Undergraduate Research Symposium in a Virtual Medium

by Anne Reynolds

The College of Humanities and Social Sciences has, for the past 12 years, hosted a research symposium each spring designed to highlight the broad variety of research accomplished by undergraduates within the college. With projects from virtually every discipline in CHSS, the event has grown steadily each year.

In March, 2020, the worldwide COVID-19 pandemic led universities throughout the United States, including Mason, to shift to online learning. With the safety of students in mind, the CHSS Undergraduate Research Symposium moved online as well, teaming with the university’s Office of Student Scholarship, Creative Activities, and Research (OSCAR) for a campus-wide virtual event.

Forty-three students from across the college submitted presentations for the Virtual Celebration of Student Scholarship, held during the week of May 11-15. Some presentations were delivered in a format of pre-recorded videos with discussion sessions, and some were live presentations with opportunity for questions and answers. The entire university community was invited to participate in viewing and discussing the presentations and voting for their favorites.

Several CHSS students and faculty members received recognition and awards for their participation in OSCAR.

  • Communication major Lily Mackenzie’s project, “Instagram Use and Environmental Activism: A Mixed Methods Study,” won the overall award for Biggest Potential Impact.
  • Ben Rhoades, BA Environmental and Sustainability Studies, 2020, Katherine (Katie) Russell, BA Environmental and Sustainability Studies, 2020, and Tatiana Gervase, BS Psychology ’20, were selected as OSCAR Student Excellence Award Winners.
  • Blake Silver, assistant professor, Department of Sociology and Anthropology, and director of data analytics and assessment, Honors College, was selected as an OSCAR Faculty Mentor Excellence Award Winner.

Eighteen CHSS students competed for prizes awarded by the College of Humanities and Social Sciences: eight for Poster/Video presentation prizes, and ten for oral talks. As in previous years, faculty judges volunteered to help review the posters, videos, and oral presentations.

Of these students, the college awarded two outstanding presentation prizes for the top video and poster presentations, and two outstanding presentation awards for the top synchronous talks.

Students selected for the Outstanding Video and Poster Award

  • Gordon Kinsey-Kerr, Psychology, for his project, “Conspecific Aggression in a Captive Sample of Scimitar-Horned Oryx.”
  • Kayla Popik, Conflict Analysis and Resolution, for her project, “A Restorative Approach to Title IX.”

Students selected for the Outstanding Live Presentation Award

  • Chloe Clark, Communication, for her project, “Examining the Relationship between College Student’s level of Anxiety and Academic Performance.”
  • Liam Behan, Communication, for his project, “What makes a movie worth it today?”