College of Health and Human Services
Inova Fairfax Hospital and the National Institutes of Health (NIH) are just two of the clinical research settings in which rehabilitation science professor Ali Weinstein has placed undergraduate students this semester. These placements are a part of Weinstein’s 3-credit class, RBHS 490 Clinical Research Internships, which she teaches with colleague Naomi Lynn Gerber.
The students come from a variety of majors, including computer science, neuroscience, nursing, and biology, and all are members of Mason’s Honors College. Weinstein and Gerber look at an applicant’s transcripts, previous experience, and statement of interest when making decisions.
Students apply to be in this class and be paired with a researcher in their field of interest. “We look for engaged students producing high-quality work. It is very time intensive to be a clinical mentor so we want to make sure the match is a good fit,” she says. This assignment is challenging because students are expected to create their own research project, within the range of ongoing laboratory activities. This leads to a presentation of their original work at the end of the semester.
In addition to the seven or eight hours a week that the students work with their mentors on a project, they also meet weekly on campus to discuss assigned readings and topics related to conducting research in a clinical setting.
Weinstein says, after only two cohorts of students that have completed the course, they have had some really good outcomes. So far, four students published abstracts and presented at national conferences, two received research awards from Mason’s Office of Student Creative Activities and Research, and one is a postbaccalaureate fellow at NIH.