The College of Natural Sciences, Forestry, and Agriculture at the University of Maine honored eight graduate students for their exemplary achievements during a banquet on April 26. The invitation-only event attracted over 400 university students, staff and friends.
These outstanding students include:
Brianne Du Clos, The Norris Charles Clements Graduate Student Award
The Norris Charles Clements Graduate Student Award was established in 1997 with a bequest from Laurel Clements ’48 in honor of her father, Norris Charles Clements, a distinguished Maine poultry farmer. This award recognizes an outstanding graduate student in agricultural sciences and one whose accomplishments and studies have the potential to make a significant contribution to Maine agriculture.
Brianne Du Clos is a PhD candidate in ecology and environmental sciences whose research seeks to understand wild bee communities throughout Maine’s wild blueberry landscape to help growers make informed pollination management decisions. She developed a novel tool called the BeeMapper that helps wild blueberry growers understand how the surrounding landscape influences the abundance of native bees. Brianne engaged growers and incorporated their feedback as she developed the BeeMapper, demonstrating her commitment to using science to address pollination security in Maine agriculture. Her advisors are Associate Professor Cynthia Loftin and Professor Frank Drummond in the School of Biology and Ecology.
Kara Costanza, The George F. Dow Graduate Scholarship Fund
The George F. Dow Graduate Scholarship Fund was established in 1975 with gifts from and in honor of former experiment station director Dr. George F. Dow ’27. This award recognizes a graduate student with outstanding academic and research performance in a graduate program associated with the Maine Agricultural and Forest Experiment Station.
Kara Costanza is a PhD candidate in forest resources whose research aims to document the impact of Caliciopsis pinea, a native fungal pathogen, on white pine trees and lumber in New England. One of her advisors, Assistant Professor Shawn Fraver, says Kara has shown great leadership in collaborative efforts with external partners, obtaining funding for her research, and in mentoring more undergraduate students than any other graduate student he has ever known. She is also advised by Associate Professor Bill Livingston.
Jack McLachlan, The Fred Griffee Memorial Award
The Fred Griffee Memorial Award was established in 1952 by coworkers and friends in memory of Dr. Fred Griffee, director of the Maine Agricultural [and Forest] Experiment Station from 1931 to 1951. The award recognizes an outstanding graduate student in a program associated with the Maine Agricultural and Forest Experiment Station and is based on research ability, character, and scholarship.
Jack McLachlan is a master’s student in ecology and environmental sciences who is studying the community ecology of tidal freshwater wetlands. Jack has engaged with the nonprofits, wildlife and water resource managers, and undergraduate and high school students in his research outreach efforts. His advisor, School of Biology and Ecology Assistant Professor Hamish Greig, says Jack epitomizes the highest standards of a UMaine graduate student in both research productivity, and as an ambassador for the college.
Audrey Bergeron, The Outstanding Master’s Degree Student Award
The Outstanding Master’s Degree Student Award was established in 2008 to recognize a graduate student in the college who has distinguished himself or herself in multiple ways at the master’s level. The recipient is selected based on research and scholarly activity, teaching, professional activity, university and public service, and academic performance.
Audrey Bergeron is pursuing her master’s degree in biochemistry. Her work focuses on using transparent zebrafish to study infection with fungal and bacterial pathogens. In addition to her research, Audrey has served as a senator on behalf of her department for Graduate Student Government, volunteered for student recruitment tours and events, and has served as a teaching assistant. Her advisor, Department of Molecular and Biomedical Sciences Assistant Professor Robert Wheeler, describes Audrey as an outstanding scientist and incredibly productive student.
Lisa Weatherly, The Edith M. Patch Outstanding Ph.D. Award
The Edith M. Patch Outstanding PhD Award commemorates the important work and career of Dr. Edith M. Patch, a pioneering entomologist, hired to work at the University of Maine in 1903. The award recognizes graduate students at the PhD level who have distinguished themselves in multiple ways. Recipients are selected based on research and scholarly activity, teaching, professional activity, university and public service, and academic performance, areas in which Edith Patch distinguished herself during her long career at UMaine.
Lisa Weatherly is a PhD student studying biomedical sciences with a concentration in toxicology. She has already published four papers on her research, which focuses on a widely used antimicrobial agent called triclosan’s effects on mitochondria, the energy powerhouses of the cell, and on immune cell function. Her advisor, Department of Molecular and Biomedical Sciences Associate Professor Julie Gosse, describes Lisa as a highly talented and productive researcher that has flourished as a leader and mentor for other students. She has also won numerous awards from the national Society of Toxicology for her research.
Meisha Nickerson, The Jean A. and David A. Webb Professional Master’s Award
The Jean A. and David A. Webb Professional Master’s Award was established in 2015 through a bequest from and in memory of Jean and David Webb. The award recognizes a student in a professional master’s program, who has a distinguished record of service to the university or other professional organizations.
Meisha Nickerson is a master’s degree student in the School of Social Work. Her professors describe her as an exceptional student who truly understands the complexities of social work. Meisha distinguished herself as an outstanding advocate for her field when she advocated for the passage of a bill in Maine to improve the safety of social workers, which became law in 2016. As a student she also volunteered at UMaine’s counseling center and currently works to improve social work education at Acadia Hospital. She is an active member of the National Association of Social Workers, and continues to advocate for policies that enhance the well-being of society’s impacted parties. Her advisor is School of Social Work Field Education Director Nancy Kelly.
Kisei Tanaka, The Graduate Research Excellence Award
The Graduate Research Excellence Award was established in 2008 to recognize graduate student excellence in research in the College of Natural Sciences, Forestry, and Agriculture. The recipient is selected based on research accomplishments and the quality of his or her research and scholarly activity.
Kisei Tanaka is a PhD candidate in ecology and environmental sciences whose research aims to incorporate changing ocean environments into the assessment and management of American lobster stocks. Kisei’s research has caught the interest of stakeholders and he has been invited to serve on a government panel to evaluate benthic habitat abroad, demonstrating the influence of his work. His advisor is School of Marine Sciences Professor Yong Chen.
Jocelyn Runnebaum, The Outstanding Service Award
Jocelyn Runnebaum is a PhD candidate in marine biology, who used collaborative research to improve the relationship between fishers and scientists. Through her study of the mortality of cusk discarded in the Maine lobster fishery, she has made significant progress in working with stakeholders’ to further fishermen and scientists understanding of bycatch issues. Her research has already garnered interest from industry organizations, news outlets, and journals. Jocelyn’s advisor, School of Marine Sciences Professor Yong Chen describes her as one of the most intelligent, motivated, and hard-working graduate students he has had, and a wonderful ambassador for the University of Maine.