Thesis Conference is held annually for senior teams to present and defend their research in front of an audience, which includes a panel of experts. The event is coordinated by the Gemstone staff. Teams are responsible for inviting and confirming 3-5 discussants (see below) that will provide feedback on the team thesis and presentation. Each team presents for 25 minutes with 20 minutes for questions from the discussants and the audience. Following the formal presentation, each team will have one hour of private feedback time with their discussants. All team members must participate in the Thesis Conference in order to earn the Gemstone Citation. If students graduate early, they are required to return and present with the team in order to fulfill the requirement for the Gemstone Citation award.
A Thesis Conference rehearsal occurs 1-2 weeks prior to the conference. Teams should present at the rehearsal in order to be best prepared for the conference.
The thesis is the culmination of the three years of work in a Gemstone team. See the thesis guidelines to demonstrate the team’s knowledge, understanding and appreciation of the field, a critical analysis of related work, and the importance and relevance of the team’s contribution to the field.
At Thesis Conference, a panel of team selected experts in the field of study related to the team’s thesis attends the team’s presentation and asks questions following the presentation both publicly and privately. These experts are called discussants and are invited to take on this role by the team during the fall semester of the team members’ senior year. Discussants cannot include the mentor for that team (but may include a mentor from other Gemstone teams, if appropriate). Senior teams must have invited and received positive confirmation from at least four experts that are willing to accept this role and can attend the Thesis Conference that spring. This task must be completed by the date determined by the Gemstone Program Staff for that year. This date is generally around December 1, though can vary depending upon the circumstances. The Gemstone Program will then send official invitations to these discussants and will also send a final draft of the team’s thesis approximately two weeks before Thesis Conference for the discussants to review. It is encouraged that the discussants be experts that the team has consulted during their research. Please see additional information about what is expected of discussants as well as a template for inviting discussants to serve on your panel. (Also available as a PDF.)
Each team presents for 25 minutes with 20 minutes for questions from the discussants and the audience. Discussants receive a copy of the team’s thesis two weeks prior to the conference so they have time to read it and prepare questions to ask following the presentation. Following the formal presentation, each team will have one hour of private discussion and feedback time with their discussants and mentor for feedback on the presentation and thesis. Feedback from the discussants, mentors and librarians are used to determine the James M. Wallace Outstanding Thesis Award Winner.