UMF fall 2021 Wilson Scholars, from left, Gabby Beaudoin, Suzanna Dibden, Alison Hooper, William Chinnock, and Tristan Huntoon. Not pictured, Chelsey Drake. Courtesy of UMF

FARMINGTON — The University of Maine at Farmington Michael Wilson Scholars Program is proud to announce the naming of six outstanding student researchers as Wilson Scholars for fall 2021.  Established in 2006, the selective Wilson program directly connects students with faculty mentors to promote the highest level of scholarship as students explore dynamic local, national and international research topics.

This semester’s Wilson Scholars include: Gabby Beaudoin of Farmington, William Chinnock of Yarmouth, Suzanna Dibden of Augusta, Chelsey Drake of Farmington, Alison Hooper of Bowdoinham, and Tristan Huntoon of Madrid Township.

“The Wilson Scholars program is a wonderful catalyst for students to think creatively about their degree programs and career interests,” said Edward Serna, UMF president. “Participating in undergraduate research at UMF is a valuable opportunity for students to challenge themselves, strengthen their skills and grow as professionals. We congratulate this semester’s scholars for their commitment to educational excellence and look forward to their findings.”

One of this year’s Wilson Scholars, Drake, a senior from Farmington, is a geology major in the Earth & environmental science program. Her project focuses on rare Earth element-bearing minerals in the granitic rocks of coastal Maine. Rare Earth elements are a group of 17 chemically similar metallic elements, which have unique chemical and physical properties that make them essential to a variety of applications, including electronics, clean energy, automotive, aerospace and defense.

Drake’s project will explore the abundance of these elements in certain minerals, such as zircon and allanite that are found in small amounts in granitic rocks.

According to David Gibson, UMF professor of Geology and Drake’s faculty sponsor, “This is a very important and worthwhile project as investigating where these strategic elements are found and the processes that concentrated them will help our future resource exploration. Their importance in the renewable energy sector alone is huge.”

The UMF Wilson Program names student awardees twice a year, including single-semester scholars and year-long fellows. Student researchers are individually sponsored by faculty and supported at every stage of their research. These faculty mentors assist with proposal development, research methodology, project presentation and continuing follow-up on pre-professional and post-graduate opportunities.

Wilson Scholars named for the fall 2021 semester include:

Beaudoin – Farmington

A senior majoring in psychology. Beaudoin is exploring overcoming caregiver barriers to child mental health care. Her faculty sponsor is Jennifer Blossom, UMF assistant professor of psychology.

Chinnock – Yarmouth

A senior majoring in political science, Chinnock is researching the Voisine v. United States Supreme Court decision, changes in the court since 2016 and the definition of recklessness as it pertains to law. His faculty sponsor is James Melcher, UMF professor of political science.

Dibden – Augusta

A senior majoring in psychology, Dibden is investigating the impact of civil online media exchanges on political attitude change. Her faculty sponsor is Karol Maybury, UMF professor of psychology.

Drake – Farmington

A senior majoring in geology in the Earth & environmental science program, Drake is researching the role of magmatic processes in concentrating rare Earth element bearing minerals. Her faculty sponsor is David Gibson, UMF professor of geology.

Hooper – Bowdoinham

A senior majoring in English, Hooper is creating 22 handbound chapbooks of ekphrastic poetry based on the Tarot deck. Her faculty sponsor is Kristen Case, UMF professor of English.

Tristan Huntoon – Madrid Township

A senior majoring in performing arts, Huntoon is creating a series of pieces in the metal genre that will illuminate its connection to the sublime. His faculty sponsor is Aaron Wyanski, UMF assistant professor of music composition.

The Wilson program provides funding to help underwrite student project expenses. It was established by Michael and Susan Angelides, of Columbia, Connecticut, in honor of their good friend and UMF alumnus Michael D. Wilson, Class of 1976.


For more information, contact Donelle Schwalm, assistant professor of environmental biology and chair of the UMF Undergraduate Research Council, which oversees the Wilson Scholars program at donelle.schwalm@maineedu.