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 

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Team Gemstone: Sophomore Perspective

Each September, the newly formed Sophomore Gemstone teams get a special opportunity at the CRS Challenge Course, located behind the ERC.  The teams work together to climb the Pirate Ship challenge course and experience a unique environment to help facilitate team-bonding and cohesiveness.

Sophomore, Lauren Amrhein of Team SAVIOR, weighs in on her experience at Team Gemstone:

Team Gemstone was a bonding activity as well as a way for us to get to know each other as teammates. One of the best things we were able to do was cheer each other on as we climbed the challenge course! Hearing everyone’s encouraging voices and seeing everyone put their all into getting to the top of the tower was so exciting and empowering! I personally made my way to the top of the challenge course, even though I
slipped a few times off my footholds. It was exhilarating to be able to get to the top of the tower with the help of my teammates belaying me. I loved belaying my fellow teammates and allowing them to get to the top of the tower as well! It was such a wonderful feeling! We were also able to take tons of team pictures throughout the time, giving us some great ways to pose and get some laughs in as a team. We took over 100 pictures! The pictures were silly and allowed us to have a laugh and become better friends with all our team members!

We participated in some icebreakers and get to know you activities as a team too! Some of the games were meant to get us active by using pool noodles to tap each other like samurai, and others were meant to have us work together as a team. The games with pool noodles were used to help us understand what everyone enjoys and to help us bond on a personal level. The game that had us work together was much more challenging. We had to lower a hula hoop with just one finger touching from everyone at all times. The game was designed to get us to work together on a single project. It also allowed us to reflect on the challenges we had as a team trying to work as one. Some challenges we really had were trying to put blame on others when we should be trying to solve problems, and yelling over each other to try and be heard. We overcame this by accepting that it is important to listen to all members of the team and keep an open mind that everyone is trying their hardest to complete the task. We were able to discuss these issues and how we can carry the simple messages learned from the hula hoop activity into our actual team work in the future.
Overall, team Gemstone was a great experience for Team SAVIOR. We were able to bond as our friends and as a team who will be working together as efficiently as possible! We had even made matching shirts to commemorate the occasion! I think we have a better understanding of how our team dynamics are right now. I also think that we are all closer friends as a result of Team Gemstone! It really was a blast!

-Lauren Amrhein: Class of 2016: Team SAVIOR

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Team MEGA: Senior Team Update

 This past summer was an exciting one for senior Team MEGA culminating in the construction of their greenhouse and small-scale aquaponic systems on the South Campus Diner Rooftop. The team worked continuously over the summer break to assemble their designed systems and the final phase of research.  Not only was the team making strides in their research, but they were also fortunate to have member Kevin Li travel along with Dr. Skendall and Jason Burtnick of Team AWE to the 2013 Undergraduate Research Conference in Amsterdam.  The conference's theme, Urban Challenges, focused on building healthy, smart & creative cities for the future.
Team MEGA has been having great success moving forward with their final year of research in the Gemstone program. 
This semester five members of Team MEGA, Kevin Li, Jessica Lu, Luke O’Connor, Adam Louie, and Kelly Misner, were selected to attend the Thought for Food World Summit in Berlin, Germany. The conference focused on discussing innovative and sustainable ideas necessary to feed the 9 billion people of the world community projected for 2050. 

"It was a wonderful opportunity to see different parts of the world, exchange innovative ideas, and maybe take a little bit of time off.”- Kevin Li

Prior to the 3-day conference, MEGA met in D.C. with the CEOs of Syngenta, a company dedicated to the realization of plant-life potential using fewer resources, to participate in the launch of their new Good Growth Plan.  Team MEGA hopes to continue with this momentum in order to finish their thesis and apply for publication.

-Luke O'Connor: Class of 2013: Team MEGA