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University of Michigan

Undergraduate Research Journal


The Zine
Winter 2010
Editorial Board Contents
Editors in Chief: Letter from the Editors 2
Yezi Peng Public Health
Bhargavi Sampath Swine Flu “Mythbusters” 3
Interview: Dr. Ken Warner 4
Associate Editors: Vegetarianism
Grace Zhu Vegetarianism & the Environment: the Need for Sustainable Diets 5
Olivia Chitkara In Their Words 7
Alex Myong
Interview: Professor George Estabrook 9
Sandhya Simhan
How to...
Graphics/Tech: How to Get Involved In Research 11
Sumit Gupta
Ahmed Al-Khafaji

Rebecca Sliwoski
Mavia Parveen

External Relations:
Zubair Ahsan

Internal Relations:
Anirudha Rathnam
Editors’ Note
Copy Editors:
Choi Li
Mohammad Jawed Dear Readers,
Derek Wood
Sarah Lewin The UM Undergraduate Research Journal is a student-run organization dedicated
Susan Yang to publishing multidisciplinary undergraduate research. We aim to raise awareness of
Ana Progovac
the expansive breadth of work done by University of Michigan students and faculty in
Haili Pang
Jana Pohorelsky humanities, social sciences, natural sciences, and engineering. Our focus on multidisciplinary
Colin Yee research is reflected by the wide array of concentrations represented by our Editorial Staff,
Sunil Agarwal from Aerospace Engineering to Political Science.
Stephanie Kraftson
It has been a wonderful experience working with a creative and dedicated team to
publish this pamphlet. This is our first-ever ‘zine’, a supplement to our 7th journal issue,
which comes out in April 2010. In this publication, we have focused on two relevant topics of
today: issues of public health – such as swine flu – and the shifting trends of vegetarianism.

On behalf of the entire UMURJ Editorial and Production staff, we would like to
thank you for reading this publication. It has been a great experience putting this together,
and we hope it furthers your appreciation and interest in the dynamic world of research.

Yezi Peng and Bhargavi Sampath
2 Editors in Chief
high potential to spread the illness.
Pregnant women are also encouraged
to be vaccinated because they are at
risk for complications from Swine flu
and are capable of protecting infants
who can’t be vaccinated (i.e. persons
under six months). Older persons
are prioritized for vaccination only
if they live with or care for infants
under 6 months or are a healthcare

Myth or Fact: Individuals infected

with Swine flu take longer to

Myth! Actual recovery time

depends on each individual’s

Swine Flu “Mythbusters”

immune system, however, the general
recovery period appears to be
anywhere from a few days to a couple
Jana Pohorelsky, Alex Myong, & Stephanie Kraftson weeks. Doctors can also administer
anti-viral drugs that speed recovery
Myth or Fact: Swine flu is a of particularly severe symptoms in by a few days, but they are currently
pandemic. infected patients. They also stated, reserved for the most severe cases
however, that this specific mutation of H1N1. Infected individuals should
Fact! In June of 2009, the World did not appear to be circulating in also keep in mind that H1N1 appears
Health Organization officially labeled the population but rather arose to be contagious for a longer amount
the H1N1 virus (commonly known spontaneously in incidents isolated of time than the seasonal flu.
as Swine flu) a pandemic, making it to the three individuals infected.
the world’s first official pandemic in Thus far, the mutations that have Myth or Fact: Wearing a facemask
41 years. The difference between an surfaced have not altered the and washing your hands will
epidemic and a pandemic is that in an apparent effectiveness of the H1N1 protect you.
epidemic, the contagious, infectious vaccine and researchers are still
or viral illness spreads throughout closely following the evolution of the Debated! What you probably didn’t
one geographic region, while in virus. know is that there are two different
a pandemic, the illness spreads types of masks. One is the typical
in many areas across the globe. Myth or Fact: The elderly are the facemask, which primarily helps
However, recent studies by specialists most susceptible. prevent the spread of droplets but
from Imperial College London and not small particles. The other is a
from the US Center for Disease Myth! Studies show that, unlike respirator, which more effectively
Control and Prevention are showing the seasonal flu, the risk of infection, filters out those small particles.
that swine flu is less contagious than hospitalization, and death from Although it may seem that a
pandemics in the past. H1N1 among people of age 65 respirator is thus more effective,
and above is less than the risk for federal health officials frankly
Myth or Fact: Swine flu is mutating those in younger age groups. One admitted that they didn’t know how
uncontrollably. explanation for this pattern is that helpful either mask was. Wearing a
adults in this older age group may mask will probably reduce the risk of
Myth! Similar to the seasonal flu, have had previous exposure to the swine flu in close contact, but it does
the H1N1 virus has demonstrated the virus that renders them immune to not provide 100% protection. Health
capacity for relatively rapid mutation, the 2009 strains. Vaccination against experts advise that masks used in
but scientists have yet to identify a H1N1 is recommended for young combination with other preventative
widespread circulation of a more people (ages 6 months through 24 measures such as washing hands,
deadly mutated strain of swine flu. years) because they tend to be in staying at home and avoiding crowds
In November of 2009, Norwegian close contact through school (or is a more effective approach in
health authorities reported the day care) and are usually highly avoiding swine flu.
identification of a mutation mobile, meaning that they have a
potentially related to the presence 3
Interview: Dr. Ken Warner hires a lot of our graduates for
health policy advice – some
pharmaceutical companies in the
Derek Wood & Ana Progovac past years have hired graduates
Dr. Ken Warner has been Dean of ours to evaluate new policies
of the UM School of Public Health coming from Washington D.C. A
since 2005. He stumbled upon quarter of our students are PhD
Public Health from a background students who go on to become
in Economics, and since that researchers as well.
career move his research has
focused on preventing disease
and promoting health through Why was it important to you
economic and policy measures to launch the undergraduate
with a focus on tobacco policy. public health class?
He also worked to initiate and
currently teaches the first and This is a field that most people
only undergraduate Public Health do not understand or can easily
course (HMP 200: Introduction to define. It’s not something like
Public Health). the school in many locations law or medicine – no one comes
where we’re talking about big to college thinking ‘I’m going to
broad health issues, so a lot of go into public health’. I thought
my canned speeches will have the class could function simply
How would you define public as a device for exposing some
references to the health reform
health? undergraduates to the field. I
debate for example, but I’m
Public health is the set of always personally leery of trying hoped it would be successful
activities a society undertakes to to over-represent my expertise. in helping to recruit students
monitor and improve the health into the profession and some of
of its collective membership. them into our school. I’ve been
It has three distinguishing saying we ought to do this for
What does someone usually do
features: a focus on preventing a good twenty years. I finally
with a masters in public health
disease & injury, the idea that decided it was time to put our
the “patient” is the entire collective money where my
community (not individuals); Public health is a huge field – mouth has always been and do
and that the “provider” is if you simply look at the names the class. It’s been really fun,
society (and not individual of our five departments: Health and it’s a great group of people.
professionals). Behavior and Health Education, We were worried we wouldn’t
Health Management and Policy, get more than thirty people; we
Biostatistics, Epidemiology, figured undergraduates don’t
and Environmental Health look for public health courses,
What roles have you taken on since all previous public health
Sciences, they themselves are
as dean that are important or courses have been for graduate
sufficiently different to suggest
different? and professional students. All
the breadth of positions and
I relate to a large number of jobs available. We have a large of sudden we started getting
people now about public health number of people who work flooded with requests, and we
much more generally than what for consulting firms, people filled up quickly. We decided 140
I’ve done in the past. I get asked who go work in Congress as textbooks was a good place to
things as if I’m an expert on aides to legislative committees, stop. Next year if this goes well,
everything. I certainly represent and at the Centers for Disease and there’s enough demand,
Control and Prevention (CDC). we’ll probably open the course
4 The corporate sector also up to more students.
and “If so, what are some of the
major environmental effects of
an animal-based diet, and how
might these be measured?”2 They
found that a non-vegetarian diet
consumed 2.9 times more water,1
2.5 times more primary energy,
13 times more fertilizer, and
1.4 times more pesticide than a

Vegetarianism vegetarian diet.2 The statistics

suggest that vegetarian diets

& the Environment: are, in fact, less taxing on the

environment. Furthermore, these
the Need for Sustainable Diets researchers support the notion
that increased environmental
Stephanie Kraftson, Jana Pohorelsky, & Alex Myong
degradation is a byproduct
Along with the current trend climate. of increased agricultural
of eating organic and locally output. Modern agriculture
In 2000, the World Health
produced foods, one of the hot has prioritized optimum crop
Organization reported that one
topics that has sparked debate yields and animal farming to the
in every three people suffered
among scholars and bloggers detriment of the environment
from malnutrition as a result of
alike is the question of whether via increased energy output,
rapid population growth and
or not being a vegetarian affects use of natural resources, and
diminished land, water, and
the environment. Though we generation of waste.
energy resources.1 Therefore,
often think of vegetarianism as
in response to the public’s This data raises another
a lifestyle chosen as a result of
increasing concerns about our question, however: whether
dietary limitations or desires
impact upon the earth, scientists vegetarian diets are sufficiently
to promote health and improve
have begun to research ways sustainable or are simply
the treatment of animals, many
in which we can positively more sustainable than
people are beginning to ask,
influence our environment. animal-based diets – that is,
“Does vegetarianism actually
In a 2009 Californian study are current vegetarian diets
benefit the environment as
comparing the environmental “enough”? The majority of
well?” Those who contend that
effects of vegetarian versus recent studies have focused
vegetarianism has a positive
non-vegetarian diets, the on the comparison of non-
effect on the environment argue
researchers asked, “Does animal vegetarian and vegetarian diets,
that the mass production of
consumption create a heavier but have yet to offer concrete
animal products for human
footprint than a vegetarian diet?”
consumption can lead to land 2 Diet and the environment: does what you
degradation, water and air 1 World Health Organization (2000). Turn- eat matter? Marlow HJ, Hayes WK, Soret S,
ing the Tide of Malnutrition: Responding Carter RL, Schwab ER, Sabaté J. Am J Clin
pollution, and even a change in to the challenge of the 21st Century. World Nutr. 2009 May;89(5):1699S-1703S. Epub
Health Organization: Geneva. 2009 Apr 1.
conclusions on the practicality the popular consensus among from a search into “anti-
of mass implementation of bloggers on the Internet seems vegetarianism” confirm that
environmentally friendly diets. to be that being a vegetarian maintaining a vegetarian diet is
However, The European Journal does have positive effects on healthy for both the individual
of Clinical Nutrition study points the environment. The question and the environment. Anti-
to the importance of considering for many, it appears, is not vegetarians, such as those
two factors: “(1) people “does being a vegetarian help who post on the website for
generally and openly display the environment?” but “how the “Anti-Vegetarian Society of
extreme reluctance to change realistic is it to be vegetarian?” Meat-Eaters,” don’t implicate the
their eating habits1; (2) a change and “what is my personal choice environment in their arguments
to become a vegetarian?” These that endorse meat-eating.
Have you ever considered queries produce more nuanced Instead, they focus on the issue
becoming a vegetarian? responses. of personal liberty to choose
to eat meat: “We continue to
46.4% Yes If you ask “does
see activist and political efforts
53.6% No being vegetarian help the
aimed at being the “Kitchen
environment,” the answers from
Among UM students surveyed. Police,” telling people what they
multiple websites resound with
can and cannot eat.”5 It appears
in the eating habits and in the the following explanations:
that the voice of opposition is not
dietary trends of developing meat-eating destroys natural
against vegetarianism, but rather
countries may play an important habitats, the meat-industry
the challenge to the personal
role in the arrest and reversal produces greenhouse gases, and
choice of eating meat.
of some major current raising animals for slaughter
environmental trends.”3 If future leads to an inefficient use of But anti-vegetarianists aren’t
studies can integrate these agricultural land. One website, 5
suggestions, then perhaps we The question for many, it appears, is not “does being a veg-
will come closer to an effective etarian help the environment?” but “how realistic is it to be
solution to our increasing vegetarian?” and “what is my personal choice to become a
environmental concerns. vegetarian?”
Yet even if academia has found called “,” cites the only people who call upon
that vegetarian diets positively Dr. David Brubaker of Johns the rhetoric of “choice” with
affect the environment, has this Hopkins University to sum up regards to eating or not eating
been accepted by laypeople? these consequences of meat meat: many vegetarians address
Whether you do a google search consumption: “It pollutes our environmental concerns while
for “vegetarian and environment environment while consuming specifying that these were
debate” or “anti-vegetarianism,” huge amounts of water, grain, not their primary reason for
petroleum, pesticides and drugs. “going vegetarian.” Spiritual
3 Evaluating the environmental impact of
various dietary patterns combined with The results are disastrous.”4 reasons and animal cruelty are
different food production systems. Baroni
L, Cenci L, Tettamanti M, Berati M. Eur J Clin
Even websites that are yielded just two of a variety of motives
Nutr. 2007 Feb;61(2):279-86. Epub 2006 4 that bloggers cite as more
Oct 11. ment.asp
I’m Jain, so it’s a fundamental part of my   I never really felt comfortable eating
religious beliefs. We believe that all animals are
meat. Because of family pressure, I would
sentient beings, and that we shouldn’t allow any
sometimes eat locally raised meat, but I gave
sentient beings to feel unnecessary pain. Also, my
that up because I felt that a lot of the pressures
entire family is vegetarian and it’s the culture I
put on vegetarians sort of made me reluctant
grew up in. We don’t meat at home, so it wasn’t
that hard to come to college and continue that. I to eat any type of meat. I think there is a lot
try to be conscious of getting all my protein and of pressure put on vegetarians by the people
nutrients, but that’s just a matter of taking a daily around them. My father in particular didn’t
vitamin pill. I guess it never occurred to me that I understand why I didn’t want to eat meat. From
wanted to eat meat. I’m sure that it’s appetizing to peers, I’ve also heard comments that implied
some people, but it’s sort of like asparagus to me. being a vegetarian was inferior to being an
I don’t really care that much for it, and I’ve never omnivore. Sometimes they were joking, but it
had it before, so I don’t eat it. was often clear that they thought it was weird
to be vegetarian. In terms of society, there’s also
~ Nishita Jain, LSA freshman a frightening lack of accommodation -- I often
felt like I couldn’t go out to eat or go to catered

In Their events because I would starve. People also felt

very entitled to give their opinions about my
diet. I called myself a vegetarian because I didn’t
Words eat meat 99% of the time…and it was the most
convenient label for why I was like that. But
people would say things like ‘You’re not a real
I was vegetarian in high school because I
knew it was more environmentally sustainable. But vegetarian -- why can’t you eat this burger?’ It
when I came to college, I became more involved in pissed me off to no end, and it was eventually
Michigan Animal Rights Society (MARS) and started the reason why I stopped eating meat altogether.
looking into the more environmental reasons to  
be vegetarian. As far as animal rights go, I feel that ~ Tamara Andrade, LSA sophomore
animals have very similar physiology to humans.
They have nervous systems, they feel pain, and that
should be reason enough to afford them the right to By Sandhya Simhan
be treated humanely. These creatures are treated
very poorly on factory farms whose sole purpose is
to churn out edible meat. Environmentally speaking,
animal agriculture leads to excessive amounts of
pollution. First you have to grow crops to feed the
cattle, leading to greenhouse gases and ruining My mom and sister are vegetarian and that
the soil, which is exacerbated when deforestation really influenced me. My sister is a strong advocate
happens to clear land for grazing. There is a very of animal rights, and my mom does it for health
high ratio of pounds of grains used to make one reasons. So while I was growing up, it was already
pound of meat, and it’s not very efficient. Plus, part of my daily diet. When I came to college, my
the waste that the cattle create releases large roommate was vegetarian, and it became pretty
amounts of methane gas. In 2006, the UN Food easy to just make the permanent switch. Being
and Agriculture Organization did a study that found vegetarian actually makes you rethink the meat
out that animal agriculture is responsible for 18% you used to eat. Before, meat was something
of greenhouse gases, which is actually more of an appetizing; but now, I don’t see most meat as
effect than transportation has. When you’ve got appetizing, I see a carcass. Perception changes.
reasons like these, why in the world would you want So I guess I’m really vegetarian as a mix of family
to contribute to the meat industry? influence, animal rights, and health reasons.  

~ Joseph Varilone, LSA sophomore ~ Lauren Frisch, LSA freshman

Why Students Choose to Practice Vegetarianism
% of Respondents

Impact to Nutrition/Healthier Religious/Spiritual

Cruelty to Animals Influence of Others
Environment Diet Reasons

Very Important Slightly Important Other

important to their choice to be Many bloggers comment on meat eating more sustainable,
vegetarian. One vegetarian even whether or not vegetarians such as eating less meat and
asserted: “There are not too receive enough nutrients from discriminating against certain
many people that are veggie for their diet (the answer seems types of meat – beef in particular.
environmental reasons alone… to be “yes”, as long as they Just as academic researchers
If that means I contribute less to make sure to incorporate foods suggested, there are ways
environmental damage by that that are sources of particular to continue eating meat and
choice, so be it.”6 So while many nutrients that meat-eaters simultaneously protect the
may deem these environmental generally access through meat). environment.
issues important, the emphasis As one Internet writer notes,
Scholars and bloggers appear
remains on the fact that a variety however, “the reality is we
to agree: human vegetarianism
of personal reasons result have to make [the planet] more
is a healthy option for the
in one’s choice to become a sustainable for people who
environment. Yet “choice” and
vegetarian. don’t want to be vegetarians.”7
“reality” seem to be fundamental
He admits that while avoiding
Ultimately, both vegetarians factors in this debate. The
meat is highly beneficial to the
and non-vegetarians on the question that remains is: how
environment, it is important to
Internet comment on the reality can the choice of human diets –
recognize that many people will
of choosing not to eat meat. both vegetarian and meat-based
refuse to become vegetarians
6 – be made more sustainable?
(i.e. respect the need for choice)
and that there are ways to make
you-use-fossil-fuels 7
Interview: Professor George Estabrook So have you learned a lot from
Colin Yee these traditional farmers?

George Estabook is a professor I’ve learned the importance

in the Department of Ecology and of maintaining what looks like
Evolutionary Biology, focused in non-plowed farmland where
plant ecology and systematics. In wild plants grow and the wile
LSA, he taught Biology 102, 105, plants are able to bring nitrogen
and EEB 480. He is currently on fertilizer out of the atmosphere
sabbatical in Portugal studying and they’re able to pull up other
traditional farming methods. nutrients from deep in the rock.
And then the wild plants are cut
by the farmers and buried in the
soil to maintain the soil’s fertility.
Tell us about your sabbatical So by keeping maybe ten meters
leave and what your research of wild plant for every meter
entails. that’s actually cultivated and
plowed, the system maintains
I’m in Portugal where I
try to make their farming more itself sustainably; indefinitely.
study traditional Portugese
agriculture using modern efficient?
scientific technology. So I try to
No, I study their traditional
understand how the techniques What are your opinions on
methods; I don’t try to teach
of traditional Portugese vegetarianism and veganism?
them anything. I try to learn
agriculture have worked to
from them what it is that they Well, I think vegetarianism
sustain, over the past 800
do that seems to have worked and veganism is a choice that
years or so, the agricultural
for the past many hundreds of people can make and, with the
productivity of the farmland
years. And then I use modern exception of very few nutrients,
here. The loss or destruction
ecological technology to try to vegetarianism and veganism can
by chemical fertilizers and
understand why it works and get very good access to nutrition.
pesticides in the USA is…
how it works and to measure Certainly, plant seeds have plenty
impressive, and I’m particularly
quantitatively the nutrients that of protein. Lentils, for example,
interested in soil as an essential
are present in the plant and are about 25% dry weight
natural resource that renews
animal matter and in the crops protein and if you eat a wide
very slowly. So my concentration
that they produce and the soil variety of plant seeds, you’re
here in Portugal is what do the
that they manage and so on. certainly going to get adequate
traditional peasant farmers do
to maintain the fertility of their protein and well-balanced
I’m not trying to help them at
soil. And that involves the use protein. So there’s no protein
all. The purpose of this research
of plant material that contains issue around being a vegetarian
is to learn from them what it is
nutrients in its organic material, or a vegan. Most of our vitamins
they do so that we, who are in
especially plant material that and minerals come from plant
many cases not getting it very
collects these organic nutrients sources. There are only a couple
right as we trash our soils and
from the atmosphere or deeper of vitamins and minerals that are
pollute our soils and pollute
down in the rock. They also supplied to us better by animals,
our crops, cover our farmland
maintain farm animals whose and only one, vitamin B12, is the
with other less appropriate
manure contributes effectively to only vitamin that you absolutely
structures; help us understand
the maintenance of soil fertility. need to get from animal sources.
how this has been done in the
Iron is much more available from
past. I’m not there helping
animal sources and many folks in
farmers at all. I’m there learning
the United States and around the
So, do you learn about the from farmers how they’ve
world are deficient in iron. Some
traditional techniques and managed to pull this off for the
plants, especially cabbage family
implement other techniques to last 800 years.
plants, have available iron and if
you’re willing to eat a whole lot animals in what we commonly around as natural animals and
of them, you can get something call factory farms. In order if animals can eat grass and
approximating iron without for these factory farms to other foods that people don’t eat
eating animals. function effectively, the animals themselves, using and consuming
generally need to be treated these animals both for food and
with antibiotics to keep diseases for other contribution they make
from spreading among them to mixed agriculture probably
Many people believe that if
because they are maintained doesn’t very severely negatively
they switch to vegetarianism or
so close together. And often the impact the environment, in my
veganism, they will be helping
facilities are treated with other opinion.
the environment. Are they
chemicals to prevent problems
correct in believing this?
in fire or other diseases. Also,
I think, in respect to the such concentrated facilities tend
to produce enormous quantities Read more at!
environment, the change is
pretty minute. In my view, of animal waste, which is not
the real problem with raising always disposed of in the most
animals has been the recent appropriate way. So, if animals
trend toward producing more are raised where they can run

Don’t know why analyzing mercury levels in fish or running tests on psychology study
participants is important? Here are some thoughts on research from two notable University
of Michigan faculty: Dr. Steven Gay, Assistant Dean of Admissions of the U of M medical
school, and Dr. Kathleen Nolta, widely-known and respected chemistry lecturer.
“If you feel a passion for research, it’s important to follow that passion…and
to participate [in it] actively.”

“There are very unique aspects of research that you can’t learn anywhere
else…a positive result may take an exceptionally long time to develop and…
you may have to go through a number of pitfalls, changes in research proto-
cols, and approaches to get to that point.”

“An important part of research is…[learning what it’s like to succeed or fail].”

“[Research] lets you know if you experience the joy, happiness, and interest of
working in science.”

“Research will always be essential, always be needed, and always be fun.”

“Pharmacological research will be big for the next century. As soon as that
door is opened, drug design will make everybody’s life better forever.”

“A big inefficiency [of research] is getting money…the more research money

dries up, more people will go into research with the mind of competition.”

“To maximize the usefulness of research, you need collaboration.”

“The key to everything scientific is time management.”

10 Read complete interviews at!

How to Get Involved In Research
• Sciences • Humanities
• Chemical, Medical, Psychological • History, Languages
• Engineering • Social Sciences
• Material Science, Civil Electrical • Economics, Political

• Ask your professors about their exciting research

• Search department websites for PI's in your field of interest
• Search the Student Employment Website
• Join or visit the UROP office to streamline the whole process
• Steps for getting an interview:
• Identify a research project
• Due diligence: background research and network
• Send email cover letter and attach a resume

• Contributes to the advancement of human knowledge

• Builds a unique set of hard skills and hands on experience
• Helps identify your academic and career interests
• Prepares you for graduate opportunities
• Provides a steady income or academic credit

• Summer Opportunities
• Summer Research Opportunity Program (SROP)
• Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU)
• Social Sciences & Humanities Summer Fellowship Programs
• Summer Biomedical and Life Sciences
• Professors seek research assistants year round

Go to for more content, including:

• Full interviews with:
- Dean of Admissions for the UM Medical School
- Dean of Public Health
- Prof. Kathleen Nolta (Chemistry)
- Prof. David Aronoff (Dept of Internal Medicine)
• Full “Vegetarianism and the Environment” article
• More info on “How to Get Involved with Research”
• Past issues of the UM Undergraduate Research Journal
• And much more!

Consider submitting your original research for publication in
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