Margaret Chase Smith Public Affairs Scholarship

Margaret Chase Smith Public Affairs Scholars sits in front of filing cabinets in the research room of the Margaret Chase Smith Library.

History of the Scholarship

The Margaret Chase Smith Public Affairs Scholarship was established in 1991 in the University of Maine Foundation with gifts from Harold Alfond to the Margaret Chase Smith Foundation in Skowhegan, Maine. The scholarship was established on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of Senator Smith’s election to the U.S. House of Representatives and in recognition of her many years of dedicated public service to the citizens of Maine and to the nation from 1940 to 1973. Senator Smith’s abiding belief was that real progress will be attained only through the education of Maine’s young voters. The scholarship program is administered by the Margaret Chase Smith Policy Center with the assistance of a university selection committee.

Margaret Chase Smith Public Affairs scholar presents his work a student symposium.

Scholarship Information

Each spring the MCS Public Affairs Scholarship is awarded to one or two UMaine undergraduates who propose an independent research project on a public policy topic relevant to Maine. Applicants must have a faculty advisor for the project at the time of application. Scholarship students apply in March and work with a faculty advisor throughout the following academic year to conduct their research. The students then present their work in the spring at the UMaine Student Research Symposium.

Deadline for applications will be April 15, 2024.

Application Information can be found in ScholarshipUniverse

Application Process:

The MCS Public Affairs Scholarship application is now hosted on the ScholarshipUniverse platform. The link can be found under Academic Resources on your UMaine Portal.

Application submission will include:

  • Completed brief application form.
  • Essay must not exceed 500 words
  • Identification of an academic advisor(s) for your proposed research (does not have to be current academic advisor)
  • A letter of recommendation must be from the academic advisor for your proposed research
  • Application Deadline: April 15, 2024

Selection is limited to students who show promise for future leadership in and contribution to public affairs.
Applications will be evaluated according to:

  • The relevance and significance of the proposed research topic to U.S. public policy
  • The quality of written work expressed through the application essay

The selection committee will review all proposals and invite the most promising for interviews.  All applicants will be notified of the committee’s decision in early May.

Eligibility Requirements:

Students must meet the following criteria:

  • Be a Maine resident enrolled at UMaine
  • Be an undergraduate student with a GPA of 3.0 or higher
  • Be registered at the University of Maine for 12 credits or more
  • Have completed 40 degree hours prior to the semester in which student is applying

Scholarship Renewal:

The scholarship may be renewed for up to three years, provided the recipient meets the following requirements:

  • Submits completed project by April 1
  • Continues to make satisfactory progress in his/her academic program
  • Continues to meet the criteria for the award
  • Applies to renew the scholarship by submitting a satisfactory proposal for next year’s project

Current Scholarship Recipient

Jordan Fountain is a student in the College of Education and Human Development, pursuing a degree in the Early Childhood Education. Fountain is guided by Education Professor Emerita Mary Ellin Logue in her research to examine screen-time usage in preschool classrooms. She will survey teachers on how much screen time preschool age children experience within the classroom. Fountain is interested in how to establish appropriate usage of screened devices for Maine’s public school early childhood programs.

2022-2023 Scholarship Recipients

Ellie Pelletier, an Animal and Veterinary Sciences major, plans to become a veterinarian and notes the shortage of veterinarians in many parts of Maine. Ellie’s research focuses on Assessing the Small Animal Veterinary Needs of Rural Maine and will propose a management plan to address the shortage of small animal veterinarians. Ellie was a recipient of this scholarship last year and will be building on her prior research.

Michael Delorge, a Political Science and Biology double major, has a strong interest in public health. He  will examine how demographic factors impact the likelihood of recovery for Mainers struggling with substance use disorder (SUD), particularly within Maine’s Adult Drug Treatment Courts (ADTCs). 

2021-2022 Scholarship Recipient

Ellie Pelletier, an Animal and Veterinary Sciences major from Industry, Maine, has been inspired by her work at veterinary clinics to study the problem of veterinary shortages in Maine. She plans to collect data through surveys and interviews with veterinary clinics to determine what this shortage of vets means for the underserved communities in rural Maine and how the state might address this shortage. Pelletier’s project advisor is Dr. Sue Ishaq, Assistant Professor of Animal and  Veterinary Studies at UMaine. 

2020-2021 Scholarship Recipient

Tom Adams, a Secondary Education major from Falmouth, Maine, builds on his experiences teaching middle school to carry out independent research related to civics education as it is implemented in Maine middle schools. Noting a decline in civics education and civic participation in America, Adams research is aimed at analyzing the implementation, quality, and impact of citizenship education projects undertaken by Maine’s middle school social studies teachers. He plans to collect data through surveys and interviews with teachers. He notes that an essential responsibility of public schooling in civics is to prepare students to participate in a democratic society. Adams’ project advisor is Dr. Rebecca Buchanan, Assistant Professor of Curriculum, Assessment, and Instruction, whose research examines the intersection of educational policy and social justice. 

2019-2020 Scholarship Recipients

Cole Butler, a Mathematics major from Orono, Maine, will work alongside Dr. Peter Stechlinski to develop a mathematical model of the opioid epidemic in the United States. Butler contends that the opioid epidemic is a dynamical system and thus it can be analyzed using mathematical tools to formulate and identify an optimized response, as well as a better understanding of the consequences of policy-makers’ actions in addressing this pressing problem. Building on his work creating dynamic models and simulations for infectious diseases — most notably control strategies for MRSA through patient screening policies — he plans to use mathematics to compare various strategies and methods of control for the opioid epidemic. The aim of this research is to better inform public policy decisions to minimize the dependence on opioids.

Abby Despres, a Political Science major from Fayette, Maine, will work alongside Dr. Robert Glover to investigate the barriers for college students to participate in civic elections. Despres notes the alarming statistic that only 50% of University of Maine students voted in the 2016 presidential election. Using surveys, interviews, and focus groups, Despres will investigate the causes of low voter turnout focusing on motivations and deterrents to vote as well as possible structural and institutional barriers to civic engagement for college students. In collaboration with Dr. Glover she plans on implementing high-impact voter registration efforts and increased volunteer presence through the non-partisan Voter Action Team at UMaine during the presidential election in 2020. The aim of this research is to increase student access to civic engagement, and ensure that local, state, and national leaders represent those whom they govern.

2018-2019 Scholarship Recipient

Alyson East is an Environmental Science major from Calais, Maine. East is working on the Schoodic Ecosystem Services Project to quantify the changes in the Schoodic Peninsula of Acadia National Park due to its recent land acquisition and recreational development. East’s specific interests focus on the issue of carbon sequestration and changes in biodiversity. Her goal is to communicate the full scope of the changes back to land managers at Acadia National Park to inform future management practices. East has collected and analyzed field data in the park, and she plans to continue her work with academic advisor, Dr. Kate Ruskin, of Ecology and Environmental Sciences and Dr. Nick Fisichelli of the Schoodic Institute. This project will serve as West’s senior capstone project and she will present results at the Student Research Symposium in the spring.

2017-2018 Scholarship Recipients

Katie Manzo is a Computer Science major and has focused her research on making it easier for communities to tackle climate change. She plans to expand an online database on energy projects into an interactive platform for the public to reference in planning their own projects.  Groups thinking of starting a particular project will be able to see where else it has been done, how it was funded, with how much capacity, and find contact information so they can learn from others’ experiences. Katie will be working with Dr. Sharon Klein of the School of Economics and Dr. Silvia Nittel of the School of Computing and Information Science. See Katie’s poster presented at the Student Research Symposium. She was also named outstanding graduating student.

Julianna Ferguson is a Sociology Major concentrating in Crime, Law, and Justice with Spanish, Legal Studies, and Political Science minors. Her research analyzes data regarding the impact of mental illness and substance abuse on violence, and she plans to use the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent to Adult Health survey to do so. Her research will help indicate the extent of the impact of mental illness and substance abuse on violence, giving policy makers a better understanding of why some forms of violence are committed by people who fall into this subgroup, and thus where to allocate resources. She is working with Dr. Steven Barkan in the Department of Sociology. Julianna is also a graduate of the Maine NEW Leadership program in 2017.

2016-2017 Scholarship Recipient

Sierra Kuun, a fourth year chemical engineering major, was awarded the 2016-17 scholarship for work carried out at the Mitchell Center for Sustainability Solutions.  Kuun is part of the MItchell Center Materials Management team. Her research project has focused on reduction of household solid waste. She implemented a pilot program at UMaine that gives students the opportunity to divert food scraps and have them converted into compost that is used on campus. She then measured their response to the program and their attitudes about recycling. Sierra presented her work at the UMaine Student Research Symposium on April 24, 2017. Her poster is available to view on our website.

2015-2016 Scholarship Recipients

Allyson Eslin, a third-year student and triple major in Political Science, Psychology, and Economics, studied political decision making as influenced by a person’s psychological and economic attributes. She was awarded third place overall in the undergraduate research poster category.

Garrett Raymond, a fourth year student majoring in Economics,  examined the economic feasibility of additional Maine license plate funding programs.

2014-2015 Scholarship Recipients

Joshua Paredes, a Marketing major, studied the effectiveness of public health marketing strategies for hazing prevention at colleges. Joshua worked with the National Collaborative for Hazing Research and Prevention to carry out his project. Jesse Clark, a Political Science major, designed a project using computer modeling to explore the impact of gerrymandering, entitled “Determining an Expected House Majority Using Pattern Analysis.” Jesse works with researchers in Political Science and in Spatial Information Science and Engineering at UMaine.

2013-2014 Scholarship Recipients

Jordan Nickerson is a junior majoring in Psychology with a minor in Innovation Engineering. Jordan’s original research examines the Bridge Year Program, an initiative for high school students to gain college course credit, bridging the gap between high school and college. Jordan followed the experiences of the pilot year students from Hermon High School. In the course of her research, Jordan  interacted with the Bridge Year Steering and Oversight Committee and members of the Pilot Program participating educational institutions (Hermon High School, Eastern Maine Community College, UMaine, and United Technologies Center).

2012-2013 Scholarship Recipients

Aaron J. Waldman is a junior majoring in Music Education. He has a passion for teaching music and plans to become a public school music teacher. His research sought to assess both visual and aural piano training methods in terms of student enthusiasm and practice habits (assessed through parental evaluation forms); development of playing technique; and student progress (assessed by standards in the UMaine piano proficiency exam). Aaron began with 2 groups of students between the ages of 5 and 9 years who had no prior piano experience. His research found that parents of the visual group reported little or no practicing while parents of the aural group reported practicing three or four days a week. His assessment of technique demonstrated wide variation across students with no relation to training method. The final performance pieces of the aural group were of much higher caliber than those of the visual group. Aaron presented his project as an oral presentation at the 2013 Undergraduate Research and Academic Showcase.

Katrina Martin is in her second year of the public affairs scholarship. She is a junior majoring in civil engineering from Easton, Maine, studying the issue of sprawl and sustainable design in Orono, Maine. Her research involves the study and survey of neighborhoods with regard to walking distance to downtown, parking, and neighborhood design. She hopes to identify elements that influence the choice of commuting by car vs. walking or biking and that contribute to resident satisfaction.

2011-2012 Scholarship Recipients

Miranda Chadbourne is a junior majoring in Nursing. Miranda is a non-traditional student whose interest is improving patient services during emergency care. She is researching the exchange between emergency medical services (EMS) and the emergency department (ED) during patient services, hoping to identify key moments in patient exchange so that they can be improved upon.  She conducted interviews in Bangor hospitals to identify areas of success and needs for improvement.  Miranda’s research identified three key moments in patient exchange: radio reporting; bedside reporting and current run reporting; and documentation systems.

Katrina Martin is a junior majoring in civil engineering from Easton, Maine. She is studying the issue of sprawl and sustainable design in Orono, Maine. Her research involves the study and survey of neighborhoods with regard to walking distance to downtown, parking, and neighborhood design. She hopes to identify elements that influence the choice of commuting by car vs. walking or biking and that contribute to resident satisfaction. Katrina is continuing this research in her second year as a MCS Scholarship recipient. The work was presented at the 3rd Annual Undergraduate Research & Academic Showcase, the University of Maine.

Amber Hathaway is a senior with a double major in Math and Women’s Studies. Her research looks at the experiences of women in the career fields of science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM). She examines these women’s attitudes toward STEM fields and their experience with both high school and collegiate math and sciences to determine if there is a relationship between levels of support received as a student  (from professors, peers, and parents) and the choice of a STEM profession. The work was presented at the 3rd Annual Undergraduate Research & Academic Showcase, the University of Maine.

2010-2011 Scholarship Recipients

Natali Plourde is a junior double majoring in Social Work and Public Administration. Natali is a non-traditional student whose passion is caring and advocating for children.  She has been a foster parent for fifteen years. Her research project is exploring adoption dissolution and state initiatives responding to this issue. She would like intends to research the impact that cutting edge pilot programs that other states are using to help improve adoption dissolution as well as post adoption supports. The work was presented at the 2nd Annual Undergraduate Research & Academic Showcase, Wells Commons, the University of Maine.

Karen Purinton is a senior Environmental Policy major and an Honors College student from Topsham, Maine. She is researching recycling participation rates in Maine municipalities in order to see if the recycling system used has an effect on the participation rate in the town. She hopes her research can be used to identify barriers that can be removed to increase recycling participation. She hopes to pursue a Masters in Community Planning & GIS in the fall. The work was presented at the 2nd Annual Undergraduate Research & Academic Showcase, Wells Commons, the University of Maine.

Ross Wolland is a senior Philosophy and Political Science major with a minor in Law Studies.  He is researching the consistency between campaign promises made during the 2010 Maine Gubernatorial Election and the subsequent policy direction actions taken by the elected official Governor.  He hopes to determine whether policy goals laid out during the campaign translate into actual policy congruent with those goals after taking office.  In the fall of 2011, Ross will be enrolled in the Georgetown University Law Center’s juris doctorate program.

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Peggy McKee