Pillars of Research

Contribute to cutting-edge scholarship and gain valuable research skills in a supportive community of peers and professors with the Pillars of Research Learning Community (PRLC).

Mosaic tile
Contribute to Research of Consequence
Former Pillars of Research LC faculty director Heba El-Shazli teaching a lesson to the PRLC students.

Become a World-Class Researcher

Open to all students, the Pillars of Research LC offers the opportunity to gain hands-on research and analytic skills while contributing to topics of interest and gaining class credit. Students in the semester long community will earn 1 credit of GOVT 399.

As a part of Pillars of Research, students have the opportunity to participate in the Undergraduate Research Assistant Program (URAP) conducting a hands-on research project under the mentorship of a Schar School faculty member.  Students serving as an undergraduate research assistant earn 1-3 additional credits of GOVT 399.

"I do believe that being in a comfortable setting allows students to be more confident in their research and writing. The environment in the PRLC classroom was very welcoming, and it felt like a support group, rather than a required class. I loved that my peers and I were able to bounce ideas off each other and provide positive criticism on what areas of our research we can improve on and how.

Diane Cruz, PRLC '22

Diane Cruz

A Community of Scholars

Students will have a wide-range of professional development opportunities, including:

  • Weekly discussions on research topics with scholars, practitioners, and experts;
  • Facilitated conversations around topics related to research and scholarship, including methodology, research design, data management and analysis, poster design and presentations, and working with institutional review boards;
  • Facilitated conversations about research and future career prospects, including work in academia and the public sector; and 
  • A trip each semester to a Washington, D.C.-area research organization such as the Congressional Research Service, Library of Congress, Council on Foreign Relations, or Brookings Institution.


Students in the Pillars of Research Learning Community pose for a picture in front of the US Capitol during a field trip to the Library of Congress.
Pillars of Research students taking a tour of the Library of Congress

Pillars of Research students took a tour of the Library of Congress this fall.

A Memorable Year

Past events have included: 

Profile photo of Mariely Lopez-Santana

Meet the Pillars of Research Learning Community Director

Mariely Lopez-Santana

For any questions or to learn more, contact: mlopezs1@gmu.edu