April 20, 2017

Latest News

You're Invited: OSCAR's 6th Annual Celebration of Student ScholarshipYou’re Invited: Oscar’s 6th Annual Celebration of Student Scholarship – Friday, April 14, 2017

Vaccination Trepidation: A URSP Continues  – Tuesday, January 24, 2017

In fall of 2016, Plaster conducted research with Dr. Painter for the Undergraduate Research Scholars Program (URSP) ultimately called “Oscar Program: The Knowledge, Attitudes, and Behaviors of George Mason Students in Relations to Zika Virus.”

In a survey conducted in April 2016 of 619 undergraduate students at George Mason, “about 52 percent, said they would be likely or very likely to accept a Zika vaccine.”As many college students travel and the population includes those of childbearing age, the level of acceptance to a vaccine is very important.

You can read more in an article by Jamie Rogers here.


URSP and 4-VA student recieves Sigma XI award – Friday, January 6,2017

Berger, working with Dr. Shobita Satyapal and JMU researchers, has presented at James Madison for his research. The project on Supermassive Black Holes – and where to find them – has been written about in publications and has come highly commended. To continue his work, Berger was recently awarded from the very competitive Sigma XI funding.

Dr. Satyapal is very active in supporting students pursue research and Dillon Berger shows how research can be long lasting and interdisciplinary. We are very honored to have both faculty and students be so involved in our programs!

The 48 Uses of Dragon’s Blood – Tuesday, March 7, 2017

DragonBoth Dr. Bishop and Dr. van Hoek have mentored 14 students between them for our URSP. They are a prime example of real research that is not only being conducted at our institution, but what is also available for our undergraduates to get involved in with real research.

Read the article at The Economist here.


Summer Team Projects announced! – Wednesday, December 21,2016

This Fall, OSCAR introduced a new opportunity for summer research projects based around a central theme, question, or problem. The Summer Team Projects will be run by at least two faculty members, and include a group of four to ten undergraduate students. This year, after an overwhelming response to our call for proposals, we have seven accepted projects. Faculty will recruit undergraduate participants in the spring and will be expected to use the first week to give the students an academic orientation to the program. Students will work, with faculty mentorship, on the project for the remaining weeks of the summer, and will present their results at the Summer Celebration of Student Scholarship.

We congratulate our faculty who have had their proposals accepted! Read more about them below:

“The Enslaved Children of George Mason”

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

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

Faculty: Amy Fowler, Assistant Professor, Environmental Science and Policy; Thomas Huff, Assistant Director of Shared Research Instrumentation Facility; Kim de Mutsert, Assistant Professor of Environmental Science and Policy; Christian Jones, Professor and Director of PEREC, Environmental Science and Policy; Randy McBride, Associate Professor Atmospheric, Oceanic and Earth Sciences; Daniel Sklarew, Associate Director PEREC and Associate Professor Environmental Science and Policy; Cynthia Smith, Professor and Education Director PEREC, Environmental Science and Policy; Gregory Foster, Professor of Chemistry and Biochemistry

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

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

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

Faculty: Jesse Guessford, Assistant Professor of Music Technology and Composition; Steven Gerber, Research Librarian (Music, Theater, Philosophy)

“Engineering Dance: Understanding Ballet Performance Using Motion Capture”

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

“Together Alone: Living and Working in Solitary Confinement”

Faculty: Danielle Rudes, Associate Professor of Criminology, Law and Society; Angela Hattery, Director of Women and Gender Studies; Shannon Magnuson, PhD Student in Criminology, Law and Society

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

Faculty: Joris van der Ham, Adjunct Assistant Professor in Department of Environmental Science and Policy; Kelly Knight, Professor/STEM Accelerator of Forensic Science Program

Check back in the spring for more information and to apply for positions in one of these teams!


She doesn’t have a view, but still has a vision – Thursday, February 9,2017

She doesn't have a view, but still has a visionBethany Usher would love a window in her office. And if George Mason University’s new associate provost for undergraduate education moved to the Merten Hall space waiting for her, she would have one.

Instead, Usher will remain in her windowless digs in the Johnson Center, straining to see daylight through the top-floor windows visible through her office doorway.

“There’s always something going on in this building,” Usher said. “The space is active for students and faculty, and being accessible to them is really important.”

Usher has spent the past five years engaging with students and faculty as director of the Students as Scholars initiative in the Office of Student Scholarship, Creative Activities and Research (OSCAR). The experience and relationships she forged will be invaluable as she investigates and then tries to construct what she calls “a clear vision of what we want the undergraduate experience to look like.”

For Usher, that vision is one of total student engagement, not only with their studies but with experiential learning that enhances the facts and figures gleaned in the classroom and creates a passion that perhaps spotlights a life path.

“I do think the undergraduate experience should be transformational,” Usher said. She called it “engaged scholarship.”

Usher found that experience for herself as a biology and anthropology major at the University of Virginia. Through a grant from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, she was an undergraduate biomedical researcher. She helped excavate and save a Monacan Indian mound in Orange County, Va., that was eroding from water damage. And she worked at a bookstore.

“All those things changed my perception of what it means to be an engaged undergraduate,” Usher said.

“She gets it,” George Mason Provost and Executive Vice President S. David Wu said. “It’s about rethinking higher education in a different framework. It’s how the students discover their passion and use that to enhance the quality of our education. She really gets that idea.”

Usher knows this is not a top-down exercise. There will be many discussions with students, faculty and campus organizations. Most important is to find out what students want from their educational experience, what they are not getting and what they want more of.

“I don’t think we’ve asked enough students that question yet,” she said.

There’s no better place to do that than at the Johnson Center.

“I like being here,” Usher said, “even if I don’t get a window.”

Article written by Damian Cristodero.


ISOM Grad and URSP Recipient Takes on MLB Wages – Tuesday, January 17,2017

Recipient Takes on MLB WagesIn an article by Jennifer Anzaldi, Wheeler discusses how he uses performance data and other factors such as age, team, and year to produce a salary recommendation. He is quoted in the article as saying that in regards to a real-world application, this type of projection based on data can benefit the team and the players both:

“Teams can see players who are over-performing for their salary and poach them. They can look to see which players are likely to be traded. A player may be underperforming for his salary but on a new team, based on certain conditions, he can perform better and the new team can grab him for an appropriate price.”
Wheeler is currently a grad student in Data Analytics Engineering.You can read Anzaldi’s article in its entirety here.


Dr. Bethany Usher Named as Associate Provost for Undergraduate Education – Friday, January 13,2017

Dr. Bethany Usher Named as Associate Provost for Undergraduate EducationFor the past five years, Dr. Usher has worked as Director of OSCAR, and has gained the confidence of the faculty and the students we serve. Below you can read more from the email sent by the Provost’s office to the wider community:

“Dr. Usher will work in partnership with students, faculty, staff, academic deans and senior university leaders to develop, direct and evaluate undergraduate academic initiatives and policies. Taking ideas to action will be a critical part of this role, and she will collaborate across Mason to lead strategic university initiatives and respond to evolving academic issues.”

Her decision is based on her focus to be forward facing, student oriented, and service minded.

We here in OSCAR are proud of Dr. Usher’s accomplishments and are excited to be working with her to continue Mason’s campus wide promise of innovative learning.

Celebrating research, opening minds – NCUR 2017 – Friday, April 14,2017

Celebrating research, opening minds - NCUR 2017Students gain an understanding of how to present research to a large question-asking audience and benefit from being immersed in a world of new ideas in which peers display and explain interesting facts and fieldwork.

“It opens their minds to so many things,” said Lloyd, program manager in George Mason University’s Office of Student Scholarship, Creative Activities and Research (OSCAR).

“To be able to expand the reach of your work is thrilling,” said Desmond Moffitt, a George Mason senior, who will be presenting this year at his first academic conference. “You step into a world outside Mason.”

Moffitt will join 44 other Mason students who will travel 16 hours by bus to the 31st annual conference, April 6-8, in Memphis, Tenn.

About 3,300 students covering multiple disciplines will present their research to their peers and graduate program recruiters. Students applied to the conference with abstracts of their research, which were evaluate by faculty reviewers.

OSCAR is paying for Mason’s attendees, who will stay four-to-a-room at a local hotel.

“This is one of the biggest undergraduate research events organized every year,” Lloyd said. “There is a variety of students from all walks of life.”

For NCUR student profiles and additional information, please go to the original post at The George.