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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 Fall 2019 Edition


Mental Health Seeking Behaviors and Trends Among the Hmong Population

The Hmong are an ethnic group from Southeast Asia who has lived as forced political refugees for the past several hundred years. In the 1960s, the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) recruited the Hmong to assist them with the Vietnam War. After the United States withdrew from the war, the Hmong were left behind and became the target to the Laotian and Vietnamese communists. This led to them experiencing traumatic events as they walked from Laos to Thailand to escape ethnic cleansing. From the refugee camps in Thailand to arriving in the United States, the Hmong have encountered various mental-health related issues. The purpose of this literature is to explore the mental-health seeking behaviors among the Hmong population and identify the common mental-health issues they encountered. Using a systematic review, a total of 27 articles were picked from PubMed and Hmong Studies Journal to be examined. This literature review found that the Hmong people have a low rate of seeking Western treatments because their community has always consulted a Hmong shaman, herbs or family members when they experience an illness. Findings also revealed common mental problems: depression, anxiety, adjustments issues, and other health concerns related to the work environment in a new country.

Social Sciences

A Review on First-Generation College Students: Challenges They Face in College When Dealing With Mental Health Issues

This literature review investigates the challenges first-generation college students face when dealing with mental health issues in college. Four main categories are examined to demonstrate the challenges faced by first-generation college students including the status’ that first-generation college students identify with, their family background and support, cultural support from their peers, and the level of knowledge they have about the college process to be successful. Future researchers could look into studying first-generation college students from different cultures and their mental health with different types of methodologies, that is later stated in the review, which can help conduct studies to help advance this area of psychological research.

Neglect and its Effect on Cognition

The brain is a powerful organ that can be damaged with irreversible consequences. Neglect alongside coexisting factors, such as childhood abuse, can affect the overall development of the brain. The severity and longevity of such adverse childhood effects can impair the cognitive, social, and behavioral progresses. This literature review discusses the effects of neglect and coexisting factors, and the negative effects on overall cognition (intellectual, social and behavioral). Results expressed that neglect effects children’s ability to strive in the future. Children who were neglected demonstrated low IQ levels, significantly low levels of social skills, and troubling behavioral skills.

The Influence Mental Illness has on False Confessions

False confessions are very important to understand in order to prevent them from occurring and to seek true justice. A false confession is defined by the admission of guilt for a crime where the confessor is innocent. This literature review draws upon previous studies on false confessions in order to come to a conclusion on how mental illness affects the possibility of falsely confessing to a crime. This paper critically analyzes ten different studies that all relate to either mental illness, false confessions, or both. There have been many studies done on how young age and intense interrogations impact false confessions, however, this literature review aims to gather evidence that focuses on mental illness being a major influencer on false confessions. Another point this literature review focuses on is the fact that people are unwilling to help those who have falsely confessed to a crime reintegrate back into society. Majority of the methodology examined are self-report methods conducted by various different universities. After analyzing each study in depth, this literature review concludes that a correlation between mental illness and false confession is present, however, researcher methodologies must be altered in order to come to a more concrete conclusion.

Young and Reckless: An Analysis of Methods to Reduce Underage Drinking and Driving in Merced

A literature review of statistics about underage drinking and driving, and studies showing the various factors that lead to underage drinking and driving is discussed. Studies that involve experimental models for reducing underage drinking and driving are then examined and analyzed for their advantages and disadvantages. Finally, a new model is synthesized, which could be applied to reduce underage drinking and driving in Merced, California.

Antisocial Personality Disorder: Understanding Sub-Categories Review

This literature review looks at how these terms can affect brain studies, diagnosis and criminology. Antisocial personality disorder (ASPD) is a complex term used in the DSM 5 (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders). ASPD has sub-categories; psychopathy, and sociopathy are two of the sub-categories. Each of the sub-categories have additional sub-categories within them. The terminology concerning ASPD and all of its more specific areas is incredibly complex, and may hinder research when used improperly. This literature review will show how correct terminology is important to furthering research in the criminal population, and how furthering brain research will help develop clearer models, and will also touch on the main populations of study, for research growth on this topic of ASPD.  

Closing the Racial and Gender Gap in Science

The sciences have greatly remained dominated by men, regardless of the many attempts and initiatives to end the gender and racial inequalities. Women and people of color have remained underrepresented throughout society and academia. In this study, interviews were conducted in order to observe and collect similar experiences within participants’ responses about their writing, research, and the exclusion of underrepresented groups in science such as women and people of color. The main focus of this study was on gender inequality, racial bias, and discrimination placed upon the scholarly, peer review process as it is the base of scientific publishing. The results collected were to provide solutions to these ongoing issues in order to create a more diverse and inclusive environment within academic institutions, workplaces, and science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields. The purpose of doing so will shed a light on the barrier gaps in STEM related fields.

Natural Sciences


The current understanding of the evolutionary emergence of the immune system in organisms is still unclear to this day. It is acknowledged that some aspects of the immune system definitely improved the survival of living organisms, whether it be plant, or bacteria, vertebrates or invertebrates. The different immune proteins and complexes are constantly being studied to understand exactly how the immune system play a role in the human development. In this review, we proposea developmental and evolutionary explanation to how we present an immune system, understand the selective pressure in immune cells, explain the relationship of bacteria or viruses to their host, and analyze the augmentation of human vulnerability to diseases.

Using Statistics to Create the Perfect March Madness Bracket

The goal of this project is to analyze data from NCAA Division One Men's basketball teams during the regular season to predict how they will perform during the National Championships, colloquially known as March Madness. I use a data set that ranks teams according to their Pomeroy College Basketball Ratings[1]. These ratings give in depth basketball statistics for each year from 2002 until present and use several different measures to help quantify how good or bad a team is. My analysis will take three parts: single linear analysis, multiple linear analysis, and polynomial regression. I start by attempting to do a single linear analysis on the data from the year 2016, first using Adjusted Offensive Efficiency as the predictor and then using Adjusted Defensive Efficiency as the predictor. Next, I attempt a multiple linear analysis and find that by using both the Adjusted Offensive Efficiency and Adjusted Defensive Efficiency, the predictions greatly improve, but still are not perfect. Finally, I attempt polynomial regression using Adjusted Offensive Efficiency as the predictor. After running each of these methods, I found that none of these can predict the perfect bracket, however the multiple linear regression is able to perform surprisingly well, making the correct final ranking predictions approximately 62.33% of the time.