Students in the Spotlight

A story regarding students in the spotlight

Matthew Jones, Master of Science in Ecology and Environemntal Science student, leads $50,000 Grant

Posted February 11, 2013

Master of Science in Ecology and Environmental Science student Matthew Jones is leading a $50,000 grant funded by the California Center for Produce Safety at the University of California. The grant is titled "Evaluation of the level of white-tailed deer fecal colonization by E. coli O157:H7 and the ecological role of dung beetles with the pathogen in produce farms.” Jones’ research is intended to evaluate the association between E. coli in wildlife feces and agricultural fields, whether there are native insects that can reduce the risk of human contamination via agricultural products, and if so, how those insects might be managed. His study will focus on the low-bush blueberry crop in Maine, but will have wider implications for agriculture beyond the state. Franics Drummond, Jones’ advisor and a Co- Investigator, called the grant, “a very unique project, one that was pioneered by Matt Jones. There isn't anyone else in the country that is trying to understand the field ecology of the human pathogen, E. coli O157:H7 (in this way).” For more information and the abstract of the grant, please go here.

Film by Master of Fine Arts in Intermedia Student, Neil Shelley, Accepted into Lewiston Auburn Film Festival

Posted February 6, 2013

Neil Shelley’s film, Telling Hannah, has been accepted into the third annual Lewiston Auburn Film Festival. Shelley is an UMaine Intermedia MFA student, manager of the Collaborative Media Lab in the Fogler Library, and a Teaching Assistant for Professional Video Production at the University. According to Shelley, in the film,

“After the death of her father, Hannah is raised by her Uncle Tim. As both Hannah and Tim move on, the pair forms a close bond with one another, but when a dark secret is revealed, their trust is broken and the relationship shattered.
A story of deception, honesty, and ultimately redemption, Telling Hannah is a reminder to us all about the power of the human heart.”

Over 1,000 people attended last year’s Lewiston Auburn Film Festival and the Festival has seen submissions from all over the world. Shelley said of the event, “they receive a wide array of submissions, including several other shorts with credits that include Shia Lebouf, and several Saturday Night Live stars. It should be a great festival that accepts both local, small and large productions, so the audience will be in for a nice mix of content.” The Lewiston Auburn Film Festival is from April 4-7 in downtown Lewiston Auburn. For more information, go to the festival website at

IPhD Student, Ana Cecilia Mauricio Invited to National Geographic Society Live Chat

Posted January 25, 2013


On January 13, 2013, UMaine IPhD student Ana Cecilia Mauricio was an invited participant on a National Geographic Society Live Chat to celebrate the Society’s 125th anniversary. The event featured seven explorers from seven continents; in addition to Mauricio, who connected from her field site in Peru, among the others were primatologist Jane Goodall and underwater explorer and discoverer of the Titanic Robert Ballard.

Mauricio came to UMaine in 2009 from Peru on a Fulbright fellowship to do an MS in Quaternary and Climate Studies with Dan Sandweiss (Professor of Anthropology and Climate Studies and Dean and Associate Provost for Graduate Studies). She defended her master's thesis in 2012 and received the master's last August. At the same time, Mauricio began an interdisciplinary PhD in Quarternary Archaeology. She is currently excavating the early mound site of Los Morteros on the Peruvian coast, initially supported by the National Science Foundation and the Climate Change Institute’s Churchill Exploration Fund. Recently, Mauricio was awarded a National Geographic Society Waitt Foundation grant and a Beca Andina (Andean Fellowship) from the French Institute for Andean Studies.

Four History Doctoral Students Published in Major Journals

Posted January 14, 2013


Four History doctoral students have recently published in major journals. Joesph Miller and Robert Gee are current students, while Katherine O’Flaherty and Stefano Tijerina are recent graduates.

Joseph Miller’s paper “General William Hull’s Trials: Was This Early PTSD? One Possible Explanation for the Unprecedented Surrender of Detroit, 1812” was recently published in the Canadian Military Journal. Miller is a new doctoral student in history who defended his Master of Arts thesis in December. His paper explores Posttraumatic Stress Disorder as one compelling explanation for the stark differences between General Hull’s utter failure at the Battle of Detroit and his earlier exceptional service in the Revolutionary War. Miller, a former U.S. Army infantry officer, served in various capacities and completed three deployments to Iraq. He received several awards for his service including the Bronze Start medal, the Combat Infantryman’s Badge, the Iraqi Campaign medal (three service stars), the Senior Parachutist Badge, and the Ranger Tab. To read Miller’s article in the Canadian Military Journal, please go here.

Bess Koffman, Doctoral Student in Earth Sciences, Receives National Science Foundation Postdoctoral Fellowship Award

Posted December 3, 2012

Doctor of Philosophy in Earth Sciences Student Bess Koffman recently received a National Science Foundation postdoctoral fellowship award. Her research will, “test the hypothesis that young soils from New Zealand were a significant source of dust to the Southern Ocean and hence West Antarctica during the Last Glacial Maximum.” Next June, she will begin work at Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory of Columbia University and at Cornell University, investigating the role of New Zealand dust in global climate during the Last Glacial Maximum. The project will take place over the course of two years, and will include field work in New Zealand, geochemical analysis of samples from New Zealand and Antarctica, and a global climate modeling component. In 2012 Koffman also received: first place in the Oral Presentation division of the Grad Expo, under the Physical Sciences and Technology category, for her presentation Winds of Change: Ice Core Evidence for the Role of the Southern Hemisphere Westerly Winds in Regulating Atmospheric Carbon Dioxide; the Teaching Assistant Award from the Center for Excellence in Teaching and Assessment; and the University of Maine Dissertation Research Fellowship. For more information on Koffman’s NSF award and research, please go here.

University of Maine Students Present their Research at the Northeast Geotechnical Graduate Research Symposium

Posted December 3, 2012

Three University of Maine graduate students in the Civil and Environmental Engineering program attended and presented at the Northeast Geotechnical Graduate Research Symposium on October 26, 2012 at the University of Massachusetts in Amherst. Two of them won awards. Doctor of Philosophy student Harold Walton and Master of Science students Cameron Stuart and Matthew Burns attended the event with Assistant Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering Melissa Maynard. The main objective of the symposium is, “to have graduate students interact with future colleagues and have an opportunity to present their research in a conference setting. The short presentations by the students provide them the opportunity to receive input from a wider group of geotechnical researchers.” Walton won first prize for best presentation and Burns received an honorable mention abstract award. The UMass Amherst Geotechnical Engineering Group hosted the symposium and Geosyntec Consultants sponsored the best abstract and presentation awards. 

University of Maine Students Receive Awards at 2012 Graduate School of Biomedical Science and Engineering Annual Meeting

Posted November 19, 2012

At the 2012 Graduate School of Biomedical Science and Engineering (GSBSE) Annual Meeting on September 14 and 15 several UMaine students received awards for their research. First prize for the Governor Baldacci Outstanding Oral Presentation Award went to Janice Duy with second place tied by Justin Guay and Josh Boucher. Deepthi Muthukrishnan won first prize in the President Kennedy Outstanding Poster Presentation and Virginia McLane took second place. Students received $150 dollars for first prize awards and $100 dollars for second prize, in addition to recognition for their hard work and fascinating research. Dr. Carol Kim, director and Graduate Coordinator for the School, said of the event, “The student talks were excellent, the poster presentations were outstanding, and the keynote address by Dr. David Dankort was exceptional. Every year the science is stronger and the presentations are becoming very polished. It's wonderful to see the progress of each student. The competition was intense again this year and it was extremely difficult for the judges to come to their final decisions. All of the students should be commended for their excellent work and great presentations!” Next year’s GSBSE Annual Meeting will be held on September 13 and 14, 2013.  

Master of Forestry Student, Kristin Peet, Named Biologist of the Year by the Native American Fish and Wildlife Society

Posted November 19, 2012

Kristin Peet, a student in the Master of Forestry program, was named the biologist of the year by the Native American Fish and Wildlife Society in May. Peet has been the big-game biologist for the Penobscot Indian Nation in Indian Island, Maine for seven years. Peet helps the Nation make management decisions regarding the big game species that live on the 130,000 acres owned by the tribe. Nominated for the award by the Penobscot Indian Nation’s Director of the Department of Natural Resources, Peet describes her time working with the Penobscots as eye-opening. She writes: “There’s a huge cultural component to what I do. I can’t look at this as just, ‘Biologically, this is what we need to do with the moose and deer herd. There’s all sorts of cultural aspects — spiritual aspects of hunting female animals, things like that. Scientifically it may make sense to hunt [in a given place] or hunt this number or this sex, but culturally that may not be the same thing.” To read the Bangor Daily News article about Peet, please go here.  

Alper Kiziltas, Doctoral Student in Forest Resources, Receives Scholarship from the Society of Plastics Engineers

Posted October 15, 2012

Forest Resources Doctoral student Alper Kiziltas received a scholarship from the Society of Plastics Engineers’ Automotive and Composites Division for his plans to study the potential use of natural fillers to make automotive plastics. Kiziltas plans to explore the use of fillers such as wood flour, hemp and flax as replacements for materials like glass and carbon fibers in thermoplastics. Kiziltas conducts his research at the University of Maine’s Advanced Structures and Composites Center and if he “is able to prove that thermoplastics with natural fillers can stand up to the stresses of higher heats without degrading, they could replace some materials used in ‘under-the-hood applications.’… the commonly held belief is that natural materials could be used only in thermoplastics with a low melting point, but his early research has shown otherwise.” Kiziltas will report on his research to the Society of Plastic Engineers in September of 2013. To read the Bangor Daily New article on Kiziltas, please click here

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