Friday, March 31, 2017

Research Assistant Alicia Rodriguez Researches the Portrayal of Human Rights through Media Sources

Over the past semester, I have been working with Dr. Chen in my own independent research regarding indigenous rights after being in a class of hers last year. The current project that I am involved with as Research Assistant for Dr. Chen relates to the portrayal of human rights by a range of different news media sources. Additionally, I am working with Dr. Chen on a research project about the relationship between wellbeing and activism.

As a fairly new research assistant, I have been working on particular trainings related to the research methods utilized in the study. Currently, for the first project I am reviewing the collected data of newspaper articles before it is coded or analyzed. For the other project, I have been emailing and communicating with individuals that have connections to people who might be interested in participating in the study through the interview process.

Although I have not spent much time yet as this position of a Research Assistant, the work that I have done so far has revealed to me firsthand the extensive amount of time and information needed in certain kinds of studies such as content analysis. Because this is my first formal research project that I have been involved with, the experience has put a new scale to the meaning of what a formal research project of this kind looks like, and the different components needed to fulfill it. Understanding more in depth the process of research itself is important to my long-term goals because I need to know the intricacies of the research process in order to be able to conduct my own research in the future. Research in the realm of human rights and media, and even the connection to activism and wellbeing, are both of interest to me and function within types of research used in my own field, so this is a very informative and useful experience.

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Research Assistant Chyna Staten Enhances her Ability to Manage and Interpret Data

My name is Chyna Staten; I am a senior here at George Mason University. I am currently majoring in communication, with a minor in multimedia production. I was hired in Spring 2016 as an Undergraduate Assistant for the Center of Teaching and Faculty Excellence through OSCAR’s Undergraduate Research Assistant program. What interested me the most about this position was the opportunity to expand my skillset. Working with the center has taught me quite a few substantial new skills. The fact that I would be able to enhance my ability to manage and interpret data appealed to me. I was a marketing major my freshman year before I changed it to concentrate in public relations; working for the center has shown me that I still have a passion for data analytics and marketing. This position has helped me realize that I would like to attend graduate school to earn a degree in Marketing. My long-term goal is to merge my skills and interest in both communication and marketing to become a Marketing Strategist. On a weekly basis, I put turn quantitative data into qualitative— creating graphs and charts out of Microsoft Excel spreadsheets. I also help with website maintenance and advertising. The fast-pace environment of the Center for Teaching and Faculty Excellence has definitely helped me with my time management. Every week, there is a new project or program that I am asked to assist with. This experience has not only strengthened my professional skills, but has also helped solidify my interests for the future.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Research Assistant Donovan Jones Edits and Masters A TV Show for Professor Ben Steger

I’ll never forget the day when I first saw the posting online for the opportunity to work with Ben Steger on his upcoming TV show, “Open Mic”. The show follows artists from all around the world as they continue to progress through their musical journeys. Thus, since I am a music lover, and open mic poet myself I just couldn’t resist looking into it more. I submitted my application and emailed Professor Steger expressing my interest in the position. I told him how excited I was for his project and a few weeks later, I got the job! He even told me that he was going to try to get the show on Netflix!

I am honestly honored to have such an opportunity to work with one of GMU’s finest. Professor Steger has won some huge awards in the documentary film industry including a DOCFEED award for best documentary for his film “Stage Four: A Love Story”. So obviously having constant contact with someone as experienced as him is a strong resource to have. For this project I will be editing and mastering the TV show for Steger, all while organizing documents, and creating graphics/logos for his new and past projects. This position is already shaping me into a better business man and employee by challenging my creativity, and strengthening my time management skills. Most of the work I’ve done this far requires some type of design. Whether the design be a DVD cover or disc cover, I have to really challenge myself to think outside the box on a daily basis to create something eye-popping and new for our audiences to see. My time management skills have been improving as well. Since Steger is usually out traveling the world, I have to be responsible for making sure the work gets done within a reasonable amount of time. This can be difficult at times due to schoolwork and another job that I have. Nevertheless, I have been learning to work smarter and balance all my responsibilities accordingly.

So far, this position is exactly what I needed. Not only do I get compensation/rewarded for my work, but it’s challenging me to perform better every day!

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Research Assistant Haley Stump Conducts Data Collection and Analyzation of Congressional Caucuses

Last semester in my Government 103 class, Introduction to American Politics, my professor Dr. Victor talked to us about the URAP Research Assistant positions and the different projects that are available to work on for the spring semester. In my free time I looked at all the different projects and applied to three that caught my interest, I was happy to find out that one of the projects was conducted by my current professor and was super excited when she interviewed me and gave me the opportunity to be her research assistant.
The project I am working on is data collection and analyzation of Congressional Caucuses. Every week, I check out this big phone-book-like book called the Congressional Yellow Pages, which contains detailed information on every member of Congress and I record which caucus’ they are in into a large spreadsheet. This is a very time consuming process and just recently we have finished all 435 members of the House of Representatives. Before I started this project I really had no idea how government majors conduct research, but now I have first hand experience with it and now have a better understanding of the research in my field of interest. While Congressional Coding might not be the exact thing I want to do as a career, this RA position opened up a world of opportunities I didn’t know existed, before I wasn’t quite sure on what kind of jobs people had with a government major other than being a politician but now I see that researcher is a big and popular option.
After reading 435 representative profiles in the Congressional Yellow Book I learned exactly how many caucus there are in Congress and how they are basically small groups of people with a very specific purpose to work and improve their topic, an example being the

Congressional Submarine Caucus or the Congressional Food Safety Caucus. The legislative branch is far more complex than I thought and I’m glad I had the experience to learn about it.

Monday, March 27, 2017

Research Assistant Frah Ejaz Analyzes Twenty Year Old Data Points from Sections of Earths Core

The OSCAR project I am currently working on is related to geology and is under the Department of Oceanic and Atmospheric Science. The root of this project is twenty-year-old data points that needed to be analyzed using various programs on a computer. The data points were bits and pieces of soil from the surface of the earth to about a little more than halfway to the earth’s core. The data was photographed and transferred on a computer for further analysis and also printed and placed in a binder for safekeeping. What I actually do on a weekly basis is take the data that was transferred on a computer and analyze it using Kaleido Graph, Image J, Image J32 and many more similar programs. I take every individual data point of a section of the earth’s core that is assigned to me from my supervisor, Linda Hinnov, and figure out conversions as needed. Afterwards, I begin to analyze the data by making line graphs and more, using special programs needed for the analysis of the data.

What got me interested in this project was the idea of becoming a part of some kind of research that will impact the world positively. I liked the idea of how this data, when finished, will be sent off to be published so the public can be informed of the signs and history of the earth’s core and how much better the earth may be if what can be prevented is prevented. This is related to my long-term goals because the field of science recommends experience in research. Knowing what to do, where to start and how to make the data meaningful is an important skill that research helps develop. It opens your mind to many of the opportunities that the field of science may offer. Curiosity is an important factor that may help plan, guide and actually start a research project.