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. 

Summer Team Impact Grant Proposals


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 2024 will be announced in the Fall of 2024. 

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 Stipends – $9,000 total with no more than $3,000 per mentor (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) (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 (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 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 the project  
    • If you have received funding for a previous Summer Team Impact Project, 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 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. Apply to the teams that interest you. 

2023 Grant Recipients

Indigenous Environmental Mapping and Resilience Planning Project

Jeremy Campbell, Tom Wood, Shima Mohebbi (Institute for a Sustainable Earth, College of Humanities and Social Sciences, College of Engineering and Computing) 

After centuries of marginalization, Indigenous nations in the Commonwealth of Virginia have successfully mobilized for recognition and self-determination in recent decades. However, environmental stressors pose considerable threats to these communities as they work to restore stewardship over tribal lands and waters.  

Based in a partnership between the Chickahominy Indian Tribe and George Mason researchers, this project aims to collect, organize, and analyze socio-environmental data to support Tribal sovereignty in the realm of environmental decision-making. Our research focuses in two specific areas. First, we follow the principles of Indigenous Data Sovereignty to collect, organize, and archive environmental data pertaining to recently reacquired tribal lands (e.g., wildlife assessments, air and water quality data, GIS and remote sensing data modeling applications). Second, we will work with Chickahominy community members to build capacity for food sovereignty and community health initiatives.  

The data collection and management goals of this project directly inform our applied research efforts, and together these tasks support the broader aim of Indigenous-led landscape restoration. An additional goal of this project is to continue perfecting the engaged research methodologies through which sustained, equitable, and justice-affirming partnerships with Indigenous communities can produce mutually-beneficial outcomes for all.  

Mapping Inequality through Land Ownership and Land Use Change in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia

Claude Van Sant, Laura Sauls (College of Humanities and Social Sciences) 

Building on previous research, this project examines how changes in land ownership and land use in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia explain trends in regional economic inequality and development.  

Through a mixed-method and multidisciplinary collaboration, we will address UN Global Goals 8 (Decent Work and Economic Growth) and 10 (Reduced Inequality) by developing a model of the causes and consequences of rural land transitions. In doing so, the project will contribute to better understanding of the challenges and prospects for well-being in a rapidly changing economic and social context.

Life at the Watering Hole—A One Health Approach to Disease Surveillance in Laikipia County, Kenya

Michael von Fricken, Nora Cleary, James Hassell (College of Public Health, Smithsonian Institute) 

This project aims to provide an international research experience focusing on vector-borne disease (VBD) ecology, surveillance, and epidemiology.  

Through collaborations with partners at the Mpala Research Centre, Smithsonian Institution, and Walter Reed Biosystematics Unit, we plan to provide hands-on training for students to participate in ongoing funded efforts supported by the Department of Defense. A drawback to funding from this mechanism is the limited ability to earmark funds for student engagement. Thus, STIP will allow me to include students in exciting field research, where they will receive hands-on lab and field training using cutting edge surveillance technologies.  

This opportunity will provide students with an immersive experiential learning, a richer understanding of East African culture, and a range of research skills that can be used across disciplines. In addition to mosquito and tick collections, students will have the opportunity to receive training on research methods, vector identification, processing protocols and laboratory procedures. 

Once the study period is over, students will present their projects to the cohort in a symposium setting, open to the greater Mason community. Members can work together to combine various aspects of data analysis and present their findings using R, GIS mapping and statistical analysis.

Reducing Inequalities in Domestic and Sexual Violence Services in Fairfax County

Denise Hines, Michelle Hand, Jeanne Booth (College of Public Health) 

Domestic violence (DV) and sexual violence (SV) have been identified as pressing public health issues, especially since the COVID-19 pandemic, that are experienced by over a third of women and more than a quarter of men in the US, with lasting impacts across individual, relational, organizational, and societal levels. Research has consistently demonstrated the need for a more tailored approach to DV and SV service outreach and delivery for at-risk communities whose needs are not adequately met to increase access, cultural relevance, and quality of services.  

Based on the self-identified needs of a local DV and SV agency, Fairfax County Domestic and Sexual Violence Services (DSVS), this project will begin with a needs assessment of at-risk communities with unmet needs in Fairfax County. Specifically, we will conduct semi-structured interviews with community leaders. This 10-week research project will be guided by faculty mentors who specialize in DV, SV, and trauma research, practice, and education.  

The results will yield timely recommendations for Fairfax County DSVS and will guide our next steps in assessing and attending to the needs of local at-risk communities, through a data-driven community-engaged initiative to reduce inequalities in DV/SV service outreach and access.

Reclaiming Silenced Histories

Charles Chavis, Linda Mann, Alex Jones, Isaac Jasper, Ayondela McDole (Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter School for Peace and Conflict Resolution, College of Humanities and Social Sciences) 

The John Mitchell, Jr. Program for History, Justice, and Race, Summer Team Impact Project (STIP) for Summer 2023 will provide undergraduate students the opportunity to engage in research and anti-racist community engagement to document silenced histories.  

This work will transform both students and descendant communities as they work collaboratively to understand the legacies of historic racial harms and the significance of racial repair.