2013 OSCAR Mentoring Award Winners

OSCAR Mentoring Excellence Award Winners at the 2013 Celebration of Student Scholarship.
2013 winners from left to right: Robert Youmans, Amarda Shehu, Jeff Mantz, Monique van Hoek, Nelson Cortes, and Padhu Seshaiyer.

Congratulations to the 2013 OSCAR Mentoring Excellence Award recipients!

There was an amazing pool of nominees for the OSCAR Mentoring Excellence Award, but these faculty emerged based on their excellence in mentoring undergraduate students on their research and creative projects, and by fostering a culture of student scholarship at Mason!

Nelson Cortes (School of Recreation, Health, & Tourism; CEHD)

Mentoring is guiding students in the process of discovery, learning how to be comfortable outside their comfort zone, and constantly stimulating their creative thought process to find new avenues to answer a research question. 

I enjoy fostering students' interest on a topic, to critically appraise the literature, and cultivating the development of their questions and experiments through critical thought process. Guiding the students on how the research process can answer important questions of their interest, and aiding to expand their understanding of the world is awe inspiring.

-Excerpts from Dr. Cortes' mentoring statement

Jeffrey Mantz (Department of Sociology and Anthropology; CHSS)

My students are all tremendous success stories, but to be honest the deck has been stacked in my favor. I just try to match students up with what they are good at. And sometimes, in fact most of the time, that involves something outside academe. 

I essentially think of myself as a very effective scout, who has been fortunate to be exposed to some really outstanding talent. And I do it mainly because I see some students who just need a little prodding, a sense that they are actually capable of doing these things that seem very abstract to them: learn a language, travel to a remote place, organize a project there.

-Excerpts from Dr. Mantz's mentoring statement

Padmanabhan Seshaiyer (Department of Mathematical Sciences; COS)

My philosophy of engaging students in research and scholarship has been to not only help develop innovative research methods through mathematical modeling, analysis and simulation to explain fundamental mechanisms needed to understand quantitative and qualitative behavior underlying scientific and engineering applications; they also can help student researchers become institutional change agents for transforming practice in teaching, research, and education.

As a mentor, my overall goal is to encourage undergraduate students and teachers to learn by discovery as opposed to passive listening.

-Excerpts from Dr. Seshaiyer's mentoring statement

Amarda Shehu (Department of Computer Science; VSE)

My hope is that one day all the undergraduate students I have touched and affected will look back and say that they envisioned themselves as leaders all along, and that the interleaving of education and research at Mason sparked their great adventure and set them well-equipped in their journey. 

This is my mentoring philosophy in a nutshell; provide opportunities, skills, and the support that students need to envision themselves as the leaders of tomorrow. Once they do that, there is no nothing hindering their progress and confidence that they can be scholars and researchers.

-Excerpts from Dr. Shehu's mentoring statement

Monique van Hoek (School of Systems Biology; COS)

As a scientist and a professor, I know that having a teacher who is excited by science is one of the key factors in motivating students to choose a scientific degree and profession. My goal is to be one of those teachers for my students, and to convey my knowledge but more importantly my passion for science to both undergraduate and graduate students at George Mason University.

Undergraduate research opportunities are the most powerful outreach program to introduce students to what research is really like, and to show them that they can contribute to science.

-Excerpts from Dr. van Hoek's mentoring statement

Robert Youmans (Department of Psychology; CHSS)

My overriding philosophy for being a successful mentor, one who fosters a culture of student scholarship at Mason, is to motivate undergraduate students to develop an interest in science that is as strong as the one that drives my own research. 

In my experience, most students have an inherent curiosity about the world that can be explored via research, and so my goal as a research mentor is to find ways to tap and use that curiosity to motivate student learning.

-Excerpts from Dr. Youmans' mentoring statement