Students and their mentors shine at the sixth annual Celebration of Student Scholarship

by Kristin Leonato

Students and their mentors shine at the sixth annual Celebration of Student Scholarship
The School of Integrative Studies' Julie Owen was recognized for excellence in mentoring

The Office of Student Scholarship, Creative Activities and Research (OSCAR) took over the Center for Performing Arts on Tuesday, May 9, 2017 for their 6th Annual Celebration of Student Scholarship. As usual, the building was buzzing throughout the day as dozens of undergraduates from across campus proudly presented their findings to the many faculty, staff, and supporters gathered to listen.

The highlights of the day were the oral presentations, the poster presentations, and the annual award ceremony in the afternoon. Led by associate provost for undergraduate education and anthropology professor, Bethany Usher, the oral presentations opened the program and set the tone for a day of fantastic displays of hard work and scholarship. Of the 59 students selected by OSCAR for funding through the Undergraduate Research Scholars Program (USRP) this spring, six were chosen for a 15-minute oral presentation, including two students in the college, Sarah Wagner and Grace Morgan.

Sociology major Sarah Wagner studied evidence of resistance and reinforcement in social media of social stigma related to women who have had an abortion; she collected and analyzed data gathered from messages posted on Twitter on the topic during the 2016 presidential debates. Wagner’s presentation was followed by fellow senior, anthropology major Grace Morgan. 

Grace Morgan presents her research at the 6th Annual Celebration of Student ScholarshipMorgan presented her spatial analysis of demographic and health markers in a recently excavated, medieval cemetery of a rural population in Tirup, Denmark. For both students, the Celebration of Student Scholarship was the culmination of a year of research and analysis. Morgan shared that this experience was “an opportunity to look deeper into real questions in the field, which might not have been possible at another university. It really helped solidify what I wanted to do and helped me find my niche.” Morgan explained that she now plans to attend field school after graduation and then is planning to pursue a PhD to delve further into the intersection of public health and biomedical anthropology.

The oral presentations were followed by a packed poster session opened by remarks by provost and executive vice president David Wu. The day concluded with a reception for all the students and their faculty mentors who participated in the day. President Ángel Cabrera capped the celebration with an address and the presentation of two very important awards.

Each year, OSCAR recognizes several outstanding Mason community members who mentor undergraduate students on research and creative activities and who foster a culture of student scholarship in support of Mason's Students as Scholars initiative with the OSCAR Mentoring Excellence Award. This year, OSCAR chose to recognize Julie E. Owen, associate professor of leadership and integrative studies, for her continued efforts in these endeavors.

OSCAR also recognizes undergraduate students for outstanding performance in research and creative activities with the OSCAR Student Excellence Award. This year, two students from the Department of Sociology and Anthropology were selected for this impressive award: Leila Martinez-Bentley and Chrysanthi Violaris.

The college is pleased to congratulate Owen, Martinez-Bentley, and Violaris on receiving this honor and truly appreciates all the hard work and dedication these awards represent.


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