FAQs About the NRT Program

Application-Related Questions

No, you do not need to submit a letter of recommendation with your application. On the application we request the contact information for one professional reference. For select applicants, we will solicit a letter of recommendation separately.

No, the laboratories and/or mentors that you select on the traineeship application are not binding.

Program-Related Questions

NRT trainees are George Mason University graduate students. Trainees may apply as prospective Mason graduate students or during their early graduate career. The training program lasts the length of a trainee’s graduate career. U.S. citizens, nationals, permanent residents, and international students may fully participate in the program. Competitive one year National Science Foundation (NSF) NRT fellowships are available for eligible students.

Trainees who are U.S. citizens, nationals, and permanent residents are eligible for a one year NSF-funded fellowship. NSF-funded trainees must be a Mason master’ or doctoral-level student enrolled in a research-based STEM degree program that requires a thesis or dissertation. The fellowship includes a $34,000 stipend and covers tuition, fees, and health insurance. The application for funding is the same as the application to join the training program.

Trainees who are not eligible for the NSF-funded fellowships are typically funded by research and/or teaching assistantships through faculty mentors or home graduate programs. We encourage trainees to contact CASBBI faculty to learn more about funding opportunities they may have available.

Trainees will benefit from an individualized interdisciplinary curriculum, scaffolded by laboratory rotations and hands-on workshops; a year-long community-engaged design project; and training in entrepreneurship, communication skills and team science. By the end of your graduate program, we anticipate that you will have Convergence Learning skills in i) Knowledge integration, ii) Procedural learning; iii) Transfer of learning; iv) Communication; and v) Team science.

  1. Knowledge integration: Applies knowledge based on a disciplinary foundation and integrates knowledge from different disciplines; can define a problem using multiple perspectives based on disciplinary knowledge, lived experience and community knowledge.
  2. Procedural learning: Knows how, when, and why to apply different methodological approaches to problems and questions.
  3. Transfer of learning: Independently adapts and applies skills, abilities, theories, or methodologies gained in one situation to new situations to explore complex issues in original ways.
  4. Communication: Demonstrates teamwork, critical and reflective thinking, and intercultural knowledge and competence to communicate effectively with community stakeholders
  5. Team science attitude: Values the diversity of the multiple disciplines, perspectives, and experiences that support convergence and team science.

As part of the interdisciplinary training experience, trainees have the opportunity to complete a rotation in a laboratory outside of their home discipline. Projects will be developed with input from the trainee, their primary mentor (home department) and co-mentor (rotation laboratory). Rotation projects may inform a trainee’s Master’s thesis or doctoral dissertation. Trainees may rotate in a CASBBI-affiliated laboratory or another laboratory, with permission.

Please contact Program Director Siddhartha Sikdar at ssikdar@gmu.edu and your prospective degree program department mentor to indicate your interest in the NRT program. You can apply using the link above, but must be enrolled as a Mason graduate student to join the NRT program. Please note that admission to the NRT is separate from admission to your degree program.

Please contact Program Director Siddhartha Sikdar at ssikdar@gmu.edu to become involved. Here are some ways you can be involved:

  • Participate in informational interviews with the NRT students to help them understand the complex dimensions of the problems faced by the communities you serve
  • Connect students to others in your network who might be willing to share their perspectives on community needs and potential solutions
  • Brainstorm with the students to help them identify workable solutions or approaches
  • Do you have another idea for how to partner with the NRT to solve problems that are important to you? We’d love to hear from you!

Disclaimer: Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.