June 23, 2018
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Edith Patch Awards given to UM students


ORONO — Three University of Maine students were named winners of the 2011 Edith Patch Award at an Earth Day Reception honoring the life and legacy of the university’s first woman scientist. Vanessa Coats, Haley Viehman and Alyssa Freitag were honored for distinguished work they have done while at the University of Maine and recognized for their promise for future contribution to the fields of science, agriculture, engineering or environmental education.  The ceremony was held at the Thomas Lynch University Club in the Raymond Fogler Library.

The event is an annual collaboration between the Friends of Dr. Edith Marion Patch and the Friends of Fogler Library. It includes poster presentations featuring the work of women scientists who are carrying on Patch’s legacy through their work at the university.

Coats is a third-year doctoral student in biochemistry and molecular biology.  Her research, which focuses on the symbiotic relationships between the Japanese barberry plant and other organisms, may help to provide strategies for preventing the spread of this invasive ornamental plant species.

Viehman is a master’s degree student in the School of Marine Sciences. In her work at the University of Maine, she uses her undergraduate training as an engineer to investigate the impact of tidal power technology on marine life, thus contributing to Maine’s leadership in economically and environmentally important research and development of renewable energy.

Freitag is an undergraduate in the School of Marine Sciences, where her research has focused on the bonnethead shark and the bacteria to which it is exposed in both wild and natural environments.

In addition to the three Edith Patch awardees, four distinguished nominees were honored.

Casey Levasseur, a senior in the baccalaureate in nursing program who serves as cadet battalion commander in the University of Maine’s Army ROTC, was recognized. In the words of her nominator, Levasseur “is poised to make significant contributions to improvement of human health through the application of scientific evidence in nursing care.”

Susan Priest, an undergraduate in the ecology and environmental sciences program, was recognized for her research and development of a permaculture garden that serves as a model for the region. Her environmental education efforts have helped make the Orono Bog Boardwalk a valued community resource.

Allison Byrd, a master’s student in the School of Biology and Ecology, was recognized for her research on the productivity of common loons, which provides a tool that will enable conservation biologists to understand and predict the effects of climate change on wildlife.

Rachel Palmer, a doctoral student in the department of molecular and biomedical sciences, was recognized for her toxicological research that investigates the potentially harmful effects of the antibacterial agent triclosan, which is used in many household products.

The Edith Patch Award was created in 2006 by the Friends of Dr. Edith Marion Patch.

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