Chemicals in the Landscape
University of Maine graduate student
Sarah Nelson has spent two summers scaling mountains and traversing
streams in Acadia National Park in Bar Harbor, Maine, to analyze water
samples to study how mercury and other chemicals accumulate in the
Now, with a $78,000, three-year Canon National Park Science Scholarship,
she will continue her research in the winter.
Nelson was one of eight student researchers awarded a Canon Scholarship
to conduct environmental studies at national parks in North and South
America. Nelson, who works in UMaine's Senator George J. Mitchell Center
for Environmental and Watershed Research, will use the scholarship to
analyze winter trends in watershed chemistry at Acadia National Park.
"The goal of the program is to train the next generation of conservation
scientists," says Gary Machlis, University of Idaho professor and
program coordinator for the Canon National Parks Science Scholars
Program. "We see these students as future leaders in conservation
Nelson's proposal was chosen from 140 applications and is the only 2003
project to be conducted in the United States. Other 2003 Canon scholars
will be working in Canada, Argentina, Brazil, Peru and Mexico.
Nelson, who grew up in Berlin, Mass., became interested in environmental
science after volunteering to monitor water quality in the Assabet
River, which flows through Berlin.
In 2002, Nelson earned her master's degree and is working toward a Ph.D.
in ecology and environmental sciences. She was part of a team working at
Acadia to understand how mercury and nitrogen in streams and
precipitation relate to the natural features and history of the
landscape — national issues of concern to the National Park Service. In
Acadia, the research effort focuses on watershed on Cadillac Mountain
and on Hadlock Brook.
Setting the Pace
Four years ago, Matthew Rodrigue came to the University of Maine to
pursue his interests in technology and business, and to compete in
Division I cross country.
The valedictorian and two-time All-American athlete from Farmington,
Maine, ran cross country for the university his first year and started
coursework for two degrees — one B.S. in computer engineering with a
minor in business administration, and a second B.S. in electrical
engineering with a minor in mathematics. Then he got involved in the
many leadership development opportunities on campus.
"Through it all, there were common threads that complemented one
another," says Rodrigue of his varied pursuits. "They all required
focus, drive and work ethic."
Rodrigue left varsity competition as an America East runner-up to coach
Orono High School's cross country team for the past three years.
Concurrently, he was involved in Student Government, serving first as a
student senator and senate president pro-tempore, then last year as
Student Government president.
And that was just the beginning. In September 2002, he was appointed by
then Maine Gov. Angus King to the University of Maine System Board of
Trustees. Rodrigue also served as president of UMaine's chapter of Sigma
Phi Epsilon; last August, he was elected to the national fraternity's
board of directors.
He has spent the last three summers in academic co-ops and internships
in Maine, working at International Paper in Jay, then at Fairchild
Semiconductor in South Portland, in the areas of process technology and
Last year, Rodrigue was the UMaine Student Leader of the Year and a
Rhodes Scholarship finalist. This summer, when Rodrigue completes his
two degrees, he will take a year off before enrolling in law school to
study intellectual property law.