Skip to main

Dean's blog: A unique point of view for a better future

Years ago, a popular tech advertising slogan encouraged people to "Think Different." And we actively encourage our Mason Science faculty, staff, and students to successfully do just that. 

Our critical thinking, grit, and creative problem-solving skills are signature trademarks that have led to productive collaborations and great discoveries. Over the past few weeks, we've been busy. Our Mason scientists and partners from around the world have secured millions in funding, discussed their research within the community via the Access to Excellence podcast and Galileo's Science Cafe, shared their discoveries through major media outlets like Popular Science, NPR, Gizmodo, Scientific American, the New York Times, and CNN and brought forth publications in such outlets as Nature Communications Earth and EnvironmentCell Reports Medicine, and PLOS Biology.

It's not just how productive we are that excites me. I'm also inspired by the many scientific avenues we are exploring...

Mason scientists and collaborators unveil a new camera system and software package that allows both researchers and filmmakers to capture and display animal-view videos. This image of three male orange sulphurs Colias eurytheme is an example of one such depiction.
Mason scientists and collaborators unveil a new camera system and software package that allows both researchers and filmmakers to capture and display animal-view videos. This image of three male orange sulphurs Colias eurytheme is an example of one such depiction. Photo by Daniel Hanley (CC BY 4.0,

We brought forward innovative uses of technology to show how animals, including birds, reptiles and even bees can see the world, or even solve crimes. We used proprietary protein activation mapping techniques to discover the first ever signatures of global resistance and response to prioritize breast cancer treatment selections with our I-SPY 2 trial collaborators. Or how about leveraging AI, spatiotemporal, and data fusion methodologies to analyze climate factors and climate change. Mason scientists are tapped to lead global collaborations focused on exploring digital twins and building community resilience, analyzing how high urban flood risk and no shelter access disproportionally impacts vulnerable communities in the US. 

And we also continue to offer unique opportunities for the next generation of Mason scientists. All these research efforts I've noted actively engage and include Mason Science students on their teams. In addition to working through these grand challenges, we know our students thrive by building resiliency and expanding their point of view. 

With a cohort of more than 62% undergraduates and more than 50% of graduate students identifying as female, Mason Science also offers numerous activities and support to explore career trajectories and professional journeys for females in all fields of science. This week we partnered with Thermo Fisher Scientific to bring the Women Breaking Barriers in Forensic Science panel to our future workforce. Peer mentoring programs from our STEM Accelerator can help those who need it. And we also have strong support in place for the ~20 percent of our students who transferred to Mason to help them access these research opportunities to succeed in STEM pursuits. 

We encourage our scientists to listen to their inner curiosity. Here, it is OK to be all together different. They continue to learn from audacious people within our Mason community who represent the diversity of insight, the agility of collaboration, and the tenacity required in the struggle to innovate and discover solutions to bring forward a better future for us all.