Creating the Research and Innovation Ecosystem


  • Stephanie Olson GMU
  • Ioulia Rytikova
  • Thomas Winston
  • Mihai Boicu



STEM education, research experiences for undergraduates, graduate student mentoring, peer teaching, peer assessment


Studies have found compelling evidence indicating the importance of mentoring in promoting the development of a scholar in higher education. Often it is viewed as a relationship between professors and graduate students or junior faculty members. It also assumes professors' influence on students' development through the courses they teach. The topic has been studied thoroughly but it still raises some concerns. As practice indicates, tenure-track/tenured professorsàmostly teach advanced courses, and term/adjunct instructors, who generallyàdo not have extensive research experience, focus on undergraduate education. This creates a gap in how research and teaching are viewed and approached at different levels, and may have a negative impact on studentsââ¬â¢ success if they choose to pursue their education at a higher level.àTheàPersonalized Learning in Applied IT (PLAIT) laboratory offers a comprehensive approachàbyàpromoting a nourishing research environment in which professors (adjunct, term, tenure-track, tenured) and students at all levels are empowered in an innovative research ecosystem by participating in a wide variety of synergic research activities.àThis session gives an opportunity to PLAIT members to present their roles in the research process, describe how it helps them grow as a scholar, and discuss this replicable model.

Author Biographies

Stephanie Olson, GMU

Stephanie Olson is a first year PhD student in Information Technology at George Mason University, working under the supervision of Dr. Mihai Boicu and Dr. Ioulia Rytikova. She holds an M.S. in Applied Information Technology (High Academic Distinction) with a concentration in Information Sciences & Technology and a B.S. in Information Technology (Cum Laude) with a double concentration in Information Security and Databases & Programming from GMU. She is also a Java programming Teaching Assistant, Director of Communications and Graduate Researcher for the Personalized Learning in Applied IT Laboratory, longstanding member of the Honor Committee, and affiliate of the Community Adjudication Board in the Office of Academic Integrity.à

Ioulia Rytikova

Ioulia Rytikova is an Associate Professor and Associate Chair for Graduate Studies in the Department ofàInformation Sciences and Technology,àGeorge Mason University.àShe received a B.S./M.S. degree in Control Systems and her Ph.D. in Applied Mathematics and Computer Science from National University of Science and Technology, Moscow, Russia.

In over 15 years of her career in higher education both in the US and Europe, Dr. Rytikova acquired significant work experience in providing leadership in the areas of innovative teaching and learning, instructional design, and distance education in a variety of STEM disciplines, at both the undergraduate and graduate levels.

Dr. Rytikova designed and developed multiple interdisciplinary programs, concentrations, and courses in the emerging areas of data sciences and big data analytics, computer and information technologies, health information technologies, and statistical analysis.

Dr. Rytikova founded aàPersonalized Learning in AIT lab (PLAIT)àand organized several workshops, as well as published and presented on the topics of learning sciences and analytics, innovative teaching and learning, data sciences and big data analytics, and decision-support and expert systems for large industrial complexes at multiple workshops and conferences.

For her exceptional efforts in the classroom and her contributions to the educational process, Dr. Rytikova received recognition not only from her outstanding students, colleagues, and industry partners, but also from the GMU Volgenau School of Engineering when she received the 2008 Outstanding Teaching Award, one of the most prestigious VSE awards.

Thomas Winston

Thomas G. Winston is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Information Sciences and Technology, and is a member of the Learning Agents Center at George Mason University.

Dr. Winston has a background in telecommunications, information systems security, and international relations. He has focused his career on analysis of cyber threats for Central Eurasia, South Asia and the Middle East. He served as liaison officer at the Department of State and has extensive experience briefing U.S. Government officials on cyber issues. In addition, he has experience as a forensic cyber crime investigator and analyst. Dr. Winston has publications on international relations, law, and critical infrastructure protection. He has published papers for the International Studies Association conference on foreign cyber threats, as well as cyber intelligence and has most recently published a précis of his dissertation at the 49th HICSS conference.

Dr. Winstonââ¬â¢s research interests include critical infrastructure protection, social network analysis, information policy, telemedicine, and social and political impacts of technology.

Dr. Winston completed his Ph.D. in Information Systems at Nova Southeastern University. He has also earned his M.S. in Law, Policy, and Society at Northeastern University, Boston; an M.S. in Telecommunications from Boston University; an M.S. in Education, and a B.A in Linguistics/Russian from the State University of NY at Albany.

Mihai Boicu

Dr. Mihai Boicu isàthe Associate Director of theàLearning Agents Centeràsince 2002 and Associate Professor of Information Technology inàInformation Sciences and Technologyàsince 2007. Heàreceived the Ph.D. degree fromàGeorge Mason Universityàin 2003. Dr. Boicu published over 90 scientific publications, including co-authoring two books, fourteen journal papers, and four book chapters.àHe was co-editor for workshop proceedings and a special issue of the Artificial Intelligence Magazine. Dr. Boicuàhad contributions in several areas of Artificial Intelligence: Instructable Agents, Knowledge Engineering, Multi-agent Systems and Mixed-initiative Reasoning.


Dr. Boicu received several awards for the research and educational activity performed. He received the Innovative Application Award at IAAI-2002, the Fourteenth Annual Conference on Innovative Applications of Artificial Intelligence, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, July 30-August 1, 2002, for the paper ââ¬ÅDevelopment and Deployment of a Disciple Agent for Center of Gravity Analysis,ââ¬Â by Tecuci G., Boicu M., Marcu D., Stanescu B., Boicu C., Comello J., Lopez A., Donlon J., Cleckner W. He received aàCertificate of appreciationàawarded by Colonel Jeffrey P. Hightaian, the Director of the Warfighting Center of Air University, for Outstanding Service to theàAir War College Maxwell Air Force Base Alabama; severalàCertificates of appreciationàand theCentennial Coinàawarded by General Robert Ivany, the Commandant of theàUS Army War College;àCertificate of Appreciationàawarded by Prof. Douglas Campbell, Director of theàCenter for Strategic Leadershipàof the US Army War College. Dr. Boicu also received Outstanding Graduate Student in Information Technology Awardàpresented by Knowledge Consulting Group, George Mason University

**2015 GMU Teacher of Distinction**






4:15pm-5:30pm POSTER SESSION (Group A- 4:15-4:45pm)