Summer Team Projects

For this summer, we are introducing a new program to encourage multi-disciplinary cooperation in a faculty led research project. This page will document highlights from each of the eight programs we are sponsoring for our inaugural year.

The Enslaved Children of George Mason

This project seeks to uncover more about the enslaved population that lived at Gunston Hall, the home of George Mason. Due to George Mason University's modern age establishment, it has avoided much of the negative connotation with other Virginia institutions that are connected with slavery. However, documentation has shown that the man for whom the university is named did own slaves, but less is known about them than the creator of the Virginia Declaration of Rights.

Wendi Manuel-Scott, Director of African & African American Studies, Associate Professor History and Art History
Benedict Carton, Associate Professor, History and Art History

Kye Farrow, History
Elizabeth Perez-Garcia, Criminology, Law and Society
Alexis Bracey, Global Affairs
Ayman Fatima, Undeclared
Farhaj Murshed, Bioengineering

PEREC Science and Outreach: Assessment of ecosystem health in the tidal freshwater Potomac environment

The central theme of this project will be assessing and conveying ecosystem health through community composition, food web dynamics, and the ecotoxicology of pharmaceutical chemicals in the Potomac River. Students will be designated tasks including examining the community of the Potomac River, inspecting pollutants and their causes, and community outreach. There will be extensive field work involved with this project and offer hands-on experience to students who are accepted onto this team.

Amy Fowler, Assistant Professor, Environmental Science and Policy
Thomas Huff, Assistant Director, Shared Research Instrumentation Facility
Thomas Stratmann, Professor, Economics, Center for Study of Public Choice
Kim de Mutsert, Assistant Professor, Environmental Science and Policy
Christian Jones, Prof/Director, Potomac Environmental Research & Educ Center, Environmental Science and Policy
Randy McBride, Associate Professor, Atmospheric, Oceanic and Earth Sciences
Daniel Sklarew, Associate Director, PEREC/Associate Professor, Environmental Science and Policy
Cynthia Smith, Prof/Educ Director Potomac Environmental Research & Educ Ctr, Environmental Science and Policy
Gregory Foster, Professor, Chemistry and Biochemistry, College of Science

Diana Foster, BIS Women's Environmental Leadership and Global Sustainability
Sammie Alexander, Environmental Science: Marine, Estuarine and Freshwater Ecology
Lisa McAnulty, Chemistry
Tabitha King, Environmental Science: Conservation
Heather Nortz, Environmental Science: Humans and Ecosystems
Michael Rollins, Environmental Science: Marine, Estuarine and Freshwater Ecology

FaBULIS Data: Food and Behavior – Using Large Interdisciplinary Sets of Data

The aim of this summer project is to provide an opportunity for undergraduate student researchers interested in learning skills to use large public datasets to answer real-time nutrition research questions. In order to provide a meaningful, manageable first experience for our students, we have identified the health behavior questionnaire and the dietary recall datasets as the primary data sources within NHANES for this project. Identifying knowledge, attitudes, or behaviors that are most strongly related to diet can assist health professionals in making recommendations to clients (nutritionists or dietitians) or communities (public health practitioners). The specific topical area that students will evaluate is whether consumer behaviors (e.g. availability of healthy foods in the home, meals eaten together as families, using nutrition labels) or beliefs (e.g. eat particular foods because they are believed to be healthy) are associated with actual dietary intake.

Cara Frankenfeld, Assistant Professor, Global and Community Health
Sina Gallo, Assistant Professor, Nutrition & Food Studies
Margaret Slavin, Assistant Professor, Nutrition & Food Studies

Anthony Bedward, Athletic Training
Nicole Hatcher, Nursing
Saira Kausar, Nursing
Ilana Simkol, Community Health
Regine Victoria, Communication
Tovga Haji, Conflict Analysis and Resolution


Peter Ritter Chamber Music Performing Edition: Editing an 18th/19th-Century Composer's Music Manuscripts for Contemporary Performance and Open-Access Dissemination

Each student will transcribe and edit at least three musical manuscripts of Peter Ritter, specifically from his chamber music, to contribute to the multi-work edition, and will conduct related historical investigations into the context of their original creation and performance for contribution to the edition's prefatory narrative.

Jesse Guessford, Assistant Professor - Music Technology, Composition
Steven Gerber, Research Librarian (Music, Theater, Philosophy)

Nathan Graham, Music
Simone Hawkins, Music
Karen Smith, College of Visual and Performing Arts
Dylan van Vierssen, Music
Adam Schuman, Music


Engineering Dance: Understanding Ballet Performance Using Motion Capture

The supported students will be trained in the experimental methods and computational techniques required to conduct scientific research in interdisciplinary fields. Students will work in small groups and examine the research questions from different perspectives. At the end, the students will generate a database of ballet movement with different spatial and temporal variations. They will produce computer programming scripts that will conveniently process, analyze and plot motion data. Those who work on joint load will build personalized musculoskeletal models to enable future analysis of other joints and muscle forces.

Wilsaan Joiner, Assistant Professor, Bioengineering
Elizabeth Price, Associate Professor, School of Dance
Susan Shields, Director, School of Dance
James Thompson, Associate Professor, Psychology
Qi Wei, Assistant Professor, Bioengineering

Chrysantha Davis, Neuroscience
Madison Tate, Dance
Julia Cipriani, Dance
Sofie Massa, Dance
Jamie Desser, Dance
Isabella Williams, Finance
Ameena Ashraf, Undeclared
Michelle Dickerson, Bioengineering
James Cameron, Bioengineering
Cydney Dennis, Bioengineering


Together Alone: Living and Working in Solitary Confinement

Students participating in this research study work on a larger Rudes' designed study and will design their own (or team) sub-study of staff and/or inmates within solitary confinement units in two PA prisons. Four students will have the opportunity to actively participate in the process of scholarship and will make a significant contribution to the creation of a disciplinary-appropriate product. To do this, all students will receive instruction and mentorship about solitary confinement (literature/scholarship), research ethics (IRB, CITI), qualitative research methods (ethnographic and life-course interviewing, fieldwork observations), data collection in a prison setting (i.e., prison protocol), data management, data analysis (training using Atlas.ti—qualitative data managements software), scholarly and translational writing, presentations (scholarly/scientific to academic and practitioner audiences), and publication.

Danielle Rudes, Associate Professor, Criminology, Law and Society
Angela Hattery, Director/Head, Women and Gender Studies, MAIS, Women and Gender Studies
Shannon Magnuson, Criminology, Law and Society

Casey Tabas, Criminology, Law and Society
Kaley Regner, Criminology, Law and Society
Karlie Berry, Criminology, Law and Society
Liana Shivers, Integrative Studies
Sabrine Baiou, Psychology
Elizabeth Rosen, Forensic Science


Insects and Post-Mortem Decomposition - what are the effects of environmental parameters on species richness, community composition, and succession patterns of carrion communities?

Students participating in this project will investigate the relationships between community and environmental parameters. Each student, or pairs of students, will investigate the effect of a single environmental parameter. These environmental parameters can be one of the before mentioned parameters (season, habitat, etc.) or a parameter of the students' own interest. 

Joris van der Ham, Environmental Science and Policy
Kelly Knight, Professor/STEM Accelerator, Forensic Science Program

Chelsea Belle, Biology
Madeline Evans, Environmental and Sustainability Studies
Aurora Johnston, Biology
Peter Nieves, College of Science

Culture Change and the American Personality

This project will explore changes in the standards applied to self-presentation in the United States over the past century. Using both existing studies, like David Riesman's famous Lonely Crowd, and primary materials dealing with concepts like modesty, self-esteem, gratitude and narcissism, the project will try to advance understanding of ways in which personality ideals with redefined or maintained, even before the rise of the "selfie". Cultural materials will range from leadership programs to manners books and childrearing literature.

Students accepted into the project will attend seminars on culture change and research on American character, and will work with a variety of source materials including opinion polls and advice literature.

Peter Stearns, Provost Emeritus, University Professor, History and Art History

Sadaf Abdul, Undeclared
Taylor Munir, Conflict Analysis and Resolution
Ruthann Clay, Conflict Analysis and Resolution
Chra Darwesh, Schar School of Policy and Government