2021-2022 Honors Associate
- Class of 2021
- B.S. in Biology, Concentration in Pre-Medical Studies, Minor in Sustainable Food Systems
As An Honors Student:
- Civilizations Sequence
- Preceptors: Mimi Killinger (111), Rachel Snell (112), Kathleen Ellis (211), and Edie Elwood (212)
- Honors Tutorial: HON 339 – Reflections on Cultural Aspects of Maine Agriculture, Spring 2019 with Dr. Sara Velardi
- Honors Thesis: Scientific Knowledge Shaping Perceptions of Bioengineered Food Among Undergraduate Students
- Advisor: Ek Han Tan
- Committee: Mark Haggerty, Seanna Annis, Rachel E. Schattman, Jeremy Parker
- Abstract: While commonplace in our grocery stores, GMO-foods have persevered through years of controversy. As the availability of bioengineered (BE) commodities grows and biotechnical industries make strides, studies have shown that the average consumers’ knowledge concerning biotechnology has not. In addition to widely held misconceptions and the general lack of knowledge regarding bioengineered commodities reported by young adults, especially students, the recent United States Department of Agriculture mandate for BE product labeling prompts further research into the consumer perspective on bioengineered products. This research looked to expand upon prior work regarding students’ individual perspective towards topics such as GMOs, knowledge of BE products, and BE labeling. A survey was designed for this project and administered twice to the students of the Fall 2020 BIO 350 Genetics course. Approximately sixty-five evaluable responses to the pre- and post-surveys were compared and statistically analyzed to determine trends after completing a full semester of an undergraduate genetics course. This work found that, while students tend to have optimistic and increasingly positive attitudes towards GMO foods and the BE label, they often struggle to relay their objective knowledge on the subject. Similar to findings by Hallman et al. (2013), another key result was an apparent discrepancy between students’ high self-reported familiarity with BE foods and the actual availability of BE foods. Considering their growing presence in our food systems, scale of public misconception, and the approaching BE labeling compliance date, consumer concerns and attitudes towards GMO products and bioengineering must be evaluated
During my time at the University of Maine, I spent much of my time outdoors – skiing, hiking, and exploring. I joined Ewe-Maine Icelandic Sheep Club, held an executive position with UMaine Undergraduate WiSTEMM, and got to work as a MLA for Genetics and for General Chemistry courses. I was a founding research leader on the Mitchell Center grant project for food waste diversion in Maine. As a field work research assistant, working with UMaine Cooperative Extension, I conducted agricultural research in various field crop trials, developed agricultural educational materials, and worked at the University’s farm and Orono Community Garden. My senior year, I served as an Honors College Ambassador during 2020-2021 and co-led the “It’s Personal Campaign” along with other fun projects to keep our Honors community together amidst remote learning.
I graduated, as a member of Phi Kappa Phi and Phi Beta Kappa national academic honors societies, in May 2021 as a nominee for the 2021 Frank B. and Charles S. Bickford Memorial Prize, the College of Natural Science, Forestry and Agriculture’s highest award. Upon graduation, I received the School of Biology and Ecology Academic Achievement Award in recognition of achieving the highest cumulative GPA of graduating seniors in the SBE. Following graduation, I had the opportunity to intern with the Maine Department of Environmental Protection coordinated through part of the Margaret Chase Smith Policy Center Maine Summer Government Internship Program.
I now look forward to working as an Honors Associate and staying engaged with my local community.