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The Council on Undergraduate Research to Recognize Excellence in Undergraduate Research Wednesday, January 13,2016

The Council on Undergraduate Research to Recognize Excellence in Undergraduate Research

On January 22, the Council on Undergraduate Research (CUR) will be celebrating the achievements in undergraduate research at Allegheny College, George Mason University, and The College of New Jersey. These institutions are recipients of the Campus-wide Awards for Undergraduate Research Accomplishment (AURA), annual awards modeled on the CUR's Characteristics of Excellence in Undergraduate Research, which recognizes institutions that have devised exemplary programs providing high-quality research experiences to undergraduates.

For more please visit CUR webpage.

CLS Research Methods Students Present in a Poster Session Friday, December 18,2015

CLS Research Methods Students Present in a Poster Session

The students from Professor Sue-Ming Yang's Research Methods & Analysis in Criminology class (CRIM 315) selected topics of social and scientific importance, investigated empirical evidence related to the topics, and highlighted their results in detailed posters that they presented to Dr. Yang and their classmates. 

Topics addressed various aspects of criminology and the criminal justice system, such as "The Effects of Solitary Confinement," "Radicalization of Second Generation Somalians," "The Effects of Handgun Legislation," and "Effects of Sexual Assaults on College Women's Subsequent Education Attainment," to name just a few.  Students were excited by the opportunity to share their research, and to learn from their peers. 

Research Methods in Criminology is designated as a Scholarly Inquiry course and is part of the Students as Scholars (SAS) curriculum at George Mason University. The SAS curriculum builds students' capacity to evaluate research and prepares them to pursue their own research or creative projects by incorporating research-related activities at increasingly sophisticated levels as they pursue their degree program.

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New Program Fosters Research between Students, Smithsonian Biologists Monday, November 16,2015

New Program Fosters Research between Students, Smithsonian Biologists

Starting in January, George Mason University undergraduate students have a unique opportunity to spend a spring semester conducting research with Smithsonian biologists. This new program offers students a learning experience that may help them find their true calling, said Larry Rockwood, chair of George Mason’s Department of Biology. All the programs include OSCAR's Research & Scholarship intensive courses.

That’s certainly what happened for Will Pitt, deputy director of the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute. An engineering major, he switched to biology to be part of a similar undergraduate research program at the University of Minnesota to research white-tailed deer and black bears.

“That experience was the start of my professional career,” he said. “Some of the relationships you establish last a lifetime. I still talk to my undergraduate research advisor and he’s now 85 years old and in a nursing home.”

Mason’s College of Science, specifically the Biology Department, has made undergraduate research a priority, Rockwood said. Having Mason students work with Smithsonian researchers was a natural fit, because of the existing collaboration at the Smithsonian-Mason School of Conservation in Front Royal, Va.

“This exclusive partnership with Smithsonian Institution is part of Mason’s innovative approach for multidisciplinary and inquiry-based learning,” said S. David Wu, Mason provost and executive vice president. “The Smithsonian Mason Research Semester offers students an exceptional opportunity to work with scientists at the National Zoo or the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute to gain hands-on experience in original research. Collaborative programs like this help to differentiate Mason and build its reputation in creating synergy and connection between research and teaching.”

Students can apply to study such diverse topics as cheetahs, fertility and carnivores, the genetics of endangered animals, and GPS tracking of endangered or rare animals. The application process is underway and students can apply now. About 20 slots are available.

“It’s not just playing—it’s real research,” Pitt said.

Students will earn six to nine biology credits for the semester and can stay at the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute in Front Royal. The spring program is an offshoot of an undergraduate research fall program coordinated with or led by Mason faculty.

“If a student is pre-vet or other health field, this is an amazing opportunity,” Rockwood said. “They will learn how to create an experimental design and analyze data.”

Smithsonian researchers benefit too. In the short term, essential work gets done. And in the long term, they help mentor the next generation of researchers.

“For me, it opened opportunities for graduate school and other research opportunities,” Pitt said. “It was everything for my undergraduate education.”

Continue reading on Mason News webpage.

Salem Witch Trails take a modern spin Wednesday, November 11,2015

Salem Witch Trails take a modern spin

This fictionalized play, written by Arthur Miller about the Salem Witch Trials that took place in the Province of Massachusetts Bay between 1692 and 1693, was co-directed by theater professor Howard Vincent Kurtz and senior theater major Maggie Rodgers.  Kurtz and Rodgers have been working together to produce and direct this play at Mason for three years.

”The Crucible is traditionally done as a seventeenth century historical play,” Kurtz said.  “However, my objective as a costume designer was to portray a more contemporary view, setting the production in the mid-twentieth century.”

“Audience members can expect to see a story about a community that puts everything on the line in search for truth and justice,” Rodgers said.  “Arthur Miller’s play is raw, honest, and inspired by a dark time in American History.”

Through setting the play in mid-twentieth century times, Kurtz and Rodgers hoped to spark discussion on campus about how this story was presented in today’s society.  “I hope that it will make people think about how they, as an individual, act in the world and make them question what they can do to help out their community,” Rodgers said.

Kurtz wanted audience members to glean some valuable learning experiences from the play.  “I hope the audience will see themselves in the characters that are portrayed on stage,” Kurtz said.  “Also, that the choices we make can affect others and have a profound effect on the world.”

Both Kurtz and Rodgers hoped audience members would arrive at Harris Theatre the night of the play with open minds and a willingness to involve themselves in the story.  “I believe attendees should come into the theater with an open mind and heart in order to absorb Arthur Miller’s words,” Rodgers said.

Cast members attended numerous rehearsals in preparation for their October 22 opening night.  “Every actor has a responsibility to one another.  As directors, we guided the ensemble so that they could develop realistic and accessible characters on stage,” Kurtz said.

The rehearsal process was built upon collaboration and communication between the actors, directors and designers. “Like Howard said, it is an ensemble piece and this show wouldn’t be successful without the teamwork and dedication every night from all participants,” said Rodgers.  “We worked very hard each day to create an environment where people felt comfortable to explore and push artistic boundaries in order to tell Arthur Miller’s story.”

Continue reading on IV Estate page.


George Mason University Wins Award for Its ‘National Model’ of Student Research Thursday, October 29,2015

George Mason University Wins Award for Its ‘National Model’ of Student Research

“We encourage our students to pursue research because it is one of the most effective and transformative learning experiences they can have,” said Ángel Cabrera, Mason president. “This is true whether or not a student decides to pursue a research career, and that is the greatest value a research university can offer a student.”

Mason is the largest public research university in Virginia. At the core of Mason’s mission is its signature learning experience, which encourages students to incorporate research into their studies. From pioneering virologists to prize-winning economists, students work alongside researchers at the top of their game.

About 2,725 students in the past three years have completed an original research or creative project. Plus, more than 17,000 students have been introduced to undergraduate research and creative activities through courses and projects.

Mason has created a “national model for other institutions to emulate,” according to the nonprofit Council on Undergraduate Research, which has more than 700 institutions and 10,000 individual members.

“This annual award will recognize institutions that have devised exemplary programs providing high-quality research experiences to undergraduates,” said Beth Ambos, council executive officer. “The award will not only require campuses to have depth and breadth in their undergraduate research initiatives, but evidence of innovation of a sustained nature.”

At Mason, student research and creative work is integrated throughout the university and guided by the Office of Student Scholarship, Creative Activities, and Research (OSCAR), home of the Students as Scholars initiative. Top Mason researchers and faculty mentor students, departmental grants are available to integrate scholarly inquiry and research into the curriculum, and undergraduates can apply for student travel support, said Bethany Usher, director of Mason’s Students as Scholars initiative. Moreover, OSCAR oversees a faculty mentoring award and a student award for excellence in undergraduate research and creative work.

Students at Mason are working as undergraduates to solve real-world problems. For example, bioengineering major Sameen Yusuf developed a low-cost oxygen analyzer to be used in hospitals in developing countries.

Finance major Juwariah Shareef is building the foundation for her business career by researching and analyzing slow economic growth of “export processing zones” in Pakistan. Her groundbreaking research can be used as a template for similar developing countries.

And bioengineering major Alex Nixon is working on a skin patch capable of detecting melanomas and on nanotechnology for biodefense use.

What sets Mason apart from other universities is how students, faculty and administration are united in their commitment to the Students as Scholars program, according to the council. Academic units at Mason have integrated research concepts throughout the curriculum so students at all levels learn how to engage in research in increasingly sophisticated and independent ways.

Mason then tracks student progress by using surveys for students and having professors evaluate the student work following a specific rubric. These data are used to refine the Students as Scholars programs so that the university best supports its students and faculty.

This robust research experience prepares students for further graduate study or jobs after graduation, the council said.

Continue reading on Mason News page.


Jungles of Peru Provided a Learning Experience for URSP Student Thursday, October 22,2015

Jungles of Peru Provided a Learning Experience for URSP Student

Did you know that Iquitos—population 422,000—is the world’s largest city not accessible by road? It’s in the heart of the Amazon rainforest at the confluence of the Nanay and Itaya rivers. Piranhas are part of the local diet.

And on an overnight trip to the jungle, in which her group stayed in a lodge with a thatched roof and a generator that provided electricity for only two hours a day, the uninvited guests were some pretty large spiders.

“I screamed so much I felt bad for everybody,” Snyder said.

Most memorable, though, for the George Mason University junior neuroscience major, were her two months of work in which she helped research better treatments for malaria.

Snyder, part of George Mason’s Honors College, worked with doctors on patient intake, interviews and diagnosis. Her follow-up research preliminarily showed “that individuals who live farther away from the city center or economic hubs are more likely to have malaria relapses.”

On assignment in the nearby Loreto district, Snyder did glucose tests and screened people for diabetes.

“It was amazing to be able to work in the field I’m most passionate about,” said Snyder, whose ambition is to be a military physician with emphasis on infectious diseases or family medicine because both “involve a lot more patient time, working with individuals.”

“I’ve always been drawn to service and helping other people and being the person who can serve others,” Snyder said. “[The internship] was an opportunity to do that.”

The thing is, military research labs don’t generally give such positions to civilians. But Snyder did her homework and forged an email relationship with Chris Daniel, the senior advisor for global health in the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Health Affairs.

After they met in November 2014 at the Global Security Forum at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, D.C., Daniel put in a good word.

Continue reading on Mason News page


February 18

URSP Proposal Writing Workshop

4:00 PM
Fenwick Library room 1014B

March 23

Poster Workshop

10:00 AM
Fenwick Library room 1014B

See All Events »