George Mason University

News at Mason

Communication and collaboration fueled his Mason experience

December 18, 2019   /   by John Hollis

December graduate Tristan Moon, a member of the Honors College, said communication across disciplinary boundaries helped drive his research. Photo by Lathan Goumas.

Tristan Moon said his experience in multidisciplinary communication and collaborating with others outside his own field of study was the cornerstone of his education at George Mason University.

Moon, who graduates Thursday, Dec. 19, with a bachelor’s degree in chemistry and a minor in Spanish, played a key role in research involving the creation of new nanomaterials using silica. Moon spent several semesters on the research, but said that it wasn’t until he began working with others from different disciplines that he began to maximize the impact of his research.

“The benefits I gained from these experiences were immediately clear when it came time to start speaking about my research,” said Moon, a 23-year-old Honors College student who gave oral and poster presentations to audiences that included nanoparticle experts, chemists and people without a scientific background.

“In each case, I was fully capable of explaining the significance of my research in such a way as to allow understanding,” he said.

The value of communication across disciplinary boundaries has long been a core value for the Honors College, and Richard T. Stafford, director of communications at the Honors College, said that Moon embodied that spirit.

“From when I first taught [Moon] during his first semester in Principles of Research and Inquiry, through several semester periods during which he joined Dean Zofia Burr and myself for the Honors College’s Multidisciplinary Research and Creative Projects seminar, he's demonstrated a commitment to engaging with other students with very different disciplinary and methodological perspectives than his own,” Stafford said. “He takes the work of others very seriously and sees the value of communicating across the disciplinary boundaries about the work he does.”

Moon also chose more direct methods to aid those coming behind him, helping to build the peer and near-peer support system for chemistry students while also playing a key role in putting teams of students in consulting relationships with local nonprofits. He also helped organize tutoring services for students in upper-level chemistry course.

Moon also made time to work with the Arc of Northern Virginia in Fall 2018 as part of the Honors College Connects series. The nonprofit organization works with people with intellectual and developmental disabilities and their families.

“I was able to gain experience in conducting research in a team setting—working with both academic and professional entities—and resolving scheduling difficulties and conflicts,” he said, adding that he appreciated be treated as an equal member of the team.

Moon starts in VCU’s Nanoscience and Nanotechnology PhD program in January, but he said he’ll take with him all that he’s learned at Mason.

“The people here at Mason and the community it offers, both played a large role in how I arrived at my current place,” he said, “and have definitely played a role in developing my love for chemistry, collaboration, communication and discovery.”