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Media Report on $18M Grant Awarded to Network for Biomedical Research, Workforce Training

The Associated Press, Maine Public Broadcasting Network, WLBZ (Channel 2), WABI (Channel 5) and WVII (Channel 7) reported on an event held at the MDI Biological Laboratory in Bar Harbor on Aug. 4 where Sen. Susan Collins joined leaders from colleges and research institutions across Maine as well as dozens of Maine college students to celebrate the receipt of an $18.4 million grant from the National Institutes of Health. The five-year award aims to strengthen biomedical research and hands-on workforce training in Maine through the continuation of the Maine IDeA Network of Biomedical Research Excellence (INBRE), a collaborative network of 13 Maine research institutions, universities and colleges led by the MDI Biological Laboratory. The University of Maine and UMaine’s Honors College are part of the network. Anne Campbell, who graduated from UMaine in 2012 with degrees in chemistry and biochemistry, spoke with MPBN about her experience with the program. As a member of UMaine’s Honors College, she took a weeklong course at MDI Bio Lab on functional genomics, which was paid for by Maine INBRE. Campbell said during that course she met her thesis adviser, and was able to develop a thesis project. The Portland Press Herald carried the AP report.

Sen. Collins, Researchers Celebrate $18M Grant for Biomedical Research, Workforce Training

Sen. Susan Collins joined leaders from colleges and research institutions across Maine as well as dozens of Maine college students at the MDI Biological Laboratory in Bar Harbor on Aug. 4 to celebrate the receipt of an $18.4 million grant from the National Institutes of Health.

The five-year award aims to strengthen biomedical research and hands-on workforce training in Maine through the continuation of the Maine IDeA Network of Biomedical Research Excellence (INBRE), a collaborative network of 13 Maine research institutions, universities and colleges led by the MDI Biological Laboratory. The University of Maine and UMaine’s Honors College are part of the network.

“The INBRE program is a powerful instrument for bringing educational institutions from Fort Kent to South Portland together to build on their collective strengths and help our state be more competitive nationally,” Collins said at the event. “Since it began in 2001, INBRE has brought more than $100 million in federal funds into Maine. It has strengthened our state’s research infrastructure and trained more than 2,000 Maine students in biomedical research techniques.”

The full MDI Biological Laboratory news release is online.

University of Maine Announces Spring 2014 Dean’s List

The University of Maine recognized 2,130 students for achieving Dean’s List honors in the spring 2014 semester. Of the students who made the Deans List, 1,730 are from Maine, 338 are from 30 other states and 62 are from 24 countries other than the U.S.

Listed below are students who received Dean’s List honors for spring 2014, completing 12 or more credit hours in the semester and earning a grade point average of 3.5 or higher. Also available is a breakdown of the Dean’s List by Maine counties.

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Provost Names Signature and Emerging Areas of Excellence in Research and Education

Signature and Emerging Areas of excellence in research and education at the University of Maine have been announced by UMaine Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost Jeffrey Hecker.

The designations, which resulted from months of campus dialogue and faculty forums led by the provost, will inform strategic and focused planning and resource allocation to preserve UMaine’s national stature and impact in Maine. The initiative to define UMaine’s Signature and Emerging Areas is a significant component of Blue Sky Pathway 1 — Serving Our State: Catalyzing Maine’s Revitalization in the five-year strategic plan. It will be followed this fall by campus-wide dialogue about foundational areas of research and education for a 21st-century land grant university.

“In this time of rapid change in higher education, it is more important than ever that institutions think strategically about their programs,” Hecker says. “In the Signature Areas UMaine has achieved national and international distinction, and these areas will be key in our planning for the future, including our fundraising and development efforts. The Emerging Areas are those with the great potential to reach that next level of excellence. Together, they make a compelling statement about the distinctiveness of UMaine among America’s research universities.”

The Signature Areas, identified by their strengths in research and education: Forestry and the Environment, Marine Sciences, College of Engineering, Advanced Materials for Infrastructure and Energy, Climate Change, STEM Education, and Honors College. These interdisciplinary Signature Areas are world-class and will feature prominently in UMaine planning for the future.

Emerging Areas represent those programs that may have not yet achieved critical mass or reputation, but have begun to capitalize on interdisciplinary collaboration; have a track record of success with external support from a variety of sources; and involve integration of the research, teaching and service missions. They are: the Graduate School of Biomedical Science and Engineering; Northeastern Americas: Humanities Research and Education; Data Science and Engineering; Sustainability Solutions and Technologies; Aging Research; and Finance Education.

Provost Hecker convened the first of three Academic Affairs Faculty Forums on Dec. 3, 2013 to discuss and gather feedback on the Signature and Emerging Areas initiative. In early January, the Advisory Committee for Signature and Emerging Areas drafted the selection criteria, which included: demonstration of a strong “fit to place” meeting Maine’s cultural, workforce and economic needs; international and national reputation; high level of productivity; proven record of sustainability; ability to leverage existing resources; interdisciplinary and/or multidisciplinary; integration of research, teaching and service missions.

A call for concept papers was issued to the campus community, resulting in 58 submissions. These concept papers were reviewed by a team comprised of UMaine faculty and administrators, a member of UMaine’s Board of Visitors, and external reviewers from the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the American Association of the Advancement of Science. Twenty submissions were selected for participation in the full proposal phase of the review.

Public forums were held May 21 and May 22 that included brief presentations on the proposed Signature Areas. Ongoing community feedback was essential in helping the Provost’s team determine the final list of Signature Areas.

Brief descriptions of the Signature Areas:

Forestry and the Environment, focusing on sustainable forests and the forest-based economy, and education in forests, wildlife and the environment. UMaine is nationally and internationally recognized in its advanced wood composites, wood processing, biofuels, wood chemistry and forest resources research. A signature strength for teaching is UMaine’s location, providing unique opportunities for hands-on educational experiences in Maine’s forest and aquatic resources, and in communities statewide. Lead faculty: Hemant Pendse, Forest Bioproducts Research Institute; Robert Wagner, Center for Research on Sustainable Forests; Stephen Shaler, Forest Resources; Doug Bousfield, Paper Surface Science Program; Mike Bilodeau, Process Development Center; Amy Luce, Technology Research Center; Dan Harrison, Wildlife Ecology, Aram Calhoun, Ecology and Environmental Sciences

Marine Sciences, including a multidisciplinary Marine Research Solutions initiative to improve understanding of the physical, biological and socioeconomic processes that shape the ocean; to be a reliable, deeply engaged partner with policy makers, fisheries stakeholders, marine industries and coastal communities, helping to develop solutions for the broad array of issues associated with Maine’s marine resources; and to provide high-quality, interdisciplinary undergraduate and graduate education, outreach and research for the Gulf of Maine. Lead faculty: Fei Chai, Pete Jumars, Mary Jane Perry, Rebecca Van Beneden, William Ellis, Sara Lindsay, Rhian Waller, Marine Sciences; Paul Anderson, Aquaculture Research Institute; Mario Teisl, Economics; Krish Thiagarajan, Mechanical Engineering

STEM Education, including research that investigates the complex intersection of individual content knowledge, social learning environments, pedagogical knowledge of our teachers, and development and use of materials for the classroom. Understanding this complex system requires deep knowledge of disciplinary content and of models of teaching and learning. This area supports expanded and improved teaching and learning of STEM from pre-school through graduate school.  Lead faculty: Michael Wittmann and John Thompson, Physics; Jonathan Shemwell, Education; Harlan Onsrud, Computing and Information Science; Susan McKay, RiSE Center; Mohamad Musavi, Engineering

Climate Change, including internationally recognized research, and highly integrated undergraduate and graduate educational opportunities, as well as an emerging academic focus on changing ecosystems and climate — impact on animal and human health. The Climate Change Institute has evolved beyond a singular focus on research to be a leader and a vehicle for broad integration of climate change strengths across campus and statewide. Lead faculty: Paul Mayewski, Jasmine Saros, Ivan Fernandez, Gregory Zaro, Climate Change Institute; Eleanor Groden, School of Biology and Ecology; Mario Teisl, School of Economics; Susan Erich, Anne Lichtenwalner, School of Food and Agriculture

Advanced Materials for Infrastructure and Energy, developing the use of advanced materials in civil infrastructure, energy, aerospace and defense applications. As an interdisciplinary research center, the Advanced Structures and Composites Center focuses on development of novel advanced composite materials and technologies that capitalize on Maine’s manufacturing strengths and natural resources, while creating new industries and job opportunities, and educating students. Lead faculty: Habib Dagher, Stephen Shaler, Larry Parent, Douglas Gardner, William Davids, Eric Landis, Krish Thiagarajan, Advanced Structures and Composites Center

College of Engineering, focusing on the role of the state’s only comprehensive engineering program that features a high level of synergy between teaching, research and public service. Engineering leads the campus with respect to the quality of students it attracts, retention and graduation rates, as well as job placement. Lead faculty: Eric Landis, William Davids, Donald Hummels, Hemant Pendse, Scott Dunning, Engineering; David Batuski, Physics

Honors College, increasing the recruitment and retention of students in preprofessional programs, involving faculty campuswide in the honors education enhancing study abroad and off-campus partnerships that expand and strengthen community-engaged research, and involving students in the creation of new knowledge. Lead faculty, Francois Amar, Honors

Brief descriptions of the Emerging Areas:

Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences and Engineering (GSBSE), leveraging Maine’s academic and nonprofit biomedical research institutions, specifically UMaine, University of Southern Maine, University of New England, The Jackson Laboratory, Mount Desert Island Biological Laboratory and Maine Medical Center Research Institute through a unique educational model. GSBSE student research focuses on issues prevalent in the state of Maine, such as cancer- and aging-related illness. Lead faculty: David Neivandt, Chemical Engineering and the Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences and Engineering

Northeastern Americas: Humanities Research and Education, focusing on scholarship of New England, Quebec and Atlantic Canada. The area is distinctive in its international scope, its multicultural depth and its array of campuswide programs, including the Canadian-American Center, Margaret Chase Smith Policy Center, Maine Folklife Center, Franco American Programs, Native American Programs and Humanities Initiative, as well as the departments of History, English, Art and Modern Languages. Interdisciplinary, regional research contributes to understanding Maine’s cross-border economy, and it provides interpretative resources for the state’s “creative economy” and its heritage-based tourist industry. Lead faculty: Richard Judd, History; Pauleena MacDougall, Folklife Center; Darren Ranco, Anthropology and Native American Programs

Data Science and Engineering, leveraging UMaine strengths in data science and engineering, and data-sensitive science areas by applying data-centric methods to issues relevant to Maine’s interests and natural and economic sustainability. DSE brings together computer scientists, mathematicians, statisticians and engineers with domain scientists to address critical challenges of capturing, storing, managing, sharing, and analyzing massive data sets for new scientific discoveries and insights. Lead faculty: Kate Beard-Tisdale, School of Computing and Information Science; Ali Abedi, Yifeng Zhu, Electrical and Computer Engineering

Sustainability Solutions and Technologies, using the field of sustainability science and other interdisciplinary approaches to address the intersecting environmental, sociocultural and economic dimensions of diverse societal challenges, including renewable energy, urbanization, forest resources, water resources, marine fisheries, agriculture and climate change. Faculty conduct sustainability research in collaboration with stakeholder organizations representing government, business and industry, and nongovernmental organizations. Lead faculty: David Hart, Senator George J. Mitchell Center and School of Biology and Ecology; Jonathan Rubin, Margaret Chase Smith Policy Center and School of Economics; Aram Calhoun, Wildlife Ecology and Ecology and Environmental Science; Shaleen Jain, Civil and Environmental Engineering; Hemant Pendse, Chemical and Biological Engineering; Darren Ranco, Anthropology and Native American Programs; Mario Teisl, School of Economics; Robert Wagner, School of Forest Resources

Aging Research, advancing successful aging in Maine and the nation as it addresses: maximizing individual productivity; minimizing institutionalization and the need for costly long-term care; preventing and mitigating the impact of illness and injury; and promoting community integration, social engagement, full accessibility, personal independence, vitality, mobility, elder friendly communities and citizen safety. Utilizing a research incubator model, this area will maintain productive partnerships with the business and nonprofit sectors. Lead faculty: Len Kaye, Center on Aging and Social Work; David Neivandt, Chemical Engineering and the Graduate School of Biomedical Science and Engineering; Laura Lindenfeld, Communication and Journalism

Finance Education, addressing the critical need of the state of Maine to educate business professionals who can carry out economic development and improve job opportunities for the people of Maine. Student learning is enhanced through state of the art technologies and information science, opportunities to invest and manage funds, and engagement with businesses in Maine and nationally. Lead faculty: Ivan Manev, Maine Business School

Contact: Margaret Nagle, 207.581.3745

UMaine Mentioned in Mainebiz, BDN Articles on MDI Lab Grant

Mainebiz and the Bangor Daily News reported the MDI Biological Laboratory in Bar Harbor was awarded an $18.4 million grant from the National Institute of General Medical Sciences to strengthen biomedical research and hands-on workforce training in Maine. The five-year award ensures the continuation of the Maine IDeA Network of Biomedical Research Excellence (INBRE), a collaborative network of 13 Maine research institutions, universities and colleges led by the MDI Biological Laboratory. The University of Maine and UMaine’s Honors College are part of the network. The MDI Biological Laboratory news release is online.

BDN Interviews UMaine Valedictorian, Salutatorian About Future Plans

The Bangor Daily News spoke with the University of Maine’s Class of 2014 valedictorian Sierra Ventura of Belfast, Maine, and salutatorian Jennifer Chalmers of Foxborough, Mass., for the article “UMaine valedictorian, salutatorian both hope to be teachers despite changes in education system.” Ventura, who will graduate with a bachelor’s degree in music education, said she plans to pursue a master’s in music education and eventually become a music teacher. “What really gets me is seeing the look on the kids’ faces when they get it. When we’re working on something, and it finally clicks. It’s so cool to get that spark,” Ventura said. Chalmers, a history and English double major, said she has joined Teach for America, a teacher training program that puts recent college graduates in schools with socio-economically disadvantaged student populations, and will teach in New Jersey in August. “I just love learning, and other than trying to learn forever, the only way I can think to do anything with that is to help others like it,” Chalmers said.

Professor, Students, Organization Honored for Community Service

A University of Maine faculty member, two students and a campus organization were recognized for outstanding public service and civic engagement at the Maine Campus Compact’s (MCC) 13th annual Awards Ceremony on April 30 at the State House Hall of Flags in Augusta.

Robert Glover, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences-Honors preceptor and assistant professor of political science, received the Donald Harward Faculty Award for Service-Learning Excellence. Students Kimberly Dao and Bryer Sousa received the Heart and Soul Student Award, recognizing exemplary civic engagement. UMaine’s Alternative Breaks program was recognized with a President’s Campus Leadership Award. Co-presidents Kelly Covey and Morgan Kinney accepted the award.

Glover was recognized for his work in the classroom, in particular with his “Practicum in Engaged Policy Studies” class, in which students commit to a yearlong, service-learning policy research project. He was also recognized for his advocacy for service learning, as demonstrated by his efforts to develop a Citizen Scholar certificate program through the Honors program and to institutionalize an interdisciplinary minor in civic and community engagement. He also has made a regional and national impact through his writing. In partnership with UMaine faculty member Linda Silka, Glover coauthored an article in the journal Gateways: International Journal of Community Research and Engagement.

Dao and Sousa were recognized for their embodiment of heart and soul for their efforts to engage and empower peers and the community.

Last year, Dao, who has been admitted into the Maine Track Early Assurance program of Tufts University School of Medicine, established a scholarship program to offer undergraduate students financial support to help subsidize professional and personal development opportunities. This year, the senior biology major worked with the Student Women’s Association and Women’s Resource Center to bring the national Elect Her program to campus. UMaine is one of 50 campuses nationwide hosting this program. As student body president, a member of All Maine Women, and an inductee of Phi Beta Kappa, Dao is a leader. With her involvement in Black Bear Mentors, Alternative Breaks, Operation HEARTS and the UMaine chapter of Partners for World Health, Dao has demonstrated her capacity to empower others.

Sousa, a sophomore chemistry, physics and mathematics triple major, was recognized for his work to explore alternative methods of water filtration. During his first year, Bryer established a student chapter of Water for ME, an organization committed to improving public health and water systems in developing countries. He established a partner chapter with Bangor High School to increase opportunities available to aspiring high school scientists. In summer 2013, the recipient of the Davis Foundation Project for Peace grant partnered with Pure Water for the World and Water for ME to fund and install water filters for 50 households in the Trojes region of Honduras. He is a research assistant in a project to design a clean water program for people in Haiti.

UMaine’s Alternative Breaks program was honored for demonstrating the use of service as an integral part of the college experience for students, creating innovative approaches to campus-based efforts to address community issues, integrating strategies into their institutional structure and impacting the campus and surrounding community. Students at UMaine who participate in Alternative Breaks provide a range of community services, from working with underprivileged youth in Florida to environmental preservation in the Grand Canyon.

MCC, established in 1994 and hosted at Bates College, is an affiliate state office of Campus Compact, which encompasses more than 1,100 college and university presidents — representing 6 million students — dedicated to promoting community service, civic engagement and service-learning in higher education. More than 15,000 student volunteers at MCC member campuses provide 1.6 million hours of service annually, with an economic impact of more than $25 million a year.

Exceptional in Their Fields: Meet UMaine’s 2014 Outstanding Graduates

These stellar seniors — hailing from rural Maine to Canada and China — share their UMaine experiences. Learn about their research, community service and world travels, and their plans for a very promising future.

Contact: Margaret Nagle, 207.581.3745

Jinlun Bai Finn Bondeson Ariel Bothen
     
Meaghan Bradica Jennifer Chalmers Dilasha Dixit
     
Kayla Jones Theresa McMannus Janelle Tinkler
     
 
 Chi Truong  Sierra Ventura  

Image Description: Jinlun Bai

Image Description: Finn Bonderson

Image Description: Ariel Bothen

Image Description: Meaghan Bradica

Image Description: Jennifer Chalmers

Image Description: Dilasha Dixit

Image Description: Kayla Jones

Image Description: Theresa McMannus

Image Description: Janelle Tinkler

Image Description: Chi Truong

Image Description: Sierra Ventura

UMaine’s 212th Commencement Set for May 10

The University of Maine’s 212th Commencement will be held May 10 in Harold Alfond Sports Arena on campus.

Held in two ceremonies at 10 a.m. and 2:30 p.m., the university’s Commencement is one of Maine’s largest graduation events. An estimated 1,660 students — undergraduates, master’s and doctoral — are expected to participate in the event.

Both ceremonies are ticketed events. All students marching were offered up to five guest tickets. Live streaming of the ceremonies will be available online for friends and family worldwide. In addition, live streaming of both ceremonies can be viewed on a big screen in the Bear’s Den in the Memorial Union on campus.

For the second consecutive year, in keeping with UMaine’s leadership as a nationally recognized “Green campus,” each graduating student attending one of the ceremonies will receive a digital Commencement program on a commemorative 2GB USB flash drive. The full program will contain the names of all degree-earning undergraduate and graduate students, as well as a welcome message from the University of Maine Alumni Association.

At the ceremonies, an abbreviated print version of the program will be available for audience members. The Commencement website that day will feature the full program with the names of all graduating students.

The 10 a.m., ceremony is for graduating students in two colleges: Liberal Arts and Sciences; and Education and Human Development. Joining them will be students graduating from the Maine Business School and the Division of Lifelong Learning.

The 2:30 p.m., ceremony is for graduates in the College of Engineering and the College of Natural Sciences, Forestry and Agriculture.

The honorary degree recipients and Commencement speakers will be two icons in literature and music in Maine — international best-selling author Tess Gerritsen of Camden and singer-songwriter David Mallett of Sebec. Mallett will address the 10 a.m. ceremony; Gerritsen will address the 2:30 p.m. ceremony.

This year’s valedictorian and salutatorian are Sierra Ventura of Belfast, Maine, and Jennifer Chalmers of Foxborough, Mass., respectively. Ventura will receive a bachelor’s degree in music education. Chalmers will receive two bachelor’s degrees in English and in history. She has majored in English and history, with minors in education and Spanish, and received highest honors for her thesis.

Also being honored at Commencement and at a Faculty Appreciation and Recognition Luncheon that day are four faculty members in marine sciences, electrical and computer engineering, and computing and information science.

Mary Jane Perry, professor of oceanography and interim director of UMaine’s Darling Marine Center, is the 2014 Distinguished Maine Professor, an award presented by the University of Maine Alumni Association in recognition of outstanding achievement in the university’s mission of teaching, research and public service.

J. Malcolm Shick, professor of zoology and oceanography, is the recipient of the 2014 Presidential Outstanding Teaching Award; School of Computing and Information Science Professor M. Kate Beard-Tisdale is the 2014 Presidential Research and Creative Achievement Award; and the 2014 Presidential Public Service Achievement Award recipient it Bruce Segee, professor of electrical and computer engineering, and director of the University of Maine System Advanced Computing Group.

Contact: Margaret Nagle, 207.581.3745

UMaine Names 2014 Valedictorian and Salutatorian

University of Maine President Paul Ferguson has announced the 2014 valedictorian, Sierra Ventura of Belfast, Maine, and salutatorian Jennifer Chalmers of Foxborough, Mass.

Both will receive their degrees at UMaine’s 212th Commencement ceremonies in Harold Alfond Sports Arena May 10.

“Sierra and Jenn personify the best of the University of Maine undergraduate experience in their academic excellence, community engagement, and dedication to research and scholarship,” says President Ferguson. “We are proud of their achievements and their leadership in the UMaine community.”

Ventura will receive a bachelor’s degree in music education. Throughout her undergraduate career, she has been active in UMaine’s chapter of the National Association of Music Education, including two years as treasurer, and she is a member of Phi Beta Kappa. Her leadership roles on campus include serving as assistant conductor of the University of Maine Singers and of Euphony, the Orono-based chamber choir, both in 2013–14. The previous year, Ventura was the assistant accompanist of Collegiate Chorale.

Ventura also was a member of other musical ensembles in the UMaine School of Performing Arts, including Opera Workshop, Concert Band and Athena Consort, and she worked on the technical and events crews. Since 2009, she has had her own business, S.J. Ventura Music Instruction, teaching 35 students in piano, voice, flute, clarinet and saxophone. Ventura plans to pursue a graduate degree in music education at the University of Maine.

“UMaine has helped me shape my pursuits in the music education field,” Ventura says. “UMaine has also provided me the opportunity to connect with many veteran teachers and other professionals in my field throughout my undergraduate career, as well as give me tools to become a better private music teacher for my students. During my undergraduate career, I was also blessed to have met my fiancé during my time in University Singers.”

Chalmers will receive two bachelor’s degrees in English and in history. She has majored in English and history, with minors in education and Spanish, and received highest honors for her honors thesis, a historical and literary research project, entitled “Teaching Literature in America: Demonstrating Relevance in the Early Cold War (1945–1963).”

Chalmers is a member of multiple honor societies, including All Maine Women, Sophomore Eagles and Phi Beta Kappa. The UMaine Presidential Scholar Award recipient received Roger B. Hill Scholarships in both history and English, and the Ellis Prize in English. She also received a College of Liberal Arts and Sciences Undergraduate Research Fellowship.

While at UMaine, Chalmers had two internships that advanced her professional writing skills. She was a human resources intern with the Massachusetts State Police in Framingham, Mass., and an English editorial intern with Pearson Higher Education in Boston, Mass. She was a journalist for the Maine Journal and a tutor for UMaine’s Writing Center. In addition, Chalmers was a student supervisor for Black Bear Dining concessions and a clarinetist in the UMaine Symphonic and Pep bands. Her community service activities included volunteering, serving as a note taker for UMaine Disability Support Services, and being involved in Autism at UMaine and the History Club.

“Since the moment I first visited UMaine, I have always felt at home,” Chalmers says. “I’m particularly appreciative of the way my professors have been so willing to help me achieve my goals and have always been on the lookout for opportunities that might be beneficial for me. I also really appreciate the wealth of opportunities that UMaine has provided outside the classroom. I have had so many opportunities to join organizations that I genuinely care about, gain leadership experience and make lasting friendships. My coursework, jobs and activities at UMaine have provided me with the experience that I have needed to get scholarships, internships and jobs, both inside and outside UMaine. The people, the organizations, and the generally encouraging atmosphere at UMaine have been invaluable to my personal, professional and intellectual growth during college, and I know that taking advantage of the opportunities that UMaine has to offer has allowed and prepared me to achieve my goals.”

Chalmers has accepted a position with Teach for America. For the next two years, she will teach secondary special education English in southern New Jersey and then will pursue graduate school.

Contact: Margaret Nagle, 207.581.3745

Image Description: Ventura

Image Description: Chalmers


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