of America. It explores varying aspects about what is plaguing the teaching profession from tenure reform to a merit-based system. There is also research from other countries and how they have overcome their challenges to create a better learning environment. The structure will go as follows: introduction, main discussion, and finally the call to action. This is an important topic, because there is a lack of quality educators in the United States public education system. This paper will go into detail about how to fix and reform the system to work better for teachers and students.

Bad Apples Come From Rotten Trees

This research paper analyzes the budgets of police departments who have the highest and lowest numberof criminal charges. It questions if whether or not police department budgets affect the number of police brutality cases and accountability. With the information presented, law enforcement is conflicted knowing their policies and approaches needto be changedto hold the police accountable. Some law enforcement officials may argue they are simply enforcing what they were trained to do. Evidence is presented in this paper on gun ownership, criminal charges, demographicsin police departments, the victim’srace, the name of police officers involved in multiple police shootings resulting in the death of a civilian, and the amount of police shootings in known cities. In order for there to be less police brutality and more accountability in law enforcement, training needs to be focused on de-escalation methods, civilian payouts must use money from the budget of the police department responsible, and independent investigations have to be overseeing the officers' police brutality cases.

Socialization, Migration, and Cultural Identity: The Effects On Migrants' and Their Children's Political Identity

This paper explores the causes of migration, suchas cultural influences, language, and thepolitical structures of countries, and how these factorsaffect the identity of migrants and theirchildren in the U.S. The experiences of a Vietnameseminority group, the Montagnard refugeeswho have settled in North Carolina, provide insighton how building in-groups can preventcomplete assimilation while the experiences of Cubanmigrants provide insight on how in-groupscan successfully assimilate and gain political representation.There is an emphasis on the Latinocommunity and how the country of origin has varyingeffects on the political and social choicesdepending on the age of the individual and the dependencyon in-groups. The socializationtheory and political socialization of children covershow political conflict affects early partisanattachments. This paper examines how social choicesformed by the lack of integration can affectthe ability of migrants to fully create a new identityin the U.S. as well as how the effects of identity incompatibility on dual identity can be avoided. This paper also examines minority representation, political parties, age, political exposure, and the effects of changing political structures.

Examining How Socialization Affects People Who Are Either Immigrants or First-Generation U.S. Citizens

This paper focuses on the relationship between theupbringing of first-generation Americans andimmigrants, and how their cultural ties influencedtheir political philosophy or ideology. I willexplore different factors such as how an individual'sideology contrasts with their parents. Thestudy mostly focused on students from the Universityof California, Merced (UC Merced), andpeople who are physically and financially independent.Factors such as age, gender, politicalparty affiliation, political philosophy, and countryof origin or country of parents’ origin wereconsidered in this study. While there is an emphasison students of Latino or Hispanic origin,other backgrounds like Asian ethnic groups were alsoconsidered. Students of Asian ethnicbackgrounds were relevant in this study as they similarlywent through periods of assimilation toWestern culture. This paper also compares my findingsto the conclusions of Uhlaner & Garcia’s(2016) essay on Latino partisan preference, Sapiro’s(2004) study on how socialization affectspolitical identity, and Kinefuchi’s (2010) researchon how assimilation affects political and socialattachments. This paper looks at how parental influence,or the lack thereof, leads to thedevelopment of their children’s political views whileminding sociocultural and socioeconomicfactors. This paper will consider how knowledge on socialization and political philosophy can influence current events like the  political campaigns during the 2020 United States presidential election.

Womens’ Rights to Vote and Laws Against Gender Discrimination: The Makeup for Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment

According to the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU), which measures the state of democracies in countries, there are currently a total of 113 countries that are considered full, flawed, or hybrid democratic regimes (Democracy Index 2019). These democratic regimes are measured by and uphold civil rights and equalities to certain degrees, are key characteristics and indicators for a country to be considered as a democracy. However, not all of these democracies started as full democracies as some countries had to struggle more than others to gain rights and equalities for certain groups of people. Specifically, gender equality for women. Historically women in several countries did not enjoy the same benefits or rights as men always did. In some countries, such as the United States, women had to march and protest to reform laws so that they could have the right to vote. In Norway, which is considered one of the most democratic countries in the world today, women had to fight for the right to vote, earn the same wages as men, and to run for public office (EIU Democracy Index 2019). It was so difficult that it took them over 100 years to get where they are today (Gundersen, 2020). These are only two of the several nations that have made great strides towards strengthening their democracies and achieving equality. With all their efforts, countries began to reform laws that upheld gender equality and rights. Laws that allow women to vote and acts that uphold gender equality are the most effective ways in contributing towards gender equality and women’s empowerment in elected office.

Suggested Version of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, abbreviated as PPACA or ACA, was enacted by former President Barack H. Obama on March 23, 2010. The purpose of creating this welfare is to make more people have better insurance. After six years of implementation, in 2016 the people covered by this plan were estimated from 20 to 24 million, representing the most influential healthcare policy after Medicare and Medicaid laws passed in 1965. Asserting that the policy will harm the economy, President Donald J. Trump eliminated the individual mandate of purchasing insurance, allowed states to remove insurance to unemployed people, and reduced governmental subsidy of purchasing insurance, which significantly decreased the number of people insured. Critics of Obama’s version of the ACA have claimed that such policies will harm the economy, increase debt, and severe unemployment (Manchikanti et al., 2016). However, after analyzing data, economic theories, and current economic situations, it was concluded that this policy will provide $1 trillion of spillover revenue to the economy, pay off all the previous debts, and increase employment (Furman, 2015). Therefore, Obama’s 2010 original ACAshould be re-implemented. Also, to maximize the positive impact on the economy, Obama’s original version of the ACA should provide more financial assistance. The proposed policy for the 2021 healthcare plan contains the following: To mandate the government, employers, and individualsto provide or purchase insurance, as well as to cancel the Bronze class in the ACA and increase the coinsurance rate of all other classes for 10% each. This policy issue is important as it will improve the living conditions ofmillions of people; and will positively influence the economy. In the following contents, Obama’s 2010 original ACA policy will be abbreviated as “original ACA”, and Trump’s 2017 ACA will be abbreviated as “2017 ACA”.

Natural Sciences

Why are Carnivorous Plants the "Most Wonderful Plants in the World"?

Carnivorous plants have evolved convergently around five times in evolutionary history. These plants are found in poor-soil environments and adapt their leaves to form mechanisms to trap prey, in order to outsource nutrients missing from the soil. New developments in digestive enzymes and leaf modification into traps have been found recently. Carnivorous plants shed an important light in the relationship between ecology and evolution and how changes in environment can lead to changes in form and function. Concerns about climate change’s potential effect on carnivorous plants have also been of great discussion recently, with pushes to conserve the carnivorous plants.