Hannah Nadeau: Nursing student on mission to help people, reduce food waste

Hannah Nadeau of Litchfield, Maine spent her summer immersed in research to help solve the issue of food waste. And her interest in nursing brought a unique perspective to the project. 

“Nursing is a passion for me because every day I will get to help others. I cannot wait for the highs and lows that come with the job, and the ability to be there for someone on the potentially worst or best days of their lives,” says the junior nursing major. “At times we are not only caregivers, but we step into the role of mothers, friends, secret keepers, and any other type of support system imaginable.”

In addition to helping people, Nadeau also is captivated by the scientific aspect of nursing. 

“Learning about the human body and what it can do is truly mind-blowing. The science and reasons behind what nurses do, from simply the questions that we ask to the medications we give, is fascinating,” Nadeau says. 

This was the second summer that she worked on the interdisciplinary research project, titled “Making Maine’s Local Food System Sustainable: Opportunities to Address Hunger and Reduce Waste through a Multi-Site, Interdisciplinary Team.” The research team is looking at food waste and its creation along all parts of circular food systems, and is led by UMaine faculty members Deborah Saber, Cindy Isenhour, Travis Blackmer, Linda Silka, Jean MacRae and Balunkeswar Nayak.

“We look at finding ways to create food diversion within Maine rather than food waste,” says Nadeau, who had the opportunity to participate in this research as a Top Scholar in the School of Nursing. Saber, an assistant professor in the School of Nursing, is Nadeau’s research mentor and adviser. 

Last summer Nadeau created a database on how food is disposed of, and why it is disposed of in certain ways, in hospitals.

“This data allows us to look at the reasons behind food disposal in hospitals in order to make changes toward a circular food system that specifically addresses the needs of these facilities,” she says. 

This summer, Nadeau helped mentor the research team, guiding the members with their writing, research, presentations and any challenges they faced along the way.

“The most interesting part of working with my peers on their individual research is that I am able to help bring them together as a group in order to see the connections between their research, helping them understand why one project is important to the next,” Nadeau says. “Through working as an interdisciplinary team we are able to see how multifaceted problems need diverse solutions that pull knowledge from different specialties. It has been amazing to help create personal connections as a group and see the passion these students have for helping create change within the state of Maine.” 

Outside the classroom, Nadeau enjoys outdoor activities like hiking at Acadia National Park and spending weekends at Sugarloaf. One of her favorite places in the Orono area is the Bog Boardwalk. 

“I absolutely love the UMaine community,” says Nadeau. “After one week at UMaine my freshman year I was hooked! Everybody was extremely welcoming and I have never made so many friends so quickly. I love everything from the atmosphere on campus to the housing available off campus and the town of Orono itself. There are also so many opportunities available at UMaine for those looking to become involved in anything from campus activities to research. Many of these opportunities available at UMaine are also inclusive in the aspect that they are available for freshmen and seniors alike.” 

Contact: Cleo Barker, 207.581.3729