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Student Profiles

Jonathan Foster

Jonathan is an M.S. student in horticulture researching techniques to improve propagation of the native plant, Linnaea borealis or Twinflower. Here, Jonathan is determining the root size and quality of Twinflower.  His goal is to determine whether light and water impact rooting.


Fang Geng

Fang, a Ph.D. student in Plant Science is working with Renae Moran on apple rootstock micropropagation. Traditionally, apple rootstocks are propagated by layering. However, some highly desirable rootstock varieties are hardly propagated by layering. Micropropagation, using explants from desired rootstocks, can provide a solution with rootstock regeneration if we could solve its micro-shoot elongation difficulty. She is investigating the factors that limit micro-shoot elongation during micropropagation. In general, she hopes to improve the current propagation method of apple rootstocks and develop a proper and efficiency protocol to rapidly propagate highly desirable apple rootstock varieties.

Margaret Burns

This past summer Maggie participated in an REU internship at Hubbard Brook Experimental Forest in Thornton, NH. She was placed on a project team with a goal to understand the hillslope hydrology of a specific watershed at Hubbard Brook. A deeper understanding of the hydrologic mechanisms in this watershed can provide a general understanding of water flow regimes in forested ecosystems across New England. This internship gave her the opportunity to work closely with a geologist, Scott Bailey, and a hydrologist, Kevin McGuire as well as a PhD student from Virginia Tech. While this project was already underway when she began, she was given the opportunity to design a project specific to her interests that contributed to the overall project goal. She chose to examine the C horizon, the parent material of our soils, to better understand its contribution to water movement and storage in this watershed. Through this year, she has been continuing her research in the lab here at the University of Maine with Ivan Fernandez for her senior Honors Thesis. Not only did this experience provide Maggie with educational and stimulating field and laboratory work, but it allowed her to connect with the greater scientific community in her field of interest. “Overall, I cannot speak highly enough about the amazing experience I had this past summer at Hubbard Brook and the opportunities it has provided me for the future”.

Sonja Birthisel

Sonja, an M.S. student,is installing weed seed predation “feeding stations,” here with a cage to exclude vertebrates. Sonja is measuring landscape position effects on weed seed predation, an important biological control and ecosystem service provided by many resident insects, rodents and birds. Her study site is the Peacemeal Farm in Dixmont, Maine, a diversified organic vegetable farm.

Hannah Yovino

This past summer, Hannah who is from Tenants Harbor, Maine, took her passion for horticulture to Washington, D.C., where she did an internship at the United States National Arboretum. Maintaining the appearance of the Gotelli Dwarf and Slow-Growing Conifer Collection was the main focus of her internship. Her roles included watering, pruning, weeding, planting and other aspects of maintenance. She was involved in a large landscape design, installation and presentation with other interns on the grounds of the National Arboretum. Hannah spent a lot of time propagating conifers from the collection. She enjoyed the city life and experiencing a different part of the country.

Nate Severy

Nate grew up on a dairy farm in Vermont and always wanted to go to a university in New England that had a worldwide perspective, but also had a strong sense of community and a small college feel. The University of Maine in Orono is exactly that. He chose to major in Ecology and Environmental Science because he wanted to learn about how people interact with the natural world and what we can do to create a prosperous future for ourselves while preserving the environment for future generations. This interdisciplinary program has allowed him to make real-world connections between a broad range of subjects through coursework and hands-on experience. Assessing changes in vegetation while climbing Mount Katahdin, analyzing soils in southern Maine with farmers and professional soil scientists, looking at aquatic organisms in a local lake, and working in a lab conducting experiments on soils throughout Maine, are just a few of the many ways the University of Maine has exposed him to the opportunities that the EES major has to offer. “As a senior Ecology and Environmental Science major with a Soil and Water Science concentration, I can confidently say that the University of Maine has prepared me for a successful and meaningful future”.