2011 Graduate Student Award Winners
The Norris Charles Clements Graduate Student Award
Venura Herath is a Ph.D. student in biological sciences who is working to increase our understanding of the cellular and molecular processes that allow plants to respond to low-temperature stresses. His research is part of an ongoing federal initiative to decode the genomes of all major food crops to increase agricultural productivity. After finishing his degree, Venura plans to take a position as a graduate faculty member at a university in Sri Lanka and will continued to address major problems that limit Sri Lankan food production. His advisor is Benildo de los Reyes.
George F. Dow Graduate Scholarship Fund
Aleksandra Kristo, a Ph.D. student in the Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition, is investigating the effects of wild blueberries on cardiovascular health. Her research documents the beneficial effects of wild blueberries in improving the tone and function of arteries. These results are important both for Maine’s wild blueberry growers, who are looking to increase their markets, and health professionals looking for dietary ways to improve human health. After completing her Ph.D., Aleksandra, will seek a postdoctoral position and continue to examine the role nutrition can play in treating cardiovascular disease. Her advisor is Dorothy Klimis-Zacas.
Fred Griffee Memorial Award
David Mallett is a master’s degree candidate in wildlife ecology. His research is examining how the behavior of Canada lynx changes in response to densities of snowshoe hares. Hi research has important implications of management of lynx, a federally listed endangered species. After finishing his degree, David would like to work for a state or federal wildlife management agency or nonprofit group, and work to support sustainable forestry and wildlife conservation based on sound science and research. His advisor is Daniel Harrison.
Outstanding Master’s Degree Student Award
Binod Neupane is a master’s degree student in the School of Forest Resources. For his master’s program, he assessed the environmental sustainability of bioethanol production from forest biomass. A productive researcher, he has a number of articles in the publication process and has received travel grants to present his research at several conferences. He also volunteers his time on various campus committees, including UMaine’s Green Team. Binod has a passion for renewable energy research, and his advisor feels he will make outstanding contributions for the growth of the bioenergy industry. He plans to stay at UMaine to pursue his Ph.D. His advisor is Anthony Halog.
Outstanding Ph.D. Student Award
Gordon Bromley is a Ph.D. candidate in earth sciences whose research focuses on glacial geology and paleoclimate at sites in Peru and Antarctica. His research in the Peruvian Andes provides much needed data with far-reaching implications for our understanding of tropical climate and its response to global change. He has also carried out groundbreaking research on the behavior of the marine-based West Antarctic Ice Sheet. He has published a number of scientific papers, presented his research at numerous national meetings, and been awarded several research awards. Gordon has sought out teaching opportunities, even teaching a course for the Senior College. After graduating, Gordon will take a position at Columbia University in New York. His advisor is Brenda Hall.
Outstanding Service Award
Bess Koffman is a Ph.D. student in the Department Earth Sciences. Throughout her career at UMaine, Bess has engaged in a wide range of teaching, outreach, mentoring, and research activities while maintaining a nearly perfect GPA. As someone who loves to teach, she approaches teaching with the belief that every student can be inspired to work hard and learn, and she spends endless time with new undergraduates, helping them to grasp earth science concepts. Along with her formal responsibilities as a teaching assistant and course coordinator, Bess has mentored undergraduate and high school students in the lab and given talks on climate science to K-12 and adult audiences. Bess serves her department by organizing seminars, leading field trips, and serving as a graduate student representative and serves the university as a grant reviewer for Graduate Student Government. After graduating, Bess plans to pursue postdoctoral research in paleoclimatology Her advisor is Karl Kreutz.
Graduate Research Excellence Award
Michelle Goody is working on her Ph.D. in biomedical sciences. Her research focuses on muscle diseases known as myopathies using the zebrafish as a model. As a graduate student Michelle has distinguished herself both technically and intellectually. Michelle’s overall research productivity is exemplary with an impressive number of publications, abstracts and conference presentations. At the awards competition, Michelle demonstrated an outstanding ability to distill a complex subject into an effective presentation. Her research has generated interesting results in new therapeutic avenues for the treatment of skeletal muscle diseases, and the potential impact of her project is quite exciting. Michelle’s future plans include carrying out cutting-edge biomedical research and teaching in Maine. Her advisor is Clarissa Henry.