University of Maine undergraduate students Katie Manzo and Julianna Ferguson have been chosen to receive this year’s Margaret Chase Smith Public Affairs Scholarship. Each student will carry out a yearlong research project with relevance to public policy in Maine.
The project will culminate in a presentation at the 2018 UMaine Student Symposium, where they will share their findings with the public. Manzo of Etna, Maine, and Ferguson of Sandwich, Massachusetts, are both seniors.
Manzo is a computer science major and has focused her research on making it easier for communities to tackle climate change. She says a community “being able to start new alternative energy projects, on a large scale, and being able to get more projects connected to each other, and to the public, is imperative to saving our planet.”
Manzo plans to expand an online energy project database into an interactive platform for the public to reference. To make it more interactive, she will incorporate social media into the website’s platform.
People or groups thinking of starting a project will be able to see where similar projects have been done, how they were funded, with how much capacity, and find contact information to learn from others’ experiences.
Manzo will work with Sharon Klein of the School of Economics and Silvia Nittel of the School of Computing and Information Science. Manzo says she is enthusiastic about being “able to aid people in starting their own alternative energy projects. This will allow me to apply many of the skills I have learned in my courses to an impactful project.”
Ferguson majors in sociology with concentrations in crime, law and justice. She minors in Spanish, legal studies and political science and plays on the Black Bear softball squad. Her research analyzes data regarding the impact of mental illness and substance abuse on violence. She is utilizing the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent to Adult Health survey.
Working with her adviser Steven Barkan, Ferguson is “particularly interested in public policy related to gun control, immigration and preventing juvenile delinquency.”
One reason she focuses on juveniles is because violent behavior generally begins in late childhood through early adolescence and she says there’s a “lack of research regarding the effects of mental illness and substance abuse on violence among adolescents.”
Her research will help indicate the extent of the impact of mental illness and substance abuse on violence, giving policymakers a better understanding of why some forms of violence are committed by people in this subgroup and where resources could be allocated.
The scholarship was established in recognition of Sen. Margaret Chase Smith’s many years of dedicated public service to the citizens of Maine and the nation. Smith’s abiding belief was that real progress will be attained through the education of Maine’s young voters. The scholarship program is administered by the Margaret Chase Smith Policy Center. Applications are taken in the spring for the following academic year.