Meet the GSA
A Macroscopic View of Your Governing Student Body
by Amber Mueller
What is it?
The Graduate Student Association (GSA) is the primary student body that represents every graduate student on campus. The Graduate School is unique in that it includes doctoral and masters students working within each of the 6 professional schools; participation in GSA allows graduate students to form diverse interprofessional collaborations. Through many of its efforts, the body aims to improve the academic and extracurricular lives of students. Each fall new student orientation is coordinated by the GSA, promoting efficient integration of incoming graduate students into the UMB community. The GSA's Meet & Confer subcommittee acts as an official liaison body to communicate student concerns to the Graduate School administration and to University officials. Another goal of the GSA is to support the research interests of graduate students by granting Travel and Research awards in addition to hosting the annual spring Graduate Research Conference. The students involved devote many hours to plan social and scholastic events and work tirelessly to accomplish these goals. Participation in GSA provides leadership, networking, and volunteer opportunities for graduate students while accomplishing its primary goal of improving the graduate student experience.
Who are we?
All graduate students are welcome to attend the monthly GSA meeting. Furthermore, each graduate program is allotted one permanent representative and one alternate who are encouraged to vote on all motions put to the student body. The GSA also supports student organizations including the Meyerhoff Graduate Fellows Program and the Neuroscience Outreach Volunteer Association (NOVA). This year the Executive board welcomed five new members, VP: Jon Van Ryzin, Treasurer: Christina Ross, Secretary: Amber Mueller, Public Relations Officer: Kendra Edwards, and Graduate Council Representative: Christy Gaines. Geoffrey Heinzl returned to his post as President.
President: Geoffrey Heinzl
Originally from Pittsburgh, PA, he attended Allegheny College in Meadville, PA, where he double-majored in Chemistry and French. Now a fourth year PhD student in the Pharmaceutical Sciences program, his research focuses on drug design of novel antimicrobial compounds via the disruption of iron metabolism. Geoffrey is an ACS Med Chem Fellow and he participates in the Chemistry/Biology Interface training grant program in collaboration with UMBC. During his time at UMB he has been involved with the GSA, first serving a year as vice president and now in his second year of presidency. Geoffrey is also the parliamentarian of the University Student Government Association, and co-chair of the Community Engagement working group of the Middle States Self-Study Steering Committee. If all that weren't enough he is also an outspoken proponent of young adult fiction novels, karaoke, and bar trivia.
Vice President: Jonathan Van Ryzin
Jon is a third year graduate student in the Program in Neuroscience. Originally from Wisconsin, he now works for Dr. Margaret McCarthy. His research focuses on developmental neuroimmunology, specifically examining the role of microglia in mediating the sexual differentiation of the developing brain. As Vice President, Jon is the primary liaison between the GSA and the USGA, serving as a Graduate School representative in the USGA senate and appointing other graduate students to represent the graduate school at USGA meetings.
Treasurer: Christina Ross
Christina is a 5th year graduate student in the Biochemistry and Molecular Biology program. She trains in Dr. Gerald Wilson's lab studying RNA decay pathways in metastatic breast cancer. Before starting at UMB she attended Juniata College in Pennsylvania and interned during the summers in Dr. Wilson's lab at UMB. Before becoming treasurer she served as the primary representative for the biochemisty program. Though you may imagine her horsing around with Scrooge McDuck in a room full of gold coins, her role is not quite so glamorous. She is charged with the responsibility of keeping the GSA on budget for annual events and evaluating student requests to host a new community or social event.
Secretary: Amber Mueller
A Maryland native, Amber is a second year PhD student in the Molecular Medicine program. Her research focuses on xenografting human muscle myocytes into murine muscle compartments in order to study a complex form of muscular dystrophy. Before matriculating into the program at UMB, Amber studied neurobiology and physiology at University of Maryland, College Park, where she was appointed as a student leader in the Life Sciences Scholars Program. She also serves as a Graduate School Senator in the University Student Government Association (USGA). In her spare time, Amber is an active member of the Maryland Orchid Society and dresses up as a turn-of-the-century zombie for Engineered Fear Productions.
Public Relations Officer: Kendra Edwards
Kendra is a third year PhD student in the Toxicology Program. Her research focus is to investigate the role of the sweet taste receptor (STR) in the pancreas and determine how the STR might regulate beta cell function. Kendra graduated with a Bachelor's in Biological Science from the University of Georgia in 2012. She also serves as a Graduate School Senator for the University Student Government Association (USGA).
Graduate Council Representative: Christy Gaines
Originally from Charlotte, NC. Christy attended undergrad at UNC Charlotte, studying Chemistry. After graduating, she worked for two years as an analytical chemist in an environmental sciences laboratory. While her first love was analytical chemistry, she now studies structural biology in Dr. Summers's laboratory at UMBC as part of the joint biochemistry program. In her free time she enjoys hiking and finding new places to explore in Baltimore.
How to get involved in GSA
GSA meetings are held the first Wednesday of every month at 5 p.m. in SMC Campus Center, Room 203. All graduate students are encouraged to attend. Students should contact their program's primary representative or a member of the E-board with inquiries. In addition to its goal of promoting a better student life, the GSA recognizes, fosters, and rewards outstanding leadership among individuals who promote GSA ideals.