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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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The Methods to Unlock Molybdenum Disulfide

In today’s world, we’ve invented many new technologies that have allowed us to map out the earth’s surface but just as we can map out surfaces in a large scale, we can also map out surfaces in a very small scale such as in nanometers. Thus, giving us opportunities to study & discover various materials such as molybdenum disulfide (MoS2) crystalline flakes. MoS2 being a material that has a similar yet different structure to graphene, low friction when compared to SiO2 (a low friction material as is), and provides many potential applications that can be implemented into aerospace as a solid lubricant. But like any fellow researcher studying a material, each has their own methods/techniques that they use to obtain results. In our proposal, we will cover the research that has taken place to provide a consensus of MoS2’s potential application as a solid lubricant in aerospace to its low frictional properties in the nanometer scale. And the technologies we’ll be looking into to access for our methods/techniques for researching will be Atomic Force Microscopy (AFM), Scanning Electron Microscopy (SEM), X-Ray Photoelectric Spectroscopy (XPS), X-Ray Diffraction (XRD), and Tribometers at the University of California, Merced (UC Merced).


El Protofeminismo representado en la literatura de Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz

A brief study focusing the protofeminism involve in Sor Juana Ines de la Cruz and why she is recognized as the first feminist in Latin America.

The Sexual Assault Crisis in the University of California

According to a report by the National Sexual Violence Resource Center, it is estimated that 1 in 5 women and 1 in 16 men will experience sexual violence during college. Applying these numbers to the total undergraduate student population throughout the University of California system will equal more than 20,000 undergraduate UC students who will potentially be victims of sexual assault. This research paper aims to examine the current state of sexual assault at the University of California campuses and the standard policies throughout each campus. Specifically, there is an emphasis on the nine different colleges within the University of California system, comparing their approach to the issue of sexual harassment and ultimately recommending the best alternatives.

Factors that Influence Resiliency among Foster Youth

Foster youth are generally associated, within research conventions, as negative outcomes. Foster youth are children, teens, and young adults who are placed in varying institutions due to lack of parental neglect, mental, or physical abuse. The most prevalent cause of their displacement into government provided institutions, is neglect. Foster youth have encountered differing forms of adversities that affect their daily life. The abuse these children and youth encounter is often times traumatic. Some of the trauma can be a combination of: mental abuse, physical abuse, sexual abuse, and much more. As such, their lives are altered and therefore affect their long-term functioning domains. They often have difficulty in demonstrating emotional connections or expression of them. The research that will be discussed is are the factors that influence a positive outcome on the prevalence of resiliency among foster youth. Some of the factors discussed will be external and internal factors that are included but not limited to: behavioral, social, and cognitive developments as well as, social relationships and external institutional support. Therefore, the addressed research question will be a literature review on: What factors lead to resiliency?

Social Sciences

Which is more Reliable Print media or Online Media?

This writing essay reviews the credibility between two major information and news resources. The question of the century has been presented! Which is more credible print media or online media news? Credibility is defined as a sense to be trustworthy and having a reputable reputation. The world and ordinary folk are battling with what to believe with information presented to them. Evidence is presented in this essay on the pros and cons of both forms of media.


This is a study determining which factor is a stronger return to education in a post-undergraduate setting: Grade Point Average (GPA) or the perceived “prestige” of the University attended. To classify what is considered “prestigious” and non- “prestigious”, I used rankings from the U.S News Best Colleges Rankings to classify the University of California campuses onto two separate tiers based on these rankings. I implement a survey on Amazon Mechanical Turk, in which subjects are asked whether they would prefer to hire a job candidate with a higher GPA from a lower tier university versus a job candidate with a lower GPA from a higher tier university. Using this survey data, I find that subjects have a strong preference for candidates with higher GPA. This preference still holds when including respondents that have hiring experience. The implications are that individuals will re-evaluate their preferences when applying to a university.

An Equal Education: Reducing Gender Bias in STEM Education

The STEM field has become one of the most high-paying and impactful fields in our society.  However, data shows that women only makeup 25% of STEM employees and 30% of STEM graduates. To understand how these inequalities emerged, it is important to look at the beginning of the STEM education pipeline.

The purpose of this research is to discover how schools can reduce gender bias in their classrooms. My research discusses two main causes of the lack of female participation in STEM: microaggressions and implicit biases. Microaggressions are implicit or explicit actions or comments that are aimed at someone’s abilities based on a certain characteristic, in this case, gender. Implicit bias is the unconscious bias some may hold against women in STEM. These issues are commonly seen within the STEM education, both among peers and educators.

My proposed solution to reduce gender bias in classrooms is to create an outreach program or organization that provides girls the support they need to be successful in STEM. The first outcome for this program would be to provide a support system for female STEM students. This would be done by hosting study sessions, research opportunities, and even a student-mentor program. The other outcome for this program would be to educate teachers and administrators on how they can create a gender-inclusive classroom and support their female students. I believe this initiative would help not only educate the public on the issue, but also encourage more female students to pursue a career in a STEM pathway.

Natural Sciences

Research on the Cardiovascular Health of Women (Or the Lack Thereof)

Females are being inaccurately underrepresented in clinical studies of medications for cardiovascular disease. Even though about half of patients with cardiovascular disease in America are women, they only make up about 1/3 of the patients included in clinical studies for cardiac medications. Therefore, women needlessly experience negative side effects that could be prevented with cardiac medications specifically for women. Furthermore, females' hearts are fundamentally different than males' hearts and therefore, require different medications for their specific needs. Thus, pharmaceutical companies must develop cardiac medications tailored specifically for womens' hearts and biological needs in order to prevent unnecessary deaths due to underlying gender descrimination.

Hydrophobic Properties of Polymer Films on Cast Iron Substrates

The properties of hydrophobic surfaces have been of recent interest due to their applications in cookware and automotive components. The wetting properties of surfaces usually have an effect on the frictional forces due to the surface roughness of a material and the degree of wetting it creates. Non-stick in cookware has been used because it is easier to clean, cook, heats the food evenly, and requires less oil each time it's used which makes it a healthy alternative. For the cookware the necessity arises from users not wanting food or debris to stick to their surfaces and the automotive necessity arises from the need of car parts to maintain their tolerances in order for them to function properly. This study aims to explore the surface chemistry properties of cast iron in these applications where we measure contact angles between water molecules, observe the microstructure, and measure frictional and adhesion forces to a grey cast iron sample with deposited oil layer. Our main goal is to design and quantify the hydrophobic properties of a cast iron surface.

Reusable Rockets and the Environment

Many studies have been conducted on the environmental impact of automotive vehicles, but less research has been done on the effects of orbital launch vehicles. This literature review addresses the question, what are the environmental effects of reusable rockets? The environmental effects that are considered include pollution to the atmosphere, soil, and Low Earth Orbit in the form of space debris. Also, reusable orbital launch vehicles are specifically considered because their reduced costs could increase launch frequency. The impact of rockets in general has been difficult to quantify because rockets are not launched very often, and they mostly operate in space. Research has shown that launch prices are decreasing while their total environmental effects is unknown (Jones, 2018). However, research agrees that space debris is a considerable threat to future space activity that will only get worse, but there is no consensus as to when the problem will be too great (Noble, Almanee, Shakir, & Sungmin Park, Apr 2016; Slíz-Balogh, Horváth, Szabó, & Horváth, 2020).

When considering reusable orbital launch vehicles, it is specified that these types of vehicles are rockets that can insert payloads with considerable mass into orbit around Earth or even away from Earth into deep space. There are many rockets currently operational with this capability, but only two are reusable at the time: The Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy. Unlike their conventional counterparts, these rockets do not eject and discard their first stage. Instead, they recover and reuse it. However, conventional and reusable rockets are similar because they discard their second stage after their payloads have been deployed.

The research conducted in this literature review was taken from databases accessed through the UC Merced library website. They include Engineering Village, Web of Science, Sax’s Dangerous Properties of Industrial Materials, etc. Ten sources were referenced which were found using several key search terms including reusable, rocket*, pollution, propellant, space, debris, exploration, etc. Some of the terms were searched in combinations using key phrases like reusable rocket, space debris, rockets AND pollution, etc. Due to the limited research on the environmental effects of rockets on the ocean, it was not mentioned. For example, there were ninety-seven and fifty-eight results under the phrase rocket AND ocean, in Engineering Village and IEEE Xplore databases respectively. None of the papers had anything to do with environmental effects.