Meet the Newest Alums: Bell, Tewelde, and Lomax

UMBC is always full of hard-working people who aspire to do great things, and the class of 2014 is no exception. Today, we wanted to share with you what some of our recent graduates are planning to do with their Retriever education.

In a mere four years at UMBC, Valedictorian
Travis Bell, psychology and politicalBell2014-6896_mod science, completed six internships, studied abroad in Chile, and received a mentorship for pursuing a career in public affairs. Along with being the UMBC Club Soccer President and the UMBC Pre-Law Society Founder and Treasurer, Bell was also selected as a finalist for the national Harry S. Truman Scholarship and won both the Outstanding Senior Award in political science and the Louis Cantori Memorial Scholarship. With his recent graduation, he plans to continue his education to earn a J.D. at the UCLA School of Law.

Tewelde2014-6882_modBlossom Tewelde, biochemistry and molecular biology, came in to UMBC as a science major and later found herself excelling in poetry. In the realm of science, the Meyerhoff and Howard Hughes Medical Institute scholar won the Donald Creighton Memorial Scholarship for Outstanding Senior Undergraduate Researcher in Biochemistry.

Tewelde also explored her talents in poetry, was soon published in UMBC’s Bartleby, and earned the Malcolm C. Braly Award. She plans to pursue an M.D./Ph.D at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine.

Lomax-modMelissa Lomax, English literature, brought a lot to the table. While at UMBC, she was president of the Maryland Association of Blind Students and held active membership in the National Federation of the Blind of Maryland. Lomax was also chosen to travel abroad to Damascus as a part of the Open Hands Youth Abilities Summit, where she “worked with Syrian youth on the topic of the United Nations Convention for the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.” There, she helped develop the comic Silver Scorpion by Liquid Comic about an empowering superhero who has a disability, which has been featured on NPR and in Time Magazine. Lomax now plans to be the Youth Services Coordinator for the Blind Industries and Services of Maryland.

Read more about the Class of 2014!

Meet our Newest Alums: Donovan, Amazu, Fung Chim, and Connor

UMBC is always full of hard-working people who aspire to do great things, and the class of 2014 is no exception. Today, we wanted to share with you what some of our recent graduates are planning to do with their Retriever education.

After winning the Maryland Sea Grant to
study the health of the Chesapeake Bay, Donovan2014-0162_modMitchell Donovan, M.S. geography and environmental systems, was also able to present his work at the Scientific and Technical Advisory Committee’s Chesapeake Bay workshop. Donovan’s research has been used to justify amending future models of sediment and contaminant sources. He now plans to fulfill his Fulbright Research Grant at the University of Turku, Finland, and earn his Ph.D. in watershed sciences at the Utah State University.

Amazu2014-7057_modChinwendu Amazu, biochemistry and molecular biology, came in to UMBC as a Meyerhoff Scholar, a MARC U*Star Trainee, and a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Scholar. With her hard work she joined the Phi Beta Kappa Society and the Golden Key International Honor Society. Amazue also  won the Faculty Award for Excellence in Biochemistry, Robert and Jane Meyerhoff Award, among others. Along with tutoring her peers in general and organic chemistry, Amazu has worked with research scientists at the Johns Hopkins Malaria Research Institute, the University of Maryland School of Medicine, and the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis. She plans to continue working towards an M.D./Ph.D. at the Washington University School of Medicine.

Cho Fung Chim, psychology, used his
talents while at UMBC to work as a research Chim2014-0183_modassistant at Robin Barry’s Couple and Family Research Lab and in Charissa Cheah’s Culture, Child, and Adolescent Development Lab. For his honors thesis, Chim managed all of the work, from beginning to end. He wrote the research question, completed the literature review, and analyzed the collected data. Graduating with a 4.0, he now plans to continue his work with family counseling, especially those who have immigrated to the U.S., and
pursue an M.A. in counseling psychology at
Johns Hopkins University.

Connor2014-6863_modAfter facing a life-threatening illness, non-traditional student Amy Connor, biochemistry and molecular biology, stepped back from her work as an artist and found a passion for science. Her goal now is to “inspire young students to think critically and creatively about science.” Connor plans to obtain a master’s degree in education from UMBC and teach chemistry.

Find out more about the Class of 2014!

Alums in the News: Booker-Wilkens, Suess, Adams, and Nevins

Here at UMBC, we take pride in what our alums accomplish after graduation. Take a moment to see which Retrievers have been on the move and making news!

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Melody Booker-Wilkens ’86, political science, was recently named Economic Development director for Sussex County, Delaware. In this role, she will work with private partners to help current employers and seek to bring new job creators to Southern Delaware. Chosen from more than 20 applicants, Wilkens has more than 25 years of experience working in the private and public sector. Read more about her new role.



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UMBC’s Chief Information officer, Jack Suess ’81, mathematics, ’95 M.S., operations analysis, recently participated in panel at the Educause 2014 conference. He and other CIOs weighed the pros and cons of social media in a professional work environment and, particularly, its role within an information technology department. See what Suess and the other panelists had to say.



jerome adams
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Jerome Adams (M4) ’97, biochemistry and molecular biology, was recently appointed as Commissioner for the Indiana State Department of Health. Adams has been working in the medical field for several years now with experience teaching and is involved in various professional organizations as well as having done research under Nobel Prize winner Dr. Tom Cech. “His public service and academic achievements make Dr. Jerome Adams the ideal candidate to serve in this role,” said Indiana Governor Mike Pence of the appointment. Read more.


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Every two years the Vermont Historical Society awards the Cate Fellowship to support research for Vermont history. This year the award was given to Susan Nevins ’86, modern languages and linguistics, and ’91 M.A., instructional development systems. This award will help support her research on the Lyndes family, a black Revolutionary War veteran who made a life in Central Vermont. Full article.



Have a story of your own to share? Submit a class note.

Outstanding Alumnus: Michael Adelstein ’96

Over the next few weeks we’ll be introducing you to this year’s Alumni Award winners. The UMBC Alumni Association proudly honors distinguished alumni and faculty for their accomplishments and dedication to UMBC. Today we’re talking with Michael Adelstein ‘96, biochemistry and molecular biology, about his career as CEO of Potomac Photonics, Inc. 

MikeAdelsteinName: Michael Adelstein ’96, biochemistry and molecular biology
Job Title: CEO, Potomac Photonics, Inc.
Award Category: Natural and Mathematical Sciences

Q: Why did you choose to attend UMBC, and how do you continue to be involved with the university?

I chose to attend UMBC because I felt it provided the perfect balance of academics, size, and social environment when compared to the other schools that I considered. I had a sense that UMBC was poised for great accomplishments, and the arrival of Dr. Hrabowski was instrumental at solidifying the school as a top tier university. The culture of UMBC is a very dynamic mix of academic excellence, cultural diversity, hard work, and opportunity that truly prepares its students for success.

I continue to be closely aligned with UMBC and its values. Recently, I moved our company to bwtech@UMBC Research and Technology Park to further enhance our partnerships with the faculty and students.

Special thanks to Dr. Tony Farquhar of the Mechanical Engineering Department; Susie Lynch from the UMBC Office of Institutional Advancement; and Ellen Hemmerly, Executive Director of bwtech@UMBC Research and Technology Park and Walt Schultz Director of Facilities and Leasing of bwtech@UMBC Technology and Development Park who have been invaluable in solidifying Potomac’s partnership with UMBC.

Q: Is there a particular class or professor at UMBC who really inspired you?

My coursework at UMBC inspired me to pursue opportunities in science and technology, and set the foundation for my future educational endeavors and career. Most notably, I really enjoyed my chemistry and biology classes, such as Analytical Chemistry and Immunology. Two of my former professors, Dr. William LaCourse and Dr. Suzanne Ostrand-Rosenberg, employed innovative teaching techniques that were engaging and encouraged student participation and debate.  

Q: Please tell us a little about the trajectory of your career and what you are working on now.

During my time at UMBC I spent several summers interning at the National Institutes of Health. I also served six years in the Maryland National Guard as a squad leader for a mortar platoon. In 1997, I joined Potomac Photonics as a sales administrator, and became immediately intrigued and inspired by the micro manufacturing technology emerging for applications in industries such as medical, biotech, electronics, and others. I focused my efforts in developing and implementing a strategy to grow a contract manufacturing unit. This eventually became the primary focus of Potomac and in 2011 I was promoted to President and CEO of the company. One year later, I led a buyout of the company, and in 2013 relocated to bwtech@UMBC Technology and Research Park.

Q: What has been the greatest success in your career? The greatest challenge?

I am very proud of the company that Potomac has become. Currently, we are involved in projects to fabricate devices to treat cancer, diagnose concussions, develop new pharmaceutical drugs, and many others. We also started an Education Manufacturing Initiative which is a program focused on creating a robust partnership with universities in order to develop new products and manufacturing technologies. Our culture is one of continuous learning and opportunity and is modeled very closely after UMBC and its core values.

The greatest challenges moving forward are related to ensuring that Potomac stays true its mission and continues to develop novel micro manufacturing technologies that ensure our partners will be able to build parts with features that are getting smaller in size and more complex in design. Workforce training and education is of particular importance, and we are committed to supporting our employees and institutions committed to this area.

Q: What are your proudest personal achievements?

My proudest personal achievements revolve around my family. I cherish every moment that we spend together and the experiences that we share. My wife is my partner in every way, and her support and courage, even while battling several health issues, has been inspirational. Our children, Jacob, Josh, and Anna, are the light of our lives. We feel blessed to share all of this with our parents who frequently spend time and vacation with us. Finally, I am proud of all my coworkers and employees whose hard work and devotion have been instrumental in making Potomac a success.

Check out the other Alumni Award winners.