Skip to main content
close up of medal

Gemstone Awards

The Gemstone awards program was started more than ten years ago to reward students, mentors, teams, and librarians that have worked extremely hard throughout this four year process.  Award winners are announced at the Gemstone Citation Ceremony and Awards Celebration, held in May of each year. Parents, families, friends, and alumni are all invited to attend, as the event is open to the public!


illustration of rookie awardGemstone Rookie of the Year

This award recognizes an outstanding first year Gemstone student who has demonstrated enthusiasm for interdisciplinary research and commitment to involvement in the Gemstone Program.

2013 Emily Ruppel

2014 Pradip Ramamurti

2015 Elliot Frank

2016 Saul Schaffer

2017 Eli Fastow

2018 David Polefrone and Mansu Shrestha

2019 Logan Swaisgod

2020 Ethan Green

2021 Joshua DiGiorgio

2022 Rajit Mukhopadhyay

2023 Rohan Dewan

2024 Bhargav Srinivasan

Sophomores & Juniors

trophyMost Valuable Team Member Award

This award recognizes a student who has demonstrated excellent organizational, interpersonal, and communication skills and has played a key role in clearly motivating his or her team over the past year.

Year Sophomore Junior
2013 Devon Freudenberger Eric Kazyak and Natalie Anzures
2014 Parinaz Fathi Timothy McLaughlin
2015 Adam Berger Isha Agarwal
2016 Prateeti Sarkar Chris Rother
2017 Thea Ornstein Cassidy Laidlaw
2018 Linnea Warburton Greg Krasnoff
2019 Stephanie Moy Abdulfatal Fakoya
2020 Gillian Lee Aranya Banerjee
2021 Joanna Ihm Mikhail "Misha" Khnrenov
2022 Natalie Field Daniel Zhu
2023 Owen Mank Mukti Trivedi
2024 Liam Allen Nada Fadul

Sophomore/Junior Mentor of the Year

This award recognizes an outstanding Gemstone faculty mentor who has provided dedicated service to a Gemstone team.

2013  Dr. Lance Yonkos and Dr. Matthew Roesch

2014 Dr. Tom Miller and Adam Behrens

2015 Dr. Susan Dwyer and Dr. Zhengguo Xiao

2016 Dr. Debu Biswas and Jon Hoffman

2017 Dr. Ryan Sochol and Dr. Mark Fuge

2018 Dr. Lex Schultheis

2019 Dr. Margret Bjarnadottir and Dr. Sean Barnes and John Daristotle

2020 Stephanie Yarwood

2021 Dr. Mary Beth Furst and Dr. Romel Gomez

2022 Dr. Aparicio/Dr. Zeeger and Dr. Zhang

2023 Dr. Sylvette LaTouch-Howard and Dr. Elizabeth Aparicio

2024 Dr. Andrew Schiffmacher and Dr. Daniel Stein

Outstanding Do Good Showcase Presentation

  • 2019 ASTRO, CONTACT, and TUMOR
  • 2020 Auto Cycle, LEMMA, and PRODUCE
  • 2022 HiveMind, MARINE, SOLAR
  • 2023 BELI, FUNGI, Supa'Hot


James M. Wallace Outstanding Gemstone Team Thesis Award

This award recognizes the team with the best submitted thesis based upon feedback from discussants, mentors, and the Gemstone staff. No nomination is required to be considered for this award.

James Wallace laughingJames Wallace is an Emeritus Professor of Mechanical Engineering and Director of the Burgers Program for Fluid Dynamics of the Institute of Physical Science and Technology at the University of Maryland at College Park. He received his B.S. and M.S. degrees in 1962 and 1964 at the Georgia Institute of Technology and his D. Phil. in Engineering Science at Oxford University in 1969. He was a research scientist at the Max-Planck-Institut für Strömungsforschung in Göttingen, Germany from 1969 until he joined the faculty of the University of Maryland in 1975. In addition to his research and teaching, Wallace has held several academic administrative positions at the University of Maryland. From 1985 - 87 he was the Assistant Provost of the Division of Mathematics, Physical Science and Engineering. From 1993 - 1998 he served as Associate Chairman for Graduate Studies in the Department of Mechanical Engineering. He also directed two Science, Technology and Society programs at Maryland and directed the Gemstone Honors Program for undergraduate team research for eleven years from 2001 - 2012.

Wallace does experimental research on turbulent shear flows, in particular with the development of techniques for measuring and analyzing velocity gradient fields. He has investigated scalar dispersion in shear flows with environmental and mixing applications, as well as turbulence in high temperature flows. He currently is engaged in the renewed effort to understand the structure and dynamics of turbulent boundary layers using massive, high fidelity numerical simulations.

He became an American Physical Society Fellow in 1989, was chair of its Division of Fluid Dynamics in 2003 and was Division Councilor from 2010 - 2014. Other recognitions of his research and teaching include: Distinguished Service Award in the Engineering Sciences of the Washington Academy of Sciences (1984), Distinguished Scholar-Teacher of the University of Maryland, College Park (1987), Achievement Award for Contribution to Science of the Sigma Xi Chapter of the University of Maryland (1992), induction in the Academy of Distinguished Engineering Alumni of the Georgia Institute of Technology (1995), the University System of Maryland Regents Teaching Award (2004), The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching and the Council for the Advancement and Support of Education award as U.S. Professor of the Year for Maryland (2005), and the Kirwan Undergraduate Education Award of the University of Maryland (2006).

2002  Fish Sustainability and Innovative Tracking Systems

2003  Ecodynamics and Universal Playgrounds

2004  GEMS: Generating Eager Minded Students

2005 SWAMP

2006 Phosphorus Agriculture Runoff Management

2007  TRACK

2008 CRABS

2009 Renewables at UMD

2010  CHIP


2012  FACE

2013 Solar Campus

2014 Electrode

2015 CLOT

2016 Haptic


2018 ARM IT

2019 DIVA

2020 VISOR

2021 ASTRO


2023 EVICT

2024 FUSE

Outstanding Gemstone Team Presentation Award

hands holding trophyAs a requirement of the Gemstone Program, teams are expected to write and defend a thesis.  Teams are given 25 minutes at the Thesis Conference to communicate three years worth of research to an audience of experts, families, and friends. The honor of the Outstanding Presentation is awarded based on a team's clarity, creativity and overall presentation style. No nomination is required to be considered for this award.

2002  Non-Lethal Weapons

2003  Global Ed-Venture

2004  Innovations

2005  SmartRoads

2006  PlayInc

2007  Team URBAN

2008  Binge Drinking

2009  iGem

2010  IMAC

2011  Cogeneration Technology

2012  FLIP

2013  KERMIT

2014  ADDICT

2015  Bass

2016  Brain Blast

2018  GOLD

2019  SPACE

2020  LYTIC


2022 MIND



Team of the Year Award

A new addition to the annual recognition of exceptional students, teams, mentors and librarians, this award recognizes a team that truly exemplifies the values of the program.

2014  MEGA


2016  SAVIOR

2017  PIEZO

2018  VIRUS

2019  Oysters

2020  ART

2021 IPOV

2022 Autocycle

2023 DeBIAS


Outstanding Gemstone Scholar Award

g metalThis honor will be awarded to a student who has been intellectually engaged and highly involved on their Gemstone team. This award goes beyond the normal leadership behavior of organizing the group, motivating members and running meetings. Nominees for this award should be students that have taken the intellectual leadership role and have served as a driving force behind the topic and content of the research. We strive to give the award to a student who demonstrated passion for the team’s topic and was truly engaged in the subject matter.

2002 Elizabeth Flynn and Philip Jones 2003 Robert Schroll
2004 Christian Klein 2005 Gregory Crosswhite and Ashley Naimaster
2006 Alan O’Connor 2007 Emma Simson and Travis Young
2008 Neil Agarwal and Robert Vocke III 2009 David Chen and Gregory Hitz
2010 Stephanie Galanie and Ben Tousley 2011 Junjie Hao and Angela Lee
2012 Matthew Conway 2013 Alex Mamunes
2014 Sudi Jawahery 2015 Katerina Christodoulides
2016 Andrea Bajcsy 2017 Megan Dang and Elfadil Osman
2018 Prableen Chowdhary and Sarah Frail 2019 Morgan Janes
2020 Shifali Mathews 2021 Sam Klueter
2022 Anjali Dhamsania 2023 Daniel Zhu
2024 Mukti Trivedi

Gemstone Citizen and Leader of the Year

This Program could not function without the involvement of so many students. This award goes to a graduating student who has demonstrated enthusiasm, constant involvement and leadership within the Gemstone Program. Those considered for this award are nominate by their peers and have been very involved in the Gemstone Program outside of his or her team by holding positions of leadership, planning events, or serving as a positive role model for the Program.

2002  Jeremy Rachlin

2003 Sara McKelvey and Soroush Rais-Bahrami

2004 Emily Beckstrom and Andy Smith

2005 Thomas Haun

2006 Ryan Hoffmaster and Justin Waltrous

2007 Nikhil Joshi and Greg Teitelbaum

2008 Anita Kohli and Teddy Tien

2009 Pratik Davè and Lindsey Mooney

2010 Hannah Tolley

2011  Akhila Iruku and Katherine Mann

2012  Jillian Chavis and Joshua Lacey

2013  Jaishri Shankar

2014  Taylor Hearn and Jessica Lee

2015  Ed Lin

2016  Zeke Gonzalez and Ilana Green

2017  Marquise Singleterry

2018  Allison Chen

2019 Cristina Hnatov

2020 Emma Margolis

2021 Ria Sebastian

2022 Jayme Savoy

2023 Aarushi Malhotra

2024 Josh Digiorgio

Gemstone Team Leader Award

This award recognizes a student who has demonstrated excellent organizational, interpersonal, and communication skills and has played a key role in clearly motivating his or her team over the past three years.

2004 Jamille Bigio and Phil de Souza

2005 Philip Brazio and Lauren Schlanger

2006 Sumair Akhtar and Margaret Distler

2007 Kristin Freese and Patrick Hughes

2008 Christina Walsh

2009 Elizabeth Dillon and Lee Stearns

2010 Nick Asendorf and Kelsey Merrick 

2011 Jasjeet Khural and Adam Pampori

2012 Timothy L. Crisci and Tina Zhang

2013 Sebastian Serrano

2014 Yoon Shin

2015 Devon Freudenberger

2016 Natalie Griffin

2017 Meredith Pecukonis

2018 Anna Harrison

2019 Cara Schiksnis

2020 Linnea Warburton

2021 Aranya Banerjee

2022 Zofia Cieslak

2023 Catherina Samson 

2024 Roman Kassaraba

Dr. Vickie Hill Service Award

This award recognizes senior(s) with long record of service to Gemstone program.

2023 Rithik Sebastian and Katherine Brown 

2024 Maya Pulliam

Outstanding Gemstone Mentor Award

This award recognizes an outstanding Gemstone faculty mentor who has provided dedicated service to and demonstrated exemplary support and guidance of his or her team. This honor is based on nominations from the students.

2002  Dr. Greg Baecher

2003  Dr. Colleen Farmer 

2004  Dr. Ray Adomaitis and Dr. Linda Schmidt 

2005  Dr. Gilmer Blankenship 

2006  Dr. Frank J. Coale, Dr. Francey Kohl, and Dr. Jim Purtilo

2007  Ms. Karen Thornton and Dr. James Milke 

2008  Dr. David Tilley  

2009  Dr. Lowell Adams and Dr. Rama Chellappa

2010  L. Curry Woods

2011  Dr. Kevin Sellner and Dr. Charlie Carr

2012  Sameer Shah

2013  Dr. Stephanie Grutzmacher

2014  Dr. Peter Mallios

2015  Dr. Andrew Ristvey

2016   Dr. Marcio Oliveira

2017  Dr. Matthew Roesch

2018  Bryan Quinn

2019  Dr. Jin-Oh Hahn

2020  Joanna Goger

2021 Dr. Natasha Andrade

2022 Dr. Romel Gomez

2023 Dr. Steve Sin

2024 Dr. Lance Yonkos

Gemstone Librarian of the Year

This award recognizes an outstanding librarian for his or her dedication to the Gemstone Program and team research. It is awarded to the librarian who has demonstrated exemplary support and guidance of his or her senior team. This honor is based on nominations from the students.

2014  Nevenka Zdravodska, Alex Carroll

2015  Robin Dasler, Jeremy Garritano, Eileen Harrington

2016  Celina McDonald, Kelsey Corlett-Rivera, Elizabeth Soergel

2017  Eric Cartier, Nedelina Tchangalova

2018  Kelsey Corlett-Rivera

2019  Dr. Sarah Over

2020  Nevenka Zdravkovska

2021 Jodi Coalter

2022 Jodi Coalter

2023 Kate Dohe

2024 Nevenka Zdravkovska

Non-cohort Specific

Gems Camp Leader of the Year

This award recognizes an outstanding Gems Camp Leader who has demonstrated enthusiasm for the program and eagerness to orient and interact with first-year students at camp.

2015  Eileen Ser

2016  Becky Vanarsdall

2017  Caroline Simon

2018  Emma Margolis

2019  Divya Kapoor

2020  Michael Piqué

2022 John Yang

2023 Donald Spriggs

2024 Neel Jay

Outstanding CONNECT Mentor

This award recognizes an outstanding CONNECT mentor who has demonstrated enthusiasm for the program and eagerness to orient and interact with first-year students and other mentors. 

2015  Tracy Sebastian

2016  Erin Verni

2017  Kayla Sukri

2018  Humza Yahya

2019  Haley Mullen

2020  Imran Khawaja

2021 Imran Khawaja

2022 Sruthi Srinivasan

2023 Esohe Owie

2024 Talya Simcox

Outstanding Teaching Assistant

This award recognizes an outstanding section leader (GEMS100, GEMS102, GEMS104, or GEMS202) who has demonstrated enthusiasm for the program and has gone above and beyond with their teaching responsibilities. 

2015  Kara Higgins

2016  Annelise Buck and Elizabeth Corley

2017  Alex Boukhvalova and Lara Fu

2018  Shireen Khayat

2019  Soma Umeozulu

2020  Haley Mullen

2021 Aarushi Malhotra

2022 McCauley Brown

2023 Noam Fox

2024 Noam Fox

Robert McDermott Fearless Award

This award was created in 2018 in remembrance of Robert McDermott. Each year this award is given to the Gemstone student that best exemplifies the qualities that made Robert such a valued member of our community. Nominees must exhibit general optimism, resilience, and dedication in the face of adversity with a sense of self-awareness of their strengths and weaknesses that allows them to provide creative solutions to adapt their own skills and abilities for the purposes of their project. Above all, nominees should be those that bring a “can-do” attitude to any challenge they face and prioritize their Gemstone project throughout their time in the program.

Robert McDermott was a member of Team BREATHE in the Gemstone class of 2018. A valued team-member, his time with Gemstone coincided with a three-year battle with brain cancer. From diagnosis, Robert chose to remain in school, striving to continue his contribution and collaboration to his Gemstone team regardless of the medical hardships he faced. Robert passed away in January of 2018, months before the completion of his Gemstone project. Although his battle with cancer was very difficult, those that knew him remember him not for the illness but for his unique personality of devotion, positivity, and humor.

2018  Robert McDermott

2019  Daniel Lay

2020  Ria Sebastian

2021 Class of 2021

2022 Aarushi Malhotra

2023 Ella Evensen

2024 Tami Mumuney

Back to Top