Friday, February 27, 2015

Sophomore Thesis Proposal

During mid to late February each year, our sophomore teams take part in one of the first, integral experiences of their time as a Gemstone team. This is the Thesis Proposal Defense, which is, in short, a chance for teams to get feedback on their overall research design and theory before formally beginning their research. Teams give a 15 minute presentation about their project followed by up to 45 minutes of questions from their expert(s) (faculty member(s) in the field), their librarian, and/or members of the Gemstone staff. The 15 minute presentation is a chance for members of the team to practice informing an audience about their project before Junior Colloquia, where the situation is much more formal. But make no mistake, teams come dressed to impress for this event. All Thesis Proposal Defenses are videotaped and uploaded to the Gemstone Program’s Youtube channel for review by the team, as well as anyone who would like to get an idea of what Proposal Defense is like.

For Team MTB, the 15 minute presentation included all the major highlights of the project. This included a detailed literature review, methodology, budget, and timeline. After the team members finished informing their audience about their project, they moved to taking questions. Questions were directed from their expert, Dr. McIver, their librarian Jeremy Garritano, Dr. Coale, and Dr. Skendall. The questions and comments ranged from small corrections in wording, to clarifications about content, as well as some tips for the presenters to improve. All of the criticism was positive and the mood began to lighten up as the presentation concluded. Team MTB had a very successful Thesis Proposal Defense and I am sure that the rest of the sophomore teams also had a great experience.

-27 February 2015, Nate Nenortas

Congratulations to all sophomore teams!

Friday, February 20, 2015

Precious Gem: Andrew Zhao

This week’s Precious Gem is Andrew Zhao, a sophomore bioengineering major. We started discussing his experience in Gemstone on Team INJECT. Team INJECT is looking for a treatment for Age-Related Macular Degeneration, which occurs mainly in adults fifty years and older and is “a pretty common form of eye loss”. Their treatment uses curcumin, which, according to Andrew, is “not that great as an actual drug” but has a lot of potential as a “therapeutic” due to its antioxidant properties. They are engineering nanoliposomes to transfer the curcumin through the membranes of the body, and then release the drug when it gets to the macula. When I asked Andrew about his role on the team, he called himself “just a regular team member”, meaning he doesn’t manage money, talk to the librarians, or do another specific role. However, as I kept talking to Andrew, it became clear that he was much more that the average team member.

For one, Andrew is a bioengineering major, so he is already well equipped to work in the lab, go through the literature, and design experiments. He is extremely interested in research, and enjoys picking out techniques and interesting ideas from journal articles. Moreover, he has a great deal of lab experience already. Last summer he was part of the inaugural International Genetically Engineered Machine (iGEM) team at University of Maryland. Their project revolved around a pathogen, dermo (Perkinsus marinus), which attacks oysters by binding to their hemocytes and acting as a parasite. This is a problem that affects many oyster populations, including those in the Chesapeake Bay. Their solution was genetically engineering E. Coli to act as a sensor for dermo. By modifying the bacteria to produce a protein, it can bind to the dermo and then reveal how much dermo is in a water sample. He worked with Integrated Life Science undergraduate students, graduate advisors, and professors, and it’s clear he absorbed a lot of advice about being a researcher and an engineer.

Before the interview, Andrew was coming from his “Transport Process Design” class, which incidentally is taught by his Gemstone mentor. He says that this class, which focuses more on the mathematical modeling side of bioengineering, is close to what he wants to research after UMD. Andrew is planning on going on to get a PhD in bioengineering, although he’s still considering his options. This summer he’s looking at internships at private companies to get a feel for that side of research. No matter where Andrew ends up, it is clear he’s going to bring experience and a deep understanding of bioengineering with him. Even from our one conversation, I was inspired by Andrew’s love of research and his ability to take advantage of all that Gemstone and UMD offer. Best of luck to this week’s Precious Gem, Andrew Zhao!

20 February 2015 - Elliot Frank

Friday, February 13, 2015

Discover Gems in Your Area!

Valentine's Day is almost here! Still need a date? Maybe our GSC members can help you out!

Precious Gem: Pablo Goldschtein

Our sophomore Precious Gem this week is Pablo Goldschtein, who a valued member of Team MORALS. Pablo hails from Buenos Aires, Argentina and is an International Business major with a minor in Spanish Business and Culture. As if that was not enough, he is seeking to add another major within the Business School as well. He is currently enrolled in 15 credits this semester, which include his Gemstone meeting, some business classes, and Gen Ed classes. He speaks most fondly of his Conflicts of Latin America class in which, as the name would suggest, he learns all about the dynamics of different conflicts throughout the history of Latin America.

Pablo has many passions, which is why he is a member of the Primannum Honor Society, as well as the Association of Latino Professionals in Accounting and Finance (ALPHA) in the Business School. Of all that he does, his biggest passion is soccer. Whether playing, coaching, or watching, chances are you can find Pablo around a soccer field if he ever wants to relax and enjoy himself. Pablo even says his fondest moment about soccer is "going to the stadium for the first time with my brother and my father. I was five. There was no going back at that moment, soccer became my passion.” He currently plays in the Washington International Soccer League and in the OAS Inter-Business League. He also coaches the under-13 and under-14 teams for Toca Juniors FC, for whom he played when he was younger, and at summer camps in between semesters.

Pablo has his sights set on a career that allows him to use his International Business major and also allows him to travel back to Argentina. His family is very important to him and he cherishes every opportunity he gets to see not only his family in the United States, but also his extended family back in Argentina. While he would still like to live in the States, the possibility of going back to see family, friends, and enjoy Argentinian culture excites and motivates him to succeed in his academics. Pablo works harder than most with soccer, extracurricular activities, school, and Gemstone, but he is still a charming guy, who is fun to talk to. Be sure to be on the lookout for him around campus.

13 February 2015 - Nate Nenortas