Students in the Spotlight

  • Master of Sciences in Oceanography Student, Thomas Leeuw, Receives Recogntion for Research and is Published in Scientific Journal

    Posted February 18, 2013

    Thomas Leeuw, Master of Science in Oceanography student, recently received honorable mention at two separate conferences for his research. Leeuw presented his work at the American Academy of Underwater Science symposium in Portland, Maine and at the Ocean Optics conference in Glasgow, Scotland. His paper based on the research, titled “Remote Identification of the Invasive Tunicate Didemnum vexillum Using Reflectance Spectroscopy”, has been accepted into the journal Applied Optics. Leeuw’s research uses reflectance and an algorithm he created to identify Didemnum vexillum, an invasive marine organism on Georges Bank, an area of the sea floor between Cape Cod, MA and Cape Sable Island, Nova Scotia. “Mapping of D. vexillum mats is critical in order to assess the impacts this invasive will have on the ecosystem and the fisheries of Georges Bank,” says Leeuw.
    Additionally Leeuw and his advisor Dr. Emmanual Boss are developing an iPhone app to provide people with a simple method to measure water quality. The app would assess pixels in images of water taken by the iPhone in order to get a rough estimate of light scattered back out of the water. Leeuw says, “This light contains information on what is in the water. We hope to get quantitative estimates of chlorophyll, amount of suspended material, and amount of dissolved organic material. This will be a tool not just for scientists, but for anyone who is interested in contributing to world wide database of water quality measurements. GPS coordinates along with any data collected by a ‘citizen scientist’ can then be instantly uploaded to the web and available for anyone to view.” To read the abstract of Leeuw's paper, please go here.

  • 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.