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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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Introduction to Volume 10, Issue 2: 10th Anniversary Issue

The editorial staff of the UC Merced Undergraduate Research Journal, more commonly known as the URJ, is proud to present the Spring 2018 edition of the journal. In Fall 2017, the URJ celebrated its 10th year of continuously publishing the works of UC Merced undergraduates. In this second issue of our 10th anniversary volume, the URJ has continued our tradition of publishing excellence in research by presenting the works of eleven authors. These authors represent both the interdisciplinary quality of research and the high standards that UC Merced undergraduates strive to achieve.

Exploring Middle Eastern Immigration: History and Contemporary Diaspora of Middle Eastern Immigrants to Latin America and Culinary Practices Influenced by Their Culture

The purpose of this study is to explore the flow of Middle Eastern immigrants to Latin America during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries and how the Porfirio Diaz prosperity era became a pull factor that drew millions from Middle Eastern countries to South America, specifically Mexico. The presence of Arab culture, language, habits, customs, and foods in countries like Mexico, Veracruz, Argentina, Brazil, and Colombia left a log lasting impression which is still present to this day. Their successful settlement was possible by the development of centers and associations in Mexico which created an interconnected system that enabled immigrants to meet with people from the same background, making their transition smoother. Their impact was evident in the creation of new food practices that embraced both Mexican and Arab influences and created a new platform for savory fusions.

In Vitro Meat: An Ethical Solution to an Unsustainable Practice

In vitro meat, also recognized as test tube meat, cultured meat or cloned meat, refers to an animal flesh product, which has never been a component of a complete and living animal (Martin, Wendt, & Heberer, 2004). It is among the emerging technologies that are under research. The current research into this form of food resulted from a NASA experiment that attempted to find improved forms of long-term food for astronauts in space. NASA has been at the forefront of trying to find an in vitro meat, since 2001, by producing it from turkey cells. With constant increases in the costs of farming conventional meat and demand from the world population, in vitro meat might be one of the various new technologies necessary in maintaining the food supply by the year 2050. In vitro meat will have some profound effects on human daily life. The production of conventional meat might become too costly for the normal consumers to facilitate, especially when the world’s population reaches about 8.9 billion people (Bhat & Bhat, 2011).  In light of this, the paper discusses the impacts of in vitro meat as an emerging technology.

It's Getting Hot in Here so Take Off All Your COS's: Climate Change and its Effect on Well-Being and Happiness

Climate change is a clear and pressing environmental, social, and psychological issue. Although it is commonly viewed as only an environmental issue, climate change has its place as a positive psychology issue as it distributes intergroup relations, well-being, happiness, and social justice. Past research has shown that practicing sustainable behaviors increases well-being by creating a sense of connectedness. Nature walks have also been shown to increase happiness and have been used to treat depression. Based on previous research, this article explores how spending one hour in nature can increase happiness. This increase in happiness may lead to more helping behavior and offset the effects of climate change. Additional research and promotion of environmental education may help combat the effects of climate change and make the world a happier and more sustainable place.

Species Abundance of Fungi is Greater in Landslide Areas Compared to Undisturbed Areas of the Forest in Monteverde, Puntarenas, Costa Rica

Fungi plays an important role in the ecosystem by decomposing dead plants, and otherorganic matter. Without this process, there would be an accumulation of organic material in theforest which would go un-decomposed. Fungi, which are saprotrophic macrofungi from thephyla Basidioycota and Ascomycota, have the vital job of recycling nutrients from dead plantmaterial in the forest back into the soil. The abundance of organic material created by thelandslides on the reserve behind Estación Biológica in Monteverde, Puntarenas, Costa Rica mayhave given rise to nearly twice the amount of different species of fungi (31) compared to thosealongside undisturbed trails (18) where there was not an abundance of organic material. I foundmore basidiomycetes compared to ascomycetes in both trails. Some types of fungi require asuccession of decomposition to take place before establishing mycelium, whereas I found otherswhich were substrate specific. Species of fungi which were very common were Agaricales sensulato, Coprinellus disseminatus, and Scutellinia scutellata. Other species were substrate specific,such as the red mushrooms of Hygrocybe coccinea.

Perfectionism and Stress

The constructs of stress and perfectionism are detailed through consolidation of literature. Connections between the experience of stress and the personal trait of perfectionism are analyzed primarily through observed health effects, along with mechanical perspectives. Specifically, the potency of major depressive disorder and chronic fatigue syndrome are found to correlate strongly with perfectionism. An attempt to conclude as to how these associations are maintained is made by drawing information from varying sects of research, concluding that the most plausible reason is a loss of adaptability. Loss of adaptability is primarily facilitated through a malfunction in the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis, which regulates the stress response system. Future research should attempt to explore in greater detail this system and how it is affected by external loads.

The Many Factors of Growth: How Innovation Plays a Part

Innovation has increased dramatically since the advent of the 1765 steam machine. Today, we possess technology that can process millions of instructions in a matter of seconds. Endogenous growth theory has stressed the importance of technological change and education as a source of economic growth. Thanks to technological innovation and the related economic growth, many people are better off today than before. However, computers cannot mimic human capacity in creativity and the ability to envision new solutions to existing problems. The rate at which workers use these unique capabilities is industry related. Therefore, in this study I relate the proportion of workers in each industry to known industry level innovation rates to predict economic growth rates at the local level. This study is especially important, as it guides policy makers as to what incentives they might use to attract new industries to bolster their future economic well being. Specifically, this study analyzes how innovation and other factors impact growth in the United States through the years 2005-2015 at the Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) using a lagged first-difference quantitative statistical model. This model is well matched to the structure of the data in revealing causality between the independent variables and the dependent. Results indicate no significant relationship between innovation, as measured by localized Multifactor Productivity (MFP), and growth. However, results do indicate a strong relationship between educational attainment and economic growth. Quantitative analysis reveals that a 1% increase in average years of education within an MSA will, on average, cause an increase in localized GDP the following year by 2.33%. Future research is encouraged to better understand the matter and to determine policies that can aid educational attainment and thus, boost economic growth.

Police Brutality Against Black Women

In this argumentative research essay, the idea of an intersectional lens is used examine the class and race of women who are victims of police brutality. With stories of African-American women in low economic cities, it is clear that minority women are more likely to fall victim due to their neighborhood they live in and because of their stereotype of being weak. African-American women are being sexually assaulted and murdered by police and then never receive justice because the media, who can share the story often; however, their stories are never told. In this essay, stories of different types of police assault are told to elucidate the harsh reality that black women face in their own neighborhoods.

The Possible Causes and Effects of Racial and Cultural Socialization Among Transracial Adoptees

This literature review focuses on the effects of racial and social cultural socialization among transracially adopted children. This review is finding evidence in pre-existing articles of research from the past ten years and evaluating their findings to further enhance our understanding of socialization among those who have been transracially adopted and may or may not see any of their own culture in their upbringing. Transracial adoptees are adopted children (mainly international) that are adopted into a different culture/race other than their own, thus, making them bicultural. Because of this, adoptees can feel insecure and suffer from low self-esteem because they feel they don’t belong or indulge in conversations with their parents who are of different ethnicity/culture of their own. This review found that although the sample numbers are low, the findings are monumental. Parents have a bigger impact on their children than originally thought, and they help guide their adopted children to socialization. Children can attempt to socialize on their own but without the added guidance; it makes the process slower and does not yield the best results. Researchers’ focus can to continue to be on the parents but needs to have more integration of adoptees in studies.

Science Fiction Twenty Years Ago, a Nanotechnology Reality Today: Human Microchip Implants

In recent years, Radio-Frequency Identification (RFID) technology has been on the rise with implementing new uses of the technology. This paper will start with examining the history of RFID chip and how it has evolved overtime. Afterwards, it will be going into views from scientists. Next, possible uses of the technology in different fields will be discussed. Lastly, privacy and safety issues will be addressed.

Reviewing the Association between Early Attachment Style and Bystander Behavior in Instances of Bullying during Childhood and Adolescence

Although several studies have analyzed the correlation between early attachment style and the likelihood of becoming a bully or victim, little to no research has been conducted on a possible association between early attachment style and bystander behavior in children and adolescents. This is unfortunate because, though bystander intervention can help victims escape victimization, it rarely occurs. To determine whether there is a possible association between early attachment style and bystander behavior, this literature review analyzed research correlating early attachment with Moral Disengagement and Shame Management, both of which enable passivity. Analysis revealed that a plausible predictive relationship exists between passive bystander behavior and victim-blaming, and early attachment style. This literature review concludes with a discussion of limitations and suggestions for future research.

A Review of the Werther Effect and Depictions of Suicide: 13 Reasons Why

The purpose of this review is to evaluate what influence Netflix’s show 13 Reasons Why will have on the public in accordance with the Werther effect. The Werther effect occurs when a publicized suicide is correlated with an increase in suicides (Philips, 1974). This effect is also referred to as suicide contagion and suicide suggestion. Research about the Werther effect can be generalized to gauge the possibility and severity of a contagion effect after the release of 13 Reasons Why. Additionally, censorship and trigger warnings were analyzed as possible mitigating factors when viewing graphic suicide-related content. The limited effects of censorship and the lack of research surrounding trigger warnings have serious implications when it comes to moderating the effects of suicide contagion. Furthermore, Ayers et al. (2017) found that Google searches for “How to kill yourself” significantly increased after the release of 13 Reasons Why. Thus, it is vital that research is done about suicide rates following the release of the show. The results indicate that television shows depicting suicide are associated with an increase in suicide and that warning labels increased desire to view violent content (Bushman, 2006; Schmidtke & Hafner,1988). This review is meant to contribute to the literature on suicide contagion and gauge the impact 13 Reasons Why will have on the public.