Monday, June 15, 2015

Precious Gem: Cassidy Laidlaw

This week, we at the Stone would like to recognize yet another one of the exceptional members of the Gemstone program.  Rising sophomore Cassidy Laidlaw, new member of team BIASES, is a Computer Science and Mathematics double major.  Last semester, he enjoyed his heavy course load complete with programming, algorithm analysis, and abstract algebra.  However, Cassidy is much more than a double STEM major as he is also a member of the Men’s Choir and a jazz ensemble on campus at the University of Maryland.

Cassidy’s face lit up during our interview whenever he spoke about music.  During the spring semester, he was busy performing in weekly concerts for both of his music groups.  As a member of Men’s Choir, Cassidy had the opportunity to perform at the Kennedy Center with some of the cast members of Les Miserables, an experience he thoroughly enjoyed.  In addition to performing, music also influenced Cassidy a different way this semester.  He participated in a Jerusalem Marathon where he raised over $2,500 to support children in Israel.  At the end of his fundraising, he flew to Israel over spring break to run the marathon and to meet the child he was partnered with for the duration of the fundraising.  During his time overseas, Cassidy had the chance to hear his partner sing with the charity choir, which he described as a beautiful and special experience.  His affiliation with Israel does not stop with this touching experience. Cassidy will be a co-president of Terpim next semester, which is an Israeli culture group on campus.  While participating in all of these activities would be enough for most people, he also finds time to tutor kids in 4th, 5th, and 6th grades in a nearby community, to work on a computer program he took on as a side project, and to satisfy his love of the outdoors by biking and running.

Cassidy’s plans for the future are just as impressive as the litany of activities he participates in now.  He is currently weighing his career preferences, but he believes that he would be happy doing research as a professor.  However, he is very excited by the possibility of working at Not Impossible Labs, a company that looks to solve the diverse problems facing humanity.  Cassidy is attracted to the opportunity of having a job where he could directly see his ideas and work affect other people positively.  His last goal may not be entirely surprising, as Cassidy bikes all over campus, but he hopes one day to bike all the way across the country.  He may have just been placed on his Gemstone team but Cassidy is already doing great things, and there is no doubt that he will continue to do so throughout his time at the University of Maryland.

- 15 June 2015 – Nate Nenortas 

Monday, June 1, 2015

Precious Gem: Tommy Tran

Meet Tommy Tran. This Neurobiology and Physiology major from Rockville, Maryland is finishing his freshman year here at UMD. He is on the recently formed Team PHAGE, a Gemstone team that he coauthored. Team PHAGE is looking to use bacteriophages to develop a disinfectant for use in hospitals and farms. This would be an important alternative to antibiotics because it can still attack antibiotic-resistant bacteria, and doesn’t promote their resistance. He explained that as the project co-author he wasn’t the one to come up with the idea for Team PHAGE, but he did a lot of the research in order to write the literature review section of the proposal. Tommy is premed, and will doubtlessly use what he has learned in his chemistry and biology classes to be an asset to his team. I asked him about when he knew he wanted to be a doctor, and he said at one point he realized he enjoyed his science classes the most, and it was the right fit. His favorite class this year was organic chemistry because figuring out the problems is like a “puzzle”.

Tommy is busy outside of the classroom as well. He is on the club tennis team, and his weeks are filled with practices and tournaments. The team hasn’t gotten to nationals yet, so one of Tommy’s goals is to help them on this quest. This summer, Tommy will be working as a tennis instructor, developing juniors (kids ages 5-15) in tennis. In addition, he’ll be doing an internship at an orthopedic center shadowing a doctor in Rockville and taking a sociology course online. Come late August, he’ll be a camp leader for Gems Camp. He says he’s most looking forward to comparing himself as a freshman to the class of 2019. I asked him about his experience going to Gems Camp and coming to Gemstone the first semester. He says he was skeptical; coming from Gonzaga College High School, an all boys private school, he was used to knowing everyone in his grade very well. Now looking back at the end of the year, Tommy can safely say he found a new home in Ellicott Hall. 

- 1 June, 2015 - Elliot Frank