Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Senior Team Update: Team RITALIN

This past November, seven members of senior Team RITALIN (Brian Barnett, Valerie Cohen, Taylor Hearn, Emily Jones, Alice Kunin, Jessica Lee, and Gautam Rao) attended Neuroscience 2013, the 43rd annual meeting of the Society for Neuroscience. This conference gathered over 30,000 neuroscientists from across the globe in San Diego to share ideas and interests about current and future projects. Held over a span of five days, the conference is In addition to viewing dozens of posters and attending several lectures, Brian, Taylor, Jessica, and Gautam presented their team's project, Impact of Prenatal Nicotine Exposure on Impulsivity and Neural Activity in Medial Prefrontal Cortex. 
"It was amazing to see almost every neuroscientist in the country in one place. It was an extraordinary example of how collaborative the scientific process can be" -Taylor Hearn

Somehow, team RITALIN managed to leave the bliss of sunny San Diego and return to College Park, where they are now fully concentrated on finishing their thesis.
They hope that some of their newly-made connections will add unique insights to their final product and are excited to finish senior year strong!

-Taylor Hearn: Team RITALIN: Class of 2014

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Missed out on GSC's November Events?...

Don't worry! Here's a run-down of what the GSC committees have been up to the past month...

Stay tuned for our upcoming events and don't forget to like us on Facebook and follow us on Instagram and Twitter! 

The Academic Affairs Committee hosted a Pre-Med & Health Professions Advising event presented by Wendy Loughlin. Wendy is the Director of the Health Professions Advising Office, and gave an insight overview on how to prepare for the medical school application process. She discussed what makes a competitive applicant, questions about the new MCAT, and mostly importantly the significance of patient empathy. Wendy specifically talked about Maryland’s medical school and their push for patient interaction as well as unique and diverse experiences.
Students were full of curiosity and questions to which Wendy provided detailed and informative answers for. Everyone that attended also received super awesome syringe pens to prepare for their medical futures!

The Student Activities Committee hosted its annual Fall Food Olympics were held on November 15th in front of Ellicott Hall. As tradition entails, two students pair up to compete in an obstacle course involving food: this year's challenges included feeding pudding while blindfolded, eating apple slices while crab-walking, and balancing candy corn while doing a three-legged race. With our previous 3-year champions graduated and gone, new challengers were eager to win the title and our grand prize: Gems Formal tickets! Sophomores Zeke Gonzalez and Yvette Mann stepped up and snatched away those tickets – congratulations to this duo for becoming the 2013 Fall Food Olympics Champions! Come back next fall and see if they'll maintain their title and prowess – for now, let's get ready for Gems Formal 2013!

The Gemstone Student Council enhanced their monthly GBM this month with the first annual Gemsgiving!  Students brought food to contribute to the potluck ranging from pizza to baked chicken.  Though all members of GSC brought food to the event, the other generous students who brought food were entered into a raffle for an amazon gift card.  Additionally, GSC surprised everyone with three other gift cards hidden under chairs.  As for the GBM, each cohort shared recent events and milestones in their Gemstone process.  Turnout was one of the greatest all year second only to the first GBM! 

The Community Engagement Committee hosted Gemstone’s First SHABAM.  SHABAM stands for Shabbat Across Maryland, and is an annual Friday night dinner provided by the Maryland Hillel, made possible by donations from the Gorlin family.  Gemstone’s SHABAM was one of 75 meals across campus feeding over 1,000 UMD students.  Some students came for the free food and others to learn a little about what Shabbat is all about, but everyone got the chance to have a sit down dinner together in the Gemstone suite.  Junior Steph Gross and senior Jenn Rottenberg explained some of the customary practices that are done before a typical Shabbat friday night dinner, reciting customary prayers in Hebrew before explaining their English meaning and significance.  SHABAM was one of the first events of CEC’s goal to provide the Gemstone community with first hand experiences of different cultures that represent the diverse program.

We cannot wait to see you at Gems Formal 2013!

-Alexa Cohen: Team HAPTIC : Class of 2016
-Edward Lin: Team AWE: Class of 2015
-Tom Schmitt: Class of 2017
-Shivani Patel: Team BASS: Class of 2015

Monday, December 2, 2013

Gems Formal 2013

Getting ready for Gems Formal, Saturday December 7th?  We are too!  
Junior Christina Winkler gives her own perspective looking back at her experiences at Gems Formal 

Looking back at my past two (almost two and a half!) years in Gemstone, I have been to a lot of Gemstone events. While GSC hosts awesome events all year long, Gems Formal is the event I look forward to all year long! I have been a part of SAC since my freshman year, so I am always very active in the planning and execution process of Gems Formal. Excitement begins months before the event, when we sit down as a committee to seriously debate the theme of the year. A few weeks later, we'll move on to decorations. The day of, we make the balloon arch and decorate the ballroom in Stamp, and, finally, formal is here!

I don't know if I can pick one single favorite formal memory. I always really enjoy socializing with and listening to the DJ with my former students and friends across cohorts. Somewhere in between finding the perfect dress, socializing with my friends and students across cohorts, and dancing to the DJ, Gems Formal is always a fantastic night! 

This year is no exception - I cannot wait and I hope that you are all as excited as I am for Gems Formal! And remember - a little party never hurt nobody.

Still need tickets? visit :Gems Formal Tickets !
Can't wait to see you there!

-Christina Winkler: Team VIRTUAL : Class of 2015

Monday, November 25, 2013

Congratulations to some of Gemstone's Precious Gems!

Congratulations to our junior students, Winston Liu and Mel Walsh on receiving prestigious scholarships! 

Winston Liu was awarded the Whitaker International Undergraduate Scholarship!
The Whitaker International Undergraduate Scholarship Program provides funding of up to $7,500 to increase the number of undergraduates in biomedical engineering (BME) who go abroad; to provide the opportunity for students to see BME from an international perspective early in their educations, and to develop students to become future leaders in BME. Winston is Maryland's first Whitaker International Scholarship recipient.

Mel Walsh was awarded the Sarah Gingrich Firebaugh Memorial Scholarship!
Sarah Gingrich Firebaugh Memorial Scholarship, a scholarship for Gemstone students who are engineering or science majors from Pennsylvania.

Congratulations to our impressive Gemstone Terps!

-Stephanie Gross: Team SILVER: Class of 2015

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

A Look Back at Gemstone: An Alumna Perspective

Now in her first year of medical school, Anastasiya Latushko looks back at her time at Maryland in the Gemstone Program: 

When I first started college, I wasn’t sure that Gemstone was for me. I was never really interested in research so signing myself up for four years of it seemed scary but ultimately, I decided to do it because of something a senior said during an accepted student’s panel I attended. She had been interviewing at medical schools and her interviewers were so impressed by the unique opportunity Gemstone offered undergrads, they spent the entire interview talking about it. I hate to say it but it was what sold me on Gemstone. Four years later, when I was applying to medical school 30-40% of my application consisted of Gemstone-related things. Whether I talked about the actual research Team RODENT did, the teamwork aspect of the program, or the leadership experience I gained both from being part of my team and also being a GEMS100 section leader I really did spend a big chunk of time at interviews talking about Gemstone.
Alumni Anastasiya and Alex at their White Coat Ceremony
I remember the sense of awe I experienced when I went to the Senior Thesis Conference as a freshman seeing everything the senior teams accomplished. It all seemed so daunting, I couldn’t imagine producing that quantity and quality of work. But somehow, after a lot of hard work and long hours, we did it. 
When I started at the University of Maryland School of Medicine three months ago, I had this same feeling of anxiety when professors started telling us everything we would have to accomplish before graduation. But just like in Gemstone, you have to take it one day at a time. Med school is as hard as everyone says it is. There’s a common analogy that people use to explain the amount of work you have: if college was drinking from a hose then med school is like drinking from a fire hydrant. So, even when you think your brain can’t possibly absorb another piece of information or you spend hours in the anatomy lab the week before an exam making sure you can identify the 12 cranial nerves and their locations, you just do it and move on to the next task. For me, it was always important to see the bigger picture, our end goal, when we were doing our research, even though it was easy to get caught up in the little details. That’s exactly how I feel about med school now. When I start to lose track of why I want to be a doctor because I’m frustrated about having to memorize some minute details of the Krebs cycle, I go and shadow a doctor to remind myself of what the end goal is, and that’s to be able to have an impact on someone’s life by helping them feel better.

Gemstone was a big part of my life in college and now that I’ve graduated, I feel like it’s still having an impact on me. It helped me get to medical school and now that I’m here, I still use what I learned during my four years in the program.

-Anastasiya Latushko: Class of 2013: Team RODENT

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

October GSC Events:

Wonder what the Gemstone Program got up to last month?  
GSC committees AAC and SAC each hosted an October event!!

This October the Student Activities Committee hosted its first Gems Class Heroes sports event.  The program reserved the Engineering Fields, located by the main entrance to campus, for a Saturday afternoon of sports, games, and bonding for all Gemstone students.  Students who cam out to Gems Class Heroes played everything from frisbee and kickball to two pick-up games of football.

Academic Affairs kicked off the semester with Cracking the College Code on Thursday the 17th of October.  Attendees enjoyed a night of Dunkin’ Donuts, hot chocolate and tips about life at UMD.  Four interactive sessions were available for students to choose from, with time to attend three during the hour.  These included:

 Clubs and Activities was led by Tony Trinh.  Tony talked about various opportunities on campus, including Images, RHA, and student led organizations.  As he presented, students were able to ask questions about groups they were particularly interested in as well as about how to schedule time to do it all!  
Mitul Patel, freshman representative on the Academic Affairs Committee, talked about  fun things to do in D.C.  Students got to hear both an inside look and a tourist’s must-see sights.

The session on hidden Gems at UMD, led by Ed Lin, provided the students with some tasty treats and helpful tips on how to really make the most out of their time here at UMD.  Former president of Academic Affairs, Yoon Shin, and Taylor Hearn led the session about Careers 4 Terps.  The website was displayed and its features such as the jobs and internships database were presented, then students had the opportunity to ask questions specific to their major and career interests.

-Stephanie Gross: Class of 2015: Team SILVER
-Sudipta Das: Class of 2017

Monday, October 21, 2013

Precious Gem: Jessica Lee

Jessica Lee is a senior Neurobiology and Physiology major with a minor in Linguistics on Team RITALIN (Research In Testing ADHD's Link to Impulsivity in Neuroscience).  
Though Jessica was not certain of how she would mesh with the University of Maryland as a freshman, in her final year here she reflects "... I couldn't have made a better decision."

Jessica's team is researching the impact of prenatal nicotine exposure on impulsivity and neural activity in the medial prefrontal cortex of a rodent model as it relates to ADHD. Team RITALIN hopes to further develop understanding of the neurological basis of the disorder. From writing the literature reviews to working with rats in the lab collecting data, Jessica has enjoyed every minute of working with her team and has found the entire process very gratifying.  After all, she says, “Not everyone will be able to say that they spent four years coming up with a research idea, conducting the research, and writing a thesis...all with a team of other students!

Jessica has been on the Gemstone Student Council for all four undergraduate years and currently serves as the GSC President! She has done a great job so far, successfully recruiting new committee members and coordinating Gemstone freshmen events. She has taught GEMS100 and GEMS104 in the past and is currently a Section Leader for GEMS202. You have probably seen Jessica walking around campus and pointing out random buildings, not because she is crazy, but because she is one of Maryland Images’ finest tour guides as well as their committee head!  She knows the campus like the back of her hand and can effortlessly spit out random UMD Trivia.  But her love for the campus community doesn’t stop there.  Jessica also serves as a CMNS Recruitment Ambassador, for which she reaches out to prospective UMD freshmen. 
What drives her to take on all of these activities? 
Generally, I love serving as a mentor to other students,” she says. 

Being a senior is bittersweet for Jessica.  She’s eager to finish her Gemstone senior thesis, graduate, take a year off, and eventually go to graduate school for health or public administration (she hasn’t yet decided). However, she is enjoying her last year on campus and still makes time to have some fun. Currently, she is working on crossing off items one by one on her "Maryland Bucket List" before she graduates in May!  Well, Jessica, you can cross off “being a legend,” because you truly have come to be a Precious Gem that all current and future Gemstone students can admire and remember for years to come!

-Shivani Patel: Class of 2015: Team BASS

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Ellicott Block Party

Getting ready for upcoming GSC events?  Wondering what events Gemstone has been involved with since the beginning of the semester?...

The Ellicott Block Party was held on September 27th after being rained out on the 12th
Thankfully, the second time was the charm and the weather held up enough to allow students to participate in various carnival-style games, including bowling and trivia games. 
The students who participated in the Block Party had the ability to win raffle tickets for sunglasses, candy, gift cards, and even the full Burger King mascot costume. Students could get free cotton candy, snowballs, and popcorn.  Early birds to the event were given free water bottles.  There was also a very popular moon bounce and a DJ.

Did you miss the block party?  Don't worry! GSC has a number of exciting events coming up soon. Check out the Gemstone Program FB page or on Twitter @GemstoneProgram for updates, opportunities, and upcoming event information!

-Tori Queeney: Class of 2017