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Senator George J. Mitchell Center & Maine's Sustainability Solutions Initiative

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Graduate Students - Thomas Parr

Graduate Research Assistant, Sustainability Solutions Initiative

PhD Student, Ecology and Environmental Science, University of Maine

What problems are you working to solve?
I am working to understand how we can better manage our freshwater resources by using state of the art, but inexpensive methods to analyze water quality – specifically how dissolved organic matter fluorescence in water can serve as an indicator of urbanization in Maine.

How could your findings contribute to a more sustainable future in Maine and beyond?
As environmental protection agencies across the country are faced with shrinking budgets, they will need to find new ways to assess water bodies that are less time and labor intensive.  Inexpensive analysis methods such as fluorescence show promise in reducing the time and effort needed to determine water quality in freshwaters.

Why did you decide to join SSI?
SSI seemed like a good place to be exposed to a broad array of ideas and approaches to a given problem.

What’s the best part about collaborating on SSI research projects?
You get to see how different disciplines view and approach the same problem.

Where’s your favorite place in Maine?
That waterfall that spills into Somes Sound at the end of Man of War Brook in Acadia.

What’s your ultimate Maine experience?
As I was moving here, I just crossed into Maine near Coburn Gore, and there was a moose in the middle of the road.  It proceeded to trot down the middle of the road in front of me.  This was amusing for about 5 minutes, then I honked at it so it would get out of the way.

Mud season survival strategy?
One needs a strategy?

What sustains you?
Jellybeans.  Lots and lots of jellybeans.  I may be one of the foremost experts on jellybeans in Maine.

Additional information on Thomas and his SSI team

SSI Project
Mapping a Sustainable Future

Research Advisor
Chris Cronan

Image Description: Parr

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Contact Information

Senator George J. Mitchell Center & Maine's Sustainability Solutions Initiative
5710 Norman Smith Hall
Orono, ME 04469
Phone: 207.581.3244E-mail:
The University of Maine
Orono, Maine 04469
A Member of the University of Maine System