Seven UMS students named 2017–18 Maine Policy Scholars

One student from each of the University of Maine System campuses has been chosen to conduct research on a topic of public policy importance as part of the Maine Policy Scholars program.

The scholars are Corey Claflin of UMaine, Allison Bernier of University of Maine at Farmington, Sam Atwood of University of Maine at Augusta, Alex Gillis of University of Maine at Fort Kent, Erik Squire of University of Southern Maine, Liz Whittaker of University of Maine at Machias, and Valentina Annunziata of University of Maine at Presque Isle.

Their chosen research areas cover an array of topics: art education standards in Maine public high schools; food insecurity among college students; factors in life expectancy for mentally ill people; regeneration species for forest clearcutting; barriers to Maine students’ achievement rates in literacy; recycling in rural Maine; and inmates’ access to mental health services within Maine’s prisons and jails.

Scholarships are awarded annually to one student from each of the seven UMS campuses to work with a faculty adviser and community mentor to tackle a real-life policy issue facing Maine. Topics may range from local to statewide in significance and are expected to be well-defined, subject to research, and of current concern to Maine or a segment of its people.

The scholars conduct extensive research from literature, data analysis, and interviews — or all three. In the spring, each student produces a final report as a memo to the governor or appropriate policymaker that outlines the problem, available data and recommended policy solutions.

The Maine Policy Scholars program was started by the late Peter Cox to engage students from the University of Maine System in the public policy process. The program is funded by the Maine Community Foundation and administered by the Margaret Chase Smith Policy Center at the University of Maine.