Dean's Challenge Award Winners and Nominees

Brandan Buck - Dean's Challenge Fellowship winner 

Brandon Buck 

Brandan is a 2nd year PhD student and digital history fellow at the Roy Rosenzweig Center for History and New Media. He previously completed his Master of Arts in History at George Mason University in 2016 and his Bachelor of Arts in History at the University of Denver in 2009. Brandan’s research interests are U.S. Cold War foreign policy, postwar conservatism, the national security state, and digital military history. His dissertation research is concerned with Cold War policy debates within the U.S. Congress and American conservatism. Upon completion of his PhD, Brandan intends to pursue an academic career. 

For his dissertation, Brandan plans to explore conservative opposition to U.S. foreign policy from 1946 to 1996. The Fishel fellowship will allow him to continue the work he has done using the R programming language to analyze congressional voting records over that period. 


Donnelle Bodnarchuk - Dean's Challenge Scholarship winner 

Donnelle Bodnarchuk

Being at Mason has provided Donnelle with endless opportunities to challenge herself to become a better historian and student. Donnelle is from New Jersey and felt attracted to Mason because of all of the opportunities presented to her to explore her interests. As a member of the Honors College, she was exposed to the research process early on, allowing her to explore her passions. With this newfound passion for research and a love for history, she utilized Mason’s Office of Student Scholarship, Creative Activities, and Research to pursue her own independent research project with Dr. Kelly. In this project, she investigated Pope John Paul II and his influence in undermining communism in Poland after his 1979 visit. She then had the fortunate opportunity to take her experience in historical research, to then pursue an Honors in History thesis with Dr. Collins. In this project, she is exploring the iconography on the coinage of Roman emperors Diocletian and Constantine. To aid her studies, she has the privilege of working with Dumbarton Oaks and their unpublished coins. With these opportunities to challenge herself at Mason, she plans to pursue her PhD in Medieval History after graduating in December 2020. She has felt incredibly supported by the faculty at Mason, which has given her the confidence in her work as a historian and she will carry that on to her graduate studies. 

Janie Ritter - nominee