UMaine undergraduates chosen as Drug Policy Research Fellows
Seven University of Maine students will learn how research can inform the process of drug policy reform this academic year as part of a new, innovative undergraduate research fellowship.
Robert Glover, an associate professor of political science and honors, and Karyn Sporer, an assistant professor of sociology, developed the program while researching attitudes toward drug policy reform in Maine, with an emphasis on decriminalization and harm reduction strategies and a geographic focus on rural areas such as Down East Maine and Aroostook County. The project, funded by a grant from Open Society Foundations, is being conducted as people die from accidental overdose at alarming rates in Maine during the ongoing opioid crisis.
Students participating in the fellowship during the 2020–21 academic year will choose their own issue area and learn how to translate existing research into clear and actionable policy communications and information to enrich public understanding. These Drug Policy Research Fellows will engage with state and local lawmakers, officials in state agencies, impacted community members, and policy research and advocacy organizations at both the state and national level. Glover and Sporer will serve as students’ research and engagement mentors.
Elijah Munro-Ludders, a senior studying political science and philosophy, will serve as a research assistant for the project. Glover recruited Munro-Ludders last year for a similar project pertaining to labor policy. Other undergraduate students working with Glover and Sporer through the new fellowship include Evie Clement, a communication major, Elizabeth Davis, a political science major, Sabrina Paetow, who is majoring in anthropology and sociology, William Somes, a political science major, Sara Todd, a nursing major, and Aran Wollard, a Sociology major.
“Raised in rural Washington county, I have witnessed firsthand how drugs affect the lives of so many Mainers,” Somes says. “I hope to share my experience with decision-makers and help put an end to Maine’s opioid epidemic.”
UMaine’s Drug Policy Research Fellows were chosen out of a large and extremely talented pool of applicants and all offered compelling reasons for why they wanted to be involved.
“I am excited to bring a medical perspective to this project,” Todd says. “My passion surrounds helping those impacted by the opioid epidemic, focusing on cases concerning pregnant mothers and fetal development.”
Glover has received numerous awards for his efforts to fuse community engagement and community-based research with undergraduate teaching, including the 2018 College of Liberal Arts and Sciences Outstanding Faculty Award for Teaching and the 2014 Donald Harward Award for Service Learning Excellence from Maine Campus Compact. Sporer is a UMaine Faculty Fellow and was recently part of a $36 million grant from the Department of Homeland Security, where she is principal investigator for counter-terrorism and terrorism prevention research.
Contact: Robert Glover, 207.581.1880, firstname.lastname@example.org