Summer Team Impact Projects

Mason Impacts Students. Students Impact the World.

Summer Team impact Projects

Summer Team Impact Projects tackle global questions and challenges within all three 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.

Faculty Information

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. The 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 will meet 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.

Summer Team Impact Grant Proposal Details

Proposal Announcement

The Office of the Provost is excited to offer grants for Summer Team Impact Projects (STIP) for Summer 2023. The Offices of Undergraduate Education, OSCAR, and CECiL will fund multidisciplinary summer projects for undergraduate students, graduate students, and faculty members. These projects will explore a central theme, a research question, or a community-identified problem. Proposals focusing on the UN Global Goals or Anti-Racist Community Engagement are encouraged. 

The projects can be completed on any Mason campus or 100% online. 

The proposal deadline for Summer 2023 is November 18. 2022.

Submit a Summer Team Impact Proposal

Proposal Submission Guidelines

Follow these three steps to submit your proposal. 

Step 1: Add Contact Information, Project Summary, and upload Narrative (see below) 

Step 2: Acknowledge that you have read and agree to the important additional considerations (found on step 2) 

Step 3: Enter Budget 

  • Mentor Stipends - $9,000 total with no more than $3,000 per mentor. (Please include each mentor who will be paid) 

  • Graduate Students - $6,000 for a single graduate student 

  • Undergraduate Students: $5,000 each for participating undergraduate students (6-10 per grant). Please provide the number of expected students in the comment section and the total funds required to fund those students in the amount field. 

  • Supplies: up to $4,000. Please list items and approximate costs. 

Outline for the Narrative Portion of the Proposal

Narrative of no more than four pages that address all the following in a single PDF file: 

  • Overview of the central question and project 

  • Timeline for the 10-week program.   

    • This should include a first-week student boot camp and enrichment activities for the participating students. 

  • The uniqueness of Project 

    • If you have received funding for a previous Summer Team Impact Project, please tell us how this project differs. 

  • Involvement of Campus Partners 

    • Tell us how you are connecting with campus partners such as the library and research centers 

  • Student Recruitment Plan  

    • How are you going to find and recruit the student participants? 

    • A Position Description for the undergraduate student researchers, which will be posted on Handshake 

Student Information

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, change a community, or develop a prototype..

Interested in participating in a Summer Team Impact Project:

  • Summer projects are announced in January, if you see an interesting project listed later on this page, 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.  Apply to the teams that interest you.
Enslaved Children of George Mason
Enslaved Children of George Mason

Students look through the archives at Gunston hall researching the enslaved children of George Mason as part of a Summer Team Impact Project.

Photo credit:
Photo credit
Evan Cantwell/Creative Services

2022 Summer Team Impact Grant Recipients

Curating and Archiving the Chinese Anti-Rightists Campaign in the 1950s

Shanshan Cui (CVPA) and Myeong Lee (COS)

This summer team impact project brings together a team of undergraduate students to conduct research on the modern history of China with a focus on Anti-Rightist Campaign in 1950s and build a pilot application to archive the results of their research.

The "Anti-Rightist" Campaign in 1957 claimed more than a half million Chinese as "Rightists" due to their unorthodox thoughts. As historical facts are still murky, research to unearth stories and digitally archive the collections about this movement and campaign pose challenges.

The student researchers will collect data through various sources and methods, under the guidance of Mason faculty mentors and researchers in China. Student researchers will also receive training in the areas of data analysis, computational methods in processing a large archival collection, design methodologies in human-computer interaction, and software development. This training will enable students to curate the collected data and make the data available to the public. The project will also promote awareness of human rights and social justice to the interested public as well as make contributions to the field of digital curation.

Undergraduate students apply to be part of this project

Indigenous Environmental Mapping and Resilience Planning in the Greater Chesapeake

Jeremy Campbell (COS) and Tom Wood (CHSS)

After centuries of marginalization, Indigenous nations in the Commonwealth of Virginia have successfully mobilized for recognition and self-determination in recent decades. However, the global climate crisis poses outsized threats to these communities as they work to restore environmental stewardship activities. In this context, the Indigenous Environmental Mapping and Resilience Planning Project aims to partner Mason researchers with Indigenous communities to collect and analyze environmental data to serve as a baseline for tribal decision-making about climate resilience.

By focusing on Indigenous environmental practices, this community-driven research project asks how place-based knowledge can be both preserved and mobilized to inspire community resilience in the face of the climate crisis. As the project works with the Chickahominy and Upper Mattaponi Indian Nations on detailed socio-environmental surveys and data management, we will also pilot a peer-to-peer learning network in which Mason researchers might forge future partnerships with an expanding network of Indigenous environmental managers in the greater Chesapeake region.

Undergraduate students apply to be part of this project

Northern Virginia Region Public Safety Wellness and Resiliency: An Action Research Project

Joel Martin (CEHD) and Marcie Fyok (CEHD)

The primary goal of the project is to improve the health of current public safety officers in the Northern Virginia Region. The stressful nature of public safety officer occupations (i.e. firefighter, law enforcement) causes these individuals to experience high levels of stress and a myriad of health issues. It is well documented that musculoskeletal injuries (MSI) are a major concern for these populations and can acutely impact job performance as well as have other long term effects on long-term wellbeing of the public safety officers.

Current evidence supports that MSI are multi-faceted and appear to be influenced by previous musculoskeletal injuries, low fitness levels, nutrition and sleep hygiene. From relationships developed over the past several years we would like to go into the field to collect biomarkers of human performance during actual work conditions and simulated firefighting tasks. The first aim will be to record physical activity levels of firefighters while they are on- and off-duty for typical shifts. The second aim will be to monitor the intensity of physical work during simulated firefighting tasks, which are required as part of annual testing to ensure firefighters possess necessary levels of fitness to perform tasks commonly completed while on duty.

Undergraduate students apply to be part of this project

Physiological signals as indicators of emotional state during exposure to virtual reality scenarios

Nathalia Peixoto (CEC), Linghan Zhang (CEC), Holly Matto (CEC), and Padmanabhan Seshaiyer (COS)

Our cross-disciplinary project aims at detecting emotional states in people through measuring their physiological responses to virtual reality scenarios. The physiological signals range from heart rate, respiration, or eye movement to brain signals. The virtual reality scenarios can be video games or programmed activities like driving a car, walking down the street, or interacting with an avatar. We are interested in understanding how the emotional state of the user can be detected by wearable devices measuring such physiological correlates during subtle changes in the virtual reality scenario. Our main objective is to design tools that are validated and that enable recovery from addiction, specifically from substance use disorder.

Undergraduate students apply to be part of this project

Surviving Solitary: Living & Working in Restricted Housing Units During Reform

Taylor Hartwell (CHSS) 

Solitary confinement is the logical equivalent to a prison within a prison or what some call double incarceration. It is one of the most used and poorly understood punishment sanctions employed by prisons. Solitary confinement typically means residents are restricted to one- or two-person cells for 23 hours a day. Knowing the challenges faced by residents and staff in solitary confinement units, the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections (PADOC) is restructuring some solitary units, opening new ones, transitioning many residents to general population and using restricted housing less often.

Building on prior research by this research team which identifies the overall experiences of residents living, and staff working in solitary confinement, the proposed in-depth, ethnographic study within solitary confinement units continues critically examining the narrative accounts and behavioral processes involved with decision-making within restricted environments undergoing intense policy/practice change. This project examines the contextual and interactional barriers to solitary confinement changes that hinder reform efforts and outcomes while increasing risk, misconducts and grievances within and impeding replication of solitary reform in other U.S. prisons. Participating student researchers will contribute to the larger Rudes’ study and will design a sub-study of staff and/or residents within solitary confinement units.

Undergraduate students apply to be part of this project

The Role of the Urban Built Environment in Breast Cancer Mortality Health Disparities

Taylor Anderson (COS) Mariaelena Pierobon (COS) and Travis Gallo (COS) 

Social environmental determinants of health include the many conditions in which people are born, grow, work, live, and age. One such aspect of the social environment is the urban built environment which plays a role in overall wellness. Despite the need to reduce health disparities, the assessment of built environmental factors in relation to breast cancer survival is relatively unexplored. Therefore, the main goal of this project is to investigate the role of the urban built environment in breast cancer mortality health disparities in the US.

Students will collect and organize various data sets containing variables that characterize the built environment at a county-level across all counties in the US, use advanced data mining algorithms to identify archetypes that describe the built environment of counties, and develop regression models to quantify the association between county-level built environment archetypes, sociodemographic variables, and breast cancer mortality. This project will give students hands-on experience with all aspects of the use of spatial data science towards the goal of improved health equity. The project outcomes will help identify populations that are vulnerable to increased breast cancer mortality. This information can be used by county health departments and city planners to reduce related health disparities.

Undergraduate students apply to be part of this project