High-performance computer modeling to tackle fisheries future

Timely forecasts of storms and effective management of commercial fishing are essential in the wake of extreme weather events and unprecedented warming in the Gulf of Maine.

Damian Brady, University of Maine assistant professor in the School of Marine Sciences at the Darling Marine Center, is working to advance both of those goals.

The National Science Foundation recently awarded Brady and colleagues a $266,309 grant to advance UMaine high-performance computer modeling tools to do just that.

The project — “Major Research Instrumentation Program Track 1: Acquisition of High Performance Computing to Model Coastal Responses to a Changing Environment” — includes buying a system that nearly triples computing power at the university and acquiring an off-site backup system for project data.

The project is ideal because it joins world-class researchers and experts in cyberinfrastructure to create a platform that advances goals of the research and creates a platform that benefits research and education across all disciplines, says Bruce Segee, the Henry R. and Grace V. Butler Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering and director of the Advanced Computing Group.

“Computing and storage are the test tubes and microscopes of the 21st century. They support the creation of knowledge, collaboration, communication and economic growth,” he says.

“Maine is fortunate to have a High Performance Computation facility available to its researchers and students, and this grant will help significantly increase the complexity of the questions that can be asked and the number of users it can support. Demand for computing resources is growing at a rapid pace, and this grant provides a great step forward to help meet the demand.”

The tools will help scientists better predict climate changes and extreme weather, as well as understand ensuing ecological and physical consequences, and weigh costs and benefits of adaptation or mitigation.

“The effects of climate change are not likely to be straightforward. There are species and ecosystems that will benefit and those that will not,” says Brady.

“The purpose of running computer models is that they ask the really tough questions like: What will happen to the lobster industry under a 1-, 2-, or 3-degree (temperature) increase? What will the impact of increased rainfall be on shellfish along the coast? Although models will not perfectly predict the consequences of these changes, they can give us a range of potential futures.”

Maine is uniquely positioned physically and economically to be affected by climate change, Brady says. The state is on one of the sharpest latitudinal temperature gradients in the world and has one of the longest coastlines in the United States.”

And the potential impacts of climate change are significant for Maine, where the economy is linked to marine resources and infrastructure. The aquaculture industry (predominantly salmon and shellfish) doubled in value from 2005 to 2013. And Maine’s commercial fisheries were valued at a record $585 million in 2014, says Brady.

Boosting computing capacity at UMaine will allow coastal modelers to inform local decisions and increase undergraduate and graduate student access to high-performance computing, Brady says.

UMaine colleagues Huijie Xue, professor of oceanography; Fei Chai, professor of oceanography; Qingping Zou, assistant professor of coastal engineering, and Sean Birkel, research assistant professor with the Climate Change Institute, are taking part in the three-year project with Brady and Segee.

Office of International Programs

The Office of International Programs (OIP) is seeking a graduate student to support relevant staff with office communication, programming, outreach and advising starting Fall 2017.

Primary responsibilities of the graduate assistant at the Office of International Programs (OIP) may include:

  • Provide programming and administrative support for large OIP events (Culturefest, International Dance Festival, Study Abroad Fairs, and International Student Orientation).
  • Create and edit content for both print and online materials including the OIP website, print publications and social media platforms;
  • Participate in campus outreach events in study abroad and international student and scholar services.
  • Provide front desk coverage and assist with other duties as assigned.

Required qualifications:

  • Solid design and writing skills for both print and digital communication
  • Strong interpersonal and intercultural communication skills
  • Ability to plan and manage projects with minimum direction
  • Effective time management and organizational skills
  • Proficiency in Microsoft Office, and Photoshop and/or Illustrator.

Preferred skills:

  • Strong skills in WordPress software.

Applicants must be admitted to an UMaine graduate degree program and enrolled full-time. Graduate students from any discipline are welcome to apply. Due to funding constraints, you must be eligible for Federal Work-Study (if you are not sure about your eligibility, please contact Connie Smith at 581-1371 or First Class).

The appointment carries a monthly stipend of $1,688.88 plus a tuition waiver for up to 9 graduate credits per semester, and up to 6 graduate credits during the Summer Term and 50% of the insurance premium if covered under a plan offered by the University of Maine. This is a 12-month position, requiring a commitment of 20 hours per week during regular office hours.

Send a letter outlining your interest and qualifications, a copy of your resume, and contact information for 2-3 references.  Incomplete applications will not be considered. Review of applications will begin immediately, and will continue until the position is filled

For further information:

Phone:  (207) 581-3437

E-mail:  joughin@maine.edu

 

Forward all application materials to:

Sarah Joughin

Senior Associate Director

Office of International Programs

240 Estabrooke Hall

Orono, ME  04469

LGBTQ Services

Title: Graduate Assistant for LGBTQ Services                     Department: Student Life

Reports to: Staff Associate, LGBTQ Services

 

Position Description:

The Graduate Assistantship for LGBTQ Services is a nine-month, 20 hours per week position reporting to the Staff Associate of LGBTQ Services. The person in this position must be available for frequent evening and weekend programs and meetings. The LGBTQ Services Graduate Assistant (GA) will support the Rainbow Resource Center (RRC), gain practical/hands on experience, and collaborate with a diverse population of students, faculty, and staff. The Graduate Assistant will work to increase student involvement and to enhance students’ collegiate experience by supporting the initiatives of the RRC Center. The Graduate Assistant will work to facilitate student learning by planning educational programs, supporting Wilde-Stein, promoting leadership development, and helping to build an inclusive LGBTQ safe and friendly campus climate. Applicants for this position must have the ability to create a welcoming environment, be approachable and kind, and possess strong verbal and written communication skills; as well as demonstrate the ability to communicate effectively with a diverse population and an interest in helping college students in their academic careers. Training and presentation skills are also desirable.

Responsibilities:

  • Serve as a resource for students with concerns relating to LGBTQ issues.
  • Assist with the planning and execution of annual programs (i.e., Pride Week, Coming-Out Week, Drag Show, Transgender Day of Remembrance, and Lavender Graduation).
  • Maintain and update the LGBTQ Services bulletin board, and other informational and marketing materials.
  • Independently design and lead programs.
  • Maintain a regular newsletter for the office of LGBTQ Services as well as social media outlets (i.e. Facebook, etc.).
  • Assist the Staff Associate with the implementation of the strategic plan.
  • Be responsible for daily operations of the Rainbow Resource Center.
  • Meet weekly with student workers to discuss office and students’ needs.
  • Co-advice Wilde Stein (student organization).
  • Lead biweekly LGBTea Parties- moderated discussions about current LGBTQ issues
  • Schedule and deliver Safe Zone Ally trainings, tracking attendance, feedback and evaluation.
  • Participate in the programs and initiatives of the Student Life Division.
  • Perform other reasonable tasks related to the position.

Required Qualifications:

  • Be eligible for Federal Work-Study.
  • Have earned a Bachelor’s Degree.
  • Enrolled full-time in a graduate program at the University of Maine.
  • Candidates must have strong understanding of the needs of the LGBTQ community.

Preferred Qualifications:

  • Involvement as an undergraduate student in areas such as clubs and organizations, student government, residence life, orientation, multicultural student organizations, leadership, service or related area is preferred.
  • Excellent interpersonal communication, leadership, organization, and administrative skills.
  • Ability to develop and maintain professional and collaborative relationships with other staff and faculty.
  • Demonstrated commitment to student development issues as they relate to student retention, engagement, and success.
  • Ability to effectively plan and organize programs and projects.
  • Ability to think critically, problem solve, and make sound decisions.
  • Candidates with a strong background in group facilitation, facilitation training and multicultural/diversity training are preferred and highly encouraged to apply.
  • Training and presentation skills.

Supervisory responsibilities: The Graduate Assistant will co-supervise approximately six Student Administrative Aids.

Work environment dynamics:  The Graduate Assistant will establish office hours in consultation with the Staff Associate. Evening and weekend work will be required to successfully fulfill the responsibilities of this position. The Staff Associate may adjust the work schedule as necessary.

To apply: Applicants should submit a cover letter and resume directly to Silvestre Guzmán, silvestre.guzman@maine.edu.

Scholarship Opportunity – Healthline

The Healthline Stronger Scholarship Program

–  Sponsored by Healthline to further our vision of making the world a stronger, healthier place. Ongoing program where each year we will focus on a new condition to award students who share our mission (our landing page & url will stay consistent)

– Application open May 15-June 20, 2017

– Funds distributed August 2017

– For graduate students enrolled in U.S. schools only

For more information, visit www.healthline.com/health/scholarship-program.

Women’s, Gender, & Sexuality Studies Program/The Rising Tide Center

This 20-hour per week, academic-year graduate assistantship will provide support to the Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality (WGS) Program and the Rising Tide Center.

Essential duties may include:

  • Supporting the research efforts of the Director, including basic survey analysis, document analysis, and report writing, as well as some assistance in data collection
  • Assisting in program planning, including film series, conferences, professional development workshops, speakers, colloquia, award ceremonies, etc.
  • Assisting in program advertisement, coordinated by the Communications Specialist
  • Providing event support, including set-up, registration, evaluation
  • Coordinating, in concert with the Director, on-campus and regional meetings of student and community leaders
  • Providing additional support for and writing of content for social media outlets
  • Supervising undergraduate work-study students (3-4), providing tasks, timelines for completion, and routine performance feedback
  • Special projects and other duties as assigned

Skills and Qualifications:

  • Ability to be self-directed and self-starting while also able to work collaboratively in a team
  • Strict attention to detail
  • Strong organizational skills
  • Excellent oral and written communication skills
  • Professional in all interactions with stakeholders

In addition to the above qualifications, the ideal candidate will hold or be pursuing a WGS-related degree or concentration.

Hours may vary but could include some weekends and evenings. Availability for staff meetings is requested, assuming no conflicts exist for class attendance and class work. The contract for this position is for one academic year. Individuals interested in a contract renewal should discuss this intent with the Director at the beginning of spring semester. The rehire conversation will include a review of the individual’s academic standing and performance evaluation.

Compensation:

  • $15,500 stipend
  • Tuition benefits (up to 18 credits per academic year)
  • $2668 paid toward GA Health Insurance Plan

Interested applicants should send (a) a cover letter addressing interest in the position, the position duties, and qualifications for it, (b) resume, and (c) contact information for two professional references to Dr. Susan K. Gardner, Director, at susan.k.gardner@maine.edu no later than June 30, 2017 for full consideration.

Clam Cam offers glimpse of lives, challenges of harvesters

Bridie McGreavy grew up in Brownfield, Maine, but until arriving at the University of Maine in 2010, she hadn’t been on a clam flat.

Walking on exposed intertidal mud for the first time, she says, was like entering a “world that was so foreign, so beautiful.”

Now, thanks to the Clam Cam — which opens a window into the lives of Maine clam harvesters — others can experience that world, too.

McGreavy is an assistant professor in the Department of Communication and Journalism. She’s collaborating on the project with Tyler Quiring, a Ph.D. student in communication, and Carter Hathaway, a 2017 UMaine graduate with a bachelor’s in journalism.

A goal, says McGreavy, is to share the unique way of life and some of the pressing challenges of people who harvest clams for a living on the coast of Maine.

The team uses ethnographic methods (detailed, in-depth descriptions of people’s daily life and practices) and digital media in its research to help foster communities’ resiliency and sustainability.

After a harvester suggested the public could learn about his livelihood by vicariously digging clams, McGreavy’s team supplied GoPros for harvesters — from Freeport to Roque Bluffs — to strap to their chests.

The videos depict what harvesters see — including sunrises, thick fog and sometimes even thicker mud. They also show the tools of the trade — rakes, buckets, hods, mesh bags and gloves, as well as various digging or pulling techniques. And more mud.

A microphone picks up the sucking sounds of harvesters’ waders emerging from the mud, as well as the harvesters’ occasional labored breath.

McGreavy says the Clam Cam captures the hard manual labor that goes into securing even a few pounds of fresh local clams for dinner.

Harvested soft-shelled clams from Maine were valued at $15.6 million in 2016 — making them the third most valuable commercial fishery in the state behind lobsters ($533 million) and Atlantic herring ($19 million). In 2016, the clam fishery dropped from second to third in commercial value, which may be part of a downward trend in many places in landed catch and license sales.

McGreavy says harvesters have shared a number of funny stories. In one, a person saw, for the first time, a harvester digging for clams and exclaimed, “So that’s where clams come from.”

Clam harvesters face environmental, economical and social challenges, says McGreavy.

Environmental challenges, she says, include climate change, which encompasses ocean acidification, shifting of species — including the devastating green crabs and other predators — and harmful algae blooms.

Social issues include persistent bias against clammers, lower levels of education and lack of access to technology in remote and rural areas.

Physical pain and substance use disorders contribute to other issues, says McGreavy, including challenges related to the capacities of towns to effectively manage and sustain the resource.

McGreavy, Quiring and Hathaway built a website — nest.maine.edu/clamcam — to showcase the project’s videos, interviews and data. They hope visitors to the site gain knowledge and an appreciation for the harvesters essential to this vital Maine industry.

For Hathaway, of Turner, Maine, the Clam Cam project was his first outside-the-classroom research experience. He says he’s gleaned in-depth insights about the clamming industry and an understanding of how academic research can benefit it.

For Quiring, of Kelowna, British Columbia, “one of the most compelling things about Clam Cam’s wearable approach to audio and video recording is that clammers have a substantial, embodied role in shaping how their industry is depicted. This variation on traditional data generation supports engaged and ethically mindful research.”

During one of the Down East digging sessions last summer, Quiring says the researchers helped a clammer put on the video camera, hit the record button and walked away to give him space. A few minutes later, they heard the man’s voice and wondered to whom he was talking.

“It turned out he was narrating his digging on camera, talking to the eventual viewer and describing what it was like to dig, how hot it was, how he finds clams and drains the water from the hole he’s working on, and why clamming is important to him,” says Quiring.

“We were surprised and excited about this spontaneous relationship that was forming between clammer and viewer, across both distance and time. This is one example of the joy and care clammers bring to their work that enriches our experiences as researchers as well as the experiences of the public who will be able to view these videos.”

A National Science Foundation award to the Senator George J. Mitchell Center for Sustainability Solutions and a grant from the University of Maine Humanities Center support the project.

Contact: Beth Staples, 207.581.3777

From UMaine News.

College of Education and Human Development Graduate Assistantship in the Division of Lifelong Learning

Primary responsibilities:

As part of UMaine’s Center for Innovation in Teaching and Learning, help conceptualize, plan, coordinate and/or deliver a program of teaching awards, faculty development grants, faculty research on learning (and the dissemination of this research to the UMaine community) grants, and faculty mentors. Assist the Executive Director of Innovation in Teaching and Learning on projects, research and course development. Candidates should be deeply curious about the evolution of instruction in higher education in the 21st century as well as facile with some or all of the applications in the Google Applications for Education suite, Adobe’s Creative Cloud, and Microsoft Office suite. Knowledge of effective visual design and superior writing skills also prefered.

Position salary and benefits:

  • 9-month Stipend for $14,600.
  • 18 credits of tuition for Academic Year

Applicants are asked to submit:

  • Résumé
  • Statement addressing why they wish to apply for the position (include past job experience)
  • A letter of recommendation from a previous supervisor or from a faculty member.

Please send materials to:  Peter Schilling, peter.schilling@maine.edu

UMaine wild blueberry research wins at international symposium

Vasiliki Papakotsi, a graduate student in the University of Maine’s School of Food and Agriculture, was recognized at the Berry Health Benefits Symposium in Pismo Beach, California for presenting one of the best research posters at the conference.

The poster featured a collaborative project between the laboratory of Professor Klimis-Zacas of the University of Maine’s School of Food and Agriculture, and the University of Pennsylvania Medical School.

“This study sheds new light on the anti-inflammatory properties of wild blueberries and potential health benefits of berry consumption. It is a great honor to have this research recognized by the top experts in the field,” Klimis-Zacas said.

Papakotsi found that extracts of phenolic compounds from wild blueberries can inhibit and regulate complement activity and their potential as anti-inflammatory compounds. She specifically examined how these compounds influence the complement system, a component of the immune system that boosts its ability to attack pathogens and remove them and damaged cells from the body, and promotes inflammation. Imbalanced activation of this system is tightly correlated with inflammation which, when chronic, is associated with degenerative diseases such as cardiovascular disease, cancer and aging.

“There is so much potential here and I feel that a new era of research on bioactives and their role on the Complement system will unfold,” Papakotsi said.

The symposium, now in its 7th year, features cutting-edge findings about berries’ potential influence on human health in many areas including cancer, leukemia, diabetes, metabolism, heart health and more.

From UMaine NSFA.

Elizabeth Trenckmann: Seeking to inspire high schoolers

Elizabeth “Betsy” Trenckmann wants to inspire science students similar to how Rita Kasper motivated her at La Veta Junior-Senior High School in Colorado.

Trenckmann soon will have that chance.

In August, the highly decorated 2017 University of Maine Master of Science in Teaching (MST) graduate will begin her career at Hermon High School instructing students in conceptual biology, Earth systems and Maine ecology.

Trenckmann describes Kasper as knowledgeable, caring, organized and disciplined — many of the same adjectives that Michelle Smith, UMaine associate professor of biological sciences and Trenckmann’s adviser, uses to describe her.

Smith adds that Trenckmann also listens, eagerly accepts feedback, embraces learning and continually strives to get better.

Those qualities have served her well.

In April, Trenckmann earned the Presidential Research Impact Award at the Student Symposium for her presentation titled “Collaborating Across the University of Maine System to Improve Student Understanding of the Role of Energy and Matter in Photosynthesis.”

The award, and $1,000, was presented to Trenckmann and to Smith in recognition of their research that could positively impact people in Maine, and that exemplifies the university’s three-part mission of teaching, research and public service.

Trenckmann also won the best presentation award in the education category for the same University of Maine System Research Reinvestment Fund project.

“It’s nice to honor future teachers,” says Smith, adding that it’s satisfying to see the university support education and include it in the research symposium.

For the project, Trenckmann, along with life science faculty from six of the system campuses and Hurricane Island Center for Science and Leadership, developed assessment questions and a student-centered, in-class activity for introductory college biology classes systemwide.

The active-learning exercise was designed to help students learn about matter and energy — primarily photosynthesis — and to explore how and why increased carbon dioxide could impact Maine-based industries involving timber, kelp and potatoes.

Trenckmann’s co-authors included Erin Vinson, Karen Pelletreau, Kimberly Borges-Therien, Farahad Dastoor, Jason Johnston, Eric Jones, Peter Nelson, Jenn Page, Nancy Prentiss, Judith Roe, Joseph Staples and Smith.

A paper containing data and details about the project will be written and published in the public domain.

Trenckmann also has been chosen as the Outstanding MST Student Award in the RiSE (Research in STEM Education) Center and has earned a Noyce Fellowship from the National Science Foundation that provides for professional development.

While Trenckmann’s rural hometown of La Veta is surrounded by national forests and is about 1,000 miles to the ocean, she became interested in the sea when her family regularly vacationed in Galveston, Texas. Her interest was piqued, she says, on a family trip to Hawaii.

Trenckmann, who wanted to study marine biology and play collegiate volleyball, attended Maine Maritime Academy in Castine.

After a stellar undergraduate career there — she was named a Scheel Scholar for best exemplifying intellectual curiosity and achievement, and set a single-season volleyball record for assists with 774  — Trenckmann chose UMaine for her graduate studies.

“I’ve grown a lot,” says Trenckmann, especially in terms of pedagogy, research and developing professional contacts. She says her research and readings touted the benefits of active learning and she’s witnessed firsthand the benefits of clicker-based class exercises and peer discussion.

Since January, Trenckmann has been student teaching at Orono High School.

This summer, she’ll be a marine biology educator at the Smithsonian Marine Station at Fort Pierce, Florida. Scientists and students from around the world investigate plants, animals and physical processes in the ocean and Indian River Lagoon. Their findings inform public policy, conservation efforts and resource management.

And in August, Trenckmann will welcome student scientists to her classes in Hermon.

“I’m really excited about having my own classroom,” says Trenckmann. “I want to become involved in the community and I’d love to coach or lead a club or activity.”

Contact: Beth Staples, 207.581.3777

From UMaine News.

College names its 2017 Outstanding Graduate Students

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.

From the College of Natural Sciences, Forestry, and Agriculture.

Jankowski, Kilroy, St. Amand awarded graduate research fellowships

University of Maine students Melissa Jankowski, Elisabeth Kilroy and Anne “Ani” St. Amand have been awarded graduate research fellowships because of their demonstrated potential for significant achievement in STEM fields.

The three-year National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowships are to promote innovation, transformative scientific breakthroughs and economic growth in the U.S.

Elisabeth Kilroy, Anne “Ani” St. Amand and Melissa Jankowski

Jankowski, of Cassville, Missouri, is pursuing a Ph.D. in clinical psychology (developmental-clinical track). She expects to earn her doctorate in 2021.

Her research focuses on peer relationships and their relationship to risk and resilience in adolescence. Specifically, Jankowski investigates the interpersonal mechanisms of risk for, and influence of, “contagious” suicide and self-harm behaviors in adolescents.

After Jankowski’s mother died of cancer, Jankowski lived with friends her last two years of high school.

“Spending so much time with peers precipitated an ongoing intrigue with the dynamics of social relationships and peer influence,” she says. “Observing my peers from the inside and out led me to become interested in how particular health-risk behaviors emerged within the social context of their families and other peer relationships.”

Jankowski analyzed differences between friends who were susceptible to peer influence and those who weren’t and took a mental inventory of factors that seemed protective for some and harmful for others.

After high school, Jankowski studied psychology to formally explore risk and resilience in interpersonal contexts. She earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology and minored in statistics and music at University of Missouri.

Jankowski plans to be a clinical psychology faculty member at a research institution.

“I hope to go into academia, but I have also fallen in love with clinical work from the experiences I have had in my training so far at the University of Maine,” she says. “I’m hoping to find a faculty position that will combine both aspects of my training and interests.”

Jankowski skates with the Northwood Derby Knockouts roller derby team and enjoys hiking and exploring Maine with her husband and 4-year-old son.

Kilroy, of Brewer, Maine and Charleston, South Carolina, is pursuing a doctorate in biomedical science. She expects to obtain her Ph.D. in 2020.

Kilroy’s research focuses on developing effective therapies for muscular dystrophy — a neuromuscular disease characterized by a loss in muscle mass that results in progressive muscle weakness. She’s revisiting the premise of whether strength training is beneficial or detrimental to individuals with the disease, using the zebrafish as model for muscular dystrophy.

For people with muscular dystrophy, a protein needed to build and maintain healthy muscle is missing or doesn’t function properly, which results in the muscle’s inability to contract properly. Muscles also tire more easily and individual muscle fibers atrophy.

Kilroy’s father and brother are battling a yet-to-be identified type of muscular dystrophy and medical professionals don’t know what’s causing their muscles to waste.

She became fascinated with muscles at age 6 when she played catch with her father. “I would put the ball in his hand, raise his arm up, then I would sprint maybe 20 yards out,” she says. “Dad would have just enough strength to throw the ball to me. I would catch it and sprint back to him and we would repeat it. Some days we could do this 15 times, some days only five.”

Kilroy was 11 when her dad became paralyzed after falling and she later witnessed her brother give up his freestyle skiing career because of the disease. She says he struggles now to do things that were once easy for him, including tying his shoes and pouring milk on cereal.

“Where their dreams ended, my dreams began,” she says. “You have to find passion and once you find that passion you become completely dedicated and committed.”

Kilroy’s a firm believer that people need to define their purpose. “My ‘why’ is because at 6 a.m. when my alarm goes off to head to the gym, I know there are thousands of individuals who would love to have the ability to get out of bed on their own, get dressed on their own, grab a banana and go to the gym and workout for an hour,” she says.

In the lab, Kilroy learns techniques, reads publications and pores over data. In addition to searching for a cure for muscular dystrophy and becoming an inspiring university professor, Kilroy says she’ll always be an advocate for science.

St. Amand, of Deer Isle, Maine, is pursuing a quaternary and climate sciences master’s degree and an interdisciplinary doctorate. She expects to earn her doctorate in 2021.

St. Amand explores intersections between climate change and human behavior over the last 12,000 years.

She uses geoarchaeological methods, spatial analysis and geophysical modeling to understand how past climates and environments have impacted human settlements, infrastructure and resource acquisition.

St. Amand also uses remote sensing to create land cover classification models to identify new archaeological sites. Doing this, she says, expands the archaeological record and provides new proxy evidence to enhance and refine climate reconstructions.

Her career goals include communicating science to the public and conducting research that expands knowledge of dynamic Earth systems. She also seeks to increase communities’ capacities to adapt to rapidly changing climates.

St. Amand says she was drawn to the field because the archaeological record provides an incredible wealth of information relevant to climate and environmental sciences, ecology and geology.

She enjoys the interdisciplinary nature of the research and using scientific technologies to understand past environments and human cultures.

St. Amand attended Southern Maine Community College and the University of Maine and earned a bachelor’s degree in anthropology geography, a minor in geoscience and a Geographic Information Systems Certificate.

Some of her other pursuits and interests include analytical chemistry, social justice, motorcycles and being with friends.

Contact: Beth Staples, 207.581.3777

From UMaine News.