Omar Alkhonini receives 2017 Outstanding QP Award

Omar Alkhonini is a linguistics doctoral candidate at GMU and a graduate lecturer, currently teaching in the Modern and Classical Languages Department. He is the first recipient of the Outstanding Qualifying Paper award, and the following is a short Q&A about his time here at Mason.


What are your research interests, and why did you choose to pursue them at Mason?

My research interests include phonetics, phonology, and second language acquisition. After finishing my MA in linguistics at Southern Illinois University, I chose to pursue my doctoral studies at GMU for several reasons, including the program’s strong focus on my areas of interest.

Moreover, students in this program gain a great deal of experience writing scientific research. One of the requirements before starting to write the dissertation is to write two long experimental studies, called qualifying papers, on two different (but possibly related) fields of linguistics. These papers must be well-written to be approved by the primary and secondary advisors. Although this process can be difficult, it improves our research abilities and prepares us for the dissertation, and this was another reason I came to GMU.

How did you feel about receiving the Outstanding QP Award?

During spring 2017, the department announced that this year there would be a prize for the winner of the best qualifying paper in the program. Before submitting my paper, I did my best to polish it with the great help I received from my committee professors, Dr. Weinberger and Dr. Wulf. In fall 2017, the award for outstanding qualifying paper was awarded to me, which was both exciting and humbling.

Now that I am in the process of writing my dissertation proposal, this award has motivated me to work even harder. I am sure that if this prize continues to be offered, it will help motivate other students to produce quality work in the future.

The prize of $1,500 was a great help to me as a student since I used some of it to pay for conference fees and books for my research. I am sure this kind of prize will not only motivate students to work harder on improving their research but also help them pay for some of the expenses that benefit their learning and work in the field, which are sometimes difficult to afford.