UNDERGRADUATE RESEARCH SCHOLARS

Sarah Abolail
2015-2016
Field(s) of Study: English
Mentor: Mitchum Huehls

Sarah Abolail is a Senior English major completing a departmental English honors thesis about capitalism’s effect on time and history in Breaking Bad. She is deeply interested in moments of violence that occur within erased or altered time and their effect on recorded history. Sarah was in Egypt during the Egyptian Spring revolution and she began thinking about the problematic way through which bodies and histories disappear.

Her research argues that Breaking Bad defines the discord as arising from a varied or altered understanding of the role of time and history due to the impact of late capitalism on time. Under the Undergraduate Student Facilitated Education, Sarah will be teaching a class in the Spring titled “The Rise of the Anti-hero” which uses the anti-hero trope as lens to understand contemporary questions morality, violence, disconnection and trauma. After graduation, she hopes to pursue graduate studies in the humanities with a focus on media and film studies.

Sofia A. Abune
2013-2014
Field(s) of Study: Anthropology, Evolutionary Medicine
Mentor: Deborah Mindry

Sofia A. Abune is a 4th year undergraduate minoring in evolutionary medicine, majoring in Anthropology B.S. She is performing research on health and related issues of Ethiopian migrants domestic workers in the Untied Arab Emirates. As it is the rule of the land in the Emirates, any migrant worker has to pass a screening test to be free from hepatitis B, Aids and tuberculosis before they get the two years residency permits. Unfortunately, after serving two years of services, many Ethiopians are being deported to their country because of Aids, hepatitis B or tuberculosis. As Sofia was raised in the United Arab Emirates she was well aware of the bad treatment and the abuses imposed on the Ethiopian maids facing by their employers. She had sad memories of her childhood during her stay on those parts of the world, which is why she was very much interested to do research to know the root cause of their health and related issues of Ethiopian maids in the United Arab Emirates. Direct interviews of the victims, legal authorities and her father (the Counsel General of Ethiopia) were the primary sources of her research.

Sofia would like to thank all her sources and mentors including her father Mr. Ashenafi Abune Alemie and Professor Deborah Mindy for their support and advise.

Bayan Abusneineh
2012-2013
Field(s) of Study: Political Science, Gender Studies
Mentor: Sarah Haley

Bayan Abusneineh is a fourth year completing her Bachelor’s of Arts degrees in Political Science and Gender Studies with a minor in Education. She is passionate about Middle Eastern Studies and studying women in the Third World. She’s has plenty of experience as a student activist, organizing with the Students for Justice in Palestine. She plans to apply to PhD programs the following year, to study feminist theory and third world feminism.

Erik Adamian
2014-2015
Field(s) of Study: English
Mentor: Arthur L. Little

As a passionate scholar of literature and writing, he has constantly endeavored to educate and better himself in the literary realm from a very young age. As an Armenian who was born and raised in Iran, he studied both Armenian and Farsi literature throughout his elementary and middle school education. However, after migrating to the United States at the age of 14, he also became immensely interested in English literature. At this point in his life, books and poems evolved from joyous and tragic tales of love, friendship and lessons of morality to a medium through which people express their struggles with societal norms, conflicting identities, and most importantly, a constant eagerness for change and progress. Thus, by the time he was a student at the Glendale Community College, he chose to major in English to further educate himself with the words of the greatest authors and thinkers. After transferring to UCLA within two years, he learned about the English Departmental Honors Program and decided to conduct research on his favorite novel, The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde. The novel is born out of Wilde’s sense of struggle between unconventionality and normativity, and a lack of harmony between queerness and a moralistic society. Considering that over a century earlier, the novel served as a major component to the gay rights movement and queer subjectivity, Erik aims to clarify how relevant Wilde’s depiction of queerness is, today. Could The Picture of Dorian Gray be considered as a timeless portrayal of the nature of queerness?

Jessica Adlouni
2015-2016
Field(s) of Study: Sociology
Mentor: Edward Walker

Jessica Adlouni is a fourth-year Sociology major, minoring in Labor and Workplace studies, and pursuing college and departmental honors. She currently serves as the Public Relations Chair for the Women’s Pre-Law Association at UCLA. With her senior thesis, she has been able to combine her interests in social movements and the law. Her project quantitatively analyzes the effects of various factors of political and legal opportunity on social movements’ use of the law. The study covers a wide range of policy areas in which social movements are involved, from 1960-1995. She hopes that the results will contribute to understanding some of the factors that influence social movement litigation, an important part of the struggle for progress. After graduation, her plans are to attend law school and continue to explore how social justice issues intersect with the law.

Yesenia Aguilar Silvan
2016-2017
Field(s) of Study: Psychology
Mentor: Anna Shan-Lai Lau

Yesenia Aguilar Silvan is a first-generation student majoring in Psychology and double minoring in Latin American Studies and Chicana/o Studies. Her experience as a first-generation immigrant and her upbringing in a low-income city in Los Angeles, has sparked her research interest in community based approaches and minority mental health. She is a Psychology Departmental Scholar and is completing her honors thesis on the barriers that arise during the implementation of evidence-based treatments in a community setting. Her research argues that a client’s demographics will be predictive of the rise in emergent life events or what therapist refer to as “crisis of the week”. She argues that these barriers need to be addressed to better the mental health services for communities of color. For her honors thesis, Yesenia is leading a team of coders to develop a manual and reliably code the rise of emergent life events. After graduation, she hopes to pursue a post-bac position as a research lab coordinator and apply to Clinical Psychology Ph.D. programs in the near future.

Martha Jailene Aguirre
2018-2019
Field(s) of Study: Psychology
Mentor: Carola Suárez-Orozco

Martha Jailene Aguirre is a Guatemalan-American and first-generation college student in her fourth year at UCLA. Jailene is a Psychology major with minors in Education Studies and Applied Developmental Psychology. She has interdisciplinary research interests primarily in the fields of education and psychology, which she hopes to use to improve the conditions that impact marginalized communities. With the help of her research mentor, Dr. Carola Suárez-Orozco, Jailene’s current research project aims to examine the college experiences of underrepresented college students, such as Undocumented college students. She hopes the findings of this study shed light as to how institutional agents can enhance the current system in a way that is tailored towards these students needs and support their academic endeavors.

Ani Alaberkyan
2017-2018
Field(s) of Study: Anthropology
Mentor: Erin Debenport

When Ani Alaberkyan was ten years old, her family came to Los Angeles as refugees from the former Soviet Union. This experience has shaped her life in such a way she plans to use her experiences and opportunities she had in the United States towards helping those suffering and affected by conflicts. She is majoring in Linguistics and Anthropology with Minors in Anthropology, Arabic, and International Migration Studies. Outside of class, she is heavily involved with undergraduate research and volunteering with a refugee settlement agency in Los Angeles. This year she is attempting many firsts: learning to speak Arabic, caring for a cat, and teaching a class on the history of cats. She plans to apply for PhD programs in Anthropology.

Alma Anahi Alvarado
2016-2017
Field(s) of Study: Spanish
Mentor: Hector Calderon

Alma Alvarado is a 4th year undergraduate double majoring in Anthropology and Spanish. She was born and raised in Durango, Mexico, but has lived for the past 9 years in California. As an undergraduate scholar she is studying the autobiographical texts along with one novel of the authors Sandra Cisneros and Reyna Grande. She is constructing a framework of the formation of identity and highlight the importance of both—autobiographical work and literature influenced by personal experience. Following her graduation from UCLA, Alma is interested in attending graduate school and ultimately become an educator and an academic.

Sunshine Maria Anderson
2010-2011
Field(s) of Study: Chicana and Chicano Studies, Art History
Mentor: Charlene Villasenor Black

Sunshine Maria Anderson transferred into UCLA after completing an AA degree from East Los Angeles College in 2009. She began UCLA immediately that summer with the Transfer Summer Program (TSP) sponsored by the Academic Advancement Program (AAP). Currently Sunshine is a senior majoring in Chicana and Chicano Studies and Art History and will be graduating this Spring of 2011. She has had the opportunity to participate in research gratefully with the support of the Under-graduate Research Center (URC) as an Undergraduate Research Fellow and continued with the Undergraduate Research Scholars Program (URSP), she presented at the “International Conference on the Life and Work of Gloria Anzaldua” in 2010. In addition she is working toward completing a departmental honors thesis in the Chicana and Chicano Studies Department. Sunshine is a third generation native to Los Angeles and first generation college student. While in community college she was a Getty Multicultural Undergraduate intern at The Junior Arts Center. She considers herself a non-traditional student who manages to balance being a mother of two children ages 9 and 5 while attending school full-time and working part-time at the Fowler Museum. She is also a Blue and Gold Scholar, has volunteered with the Bruin Resource Center, is part of the Parenting Students organization and former Co-Vice President, and a member of the Golden Key International Honour Society. Her interests are primarily in the arts, specifically as a tool for transformation, healing and empowerment within underserved comm-unities. She would like to continue her education and earn an MFA in Photography. She hopes to one day open a Mexican American Museum of Art in Los Angeles that focuses on the varied experiences, expressions and history of the many generations that exist in Los Angeles.

Vince Anderson
2012-2013
Field(s) of Study: History, Public Affairs
Mentor: Mary Yeager

Vince Anderson is a Senior at UCLA, Majoring in History with a Minor in Public Affairs. His Honors Thesis is titled “Firefighters, Insurance Companies, and Underwriters: The Historical Implications of Rating Fire Departments”. This project is researching the relationship between the Fire Service and various methodologies used by private industry to evaluate Fire Protection Services. Professor Mary Yeager is mentoring Vince for this research project.

After graduating with a Bachelor’s degree in History next Spring, Vince intends to enroll in the Emergency Management Master’s Program at Long Beach State University. Graduating from Law school is another academic goal. Vocationally, he plans to progress up the ranks of a municipal fire department to the administrative level. For the second half of his career, Vince envisions himself working as either counsel within the FEMA Legal Services Division, or as an Emergency Services Attorney. He is currently a Staff Assistant for the UCLA Fire Department.

Vince would like to thank his immediate family, Richard, Anna, and Joseph, for their unwavering support and wise advice throughout his research. Professor Yeager was a tremendous mentor and assisted Vince in developing a concise topic as well as providing him with the necessary guidance of how to conduct research as a historian. Vince would also like to thank his colleagues from the UCLA Fire Department for their continued support. Vince would like to extend his deepest gratitude to Ms. Helen Hackworth for generously providing the funds for his scholarship. The following Fire Departments each contributed historical documents and professional guidance to Vince’s research, their assistance was integral to his project and he is deeply appreciative of their involvement: Santa Monica Fire Department, Corona Fire Department, Anaheim Fire Department, Culver City Fire Department, Los Angeles City Fire Department, Los Angeles County Fire Department, and the Orange County Fire Authority.

Bernice Andrade
2017-2018
Field(s) of Study: Sociology
Mentor: Leisy Janet Abrego

The focus of the current study is on the schooling experiences of minority youth. The research setting is an alternative high school in South Central Los Angeles that serves African American and Latina/o students. The intent of the research is to provide a space for Mexican-American, male and female students to share their personal experiences attending this alternative school and the factors shaping their experience. When studying the variation in their schooling experiences and educational trajectories, I intend to pay close attention to whether students’ Mexican-American identity influences the way they experience their education. Furthermore, because this school has a significantly greater number of male students than female students enrolled, I also plan to explore the ways gender shapes students’ experiences navigating the education system. The methodological approach will be ethnography by means of semi-structured interviews, participant observation, and narrative inquiry. Such qualitative methods will help me gain a close familiarity with this student population, and provide me with a more detailed understanding of the alternative education experience. By listening to students describe their experiences, I hope to bring attention to the needs of male and female minority students in alternative schools.

Beatrice Anguiano
2011-2012
Field(s) of Study: Anthropology
Mentor: Joseph H. Manson

Beatrice Anguiano transferred to UCLA from Los Angeles City College in 2009. Currently she is a second year senior majoring in Anthropology and minoring in Geography/Environmental Studies. She will be graduating in June 2012. The proudest moment of her UCLA experience was when she was selected to be a part of the Anthropology Honors Program. She is currently working on completing her honors thesis with the gracious support of the Undergraduate Research Scholars Program (URSP) and the UCLA Honors Department. Beatrice came to the United States from Germany in 2001 and has been realizing her dream to work with and study primates ever since. She has been an active Animal Keeper Volunteer at the Los Angeles Zoo since 2005 which has allowed her to get first-hand experience with all types of exotic animals. After graduation she hopes to return to Germany and continue her education there. Her wish is to have a career in animal conservation so that she may actively participate in the preservation of the Earth’s wonderful biodiversity.

Jennifer Arias
2012-2013
Field(s) of Study: Psychology
Mentor: Wellford Wilms

Jennifer Arias is a 4th year Psychology major and Education minor. In high school she became involved in mock trial where she fell in love with the legal field and pursuing justice through legal means. She decided to major in psychology at UCLA while still aiming to go to law school. When she heard about Education 145 and learned about mediation and alternative conflict resolution, she finally found a place where her two passions, psychology and law, met. She spent the entire year becoming a certified mediator and mediating at Mark Twain middle school. After having significant experiences helping students resolve their conflict she knew she wanted to stay and keep working with students who needed extra support, and she also wanted to try to quantify the impact mediation was having on these students. Her background working in public health research and doing research through the college honors program made it natural for her to bring research to the community she is working in. She would like to thank her faculty mentor Dr. Wellford Wilms and The MacDowell Fund for investing in her and making this research possible.

Francesco Arreaga
2016-2017
Field(s) of Study: Political Science
Mentor: Deborah W. Larson

Francesco Arreaga is in his senior year at UCLA, he is double majoring in Political Science and Chinese, minoring in Global Studies, and pursuing College Honors. After graduating from college he hopes to attend law school and work in the public sector. Francesco is currently writing an honors thesis in the Political Science Department, his thesis advisor is Dr. Deborah Larson. Francesco’s research utilizes social identity theory to explain conflict and cooperation between the United States and China. At UCLA, Francesco serves on the Judicial Board, he tutors for the Asian American Tutorial Project, founded the Net Impact Up to Us Chapter, and reestablished the Roosevelt Institute.