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Symposium Highlights Undergraduate Research

Symposium Highlights Undergraduate Research

UC Riverside students present research May 5-6 on subjects from malaria to TV’s effects on child behavior.

(May 4, 2011)

RIVERSIDE, Calif. – Effects of television on child behavior, social networking and political activism, and cost-effective ways to displace sodium and improve soil quality for agriculture are among dozens of research projects undergraduate students at UC Riverside will present in a two-day symposium May 5 and 6.

The Fifth Annual UCR Symposium for Undergraduate Research, Scholarship, and Creative Activity will begin at 9 a.m. both days on the third floor of the Highlander Union Building. Oral presentations will be followed by brief periods for questions and answers. The event is free and open to the public. Parking costs $6.

“Nurturing intellectual curiosity and supporting the creation of new knowledge are at the very core of what we do as a university,” UCR Chancellor Timothy P. White said in an introduction to the report summarizing the student research. The symposium “is a celebration of the students’ scholarly work and the mentorship of our faculty. Here, we proudly showcase the diverse array of ideas and innovations emanating from our talented and intellectually curious undergraduates.”

David Fairris, vice provost for undergraduate education, noted that the creative process “can be a lonely one. The researcher toils away, often in isolation, trying to shed new light that enriches our understanding of social or natural phenomena, nourishes our emotions, or enlivens our souls. However, presenting the results of that process to one’s peers and mentors is exhilarating.”

The symposium provides a forum to present and improve the product of those efforts through careful listening, he said.

Among the research projects selected for presentation are:

• Children and TV – “The Effects of Television Use on Children’s Social Behaviors,” Michelle McDonnell, psychology. This research investigated the relationship between the amount of time a child spends with the television on in their home and behavioral problems, such as aggression, timidness, and attentional deficit.

• Malaria research – “Cloning and characterization of Plasmodium falciparum DNA Methyltransferase MAL7P1.151,” Michael Cervantes, biology. The most lethal form of malaria is caused by Plasmodium falciparum, which is responsible for up to 90 percent of fatalities. This research focuses on the potential role that epigenetics (heritable changes in gene expression) has on the parasite’s physiology, which may provide a potential novel drug target.

• Improving soil quality – “Permeability of Arid Soil Irrigated with Sulfur Burner Treatment,” Shiyang Fu, environmental toxicology. Salinity and sodicity (sodium rich) in agricultural soil is a major concern for crop producers. This research compares the effectiveness of three treatments to displace salt and the cost of each treatment.

• Wal-Mart challenges – “Wal-Mart’s International Successes and Failures,” Linda Tong and Lu Chen, business administration. Wal-Mart’s acquisition of Seiyu Ltd. and implementation of Western style of management experienced major setbacks. Wal-Mart had to redesign its strategic plans so that its business practices comply with the values and culture of the Japanese. Wal-Mart will need to focus on enhancing customer service, management of the store, products and layout for Western and Japanese customers.

• Air quality - “Rise of Buoyant Emissions from Low Level Sources in Urban Areas,” Eric Gutierrez, mechanical engineering. Distributed power generators (DGs), used by many institutions (e.g. restaurants, schools, hotels, and hospitals) to provide electricity, emit pollutants that negatively affect air quality in urban areas. The rise of emissions, or plume rise, is an important parameter needed to determine pollutant concentration at ground level.

• Social networking and politics – “Social Networking Websites and Political Activism,” Kyle Noble, political science. Do social networking websites increase activism and/or political participation in non-democratic regimes? Using China and the United States for comparison, this research demonstrates that the vast potential of social networking websites are undermined by the availability of the Internet to all members of each society.

The report and schedule of presentations is available at



The University of California, Riverside ( is a doctoral research university, a living laboratory for groundbreaking exploration of issues critical to Inland Southern California, the state and communities around the world. Reflecting California's diverse culture, UCR's enrollment has exceeded 21,000 students. The campus opened a medical school in 2013 and has reached the heart of the Coachella Valley by way of the UCR Palm Desert Center. The campus has an annual statewide economic impact of more than $1 billion.

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