Tuesday, May 29, 2018

URSP Student Tovga Haji Evaluates the Association between Household Consumer Behaviors and Dietary Intake of U.S. Children aged 2-19

I am conducting a secondary data analysis using datasets from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) data from 2007 through 2010 to evaluate the association between household consumer behaviors and dietary intake of U.S. children age 2-19 years across food security groups. I became interested in this project for two reasons. First, I was curious to understand the process of research by answering a real-time nutrition question. Second, I was interested to learn how to use and manage large interdisciplinary sets of data. Lastly, I was really curious to understand the dietary behaviors of children and what effects these behaviors. 
This project was a continuation of the Summer 2017 FaBULIS (Studying Food and Behavior Using Large Interdisciplinary Sets of Data) Summer Team Project. This data is publicly available and as result used by many researchers to answer different questions. During this project, I am often conducting literature reviews to understand how this survey data was used and whether this association had been evaluated. This literature is also being used to write a paper on the results. In addition, I would do different statistical analysis of the datasets using STATA to understand the characteristics of the sample and the direct association between the food availability and the dietary intake. I spend a fair amount of time creating different ways to present the results data with different data tables and figures. 
I discovered many things during this research project. First, literature review is a time consuming but worthwhile process in order to understand the importance of your research and what has already been done to answer your questions. Another discovery I made was the helpfulness of the library’s data services to understand what can be done with data and how to explain your results to different audiences.

Monday, May 28, 2018

URSP Student Faith Ryan Examines the Effect of Musical Tempo on Performance in the Sustained Attention to Response Task

For my URSP research project, I am examining the effect of varying musical tempo on performance in the Sustained Attention to Response Task (SART), a computerized task aimed to measure sustained attention. Briefly, the goal of my project is to measure how auditory stimuli affects the apparent speed-accuracy trade-off (SATO) in responding to certain visual signals in the task. 
Before beginning my project, my knowledge on the SART and SATOs was limited. However, I knew I wanted to conduct an experiment involving the two after learning about the purpose of the SART from my mentors, as well as my growing curiosity for computer programming and cognitive ability tasks. Additionally, the premise of the program—to study deficits in attention by measuring participants’ error rates and reaction times to rapidly presented stimuli­—sparked my initial interest due to the relative usability and ease in administering the task to multiple participants in a short time. While reviewing research papers on the SART, I also discovered a gap in the literature about how auditory stimuli such as musical tempo effects SART performance. Since I have had a passion for music since I was young, I saw this as a great opportunity to combine my love for music and psychology for my research project. 
From my project, I am gaining experience and familiarity with the research process in psychology. For example, when submitting forms to the Institutional Review Board (IRB), I have learned to be more precise and thorough when describing my experiment and its procedures. Moreover, I believe this project is a step in my journey as a research student that will allow me to pursue more research opportunities regarding my interests in the future.

Friday, May 25, 2018

URSP Student Senya Donkor Researches How Short-term NGO Projects Create Long-term Impacts in Jamaica & Ghana

My research project is Humanitarian Work & Voluntourism: How can short-term NGO projects create a long-term impact?  My two countries of focus are Jamaica and Ghana, I chose these two countries because I have visited both countries. As the founder of Bright Nations, Africa have done charity work in Ghana, and I have also completed volunteer work in  Jamaica. In both countries I worked with children, and helped to organize events for the less fortunate. In the midst of these   events/opportunities, I realized that there was a disconnect between those that were being served and the impact. 

As a senior majoring in the school on integrative studies with a concentration in Creative Producing and a minor in nonprofit studies. I have made it my life's mission to use my creative works and ideas to address social issues and to advocate for those who do not have a voice. My passion is in developing countries, specifically Black Nations (countries with predominantly black people), example Africa and the Caribbeans. My creative works include music production, movies, and poetry. This goes hand in hand with my final creative project for the OSCARs presentation which is a music video, with a song that I wrote and sang. The purpose of the music video is to showcase the beauty of Jamaica and the beauty of families and communities with the Jamaican people.

On a weekly basis, I communicate with my faculty advisor, I send emails, I communicate with my cinematographer. I also make phone calls to former students who volunteer with alternative spring breaks, and non-profit leaders in Ghana, and Jamaica. I also read books and articles. One thing I discovered this term is the communication is very important, I discovered that you can not do two things at once. The time spent in the hospital, then the psych ward were all because I had been overworking myself, and not getting enough rest. It was also because I was not communicate my thoughts feelings and ideas, they were all bottled up inside of me. Research takes teamwork, having a strong support system and learning to balance.

Thursday, May 24, 2018

URSP Student Anaam Avant Looks at How the Unite the Right Rally that Took Place in Charlottesville Effected Black Students at GMU

My name is Inaam Avant, I am a graduating senior from the School of Conflict Analysis and Resolution (S-CAR). My project looks at how the Unite the Right Rally that took place in Charlottesville last year effected Black students here at George Mason. Additionally, it will try to understand how these students rate GMU’s administrative response to the events that took place. The idea for the study came to me after trying to reconcile my own feelings about the event, and trying to process what it meant to me. This question was one I wanted feedback on so I decided to ask the people around me and see what would come of it. With the help of my mentor, Dr. Thomas Flores, an established academic in the S-CAR field, I am excited to be on this journey.  Due to its origins and my concentration in Building Peace in Divided societies, this project is close to my heart and aligns with my interests. After graduation I plan on continuing to ask questions with the intention of serving populations whose challenges are commonly ignored.

My daily schedule varies depending on what stage of the study I am in. Currently I am collecting data in the form of semi-structured interviews, which means that although I have prepared questions I will ask, there is room for the participant to talk about what is especially important to them. I am trying to complete as many as 30 interviews in the month of April so I will be spending a lot of time sitting and learning from my participants. Once concluded, I will analyze my data using a coding scheme that seeks to identify common themes in my results. From here I will hopefully be ready to share what I learned with my peers and maybe influence future policy the school develops towards increasing inclusion and student well being.

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

URSP Student Jordan Keller-Martinez Writes a Series of Poems That will be Made into a Handmade Artists Book

My project involves writing a series of poems that will then be made into a handmade artists book. I am choosing to engage with my experiences while deployed in Iraq and Afghanistan, which I have been reluctant to write about in the past. I am hopeful that this project is the start of a larger body of writing that I can continue as I join Washington University’s MFA program next Fall.

Much of this project’s writing process has been informed through reading. I have most thoroughly studied Susan Howe and Mina Loy, who both radically employ different elements of language to help establish content. They have been integral in focusing my attention on form and structure. I have been mostly considering how association can be worked in different ways, which I am involving mostly through repetition and signification. I am also inspired by C. G. Jung’s Studies in Word Association and other studies in linguistics.  I am especially interested in Saussure’s notion that language is a system of arbitrary signs attached to a sound-image and concept.

In my writing thus far, I have put significant work into developing the form, such as voice, structure, and motifs. I am working a lot to push the image, which comes heavily inspired by Surrealist poetry. The surrealist process of abstraction often illuminates the signifier, sound-image, and concept by distancing each component from the others. This notion of abstraction is evident in Dada conceptual music, Magritte’s word-image concept, and Marcel Duchamp’s experiments with absurd language, such as his 1915 poem “The” which detaches concept from the text signifier. I believe these formal abstraction techniques have been suitable in representing the experiences of being deployed.

I have gone through several mock drafts in the development of the artists book, which I think I have come to a concluding form. The book plays to the form of the poetry, as there will be multiple reading itineraries. I am excited to start finalized the text of the book so I can begin construction.