Friday, March 29, 2013

URSP Highlights: Amani Mansour

 Spring 2013 URSP participant Amani Mansour:

            This semester I am conducting research on the role of personal power on a person’s success in meetings and negotiations.  I became interested in the role of power in negotiations when I was an intern last semester for the Undergraduate Experiential Learning Project (UELP). This project creates experiential learning activities (ELAs) for conflict analysis and resolution classes.  Students participate in these activities to help them link theory to practice.  In two of these ELAs, students take on roles and participate in meetings and negotiations.  Through my observations last semester, I noticed that power plays a huge role in the success of the negotiation process.  This is why I am using the ELAs to collect data on the role of personal power in negotiations. 
            I am currently at the stage in my research of attending and collecting data from the ELAs.  To get to this stage, I had to first narrow the type of power I wanted to focus on.  I chose personal power because I felt it is a huge component to a negotiator’s success but there is very little literature about it compared to the general concept of power.  Then, I defined personal power and broke it down into components.  I relied on the literature to help me shape the way I defined personal power.  For the first month and a half of this semester, a typical week for me included reading scholarly work on power and negotiations, meeting with my mentor and discussing what I have found and how it applies to my research, and from this, my research question evolved to focusing on personal power.  Now a typical week for me includes meeting with my mentor, attending ELAs and taking notes, and listening to recordings from previous ELAs and collecting data from that.  The research process has not only expanded my knowledge on my topic and my field of conflict analysis, but also on the research process.  While conducting research is a difficult process, it is also a fruitful one; and I am very excited to continue my work and hopefully have interesting results to share by the end of the semester.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

URSP Highlights: Patrick Maloney

 Spring 2013 URSP Participant Patrick Maloney:

            I discovered the OSCAR program through a teacher I had for one of my classes here at Mason. I did well in her class and she encouraged me to apply for the program. After looking into the opportunity a little more, I quickly decided to develop a research plan and apply for the program.
            With a background in environmental science and a concentration in environmental health, I decided to look into the effects of mercury on childhood leukemia. Through the classes I have taken at Mason, I have become interested in the various negative effects of air pollution on the human body and therefore wanted to get a more in depth understanding of some of the problems. This, coupled with my grandfather’s passing due to leukemia, gave me a subject area I am quite passionate about.
            In order to complete my research, I spend about an hour meeting with my mentor each week. During this time, we develop goals and a strategy to complete those goals each week. After this meeting, I typically spend time that same day researching or analyzing data. This week in particular, I discovered that the EPA database I will be using is extremely vast and incorporates data for many air pollutants across the entire country for the last 60 years.
            After college, I hope to pursue a career in the field of science and thus, the research skills I am developing are not only excellent for my future workplace, but the program itself stands out on a student resume.

Monday, March 25, 2013

URSP Highlights: Anushay Ibraz

Spring 2013 URSP Participant Anushay Ibraz:

What got you interested in this project?

My study explores my interests in finding differences in how college undergraduate students interact and communicate in a face-to-face context and online using Facebook. In my opinion, Facebook serves as a major platform for social media and plays a significant role as a form of communication among the current demographic of college students, ranging from ages 18 to about 23 years of age. As a fellow student, who is heavily exposed to both online and face-to-face communication, I am aware that everyone manifests their communication abilities differently and have certain preferences on how and when to express themselves. My observations of friends, roommates and fellow classmates have led me to believe that students engage in a more free exchange of information when employing their preferred channel of communication rather than an alternative method. My interest, therefore, lies in examining and comparing the level of restraint and spontaneity students express over Facebook and during a face-to-face encounter.

How do you see it being related to your long-term goals?

I hope that the final product of my project will be used as a stepping-stone for further research on communication through social media. I believe the project will help me expand my level of critical thinking and enrich my research and writing skills, which are essential to the public relations field. Analyzing Facebook and face-to-face interactions will help me better understand how individuals respond to information that is disseminated between two communication platforms. An aspiring public relations practitioner needs to understand their audience to capably communicate with their publics and I think this project can help me grasp the bigger picture on how to achieve effective communication. 

What do you actually do on a weekly basis?

I make it a habit to meet with my advisor at least once a week during his office hours. In the beginning, we went over my results from the pilot study I conducted last semester and thought of ways to improve my data collection method. I am researching more articles and scholarly journals to add to my literature review and provide more insight into my research question. I am also reformatting my survey questionnaire to better measure results of face-to-face and Facebook communication behaviors.

What is one thing you discovered this week?

I handed my survey out to a few students in class and the feedback I have received will make it easier to score my results. By using Likert scales, I can quantify my results, which will help me better measure and analyze incoming data using SPSS analytics software. With my survey finalized, I am ready to put it online and send it out for data collection. 

Friday, March 22, 2013

URSP Highlights: Stephen Lippi

Spring 2013 URSP participant Stephen Lippi:

After switching to a major in Psychology from Chemistry, I decided to get involved in research here at Mason. When I worked with a graduate student in the Cognitive and Behavioral Neuroscience (formerly biopsychology) program under Dr. Jane Flinn, my interest in research increased. After working in the animal lab and learning about the research that was being done, I knew I wanted to be involved. I applied and was accepted into the Accelerated Master’s program in Cognitive and Behavioral Neuroscience and soon began to think about some way I could apply my chemistry knowledge to a project. That ended up being working with biometals. After reading research that the lab had conducted with animals and biometals and knowing just how important metals can be in the body, I applied to the OSCAR program and decided to work with Dr. Flinn to form a question and project that involved biometals and behavior. After reading background literature and research done by Dr. Flinn and the lab, Cu deficiency was seen to be an exciting and interesting metal to look at and connect to behavioral measures. My research project, “The Effects of Cu Deficiency on Fear Conditioning” combines my interest in Chemistry with my training in Behavioral and Physiological Psychology.
After graduating, I will continue to earn my M.A. from GMU in Cognitive and Behavioral Neuroscience and will apply to Ph.D. programs in order to pursue a Ph.D. in some form of biological psychology or neuroscience. I want, wholeheartedly, to become a professor after I earn my doctorate degree. Teaching is what I truly want to do with my life and conducting original research not only allows me to continue learning myself, but also provides experience that I can transfer into my classroom and with future undergraduates and graduate students.
On a weekly basis, I read background literature and maintain a research binder with all my articles that relate to my research topics and continue to work on my project’s plans and goals. Once my rats arrive to GMU, my weekly schedule will include handling and monitoring their health in order to maintain a healthy and happy life for them.
One thing I discovered this week was exactly how much work truly goes into doing research with animals, particularly in formulating a diet. In choosing to research Cu deficiency, I thought we could simply order a diet with lower Cu levels and that would be it. However, working with a great nutritionist, I've learned that so much planning is required and ingredient interaction occurs in diet development and that it takes much more work than simply saying “I want the Cu levels lower” in order to create a special diet for a study.