Students in the Spotlight
IPh.D. in Communication Candidate Bridie McGreavy Selected to Participate in Doctoral Honors Seminar of the National Communication Association
Posted September 12, 2013
University of Maine graduate student Bridie McGreavy was one of 29 doctoral students nationwide who were selected to participate in this year’s Doctoral Honors Seminar of the National Communication Association, July 18–21 in Bar Harbor. For more than three decades, the seminar has brought together the top Ph.D. students and faculty to discuss current topics in communication. The National Communication Association is the largest professional communication organization in the United States. UMaine has had an interdisciplinary doctoral program in communication since 2007. McGreavy is pursuing an interdisciplinary Ph.D. in communication. She is a research fellow with Maine’s Sustainability Solutions Initiative (SSI), where her work as a member of the KnowledgeAction team focuses on resilience from multiple perspectives. She also studies collaboration in interdisciplinary partnerships. McGreavy said of the experience, “Participating in the National Communication Association’s Doctoral Honors Seminar was one of the most significant experiences in my doctoral program. This was a unique opportunity to advance a chapter of my dissertation and to meet early-career scholars in my field. The seminar provided me with an enhanced focus and sense of clarity about my work, as faculty mentors and fellow students in my session gave supportive and helpful insights for how to strengthen my writing.” McGreavy’s doctoral work seeks to understand on how communication, as a field of study, offers insights into the processes of sustainability and resilience. McGreavy described her research as focusing on, “the concept of resilience, which I approach through three different research projects: interdisciplinary and community partnerships; conservation action planning; and, as a discourse, a system of rules that produce particular ideas about what resilience is and what it is not.” McGreavy has accepted a postdoctoral fellowship with the New England Sustainability Consortium (NEST), a collaborative effort led by UMaine and the University of New Hampshire in collaboration with many other academic, governmental and nongovernmental institutions.
Posted September 9, 2013
Sustainability Solutions Initiative (SSI) and Wildlife Ecology doctoral student Kristine Hoffman was featured recently in a news broadcast on Bangor TV stations Fox 22 and ABC 7. The UMaine student is studying researching the breeding ecology, habitat selection and life histories of the blue-spotted salamander (Ambystoma laterale), including the distance they emigrate from vernal pools. The broadcast featured highlights from Kristine’s research focusing on the conservation and habitat of the salamander. In recent years, vernal pools have become a topic of discussion and concern due to a worldwide decline of amphibians, some of which breed in the vernal pool in which they were born. Hoffmann says data from her research may inform proposed legislation about zones of consultation in Maine. As Hoffman’s research continues, she will investigate research a new type of blue-spotted salamander to see what effects genotype (different genetic compositions), female body size and environmental factors have on egg mass structure and fertility. Additionally, she will examine which environmental factors — pond depth, canopy density, distance to roads and presence of other breeders in the pool — impact breeding site selection. And she’ll explore whether juvenile habitat choice differs between the genotypes. Kristine is a member of SSI’s Protecting Natural Resources at the Community Scale project. For more information, check out the Maine Public Broadcasting Network’s feature on Hoffman here.
Posted July 8, 2013
UMaine graduate students are tutoring local area high school students with great results. Nathan Dee and Mary Butler, both students at Bangor High, have won awards for their work: Dee won the Maine 2013 Stockholm Junior Water Prize and will compete in the national competition in Portland, Oregon, while Butler won the state science fair to go on to the national INTEL competition in Phoenix, Arizona. Dee was tutored by doctoral student in chemistry James Killarney and Butler was tutored by doctoral student in chemical engineering Finley Richmond. The connection between UMaine and the Bangor High science department came about largely due to the influence of science teacher Cary James, UMaine alumnus from the Master of Science in Botany and Plant Pathology program. His work building relationships at the University has led to many graduate students working with high school students on projects. The goals, according to James, are primarily to get high school students excited about research and to allow them to have access to the labs and equipment at UMaine. “So many of the professors and students have been instrumental in this process, have been willing to help out, and really make a difference for my students.”
Most of the projects the students work on together have a focus on water conservation and sanitation with the aim to get high school students interested in research that could improve quality of life conditions for people in poverty or disaster situations. Richmond explained the role he played in tutoring Butler’s research as helping her decide what equipment to use, training her on the equipment, answering questions, and monitoring safe use of the equipment at all times. Additionally, he “helps students interpret their results and guides them on the next steps.” Killarney worked with Dee as part of a NASA funded MERITS program that is a development program for exceptional high school students. He said, “The goal of the program and of our lab is to take these gifted students and give them the tools and experience necessary to advance them into future leaders in their chosen field. My role was as a mentor. My job was to guide him so he could study his research question and really understand the process of basic research.” Dee will be listed as a co-author on a paper the lab is submitting to Environmental Science and Chemistry about measuring the interaction of pharmaceutical pollutants with natural organic matter in water.
Posted July 2, 2013
University of Maine graduate students have been assisting the Maine Governor’s STEM Council to create a comprehensive strategy to promote science, technology, engineering and mathematics initiatives through an effort funded by UMaine’s Office of the Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost. Laura Millay, a student in the master of science in teaching program through the Maine Center for Research in STEM Education, or RiSE Center, and Johanna Barrett, a research fellow at the Margaret Chase Smith Policy Center and student in the master of arts program in economics and international environmental policy, are providing information and resources to the council on how to create a strategic plan and data dashboard. Daniel Laverty, a science teacher at Mattanawcook Junior High School in Lincoln who is also a master of science in teaching student through the RiSE Center, assisted in the initial gathering and presentation of data.
In the summer of 2012, Millay, Barrett and Laverty researched STEM initiatives and strategies used to promote them in states that are comparable to Maine. Millay, Barrett and Laverty presented last summer’s findings to the STEM Council during a daylong workshop. Currently, the state does not have a comprehensive strategy for STEM initiatives. Millay and Barrett hope the information they provide can help the council create a road map for where they are headed. They are working on a mock-up of a data dashboard they plan to present to the council this summer. Creating a dashboard connects to the concept of data-driven decision making, or using data to inform policy, Millay says.
Millay and Barrett are researching data on students, workforce, achievement, interest and teaching practices. They intend to learn what information is and isn’t available and what would be useful in crafting policy. By looking at other states, they also plan to determine the best way to use, present and make publicly available the findings.
For more information on their work, please go here.