Students + Campus

Undergraduate Research Week celebrates students' diverse accomplishments

Events highlighting students' work run today through Friday

Brett Lopez

Brett Lopez, an aerospace engineering student who is presenting his project during UCLA's Undergraduate Research Week, examines how different alternative fuels react to sound waves.

Brett Lopez, a UCLA aerospace engineering student, conducts experiments on how different alternative fuels — such as methanol and ethanol — react to sound waves.

Sound waves can wreak havoc on the combustion chambers of rocket engines, eventually destroying them, Lopez said. So the research he’s working on under the leadership of mechanical and aerospace engineering professor Ann Kargozian could lead to finding a fuel that’s more resistant to sound waves and won’t lead to engine failure.

"This project is a good test for picking a fuel and testing it on a much larger scale," Lopez said.

The senior is just one of approximately 600 students who will be presenting their research prowess and talents during Undergraduate Research Week, which runs today through Friday.

Throughout the week, students in the humanities and social sciences will make oral and poster presentations at Powell Library while fine arts students will perform at Glorya Kaufman Hall. Students in the life and physical sciences as well as engineering will present their research at Science Poster Day on Tuesday.

"The ability to conduct research alongside world-class scholars is one of the hallmarks of a UCLA undergraduate education," said Patricia Turner, dean and vice provost of undergraduate education in the UCLA College of Letters and Science. "Our undergraduates have the opportunity to conduct the kind of high-level and meaningful research that often isn’t available to students until graduate school."

Lopez credits his undergraduate research, as well as the guidance he received from the university’s Undergraduate Research Centers, with helping him earn acceptance into a master’s program in aerospace engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. After he receives his master’s, Lopez plans to complete MIT’s Ph.D. program.

Lopez, who transferred to UCLA from El Camino College and is the first in his family to attend a four-year college, said he often advises younger students to take advantage of the research opportunities UCLA offers.

"If you are driven and want to learn and be successful," he said, "UCLA definitely gives you the tools to do that."

Sebastian Hernandez/UCLA
Charlotte Rose

Charlotte Rose, an English major with a minor in Scandinavian literature, will present research she’s conducted on a series of letters written by John Ruskin, the leading Victorian-era art critic.

The series, titled "Fors Clavigera: Letters to the Workmen and Labourers of Great Britian," was considered revolutionary for its time because few intellectuals wrote literature they wished to be read by the working class, Rose said.

Rose argues that the letters also set in motion changes to the British higher education system. Back then, primarily the elite classes had access to higher education. In the letters, Ruskin argued that middle and working classes should also pursue academic degrees.

Little scholarly work has focused on the letters because Ruskin wrote them later in his life, when he experienced a nervous breakdown, she said.

"I’m saying that these are important," she said. "He was writing for the working classes, and maybe they didn’t have the money to read them and put his work into action, but they were indirectly affected.

"The middle classes took up these letters, read them and helped the working classes," she added.

This fall, Rose will start a Ph.D. program in English literature at Rutgers University. Few undergraduate students are able to gain acceptance into a Ph.D. program without having earned a master’s degree first, she said.

"My senior thesis definitely helped me stand out," said Rose, who was also admitted to Oxford University. "It was the equivalent of writing a master’s dissertation but at the undergraduate level."


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