Summer Team Impact Projects

Summer Team Impact Projects tackle global questions and challenges within all three focus areas of Mason impact. Faculty present a question to a team of undergraduate students who work throughout the summer to create a solution and then present their findings, their action plan, or their prototype to the Mason community.

For Faculty and Staff

Faculty will have the opportunity to work with colleagues and a team of undergraduate students on a question, challenge, or topic, of personal and professional interest.  

Undergraduate students can advance your current research, investigate a potential new research avenue, or work with a community-identified project. You are welcome to publish or present the results of this work (with the student's co-authorship) beyond Mason, and you’ll receive a stipend for your efforts!

The Office of Undergraduate Education meets with the accepted faculty in January to go over the program goals and student recruitment, and again in April to go over the summer timeline and share resources for a successful project.

The Deadline for submitting a proposal is November 17, 2023. Pending funding, projects will begin in May 2024.


Summer Team Impact Grant Proposals


The Office of Undergraduate Education is calling for proposals for Summer Team Impact Project Grants (STIP) for Summer 2024. Pending funding, these projects will support multidisciplinary summer projects of undergraduate students, graduate students, and faculty members. These faculty-led projects will explore a central theme, a research question, or a community-identified problem. 

We are particularly seeking proposals with a focus on Anti-Racist Community Engagement as defined by the Office of Community Engagement and Civic Learning, however, all proposals are welcome. The deadline for submissions is November 17, 2023. These projects will proceed in the summer of 2024 pending funding.

Submit a Summer Team Impact Proposal on a question, challenge, or topic, of personal and professional interest.


Submission Guidelines

To submit your proposal, follow these steps: 

1. Add your contact information, a project summary, and upload a narrative (see below)  

2. Acknowledge that you have read and agree to the important additional considerations  

3. Enter Budget  

  • Mentor and Graduate Student Stipends - Each grant can support up to 2 Faculty and staff mentors with a stipend of $3,000 each. In addition each grant can receive one of the following:

    • Additional faculty mentor with a $3,000 stipend.
    • Graduate student with a $6,000 stipend.
  • Undergraduate Students: $6,000 each for each undergraduate student (6-10 students per grant). Please provide the number of expected students.
  • Supplies: up to $4,000. Please list items and approximate costs

Narrative Portion Outline

In a single PDF file, upload a narrative—of no more than four pages—that addresses all the following:

  • Overview of the central question or problem and the project that students will be participating in over the summer
  • Timeline for the 10-week program including
    • A first-week student boot camp
    • Enrichment activities for the participating students
  • Undergraduate Participation
    • Describe how the undergraduate students will be participating in answering the central question or problem.
    • Describe what you think the undergraduate students will learn and/or take away from their summer experience working with you.
    • Describe expected student interest in the project.
  • Involvement of partners
    • Tell us how you are connecting with campus partners, such as the library and research centers
    • If applicable, what off-campus partners are you engaging to answer this question. A letter of support from outside partners participating would be a benefit to the proposal if applicable.
  • Student Recruitment Plan
    • How you are going to find and recruit student participants
    • A position description for undergraduate student researchers, which will be posted on Handshake


For Students

You will have the opportunity to learn to tackle a global question or challenge while working on a team. You will contribute to the creation of an original scholarly work that can change our understanding of the world, develop a prototype, or change a community. 

Are you interested in participating in a Summer Team Impact Project? 

  • Summer projects are announced in January. If you see an interesting project listed later on, reach out to one of the faculty on the team and share your interest. 
  • In February, the position descriptions for all of the summer teams will be listed on Handshake. Just search "Summer Team Impact" to find all of the opportunities and apply to the projects that interest you.
  • Positions close March 18, 2024

Or apply to the position by searching for the project with the following numbers:


Investigating the link between civic engagement, E-health, and health outcomes of older immigrants


Assessing Supports to Address Suicidality Among Northern Virginian Middle- and High- Schoolers


Addressing the International Artificial Intelligence Cyber Question with US Cyber Command


Recording the lived experiences of patients with chronic pain from minoritized and underserved communities


How do we recruit and retain a diverse, new generation of Virginia teachers?


2024 Grant Recipients

Investigating the link between civic engagement, E-health, and health outcomes of older immigrants

Limei Chen, Jung Yeon (Ellie) Park, Kyeung Mi Oh (Social Work, Division of Educational Psychology and Research Methods, Nursing)

Exclusion from civic engagement and finding meaningful roles in society can have strong implications for older adults’ health and well-being. Civic engagement has been conceptualized as a part of the broader construct of social capital and has been identified as a pathway for accessing important health information through personal networks, and public and community organizations. However, there is a paucity of research examining how health, race, ethnicity, and gender facilitate or impede civic engagement in late life. The purpose of this proposed interdisciplinary project is to investigate the state of civic engagement among older adults of color in Fairfax County. This project will provide students with a rich experiential learning in community-based participatory research with communities of color in Fairfax County such as skills in cultural adaptation of measures and cultural humility when working with older adults of color. The results of this study will be shared as a student-led workshop to promote and educate the communities on older adults' civic engagement in tandem with digital literacy for positive health behavior. 

Assessing Supports to Address Suicidality Among Northern Virginian Middle- and High- Schoolers

Melissa Villodas, Anna Parisi (Social Work) 

Suicidality and non-suicidal self-injury among youth continue to grow as serious public health concerns in the United States (US) and globally. With alarming rates of suicide trending in the wrong direction across the world, researchers are committed to bending the curve of suicide and reducing rates by 2025. Research and published reports have consistently brought attention to the alarming need to intervene and address mental health at a much earlier time point than previously anticipated. Indeed, improving access to mental health resources early in life can facilitate lifesaving connections for youth. Therefore, the proposed project will contribute to national efforts to reduce suicide by focusing on our local communities within Fairfax and Prince William County public schools. We seek to investigate what resources, programs, interventions, and services are available for middle- and high- school students in this region. The goal of this project is to highlight interventions, programs, or initiatives in place within Fairfax and Prince William County Public middle- and high- schools that offer support to students who express thoughts of suicide. Additionally, we aim to identify specific factors within each high school that contribute to enhanced student support, such as family involvement efforts or training for school staff.

Addressing the International Artificial Intelligence Cyber Question with US Cyber Command

Brian Ngac, Nirup Menon (Information Systems & Operations Management) 

The United States Cyber Command (US CYBERCOM)’s mission is to “Direct, Synchronize, and Coordinate Cyberspace Planning and Operations - to Defend and Advance National Interests - in Collaboration with Domestic and International Partners.” Through working with a US CYBERCOM point of contact (POC), the cyber undergraduate research team (CURT) of eight will be split into two groups to focus on a research question identified by the US CYBERCOM POC: “What countries are leading the development of Artificial Intelligence (AI), particularly the use of AI in malware development and infrastructure deployment for networks security?” From this research question, the two CURTs will be tasked with two separate efforts from the United States of America’s (USA) point of view: one focusing on countries who may be considered adversaries and the other focusing on countries who are considered allied partners. The overall goal will be to publish two papers in the Information Systems Audit and Control Association (ISACA) Journal – a premier cyber security and audit practitioner journal.

Recording the lived experiences of patients with chronic pain from minoritized and underserved communities

Samuel Acuna, Kevin Lybarger, Seiyon Lee, Siddhartha Sikdar (Bioengineering and Information Sciences and Technology, Statistics) 

"Chronic neck pain is a serious public health problem, considered to be one of the main causes of worldwide disability. There is a strong interest in finding better diagnostic and screening methods to identify the underlying sources of pain and guide treatment decisions. However, finding indicators of potential pain mechanisms is not straightforward.  The origins of chronic pain are multifactorial, and a person’s experience with chronic pain covers physical, psychological, socioeconomic, and social dimensions. For example, chronic pain is more prevalent in women and in people from lower-income groups. Thus, there is a need to investigate the phenomenon of chronic pain in areas beyond the body and functions and consider the lived experiences of people experiencing chronic pain. 

This project aims to investigate chronic neck pain through the lived experiences of people from minoritized and underserved communities. Through questionnaires and semi-structured interviews, we will form a good understanding of how patients describe their chronic pain in their own words, which will form the basis of thematic and linguistic analyses that direct clinical decision-making. A person’s unique description of their pain may contain powerful indicators of their pain condition that could be used to guide treatment decisions."

How do we recruit and retain a diverse, new generation of Virginia teachers?

Margaret Weiss and Holly Glaser (College of Education and Human Development/Division of Special Education and disAbility Research, Elementary Education) 

"Understanding why individuals choose to enter the teaching profession and why they choose to stay in the profession would provide guidance in how to recruit and retain individuals in the field. This is critically important to understand for special education, elementary education, and for teachers of color. The purpose of this summer impact project is to (a) conduct a scoping literature review on recruitment and retention of special education and elementary education teachers, particularly teachers of color, (b) create and pilot survey and focus group processes to study preservice and inservice teachers, and (c) share results with Special Education and Elementary Education Division Directors to guide further work.