Scores of Unity College undergraduates delivered in-depth research presentations Wednesday at the twice-annual Unity College Student Conference.

The event capped semester-long field research by undergraduates in topics ranging from “Climate Change Strategies in U.S. National Parks” to “Analyzing Coastal Access in Maine using GIS.”

The Student Conference – held at the conclusion of the fall and spring semesters – is one of the highlights of a Unity College education, in which undergraduates present results from environmental field projects and explain their research and present their findings at a symposium in a variety of multimedia formats.

“What we saw today demonstrates the emerging field of sustainability science research and problem-solving,” President-elect Dr. Melik Peter Khoury said. “These projects show in-depth research, global understanding, the importance of team building, coordination with a wide array of stakeholders and validation of data gathered in the field.”

“I expect to see many of these students in graduate study and some of these projects adapted for Masters theses and real-world implementation,” Khoury said. “Most of these projects come with both fine detail and global scale. It is awesome to see what they’ve done, and the awards ceremony is one of the signature programs of our unique brand of student-directed learning.”

Goals of the Student Conference are to encourage, promote, and recognize all quality academic and professional work among Unity College students; to celebrate excellence; to help build a campus culture that values attention to detail and quality work; to provide a transitional experience into professional and academic communities; and to facilitate program evaluation and community building.

“As a newcomer to the Unity College community, this was my first time attending the Student Conference, and I was thoroughly impressed,” Associate Chief Academic Officer Dr. Rob Scott said. “Everyone told me to expect really good work at the conference, but the presentations were so professional that it made judging between them nearly impossible.”

Panels of judges assessed the projects on a variety of criteria and conferred these awards:

Conservation Award to Megan Brown for her poster, The Determinants that Limit the Northern Range of Common Woodland Ants.

Creativity Award to Owen Bastille for his wall art, Conference of Feathers.

Education Award to Joshua Pittendreigh for his poster, Sustainability of Unity College Heritage Livestock Barn Lesson Plan.

Research Award to Jennifer Driscoll for her poster, Best fit mathematical modeling of Zombie Virus using Program R.

Sustainability Award to Grace Wilson, Henry Symanski, and Jenna Rippee for their multimedia presentation, Engaging the community of Winslow in the formation a recycling program.

Environmental Professionals Award to Aaron Schmitz, Cassandra Cates, Gunnar Norback, Matthew Schnebly, Rae-Ann MacLellan-Hurd, Sally Carullo, Sean Stewart, and Stephanie Tardiff for their oral presentation, Investigating the Rates of Soil Creep Along Main Street in Unity, Maine.

Unity Partnership Award to Jalen Babin, Jesse Samdahl, Nicholas Szatkowski, and Samantha Stalder for their multimedia presentation, General Management Plan for Whitten Hill Preserve.

Award for Academic Excellence to Elliott Moran for his poster, Comparing the effects of general and selective culling on Chronic Wasting Disease prevalence.

Unity Award to Christopher Spaulding, Courtney Dotterweich, Matthew Schnebly, and Thomas Ciarlante, for their poster, Vulnerability of forest lands in the Sagadahoc region.

To view pictures of the conference, click here.

For information about the Student Conference including faculty sponsorship, submission terms, format requirements and past conference highlights, visit the student conference blog.

For more information about the Unity College Undergraduate Research Program, click here. For a list of past winners, click here.

Monday, December 21, 2015