Excellence in Undergraduate Research

Eighth Annual Undergraduate Research Symposium

by Kristin Leonato

April is an exciting month at Mason; it’s a month filled with events that celebrate the hard work of our students and recognize their impressive achievements. In the college we conclude this eventful month with the Undergraduate Research Symposium. The symposium brings together students from across the college to present a substantive research project in an oral or poster presentation. For many students their project has been months in the making and is the culmination of their capstone or honors research. Each year, Dewberry Hall comes alive with anticipation.

URS Wide Shot

The eighth annual Undergraduate Research Symposium showcased the work of 91 students, 12 students in oral presentations and 79 poster presentations. Each student worked with a faculty mentor throughout their project and many with support from the Mason Office of Student Scholarship, Creative Activities and Research (OSCAR). As usual, the room buzzed with conversation between presenters, faculty judges, mentors, advisors, friends and family who gathered to take part in the scholarly discourse and support the presenters.

Vita Vock, the college's associate dean for undergraduate academic affairs reflected during the event, "This is the eighth year of our Undergraduate Research Symposium, and our event continues to grow each year. Providing our students with scholarly opportunities like those presented at this event is such an important part of their intellectual growth. I am always thrilled to see our students' enthusiastic participation."  

The symposium concludes with the presentation of awards. Each year, the college gives $500 for best overall research and scholarship in both the oral and poster categories, as well as five additional awards of $250 for outstanding presentation.  

Dean Deborah Boehm-Davis captured the spirit of the event in her opening remarks. "The Undergraduate Research Symposium is one of my favorite events of the year" she explained. "Student-faculty collaboration around research and scholarship develops critical thinking skills which are a hallmark of a liberal arts education. These skills are clearly on display at the symposium, where the students eloquently described, with great enthusiasm, the results of their hard work."  

Congratulations again to all of our students who presented at the 2016 Undergraduate Research Symposium!   

The 2016 Award Winners are: 

Best Overall Research and Scholarship in the Oral Presentation Category:

Mariam Ghanem, Economics and Global Affairs
Foreign Direct Investment, Contract Enforcement, and Economic Growth: Egypt vs. Turkey

Outstanding Oral Presentation:

Mohammad Abou-Ghazala, Global Affairs
Postcolonial Implosion

Best Overall Research and Scholarship in the Poster Presentation Category:

Chrysanthi Violaris, Anthropology
Patterns of Juvenile Growth and Development in Pre-Industrialized, Agricultural Communities 

Outstanding Poster Presentations:

James M. Williams, Global Affairs
Obstacles to Democratization: The Role of Civil Society Organizations and Political Expression in China 

Ariel Kalotkin, Psychology
tDCS to the prefrontal cortex selectively effects dual task performance 

Jack Belkin, Psychology
Is playing video games related to working memory capacity? 

Ethan V. Murdock, Anthropology
GMU Historic Scatter Project: Surface Soil Analysis

Award winners