June 11, 2018

2018 OSCAR Mentoring Excellence Award

Congratulations to the 2018 OSCAR Mentoring Excellence Award recipients!



Anna Pollack

Assistant Professor, Global and Community Health

Students with whom I work engage in transformative research scholarship. Through scholarly projects, students develop skills such as: posing a focused research question, developing as strong and concise writers, engaging with research participants and community stakeholders, strengthening data analysis skills, and communicating research findings. Students who work with me are actively involved in projects that are in line with my overall research focus, this enables them to see that research is an active field. My own mentors guide my approach, including having high expectations and scaffolding a process in which students can meet challenges and succeed.

Caroline Neely

Graduate Teaching Assistant, Cognitive and Behavioral Neuroscience

My nomination for the OSCAR Faculty Mentoring Excellence Award has made me confident that I have played a role in fostering scholarship at George Mason University during the five years of my young academic career. It also provides a gentle reminder that I have much to learn on my journey, and I am fortunate to have GMU provide a rich academic environment in which I can become a more effective mentor… When my mentees encounter problems, I address their concerns, but I do not resolve the issues for them. Rather, I challenge my mentees to identify the problem, communicate and formulate the desired solution, and then employ strategies that best resolve the issue. If that strategy did not produce the desired outcome, then I encourage my students to try again. And again. And again.


Charlotte Gill

Assistant Professor, Criminology, Law and Society

I consider it vital to introduce our undergraduates to the practice of research, the possibilities it can bring to the “real world,” and the realities of our justice system. I aim to empower them to ask difficult questions, get creative in finding and analyze data to identify and address problems, and think critically to understand the advantages and disadvantages of different types of research and evidence. To foster a culture of scholarship that empowers students in this way and also serves our broader community, I have designed class assignments that give students the opportunity to work collaboratively with the police to discover how the seemingly abstract concepts we cover in class can be used to inform actual practice and solve real problems.

Dann Sklarew

Associate Director, PEREC/Associate Professor, Environmental Science and Policy

sustainability science professor and practitioner, I strive to recruit, advise and empower our students to study and – through action research, service and social learning – positively impact the socio-ecological systems upon which our collective well-being depends. I seek to mentor students as a means to transform themselves, their communities and our society in order to “make the world a better place,” however they might envision doing so. I want them to feel safe and unashamed about taking many small steps towards big changes, about pivoting around insurmountable obstacles, and about getting up when they fall, then striding ahead. I also aim to facilitate their learning about the “real world,” help them to discover the wisdom of partners and of their own experiences, then to share these insights with one another and with learners who might follow in their footsteps. I hope that, as they become scholars and experts at improving our world, they will be inspired to hone their own skills at mentoring and transferring this expertise to future cohorts and generations of changemakers.


Howard Vincent Kurtz

Professor, Theater

Throughout my academic career, I was privileged to have significant and extraordinary mentoring by professors. They have educated, nurtured, and guided my path in the field of theater and brought me to the culmination of my twenty-five years at George Mason University. I have always viewed mentoring as a higher level of engagement for our undergraduate students, a process that helps students reach their goals beyond the boundaries of the classroom… I have involved many URSP students in various projects, both in the academic and professional arenas. By sharing these experiences with students, I show them how to apply their classroom experience to the outside world.

Huzefa Rangwala

Associate Professor, Computer Science

I aspire to engage, inspire and help students be involved in the multiple facets of scholarly pursuits. Involving students from Mason or local high schools within my research program allows them to go beyond the classroom, find their passion, and take ownership towards solving pertinent real-world problems. Over the years, I have mentored students from different backgrounds, different disciplines and of different ages. Not only has this been incredibly rewarding, but it has also helped me think about explaining complex research concepts to a broader audience, improving my ability to collaborate and lead diverse interdisciplinary teams.


Qi Wei

Assistant Professor, Bioengineering

I would like to express my sincere gratitude to OSCAR for providing me invaluable opportunities to advise these talented and motivated 18 undergraduate students to conduct research in the Biomechanics Laboratory in the past five years. I have truly enjoyed working with each one of them. I am also very proud to see them acquire skills, present at national conferences, and continue to grow in their professional positions after graduation. From my perspective, undergraduate research experience can be the most effective way to prepare a student for work and graduate school.