George Mason University

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Mason is...Pioneering Research

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Students in research lab

Mason biology major Mai Abdel-Ghani, left, with MD student Kirsten Norrell, provides an example of the type of student benefiting from the university's undergraduate research program, which won national recognition as a model for other universities to follow.

Recognizing Undergraduate Research

Mason biology major Mai Abdel-Ghani knew she wanted to be a researcher while she was still in high school. At 16, the Egyptian native landed a research assistant position at the Center for Genetic Medicine Research at Children’s National Medical Center in Washington, D.C., where she continued working while attending Mason.

Before her junior year, she received the Young Investigator Award from the American Society of Bone and Mineral Research for her abstract on her work with single nucleotide polymorphism on the perilipin 4 gene, which is associated with obesity and bone mineral content in females. “You have to want to see your research make a difference in someone’s life,” she said. 

It's that kind of hard work, high standards, dedication, and achievement by Mason undergraduate researchers that recently helped the university gain national recognition.

The Council on Undergraduate Research awarded Mason its 2015 Campuswide Award for Undergraduate Research Accomplishment. The national award recognizes Mason’s efforts to expose a greater number of students to research opportunities and provide access to leading scholars outside the classroom.

“We encourage our students to pursue research because it is one of the most effective and transformative learning experiences they can have,” says President Ángel Cabrera.

About 2,725 Mason students in the past three years have completed an original research or creative project, and more than 17,000 undergraduates have beenintroduced to research and creative activities through courses and projects.

Mason has created a “national model for other institutions to emulate,” the nonprofit council said.