April 12, 2017

2014 OSCAR Student Excellence Award Winners

Congratulations to the 2014 OSCAR Student Excellence Award recipients!

Francis AguisandaFrancis Aguisanda

Biology Major, URSP Fall 2012 & Spring 2013, 2013-2014 OSCAR Fellow
OSCAR Blog Post

The mentorship of Dr. Cox and the support I have received from OSCAR and the rest of the Cox lab have been crucial in helping shape my future goals. When I walked into the Cox lab for the first time, I had no idea how transformative the research experience would truly be. I had no intentions of making research my long term career before I got to college, but my passion for pursuing the answers to complex scientific questions has participating in research after graduation one of my top goals. The experiences I have gained in the lab have also led me to accept a post-baccalaureate research fellowship at the National Institutes of Health, which I will be beginning after graduation.

Inderbir BalInderbir Bal

Finance and Accounting Double Major

I am graduating this spring, now ending a significant chapter in my life. I have spent some time reflecting on my how I have grown at George Mason. It seems so long ago that I first walked into the Johnson Center, for freshman orientation. I am a finance and accounting double major, a candidate for the CFA level 2 exam, and an experienced competitor in finance challenges. I believe my best work was done outside the classroom, mainly during the finance competitions I participated in. Without these outside research activities, I would not have developed the skills and knowledge I have today.

Sam GelmanSam Gelman

Computer Science Major, URSP Summer 2013 & Summer 2012, 2013-2014 OSCAR Fellow

I clearly recall three defining moments of my time doing research at Mason. The first is when I switched from thinking "I am going to quit because I can't do this" to "If they want me gone, they will have to drag me out fighting". But even though I found my determination, I did not see the results until my first summer doing research through OSCAR. That is also the time of my second defining moment: when I realized that I was learning a tremendous amount while making good friends and having fun in the process. My final defining moment was when I became comfortable giving presentation. But at the core, I am left with something more valuable than a published scientific paper: I am left with a better version of myself.

Hannah King

Dance Major, URSP Fall 2013
OSCAR Blog Posts

OSCAR News Story

Choreographing the piece Cyclical Isolation under the mentorship of the URSP grant was vital to my undergraduate experience because I was challenged to reexamine my definition of research, dissect my own choreographic process, and learn how to be an advocate for my art form. I was invited into a community of scholars and given the opportunity to present dance research as an endeavor that is as important as the other academic activities that are happening on campus. This regard for art is innovative and I feel is, based on discussions with dance students at other universities, unique to George Mason University. I was challenged not only to be immersed in my choreography project itself, but also to write about my craft in a way that made it comparable with research in other fields and to educate my peers about what dance has to offer.

Joel MotaJoel Mota

Biology Major, URSP Fall 2012, OSCAR Fellow 2013-2014

Research allowed me to grow as a person and become more comfortable in who I am becoming. It allowed me to create an image of myself within my undergraduate years, that will carry over to who I become beyond my time at Mason. Research, is something that never quite ends. Once one begins to do primary research, every moment of their life can be used towards their research. Research for me has been a door that I opened and do not want to close because the hallway behind it has dozens of other doors ready to be opened.

Katrina NguyenKatrina Nguyen

Bioengineering Major, URSP Fall 2013 & Spring 2014
OSCAR Blog Post

A lot can happen during one summer as an undergraduate student. This past summer, I helped write my first Undergraduate Research Scholars Program (URSP) proposal and began an external research project at Children’s National Medical Center in Washington, D.C. During this time, I went from mindlessly taking the necessary classes to graduate, to defining my future goals; I learned how to work hard and excel in both a classroom and work environment to create more opportunities for myself. Through this, I developed an interest in research, and plan to pursue graduate school to strengthen my education.

Hira PallaHira Palla

Community Health Major

My research experience at GMU has given me a sense of confidence in my ability to conduct intense research and has allowed me to grow as a public health professional. It has inspired me to continue my studies in a MPH program and has shaped my career goals. My future career goals involve being a public health practitioner and researcher with a focus on maternal and child health disparities, health provider-level barriers in obtaining optimal maternal and child care, and epidemiologic and community-based methods.


Zi YangZi-Yang

History and Global Affairs Double Major, URSP Spring 2014 & Summer/Fall 2013
OSCAR Blog Post

More than a year has since passed, but I can still vividly recall the day when my friend introduced me to the opportunities offered by Mason's Office of Student Scholarship, Creative Activities, & Research, better known as OSCAR. As a transfer student, I was initially unaware of the concept of undergraduate research and Mason's well-planned supporting mechanism for students who are willing to embark on such endeavor. For this reason I am very thankful that I discovered OSCAR. My college career took on a brilliant path since I undertook my first undergraduate research project with OSCAR's generous support. By taking initiatives and actively engaging in research, I was able to open my eyes and mind to many great happenings. Research sharpened my senses to new opportunities in forms of scholarships, publication and academic conferences. Moreover, by challenging myself, I realized and expanded my intellectual potential.

2014 Nominees:

Ariel Smith (Undeclared)
Brittany Owen
(Sociology Major)
Connor Monahan
(Criminology, Law and Society Major)
Hoang Nguyen
(Neuroscience major)
Jordan Nichols
(Criminology, Law and Society Major)
Justin Sellman
(Bioengineering Major)
Lela Ross
(Integrative Studies Major)
Namra Ansari
(Neuroscience Major)
Robert Ulrey
(Biology Major)
Sarah Soliman
(Applied Information Technology Major)
Shaurya Prakash
(Biology Major)
Tayyaba Feroze
Uzma Javed

Past Winners

2013 OSCAR Student Excellence Winners:

Sarah Albani
Neuroscience major

Gabriela Galeano
Anthropology major

Niah Grimes
Sociology major

Sameh Saleh
Applied Computer Science major

Stephanie Skees
Social Work major

Luis Sullivan
Neuroscience major

2013 Nominees:


Devin Porter (Chemistry major)
Joseph Renaud (Physics major)
Francis Aguisanda
(Biology major)
Chelsey Boulden
(Communications major)
Chloe Kingsley-Burt
(Marketing & Communications major)
Leah Bruch
(Community Health major)
Stephanie Tran
(Global Affairs major)
Laya Muralidharan
(Psychology major)
Lindsay Smith
Elizabeth Benkert
(Neuroscience major)