Undergraduate Research

Undergraduate Research

LMU offers many opportunities for undergraduates to practice research and StudyLA mentors its undergraduate researchers participating in the Undergraduate Research Symposium, the Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program (UROP) and the Summer Undergraduate Research Program (SURP) offered by the Office of Undergraduate Research. Students do not need to be employed at the Center to seek mentorship.

2017 Undergraduate Research Symposium

A total of six StudyLA-mentored research projects presented in this year's Undergraduate Research Symposium. A total of five posters and one PowerPoint were presented on Saturday, March 25, 2017.

Abstracts and images for each of the project are below.

Views of Millennials by Millennials

Isabella Dennis, Kat Siao, Xavier Orozco, Jayna Ortiz, Maya Willis, Andrew Brown, Lesly Juarez, Megan Takemoto


Using data from StudyLA’s 2017 LA Public Opinion Survey, we will examine the views of millennial Angelenos as compared to other generations throughout the Los Angeles area. Data will be broken into three major subtopics, including economy, personal identity and quality of life. The subtopic of economy will include an analysis of five survey questions, which explore generational outlooks on the national, regional, and household economy, as well as perceptions of personal wealth and wealth disparity. Analysis within the subtopic of personal identity will examine generational preferences of sports teams and Angeleno identification across age 145 categories. The final of the three subtopics, quality of life, will include opinions on whether one’s neighborhood, city, and region is going in the right or wrong direction; it will also examine perceptions of service quality and the willingness to recommend one’s city to newcomers.The result will be a thorough analysis of millennial views, explaining the differences and similarities in opinion from the Silent Generation to Baby Boomers to Generation X.

The Concentration of Quality Health Facilities throughout Los Angeles County

Adrian Narayan

Adrian Narayan

The purpose of the healthcare system as defined by the National Academy of Medicine is “to continually reduce the burden of illness, injury, and disability, and to improve the health and functioning of the people of the United States.” California Hospital Compare quantifies the quality of healthcare in California using three measures: patient outcomes (avoiding infections, readmissions, mortality, and adverse events in patients), patient experience (communication about hospital discharge and drug information), and hospital practices (appropriate use of scanning and avoiding C-sections). The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services maps data on active health facilities (hospitals, medical centers, and federally qualified health centers) through Geographic Information Systems (GIS). This project will document the number of health facilities and their quality in census tract clusters in Los Angeles County and attempt to identify potential healthcare deserts. Demographic metrics for this analysis will derive from the American Community Survey; these include income level (median household income and population percentage below poverty line) and racial/ethnic (non-white %) population. These data will uncover patterns that may exist among certain racial/ethnic populations and/or household income levels in relation to the quality, number, and geographic location of health facilities in Los Angeles County. Discoverable patterns will then be used to document, interpret, and analyze healthcare inequities in the county and to assist non-profits and stakeholders in understanding where health inequity persists.

Achieving Diversity in the Los Angeles Unified School District

Candace Yamanishi and Zachary Hayes

Candace & Zach

The Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) is the second largest school district in the nation. It currently remains on court order to desegregate. LAUSD has responded to the order with various methods and programs aimed at integrating its schools to alleviate the harms of racial isolation. Existing data and literature do not identify where diversity exists in LAUSD, or how it is being achieved or maintained. This study investigates if there is correlation between school type, level, and diversity by examining which types of schools: traditional public, charter, and magnet schools have the most racial and socioeconomic diversity.

Demographic data on all schools in LAUSD listed under the previously mentioned school types will be collected from the California Department of Education’s database. Factors that contribute to each school’s level of diversity will be evaluated. Data will be aggregated to control for school type and evaluated in terms of ethnic diversity averages and average numbers of students on free and reduced priced lunches. Demographic information on the general population derived from the Census Bureau will be compared with LAUSD student demographics. Geographic coordinates of each school will be entered into a geographic information system, which will be utilized to create visual trends of school and neighborhood demographics. The reflection of the school’s racial and socioeconomic diversity makeup to that of the boundaries/neighborhood’s makeup will be examined and analyzed. 

Mitigating Urban Blight in Los Angeles

Virginia Laskodi

Virginia Laskodi

Urban blight continues to be a major problem for cities around the country. In Los Angeles alone, there are over 600 abandoned homes, constituting a major component of urban blight while driving down property values, breeding crime, and creating an unsightly nuisance for neighbors. I will use content analysis to code and theme articles inductively to examine how cities handle these vacated properties. I will collect approximately thirty reputable online and newspaper articles describing different case studies from the past fifteen years. From these sources, I will discuss the various methods used in other parts of the nation to address this particular area of urban blight. This will allow me to describe a generalized approach for addressing abandoned homes. In determining an approach for Los Angeles, I will outline what has been successful for cities, what are the costs associated with these efforts, community evaluation on success, the feasibility of these projects, and government regulation of vacated properties. This research will inform my set of suggestions for tackling abandoned properties in the City of Los Angeles and mitigating this form of urban blight.

Top 100: The Shift in Political Representation

Elizabeth Guhl and Brenda Quintanilla

This research explores the key structures, legislature, and representatives of Los Angeles politics. Specifically, it analyzes significant characteristics of the “Top 100" - the 100 most powerful elected officials in LA County. Members of the Top 100 are selected based on budget size, constituent size, and prestige of position. Such positions include the LA Mayor, LA City Council, LA County Supervisors, and state legislators. By collecting data such as the name, ethnicity, gender, and election year of each officeholder, the Top 100 reveals how minority political inclusion has shifted over the last several decades. In addition, by updating the database from 2009 to 2016, there is a comprehensive look at the upward mobility of representatives. Due to the recent federal election in June 2016 and the upcoming local election in March 2017, the research accounted for possible shifts in the political elite by identifying Top 100 officeholders eligible for reelection and potential candidates who may replace incumbents. In an attempt to better understand individual Top 100 members and the weight of their position, this research project also edited and, for some, created Wikipedia profiles for members of the 2016 Top 100. This initiative made data about leaders and their legislation more accessible to constituents and those interested in Los Angeles politics. In conclusion, our research created a more holistic account of local and state politics by displaying ways in which political representation has evolved over time.