Three Maine students win Goldwater scholarships

Posted April 02, 2012, at 7:55 p.m.

BAR HARBOR, Maine — A junior at College of the Atlantic is one of three college students in Maine to win a scholarship from the Barry M. Goldwater Foundation.

As a Goldwater scholarship award-winner, Katherine Shlepr will receive $7,500 to offset costs for her final year at COA. Shlepr hopes eventually to go on to earn a doctoral degree in conservation biology and to supervise a small lab conducting field research in northern forests.

Goldwater scholarships are awarded on a competitive basis to undergraduate students who plan to pursue careers in science or math. Rachel Sullivan-Lord, a sophomore at COA, received an honorable mention, according to a prepared statement about the scholarship award released by COA.

Other Goldwater scholarship winners in Maine include University of Maine student Erin Victoria Carter, who hopes to get a doctoral degree in immunology or molecular biology, and University of New England student Cassidy Peterson, who hopes to obtain a doctorate in marine sciences. Carter’s career goal is to conduct AIDS or autoimmune disease research for a university or other research facility, while Peterson aspires to conduct research on elasmobranchs such as sharks, skates and rays, according to information posted on the Goldwater Scholarship website.

There were 282 Goldwater scholarships awarded nationwide for the 2012-2013 academic year.

Shlepr, a Wisconsin native, has been studying the common sea gull and whether successful protection of bald eagles has contributed to a decline in gull populations on Maine’s coast. According to COA, the population of gulls in Maine has declined by 60 percent from 1996 to 2008.

Shlepr is expected to continue studying gulls this summer on Great Duck Island, a remote island about six miles off Mount Desert Island where COA has a seasonal research station.

The Goldwater scholarship program was established in 1986 in honor of former U.S. Sen. Barry Goldwater to provide a continuing source of highly qualified scientists, mathematicians and engineers by awarding scholarships to students who intend to pursue careers in those fields, according to the COA statement. Each four-year institution can nominate up to four students.

College of the Atlantic, which this year has an enrollment of approximately 300 students, is known for emphasizing environmental education in its curriculum. Located on the shore of Frenchman Bay, the school was founded in 1969 and offers degrees in human ecology.

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