UMF awards Wilson Fellowships and Wilson Scholarships

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FARMINGTON – The University of Maine Farmington has been awarding the Wilson Fellowship and Scholarship to its finest undergraduate students since 2006. Though there are many changes in the education system this year, this tradition held fast. This fall semester, the University awarded three fellowships and one scholarship to students. To be considered, students were required to propose a creative or a research-based project and have a faculty advisor agree to work closely with them in overseeing the project. Those applying for the Fellowship will propose a year-long project, and those applying for the Scholarship will propose a semester-long project.

Samantha Taylor, a Fellowship recipients is a senior from Anson. She is a double major in Visual Arts and Performing Arts. Under the guidance of Ann Bartges, Taylor will be incorporating the skills she has learned in both the visual and performing art departments at UMF to present installations that speak to the state of vulnerability feminine people face online in modern times.

“I am creating a body of artwork titled Moldables for Sale based on the experiences that women, femme, and queer folk face in our expanding digital society. I am using many technological practices such as animation, projection, website development, coding projects, and more to create artworks that access both vulnerable and digital space to expose audiences to the deeper truths of what it means to experience misogyny, hyper-digital commercialism, and societal pressure online,” Taylor said.

For many students like Taylor, winning this award opens up opportunities that they would normally be kept from for monetary reasons.

“I am incredibly excited to be able to generate work that will connect with other people about issues that are important to me. Admittedly, I feel like the pressure is on now, and I don’t want to let anyone down, but that will push me harder to make the best work of my undergraduate career,” Taylor said upon receiving the award.

Emily Kelley, a senior in Environmental Science from Shapliegh, and a recipient of the Wilson Fellowship, will be working on a project involving the study of swift fox populations in the central United States.

“My goal working with my faculty advisor Dr. Schwalm is to assess nucleotide sequence differences in genes associated with behavioral adaptation between the agriculture dwelling swift fox population in Kansas and agriculture avoiding swift fox populations elsewhere. Identifying such differences would indicate an instance of human-induced rapid evolutionary change (HIREC). This knowledge could be used to help inform future restoration and reintroduction projects throughout the swift fox’s native range,” Kelley said.

The recipient of the scholarship is Brian Tibbetts. A senior studying Computer Science, from Sidney, Tibbetts will be spending the next few months creating maps.

“The maps I’m planning to present will describe the major conflicts that took place in East Africa during 2011, when an intense drought hit the area. I want to show how the drought conditions might have affected the relationships between countries and ethnic groups in the region,” Tibbetts said.

According to him, the inspiration for this project came from reading Tropic of Chaos, a book by Christian Parenti, which details the relationship between climate change and social behaviors.

What’s unanimous among the students is a feeling of gratitude for having been recognized by the University as respected academics worthy of support. The completed projects are traditionally presented at the year’s end Symposium for current students, faculty, and members of the community to attend. If that aspect of the Wilson Awards remains has yet to be determined.

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