NSFA 2014 Graduate Student Awards

The Norris Charles Clements Graduate Student Award—Shannon Chapin

Shannon ChapinShannon Chapin is a master’s degree student in ecology and environmental sciences who is investigating various factors that affect native bee populations in Maine’s wild blueberry barrens. Shannon’s research is part of a multistate, multidisciplinary study of factors potentially affecting pollination of bee-pollinated crops in the Northeast, work that is particularly critical given the loss of honey bee colonies to colony collapse disorder. Shannon’s advisors say that she is an impressive M.S. candidate, comparable to the university’s best Ph.D. students. After graduation, Shannon hopes to follow her passion for applying GIS to ecological problems through work at a governmental or nonprofit agency. (Advisors: Cynthia Loftin and Frank Drummond)

George F. Dow Graduate Scholarship Fund—Kara Lorion

Kara LorionKara Lorion is a master’s student in forest resources. Her research focuses on the ecological and socioeconomic significance of black ash in light of the impending arrival of an invasive insect, the emerald ash borer. Black ash is culturally significant to the Wabanaki tribes, who use the wood to weave baskets that have come to symbolize their heritage. Kara’s advisor states: “She has the work ethic, the ability to learn, excellent research skills, and proven professionalism for laying the foundation of bright future. After receiving her master’s degree, Kara plans to continue on for a Ph.D. in forest resources. (Advisor: William Livingston)

Fred Griffee Memorial Award—Brianna Hughes

Brianna HughesBrianna Hughes is a Ph.D. degree candidate in food and nutrition sciences. Her research is evaluating the effects of high-pressure processing on abalone meat. There is growing interest in starting commercial land-based abalone aquaculture in Maine to sell to established Asian markets as well as to new markets in the US and the EU. Brianna loves to solve problems and be creative; to that end she has also been pursuing a graduate certificate in Innovation Engineering. Her future plans include working in research and development for an innovative food company. (Advisor: Denise Skonberg)

Outstanding Master’s Degree Student Award—Alison Mitchell

Alison MitchellAlison Mitchell is a master’s degree student in the School of Social Work. Alison was part of a student group that received the Presidential Research Impact Award at the 2013 Graduate Student Research Expo for a year-long project that examined child protection outcomes in a group of infants who had been exposed to opioids. She also has assisted with the Penquis Regional Linking Project, a federally funded project to enhance the network of agencies supporting substance-exposed children and has been involved in the Maine Kinship Connections project. Alison maintained her 4.0 GPA, while also serving on a local school board and as a court-appointed special advocate for children. She is a graduate student fellow for the Maine chapter of the Scholars Strategy Network. (Advisor: Sandra Butler)

Outstanding Ph.D. Student Award—Spencer Meyer

Spencer MeyerSpencer Meyer, a Ph.D. candidate the School of Forest Resources, has an active and growing record of research and scholarly activity. In a short time, he has carved out a niche in the area of landscape change and forest conservation. He has four peer-reviewed publications in print or in press, multiple articles in review, and has been awarded several grants as principal investigator. He has also been exceptionally active in service to his profession, school, and community, for example, serving on the advisory committees of the Forest Society of Maine and Baxter State Park. Spencer also plays an active role in UMaine’s Sustainability Solutions Initiative. According to one of his advisors: “Spencer has the intellect, drive, and dedication that make him a tremendous asset to his program and the University of Maine.” (Advisors: Robert Lilieholm and Christopher Cronan)

Outstanding Service Award—Jennifer Lund

Jennifer LundJennifer Lund, a master’s candidate in entomology, has been an exceptional contributor to her school, community, and profession. Jen’s dedication to entomology is displayed in both the classroom and the community outreach events she has taken on.  For the School of Biology and Ecology, Jen is the teaching assistant for General Entomology, helps teach the popular beekeeping course, and has helped with the Schoodic Experience for first-year students. She also volunteers for many community events and organizations including the Ronald McDonald House, the Common Ground Fair, and the Orono Bog Boardwalk. She is also a founding member of Central Maine Roller Derby. For her profession, Jen’s research on the digger wasp is of considerable interest to the US Forest Service for their biosurveillance of the emerald ash borer and she has presented her findings at several professional meetings. (Advisor: Eleanor Groden)

Graduate Research Excellence Award—Tobias Koffman

Tobias KoffmanTobias Koffman is a Ph.D. student in earth and climate sciences who is studying the timing of deglacial and Holocene climate changes in the Southern Hemisphere mid-latitudes. Tobias’s research is furthering our understanding of the last great global warming and of the natural variation in climate that occurred in the few centuries prior to the onset of the ongoing global warming. His study at the University of Maine was supported by a three-year Graduate Research Fellowship awarded directly to him by the National Science Foundation as a result of a national competition. In June, Tobias will move to Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory of Columbia University, where he has been awarded a position to develop a new technique of dating earth, an exciting new technique that will revolutionize the study of earth-surface processes. (Advisor: George Denton)