Ninth grade was a watershed for Adi Levy.
Diagnosed that year with mononucleosis and forced to
give up competitive swimming for nearly 18 months, Levy came to the
realization that "water is my life." As a result, she became more
determined than ever to return to the sport.
The high school freshman also fell in love with
computer programming, which for her became "a way of thinking" about the
world around her.
Today at the University of Maine, the sophomore from
Givatayim, Israel pursues both her life-passions. Levy is majoring in
computer science, and considering a minor in mathematics or secondary
education. As a member of the women's swimming and diving team, her
events are the butterfly and freestyle.
"The important thing in life is to learn as much as
you can," says the 21-year-old. "The detail involved in computer science
is so interesting. Swimming is challenging and fun, an opportunity to be
the best that you can."
In her first year at UMaine, Levy was one of 39 Top
of the Class students in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences with a
3.75 or better GPA. Any downtime poolside found her studying.
During the swimming and diving season that begins in
October, the team is in the pool every afternoon, with additional 6 a.m.
practices two days a week. In her first year, she placed second in the
200 butterfly and set two UMaine records in the 800 free relay and 400
medley relay at the America East Championships.
In the off-season at UMaine, Levy and her teammates
teach swimming classes for youngsters in Wallace Pool on campus.
Levy has been swimming competitively since age 12.
Before coming to UMaine, she served two years of mandatory military duty
She came to UMaine on the recommendation of her
friend, Karin Feldman from Israel, who swam for UMaine until she
graduated in 2005. One of Levy's teammates, Tal Shpaizer, also is from
Levy's plans include graduate school to continue her
work in computer science.
Protecting salmon rivers
The quiet backwaters of the Pleasant and Narraguagus Rivers in
Washington County are a popular destination for many, offering paddlers
and hikers alike scenic views of scented woods and rolling pastures.
University of Maine doctoral student Lucner Charlestra has spent untold
hours on the small rivers of coastal Maine, but he doesn't go there for
He's looking for the rivers' dark side.
Charlestra is working with UMaine Professor of Chemistry Howard
Patterson to determine the concentrations of harmful pesticides in
Maine's salmon rivers. Charlestra first came to Maine from Haiti in
2003, using his Fulbright Fellowship to pursue his master's degree in
environmental science and ecology. His research included a successful
pilot project that pioneered the use of the Polar Organic Chemical
Integrative Sampler (POCIS) to measure concentrations of dioxin.
Charlestra went home to Haiti this past summer, planning to continue his
research in the fall as a UMaine Ph.D. student. However, his return to
the States took considerable political wrangling.
New federal requirements for international students led to a nearly
impenetrable tangle of bureaucratic red tape. But with letters of
support from UMaine and Sen. Susan Collins, Charlestra's return to the
state was finally approved and the second phase of his research began.
"We were the first to use the POCIS device for these pesticides. Now
that we have proved that it works, we need to develop techniques that
increase the accuracy of the measurements and we need to gather more
data," says Charlestra, who is determining sampling parameters in the
lab and will return to the field this summer.
Pesticides used on blueberry fields and farms, and in residential
applications often find their way into Maine's rivers and streams, but
in most areas, their concentrations are largely unknown. Under a federal
mandate to protect populations of endangered Atlantic salmon in Maine's
rivers, policymakers are looking for ways to better understand the
relationship between the use of pesticides and the health of the rivers'
According to Charlestra, the POCIS device has a distinct advantage over
traditional water sampling techniques in measuring the concentration of
pesticides and other compounds. Rather than measuring concentrations at
a single moment in time, POCIS allows researchers to study changes in
concentrations during longer periods by suspending the specialized
sampler in the water column for several days or weeks.
Charlestra hopes that his research,
supported by the Maine Department of Environmental Protection, the
Atlantic Salmon Commission, the Environmental Protection Agency and the
U.S. Geological Survey, will provide new information for scientists and
"In order to protect Maine's salmon populations, we need to better
understand the extent to which they are exposed to contaminants," he