Fulbright Fellowship Awarded


Alexis Baxter, who graduated in Spring, 2012 with a double major in Biochemistry and Environmental Chemistry, has been awarded a prestigious Fulbright Fellowship. Alexis will spend a year working with Professor Rolf Vogt in the Department of Chemistry at the University of Oslo, Norway. In June 2010, the Norwegian government adopted the EU Water Framework Directive (WFD). Alexis’ research project will support Norway’s efforts to meet the guidelines of the WFD. She will study the role of dissolved natural organic matter (DNOM) on the cycling of eutrophying nutrients in the Vansjø Lake and Morsa watercourse and adjacent catchments.

In addition to her double majors, Alexis also completed an Honors in the Major undergraduate thesis under the supervision of Professor Bill Cooper. Her project focused on maximizing the potential of algae as a source of biofuels. In her research, various algal strains were “stressed” and the lipid quality and content at different physiological stages assessed. Under stress (i.e. nutrient-limited) conditions, algae produce triacylglycerols (TAGs) that act as reservoirs of energy and carbon and which are deposited in the cytoplasm of cells. Alexis’ studies demonstrated that some algal strains could produce up to 50% of their biomass in the form of lipids when they were grown under such nutrient-limiting conditions. Alexis also showed that the longer the algae were stressed, the higher the energy content and stability of the stored lipids.

Alexis plans to intern with the EPA during the summer, doing a GIS mapping of the watershed boundaries and storm-water drainage system in Maine. Following her Fulbright tenure, Alexis will attend Pennsylvania State University where she plans to pursue a Ph.D. in Chemistry.

"I am very honored and humbled to have been named a Fulbright Scholar of 2012 - 2013 to Norway. It shows that with hard work, prestigious dreams, and a supportive department, you can accomplish anything. This is a stepping stone for all the things I desire to accomplish and a great start to the rest of my life. It is going to be a phenomenal year. " – Alexis Baxter


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