MMUF Cohort 2

2009-2010 Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellows 

Juan Pablo Bustos ‘12
Major(s): Spanish and Chinese
Graduate Interest: Spanish Literature, Modern Languages
Academic Honors and Awards: John Greenleaf Whittier Scholarship, Tara Malloy Service & Leadership Award in Spanish, Sigma Delta Pi (Spanish Honor Society), Gamma Delta Kappa (Chinese Honor Society), Dean's List
MMUF Mentors: Dr. George Da Roza and Dr. Gustavo Geirola
Project Title: The Literary Construction of Asian Hybrid Identities

In recent years, the Asian populations in Latin American countries such as Cuba, Peru, Brazil, Argentina, and Chile have grown significantly. While many Latin Americans of Asian descent have successfully integrated, it is still uncertain as to how these individuals identify themselves in terms of ethnicity, politics, social class, and culture since they must often choose between a private and public identity in order to make a satisfactory place for themselves in their respective societies. As a result, these individuals must either retain the ethnic culture of their youth, family and community; or eschew their ethnicity and adopt the new culture, values, and viewpoints of the dominant Latin-American group. In order to comprehend the construction of an Asian Latin American identity, it is important to look at literature as a cultural product. Works such as Monkey Hunting by Cristina Garcia, Brazil-Maru by Karen Tei Yamashita, Flores de un solo dÃa by Anna Kazumi Stahl, La Isla de los Amores Infinitos by Daina ChavÃano, and Cuentos Completos by Siu Kam Wen are examples of this cultural product. These authors, through the characters in their novels, offer us various perspectives and approaches to integration within the Latin American context. Through the analysis of these works, it will shed light on the concept of a construction of an Asian Latin American identity in literary studies.


Michelle Daneri ‘11
Major(s): American Studies (Whittier Scholars Program)
Graduate Interest: History, American Studies, Ethnic Studies
Graduate Studies: Ph.D. Candidate in History at the University of Texas, Austin as of Fall 2012.
Academic Honors and Awards: Ahmanson Scholarship, John Greenleaf Whittier Scholarship, Magna Cum Laude, Dean's List
MMUF Mentor: Dr. Ann Kakalorias
Project Title: The Pueblo Ground: How Pueblo Indians Shaped Colonial Relations with the Spanish in 17th Century New Mexico

This study explores the important roles that the Pueblo Indians played in their interactions with Spanish colonists and Franciscan friars in the 17th century. In order for the Spanish to maintain a presence in colonial New Mexico, they needed to fulfill the cultural expectations of the Pueblo Indians. Because the Spanish were vastly outnumbered and in New Mexico, they had to maintain a relationship with the Pueblo Indians that was somehow beneficial for the Pueblos. Therefore it was gifts of new religious knowledge, tools and new culture that served to make Spanish colonial presence tolerable. However, as these relations began to deteriorate during the course of the 17th century, the Spanish no longer proved to be a beneficial presence. Subsequently, the diverse Pueblo people united in their rejection of the Spanish, and came together to expel the Spanish from New Mexico in the Pueblo Revolt of 1680. In order to understand the history of Pueblo and Spanish relations I will look to secondary sources such as Andrew Knaut's The Pueblo Revolt of 1680 and John Kessell's Kiva, Cross, and Crown.And in order to overcome the biases of the primary written accounts of the Spanish, I will look to articles that incorporate demography, archaeology and other non-written records in order to build an understanding of the Pueblo experience. And, as a way to inform the framework in which I explore these relations, I will look to Kathleen DuVal's The Native Ground, a study that looks at Native peoples in the Arkansas valley and how they played a dominant role in shaping relations with European colonists, in order to shape my own analysis of cultural interactions between Pueblo Indians and the Spanish in New Mexico.


Angelica Gonzalez ‘12
Major(s): Mathematics and Economics Graduate Interest: Mathematics
Graduate Studies: Ph.D. Candidate in Mathematics at the University of Arizona as of Fall 2012.
Academic Honors and Awards: John Greenleaf Whittier Scholarship, Ronald McDonald Scholarship, Dean's List, Budapest Semester in Mathematics, Pi Mu Epsiolon
MMUF Mentor: Dr. Mark Kosek
Project Title: Applications of Coverings to Fibonacci and Fibonacci-like numbers

In 2008-2009 Luca and Mejía-Huguet proved there are infinitely many Fibonacci-Riesel numbers, that is, Fibonacci numbers that are also Riesel numbers, and in a separate proof they showed there are infinitely many Fibonacci-Sierpiński numbers. Luca and Mejía-Huguet used a covering system of the integers, a method based on an argument of Erdõs (1952). We want to prove there are infinitely many Fibonacci numbers that are simultaneously Riesel and Sierpińsk numbers. In this preliminary report we study a more general version of this problem for a Fibonacci-like sequence, An, that is a third order recurrence relation. That is to say, A1=0, A2=0, A3=1, and An+1=An+An-1+An-2, for n>3. We construct an infinite subset of elements of An that are also Sierpiński numbers. We construct a new, infinite progression of Fibonacci-Riesel numbers and a new, infinite progression of Fibonacci-Sierpiński numbers. These are possibly only the second known infinite sets of Fibonacci-Riesel numbers and Fibonacci-Sierpiński numbers.


Justin Martinez ‘11
Major(s): Biology, Environmental Science
Graduate Interest: Environmental Science, Marine Biology, Biological Sciences
Graduate Studies: Masters Candidate in Environmental Science at California State University-San Bernardino as of Fall 2012.
Academic Honors and Awards: Omicron Delta Kappa (Leadership Honor Society)
MMUF Mentor: Dr. Cheryl Swift
Project Title: A Comparative Analysis of Two Native Plants in a Coastal Sage Habitat

This experiment examines whether or not a restoration plan was beneficial to the Coastal Sage habitat residing in the Arroyo Pescadero Park in the Puente Hills The Coastal Sage habitat has many endangered species and is greatly disturbed by many invasive species. In this study we compared two native plants in restored and unrestored coastal sage habitat. The first, Malosma laurina, is a deep rooted shrub; previous research has demonstrated that it avoids very low water potentials by closing its stomata. The second, Salvia mellifera, is a shallow rooted, summer deciduous shrub that tolerates more negative water potentials than Malosma laurina. The restored area had been irrigated for several years during plants establishment, while the unrestored area had never been irrigated. We measured xylem water potential, stomatal conductance, leaf area and weight, and chlorophyll content. Our preliminary results showed that restored Salvia mellifera individuals in the restored area experienced more negative mid-day and pre-dawn xylem water potentials than individuals in the unrestored area, but Malosma Laurina individuals in unrestored and restored areas had comparable pre-dawn and mid-day water potentials during the summer and fall measurements.
During the winter measurements, all groups had comparable water potentials. Malosma laurina individuals in the unrestored area had higher rates of stomatal conductance than individuals in the restored area, suggesting that individuals in the restored area limited stomatal conductance to maintain favorable xylem water potentials. The Average specific leaf area of Malosma laurina at the restored site was noticeably higher than that of the Malosma laurina at the unrestored site, while the Average specific leaf area of Salvia mellifera at both sites were nearly the same. The chlorophyll results during the summer show a significant difference in chlorophyll between Salvia mellifera and Malosma laurina, but no significant difference when the restored and unrestored sites are compared to each other during the summer. During the fall, the chlorophyll content of Malosma Laurina dramatically decreased, while the chlorophyll content of the Salvia Mellifera increased. The chlorophyll of Malosma Laurina was still noticeably higher than that of the Salvia Mellifera, and while there was no difference in chlorophyll at both Salvia mellifera sites, the Malosma laurina at the restored site was noticeably higher than Malosma laurina at the unrestored site. During the winter, all four groups showed a dramatic increase in chlorophyll content, with Salvia Mellifera at the restored site being the highest out of the four groups. These results suggest that individuals in the restored area may be experiencing increased water stress due to overcrowding, or decreased allocation to roots as a result of irrigation during establishment. These results will prove useful in future establishments of restored Coastal Sage habitats.


Natalie G. Smythe ‘12
Major(s): Philosophy and Cultural Studies (Whittier Scholars Program)
Graduate Interest: Sociology, Philosophy
Academic Honors and Awards: John Greenleaf Whittier Award
MMUF Mentor: Dr. Paul Kjellberg
Project Title: Is Hip-Hop a[n] [In]formal Education?

Hip-hop music is frequently understood as pure entertainment lacking in any educational relevance. Hip-hop music has a tendency to allow individual expression, which often incorporates intellectualizing over many social and individual concerns. Such expression is often considered as the act of "droppin' science" or "droppin' knowledge" within the hip-hop community, due to the fact that often the experiences shared are not solely personal, but can double as informative and educational. This project argues that hip-hop can perform an educational function, specifically the Deweyian function of making experiences available to other experiences in the construction of meaning (John Dewey, "Theories of Knowledge," in Pragmatism: a reader,ed. Louis Menand, Vintage Books, 1997: 212). Having clarified the nature of this function, I will demonstrate its presence in hip-hop through a close reading of lyrical content and an understanding of the cultural environment in which it is developed. Lyrical analysis will show how hip-hop music emphasizes the importance of engagement with history and factual truth - in short, of book learning - in the formation of identity. Not all popular art forms perform this function, nor does all hip-hop perform this function. The project focuses on showing that even though it operates outside of a traditional educational model, hip-hop, by design, is able to perform an educational function, and is therefore unique as a popular art form in doing so. Yet, it is also important to recognize that neither this hip-hop or this project are trying to suggest that rap music should or can replace our educational system.Rather, the goal is "to raise questions and stimulate a dialogue about a variety of issues such as identity and inclusion" with respect to the education system. Some artists choose to present such questions by addressing the education system directly; some choose to stimulate questions about education by defining hip-hop and discussing the nature of knowledge, and how hip-hop facilitates its expansion. In the process, hip-hop music and culture is "affirming hip-hop as a place where we tackle these serious issues", and thus "affirming [their] listeners as serious intellectuals." (Kjellberg, 10/11/2010) Further, the educational function hip-hop can perform, the extension of critical reflection to people and experiences beyond the ivory tower, is one that traditional education has performed badly, as witnessed by increasingly large portions of the population who feel alienated from the life of the mind. Thus not only does hip-hop perform an educational function, it performs a function that should be recognized and valued, both inside and outside of the ivory tower.

Share