2018 UMaine Student Symposium (UMSS) Award Recipients

More than 1,300 undergraduate and graduate students presented their work during the third annual University of Maine Student Symposium held at the Cross Insurance Center in Bangor on April 17.

The free public event, which was organized by UMaine Graduate Student Government and the Center for Undergraduate Research (CUGR) as part of Maine Impact Week, provided an opportunity for community members to meet student researchers and scholars, see their posters and exhibits, hear their presentations, and view short performances and art.

Awards and cash prizes were given to the symposium’s top scholars and presentations in several categories:


Graduate winners

  • Allied health: Silas Walsh and Melody Joliat, Fostering a Better Understanding of Chronic Pain Treatment Needs Through Community Engaged Research, advised by David Wihry
  • Arts: Rachel Church, Fall Semester 2017, First Year of Graduate School, advised by Susan Smith
  • Biomedical Sciences: Michael Wilczek, Human JC Polyomavirus Infection of Primary Astrocytes: A Model for a Deadly Disease, advised by Melissa Maginnis
  • Education and Human Development: John Caleb Speirs, Investigating Student Reasoning Patterns via Dual-Process Theory, advised by MacKenzie Stetzer
  • Engineering and Information Sciences: Hannah Allen, Testing and Validation of Emerging Hull Technologies for Floating Offshore Wind Turbines, advised by Andrew Goupee
  • Interdisciplinary Collaboratives: Emma S. Toth, Investigating the Instructional Transition of STEM Students from High School to First-Year College Courses, advised by Michelle Smith
  • Natural Sciences: Tyler Van Kirk, Abundance of Spiny-Headed Worms in Green Crabs, advised by Ian Bricknell
  • Natural Sciences: Dhirgam Humaidy, Synthesis and Reactivity of Gold (I) Tetrathiomolybdate Complexes, advised by Alice Bruce
  • Physical Sciences: Sabrina Sultana, Robust Magnetic Photocatalyst for Removal of Organic Pollutants from Drinking Water, advised by Carl Tripp
  • Social Sciences: Kate Pontbriand and Emily Blackwood, Seasonal Analysis of Four Coastal Archaeological Sites in Eastern Maine Using Mollusks, advised by Daniel Sandweiss

Undergraduate winners

  • Allied Health: Marisa Jolicoeur, Nyia Chituck, Darcey Fraser, Lindsay Nutter and Rebecca Dalrymple, Assessing Diet and Exercise in Pre-diabetics, advised by Patricia Poirier
  • Arts: Cara Doiron, Constructing Identity Through the Lens of Fashion, advised by Samantha Jones
  • Biomedical Sciences: Sarai Smith, Understanding the Role of Prophage in Mycobacterial Host Fitness and Gene Expression, advised by Sally Molloy
  • Biomedical Sciences: Ashley Soucy and Jeanne K. Dushane, IP3R-Mediated ER Ca2+ Release Drives JCPyV Infection, advised by Melissa Maginnis
  • Business: Alexis Lindsay, Maternity Leave in the U.S., advised by Stefano Tijerina
  • Education and Human Development: Jordan Houdeshell, Differences in Language Through the Comparison of Mathematical Word Choice in Chile and Maine, advised by Julie DellaMattera
  • Engineering and Information Sciences: Gabriela Constantin, Selective Ring-Opening Reactions on Thermal Deoxygenation Oils,advised by Scott Eaton
  • Engineering and Information Sciences: Nicholas Aiken, VHF Near Field Antenna Design for Wireless Sensing Applications, advised by Mauricio da Cunha
  • Engineering and Information Sciences: Abigail Weigang, Selective Surface Modification of Paper Substrates for Controlled-Adhesion Diagnostic Devices, advised by Caitlin Howell
  • Interdisciplinary Collaboratives: Gabriela Adamus, Sarah Basquez, Hannah Connors, Morgan Jacobs and Genaya Loftis, A Collaborative Approach in Treatment of Selective Mutism in School Age Children, advised by Nancy Hall
  • Natural Sciences: Taylor Lanhan, Alicia Girardin, Jenny Woodbury, Erica Ogden, and Jo-Ellen Loring Jamieson, Sensory Integration Therapy in Individuals with Autism and the Incorporation of Speech-Language Pathology, advised by Nancy Hall
  • Natural Sciences: Faythe Goins, Environmental Impacts on Loggerhead Sea Turtle Nesting on Edisto Island, SC, advised by Kristina Cammen
  • Physical Sciences: Andrew Nolan, Discovery of Five Instabilities of Turner Glacier, St. Elias Mountains, Alaska, from 1984 to 2017, advised by Karl Kreutz
  • Physical Sciences: Tessali Morrison, Synthesis of Hydrogels Containing Quaternary Amine Polymers, advised by William Gramlich
  • Social Sciences: Brawley Benson, How Discourse Shapes Dam Decision Making: News Stories as Sites of Meaning, advised by Bridie McGreavy and Tyler Quiring
  • Social Sciences: Jessica Champagne, Maine Understanding Sensory Integration and Cognition (MUSIC) Project: Can Music Learning Improve Cognition in Older Adults, advised by Rebecca MacAulay



UMSS18 Program Overview – Tue. April 17, 2018, Cross Insurance Center, Bangor, ME

From To Arena (posters/exhibits) Ballrooms/Meeting Rooms (Oral Presentations)


7AM 8AM Setup Easels – Volunteers Setup Computers/projectors – Volunteers
8AM 9AM Number easels/tables – Volunteers Load presentations – Volunteers
9AM 10AM Setup posters – presenters Check slides – AM Presenters
10AM 10:15AM Opening Ceremony
10:30AM 12:15PM AM Session AM Session
12PM 1PM Lunch/Jazz Ensemble Check slides – PM Presenters
1PM 1:30PM Fellowship Awards – Provost
1:30PM 3PM PM Session PM Session
3PM 3:30PM Afternoon break Reverse Job Fair setup – Invited Students
3:30PM 4PM  Keynote Speech
4PM 5PM  Symposium Awards
BusinessConnect 5PM 6PM Poster take down – Presenters Business connect / Reverse job fair
6PM 6:05PM Prep for 3MT Presentations
6:05PM 6:10PM Welcome
6:10PM 6:20PM Top two 3 min thesis finalists
6:20PM 6:40PM Door Prize Drawing
6:40PM 7PM Wrap Up Event




UMSS18 Meeting room maps UMSS18 arena map UMSS18 ballroom map

Volunteer List

The 2018 UMaine Student Symposium was made possible by 37 members of the organizing committee, 64 volunteers and 164 judges. The event also was supported by several sponsors. All 2018 symposium judges can be viewed here.



Platinum Sponsors

Texas Instruments (TI)

Gold Sponsors


Jackson Laboratory 

UM College of Engineering (COE)

UM College of Natural Sciences, Forestry, and Agriculture

UM College of Liberal Arts and Sciences (CLAS)

UM Honors College

Silver Sponsors

Eastern Maine Medical Center

IEEE, Maine Section

Maine Technology Institute

UM College of Education and Human Development (EDHD)

Bronze Sponsors

Aquaculture Research Institute 

Bangor Target Area Development Corp.

Center for Community Inclusion and Disability Studies

Climate Change Institute

Engaged Black Bear Digital Badging Initiative

Heart of Maine Chapter of the Oncology Nursing Society and Gift of Life

Margaret Chase Smith Policy Center

Mount Desert Island Biological Laboratory (MDIBL)

University Credit Union