Monday, February 29, 2016

FWS Student Highlights: Sydney Blefko

My research project involves examining vintage synthesizers under the mentorship of Dr. Jesse Guessford, director of the Music Technology program.  Our music technology program has in its possession a large variety of vintage analog and digital synthesizers, and my job involves researching components of each of these models, including production dates, notable features of each instrument, and artists who have performed on that model.  In the future this information will be put into a website or database so it will be available to other students in the program and to anyone who wishes to use our synth collection.

The majority of my research involves reading articles and manuals about each of the synthesizers and about the general components of analog synthesis.  I also visit the music technology studio where I can gain hands-on experience playing each of these synthesizers, allowing me to put what I’ve learned into practice.  This project has helped me gain a better understanding of signal flow, the evolution of analog to digital synthesis, and of electronic music history.  Recently I have been reading about ADSR envelopes, which are the components of analog synthesizers that control the rate of the sound attack and decay.

I am planning to attend graduate school next year to study ethnomusicology so the research skills I have gained in this position will be very helpful.  I am interested in the music technology field and in music history, and I want to continue learning about both of these fields after graduation.

Friday, February 26, 2016

FWS Student Highlights: Alina Moody

My name is Alina Moody and I am a freshman at George Mason University taking part in the OSCAR Research Assistant program. As part of the OSCAR program, I am working on the GMU Broadside Photograph Collections project alongside Mr. William J. Patty. My daily tasks working on the Broadside collection include scanning in negatives of pictures taken around campus by members of the Broadside newspaper during events such as Mason Week and basketball games throughout the years so that they are the right size and the subject is clearly visible. Once I scan in a set of negatives, I insert data regarding the scanned pictures into a metadata spreadsheet in Microsoft Excel. I have to be meticulous in my work so that I do not harm the old 35mm picture negatives.

While scanning in the old negatives during work, I frequently stumble upon new information regarding the ways that campus and Fairfax have changed over the years. Just this week, I found out that Mason hosted an International Dinner Dance with a variety of cultures involved in the event in April of 1998. Working on the Broadside Project helped me expand my knowledge regarding Microsoft Excel, and the scanning of pictures. I feel that both of these experiences will prove useful as I pursue a career working with a magazine; having experience with not only the literary side of things, but the visual side, will help me as an editor.

Thursday, February 25, 2016

FWS Student Highlights: Delaney Arthur

My name is Delaney Arthur and I am currently working as a Research Assistant for Jesse Guessford. He is the administer for George Mason University’s record label called “Mason Noise”. The project that Mr. Guessford hired me to do, is to look up different schools, in the U.S., that have their own Record Label and find similarities/differences between the other schools and us, as well as various other things.

My job varies and pretty much changes each week depending on what I have found the previous week. Although the basis of my work is to find answers to some questions about the other schools record label, like “Is the school’s record label a Student-led Organization or Curriculum Based”, “How long they have been established”, “How many projects have been completed and how many do the produce in a year/release times”, “What is their main focus as a record label or main focus genre wise”, and “Do they sell their material or not”. Since each week varied, I broke up my weeks and focused them into 3 “sub-projects” to better organize. My first step, was to look up all the schools, that I could find, that had a record label. Then Mr. Guessford and I had to go through that list and mark ones that we should focus on. Step 2, was to look at that list deeper and find answers to the questions above, as well as other questions, to better compare and contrast the schools with ours. My last step I had to do was go back through and compare the 5 schools that we mainly focused on with our school and to find common trends.

I am currently on the last step and I have discovered that Appalachian State University gets funded by sponsorships and had a sponsorship from Chick-Fil-A, which is leading me to think that is the reason they are allowed to sell CD’s and the projects they make because the other schools are mostly funded by the school and they don’t sell their projects for a profit.

The job and project defiantly relates to my long-term goals because I want to work for a record label and be able to work as an executive and look at trends.

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

FWS Student Highlights: Aisha Shafi

Currently, I’m researching how political humor in late night comedy shows affects the political attitudes of the general public. The study covers opening monologues from “The Late Show With Stephen Colbert,” “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon,” “Jimmy Kimmel Live” and “The Daily Show With Trevor Noah.” This year I have the privilege of conducting research under the supervision of Dr. Robert Lichter, director of the Center for Media and Public Affairs and a GMU communications professor and alongside doctoral student, Deanne Canieso.

On a weekly basis, I use a quantitative content analysis coding scheme to analyze the introduction of each show for political humor. The joke is categorized based on the target and whether it’s policy-related, political, or personal. Earlier this week, many of the jokes concentrated on President Obama’s State of the Union address. Later in the week, they focused on the GOP debate.  

Preliminary results show that Trump was the target of 308 jokes where 71% of them concerned his personality or personal traits. 107 jokes targeted Hillary Clinton, nearly twice as many as her opponent Bernie Sanders. Republicans were targeted twice as often as Democrats, 590 jokes to 230 jokes. Fallon made the most jokes. Since the research is in its early stages, a concrete conclusion is yet to be determined regarding influence on the public’s opinion. As we continue with the research, we aim to find an adequate answer.

This opportunity has inspired me to consider pursuing a postdoctoral fellowship to continue to do research at an accredited institution on a topic related to government/politics. There are so many unknown variables that need to be explored and expanded. With the research, I hope to make a positive difference in the community, where people can learn from it and hopefully utilize it as well.  

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

FWS Student Highlights: Rachel Shaw

I am working on researching experiments and studies conducted in third world countries on mothers and children regarding nutrition and behavior change to nutrition. I currently have the pleasure of working with Dr. Constance Gewa of George Mason’s Nutrition and Food Studies Department. I find studies and review and compare them, and Dr. Gewa decides which aspects of the studies would be most useful in constructing her own study on nutrition in Kenya.  

On a weekly basis my main responsibility is research. I find the best peer-reviewed articles on the topic Dr. Gewa needs and condense them down into an annotated bibliography. I usually try to find five or more sources. I also convert the annotated bibliography into a spreadsheet summary. I divide the columns into topics such as “theory”, “sample size”, or “results” so that we can better understand the effectiveness of the studies. This semester so far, I have been working with data from a study conducted on women’s nutrition in Africa. I am responsible for filling in the blanks in the data, correcting mistakes, and interpreting the data.

I have learned so much in this job. This week I discovered that maize (corn) and potatoes are the most common staples in the Kenyan diet. I found this interesting because corn and potatoes are new world foods, not traditionally grown in Africa. Millet and other grains originating in Africa have almost become obsolete in African cultures today. The effects of this can be seen in the growing rates of malnutrition in children and adults, and there has been a push to return to farming the grains original to the climate rather than raising the new world foods.

My long-term goal in school is to earn my BSN and become a nurse. I believe everything I do in this project helps me towards that goal. I am learning how to best treat and care for people who are suffering from malnutrition or who are living in food deserts while also learning about the cultural and socio-economic effects on nutrition. I believe that this type of learning and understanding will help me to become a more compassionate nurse.