Extraordinary Research Presented at 2013 Undergraduate Symposium

by Rashad Mulla

Extraordinary Research Presented at 2013 Undergraduate Symposium
The winners from the 2013 Undergraduate Research Symposium pose with college staff.

A buzzing, inquisitive audience of George Mason University faculty, staff and students educated themselves on topics ranging from trust in synthetic voices to Irish pub culture in the United States. In a reversal of roles, College of Humanities and Social Sciences students were the ones doing the educating.

The students presented their research projects at the 2013 Undergraduate Research Symposium, hosted by tthe college's Office of Undergraduate Academic Affairs on April 30, 2013. The symposium, held in Dewberry Hall, was home to 50 projects - 40 poster presentations and 10 oral presentations. For the poster presentations, the students explained their projects to roaming faculty and staff. Oral presenters were given 15 minutes to discuss their research to an audience in a separate room. A large, comprehensive contingent of faculty and staff members served as judges, on hand to critique the research and help determine the event’s top projects.

Seven students earned awards at the event's conclusion:

Best Overall Research and Scholarship – Oral Presentation

  • Kathleen Strylowski, English - Framing Frames: Reconstructing Lost Truth in Fun Home

Best Overall Research and Scholarship – Poster Presentation

  • Karla T. Lockwood, Psychology - Factors in Manager Resistance to Telework

Outstanding Oral Presentation

  • Sarah Albani, Neuroscience - A Glutamatergic Gain of Function Drug Turns on Hippocampal Functioning in Juvenile Animals

Outstanding Poster Presentation

  • Marion B. Chaloux, Anthropology - "Short People Got No Reason to Live:" Long Bone Length and Selective Mortality of Children in Medieval Denmark

Outstanding Poster Presentation

  • Justin Hall, Global Affairs - Informal Networks of Individuals and Global Governance: Case Studies from Wikipedia and Peer-to-Peer Microfinance

Outstanding Poster Presentation

  • Laya Muralidharan, Psychology - The Effects of Synthetic Voice on Trust in Automation

Outstanding Poster Presentation

  • Elizabeth A. Benkert, Neuroscience - Dendritic Morphology of Medium Spiny Neurons in the Dorsal Striatum During Goal-Directed Learning

Eden King, associate professor in the Department of Psychology, was encouraged by the event.

"It is exciting to see all the research going on in CHSS, and particularly to see so many outstanding undergraduate scholars leading important projects," King said. "The research symposium gives the whole community a chance to observe the critical thinking, analysis and communication skills our undergraduate students have mastered."

Being new to Mason, J.P. Singh, professor of Global Affairs and Cultural Studies, attended the symposium for the first time.

"I enjoyed the CHSS Undergraduate Research Symposium immensely," he said. "It was impressive to be among such thoroughly well-researched projects and posters. Our undergraduates could hold their own at any academic research conference. Personally, I was deeply touched by the enthusiasm for research among undergraduates."

Jamie Cooper, associate dean of undergraduate academic affairs in the college, said the symposium's importance continues to increase.

"Research and critical thinking are important skills for intellectual development but also very pragmatic and necessary skills for professional development," he said. "The symposium gives students the opportunity to showcase the products of their intellectual growth, as well as sharpen their ability to communicate effectively to a diverse audience."

As he does each year, Cooper received positive feedback from the presenting students and faculty members.

"This is one of my favorite events because it allows our students to share their great projects and research with the college and university community," he said. "We always get comments from faculty within and outside the college about how impressed they are with our students."

Students engaged in a competitive online application process in order to present at the symposium. The entire list of presenters is available from links on the right. Pictures from the event are on the college’s Facebook page (see link to right).