MMUF Cohort 4

2011-12 Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellows 

Arturo Alvarez '14
Major(s): Whittier Scholars Program
Graduate Interest: Anthropology
Academic Honors and Awards: Whittier College Dean's List, John Greenleaf Merit Scholarship
MMUF Mentor: Dr. Jose Orozco
Project Title: Santa Muerte Botanicas: The New Immigrant

Within the last decade many news publications and magazines have published short articles about the growth of Santa Muerte botanicas, but they often do not get into enough detail to engage in an accurate understanding of botanicas, the Santa Muerte cult, and why they are growing throughout Southern California's Mexican immigrant population. Methodologically the focus is on qualitative research through anthropological field observations in a Southern California Santa Muerte botanica. As a result Santa Muerte botanicas can be understood as an outcome of Mexican immigrant's construction of their own identity in response to their surrounding communities. An understanding of this sub-group of Mexican culture can serve as a model for the expanded repertoire of immigrant research in which the current praxis views immigrants as a passive political football rather than active community builders.


Alyssa Castaneda '13
Major(s): Anthropology
Graduate Interest: Cultural studies, Ethnicity and Race, Latin American Studies, Identity, Gender Studies, Social Theory, and Linguistics
Academic Honors and Awards: Whittier College Academic Grant, Whittier College 125th Anniversary Scholarship, John Greenleaf Whittier Merit Scholarship
MMUF Mentor: Dr. David Iyam
Project Title: Does language define identity?

Examining discrimination towards second generation Mexican-Americans Second generation Mexican-Americans face a particular type of discrimination from their community. Because they are twice removed from their immigrant relatives it is common that they do not speak Spanish and are characterized by being less Mexican. Additionally, because they speak English and look Hispanic they are not American enough to fit into the country in which they were born. They find themselves in an in-between state facing discrimination from two groups they could identify with culturally. To delve deeper into this discrimination I ask; does speaking Spanish play an influential role in defining identity for second generation Mexican-Americans? The main goal is to investigate the ways in which Spanish defines identity in Mexican-Americans from the ages of 18-25. Using the methods of examining views of the individual self, the group self, and the social context of the self, I will interview individuals that fall into this in-between category to collect data. The objective is to determine if, in fact, language is so influential that it causes a quicker push to become further 'Americanized' or 'Meixcan-ized' because of discrimination from the non-Latino and Latino community.


Dara Belarmino '13
Major(s): Mathematics
Graduate Interest: Mathematics
Academic Honors and Awards: John Greenleaf Whittier Scholarship, Whittier College Dean's List, Pi Mu Epsilon
MMUF Mentor: Dr. Jeffrey Lutgen
Project Title: LAZARUS: A Mathematical Modeling of a Zombie Outbreak

From vampires to ghosts, the undead live on in movies, television, and literature, but none more so than the allusive Zombie, which has increasingly ensnared the media. The problems that have stemmed from these zombies are the possibilities of a zombie invasion and the fear of an infestation. Some research has been done about slower, shuffling zombies, but we wish to study the newer breed of zombie that can run and organize. We intend to predict an outcome should the human population come into contact with a zombie population that would threaten life on Earth. This project will be presented with different simulations, each with their own respective parameters, such as different reanimations, incubations, and rates of infection. Each simulation will be a mathematical modeling, presented as accurate as possible and as relevant as possible. The basis of the project will be variations of compartmental models, specifically an "SIR" model, or Susceptible, Infected, Removed model. Although some research has been done, there have been emerging trends, such as correlations between the amount of starting populations and how soon a Zombie Population takes over a Susceptible Population. In the future, more studies will be conducted to take into account different states, like quarantine classes, treatment classes, as well as other specifics, such as higher probability rates for faster, smarter zombies and populations of cities. Overall, the project has the potential to introduce a mathematical modeling to other world known viruses, such as West Nile Virus, HIV/AIDS, and even the Flu.


Harriet Enenmoh '13
Major(s): English Graduate Interest: African American Literature, Modern Literature, Film and Media Studies
Academic Honors and Awards: John Greenleaf Whittier Merit Scholarship
MMUF Mentor: Dr. Jonathan Burton
Project Title: Mental Illness within Literature of the Harlem Renaissance

Literature of the Harlem Renaissance is characterized by an emergence of African American voices in literature. Due to the systemized racism and oppression towards African Americans after WWI, images of racism and oppression are often detailed within literature of the Harlem Renaissance. My research centers on whether racism and oppression increased the instances of mental illness within the black community after WWI and if so, how and how often mental illness is portrayed within Harlem Renaissance literature.


Acadia Larsen '13
Major(s): Mathematics, Economics
Graduate Interest: Mathematics
Academic Honors and Awards: John Greenleaf Scholarship, Pi Mu Epsilon, Dean's List MMUF Mentor: Dr. Mark Kozek
Project Title: Restricted Integer Partition Sums

The restricted partitions of a number n into exactly m parts, denoted p(n, m) is relatively unexplored. Restricted partitions are periodic modulo some integer k. It can be observed that p(55+r; 5) + p(55 - r; 5) ° p(r) (mod 5) for - 5 < r < 5 . It begs the question p(r + n, m) + p(r - n, m)° p(n)(mod m). By using modern computational tools, the investigation quickly shows that similar statements are true for odd primes, particularly for values near the ends of their respective periods. We attempt to show when statements like those above are true and what patterns might dictate their occurrence.


Melissa Manzanarez '14
Major: Political Science
Graduate Interests: International Affairs, Human Rights
Academic Honors and Awards: John Greenleaf Whittier Merit Scholarship, Whittier College Dean's List, Recipient of Oakseed Ministries Human Trafficking Essay Contest MMUF Mentor: Dr. Deborah Norden
Project Title: Human Trafficking and the United Nations: Examining the United Nations' Role in Protecting Susceptible Populations from Trafficking

Despite international efforts to eradicate human trafficking, it is the third most profitable crime and fastest growing criminal industry in the world. It is a pervasive global issue, and an abuse of basic human rights, which affects millions of people. Almost every country in the world serves as an origin, transit or destination for those who are trafficked. Using books and articles that highlight the conditions that facilitate the occurrence and growth of human trafficking, this study examines the "push" and "pull" factors that lead susceptible populations into trafficking. This study also utilizes United Nations documents and resolutions to examine what the United Nations has done—and conversely, not done—to address these conditions. By doing so, this work seeks to answer how these conditions lead people into trafficking and allows us to critically look at the United Nations' anti-trafficking policies and make recommendations for future policies to protect susceptible populations from being trafficked.

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