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USM students shine in research presentations at 2019 “Thinking Matters”

2019 USM Thinking Matters

On Friday, April 19 more than 200 University of Southern Maine students presented a wide variety of research projects as well as TED Talk-style presentations, "Lightning Talks," at the 2019 "Thinking Matters" at the Abromson Center, on the Portland Campus.

The event has a 17-year-old history as an opportunity for both undergraduate and graduate students to perform in-depth research and present their findings. Today it has grown into an annual student research symposium to promote high-quality student/faculty research collaborations and an opportunity for students to share their work with both the USM community and the general public.

Students presented research in three sessions of Poster Presentations and Oral Sessions from 9:00 a.m. to 1:15 p.m. At lunch attendees were invited to grab a bagged lunch for the student "Lightning Talks" where five students were invited to showcase their work, from performance art to social work. The students were all coached in advance by Adam Burk, of Treehouse Institute/TEDxDirigo.

Here's a quick glance of some of the many student research projects presented.

USM student poster presentation

Poster Presentation: "Telehealth Use in the State of Maine"
Oghenetega Dibie, Masters in Statistics

Tega has a background in engineering and works with the Muskie School of Public Health; his research interest is in understanding addictive behavior. His project examines the impact of telehealth in the State of Maine and its effect on healthcare access in rural Maine. This summer he will be interning with the Maine Telehealth Team, and after he earns his masters, he plans to pursue a Ph.D.

“Working at the Muskie School gives me an avenue to apply my statistical knowledge and see the impact of the work I do with telehealth," said Dibie.




USM student poster presentationPoster Presentation: "Updating the University of Southern Maine Arboretum"
Katherine-Helene Sullivan, Environmental Science ‘21

Katherine’s project involves condensing, updating, and publicizing the information on USM’s Arboretum on the Gorham Campus. In 2002 two pamphlets were made on the campus’ Arboretum, one with information on tree identification and the other a map with descriptions. Katherine is compiling these two resources into one. She also hopes to make them more accessible to the public and to distribute them to professors for their intro to ecology courses.

“I want people to be aware of the large flora we have on campus because it is a beautiful thing we have here in Maine, especially on a university campus,” said Sullivan.

Lightning Talk: "I Led a BioBlitz-And You Can, Too!
USM Senior Sam Matey and USM Faculty Joe Staples

Sam presented the process and results of the Androscoggin BioBlitz, a citizen biological survey using the iNaturalist app that he conducted while serving as a student intern with the Maine Conservation Voters. His BioBlitz led to the logging of valuable species observations and data, some of which has already been uploaded to state databases. Get to know more about Sam in his 2019 Featured Grad video interview. 

USM student Lightning TalkLightning Talk: “Applying Social Work Generalist Practice Skills to Larger Social Systems”
Muskie student Kiley Wilkins and USM Faculty Brenda Zollitsch

Wilkins, a student and licensed social worker, presented on social work policy-practice, defined as applying social work generalist practice skills (engagement, goal setting, planning, implementing, and monitoring progress) to larger social systems where the outcomes are not individual client change but larger system change in both laws and social conditions that will affect the lives of millions of families and individuals.

Lightning Talk: "Abortion in Maine: A Historical Inquiry into Abortion Access"
Mariah Reed, Women and Gender Studies ‘19

Mariah presented her research inspired by an assignment at her internship with Maine Family Planning. MFP hosts Abortion Advocacy Trainings to give people the knowledge and guidance on how to develop values-based conversations when being an abortion-rights advocate.

“This is really important in abortion rights work and all reproductive health work because there is so much misinformation about abortion.”

She believes a major part of clearing up those misconceptions is to delve into the history; her project involved presenting a detailed history of abortion access with a focus on Maine.

“With the help of many people, coaches, professors, colleagues, and my partner, I managed to become comfortable enough to deliver it on the stage. It was an incredible experience. It is so powerful to know our history. I believe it is one of the most powerful things we can do. And to be a part of the telling of that history was a highlight of my college career, ” said Reed.

Congratulations to all those who presented! "Thinking Matters" is presented by the USM Honors Program.