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Home > News > Press Releases & Media Advisories > Press Release

From oral histories to oral cancer, robots to rocky horror

UC Irvine undergraduates to present findings from eclectic research projects

Irvine, Calif., May 10, 1999

So much for the stereotype of the college student who sits anonymously in a lecture hall of hundreds, ignored by professors.

UC Irvine undergraduate students get the chance to work one-on-one with faculty on research, and more than 200 of them will present findings from their eclectic projects at the sixth annual UCI Undergraduate Research Symposium from 9 a.m.-5:30 p.m. on Saturday, May 15, at the UCI Student Center.

Sponsored by the UCI
Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program (UROP), which funds many of the projects, the daylong event is the culmination of months of grueling research conducted by some of the university's brightest and most dedicated students.

Topics range from art to biology. Among the projects to be presented Saturday:

  • "The Street Vendors of Santa Ana: A Case Study in Immigrant Informal Economy and Ethnic Politics," by social science student Evelyn Perez.
  • "Rocky Horror Picture Show-An American Subculture," by anthropology student Kiem Flint.
  • "An Oral History of Filipina Experiences During the Japanese Occupation of the Philippines," by history student Roman Racela.
  • "Searching for Gravity Waves," by physics student Steve Drasco.
  • "Prosecutorial Discretion: A Study of Hate Crimes in Orange County," by criminology, law and society and psychology and social behavior student Sara Turovitz.
  • "Weight as the Predictor of Oral Cancer Development and Progression," by biological sciences student Natalie Boghosian.

Other themes include California's three-strikes law, the myth of the middle-class housewife, reuse of water as a solution to water shortages, robots used in physical rehabilitation, photodynamic cancer treatment, the evolution of the Guatemalan army, and gaming and suicide.

At Saturday's symposium, each student will have about 15 minutes for an oral or poster presentation during morning and afternoon sessions. UCI Chancellor Ralph J. Cicerone, professor of earth system science, will give the keynote address at 11 a.m.

Faculty members are scheduled to hold discussions with students at noon on hot topics in the news. John King, professor of information and computer science, will discuss the Y2K bug; Michael Mulligan and Franz Hoffmann, associate professors of developmental and cell biology, and Linda Cohen, professor and chair of economics, will discuss the future of genetically engineered food; and Ray Novaco, professor of psychology and social behavior, will discuss violence in society.

At 4 p.m., organizers will announce winners of the Chancellor's Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Research. One faculty member who has greatly contributed to undergraduate research and one outstanding student researcher from each academic school or program will receive an award.

Started in 1995, UROP enhances students' education by helping them get hands-on experience as researchers. Each student works closely with a faculty mentor and gets a taste of what it is like to be a physicist, sociologist or other type of academic researcher. Students test their interest and maturity as thinkers, and learn to present their work.

"The opportunity to do this kind of research is quite unusual and powerful for undergraduates," said Said Shokair, director of UROP. "Whether they go to graduate school or go into the workforce after their senior year, students have gained the skills of asking questions, developing a plan and researching answers. They also learn how to discuss their projects."

Each fall and spring, UROP calls for proposals. The group helps students prepare the proposals, an introduction to the sort of applications faculty members must write.

A faculty panel reviews students' applications and awards money based on proposals' intellectual merit, creativity, thoroughness, faculty support and availability of funds. Grants range from $150 to $750 for individuals to $600 to $1,100 for teams.

In addition to the symposium, UCI students get the chance to publish their research in the UCI Undergraduate Research Journal. The first issue of the journal, planned for annual release, was published this winter.

The symposium is free and open to the public. The first oral presentation session will be held from 9-10:50 a.m., followed by the keynote address from 11-11:50 a.m., faculty discussions from noon-12:50 p.m., poster session from 1-1:50 p.m., a second oral presentation session from 2-3:50 p.m. and awards ceremony from 4-4:50 p.m.

For more information about UROP and the symposium, including a schedule of topics and speakers, see symposium.html or call (949) 824-4189.


Alicia Di Rado
(949) 824-6455


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