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About Us

Making a mystery make sense for a naive reader immerses students in what is best about science: commitment, curiosity, discovery, focus, precision, knowledge, and facts. At the same time students are absorbed in what is best about the humanities: commitment, exploration, creativity, and

clear communication motivated only for the purposes of sharing information."

--Roy Fox

We’re the UCLA undergrads who took Honors Collegium 43W in Winter 2021 with Dr. Dana Watson. As the full name of the course (Science, Rhetoric, & Social Influence) implies, we learned about the different ways to write to the general public about topics that might be fairly complex, controversial, and/or containing a call to action. Throughout the quarter, we read hundreds of pages of science writing of different genres and topics, all with one goal in mind: writing our own papers, which you’ll find on this site. Whether we saw these papers as a challenge, an opportunity to express ourselves, or impending doom, we got to write about topics that we were passionate about and-- for most of us-- near and dear to our hearts. 


Overall, the essays range from topics that touch on our brains, to fascinating creatures and their odd habits, to human health and food. Some are focused on the facts, while others also include a more philosophical note or a call to action. The range of topics and styles we’ve chosen when left to our own devices (but knowing the result will be graded) is fascinating, and we hope you’ll find a paper here that’s interesting to you. Despite the various topics, ideas, and questions we pose, we all had one common goal: to dissect complex research and scientific information so we may all appreciate the magic and mystery behind these topics. 


Science wasn't meant to be an exclusive club. Behind all the jargon and technical terms is a real passion for scientific work and hopes of communicating these ideas. We hope that our papers honor that, while dissecting the complex findings in a way that teaches and entertains the general public! After all, the sole purpose of science is to uncover a mystery and share that information. 

Essay Submissions

About the Class
Essay Submissions
Meet the Author:
Daron Assatoury
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Major/Minor: Second year Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology major and Biomedical Research minor at UCLA

Pronouns:  he/him/his

Interests: I have picked up the violin for the first time since childhood, draw landscapes of both forest and the ocean, as well as make music mashups between my favorite artists! Though many of my activities are done indoors, my life wouldn't be complete without my ventures into the wilderness, and aside from frequent visits to the beach and nearby wilderness reserves, exploring the neighborhood with my dogs is still the highlight of most days.

Paper's Keywords and topics: Ocean, acidification, deep sea, marine

Oceans and the Depths We Should Be Willing to Dive To

The oceans are changing day by day, but it's not as apparent as you would think. Carbon dioxide seeps past the surface and into the depths, transforming the waters chemically as the remaining gases in the atmosphere shape it thermodynamically. Coral are dying, sharks and whales are thinning out and relocating, but it doesn't seem to be coming to a stop. This paper will investigate how our actions on land affect marine life, and why we should care in the first place, hopefully bringing you to the conclusion that the sooner we take action, the smarter. There might be more to uncover beneath the surface, as far down as even the most harrowing depths on Earth—but there's only one way to find out, and that's to dive right in and plunge towards the unknown...

Getting to Know Gluten-
A Conversation About Celiac Disease

I am studying the history and evolution of celiac disease because I want to find out what genetic components are involved, who is more predisposed to developing celiac disease, which environmental factors influence the onset of celiac disease, how changes in food production during various important moments throughout the evolution of agriculture (the agricultural revolution, the industrial revolutions, the use of GMOs, etc.) impacted the prevalence of celiac disease, and what current methods exist to treat the disease in order to help readers understand the genetic and environmental mechanisms behind celiac disease, realize the prevalence of the disease, hypothesize their own ideas about how to treat celiac disease, and ponder about whether they also experience any symptoms that may be related to celiac disease in order to encourage them to get diagnosed.

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Meet the Author: Perianne Bingham

Major/Minor: Fourth year Psychobiology major and Spanish minor at UCLA

Pronouns:  she/her

Inspiration for Paper: I have dealt with a resistance to gluten for nearly ten years and I think people are not quite aware of what celiac disease really is. The term "gluten free" just reminds people of some celebrity diet that seems impossible to follow and consists of gross food. As more people are diagnosed with celiac disease, it is important to spread information about it.

Paper's Keywords and topics: gluten, celiac disease, muscle resistance testing

Meet the Author:
Mayuko Boffelli
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Major/Minor: Second year at UCLA. Majoring in Mathematics/Applied Sciences, Life Sciences and Medical Plan with a specialization in computing.

Pronouns:  she/her

Interests: Hi, I'm Mayuko, and I hope you enjoy my paper on stem cell treatments, research, and policy! I greatly enjoyed learning and writing about the interface between science and public policy -- two topics I'm passionate about. I hope to continue pursuing science in an interdisciplinary way, with a focus on using machine learning in genetics to predict health-related traits. Outside of my academic interests, I enjoy playing the violin and guitar, and learning about modern and historical linguistics!

Paper's Keywords and topics: Regenerative medicine, distributive justice, oncology, stem cell

A Look at the Branches Between Science and Society

Stem cells are unspecialized cells of the human body, a unique quality that is intriguing to medical researchers who hope to manipulate stem cells for clinical treatments. Should stem cell research and treatment be used as a vehicle to advance social equity and address disparities in medical care? The intersection of stem cell research and policy presents a fork in the road. Do we choose the path towards distributive justice and social equity?

The Unexpected Role of the Gut Microbiome in Our Health

Did you know your gut is home to trillions of bacteria? Known as the gut microbiome, the community of microorganisms in the gastrointestinal tract has a crucial impact on many aspects of our health. For example, the microbiome regulates gut function and digestion, the immune system, and even the brain. When disrupted, the gut microbiome has been associated with infection and long-term disease. Read more to find out what lifestyle is best to support the health of your gut microbiome.

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Meet the Author:
Ashley Chipoletti
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Major/Minor: Graduated in WInter 2021 with a B.S. in Psychobiology

Pronouns:  she/her

Interests and Future Goals:  My goal is to become a pediatric neurologist and biomedical researcher. In my free time, I enjoy doing yoga, hiking, and cooking. I also love animals and volunteering!

Inspiration for paper: I was inspired to write my paper about the gut microbiome after learning about its influence on the brain and psychology. 

Paper's Keywords and topics: Bacteria, microbiome, gut microbiome, lifestyle, diet, health

Meet the Author:
Lauren Egne
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Major/Minor: Second year Political Science Major and Professional Writing minor at UCLA

Pronouns:  she/her/hers

Interests: Politics, writing, reading, dog rescue!

Inspiration for paper: Kahuna, Maverick, Penelope, and all the rescued dogs I’ve known

Paper's keywords and topics: Canine virology, dog rescue, vaccines

Support these doggos here:

Vetting the Vet: A Rescuer’s Take on Canine Vaccine Protocol

The postcard arrives in the mail: Fido is due for his check-up! We all want the best for our dogs, but when does a routine veterinary checkup become unnecessary? Written by a volunteer of A Wish for Animals rescue, Lauren Enge discusses her take on canine virology, the viruses that threaten our beloved pets, and how to prevent them. Canine vaccine protocol lacks a universal standard, so how often SHOULD we vaccinate our pets? You decide.

What You Probably Don’t Know About Dissociative Identity Disorder

Even if you don't recognize the term Dissociative Identity Disorder, I'm sure something comes to your mind when you hear the term Multiple Personality Disorder -- which happens to be the outdated, but still very popular, term for the same thing. But if you're basing your idea of this disorder just on the name, or on a movie like Split, you might have many misconceptions. Why are these misconceptions so common? What's the science of how and why DID forms, how it affects people's lives, and how we can treat it? This essay seeks to answer these questions, and to lay down some foundations that will help you learn more, should you choose to do so. While it won't answer every single question you might have about DID, hopefully it will answer some and give you the tools to search for answers to the rest. If you're (un)lucky, it might inspire you to ask even more questions, to which science may or may not have the answers.

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Meet the Author:
Sasha Kononova

Major/Minor: First year Mathematics, Physics major at UCLA

Pronouns:  she/they

Interests: Psychology, music, math, physics, philosophy... honestly, almost everything!

Paper's Keywords and topics: Dissociative identity disorder, trauma, psychology, psychology in media

Meet the Author:
Rohila Kusampudi
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Major/Minor: Fourth year Psychobiology major at UCLA

Pronouns:  she/her/hers

Interests: Medicine with focus on clinical research, patient education, and advocacy

Paper's Keywords and topics: Evolution, parenting, animal behavior, matricide, alloparenting

The Puzzle of Our Parenting

The idea that human beings are the most committed, diligent, and selfless parents of all living beings is widely accepted. Accepted is actually a rather small word - the altar of parenting is worshipped. Human parents are celebrated in everything from international holidays to devout religious texts. Even scientists dislike interrupting this celebration to discuss human parenting as a behavior subject to evolutionary biology. It’s preposterous to say that human parents have the same evolutionary drive to pass on their genes and ensure the survival of their children as grasshoppers, bluebirds, or dolphins do. No - humans parents are the pure embodiment of unconditional love.


Of course, millions and millions of human parents love their children immensely. But principles of evolution can still be applied to analyze our parenting behavior. These two perspectives are not mutually exclusive. In fact, what kind of parents would we be if we didn’t use science to better understand ourselves? And so, I write this paper to assert that we are not the only dedicated parents in this world, that the same evolutionary principles that we apply to other animals apply to us too, and that we may learn to be better parents by looking at the fascinating animal parents we share this planet with.

Our Experience with Music: from listening to feeling to healing

All of us feel something when we hear music: excitement, pleasure, relaxation, fear, heartbreak, or any combination of these. It pulls at our heartstrings in ways no other form of art can, possessing this indescribable power that can change how we feel and unlock emotions that we didn’t know we were feeling. And even if we’re not aware of the song playing, it has the power to change our mood, behavior, and physiological chemistry. We all respond to music. That’s what makes it universal. And that’s why it’s so difficult to imagine a world without it.

While this paper takes an interdisciplinary approach-- using physiology, neuroscience ,and social influence-- to  explore the science of music, we know that the power of music lies in the experience we have with it. There will be songs intimately integrated into the text and stories being told in hopes that it can bring us in a common space, and ultimately make this academic report a true musical experience.  Only by experiencing music will we be able to appreciate music and music therapy.

Meet the Author:
Karen Madamba

Major/Minor: Second year Psychobiology major at UCLA

Pronouns:  she/her/hers

Inspiration for Paper: Music has played a fundamental role in my life. As a young fourth grader, I was so excited to join my school band program and even buckled up my brand new clarinet just after purchasing it from Anaheim Band Instruments. But the inspiration for this paper came from my experience learning guitar and ukulele, and the intimacy of the acoustic setting I often found myself in. Through jam sessions with friends and watching acoustic performances, I felt music's ability to bring people together. This appreciation for music grew as I read research studying music's impact on the brain and was introduced to healing power of the musical experience through music therapy. 

Paper's Keywords and topics: Music, music therapy, neurobiology, psychology

Meet the Author:
Marie Pahos
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Major/Minor: Second year Neuroscience major at UCLA.

Pronouns:  she/her

Inspiration for Paper: I love learning about how food works in the body and have always been passionate about nutrition education. With the popularity of so many health food buzzwords, many people today end up following “fad” or “trend” nutrition advice when the science behind it may reveal that that buzzword does not indicate a healthier food product. With so much misinformation out there, I wanted to explore one of the buzzwords for myself and see how meaningful it really was.

Paper's Keywords and topics: Food, organic, health

The Truth Behind Organic

Is organic truly healthier? Health food buzzwords such as “organic” are popular in today’s society, but is this label worth the higher price? An exploration into what “organic” means and an unsettling truth about what it does not.

Look Familiar? Look Familiar?
A Detailed Analysis on the Scientific Significance of Deja Vu


This paper takes a detailed look into the theories and interpretations about the Deja Vu phenomenon, as well as its history. How have we chosen to further our knowledge about this mystery? From unique experiments to psychological theories, this paper explores the many scientific aspects and explanations of Deja Vu.

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Meet the Author:
Sophia Quiroz
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Major/Minor: Third year Human Biology & Society major and Global Health minor at UCLA.

Pronouns:  she/her

Interests: I enjoy doing all things outdoors - including hiking, rock climbing, camping. I also enjoy baking and spending time with my two Collie-Huskies, Koda & Kenai. 

Paper's Keywords and topics: Deja Vu, neuroscience, phenomenon, psychology

Meet the Author:
Kylie Tseng

Major/Minor: Second year Microbiology, Immunology, and Molecular Genetics major and rising Neuroscience minor at UCLA.

Pronouns:  she/her

Inspiration for Paper: I was raised in an atheist household surrounded by Christian neighbors. As I grew up, I became fascinated with religion. Why do some people believe in God/gods while others do not? Is there a fundamental difference in our brains that accounts for this or is it something beyond ourselves? In this paper, I wanted to take a scientific approach in order to understand religious belief.

Paper's Keywords and topics: Brain, religion, belief, doubt

A Curious Relationship: Our Brains and Religion

Neurotheology is the explanation of religion in neuroscientific terms. This paper seeks to explore the processes of how decision making, belief, and doubt relate to religion and what implications they hold for our future. Issues such as mental health and religious conflict are also addressed. From an objective, scientific viewpoint, this paper discusses the brain's complex relationship with religion with the hope to bring together people of all religious backgrounds to find common ground.

Food Allergies:
What They Are, Why They Are, and How to Live with Them

What are food allergies? Why do we have them? How do we live with them? Explore these questions and much more in “Food Allergies: What They Are, Why They Are, and How to Live with Them.” This paper covers the biology and social implications of food allergies, with topics ranging from what happens in the body during an allergic reaction, EpiPen shortages, and how food allergies can psychologically affect kids and their parents.

Meet the Author:
Daniel Zoleikhaeian

Major/Minor: Third year Molecular, Cell, and Developmental Biology major with a minor in Mathematical Biology. 

Interests: I have severe egg and nut allergies, and I thought it would be nice to raise awareness about food allergies as a whole through my paper. My intention was to provide those who might be unfamiliar food allergies with a comprehensive introduction to the science and societal issues behind food allergies. 

Paper's Keywords and topics: food allergy, immunoglobulin E, mast cells, anaphylaxis, EpiPens, inclusivity 

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