UMaine recognizes top student research and creative projects at 2024 symposium

More than 1,000 student researchers, co-authors, faculty, staff, event sponsors and community members celebrated student achievement at the 2024 University of Maine Student Symposium for Research and Creative Activity on April 12. Among the 350 projects featured, 35 earned awards. 

The ninth annual symposium connected the public with UMaine student researchers and scholars who presented posters, exhibits and lightning talks as part of the highly competitive event. The top graduate and undergraduate projects from ten academic categories were recognized. Each winner received an award medal and a $500 cash prize. 

UMaine Student Symposium undergraduate award winners

  • Allied Health: Daniel Weaver, Jasmine French, Abby Roy and Julia Shannon for their project “Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy for Cancer Patients with Radiation-Induced Tissue Injuries,” advised by Valerie Herbert.
  • Arts: Micah Thurston for “Camerata Dirigo,” advised by Laura Artesani.
  • Biomedical Sciences: Eleanor Carrolton, Hector Orellana, Anna Schumann and Keith Hutchison for their project “Why Oh Why WhiB7? Characterizing Prophage-encoded ESX-secreted Toxin Systems and Their Role in WhiB7 Expression and Mycobacterial Drug Resistance,” advised by Sally Molloy.
  • Business: Myles Harrison for “Passenger Rail in Maine: Exploring Potential Economic and Environmental Impacts,” advised by Stefano Tijerina.
  • Education: Ashley Cray, Carleigh DeMarco, Abigail Lynch, and Brianna Russo for their project “The Impact of Shooter Attacks at U.S. School: An Analysis of Gun Legislation Introduced Following School Shootings,” advised by Sandra Caron.
  • Engineering and Information Sciences: Isaac Plourde for “Exploration of the Use of Cellulose Nanofiber Powder to Staunch Blood Loss via Hydrogel Formation,” advised by Siamak Shams Es-haghi and David Neivandt.
  • Interdisciplinary Research: Sydney Shair and Keagan Rice for their project “The Science of Compost: An Assessment of the Efficacy of Ungrading, Sense of Belonging, Self-Directed Learning, and Growth Mindset in an Undergraduate Research Learning Experience,” advised by Jennifer Newell.
  • Natural Sciences: Jamie Fogg, Julia Sunnarborg, Christy Hudak and Lisa Sette for “Beyond the Shoreline: Investigating Gray Seal eDNA in Coastal Waters,” advised by Kristina Cammen.
  • Physical and Mathematical Sciences: Ryan Corzo for “Modeling Planet Formation in the Protoplanetary Disk of the DQ Tau System,” advised by David Batuski.
  • Social Sciences and Humanities: Alexandria Morgan and Sally Barker for “Holy Alliances, Unholy Biases: Christian Nationalism’s Role in Prejudice,” advised by Jordan LaBouff.

UMaine Student Symposium graduate award winners

  • Allied Health: Nicolette Wallace for “Screening for Sarcopenic Obesity in Community-Dwelling Older Adults: The Role of the Family Nurse Practitioner in Primary Care,” advised by Kelley Strout.
  • Arts: Samantha Ireland for “The Modernist Use of The Theme of Lynching,” advised by Carla Billitteri.
  • Biomedical Sciences: Allie Conner, Siham Hattab, and Lindsey Stover for their project “Uncovering Factors Involved in Bacterial-Drug Synergy Against Candida,” advised by Robert Wheeler.
  • Business: Caroline Paras for “Agritourism Information Framework: An Analysis of U.S. States,” advised by Erin Percival Carter.
  • Engineering and Information Sciences: Shihab Uddin Ahamad and Masoud Ataei for “Omobot: A Low-cost Mobile Robot for Autonomous Search and Fall Detection,” advised by Vikas Dhiman.
  • Interdisciplinary Research: Sarah Turner, Blake Turner, Kora Kukk, Jacob Holbrook and Michael Mason for “Cellulose Nanomaterials: A Novel Adjuvant and Delivery System for Aquaculture Vaccine Applications,” advised by Deborah Bouchard.
  • Natural Sciences: Nichole Blackmer, Jennifer Perry and Brian Beal for their project “Immune Development and Immunocompetence of the Atlantic Sea Scallop (Placopecten magellanicus),” advised by Timothy Bowden.
  • Physical and Mathematical Sciences: Avery England and Rosemary Smith for their project “Synthesis and Characterization of Sub-nanometer Silver Clusters Formed by High-speed Microfluidic Turbine Mixing,” advised by Scott Collins.
  • Social Sciences and Humanities: Abraham Tamru for “School Closures and Dropout Rates in Rural and Urban Areas of Ethiopia: Household-level Evidence From the HFP-HS Survey,” advised by Kathleen Bell.

Since its inception in 2015, UMaine’s Student Symposium has garnered additional support for students through special awards designed to recognize achievement in additional areas of impact. 

Special award winners

Dean of Graduate School Undergraduate Mentoring Award: 

  • Kaylyn Zipp, marine biology
  • Jordan Miner, biomedical engineering

3-Minute Thesis

  • First Place: Jordan Miner, Ph.D. student in biomedical engineering
  • Second Place: Liza White, Ph.D. student in biomedical engineering
  • People’s Choice: Gladys Adu Asieduwaa, Ph.d. student in ecology and environmental Science

Bruce and Joanne Fournier Award

  • Caden Scott, for “Engineering a Compostable Isolation Gown to Reduce Hospital-Derived Synthetic Waste Accumulation in Landfill,” advised by David Neivandt.

Advanced Structures and Composites Center Student Research Awards

  • Undergraduate Award: Henry Willard, Gabe Fein and Josiah Bloom for “Leading Edge Erosion of Offshore Wind Turbine Blades: Accelerated Rain Erosion Investigation of Samples with Varying Leading-Edge Curvatures,” advised by Amrit Verma.
  • Graduate Award, First Place: Erfan Najaf for “Investigating the Environmental Impacts of Reducing Cement to Aggregate Ratio in Concrete,” advised by Reed Miller.
  • Graduate Award, Second Place: Christopher Bock for “Complex Variable Homogenization for Large Scale Additive Manufacturing,” advised by Masoud Rais-Rohani.

Susan J. Hunter Awards

  • Undergraduate Award: Alex Pierce for “Development of an Innovative Whey Protein Recovery Process Utilizing Seaweed Extracts,” advised by Qing Jin.
  • Graduate Award: Leah Cingranelli, Krutika Rathod and Patricia A. Goodhines for “Lifetime Trauma as a Risk Mechanism for Hazardous Cannabis Use in LGBTQIA+ Young Adults,” advised by Patricia A. Goodhines. 

Provost’s Innovative and Creative Teaching Award

  • Katie Roderick, doctoral candidate in psychology.

Student Innovation and Commercialization Award

  • First Place: Sarah Turner for “Cellulose Nanomaterials: A Novel Adjuvant and Delivery System for Aquaculture Vaccine Applications,” advised by Deborah Bouchard.
  • Second Place: Rakibul Hossain for “Synergistic effects of thermomechanical pulp fibers, cellulose nanofibrils, and surfactants in fabricating high-performance insulation foams: a structure-property relationship study, advised by Mehdi Tajvidi.
  • Third Place: Caden Scott for “Engineering a Compostable Isolation Gown to Reduce Hospital-Derived Synthetic Waste Accumulation in Landfill,” advised by David Neivandt.

The symposium was organized and co-hosted by UMaine’s Center for Undergraduate Research, Student Government and Graduate Student Government as part of Maine Impact Week. Additional sponsorships were received from the Maine Technology Institute (MTI), General Dynamics Bath Iron Works, Texas Instruments, Bruce and Joanne Fournier, Northern Light Health, President Joan Ferrini-Mundy and Rick Mundy, Versant Power, IEEE Maine Chapter, the Wild Blueberry Commission of Maine, Hannaford, the UMaine Office of the Provost, Dunkin’ and Maine Lobster Now! Additional support was provided by the Hamm Campus Activity Fund.