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

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