UMaine College of Natural Sciences, Forestry, and Agriculture Awards Top Students
The College of Natural Sciences, Forestry, and Agriculture at the University of Maine honored 11 students for their exemplary achievements during a banquet on April 20.
The invitation-only event attracted over 400 university students, staff and friends. The College is the largest at the University of Maine, with a faculty that comprises the largest group of scientists in the state of Maine.
The undergraduate recipients are:
- Outstanding International Student: Dominika Trzilova, B.S. Molecular & Cellular Biology & Biochemistry
The Outstanding International Student Award was established by the University of Maine in 1998 to recognize one international student from each college. The student selected should have a superior academic record and should have made contributions to his or her area of study.
Dominika Trzilova is a double major in molecular & cellular biology, and biochemistry from the Czech Republic. In addition to maintaining an outstanding GPA, Dominika worked as a teaching and research assistant in her department, and as a residential assistant for the past two years. She served as Vice President for the Maine Society of Microbiology, and was an active member of the International Student Association. She earned numerous scholarships during her academic career at UMaine, and was notably named a presidential scholar and inducted into the prestigious Phi Beta Kappa Society.
- Frank B. and Charles S. Bickford Memorial Prize: Elizabeth E. Wood, B.S. Biology
The Frank B. and Charles S. Bickford Memorial Prize was established through the bequest of Miretta L. Bickford, class of 1915, in memory of her father, Frank B. Bickford, and her uncle, Charles S. Bickford, class of 1882. It is awarded annually to the outstanding senior student in the College of Natural Sciences, Forestry, and Agriculture. The award and medallion will be presented by President Hunter.
Elizabeth E. Wood, a biology major with a pre-medical concentration and a chemistry minor. Elizabeth is best known for her outstanding performance on the basketball court, but her achievements off-court are equally impressive. She maintained a 3.95 GPA in a rigorous academic program, and recently applied her learning to a NASA-funded study of human cancer risk associated with space flight. Liz is involved in student government and in community service activities both on and off campus. She has won numerous awards honoring her academic and athletic achievements, including the Dean Smith Award, the 2015 America East Female Scholar-Athlete of the Year, and was recently named to the 2015-2016 College Sports Information Directors of America Academic All-America Team. Following graduation, Liz plans to attend medical school and play basketball professionally.
- The Wallace C. and Janet S. Dunham Prize: Michaela Morris, B.S. Ecology & Environmental Sciences
The Wallace C. and Janet S. Dunham Prize was established with a gift from Wallace C. Dunham, Dean Emeritus, and Janet S. Dunham, Master of Education, class of 1977. The recipient of the prize is an undergraduate student in the College who has overcome adversity to achieve personal growth and academic success, who has a positive outlook on life, and who shows the potential for further accomplishment.
Michaela Morris an ecology and environmental sciences major. Faculty that have mentored and taught her say that even when Michaela faced serious personal injury, she exuded positive energy and was a dedicated student. In addition to her studies, Michaela is a research assistant and mentors 4th and 5th graders at the Orono Gardening and Cooking Club. Michaela plans to help others by pursuing a career in environmental education and sustainability science. By overcoming adversity while achieving academic success, Michaela Morris embodies the type of student whom Wallace and Janet Dunham wish to assist and encourage with their award.
The graduate recipients are:
- Outstanding Master’s Degree Student Award: Connor Wood, M.S. Wildlife EcologyOutstanding Master’s Degree Student Award was established in 2008 to recognize a graduate student in the college who has distinguished himself or herself in multiple ways at the master’s level. The recipient is selected based on research and scholarly activity, teaching, professional activity, university and public service, and academic performance.
Connor Wood is a wildlife ecology master’s degree student. His research used common small mammal species to test conservation-related theories, and assessed the distribution of two species of concern. In addition to his research, Connor exceed program requirements by submitting five publications on his research and establishing a program for graduate students to mentor undergraduate students in the Department of Wildlife, Fisheries, and Conservation Biology. His advisors describe Connor as an exemplary student and citizen, who surpassed their expectations in all areas. Connor is currently in California doing field work on endangered species for his PhD at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
- Outstanding Service Award: Kimberley Miner, Ph.D. Earth & Climate Sciences
The Outstanding Service Award was established in 2008 to recognize graduate students with a distinguished record of service to the university in the form of teaching and/or other university and professional service. The recipient is selected based on teaching accomplishments and quality, service contributions to the university, contributions to the profession, and public service activities during the applicant’s current program of study.
Kimberley Miner is a Ph.D. student in earth and climate sciences, whose research aims to understand the connection between atmospheric and glacial water pollution. She sees public service for at-risk populations an important part of her work, and hopes her findings will enable communities that drink water from melted glaciers to respond to potential pollution sources. She participates in several groups involved with graduate affairs and the University, notably as the graduate student representative on the Board of Trustees. Kimberley’s advisor describes her as an extraordinary leader who will continue to use all resources at her disposal to create a positive path towards a sustainable climate future.
- Graduate Research Excellence Award: Kevin Du Clos, Ph.D. Oceanography
The Graduate Research Excellence Award was established in 2008 to recognize graduate student excellence in research in the College of Natural Sciences, Forestry, and Agriculture. The recipient is selected based on research accomplishments and the quality of his or her research and scholarly activity.
Kevin Du Clos is a Ph.D. student in oceanography who is studying how marine animals interact with physical aspects of their marine environment. During his research, Kevin developed a new method to locate worms burrowing below the surface of sand and co-published a paper on the fluid dynamics of pipetting. According to his advisor, Kevin has effectively become the lead researcher on his grant to study inhalant flows produced by clams and other marine suspension feeders. Upon graduation, Kevin plans to continue to research how marine organisms are affected by their fluid environments as a postdoctoral fellow.
- Edith M. Patch Outstanding Ph.D. Award: Binod Neupane, Ph.D. Ecology & Environmental Sciences
The Edith M. Patch Outstanding Ph.D. Award commemorates the important work and career of Dr. Edith M. Patch, a pioneering entomologist, hired to work at the University of Maine in 1903. The award recognizes graduate students at the Ph.D. level who have distinguished themselves in multiple ways. Recipients are selected based on research and scholarly activity, teaching, professional activity, university and public service, and academic performance, areas in which Edith Patch distinguished herself during her long career at UMaine.
Binod Neupane completed his Ph.D. in ecology and environmental science. His research developed a unique integrated sustainability assessment model for emerging biofuel technologies in Maine. Binod’s outstanding research performance at UMaine earned him selection to attend highly competitive professional training programs, scholarships, awards, and a postdoctoral research position at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. Binod was also an active volunteer at UMaine, where he participated in the Green Team and Graduate Student Government. His advisors both express confidence that Binod will continue to make significant contributions in future bioenergy development.
- Fred Griffee Memorial Award: Haley Viehman, Ph.D. Engineering in the Natural Sciences
The Fred Griffee Memorial Award was established in 1952 by coworkers and friends in memory of Dr. Fred Griffee, who directed of the Maine Agricultural and Forest Experiment Station from 1931 to 1951. The award recognizes an outstanding graduate student in a program associated with the Maine Agricultural and Forest Experiment Station and is based on research ability, character, and scholarship.
Haley Viehman is an interdisciplinary Ph.D. degree candidate who is studying Engineering and the Natural Sciences. Her project analyzes how tidal power turbines affect fishes, so she can develop a comprehensive monitoring plan that can be applied to tidal power sites around the world. Haley’s advisor describes her as an adept researcher who effectively crosses the fields of engineering, oceanography, and biology to answer “societally-relevant scientific questions.” After graduation, Haley plans to continue working where the fields of engineering and natural sciences intersect in offshore renewable energy development.
- George F. Dow Graduate Scholarship Award: He (Helen) Jiang, Ph.D. Ecology & Environmental Sciences
The George F. Dow Graduate Scholarship Fund was established in 1975 with gifts from and in honor of former experiment station director Dr. George F. Dow ’27. This award recognizes a graduate student with outstanding academic and research performance in a graduate program associated with the Maine Agricultural and Forest Experiment Station.
He (Helen) Jiang is a Ph.D. student pursuing a degree in ecology and environmental sciences. Her research aims to unveil how pink rot disease develops in potatoes and how the pathogen is regulated by signaling molecules. Her advisor notes that the quality and nature of Helen’s research will significantly contribute to the science of plant pathology and disease management. Although not yet complete, her research has already drawn attention from the phytopathology community. After completing her Ph.D. Helen plans to continue her work in plant pathology as a researcher and educator.
- Jean A. and David A. Webb Professional Master’s Award: Sara K. Martin, M.S.W. Social Work
Jean A. and David A. Webb Professional Master’s Award was established in 2015 through a bequest from and in memory of Jean and David Webb. The award recognizes a student in a professional master’s program, who has a distinguished record of service to the university or other professional organizations.
Sara Martin is a master’s degree student in the School of Social Work. During her foundation year field placement, she assumed progressive responsibility supporting administrative functions, and provided support for women’s health at Caring Connections in Bangor. She was repeatedly asked by faculty to serve on committees due to their respect for Sarah’s judgment, discretion, and leadership among her peers. Her advisor (Sandra Butler) said that Sarah’s papers were some of the best she has received in her 25 years of teaching.
- Norris Charles Clements Graduate Student Award: Alex Bajcz, Ph.D. Ecology & Environmental Sciences
The Norris Charles Clements Graduate Student Award was established in 1997 with a bequest from Laurel Clements ’48 in honor of her father, Norris Charles Clements, a distinguished Maine poultry farmer. This award recognizes an outstanding graduate student in agricultural sciences and one whose accomplishments and studies have the potential to make a significant contribution to Maine agriculture.
Alex Bajcz is an ecology and environmental sciences Ph.D. student who is studying how Maine’s managed wild blueberries respond to changes in flower number. His advisor says Alex has an infectious curiosity and passion for communicating science that makes him an excellent teaching assistant and ambassador for his research and the scientific community as a whole. After graduation, Alex plans to continue to research fruit ecology and author the first book ever on the subject. He also intends to bring his intellectual passion for ecology to the classroom, where he can introduce young minds to ecology.
The College also recognized faculty members Gregory Porter, Caroline Noblet, and Aaron Weiskittel for their outstanding work at the annual event.
To learn more about the College’s unique land and sea grant university experience, visit nsfa.maine.edu.