Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Physical Anthropology Undergraduate Opportunities

The American Association of Physical Anthropologists will be holding our annual meeting in Portland, Oregon, from April 11-14th, 2012.  This, to me, is one of the most exciting times of the year, but I am biased. 

The AAPA is making me proud with two opportunities for undergraduate students this year.

AAPA Undergraduate Research Symposium
On the first day of the conference, Wednesday, April 11th, at 6:00, the 2nd Annual Undergraduate Research Symposium will be held.  Abstracts are now being solicited, and are due to Dr. Cara Wall-Scheffler at no later than February 1, 2012. Any abstract with an undergraduate as the first author is welcome. 

William S. Pollitzer Student Travel Award
The AAPA is offering a travel award of $500 to any undergraduate or graduate student AAPA member to attend the meeting (presentation is NOT required). Students are required to write an essay that answers the question: What important article is missing from the current literature in biological anthropology? Give the title and what you think its impact/benefit would be. 

Essay details:
  • No more than 750 words, not including references (this is a strict guideline).
  • Due by January 20th, 2012 to Dr. Agustin Fuentes at by January 20th, 2012.
  • Must be sent as a Word file.
Essays will be evaluated by the AAPA student prize committee with an identification number to mast authors' identities. The average scores from all judges will be used as the basis for deciding the winners of the award, with the AAPA Executive Board giving final approval of the committee’s recommendation. The scoring criteria are:
1. Clarity and focus. 45 points possible
2. Originality of thought and insight. 45 points possible
3. Grammar and spelling. 10 points possible

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

OSCAR construction

Construction on OSCAR (the Office of Student Scholarship, Creative Activities, and Research ) has begun!  We (along with the renovations in the Office of Military Services and the Center for Teaching Excellence) are the cause of the racket and dust on the second floor of the Johnson Center, close to the Admissions Office.  The space was a small meeting room and several storage closets before. Hopefully, the majority of the construction will be done by the end of the break, and OSCAR will be open for students and faculty at the start of next semester.  
OSCAR will consist of an outer meeting area with space for an administrative coordinator and a graduate assistant, and a computer kiosk for undergraduate students.  Inside, there will be an office for the Assistant Director of OSCAR and me (as Director of the Students as Scholars initiative and OSCAR). 
All the pictures below are from the new entrance, on the atrium (inner) part of the Johnson Center. 

After initial demolition, with walls gone, but the beginning of an outline of the front desk (Dec 14).  
Starting to frame the back wall, behind the front desk (Dec 15) .

Wallboard up to outline the area of OSCAR (Dec 16).
Wallboard up to outline offices and front desk (Dec 20).

Active Minds Emerging Scholars 2012 Fellowship

The Active Minds Emerging Scholars Fellowship supports undergraduate and graduate projects that expand the body of literature, creative expression, and discourse devoted to mental health, with a particular emphasis on issues relevant to young adult communities. The Fellowship program encourages creativity in the development of a project that reflects interest in behavioral health issues; a wide range of project types are likely to receive funding. Emerging Scholars will be awarded a $750 stipend to support their work and may apply for an additional $250 in reimbursement for material expenses.

Deadline: January 3, 2012

Amgen Scholars Program Summer 2012

The 2012 Amgen Scholars Program provides faculty-mentored summer research opportunities for undergraduates focused on science and biotechnology at ten universities across the US. Students apply directly the to research programs that interest them (links are available through the Amgen Scholars website), and Amgen Scholars from all sites gather at a national symposium held at UCLA mid-summer.

Students in the past have studied functions of telomerase (UCal San Francisco), bio-engineering of malaria test assays (University of Washington), and chemical measurement of oxygen levels of tumors (UCal Berkley), according to Amgen's 2010 Annual Report.

The program is highly selective, but is open to undergraduate students (US citizens or permanent residents) with a GPA of 3.2 and an interest in pursuing a PhD or MD-PhD.  The summer experience is anchored by a national symposium held at UCLA, and all Scholars attend.  Students are provided with travel support and stipden, but the exact amount varies, depending on the university program selected.

Several Mason students have participated in this program in the past, and it was an amazing experience for them.  I encourage you to apply!

Deadline for Summer 2012 Amgen Scholars Program: February, 2012 (exactly date varies by program).

Welcome Rebecca Jones, Assistant Director of OSCAR

The Office of Student Scholarship, Creative Activities, and Research is pleased to announce that Dr. Rebecca Jones will be joining us in January as the new Assistant Director of OSCAR!  Dr. Jones comes to Mason from Austin Peay University, where she established the Office of Undergraduate Research, and was a tenured associate professor of chemistry.

Dr. Jones will be an integral part of the team supporting the Students as Scholars initiative.  Some of her responsibilities will include:
  • Chairing the Student Scholarly Activities Subcommittee of the Students as Scholars QEP Leadership Council
  • Coordinating the Undergraduate Research Scholars Program
  • Working with the OSCAR Fellows to continue our outreach and education efforts 
  • Establishing a social media presence for OSCAR
Please join me in welcoming Dr. Jones!

Track C Collaborative Project SDG Call for Proposals

The Call for Proposals for Scholarship Development Grants in Track C, for Collaborative Projects, is now available!

The goal of the curriculum revision supported by the Students as Scholars Scholarship Development Grants (SDG) is to provide courses and other experiences in which undergraduate students learn about scholarship and its role at Mason, actively engage in scholarship, and participate in the generation of knowledge.

Track C grants support interdisciplinary and co-curricular projects that have a substantial undergraduate student scholarship component.  Collaborative projects should engage students in either Scholarly Inquiry or Creation of Scholarship (for Research and Scholarship intensive courses). For additional information, please see the Call for Proposals. Track C SDGs can be supported by any program on campus, and are not limited to academic departments.

The digital submission form is now available.  The deadline for Track C SDG Proposals is February 3, 2012.  As always, please feel free to contact us at with any questions.

Track B Curriculum Development Scholarship Development Grants

We have just released the Call for Primary Proposal for the Track B Scholarship Development Grants!  We encourage any department that has been thinking about incorporating student scholarship, inquiry-based learning, undergraduate research, or original creative activities into their undergraduate classes to apply.

Summary of Track B
The goal of the curriculum revision supported by the Students as Scholars Scholarship Development Grants (SDG) is to provide courses and other experiences in which undergraduate students learn about scholarship and its role at Mason, actively engage in scholarship, and participate in the generation of knowledge. Track B grants are aimed at academic departments and support the creation of a scaffolded learning experience for students as they progress through an academic program and develop an understanding of the scholarly work in the discipline or field.  For Track B SDGs, curriculum development and revision should engage students in at least two of the three curriculum levels: Discovery of Scholarship, Scholarly Inquiry, and Creation of Scholarship (for Research and Scholarship intensive courses).

Track B Process
In conversations on campus, OSCAR and CTE have realized that departments need support (time and money) to learn more about details of the Students as Scholars student learning outcomes and models for incorporating these into classes before they can create specific plans for course revision. In response, we have broken the Track B Scholarship Development Grant proposal process into two steps. 

In the Track B Primary Proposals, departments will apply to participate in Curriculum Development Workshops to analyze their undergraduate program so that they can align their courses with the Students as Scholars student learning outcomes and prepare a plan for the secondary proposal focused on specific courses. Workshop participants will receive a $500 stipend for their participation in the workshop and subsequent work with their department on the secondary proposal (and lunch!).

In Track B Secondary Proposals, departments will explain their goals for their undergraduate programs and apply for funds to support the creation or revision of courses at any of the three levels: Discovery, Inquiry, or Creation of Scholarship ("the pyramid").

Timeline for Track B SDGs
January 17, 2012 (11-12a, Robeson Room, Johnson Center): Track B Question & Answer Session
February 3, 2012: Deadline for submission of Track B Primary Proposals (proposal cover sheet is available now)
February 10th, 2012 (11:30a-5:30p) and February 17th, 2012 (9a-3p): Curriculum Development Workshops (department teams need to attend only one day)
April 13th, 2012: Deadline for submission of Track B Secondary Proposals

More detailed information is available on the Call for Proposals.  The proposal is electronic, but a pdf version for planning purposes is now online.

As always, please feel free to contact us at for additional information or answers to your questions.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

HS-STEM Summer Research Internship

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) sponsors a 10-week summer internship program for rising juniors and seniors majoring in homeland security related science, technology, engineering and mathematics (HS-STEM) disciplines. The DHS HS-STEM Summer Internship Program provides students with the opportunity to conduct research in DHS mission-relevant research areas at federal research facilities located across the country.

The areas of research and location of the sites are mostly outside of the Washington Metro area.  Participating students are paid $5000 and transportation to the site is included.  Students are expected to present the results of their research project in a poster or oral presentation at the hosting site. US Citizenship is required. 

Please note that the application is fairly intensive, so you will want to start early. This is a nice opportunity for students to get science research experience!

Application Deadline: January 5 (application form) and January 12 (postmark deadline for supporting materials)

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

First Undergraduate Travel Grant Recipients

Congrats to the first three students to travel to a conference with support from the Undergraduate Student Travel Fund!  Myurajan Rubaharan, Luis Sullivan, and Waleed Osman presented their research from Dan Cox's lab at the Sigma Xi conference in early November. 

Human Rights Research Forum, VaTech

Undergraduate and graduate students are invited to present at Virginia Tech's Deans Research Forum on Human Rights: Witnessing and Responsibility. The website states:

The 21st century demands an interdisciplinary recognition of and a critical wrestling with ideas of human rights in our world, our communities, and our scholarship. As scholars, through our observations, investigations, and research, we are witnesses to a wide range of phenomena that validate and that also deny the human rights of people. Through our findings, interpretations, and conclusions, we, as scholars have a responsibility to the communities that our research serves. All scholarship produces knowledge that is both affected by people and that also deeply affects these communities. Research is both a witnessing and a responsibility. People and communities at home and abroad are inventing their futures in dignity and self-determination. We can learn from them and they can learn from our research. Bringing the best undergraduate and graduate research and creative work in the region together for a one-day conference, Human Rights: Witnessing and Responsibility, will serve as a space where we can investigate these connections across multiple disciplines.

Possible topics include, but are not limited to, the following areas of inquiry:
  • Narrative and human rights
  • The social psychology of dignity
  • Disaster and displacement
  • Community empowerment
  • Civic engagement and energy policies
  • Date rape and silence regimes
  • New media and political mobilization
  • Ethics and cognition
  • Diversity in higher education
  • Globalization and human rights
  • Incarceration and family rights
  • Neoliberal discourses of rights
Conference Date: January 27th, 2012
Proposal Submission Deadline: December 5th, 2011

Friday, November 11, 2011

SDG Track A Recipients Announced!

Congratulations to the first recipients of the Track A Scholarship Development Grants!  These departments have supportive faculty who are working to revise or create a course that will include authentic undergraduate scholarship, and will be submitted for designation as a Research and Scholarship intensive course.

  • History and Art History: ARTH394 The Museum (Carol Mattusch and Angela Ho)
  • History and Art History: HIST300 Introduction to History Methods (Paula Petrik, Rosemarie Zagarri, Michael Bottoms, Zach Schrag, Marion Deshmukh, Brian Platt, Benedict Carton, and Laura Moore)
  • Biology: BIOL499 Research in Biology (Larry Rockwood)
  • Computer Game Design: GAME322 Story Design for Computer Games (Seth Hudson) UPDATED! (I apologize for accidentally leaving Seth off the original list) 
  • Conflict Analysis and Resolution: CONF490 Integration (Agnieszka Paczynska, Susan Hirsch, Karyna Korostelina, Leslie Dwyer, and Patricia Maulden
  • Criminology, Law, and Society: CRIM495 Capstone in Criminology, Law, and Society (Danielle Rudes and Shannon Portillo)
  • Environmental Science and Policy: EVPP378/BIOL379 Ecological Sustainability (Changwoo Ahn)
  • Rehabilitation Science: RHBS490 Clinical Research Internship (Ali Weinstein and Lynn Gerber)
  • Social Work: SOCW417 Integrative Methods in Social Action and Social Change (Emily Ihara, Dennis Ritchie, and Cathy Tompkins) 

We look forward to working with our colleagues on integrating undergraduate scholarship into their courses!

SDG Information Sessions in November

OSCAR is piloting Students as Scholars Scholarship Development Grants (SDGs) this year. The goal of the SDGs is for programs to create courses and other experiences for undergraduates to learn about scholarship and its role at Mason, actively engage in scholarship, and participate in the generation of knowledge.

We invite you and your colleagues to attend one of our upcoming SDG information sessions to learn more about this opportunity to enhance the curriculum and promote student scholarship at Mason. These information sessions will emphasize Track B SDGs, which support the creation of scaffolded learning experiences for students as they progress through an academic program, along with Track C SDGs, which support interdisciplinary and co-curricular projects that have a substantial undergraduate student scholarship component. Proposals for Track B and C SDGs will be due February 3rd.
Workshops will be held:
  • Monday, November 28th from 1:00-2:00 p.m. in JC meeting room G
  • Tuesday, November 29th from 3:30-4:30 p.m. in JC meeting room G
We look forward to seeing you there!

S-CAR's Annual Undergraduate Conference

The School for Conflict Analysis and Resolution (S-CAR) is planning their Third Annual Undergraduate Conference for April 19th, 2012. The theme for this year's conference is "Communications Technologies and Conflict Dynamics: Continuity or Change?” 

The last couple of years have witnessed multiple events which suggest that new communications technologies, including mobile phones, the Internet, and social media platforms, are playing a new role in the relationships between people, communities and societies. When discussing the Arab Spring; the spring 2011 riots that swept first through London and later through other cities in England; the San Francisco Bay area BART system shutting down mobile phone coverage as demonstrators were travelling to protest sites; the tragic events on the Rutgers University campus when a young man committed suicide following the internet broadcast of his homosexual encounter; or the Chinese government’s use of social media platforms as a new form of surveillance; and many other current events it is hard to escape the presence of new communications technologies. But what is their impact on conflict dynamics? Are the new communications technologies fundamentally reshaping how people, communities, and societies mobilize and engage others? Or has the role of these new technologies in shaping social mobilization and conflict been overstated and overplayed by the media?

S-CAR's conference is always a great event, and I encourage undergraduates to submit a research paper, multimedia project, performance, or an exhibit for presentation! Any project related to the theme is encouraged, including social media and social mobilization; protests and riots; transnational activism; community relations; cyber-bullying; and electronic platforms and government surveillance.

Website: (scroll down for details)
Deadline for abstract submission: December 5th, 2011
For additional information: Contact Brydin Banning at

GIS Day at Mason

The Department of Geography and Geoinformation Science will host “GIS and the Census: Opportunities for Research and Employment” to mark GIS Day on Wednesday, November 16th, in the Center for the Arts, from 10a to 3:30p

Highlights include a career and internship exhibit, undergraduate and graduate student research poster contest and oral presentations, guest speakers and a free buffet lunch.

Last year, I attended this event and was impressed by the quality of the undergraduate student posters.  Please come by!


Office Coordinator Job Announcement

We are looking for an Office Coordinator for OSCAR! A short description is below, but the longer announcement and directions for applying are at Please forward this to anyone who might be interested. Review of applications will begin November 28th.

OSCAR, a new office that will serve both faculty and students by supporting undergraduate research and creative activities across Mason, seeks an Office Coordinator to assist the Director of Students as Scholars and other members of the OSCAR staff in coordinating the Students as Scholars initiative.  Through OSCAR, we are supporting curricular redesign to include student scholarship, an expanded Undergraduate Research Scholars Program, an annual Celebration of Student Scholarship, and many other activities.

The position requires daily interaction with faculty, staff, administration and students. The ideal candidate will demonstrate strong written, oral and interpersonal communication skills; and take initiative in analyzing and accomplishing tasks. The successful candidate will be flexible, well-organized, professional, curious, a problem-solver, detail-oriented, and able to prioritize and juggle multiple tasks.

Duties will include coordination and support for OSCAR activities by:

  • Receiving visitors and answering inquiries by phone, e-mail or in-person; 
  • Managing calendars for the Director and Assistant Director, scheduling individual and committee meetings, and other events; 
  • Coordinating events including the annual Celebration of Student Scholarship; 
  • Maintaining Students as Scholars fiscal records and performing monthly budget reconciliation; 
  • Preparing travel arrangements; 
  • General office management such as maintaining supply stocks, procurement and inventory; 
  • Drafting, designing and proofreading correspondence and publications; 
  • Managing workflow of multiple application and proposal review cycles; 
  • Maintaining OSCAR files, records and databases; 
  • Coordinating publicity about OSCAR activities including assisting in updating the OSCAR Web site and other social media; and 
  • Other general tasks as assigned. 

The candidate should demonstrate proficiency in Microsoft Office products (i.e., Word, Excel and PowerPoint), database management, and should have experience with editorial design programs such as MS Publisher or Adobe Illustrator or InDesign. Knowledge of SunGard Internet Native Banner is desirable. Previous work experience in higher education and a bachelor’s degree are highly preferred.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Spring 2011 URSP Applications available now!

OSCAR is now accepting applications for the spring 2012 URSP.

One of the goals of the Students as Scholars initiative is to increase the opportunities for student to participate in undergraduate research, creative activities, and scholarship. The Undergraduate Research Scholars Program (formerly known as the Undergraduate Apprenticeship Program) provides the opportunity for undergraduate students and their faculty mentors to engage in original research or creative projects with one another, and we are expanding this program to support additional projects.

Accepted students are given a stipend that enables them to undertake nine hours of research-related activities each week during the semester, in addition to receiving travel priority for applications submitted to the Undergraduate Student Travel Fund.  A fund of $500 will also be available to mentors to support the student’s research project.

For more information about the URSP, please read the URSP FAQs.

Students and their mentors are BOTH required to submit an application to the program, which can be found below.  All application materials must be received by Wednesday, November 30th, to be considered for the spring 2012 URSP.

Student application
Mentor application

*You may open these links as many times as you like, but your application will only be saved once you click on Submit at the bottom of the page.  The application cannot be edited once it is submitted, but you can submit a new application and replace the older one if needed.

For more information about the URSP, OSCAR, or the Students as Scholars initiative, please visit or email your questions to

Undergraduate Research Scholars Program FAQs

Undergraduate Research Scholars Program
This program is designed to give undergraduates an authentic research, creative, or scholarly experience.  Student receive financial support for their project, academic credit, and training in relevant academic skills.

Applications for the Spring 2012 URSPs are now available, and will be due November 30th, 2011.

What kinds of projects are supported?
Any undergraduate research, creative, or scholarly project in which the student is contributing to an original scholarly work is supported.

Is the URSP competitive?
Yes. Applications are reviewed by the Student Scholarly Activities Subcommittee of the Students as Scholars QEP Leadership Council.  This subcommittee is made up of faculty and students from across Mason, and applications that show the most potential for student success will be chosen.

How do I apply?
Application are available towards the end of each semester for the following semester. Spring 2012 applications are due November 30th. Students should meet with their potential faculty or staff mentor before writing the application to outline a reasonable project and to assure their support of your application and your project.

Do I have to be an honor’s student to participate?  Is there a minimum GPA?
Any undergraduate student who is in good academic standing may apply to work on a project as a part of the URSP.  We do require that you remain in good academic standing (which means maintaining at least 2.0 GPA) while working on the project.  That being said, higher grades, especially in the areas you want to study for your project, will make you a stronger candidate for the URSP. The Student Scholarly Activities subcommittee will look at your transcript from PatriotWeb when considering your application to make sure that you have the academic background to complete the project. 

What is expected of me?
There are several expectations for URSP students.

For the first semester that you are in the URSP, you will be required to attend a weekly seminar that provides professional development for you as a scholar.  The goals of this class are to teach students basic scholarly skills, increase your ability to communicate professionally about your work to diverse audiences, and to encourage you to make satisfactory progress on your project. 

You will need to work on your project for the equivalent of nine hours per week during the initial semester, and should document your hours with your faculty supervisor and URSP seminar instructor.

Students who participate in the URSP are expected to share the results of their research in a professional environment.  This can be a public performance at Mason, at a Mason college celebration of student scholarship, at a national or regional conference, or other settings.

What support will I get?
URSP students are allocated $1000 for the first semester in the URSP that is paid directly to your student account to support your participation in the project. You and your faculty advisor need to work together to create a budget in your URSP application.  The faculty mentor is also allocated $500 to support either their supplies or time working with you on the project.

As a participant in the URSP, you will have priority to receive travel support through the Undergraduate Student Travel Fund to present the results of your scholarship at a scholarly meeting, conference, exhibition, etc.

In addition to the monetary support, you get professional development support through the URSP seminar that you will attend the first semester you are in the URSP.  You are signed up to receive advanced notification of OSCAR events, undergraduate opportunities, and other news as part of the Students as Scholars initiative.  Students who participate in URSP are also potential nominees to be an OSCAR Fellow, outstanding undergraduate research leaders who represent Mason’s Students as Scholars program to other students, parents, and the community.

Finally, participation in this program is an honor and an opportunity.  You are being recognized as a budding scholar in your field, so you are able include the program on your resume or vita. But more importantly, you are gaining professional and personal skills in creative problem-solving, working professionally with colleagues, and communicating effectively that will enrich your Mason experience and your post-graduation life!

What is expected of my faculty mentor?
Your mentor will help guide your through your project proposal and should work with you on a regular basis to help guide you through your project.  The faculty mentor should treat you as a colleague and give you opportunities to understand the scholarly context of your project. Given the different models of mentorship in each discipline, this relationship will be variable. In some cases, you may be given a graduate student or other mentor to work more closely with you on a daily basis.

Can I continue beyond the first semester?
Yes!  Students who successfully complete the first semester are welcome to apply for continuation of their project through the URSP (a simple renewal application, signed by you and your mentor, will be available). Students who are making satisfactory progress on a research project are welcome to continue in the program until their project is complete and/or graduation.

How can I get additional information?
Contact OSCAR at

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Wiring the Nervous System

Wiring the Nervous System: Mechanisms of synaptic targeting and formation is the theme of the 2012 Central Virginia Chapter of the Society for Neuroscience. Students are invited to present posters, with an award given to the best poster presentations (separate categories for undergraduates, graduate students, and post-docs).  The meetings will be held on March 16th, 2012 at VCU in Richmond, VA.

Deadline for abstract submission: February 1st, 2012
For more information, email
Website: (doesn't appear to be updated yet with details, but keep checking).

Please note that travel to present the results of your scholarly project are eligible for support through the Undergraduate Research Travel Fund.

Perspectives on Undergraduate Research and Mentoring (PURM) journal

Perspectives on Undergraduate Research and Mentoring (PURM) is a new journal that focuses on scholarship about undergraduate research and the mentoring of such research. "Unlike existing forums that typically discuss undergraduate research and mentoring from a discipline-specific lens, PURM provides opportunities to be involved in a new, truly multidisciplinary journal with a unique mentoring focus in everything it does that will highlight the amazing work (and challenges) of this community in new ways." (

The first issue's theme is "Supporting Quality Undergraduate Research: Challenges and Rewards," and is available here.  I'm a fan of Jenkins and Healey's approach to student scholarship, and I look forward to reading this article, among the others.  

This strikes me as a perfect place for faculty who are interested in studying the impact of student scholarship through a Track D Scholarship Development Grant to present their results (in addition to the CUR Quarterly). 

AAAS Annual Meeting Student Poster Competition

The AAAS (American Association for the Advancement of Science) Annual Meeting invites students to present posters and compete for the Student Poster Competition.  The Annual Meeting will be held February 16-20, 2012 in Vancouver, Canada.  Students whose research fits in the following categories are eligible: brain and behavior; cellular and molecular biology; developmental biology, physiology, and immunology; environment and ecology; math, technology, and engineering; medicine and public health; physical sciences; science in society; and social science (anthropology, economics, education, language and culture, political science, and sociology).

Please note that travel to present the results of your scholarly project are eligible for support through the Undergraduate Research Travel Fund.

Students attending the meeting may also volunteer and attend for free!

Deadline for poster abstract submission: October 24th, 2011.
Poster website:

Presentation at CUR REU meeting

On Monday (October 17), Padhu Seshaiyer (Math, and Students as Scholars contributor) and I presented a talk at a meeting in Arlington. The meeting was sponsored by the Council on Undergraduate Research and the National Science Foundation, and meant to showcase the Research Experiences for Undergraduates program. We were invited to talk about the Students as Scholars program, specifically with emphasis on supporting and involving faculty in the program.  We know, of course, that without faculty involvement and dedication, there are no opportunities to support undergraduate scholarship, and our goal has to been to create a faculty-supportive culture that recognizes the value and time of our faculty.  The presentation is available in pdf and was called "Transforming a Campus Culture by Creating a Faculty-Supportive Environment for Undergraduate Research and Creative Activities."

Friday, October 14, 2011

Undergraduate Student Travel Fund now available!

OSCAR is supporting a new Students as Scholars Undergraduate Student Travel Fund to help undergraduates who are traveling to present the results of their scholarship at a regional or national event (conference, performance, etc).

The application has three parts:
  1. The student must fill out an Undergraduate Student Travel Fund application online. UPDATED: LINK NOW AVAILABLE.
  2. The student must fill out a Mason Travel Authorization form ( and submit it to OSCAR. You may do this either as a pdf to, or drop a paper copy off at the Center for Teaching Excellence (second floor of the Johnson Center, Room 241). Please include USTF in the subject of your email.  Please note that you have to click on the "First Time User" link and follow the directions if you haven't used this system before.  If you have questions, please contact us or your faculty mentor to help you fill out this form.
  3. Proof of registration or acceptance into event (may be presented after the application is submitted but must be to OSCAR before any travel funding is paid). Again, you may either submit this electronically or in person at the Center for Teaching Excellence.
  • Deadlines for application: October 28, 2011; February 24, 2012; and April 27, 2012. Students must apply at least one month before the travel is schedule.  No support can be given to travel that has already occurred. 
  • Students must be traveling to present the results of undergraduate scholarship (travel to attend conferences or other events, or to conduct research, is not covered), and are required to submit proof of the presentation.
  • Students who are presenting the results of scholarship created as a part of the Undergraduate Research Scholars Program, or in an RS (Research and Scholarship intensive) designated class, have preference in funding, but any student involved in undergraduate research or creative activities may apply.
  • Student travel funds can be used to support the following expenses, within reasonable (and state-allowable) limits:
    • Conference registration fees
    • Airfare or train fare
    • Car or van rental
    • Taxi fares
    • Hotel expenses
    • Perdiem (although this is a low priority) 
  • Most travel expenses will be reimbursed to the student, so students must be able to pay for the majority of the travel expenses. Airfare, train fare, and some registration fees are the exception to this, and may be paid in advance if the application is accepted.
  • Departments, programs, and colleges may also contribute to the student travel expenses.
  • Student travel funding may be limited to no more than $400 per student.  Please make every effort to reduce expenses (shared hotels rooms and transportation, for example) so that a larger number of students can be funded.
Upon return, the student should do the following:
  • Re-enter to finalize the Travel Reimbursement form, and return it to OSCAR in paper form. Make sure to edit your expenses to match the exact amounts on the receipts.
  • Include with the travel reimbursement form all receipts for hotel, taxi, registration, baggage fees, etc (and make sure that the receipts match the amounts on the travel reimbursement form.
  • Send a picture of yourself at your event, preferably at the poster or presentation, or at a sign for the event (this doesn't need to be high quality - a cell phone picture would be fine) to
Travel funding is very tricky.  If you have any questions about what is allowable, or have other questions, please (PLEASE!) contact us at  It's much easier to solve problems before they occur. 

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Sigma Xi Annual Meeting

Sigma Xi invites undergraduate and graduate students to present their research conclusion (or preliminary findings from ongoing research), participate in mentoring and networking activities, panel discussions, and other events. Commemorative medals will be presented for outstanding research presentations. Sigma Xi members and non-members are invited to participate in the conference.

Students present research to be evaluated by professional researchers in: Behavioral Sciences, Biochemistry, Cellular & Molecular Biology, Chemistry, Ecology & Evolutionary Biology, Engineering, Environmental Sciences, Geo-Sciences, Math & Computer Science, Physics & Astronomy, Physiology & Immunology and Interdisciplinary Research.

Location: Raleigh Convention Center
Abstract Submission Deadline: October 15th (to be printed in the conference program book), October 29th (to be printed in the conference program addendum).
Registration Deadline: October 26th for presenting students

**NOTE: Several Mason students have already indicated that they are interested in attending.  Students attending this conference will be eligible to compete for Undergraduate Student Travel Awards. Please contact Dr. Usher at to get additional details and to help coordinate travel.

Friday, September 30, 2011

Students as Scholars 2011-2012 Calendar

As we are getting into the fall semester, we wanted to provide a summary of important dates and deadlines for Students as Scholars activities for the 2011-2012 academic year. As we are in our pilot phase, please note that these dates, especially in the spring semester, are tentative pending our experience this semester. Instead of adding new entries, I'll update this blog post as needed with additional information until our website is ready to have a calendar.

September 2011
14, 20, 26 – Scholarship Development Grants Information Meetings

October 2011
21 – Track A Scholarship Development Grant proposals due
28 – Undergraduate Student Travel Grant applications due (for travel in December or later)

November 2011
28-29 – Scholarship Development Grant Information Sessions (Time and location TBA)
30 – Undergraduate Research Scholars Program applications due (for Spring URSPs) UPDATED

January 2012
16-17 – Scholarship Development Grant Q&As (Time and location TBA)

February 2012
3 – Track B and C Scholarship Development Grant proposals due
24 – Undergraduate Student Travel Grant application due (for travel in April or later)

March 2012
23 – Students as Scholars Course Applications for course designation due from Departments

April 2012
16 – Undergraduate Research Scholars Program applications due (for Summer URSPs)
27 – Undergraduate Student Travel Grant applications due (for travel in June or later)

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Track A Scholarship Development Grant Proposal Page

The proposal form for submitting your Scholarship Development Grants under Track A, Research and Scholarship Intensive Course Redesign, is now available!  Proposals for Track A SDG are due by October 21, 2011.

Track A SDGs for Research and Scholarship Intensive Course support the redesign of courses in which students participate in the creation of original scholarly or creative projects. These courses will address the Research & Scholarship student learning outcomes and, as such, are eligible to be designated Research and Scholarship intensive (RS).

Track A SDG Call for Proposals and Instruction page is available here as pdf.
Track A SDG On-line application is available here (and a pdf version for planning purposes is here).

Please note that while the on-line form will initiate your proposal, you will still need to send in the supporting documentation (original syllabus, proposal statement, and budget) as pdf files to

Please let us know if you have any questions, and we look forward to receiving the proposals!

Friday, September 23, 2011

"Righting Wrongs" Call for Papers

The Institute for Human Rights and Humanitarian Studies at Webster University is currently soliciting undergraduate research papers and book reviews for possible publication in the 2011/2012 issue of Righting Wrongs: A Journal of Human Rights to be published August 2012Entering its second year, Righting Wrongs is a peer-reviewed academic journal that provides space for students to explore human rights issues, challenge current actions and frameworks, and engage in problem-solving aimed at tackling some of the world’s most pressing issues.

NOTE: This is a great opportunity for our undergraduate students!

Submission Deadline: January 9, 2012

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Students as Scholars Opportunity Database Sneak Preview

Although we will officially roll this out at the Innovations in Teaching and Learning conference on October 3rd, I wanted to go ahead and give faculty and staff and students an opportunity to see what we are doing...

As we were developing the Students as Scholars plan, many students and faculty asked for a central place to post and look for research and creative opportunities at Mason.  Since we have so many students, and so many faculty, the perfect "project" pairing may not happen by chance.  In response, we have developed the Students as Scholars Opportunity Database in collaboration with Career Services.

The Students as Scholars Opportunity Database uses the existing HireMason software to allow faculty and staff to post research and creative projects for undergraduate students. Career Services has worked with us to create specific category of "Student as Scholars Projects" within the database that allows faculty to list these positions.  You have the option of listing the position with compensation including academic credit and/or wages, and limiting the potential students applicants by GPA or major. You can also ask students to submit a resume to you, using the very convenient resume-builder within HireMason. 

Faculty can download detailed instructions about posting Students as Scholars Projects, and enter the Students as Scholars Opportunity Database here

Students can find available opportunities by registering for a student account and then searching specifically for Students as Scholars Projects (detailed instructions).  This is a great way to find research or scholarly projects, and to get familiar with the HireMason program so that you will be prepared to start your job searches later. The resume building is an excellent tool, also. 
Students, please note that we are just beginning to ask faculty to post Students as Scholars Projects now, so the database won't be full for a while. If you don't see a project that interests you, please feel free to talk to professors, graduate students, and staff about your interests and see what you can find!

Undergraduate Research for All?

Yesterday, we held our first in a series of Scholarship Development Grant Information Sessions (thank you all for coming!). One of the most important challenges we face in implementing the Students as Scholars initiative is scale - how do we give many Mason undergraduates an opportunity to participate in research and creative activities, given our undergraduate population and the demands on our faculty to be so good at so many things?  Clearly, one way to attack this is to merge research and teaching by intentionally bringing aspects of scholarship into the classroom, which is the goal of our Scholarship Development Grants.

But the actual doing of this is hard. Not many universities have implemented models like this, and that was why I was particularly excited to see the most recent CUR Quarterly. The Fall 2011 issue's theme is "Undergraduate Research for All?"  The issue is available for all CUR members online (see link at the top of the blog for information about Mason's institutional membership).  There are several interesting articles, but I think that the CURQ Vignettes, a few published in the journal and many others published online, are excellent tangible examples of how a variety of colleges are approaching this question.

Please feel free to contact me if you want to brainstorm ideas!

Monday, September 12, 2011

Gazette Article on Students as Scholars SDGs

Robin Herron from the Mason Gazette interviewed me last week about the Students as Scholars initiative and the Scholarship Development Grants, and posted this article.  Hope to see all interested faculty at the information meetings this week!

Quality Enhancement Plan Moves into Active Phase

Friday, September 9, 2011

EPA GRO Fellowships for Undergraduate Environmental Study

The US Environmental Protection Agency has announced the 2012 Greater Research Opportunity Fellowships for Undergraduate Environmental Study.  As the announcement states, "Eligible students will receive support for their junior and senior years of undergraduate study and for an internship at an EPA facility during the summer of their junior year. The fellowship provides up to $19,700 per academic year of support and $9,500 of support for a three-month summer internship."

In the student's personal statement, undergraduates outline a research study that they would like to pursue, as well as showing an understanding of the broader impacts of their environmental interests.  This would be a great opportunity for a Mason undergraduate to be supported in their research and education!

Application Deadline: December 12, 2011 (the application is very involved, so start soon!)

Friday, September 2, 2011

Scholarship Development Grant Information Sessions

The Office of Student Scholarship, Creative Activities, and Research (OSCAR) will be holding information sessions about the Scholarship Development Grants in September (see below for details).  Scholarship Development Grants are offered in four tracks, and available to departments and programs that plan on integrating the Students as Scholars inquiry-based learning outcomes into their curriculum.  The information sessions will be opportunities for members of the Mason community to hear about the programs and ask questions (and we know that there will be many of them!).  If you can't make a meeting and have additional questions, please feel free to email me at to set up an appointment to talk.

UPDATE: Several people have asked for access to the slides from our presentation, so they are available here

Information Sessions:
Wednesday, September 14th, from 1:30-3:00 in Research Hall, Room 163 [UPDATED]
Tuesday, September 20th, from 9:30-11 in Johnson Center Room B (third floor)
Monday, September 26th, from 3:00-4:30 in Research Hall, Room 163 [Change from earlier post]

Thursday, September 1, 2011

First Friday Fellowship Info Sessions

Dr. Berger, Director of the Office of Fellowships, will be holding First Friday Fellowship Information Sessions this fall. Working on an undergraduate scholarly project is a great way to get experience applying your scholarly knowledge. And demonstrating that you can work independently and responsibly is usually a requirement for prestigious fellowships, like the Truman, Fulbright, and Goldwater. Although most students don't apply until their junior or senior year, successful applicants often begin planning much earlier in their college career.

If you are interested in applying, or just want to know more, please attend one of these Info Sessions!

When and Where:
Friday, October 7, 12-1pm, in Enterprise 318
Friday, November 4, 12-1pm, in Enterprise 318
Friday, December 2, 12-1pm, in Johnson Center Room C (third floor)
Email:For more information, please contact Dr. LaNitra Berger

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Patriot Green Fund

The Students as Scholars initiative is excited to be collaborating with the Patriot Green Fund (PGF) to offer opportunities for undergraduate and graduate student to conduct research and pilot projects related to sustainability.

The PGF is an innovative student-led initiative to accelerate George Mason University’s sustainability transformation and commitment to climate neutrality via the Presidents’ Climate Commitment. The fund was established to foster an environment where Mason can flourish academically through the practice of environmental, social, and economic stewardship. Beginning in the fall of 2011, the PGF will provide $100,000 annually to finance both infrastructure and research projects that have a high value in all three of these areas of sustainability. The fund will also work to raise awareness of and support for building a culture of sustainability on campus and in our communities. The PGF will empower students by providing them with an unprecedented opportunity to lead and direct projects that will create positive change.

Update: Read this great Gazette article, University Invests in Patriot Green Fund, to learn more about the PGF!

Deadlines: The deadline for preliminary applications is October 31, 2011.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Virginia Academy of Science Undergraduate Research Meeting

The Virginia Academy of Sciences Fall Undergraduate Research Meeting is an opportunity for our Mason students to display a poster of their research. At the conclusion of the meeting, five $500 research grants will be awarded to undergraduate students to support their research during the 2011-12 academic year.

Deadline for applications: October 3, 2011, submitted to
Meeting date: October 15, 2011, from 9:00 until 3:00 (includes lunch, invited speaker, and announcement of grant recipients)
Location: Parham Road Campus of J. Sargent Reynolds Community College

Assistant Director of OSCAR

George Mason University is extending our search for an Assistant Director of our new Office of Student Scholarship, Creative Activities, and Research (OSCAR) to help support our new Students as Scholars initiative. We seek an Assistant Director of OSCAR to coordinate and lead the Undergraduate Research Scholars Program, along with other programs related to advancing student scholarship and research. The candidate should have broad understanding of the value of undergraduate research and creative activities and possess strong interpersonal and organizational skills. Master’s degree required, doctoral degree preferred. For complete description, visit and search for FA12Bz. Review of applications will begin October 3 , 2011 and will continue until the position is filled.

Please feel free to contact us at if you have any questions.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Junior Scientist Training Program from FAES/NIH

The goal of the Junior Scientist Training Program is to provide quality training program at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) that bridges the gap between the level of laboratory skills biology graduates have acquired, to the proficiency level needed to effectively compete for a laboratory technician position. Ideal candidates are fourth year biology majors, recent college graduates or those in the sciences who need to strengthen their laboratory skills.

Program Description:
Using the FAES's Bio-Trac training resources at the NIH, selected students will attend a nine month workshop encompassing fifteen hands-on laboratory sessions (seventy-five contact hours) covering the latest relevant laboratory techniques in molecular biology. These selected methods have been identified by NIH scientists and private industry representatives to be techniques that research technicians would implement on a day-to-day basis.

Participants would also be required to view online, selected lectures (approximately thirty hours) that are part of the current FAES Bio-Trac curriculum offered at the NIH. These lectures, which are taught at a graduate level by local researchers, will cover many areas of biotechnology that will introduce and reinforce the subject matter given in the laboratory.

Participating researchers will be available to serve as mentors for interns who participate in the program.

Students will gain extensive experience in laboratory techniques that are necessary to excel in the sciences once completed. Upon conclusion of the program, participants would receive six graduate credits from the FAES, have increased their competitive value for positions such as a research technician and strengthened their graduate school or internship application if persuing graduate studies.

Deadline: The program starts in September 2011, and registration is currently open.

Job Announcement: Director of Institutional Assessment at Mason

Please feel free to share this announcement with interested colleagues.

George Mason University, a large public institution located in Fairfax, VA in the Washington, DC metropolitan area, seeks a Director of Institutional Assessment. The director reports to the Associate Provost for Institutional Effectiveness and assists the associate provost in providing leadership and expertise on assessment-related issues.

The Office of Institutional Assessment currently has 7 full-time employees as well as graduate student workers. The office has responsibility for the assessment of the Quality Enhancement Plan (QEP); general education assessment, including specific state-required competencies; management and leadership of the Academic Program Review process; numerous local and national student surveys; accreditation-related assessment activities; and overall assessment for the entire university.

Along with the associate provost, the director has the responsibility of providing leadership and management for the Office of Institutional Assessment and collaborating with faculty and administrative offices throughout the University. Along with the associate provost and the QEP Leadership Team, the director has primary responsibility for planning and implementing the QEP assessment. The director oversees all survey administration processes, including survey development, design, sampling, data collection, data analysis, reporting and results dissemination; provides support/consultation for academic program review and other program evaluation; directly supervises the work of the assessment analyst; and provides oversight of day-to-day office operations. The director works with office professionals, administrators, faculty committees and individuals to promote assessment policies, practices and activities that support an effective university environment for students and the university community.

The successful candidate will have:
A PhD in a related field
A minimum of 5 years of progressively responsible academic assessment experience
The ability to advise academic and administrative units on outcome and program assessment methodology and practice
The ability to develop and present workshops and training on assessment-related initiatives
Excellent written and oral communication skills
Experience providing written and oral reports on assessment plans, strategies and results
Proficiency with quantitative and qualitative research methods
Competence with statistical analysis packages, particularly SPSS
The skill to adapt sound assessment principles to a variety of settings
A sense of humor

Review of applications will begin on September 15. For full consideration, please complete the online application and attach a cover letter, resume and a list of three professional references with contact information. George Mason University is an equal opportunity employer encouraging diversity.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Student Learning Outcomes and Course Descriptions

We have refined our student learning outcomes and used them to define courses at each level of the pyramid, as shown below. The Student Learning Outcomes are further described in the Students as Scholars Master Rubric, (link to be added).

Student Learning Outcomes
Creation of Scholarship
Students will create an original scholarly or creative project.
Students will communicate knowledge from an original scholarly or creative project.

Scholarly Inquiry
Students will articulate a scholarly question, engage in key elements of the scholarly process, and situate the concepts, practices, or results of scholarship within a broader context.

Discovery of Scholarship
Students will understand how knowledge is generated and disseminated through scholarship.
Discover how they can engage in the practice of scholarship.

Course Level Descriptions

Specific information about the expectations of each course level related to the student learning outcomes is available here.

In Research and Scholarship intensive (RS) courses at the Creation of Scholarship level, students actively participate in the process of scholarship and make a significant contribution to the creation of a disciplinary-appropriate product for evaluation. Approved courses will be awarded an RS designation that will appear on the student’s transcript. RS courses will be upper-division.

In Scholarly Inquiry courses, students learn about the recursive process of scholarly inquiry either through studying previous scholarship or as preparation for participating in an original project. A scholarly inquiry class may be a research methods course in a discipline or a course that uses inquiry-guided learning to explore a topic.

Discovery of Scholarship courses introduce students to scholarship. The Discovery-level material will be covered in introductory courses in a major, general education courses, basic Introductory Composition (ENGL100/101), and First-Year Seminar (UNIV100/300) courses. These courses should include some active or inquiry-based learning techniques.

Students as Scholars Scholarship Development Grants

The goal of curriculum revision supported by the Students as Scholars initiative is for programs to create courses and other experiences for undergraduate students to learn about scholarship and its role at Mason, actively engage in scholarship, and participate in the generation of knowledge. Scholarship Development Grants (SDG) will be awarded in four tracks. OSCAR will hold informational meetings about the SDGs starting in early fall. I'll update with deadlines soon!

Track A: Research and Scholarship Intensive Course SDGs support the redesign of courses in which students participate in the creation of original scholarly or creative projects. These courses will address the Research & Scholarship student learning outcomes and, as such, are eligible to be designated Research and Scholarship intensive (RS). The deadline for the first Track A proposals will be October 21, 2011 [UPDATED].

Track B: Curriculum Development SDGs support the creation of a scaffolded learning experience for students as they progress through an academic program and develop an understanding of the scholarly work in the discipline or field. This curriculum development and revision will engage students in at least two of the three curriculum levels: Discovery of Scholarship, Scholarly Inquiry, and Research & Scholarship. The deadline for the first Track B proposals will be February 3, 2012 [UPDATED].

Track C: Collaborative Project SDGs will support interdisciplinary and co-curricular projects that have a substantial undergraduate student scholarship component. The deadline for the first Track C proposals will be February 3, 2012 [UPDATED].

Track D: Pedagogical Research SDGs will support faculty and programs who want to further investigate the impact of their curricular changes on student learning; to enhance and expand these programs based on evidence of student learning; and to share the results of their innovative methods with other faculty. Track D proposals will be accepted on a rolling basis.

UPDATED 11/18 to include a link to the Track A description and link to application
UPDATE 12/20 to includes links to Tracks B and C descriptions