Gemstone Team Research

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The Gemstone Program at the University of Maryland is a unique multidisciplinary four-year research program for selected undergraduate honors students of all majors. Under guidance of faculty mentors and Gemstone staff, teams of students design, direct and conduct significant research, often but not exclusively exploring the interdependence of science and technology with society. Gemstone students are members of a living-learning community comprised of fellow students, faculty and staff who work together to enrich the undergraduate experience. This community challenges and supports the students in the development of their research, teamwork, communication and leadership skills. In the fourth year, each team of students presents its research in the form of a thesis to experts, and the students complete the program with a citation and a tangible sense of accomplishment.


Recent Submissions

Now showing 1 - 5 of 166
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    Developing A Broadly Protective MRNA Influenza Vaccine: A Review
    (2022) Acquah, Wellington; Amini, Cameron; Buddula, Saharsh; Chen, Michelle; Chintala, Navya; Dang, Quinn; Ferziger, Noa; Hollis, Grace; Jameison, Devin; Jayaram, Jyostna; Manus, Joseph Anthony; Rosenberg, Jacob; Zhiteneva, Julia; Yarwood, Stephanie
    Current influenza vaccines are limited in their efficacy due to antigenic drift of the hemagglutinin target; advances in mRNA vaccines in response to the COVID-19 pandemic may provide a new direction for influenza vaccine development. Existing literature shows that mRNA vaccines have higher efficacy in preventing illness, hospitalizations, and death. We evaluated eleven influenza A viral proteins as potential targets for an mRNA vaccine under the following criteria: degree of conservation, ability to elicit a robust immune response, and ability to prevent illness and death. We recommend future researchers direct their efforts towards developing an annually administered tri-sequence mRNA vaccine targeting hemagglutinin head (HA1), the matrix 2 ectodomain (M2e), and nucleoprotein (NP). Development of a highly effective influenza mRNA vaccine would be significant for prevention of disease burden worldwide.
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    Analysis of Whole-Brain Resting-State MRI Using Multi-Label Deformable Offset Networks and Segmentations Based Attention with Explorations into the Ethical Implications of Artificial Intelligence in Clinical Psychiatry Settings and Care
    (2022) Agarwal, Vatsal; Ayoroa, Evan; Burdick, Ryerson; Ganeshan, Aravind; Paliyam, Madhava; Wood, Sam; Lee, Caitlin; Akhtarkhavari, Sepehr; Inala, Shika; Matharu, Sagar; Mupparapu, Neelesh; Deane, Anil
    Due to the poor understanding of the underlying biological mechanisms of psychiatric disorders, diagnoses rely upon symptomatic criteria and clinicians’ discretion. Reviews of these criteria have revealed issues of heterogeneity, over and under specificity, and symptom overlap between disorders. Deep learning provides a method to produce quantifiable diagnostic labels based upon biological markers such as specific features of brain anatomy or functionality. In practice, these methods fail to indicate how a particular result was determined, raising major obstacles for clinical implementation.To improve the efficiency and interpretability of existing deep networks, we have developed a novel atlas-based attention module to more easily capture global information across different areas of brain function. Our model can be extended to symptom level classification using NIMH data to give clinicians usable information outside of broad disorder classification. We have compared our model against leading 3D deep learning frameworks and have shown that our novel atlas-based attention module achieves 88% F1 and 91% accuracy on the UCLA Consortium for Neuropsychiatric Phenomics dataset. We have embedded our model with elements like deformable convolutions, gradient activation visualizations, and occlusion testing to show model attention and function. In addition to the lack of explainability, addressing the ethical issues surrounding clinical implementation of artificial intelligence is necessary before usage can become a reality. We identified a series of regulatory recommendations to address pertinent ethical concerns of equity and bias during both model development and clinical usage. We propose a standardized protocol for developing a clinical reference standard, the development of diversity reports regarding data used by models, and regulation of usage scenarios to reduce contextual bias.
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    Exploration of the Security and Usability of the FIDO2 Authentication Protocol
    (2022) Breit, Zachary; Dean, Hunter; Generrette, Tai-Juan; Howard, Samuel; Kodali, Balaji; Kong, Jim; Tash, Jonah; Wang, Phillip; Wu, John; Baras, John
    Fast IDentity Online (FIDO) is a passwordless authentication protocol for the web that leverages public key cryptography and trusted devices to avoid shared secrets on servers. The current version of FIDO, FIDO2, has become widespread and is directly integrated into popular systems such as Windows Hello and Android OS. This thesis details two contributions to the advancement of FIDO2. The first is a modification to the protocol which uses Trusted Execution Environments to resolve security vulnerabilities in the Client To Authenticator Protocol Version 2 (CTAP2), which is a component of FIDO2. It is formally demonstrated that this modification provides a stronger security assumption than CTAP2. The second contribution is an outline of procedures and resources for future researchers to carry out a study of the usability of FIDO2 authenticators via a within-subjects experiment. In the study, subjects register an account on a custom web app using both passwords and FIDO2 credentials. The web app collects metrics about user behavior such as timing information for authentication sessions. Over the course of a week, subjects log in to the same web app every day using both authentication methods. Subjects complete entrance and exit surveys based on the System Usability Scale (SUS) according to their experiences. The surveys and user metrics would then be analyzed to determine whether users perceive FIDO2 as more usable than passwords.
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    Knowledge, Attitudes, and Practices Towards Teaching of Menstruation and Sexual Health Among Parents of Middle School Students
    (2022) Adkins, Aaliyah G.; Barrett, Christina S.; Fano, Gabby M.; Hospes, Katrina C.; Kilby, Christina F.; Mareno, Michael C.; Ollila, Elizabeth L.; Pettit, Jessica C.; Savoy, Jayme G.; Rowe, Tatiana; Wilkerson, Lucy A.; Mittal, Mona
    Menarche (the onset of menstruation), along with puberty in general, presents as a trying time for adolescents as they adjust to changes occurring in their bodies. Family life and sexual education are imperative during this transitional stage as they set the foundation for future reproductive health decisions adolescents may make. Prior research on menstruation and menstrual health has primarily focused on rural populations in developing countries; few studies on this topic have been conducted in the United States (U.S.). The findings of these studies show disparities in knowledge related to menstruation and menstrual health among different racial and socio-economic groups in the U.S. We added to current literature by conducting a mixed-method study to investigate knowledge, attitudes, beliefs, and parenting practices related to menstruation and sexual health education among the parents of middle school students in the U.S. We conducted an online study and collected survey data from parents of middle school students, followed by qualitative interviews with select parents (those who opted-in for this portion) to gain further insight into the attitudes and sentiments regarding menstruation and menstrual health.
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    Fabrication of Soft, Ferromagnetic Films and Devices and their Properties, Printability, and Applications
    (2022) Carlson, Elizabeth; Chen, Anson; Chung, Stephen; Dhamsania, Anjali; Mah, William; Mueller, Lillian; Sivarajan, Arjun; Ting, John; Das, Siddhartha
    Materials enabling fabrication of multifunctional devices are a cornerstone of present-day materials science and engineering. Multifunctionality enables use for novel applications in fields like energy, health, sensing, etc. We conducted an extensive literature review into the development of one material capable of multifunctional device fabrication, elastic magnetic films and devices, which have two notable properties: magnetizability, and physical softness and compliance. We highlighted materials, fabrication, characterization, and resulting interactions harnessed to develop inks used to fabricate these films, as well as broadscale applications. We also experimented with an Fe3O4-PDMS compliant magnetic film to characterize magnetic properties under modes of deformation. Through bending and twisting, the magnetic saturation, coercivity, and retentivity were measured. Results revealed that bent configurations preserved magnetic characteristics better than twisting configurations; out of tested twisting angles, a 180° rotation displayed properties closest to the undeformed state. We concluded by describing the potential of future research endeavors.