The Gemstone Program is made up from a variety of people throughout the university community.
Dr. David Lovell serves as the Director of the Gemstone Honors Program in the Honors College at the University of Maryland. Dr. Lovell received his B.A. degree in Mathematics from Portland State University, and his M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in Civil Engineering from the University of California, Berkeley.
Dr. Lovell is a Professor in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering and he holds a joint appointment in the Institute for Systems Research. He is also a member of the Applied Mathematics and Scientific Computing program. Dr. Lovell serves as the faculty advisor to the UMD post of the Society for American Military Engineers. He has also served as faculty advisor to the Engineers Without Borders and Maryland Sustainability Engineers student chapters. Dr. Lovell is co-director of the NEXTOR III consortium for aviation operations research.
Dr. Kristan Cilente Skendall serves as Associate Director of the Gemstone Honors Program in the Honors College at the University of Maryland, where she teaches GEMS102 and co-teaches GEMS202. She works closely with the research teams, faculty mentors, and librarians. Dr. Skendall received her B.A. degree in Sociology and History from the College of William & Mary (VA), her M.A. degree in Higher Education Administration from the University of Arizona, and her Ph.D. in College Student Personnel at the University of Maryland.
Dr. Skendall previously served as the Assistant Director for Orientation and Leadership Programs at Georgetown University and Senior Coordinator for Community Service-Learning at the University of Maryland, where she oversaw the development of the Alternative Breaks program on campus from 2005-2008. Additionally, Dr. Skendall has worked with the National Clearinghouse for Leadership Programs, ACPA-College Student Educators International, and the U.S. Department of Education with the Committee on Measures of Student Success.
Dr. Skendall’s research focus is primarily related to college student leadership and service-learning. Her dissertation, Socially Responsible Leadership: the Role of Participation in Short-term Service Immersion Programs, connected leadership outcomes with short-term service immersion programs and service-learning participation in general. Additionally, Dr. Skendall has published several articles and book chapters related to student leadership, alternative spring break, multiple identity development, and new professionals needs. Dr. Skendall has taught graduate-level courses on research methods, leadership, and student development in addition to undergraduate leadership courses and Gemstone courses.
Dr. Vickie Hill serves as Assistant Director of Operations of the Gemstone Honors Program in the Honors College at the University of Maryland. She has provided dedicated service for the Gemstone Honors Program for over 20 years.
Dr. Hill received her B.S. degree in Criminology & Criminal Justice, and her Master’s in Education from the University of Maryland University College, and her Ed.D in Leadership and Management from the Capella University conducting extensive research on diversity in leadership. All while pursuing higher education, Dr. Hill has been with the University of Maryland campus community for 34 years.
She currently coordinates activities for 36+ faculty mentors and purchasing activities for 36+ research teams. Vickie manages the day-to-day operations for all Gemstone Honors program to include financial services, course management, facilities and communication and the website. Dr. Hill is the backbone of the program. Dr. Hill provides guidance to the financial liaisons for 36+ research teams and under her leadership the Gemstone Honors program has successfully passed every financial audit for the past 15 years. Over her 34+ years at the University, Dr. Hill has developed, mentored and influenced students from all walks of life.
Leah Tobin is the Assistant Director of Student Engagement for the Gemstone Honors Program. In her role with the Program, Leah facilitates the First-Year experience, including two first-year seminars and coordinates the co-curricular opportunities which complement the students' four-year research project. Always interested in education, Leah majored in Elementary Education at American University and later received her Master’s Degree in Higher Education Administration with a concentration in Student Affairs Administration from The George Washington University. Originally from New Jersey, Leah has made the DC area her home since 2002 and is proud to be a Terp! She is currently pursuing her doctorate in Student Affairs in the and looks forward to engaging in the research process alongside Gemstone students!
Jessica Lee serves as the Coordinator for Student Engagement for the Gemstone Honors Program in the Honors College at the University of Maryland, where she serves as the staff advisor for several Gemstone student leadership groups (Gemstone Leadership Council, Gems Camp Planning Committee, Gemstone CONNECT) and an academic advisor. Jessica is a double Terp and received her B.S. degree in Biological Sciences: Physiology & Neurobiology with a minor in Linguistics and received her M.Ed in Student Affairs at the University of Maryland. She is also the current House Director for Delta Gamma on campus and has served as a Staff Advisor for Alternative Breaks.
Jessica is also an Honors College and Gemstone alumnus- member of Team RITALIN. Her team’s research focused on how prenatal nicotine exposure (linked to ADHD) affects inhibitory control governed by the prefrontal cortex of the brain. During her senior year, she traveled to San Diego, CA with some team members to present their research findings at the Society for Neuroscience annual meeting. In addition to her involvement with Gemstone research, she was a research assistant for the Department of Linguistics Cognitive Neuroscience of Language lab and was a Baggett Summer Scholar, focusing on language acquisition and theory of mind.
Jessica was also heavily involved in the Gemstone Honors Program and around campus. She served as a section leader for all of the GEMS courses as a section leader for all of the GEMS courses and president of the Gemstone Student Council. Additionally, Jessica was a committee head and tour guide for Maryland Images, a recruitment ambassador for the College of Computer, Mathematical and Natural Sciences, and an intern for the Office of Undergraduate Admissions.
Sydnee Garcia is a M.Ed. student in the Higher Education, Student Affairs, and International Education Policy program and supports Gemstone with incorporating diversity, equity, and inclusion into both curriculum and programming, summer orientation, planning and executing hallmark events, creating weekly newsletters, and other administrative tasks. Sydnee currently works as a Resident Director and Council Graduate Advisor for the Department of Fraternity and Sorority Life, and as an Instructor in the Global Communities Program. Sydnee has a Bachelors Degree in Psychology with a minor in African-American Studies from the University of Texas at San Antonio. As an undergraduate, Sydnee conducted research on funding inequities in the K-12 system and the power of African-American Vernacular English in the classroom. Her current research interests center on the racial identity development of multiethnic Black women in Black Greek Letter Organizations.
Each Gemstone team has a mentor that works with them from the early stages of their research till their thesis writing and presentation. Mentors work closely with their team of students, meeting weekly to support the team through their research, and help ensure their success. Teams praise their mentors for the guidance that they offer and for their ability to support the research, while letting students take the lead. The commitment of these dedicated faculty members to their teams is integral to the functioning of the Gemstone Honors Program.
Gemstone Team Librarians are a wonderful resource provided for our teams!
Each Gemstone team is assigned a team librarian to assist and guide them in their quest for information relating to their research projects. These librarians volunteer to work with teams for the three years the teams are working on their project. The librarians are experts at finding information in all types of formats. They are also a part of a network of information professionals that they can utilize to help teams with their information needs. Librarians meet with their assigned team(s) or individual team members to help them navigate the University's libraries and the multitude of databases and information resources not accessible on campus. The team's librarian will help the team learn where to search for and locate the best information needed for team research projects.
View the list of librarians currently working with teams, or visit our Information for Librarians page.
The Gemstone students are the heart of the program. Learn more about our students and their projects on our Team Research page.