Eight Unity College students will share cash awards for high academic achievement as part of an award program unique to America’s Environmental College.

The Unity College Undergraduate Research Program awarded the funds to students through the Unity College Student Academic Engagement Award Fund, which is dedicated to supporting student research and conference presentations.

Unity College Executive Vice President Dr. Melik Peter Khoury said rewarding undergraduates for field research is a crucial part of the value proposition for Unity College students.

“As America’s Environmental College, it’s crucial we provide undergraduates the opportunity to do primary research with faculty,” Khoury said. “It is rare, and it’s something we are committed to and looking to expand as we continue to grow our national presence.

“Graduating students need firsthand experience, and this provides an opportunity that many institutions don’t provide until they are graduates,” Khoury said.

“We had a wonderfully wide variety of projects, faculty sponsors, and projects of a high quality,” said program administrator Dr. Amy Arnett, who also serves as a professor of ecology and director of the Center for Biodiversity. “Clearly there is a lot of great scholarly work going on campus.”

Awards are for a maximum of $500 per student.

The students and their projects:

  • Evan Donoso ’16, of Warren, Maine, for receiving funding to study acoustic behavior in red squirrels.
  • Brian Eaton ’16, of Hudson, Mass., for receiving funding to present his research on minnows at the Northeast Fish and Wildlife Conference in Maryland.
  • Philip Horner ’16, of Noank, Conn., for receiving funding to support his work studying community policing initiatives in conservation law enforcement agencies in the Northeast. He will present at the Northeast Fish and Wildlife conference in Maryland.
  • Jennifer Meineke ’17, of Ansonia, Conn., for funding to support her senior thesis work on red squirrel population dynamics and behavior.
  • Michael Rossi ’17, of Methuen, Mass., for his work investigating civic engagement.
  • Allyson Schmidt ’17, of Marstons Mills, Mass., for her work assessing water quality in Penobscot Bay.
  • Monica Spatafore ’18, of Randolph, Maine, received funding for her work investigating water quality in Lake Winnecook.
  • Brett Skelly ’16, of Pine City, N.Y., for his thesis research studying calving habitat selection in cow moose.

With undergraduate research a keystone of the Unity College experience, Student Academic Engagement Fund Awards are for students who complete a research project, present at a professional society meeting, or fulfill some other academic pursuit deemed eligible by the committee. Proposals are reviewed on a competitive basis at the beginning of each semester.

Unity College students may present the results of their research at regional, national and professional society meetings, and on campus twice a year at the Student Conference.

Together with their faculty mentors, Unity students in the research program work on transdisciplinary projects to form strong connections with faculty and organizations.

“Students in the program gain understanding, confidence, and awareness, better preparing them for what’s next after graduation,” Arnett said. “Statistics show that students who do research during their undergraduate years are more likely to continue with professional education and in STEM fields, and twice as likely to consider continuing on to pursue a PhD.”

“Under the college’s framework of sustainability science, undergraduate research students are well equipped to obtain green jobs and to enter the workforce as effective environmental professionals, helping solve 21st-century problems,” said Dr. Kevin Spigel, Associate Professor of Geoscience and director of the Unity College Center for Sustainability and Global Change.

Thursday, October 22, 2015