Mason Students Shine at Undergraduate Research Conference

Posted: April 15, 2005 at 1:00 am, Last Updated: November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

A team of students from George Mason recently presented their work at the third annual Colonial Academic Alliance (CAA) Undergraduate Research Conference at Hofstra University in Hempstead, N.Y. Each student spent a significant portion of the past year working on a project under the mentorship of a Mason faculty member and supported by the Mason Undergraduate Apprenticeship Program.

This year’s participants and their projects were:

  • Senior Betelhem Assefa, a chemistry major with a biochemistry concentration, who worked with Professor Tim Born, Chemistry and Biochemistry, on “Determining the Role of Aspartic Acid 304 in Homoserine Transacetylase.”
  • Senior Mazen El-Hajj, a chemistry major with a concentration in biochemistry, who worked with Professor Keith Davies, Chemistry and Biochemistry, on “Diazeniumdiolate Reactivity in Lung Surfactant Media.”
  • Ken Israel, who recently earned his BA in Psychology, worked with Professor Debra Mashek last summer and fall on “Priming the Desire for Less Closeness in a Romantic Relationship.”
  • Senior Tiffany Rivera, an environmental science major with a concentration in geology, who worked with Professor Guiseppina Kysar, Geology, on “Geochemical Analysis of the Sierra Maestra Range in Southeast Cuba.” Rivera will attend Boise State University in the fall to work on a master’s degree in volcanology.
  • Senior Muzaffar Yusupov, a chemistry major with a concentration in biochemistry, who worked with Born on “Functional Role of Homoserine Transsuccinylase and Homoserine Transacetylase.” Yusupov plans to earn a master’s in chemistry at Mason after graduating this spring.

Assefa comments, “I had a good time at the conference. There were many people in my field who attended that allowed me to acknowledge what other students are doing, as well as to establish a good network.”

Students at CAA Research Conference
Mason students participating at the CAA Research Conference were (from left) Ken Israel, Muzaffar Yusupov, Betelhem Assefa, Mazen El-Hajj, and Tiffany Rivera.

The CAA Undergraduate Research Conference brings together about 100 students from the 12 schools in the conference to share their work in a professional setting. The first research conference was held at George Mason in the spring of 2004, and next year’s conference will be at James Madison University.

Members of the Mason community can see the work of the students who presented at the CAA conference later this month at Innovations 2005, which takes place on Wednesday, April 27, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. in the Johnson Center, Dewberry Hall.

For more information about the CAA Conference or the Mason Undergraduate Apprenticeship Program, contact Laurie Fathe, director of the Center for Teaching Excellence, at

Tiffany Rivera
Tiffany Rivera with her project display at the conference.

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