Wednesday, May 18,2016
Mason’s Program Hailed as “National Model”
Presented by the Office of Student Scholarship, Creative Activities, and Research (OSCAR), the Celebration of Student Scholarship is an annual showcase for the Students as Scholars program, which provides funding and support for the scholarly work of hundreds of Mason undergraduates each year. Students representing every school of the university presented posters summarizing their research projects in fields ranging from bioengineering to economics, from ecology to anthropology, and from political science to dance.
The power of persistence was a lesson also shared by Francis Aguisanda, BS Biology ‘14, for whom the Students as Scholars opportunity was a life-changing experience. Francis landed a position in Dr. Daniel Cox’s neuroscience lab, but after one semester, he told Dr. Cox that he might have to quit: “I wasn’t sure that I could balance my life in the lab with my extracurriculars and with being a student. But with the encouragement of Dr. Cox and my friends, I persevered.” Francis now works as a research fellow at the National Institutes of Health, and in the fall of 2016 he will begin the PhD program in Stem Cell Biology and Regenerative Medicine at Stanford University.
At most universities, research of this depth and caliber is the province of graduate students. But in this (as in so must else!), Mason is exceptional. More than 3,600 undergraduates have completed research projects over the past four years, says Dr. Bethany Usher, director of the Students as Scholars program. These undergrads have not only planned and carried out a research project, but also publicly shared results outside of the classroom.
The amazing success of Students as Scholars was highlighted when the Council on Undergraduate Research, a leading national organization, awarded Mason its 2015 Campus-wide Award for Undergraduate Research Accomplishment. In honoring Mason’s program as the best in the nation, the council called Students as Scholars a “national model for other institutions to emulate.”
Opportunities to Support Student Scholarship
Between its impressive impact on students’ lives, and national recognition for its excellence, Students as Scholars is clearly one of the jewels in Mason’s crown. And there is plenty of room to grow. As Dr. Usher says, “One of our goals is that every student has the opportunity to do research here.”
Surprisingly, philanthropic support currently accounts for virtually none of the program’s annual budget. As a result, it must scrape for such essential elements as funding students to travel to and present at the annual National Conference for Undergraduate Research. Examples of how charitable gifts could be used include:
A gift of $500 for the travel fund will allow one undergraduate student to share his or her research project at a national conference.
A gift of $1,500 supports one student with a research grant during the fall or spring semester.
A gift of $5,000 provides one student with a full-time summer stipend, alleviating the need for an extra job and making it possible to work all summer on an intensive research project with a faculty mentor.
If you would like to support a student by making a gift to Students as Scholars, please use our online giving form and designate your gift to “Undergraduate Research Programs.” If you prefer to give by mail, you may send your check to: Office of Advancement and Alumni Relations, 4400 University Drive, MS 1A3, Fairfax, VA 22030. We are happy to answer your questions or provide further information; please call the Office of Advancement at 703-993-8850.
Read more and support here: http://fasterfarther.gmu.edu/featured/undergrads-find-persistence-is-key-to-their-research-successes/
Thursday, September 1,2016
In Spring 2016, the Social Work integrative Research
Lab (SWiRL) was awarded $46,500 by the Office of
Student Scholarship, Creative Activities, and Research
(OSCAR). This funding has enabled us to provide
stipends for student participants, and allowed us to
operate for the first time during the summer. Our
inaugural Summer SWiRL employed one coordinator,
two Graduate Research Supervisors (GRS), and four
Undergraduate Research Assistants (UGRA).
While students continued to develop their research
skills by supporting faculty research, Summer SWiRL
also provided the opportunity for students to work on
the SWiRL Case Study. The SWiRL Case Study is an
evaluation of SWiRL. This summer, students interviewed faculty
and then transcribed and
coded those interviews.
In addition, Summer SWiRL
featured a weekly brown bag
talk, which included skill
building workshops (coding),
interactive sessions (grad
student Q&A), and guest
speakers (Professor Valerie
As we are learning through
the SWiRL Case Study,
students experience a
variety of benefits from their
participation in SWiRL
beyond simply developing
research skills. As Hannah
Carrai said in our last
summer lab meeting, “I
found community, and I
didn’t even know I was
looking for it.”
SWiRL will continue in the
fall with paid, independent
study, and volunteer
opportunities for both
graduate and undergraduate
This passage was taken out of the SWiRL Summer 2016 Newsletter.
Wednesday, September 7,2016
Smithsonian Fellowships and Internship Workshop will be held on Oct. 18th from 1:30-2:30 in Johnson Center George's (3rd Floor JC). The session will be followed by a short reception from 2:30-3:30 also in George's. Refreshments will be served and all are welcome to attend! You can REGISTER HERE!
the past couple of years, Mason students and faculty have held
internships or fellowships in these Smithsonian Museums and offices:
National Zoological Park
National Museum of African American History and Culture
Office of Chief Information Officer
Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institution in Thailand
National Museum of American History
National Portrait Gallery
National Museum of the American Indian
Office of the Assistant Secretary for Education and Access
National Museum of Natural History
Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage
Smithsonian Environmental Research Center
and others, too.
On Tuesday, October 18th, join Karen Carter,
SI Program Specialist, to learn about the broad array of SI’s
academic appointment opportunities, from museums to programs to
administrative offices. Mason students have a special advantage, as you
can participate during the academic year, and just take Metro to
DC-based internships! Learn about:
Karen Carter will hold a workshop on October 18 from 1:30-2:30pm in Johnson Center George's (3rd floor JC) that focuses on
student programs but also highlights faculty opportunities. Immediately following the presentation, students and faculty
are invited to a reception (with refreshments) where Smithsonian
representatives will be present to help answer questions. The workshops are free but pre-registration is required by October 14th.
- basic qualifications
- best times to apply
- how to search for opportunities
- tips for navigating the on-line application system
- what reviewers look for in essays
- other pertinent information.
The Office of Student Scholarship, Creative Activities, and Research
, in conjunction withUniversity Career Services
, Smithsonian-Mason School of Conservation, the Center for Teaching & Faculty Excellence, Office of Research, Office of Fellowships (Honors College) and the Office of Graduate Fellowships, is pleased to host these workshops. Many of these offices will be available to answer questions during the reception, also.
In the American spirit, the Smithsonian is a universal lens that sparks
the learning in everyone. As a steward for our nation’s treasures, in
our groundbreaking scientific research, and through our far-reaching
educational programs, we are in the business of exciting the learning in
everyone! To learn more about the Office of Fellowships &
Internships, visit their website and sign up for their email newsletter under "New Opportunity Updates." You can see Mason undergraduate student Madeline Cole talk about her internship at the National Portrait Gallery, also!
Friday, May 20,2016
Bethany Usher loves the energy she feels when she attends the National Conference on Undergraduate Research.
“The whole place is electric for three days,” she said.
As director of the Students as Scholars initiative through George Mason University’s Office of Student Scholarship, Creative Activities and Research (OSCAR), Usher will accompany 67 George Mason students to the 30th annual conference, April 7-9, in Asheville, N.C.
“It’s the most prestigious undergraduate research conference in the country,” Usher said.
About 3,900 students covering multiple disciplines will present their research in front of peers and, most importantly, Usher said, graduate program recruiters. Students applied to the conference with abstracts of their research that were reviewed.
OSCAR, with support from the George Mason Foundation, is paying the way for Mason’s attendees, who will take a bus to the conference and stay four-to-a-room at a local hotel. A pizza party, also on Mason, is scheduled for one night of their stay.
“We’re particularly proud that we’re not an elite program,” Usher said of OSCAR, which facilitates student research with grants and assistantships. “We’re proud we’re able to give students across the university the ability to be part of research.”
Here are a just a few of them.
Thursday, August 18,2016
Research Assistants available!
Once again, OSCAR is offering
faculty the opportunity to hire undergraduate students as research assistants
during the 2016-2017 academic year, using the Federal Work Study program.
The OSCAR Work-Study Research Assistantships are intended to give undergraduate
students an introduction to the concept of scholarship and to learn the
research or scholarly methods in their field, while giving faculty
essentially free research assistance in exchange for mentoring students.
Student eligibility is determined by the Financial Aid Office, who
notifies eligible students at the beginning of the academic year, but OSCAR can
also advise students on their eligibility.
We welcome positions from every
program on campus, and plan to offer about 120 positions this year. We
need your help in getting positions posted by September 2! We will
hold an Open House on Wednesday, August 24th, from 9-noon in OSCAR (JC246) to
help faculty post Research Assistant positions. Please feel free to stop
by, call us at 703-993-3794, email OSCAR@gmu.edu, or check the Research Assistant webpage for more
OSCAR Dates, Activities, and Deadlines
2016-2017 is going to be an
exciting year. We'll be bringing back the Smithsonian Office of Fellowships and
Internships to talk with students and faculty about opportunities at the
Smithsonian, and introducing a new series of student-oriented research
workshops. We'll continue to support inquiry- and research-based curricula
through our Scholarship Development Grants and RS courses Deadlines and dates for
the Scholarship Development Grants, RS applications, URSP proposals, Research Assistants program,
and other events are all available on our website. Undergraduate Student
Travel Grants are accepted on a rolling basis.
Council on Undergraduate Research Memberships available
Mason won a free enhanced
membership in the Council on Undergraduate Research as a part of the AURA
award, and we would love for you and your faculty to take advantage of it. CUR
has specialty divisions in Arts and Humanities, Biology, Chemistry,
Engineering, Geosciences, Health Sciences, Math and Computer Science, Physics
and Astronomy, Psychology, and Social Sciences, as well as At-large, if you
can't find a home in one of those. Encourage your faculty to sign up as members (totally free) and
take advantage of information targeted towards supporting undergraduate
scholarship in your field.
Exciting staff changes in OSCAR!
Dr. Karen Lee has joined OSCAR as
our new Assistant Director. She'll be leading our student-oriented programs,
and we are thrilled to have her! Read more about her in our blog post, and please feel free to stop by
and say hi. Samira Lloyd's great work has been recognized by being promoted to
Program Specialist. We in the process of hiring a new Office Coordinator. Stay
tuned for updates.
Visits to classes
OSCAR staff is always happy to
come to classes to talk about OSCAR programs. We can also arrange to have any
OSCAR staff member or one of our student OSCAR Fellows come to classes to talk
with students about OSCAR opportunities. Just email us
to make arrangements.
Thank you and we are looking
forward to seeing you this Fall!
-The OSCAR Team