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Open Access Publications from the University of California


Welcome to the UC Merced Undergraduate Research Journal, an open access publication of research conducted by undergraduates at the University of California, Merced. 

In October and March, SUBMIT HERE.


Isotopologues Synthesis for KIE Studies

The utilization of isotopic labeling is still growing in its use among chemists; the use of hydrogen isotope labeling allows for direct comparisons between two molecules undergoing a catalyzed reaction. An understanding of how the molecules behave when undergoing catalysis can be used when designing medication. Thus the understanding and prediction of chemical behavior at the molecular level can lead to a number of scientific advances; such as catalyst synthesis, inferences in biochemical reactions, and even possible mathematical systems that can model these reactions. Overall the reactions described are commonly used in this isotopic labeling technique, allowing for multiple measurements of reactions of our choosing.

Evaluation of Irinotecan as a Third- or Fourth-line Treatment for Advanced Non-small Cell Lung Cancer

Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer-related deaths in the United States. There are two major types of lung cancer: non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC), which comprises approximately 85% of all lung cancers, and small cell lung cancer. Currently, the most prevalent third- and fourth- line treatment for non-small cell lung cancer is cisplatin-based therapy. This form of therapy has been long established as the chief treatment for advanced NSCLC; however, cisplatin-based therapy also impairs the replication of beneficial cells. Furthermore, insufficient research has been conducted regarding alternative third- and fourth-line treatments. We plan to test the efficacy of irinotecan, a drug that inhibits nuclear enzymes associated with DNA replication and transcription, as a third- or fourth-line treatment for advanced NSCLC in a phase III study. Irinotecan could provide NSCLC patients with an alternative treatment with lower risk of excessive toxicity. Furthermore, this study would supply the foundation for future research concerning later-line treatments for advanced NSCLC.

Social Identities, Self-Perception, and the Stigmatization of Female Prostitutes

This literature review focuses on exploring the psychological and social effects that female prostitutes endure from their identification with a stigmatized group. The prostitute label implies a number of stereotypes that lead to the negative treatment and regard of these individuals. Female prostitutes are often identified as victims, criminals, and deviants, but many members are becoming more active in fighting these associations and rather making a more positive name for themselves by identifying as businesswomen, feminists, and activists. In this way they are fighting for their own civil rights and liberties, social treatment, safety of work environment, and quality of life.

Epileptogenesis, post-stroke epilepsy, treatment, depression, and the importance of quality of life. A review of current research in the medical field

The ADK hypothesis and the disruption of Ca2+ homeostasis in the brain are leading causes of epileptogenesis. These are the main underlying factors that lead to post-stroke epilepsy. In addition to this, epilepsy is known to cause a significant increase in risk for depression, which has been shown to be coupled with attenuation of the hippocampal region. This knowledge would lead one to think that epilepsy should be treatable, but current treatments do not address all of the issues at hand. The newest treatment, Levetiracetam, has been shown to reduce expression of synaptic vesicle protein 2A in order to control Ca2+ regulation but its side effects in terms of depression are controversial. Following is a culmination of new progress in treating epilepsy. Causes, diagnosis, comorbid depression, and levetiracetam specifics are included in search of an all-inclusive treatment.

Acceptance of Deaf Children in Mainstream Schools and their Academic Success: A Literature Review

Deaf and hard-of hearing students have been thrown into public schools, in a practice known as “mainstreaming,” in the hope that inclusion will lead to better academic performance. While most people would assume that mainstreaming is beneficial for deaf and hard-of hearing students, little is known about their academic success. Current information claims that when D/HH students are accepted in mainstream schools they have better academic success, while other research claims that acceptance has no effect on the academic success of deaf and hard-of-hearing students. This article will identify the problems in the available studies and show why there is yet no clear answer on whether or not acceptance of deaf and hard-of-hearing students by their hearing peers and teachers has any effects on their academic success. The answer is not clear because the existing research is limited in availability and flawed in method.

Examining the Relationship Between Ostracism and ADHD

Attention Deficit-Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is a behavioral disorder characterized by inattention, hyperactivity, and impulsivity (Cincinnati Children’s, 2013). Much of ADHD research focuses on the potential social consequences of ADHD such as ostracism. More detailed research goes on to examine the impact of ostracism on affect, such as increased depression and anxiety among ostracized individuals. However, recent ostracism research indicates that feelingsof social exclusion may cause a decline in performance on cognitive and behavioral measures. I propose that if ostracism can cause cognitive and behavioral patterns that resemble those of ADHD, then it is possible that prolonged ostracism (especially early in life) can exacerbate risk for developing ADHD. Furthermore, it is plausible that individuals who are ostracized, as a consequence of ADHD may not only experience negative emotions, but may also experience compromised cognitive function. Thus while the present view of the relationship between ADHD and ostracism is one directional: ADHD leads to ostracism (ADHD  ostracism), I propose that the relationship between ADHD and ostracism might be reciprocal: ostracism causes ADHD, thus causing further ostracism, further increasing ADHD-related cognitive and behavioral deficits (ADHD  ostracism). This review surveys the literature and links cognitive and behavioral characteristics that ADHD and the consequences of social exclusion share.

Literature review: Considerations for Psychedelic Research

Research on psychedelic substances is re-emerging. Here we review chemical and physiological effects in addition to medical uses for psychedelic substances. The most common substances included here as psychedelics are lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD), psilocybin, and peyote. Safety is the priority underlying the majority of the following studies.

Behavioral and EEG Correlates of Reduced Executive Functioning in Adolescents

Exposure to orphanage care or other deprived conditions represent a contributing risk factor in the development of ADHD behaviors. Upon leaving these contexts, the resting EEG patterns found in post-institutionalized (PI) children resemble the EEG profile of children with behavior problems, such as inattention, hyperactivity, and impulsivity. Specifically, this atypical pattern consists of increased theta power relative to other power spectra and decreased alpha power. This study examined if this pattern persists years after adoption and/or whether they were found only in PI youth who developed ADHD. PI and nonadopted (NA) children, between 11-15 year old, comprised the two groups in the study. Approximately half of the participants in each group were diagnosed with ADHD. Parent-reported executive function and attention problems differed by ADHD, but not by adoption classification (PI/NA). The PI youth and NA youth with ADHD exhibited the atypical EEG pattern related to early deprivation and ADHD-related deficits. In the PI youth only, concentrations in beta power and alpha power were positively and negatively associated with fewer executive functions.

The Divergences of Positive Illusions: Face and Dignity Cultures

Throughout centuries the topic of self-understanding has been attributed with great psychological importance, even tracing back to the ancient Greeks. Despite traditional support for accurate self-perception, Taylor and Brown published a radical study in 1988 attesting that those who maintained positive illusions about themselves experienced higher levels of psychological well-being. This controversial paper was put to the test not long after by other psychologists who criticized the ambiguity of Taylor and Brown’s methodology, and through a more polished testing found the exact opposite: higher levels of psychological disadvantage were exhibited by subjects who self-enhanced. The purpose of this review is to examine this elusive concept of positive illusions in a cross-cultural context, including the face cultures of the East and dignity cultures of the West. Furthermore, I will address a recent study accounting for the literature’s inconsistencies on positive illusions and conclude with direction for future research.

An Unexpected Experience Gained From an Excursion Exploring the West

Emily Dickinson so precisely described how the natural world has an uncanny way of connecting to the human mind and spirit by writing, “Nature is what we know--/Yet have no art to say--/So impotent Our Wisdom is/To her Simplicity.” This notion is one that many others have felt themselves and one that has also influenced others to convey their own experiences through written expression. Mark Twain, noted as the father of American literature, wrote the book Roughing It, a semi-autobiographical work that tells of his experiences in the western part of the United States, from the Nevada to California territories, during the years 1861 to 1867. John Muir, an advocate for wilderness preservation and founder of the Sierra Club, published his own diary entries in the book, My First Summer in the Sierra, recounting the sensations nature brought to him and the specific findings he discovered as a naturalist during 1869. Each of these renowned pieces of literature not only gives a description of the landscape and the authors’ time living in it, but also a reflection on the discoveries and emotions that accompany it. Through the works of Twain and Muir that describe their adventures pioneering the Sierra Nevada mountain range during the mid 19th century, the compelling descriptions toward an unfamiliar place promoted the concepts of the adventurous spirit of pioneering, the development of a relationship with nature, and the American character. The power of nature emerged from the narration of these two authors and convinced readers to venture to the lands of California themselves.

People of Steel: The Support of a Town during the Homestead Strike

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The sun rested under the cover of darkness as workers from a steel mill rose from their beds. On July 6, 1892 the steel workers from Homestead, Pennsylvania raced to reach the mill before their unwanted guests. The owner of the steel mill, Andrew Carnegie, away on vacation left the mill under the hands of Henry C. Frick, a man known for breaking unions. Frick refused to entertain any sort of negotiations with the union workers of the mill and in response the workers decided to strike.  Frick hired the Pinkerton detectives to break up the strike and regain control of the mill. The arriving Pinkertons not only faced a mob of steel workers that night but also the weapons the workers managed to scrap together. Baring arms, the workers engaged the Pinkerton detectives on July 6, 1892. After the battle ended, state militia arrived to remove the strikers from the works. The strike continued outside the works and in the town for several weeks but ultimately the strike proved unsuccessful.[1]

[1] I assembled the preceding narrative based on the following works. See Edward Slavishak, “Working-Class Muscle: Homestead and Bodily Disorder in the Gilded Age,” The Journal of the Gilded Age and Progressive Era 3, no. 4 (2004): 330-368. Paul Krause, The Battle for Homestead 1880-1892: Politics, Culture, and Steel (Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press, 1992).


Living in Two Worlds: Torn Identities and Gender Expectations of Latinas in the United States

Latino immigrants in the United States are currently living in a bicultural sphere that pulls them in two different directions.  Their success in this affluent country is challenged by the dual expectations of Latino culture on one hand and Western culture on the other.  These expectations create a tear in the identities of newer generation immigrant Latinos, as they must wrestle between their culture of origin and acculturation to life in the United States.  These burdens are further exacerbated by weaknesses in the educational pipelines resulting in poor employment opportunities.  Latinas have additional burdens and expectations placed on them as women.  They must adhere to the “female role” by caring for the household while also supplementing the low wages of their male counterparts, usually with jobs outside of the household.  Thus Latinas have additional strains placed on their already torn identities as a result of being women in both the Latino and Western world.  The following is a discussion of the torn identities of newer generation Latinos in the United States, and the additional burdens placed on Latinas.

My Little Pony

The latest reboot of the My Little Pony franchise (My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic) has been called one of the best so far by critics thanks to interesting characters, well written story lines, and good voice acting not often seen in girls’ cartoons. These characteristics attracted a large fandom. The fandom’s demographics are especially interesting. A very significant portion of the fandom is young adult males (known as Bronies) usually around college age, not the target audience at all and yet they are some of the most devoted fans. This paper analyses lyrics from some of the music created by these fans. These songs show that these fans are resisting and redefining what it means to be male within their subculture. The songs mentioned are from popular musicians within the fandom and their popularity is indicative of the ideals valued by the community. Their songs are about being emotionally vulnerable and being unafraid to ask for help when one needs it. The rather feminine nature of the show and the unorthodox fandom is resisting the traditional views on males constructed by hegemonic ideals, as laid out by Dr. Mike Donaldson, namely the idea that they must be aggressively independent and unfeeling. According to Dr. Donaldson, a professor of media & communication at the University of Wollongong in Australia who specializes in the study of masculinity, hegemonic masculinity deals with the ideas that a man must be tough and further the subordination of women. Bronies embrace the (nearly) all female cast as well rounded characters and as role models.


This story was inspired by a scene in Allen Christenson’s translation of The Popol Vuh, the ancient Mayan creation myth. In it, the Farmer and the Shaper, the Mayan world creators, have decided to make beings out of earth and mud to worship them. However, these mud people fell apart and spoke in gibberish. This disappointed the creators so they destroyed them. I liked the mud people, when I read The Popol Vuh. They just seemed sort of silly and sad, and they only had a few sentences for their whole existence. I wanted to give them more of a voice.

Preventing Food Contamination: A Need for Innovation in Food Production

Although it is essentially impossible to prevent any entity that was previously exposed to the environment from microorganismal colonization, most complex organisms have long been accustomed to both their existence and abundance. In fact, humans and nearly all the components of the immune system evolved in response to their coexistence to microorganisms (Janeway et. al, 2001). The majority of the effects they have on human health are relatively mild due to the repeated exposure we have been succumbed to over the course of humanity. However, there are particular subsets of contaminants that are the culprit of an unwanted and unfair phenomenon: foodborne illness. These pathogens that are responsible pose as a serious threat to the human population and have so for many years.

Undocumented Students Pursuing Higher Education

In the United States, education is considered a key to success in life. However, not every resident of the U.S has the opportunity to access higher education. Undocumented immigrants seek better lives, or what is commonly called the “American Dream,” but their opportunities to achieve it through education are reduced because they were not born in the U.S. In fact, most undocumented immigrants were brought into the U.S. at young ages by their guardians, not because they decided to migrate to a different country. For these young undocumented people, the United States is the only home they know.

Literature Review: Rescheduling of Marijuana

Medical marijuana legalization has become both a medical and legal issue. Papers range from casual discussion, passionate and involved such as those by Annas1 and Okie2, to serious logical argument exemplified beautifully in Cohen’s3 work.  Annas1 and Okie2 focused on California’s 1996 medical marijuana law and the 2005 Supreme Court trial Gonzales v. Raich respectively.  Cohen3 had a larger scope, reviewing marijuana’s history in the United States from the colonial era to present-day. While the former sources made mention of some valuable scientific evidence, they did so amidst a great deal of personal appeal and anecdotes about those affected. Quotes from doctors, talking about their personal recommendations for patients to use marijuana, and, admittedly, evocative statements from politicians or newspapers frame the discussions. For instance, Annas quotes a Boston Globe writer’s question asking that if legalizing medical marijuana would send the terrible message to children that “If you hurry up and get cancer, you, too, can get high?”1.  Cohen’s argument did not lack pathos, but he presented his opinion in a strong logical argument, clearly referencing medical findings. All three papers argued, presuming that sufficient medical evidence exists to prescribe marijuana. They, instead, focused on the issue marijuana’s legality, rather than on analyzing the validity of the cited data.