Jim Tranquada

For the second straight year, 34 Occidental students have been invited to the National Undergraduate Research Conference.


The group of invited students, matching last year’s record for the largest in Oxy history, will present their research in a wide range of disciplines.

Faculty-mentored undergraduate research projects have been an important component in the education of Occidental students for decades, and undergraduate research has become one of the College’s signature programs, one that has drawn national recognition.

Since 2005, a total of 123 Occidental students have been invited to the NCUR. This year’s group of 34 presenters includes more students than Caltech, Columbia, UCLA and Johns Hopkins combined. Student researchers will present research on topics ranging from an analysis of Dante’s Divine Comedy and a study of U.S.-Syrian relations to tissue regeneration in predatory cone snails and mathematical models for traffic lights.

This year’s conference will be held at the University of Wisconsin, La Crosse from April 16-18. The NCUR hosts more than 2,000 students, presenting research through visual arts, oral presentations, posters and performances.

Following are the Occidental students accepted to attend (included are graduation years, majors, and titles of research projects):

  • Ryan Barr 09, English and Comparative Literary Studies, "Murakami: Love and Nothingness"
  • Allison Beresford 09, English and Comparative Literary Studies, "Dreaming in Hungarian"
  • Erin Brinton 09, Biology, "Evolutionary Relationships and Physiological Traits of Agaves and Yuccas with Contractile Roots"
  • Elizabeth Chang 09, Sociology, "Is Online Dating a Manifestation of the Iron Cage of Bureaucracy?"
  • Meagan Colvin 09, Psychology/Spanish, "Organizations for Battered Women in the Buenos Aires Province"
  • Erin Conley 09, ECLS/Religious Studies, "Movement, Community, and Caritas: Excess in Dante’s Divine Comedy" and"Gender in the History of Scholarship of the Gospel of Mary"
  • Elizabeth Cutler 09, Politics, "Political Participation of University Students in the Fifth Region of Chile"
  • Jenny Enciso 10, Psychology, "The Relationship between Acculturation, Self-Esteem, and Home Visitation: A Portrait of Occidental College Latinos/as"
  • Brian Francisco 09, Politics, "Approaching Damascus: U.S.-Syrian Relations Past, Present, and Future"
  • Cristina Franco 09, Psychology, "Latino/a Identities and Support Sources: The Significance of Home, Courses, and Co-Curricular Activities"
  • Simona Gavrila 09, DWA, "Researching Non-Governmental Strategies of Empowering Male Sex Workers in Northern Thailand"
  • Sarah Hunt 09, English and Comparative Literary Studies, "Western Readers, Orientalist Stereotypes, and the Sensational Response to The Kite Runner"
  • Mackenzie Israel-Trummel 09, Politics, "Disaster Politics: Assessing the Impact on Student Relief Workers in Post-Katrina New Orleans"
  • Christopher Jackson 09, Biochemistry, "Fistula-in-Ano: A Five-Year Experience"
  • David James 09, Biology, "The Proboscis of Predatory Conus: Sensory Structures and Tissue Regeneration"
  • Marci Kang 10, Chemistry, "Reaction of Diamines with 1,4-Naphthoquinone Derivatives"
  • Andrea Lane 09, English and Comparative Literary Studies, "Canemus: Horatian Ode in the Context of the Augustan Principate"
  • Amanda Lounsbury 09, Physics, "Thermal Expansion of a Dilute 3HE-4HE Mixture at Temperatures Below 100 MK"
  • Alejandra Malhotra 09, English and Comparative Literary Studies, "The Figuration of the Female in Underground Hip Hop"
  • David Martinez 09, English and Comparative Literary Studies, "The ‘Placeless’ in ‘No Place’"
  • Julian Mitchell 10, English and Comparative Literary Studies, "Baldwinism: The English Language Functioning as a System of Racism and Colonization in a "Post"-Colonial America"
  • Mukasa Mubirumusoke 09, Philosophy, "The Decline of American Spirit: Hegel’s Spiritual Hegemony"
  • Jennifer Phan 09, Biology, "The Role of Neurokinin-B in Seizures and Epilepsy"
  • Aleksandra Pokrovskaya 09, Biology, "Comparison of the Parasitism Rates of a Specialist Caterpillar in the Highlands of the Eastern Andes of Ecuador"
  • Katie Presley 09, English and Comparative Literary Studies, "A Quiet Language No One can Understand: The Native Child as Subaltern Subject in Kingsolver’s Pigs in Heaven"
  • Molly Rose Quin 09, English and Comparative Literary Studies, "Apprehending the Non-Verbal and Non-Visual: Gender and Aesthetics in Kate Chopin's The Awakening"
  • Elisabeth Rutledge 09, Chemistry, "The reactivity of 1,4-naphthoquinone derivatives with various thiols"
  • Ashley Saito 09, Economics, "NMDA Receptor Blockade Suppresses the Development of L-Dopa-Induced Dyskinesias"
  • Alana Saltz 09, English and Comparative Literary Studies, "Identity and the Natural World in Truman Capote's Other Voices, Other Rooms"
  • Peter Selawsky 09, English and Comparative Literary Studies, "The Odes of Percy Bysshe Shelley"
  • Jessica Simes 09, Sociology, "The New White Flight: The Impacts of Asian Immigration on California Suburbs and Public School Enrollment."
  • Karina Vanderbilt 09, History, "Limited Success: The Implementation of "Peace Education" in Guatemala"
  • Chad Wyszynski 09, English and Comparative Literary Studies, "The Double Meta-Fiction of Neil Gaiman’s The Sandman: The Kindly Ones"
  • Zhengyi Zhou 10, Economics/Mathematics, "Calculable Congestion: Modeling Effects of Traffic Lights by ODEs and PDEs" and "An Economic Perspective of Singapore’s Water Reclamation and Water Management with Applications to the Case of Southern California"