Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Gemstone Top Terps

The third annual Gemstone Top Terps Awards Reception was held this past Monday evening in McKeldin Library. We're incredibly proud of these students for all their hard work that they've put in so far with the Program. If you haven't heard already, here are the winners:

Class of 2018
Rookie of the Year Award: Elliot Frank

Class of 2017
Most Valuable Team Member Award: Adam Berger, Team VESSEL
Mentor of Year Award: Dr. Susan Dwyer, Team MORALS
Librarian of the Year Award: Jeremy Garritano

Class of 2016
Most Valuable Team Member Award: Isha Agarwal, Team SAVIOR
Mentor of the Year Award: Dr. Zhengguo Xiao, Team BASIC
Librarian of the Year Award: Eileen Harrington
Outstanding Junior Colloquia Presentation Award: Team BASIC
Outstanding Junior Poster Award: Team Haptic

Non-Cohort Specific
Gems Camp Leader of the Year Award: Eileen Ser
Outstanding CONNECT Mentor Award: Tracy Sebastian
Outstanding Section Leader Award: Kara Higgins
GSC Presidential Award: Nikki Wolfrey and Ben Borchers

Congratulations to our Top Terps! Be sure to join us at Citation Ceremony - May 20th, 7:00pm at the Memorial Chapel - to celebrate our seniors! The Class of 2015 awards will also be announced at that time - hope to see you there!

Monday, April 27, 2015

Freshman Perspective: Senior Thesis Conference

As a freshman, I was placed on a Gemstone team only two weeks ago, although all of freshman year seems to be the process of getting us acclimated to research. This process happens when we make mock project sheets in GEMS100, do research with our 104 section, and attend Junior Colloquia. And it works: I remember watching the Junior teams and imagine myself presenting on the stage. When I went to Thesis Conference, I expected it to be another step in this process of learning about research.

And there was a lot to learn. I was fortunate to sit in on Team CLOT and Team NAVIGATE’s presentations, both teams who developed promising products and communicated their results effectively. I learned a lot in those presentations by watching the teams explain their methodologies, break down difficult concepts for an audience, and answer tough questions. I also got a piece of advice for presenting from talking to Dr. Coale: “slow down."

But I don’t think Thesis Conference is about research per se, but Gemstone as a whole. When I walked into Riggs Alumni Center, I was instantly greeted by tables that had sign-ins and programs for mentors, discussants, GEMS102 students, alumni, friends, and family members. I realized that this was as much a celebration of the work each senior team had done as it was a chance for them to show off to the audience. The research that each team produced is impressive, but just as important are all the people that contributed to make it possible. And I think Dr. Coale’s advice is just as valid for us freshman: slow down, and enjoy the rest of your time here until it’s you on stage, presenting at Thesis Conference.

-27 April 2015, Elliot Frank

Friday, April 24, 2015

Precious Gem: Zeke Gonzalez

On a dark, stormy night, a Precious Gem nomination was received for our very own GSC President: Zeke Gonzalez.
This member of Junior Team SAVIOR had apparently just made 8 tupperwares' worth of homemade chili.

"He transcends everyone in popularity, thoughtfulness, playfulness, and originality," his nominator wrote. They had "come to realize Zeke has many talents, including cooking, [...] maintaining friendships, corralling [his] housemates together for bonding activities, managing his portion of the bills, leading his Gemstone team, leading the Gemstone GSC, leading his Swim practices, being an active participant in his classes, [and] managing a crazy schedule." And as we continued to read the nomination, we also wondered how we would even go about writing about our dear President. In other words, the question we started to ask ourselves was:

How do we begin to describe Zeke Gonzalez?

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Throwback Thursday: Jonathan Roberts

Jonathan Roberts, Nixon & Vanderhye P.C.
We recently caught up with alumnus Jonathan Roberts at a Banneker/Key Alumni event. He was a member of Team Universal Playgrounds in the Class of 2003, and is now a patent attorney at Nixon & Vanderhye. He was gracious enough to answer some of our questions, so follow the jump for more!

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

A Night to Remember

It's almost here! The night you've been waiting for. The night you'll finally be placed on your team. Your Gemstone team for the next 3 years of college!

All of us in Gemstone have been through Team Formation Night, and experienced the emotions and feelings that come with it...

Friday, April 3, 2015

Precious Gem: Taylor Liu

Taylor Liu is this week’s Precious Gem! She is a Cell Biology and Genetics major, and plans to go on to medical school after graduation. I asked her how she liked her classes, and it’s clear she has a passion for biology. As a freshman, Taylor is not on a team yet, but she proposed Team OSCAR (Optimizing Siderophores for Commercially Applicable Relevance), the continuation of Team SILVER’s work. She said she was attracted to this project because it is building off prior research, and it has the potential for a tangible outcome. Team OSCAR is currently combining their proposal with that of another team, Team GASTRIC, but Taylor seemed to be looking forward to this process and the additional perspective that they should bring.

As our conversation moved away from Gemstone, it became clear that one thing that makes Taylor exceptional is her commitment to helping others. We often see her frequently helping her fellow freshmen with homework in the Ellicott lounges. I learned, however, that she takes this skill out of the residence hall by being involved with America Reads. In addition, she’s taking a class in “Urban Education and Social Justice” this semesterm, and she says she’s enjoying it greatly. To be in the class, one is required to be a volunteer with America Reads/America Counts, but students learn much more than methods of tutoring. The class involves reading articles and then presenting on topics including social justice, developmental psychology, and culturally relevant pedagogy. Students are also preparing for a reflection workshop at the end of the semester involving all the mentors in the program.

This past Spring Break, she went with Alternate Breaks to a charter school in Chicago to help students and study how the school operates. The best part of her trip was her fellow students: she said they had a two-hour reflection session each night, so they got to know each other well. Taylor says she doesn’t want to go on to a career in teaching, but the trip gave her an understanding and appreciation of the hard work that teachers do. No matter what she ends up doing, we’re sure she’ll bring a commitment to helping others and a fierce intellectual curiosity.

-3 April, 2015 - Elliot Frank