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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.

Undergraduate Research Journal Spring/Fall 2018-19 Issue

Issue cover

The editorial staff of the University of California, Merced Undergraduate Research Journal, more commonly known as the URJ, is proud to present the Academic Year 2018-2019 edition of the journal. The URJ selectively publishes the works of UC Merced undergraduate students in an effort to give our best student researchers and writers the widest possible platform for exposure. In this issue of the Undergraduate Research Journal, we continue the tradition of publishing excellence in research by presenting ten projects from UCM students across our campus's academic disciplines. These authors' texts exemplify the high standards that all UC Merced undergraduates should strive to achieve in their scholarly endeavors.


Front Matter

This is the Front Matter

CRISPR V Culture

New gene editing technologies give us the potential ability to bring back extinct species, help control the spread of invasive ones, and genetically modify those that spread diseases. They allows us to not only influence the evolutionary path of entire species, but entire ecosystems as well. Furthermore, gene editing has the potential to help us live healthier and longer lives. We have moved past rudimentary macroscopic methods of DNA manipulation and can now remove individual genes from a strand of DNA. However, due to the complexity of this technology, and given that there are few who can use it to its full effect, people have largely failed to respond to its development, particularly regulators. It is not within the scope of this paper to explore the full implications of these various emerging technologies, so instead I will focus on CRISPR, a specific new gene editing complex first used in 2012, and the major developments that have taken place since then.

The Evolutionary Significance of Fever in Immune Response

Fever, although part of the second line of defense in immune response, is still a topic of discussion on whether an increase in body temperature during an infection is more beneficial than harmful. Fever is considered a beneficial response to infection because of the incapability of pathogens to survive the increased temperature, and fever’s ability to increase mobilization of immune cells. Other than this regular benefit of increase in body temperature, fever therapy is being considered as a safer, less expensive, and more effective cancer treatment. However, fever is currently looked down upon by physicians and the public due to its harmful effects such as seizures if not maintained within a certain range, and increases risk of Autism spectrum disorders in children of pregnant mothers who had an uncontrolled fever. Preservation of fever response over generations and its similarity in several organisms indicates its evolutionary advantage despite some harmful effects associated with this response, and could be an intermediate adaptation for survival. Further research can be done to better control fevers and keep them within the safe range instead of completely alleviating them, such as letting a fever run its course to fight infections better and faster under certain circumstances, increase awareness on how to monitor a fever, and increase awareness on individuals who are at higher risk of the negative consequences of fever.

The Importance of (Accessible/Private) Office Space

The University of California Merced is planning on relocating some instructors off campus to the Starbucks/Promenade Center to hold office hours. In doing so, UC Merced is hoping to solve issues it currently has regarding space. However, students of the UC believe that moving office hours off campus would create multiple inconveniences including but not limited to transportation, privacy, and safety issues. To add on, it is very likely that the spaces being utilized by the lecturers will have  The purpose of this research is to find whether or not moving office hours off campus will benefit students.

The paper will go into depth on how moving the office space will affect the students academics. It will discuss how transportation, safety and privacy will affect students academically.

How Sadistic Behavior and its Correlation to Sexual Coercion Leads to Fetishes and Sexual Aggression

In this literature review, we will be discussing how sadistic behavior and its correlation to sexual coercion leads to fetishes and sexual aggression. Studies such as Robertson & Knight’s key defining aspects to sadism revolve around domination and control over victims. The study conducted by Robertson & Knight compromised of 314 sadistic incarcerated male sex offenders were given the PCL-R which was able to significantly predict all sexual violence factors. Additionally, within a second group comprised of 599 participants were deemed sexually dangerous due to results predicting violence, physical control and sexual behavior. The researchers concluded that, sadism is highly correlated with sexual violence. Sadism falls under the larger umbrella of paraphilias which include necrophilia, psychopathy sexual sadism (sexual coercion and sexual aggression). The serial killer Jerome Henry Brudos, was an exemplified this idea. Brudos, had a domineering mother and was said to be of lower intellectual capacity. Brudos was a sexual sadist, who had the comorbidity of necrophilia and fetishism and as a result was a violent serial killer.

Implementation of Stewardship Programs in Hospitals: Systematic Review

Background: Antimicrobial resistance is a pandemic issue affecting hospital patients. There are many studies showing what can be done to decrease resistance of many microbes, but there is not one complete method. This review indicates the effective methods that can be used to prevent resistance from spreading in hospitals.

Methods: The review was set to focus on antimicrobial resistance, misuse, and overuse of antimicrobials, what doctors are doing that influences resistance and stewardship programs. Articles published from 2008- 2018 were found using Web of Science, ScienceDirect, and PLOS.

Results: Out of the 15 articles found, 7 articles met the ideal selection criteria and were included in the review. All articles demonstrated the importance of antimicrobial resistance and provided ways in which resistance can be decreased. All studies reported the use of stewardship programs were necessary, but only three articles demonstrated its effectiveness.

Conclusion: This review demonstrates a high need for antimicrobial stewardship programs to decrease the evolution of antimicrobial resistance. However, there is a problem with individual medical providers not complying to such programs due to the restrictions they say it creates. The results state otherwise and in fact demonstrate how a medical provider’s behavior must change to provide significance on the implementation of successful stewardship programs.

Online Social Networking and Its Effects on Young Adults

This paper analyzes the relationship between the excessive use of social networking sites and physical and mental well-being of young adults. The first part of the paper reveals the physical and mental health concerns resulting in the excessive use of social networking sites. The second part of the paper uncovers the reasons why negative health impacts are associated with the excessive use of these social platforms. The third part of the paper addresses the possible solutions to minimize the negative health effects from the excessive use of social networking sites.

Patient's Health: The Number One Priority in the Treatment of Cancer

Bringing about the discussion of the importance of proposing and researching cancer treatments that not only focus on treating cancer but also equally focus on the patient’s health during and after treatment is a topic within cancer research that is minimally discussed. This literature review uses childhood acute lymphoblastic leukemia(ALL), which is a type of cancer that produces immature lymphocytes and doxorubicin, a treatment option for those with ALL that is known to cause cardiotoxicity years after treatment to encourage holistic approaches and longitudinal research on cancer treatments that focus on the patient’s well-being during and after treatment is received.

Gender Dysphoria and Sexual Reassignment: A Health Review on Post-Operative Individuals

In this review the well-being of post-sexual reassignment individuals will be discussed. Gender dysphoria (GD) and sexual reassignment surgery (SRS) continues to be a research process for the scientific community on evaluating the health statuses of transitioned individuals. Though researchers consider this subject in its primitive stage of investigation, the literature available gives ideas in assessing whether these sexual reassignment procedures work for gender dysphoric individuals. There is a diverse amount of material on GD and SRS that detail both similar and differing results depending on the type of methodologies used by researchers. Reviewing the style of research, methods, and results within studies can bring more knowledge and spring new ideas to form better conclusions on the health statuses of individuals diagnosed with gender dysphoria and their post-operative self.

Classifying Emotion Using Convolutional Neural Networks

Despite the computer’s historical success as a communication tool, machines themselves have yet to fully master the most basic forms of nonverbal communication that we humans use daily. Gender, ethnicity, age and emotional state is often perceived immediately by most humans engaging in conversation.However, training a classifier algorithm to accomplish this form of behavioral observation is a rather difficult task. In this exploratory review, we will be replicating object recognition and deep learning in a convolutional neural network to ultimately train a model to distinguish the universal human emotions from the FER2013 facial expression dataset (Kaggle, 2013).

Literature Review: The Effects of a Gluten and Casein Free Diet on Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder


This literature review examines various research articles to survey knowledge and identify existing problems in the study of a Gluten Free Casein Free diet on Autism Spectrum Disorder. It provides a survey of knowledge and a problem identification regarding the methodology of the articles. This manuscript identifies five diverse methods: Placed on Diet, Observations, Questionnaires, Medical Tests, and Psychometric Tests. The conclusion of this review addresses the problems with this field of study. Furthermore, it addresses the limitations of the small sample sizes, and potential problems with the methods used.

Editor and Staff Biographies

Biographies of Editors and Staff of the 2019 Undergraduate Research Journal team.