Marine biology, aquaculture major speaks with Mainebiz about STEM jobs

Isaiah Mansour, a double major in marine biology and aquaculture at the University of Maine, spoke with Mainebiz for an “Inside the Notebook” column titled “Where will Maine’s STEM students go to work?” The author recently talked with Kevin Strange, president of the MDI Biological Laboratory in Bar Harbor, about entrepreneurship and STEM education in the state. He said Maine is better at attracting students to STEM disciplines, but getting them to find jobs is the problem. Strange mentioned Mansour as an example of a student he would like to nurture at the lab, and potentially see start a company. At the lab, Mansour works with adjuvants, agents added to a vaccine to help it amplify the body’s immune response, according to the article. Mansour said one California company has developed an adjuvant using a sea snail, but it is high priced because the sea snail it uses is in short supply. He is looking for an alternative using red abalone, a more broadly available sea snail, which has been grown in an aquaculture setting at UMaine, the article states. If successful with the red abalone adjuvant, Mansour said he would like to start a company and potentially join the lab’s existing incubator. “There are tons of STEM students in Maine,” the Connecticut native said. “We need to foster a job market to keep the students in Maine. Labs and companies should work together. Every science student in Maine helps create a community that could help develop the fledgling entrepreneurial network.”