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USM Extends $230,000 in Merit Scholarships at 75th Annual Maine State Science Fair

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At the 75th annual Maine State Science Fair, held virtually on Saturday, April 3, the University of Southern Maine (USM) extended nearly a quarter-million dollars in merit-based scholarship offers to 10 Maine high school juniors for their passionate pursuit of science-based solutions for real problems facing their local communities.

A collaboration between the Reach Project at the Maine Mathematics & Science Alliance and The Jackson Laboratory, The Maine State Science Fair (MSSF) is an exciting opportunity for Maine high school students to pursue their interest in science and engineering and present results of their projects to fellow students and expert STEM professionals. MSSF is open to all students from all public, private, parochial, and home schools (Grades 9-12) throughout Maine.

When selecting a project topic, MSSF participants are encouraged to use science or engineering to solve real problems observed in their own lives. Students conduct background research to understand what, if any, existing research has been done on their topic; form a hypothesis; design and conduct their research in accordance with safety guidelines; and present their findings to their peers and judges at the Fair.

Following extensive judging and interviews with students, USM extended full-tuition scholarships renewable for up to four years to two students: Quinn D’Alessio of Bangor High School for “A Multi-Point Correlation to Lake Analytics in Developing a Method of Monitoring Eutrophication,” and Emerson Harris of Boothbay Region High School for “Custom Pointe Shoe Padding: Distributed Pressure and Proper Alignment to Reduce Long-Term Deformities.”

USM also extended eight in-state Presidential Scholarships valued at $20,000 each to the following students:

  • Tomas Cundick, Mount Blue High School, “Effects of Laser Sintering on FDM Layer Adhesion
  • Grace Hall, Belfast Area High School, “Effects of Temperature on Zebrafish Embryo Development
  • Nora Goldberg-Courtney, Maine Coast Waldorf School, “Mini Hydroponic Greenhouse
  • Roland Ladd, Bangor High School, “The Development of an Autonomous Pollinating Drone (Team Project)”
  • Virginia Weiss, Cape Elizabeth High School, “Chloride in Streams in the Winter
  • Uyen Nguyen, John Bapst High School, “Creating and optimizing solar cells based on non-toxic carbon quantum dots by absorbing infrared light to boost the electricity generation
  • Simon Socolow, Bangor High School, “Investigating Large Scale Low Trophic Level Food Alternatives
  • Siobhan Duff, Washington Academy, “Effects of Outdoor Activity on High Schoolers' Well-being During COVID-19

Jeremy Qualls, Ph.D., Professor of Physics and Dean of the College of Science, Technology and Health at USM, and Jared Cash, Vice President for Enrollment Management and Marketing at USM, jointly expressed the university’s excitement about the level of academic talent and entrepreneurship demonstrated by this year’s scholarship candidates at the MSSF:

“We were very impressed by this year’s scholarship candidates, some of whom demonstrated a level of scientific understanding closer to that of juniors in college than high school. What is more, the students all shared strong interest in refining their skills and furthering their research in college and contributing to real advancements in critical fields, from environmental science and biology to material and computer sciences. By partnering with the Maine State Science Fair, USM can provide lifechanging opportunities for Maine students to pursue their passions with USM’s world-class faculty and facilities, on the cutting edge of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. Congratulations to all of our future Huskies!”

About the Maine State Science Fair

Traditionally held in person, the Maine State Science Fair was held virtually in 2020 and again in 2021 due to the active COVID-19 pandemic. 157 students representing 24 schools in eight Maine counties competed for coveted state titles and over $1 million in scholarships and awards.

“These scholarships are truly life-changing. While we didn’t get to see the excitement on students’ faces during this year’s virtual awards ceremony, I know that living rooms across the state broke out in celebration today. We’re so happy to partner with USM and other Maine colleges to offer scholarships to these budding scientists and engineers,” said Stefany Burrell, STEM Education Specialist at Maine Mathematics & Science Alliance.

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