Trenckmann wins two top awards at the University of Maine Student Symposium

Betsy Trenckmann, a graduate student advised by Dr. Michelle Smith, won both the best presentation in the education category, as well as the Presidential Research Impact Award! The Research Impact award is given to both the graduate student and his/her advisor in recognition of research that has a potentially significant impact to the people of Maine, and that exemplifies the University’s tri-partite mission of teaching, research and public service.

Betsy’s presentation, entitled “Collaborating Across the University of Maine System to Improve Student Understanding of the Role of Energy and Matter in Photosynthesis,” was co-authored with Erin Vinson, Karen Pelletreau, Kimberly Borges-Therien, Farahad Dastoor, Jason Johnston, Eric Jones, Peter Nelson, Jenn Page, Nancy Prentiss, Judith Roe, Joseph Staples, and Michelle Smith. The presentation described developing a student-centered in-class activity and common assessment questions to help students learn about matter and energy, and to explore how and why increased carbon dioxide would impact certain industries. The activity was put together by life science faculty from six University of Maine System campuses and their industry partner, Hurricane Island Center for Science and Leadership. It was taught in 13 classrooms throughout the University of Maine System, and student learning and faculty observation data were used to iteratively revise the instructional materials. Data were collected on how the activity improved student learning and how combining the expertise of University of Maine System faculty throughout the state and the Hurricane Island Center for Science and Leadership provided the opportunity to integrate biological concepts with economic development.