They do this work for classes, internships, independent studies, and for their senior projects.

  • Poster:

    The Impact of Bald Eagle Predation on Herring Gull Survivorship in Maine, USA

    by Katherine Shlepr

    Local Herring Gull (Larus argentatus) populations in Maine declined over 60% between 1996 and 2008, with several in-shore nesting colonies being completely abandoned (Anonymous 2008). In the same time period, Maine’s Bald Eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) population more than doubled to 450 breeding pairs which concentrate along the coast (Todd and Meehan 2010). Bald eagles living on the coast rely primarily on seabirds for food, and take advantage of the chicks of these other species for easy prey (Todd et al. 1982, Anonymous 2008). I assessed the role of Bald Eagle presence and predation in the decline of Herring Gull colonies throughout mid-coast Maine, using one island in particular to observe eagle and gull behavior.

    Download PDF

  • Poster:

    Bioremediation with Mushrooms

    by Ella Samuel

    Pleurotus ostreatus

    Mushrooms are bioremediators: They break down recalcitrant chemical contaminants, sequester heavy metals, bind toxic metals in the soil, and stimulate microbial metabolism and decomposition, thus promoting vital ecosystem processes in degraded ecosystems. By investigating the potential benefits of Pleurotus ostreatus (oyster mushroom) for modifying contaminated soil from the Callahan Mine, a superfund site in Brooksville, Maine, we are exploring the unique intersection of fungi and conservation biology. (Poster presented at the Botany 2015 conference in Edmonton, Alberta.)

    Read the full abstract

  • Poster:

    Nest Habitat Overlap Between Large Gulls (Larus sp.) and Black Guillemots (Cepphus grylle)

    by Adrianna Beaudette and Clare Anderson

    Large gulls such as the Herring Gull (Larus argentatus) and the Greater Black Backed Gull (Larus marinus) have long been considered negative influences on alcids, including the Black Guillemot (Cepphus grylle). Great Duck Island—a seabird nesting island off the coast of Maine—not only provides nesting sites to approximately 50 pairs of Black Backed Gulls and 1200 pairs of Herring Gulls, but also to an estimated 400 pairs of Black Guillemots. Our study compares the nest locations of gulls and guillemots on the island, in order to determine whether the presence of gulls affects the nesting distribution of the Black Guillemot.

    Download PDF

  • Poem:

    How I Compare to a Snail

    by Maria Hagen

    You called me brave
    for opening my heart to a page…

    Read the entire poem

  • Poster:

    A Natural History Guide to Birds of Mount Desert Island, Maine

    by Anna Stunkel

    As a student, Anna led weekly bird walks around the island. This illustrated guide is the culmination of her senior project.

    Download the Guidebook (PDF)

  • Poster:

    Using Pellet Collection and Chick Regurgitation to Determine the Diet of Herring Gulls (Larus smithsonianus) on Great Duck Island

    by Caroline Brown

    Great Duck Island, home to COA's Alice Eno Field Research Station.

    Great Duck Island is a nesting seabird island located in the Gulf of Maine occupied by over 1200 pairs of gulls. Its proximity to the mainland, 12 km offshore, provides ample opportunity for Herring gulls (Larus smithsonianus) to feed themselves and their offspring in intertidal and freshwater habitats. Its location is also close to several nearby fisheries, including those for lobster and tuna. During June and July 2016, I collected regurgitate samples from adults and juveniles and prey remains around nests during the prefledging and fledging period. Regurgitation
    samples were collected during handling of chicks for growth and banding studies. I used a protocol developed on the isles of Shoals (2016) which included five categories of prey for the Herring gulls of Great Duck Island, and examined the remains in greater detail.

    Download PDF

  • Paper/Essay:

    Progress towards Modeling Red Tides and Algal Blooms

    by Maxim Lowe

    Conditions in the ocean sometimes allow specific species to populate so quickly that these species form dense aggregations of individuals. Many species of microscopic algae in particular are known to form in these dense aggregations, or “blooms.”  

    In this paper, one method of predicting whether or not blooms will occur involves exploring the impact of grazing zooplankton on algae populations, and how the toxin produced by the phytoplankton affects those zooplankton populations. 

    Download PDF

  • Poster:

    Natural History and Breeding Biology of the Black Guillemot

    by Meaghan Lyon

    The Black Guillemot is found breeding on Great Duck Island.  From June 8 until early August I conducted 143 hours of observation and 168 hours of intensive nest searching, finding a total of 176 nests, which I then followed from incubation to hatching and into the chick-provisioning state.

    Download PDF

  • Poster:

    Tracking Derelict Fishing Gear: A Buoy Island Map

    by Robin Owings

    Derelict fishing gear on Great Duck Island

    An ongoing study of drift patterns of lobster buoys and other marine flotsam in order to determine the distribution and origin of marine debris in the Acadia region. During the summer of 2011, 1517 buoys were photographed and documented on Great Duck Island (GDI). These buoys have subsequently been mapped based on likely points of origin according to ownership patterns.

    Download PDF

  • Poem:

    Á la folie

    by Morgan Heckerd

    Please, understand me well.
    Like Milan pleading/bleeding on the white…

    Read the full poem


  • Poem:

    New Orleans, Six Months After

    by Terrence M. Price

    Walk the Ninth Ward,
    mold and brine
    crust air until heavier
    than your footsteps…

    Read the entire poem

  • Poster:

    Revisiting MacArthur’s Classic Study of Niche Partitioning of Spruce Wood Warblers

    by Bik Wheeler

    In 1956 and 1957, Robert H. MacArthur studied the ecology of five species of the genus Setophaga (wood warbler), resulting in contributions to the theory of niche partitioning. MacArthur asserted that the five Setophaga are sympatric species that evolved to occupy separate behavioral niches.

    My methodology was designed to allow a direct comparison with the original study, while utilizing current technology and allowing flexibility in the analysis.

    Download PDF

  • Video:

    “The Baker, Agnes”

    by Navi Whitten

    This is a short documentary for and about Agnes, who has been baking since 1972. It was made in the last two weeks before she closed her shop.

    With Agnes Smit and Robert Phipps

  • Paper/Essay:

    Experiments in Thermophilic Composting Toilet Design

    by Abraham Noe-Hays

    Humanure (the urine and feces of human beings) is a rich source of nutrients that has sustained agricultural systems around the world and throughout the ages. Yet despite humanure’s great potential value, and despite countless examples of its successful reuse set by 100 generations of Asian farmers, most technologically developed nations have come to treat humanure as a waste, fit only for disposal.

    Typically, it is mixed with pure drinking water and flushed into sewers where it mingles with all  manner of industrial toxins.

    It is in this context that I present the following experiment, the goal of which was to develop a toilet system that could compost humanure at temperatures exceeding 55°C, guaranteeing the destruction of all human pathogens. Such a system would create a product that the user could freely, safely, and legally apply to all food crops, thereby closing the nutrient cycle and obviating the need for external fertilizer inputs.

    Download the PDF

  • Poster:

    Great Black Back Gull Predation on Common Eider Ducklings on Great Duck Island, Maine, USA

    by Mikus Abolins-Abols

    The increasing number of Great Black-Back Gulls (Larus marinus) in the North-eastern United States has led to concern about their impact on other species of seabirds. Great Black-Back Gulls are more aggressive predators than the more common Herring Gulls (Larus argentatus), and there is particular concern about their impact on Common Eider (Somateria mollissima) ducklings. Great Duck Island supports a mixed colony of Herring Gulls (1200 nests), Great Black-Back Gulls (55 nests) and Common Eiders (19 nests). In addition, the island serves as a nursery for Eider crèches from nearby Little Duck Island. Most of the research was focused on a single Common Eider nursery in the southern intertidal zone of Great Duck Island that adjoins a major gull colony.

    Download PDF

  • Video:

    Animation: After the ICU

    by Riley Thompson

    A hand-made animation about trauma in the Intensive Care Unit, and the physiological processes that lead to Post-traumatic Stress Disorder.

  • Poster:

    Burrow Distribution and Habitat Parameters in Leach’s Storm Petrel

    by Anna Caroline Perry

    Leach's Storm Petrel

    Historically, efforts to estimate nesting populations of Leach’s Storm Petrel (Oceanodroma leucorhoa) have produced variable results. On Great Duck Island (GDI), census numbers for this species have ranged from 800 to 16,000 breeding pairs (Ambagis 2002). In the most recent census for GDI, Ambagis (2002) calculated that the island supports 9,300 + 6,500 pairs. The high degree of variation in these population estimates may reflect the patchy distribution of this species’ inconspicuous nesting sites, or burrows. To increase the accuracy of future census efforts on GDI, this study sought to refine a model that would account for the distribution of petrel burrows on the island.

    Download PDF

  • Paper/Essay:

    Exploring the Efficiency of Badger Culling in Preventing the Spread of Bovine Tuberculosis in the UK

    by Xochitl Ortiz Ross

    In the UK, incidence of Bovine Tuberculosis (bTB) in cattle has been found to be correlated with incidence of the disease in badgers (Meles meles). Different methods of badger culling have been employed for the control of bTB, but disease incidence has continued to increase. 

    Field studies indicate that culling disrupts badger social structure, leading them to behave in a manner that increases contact rates and hence disease transmission. This paper will demonstrate that culling is indeed likely to increase disease incidence and that this is largely due to social perturbation. 

    Download PDF

  • Video:

    Plastic in Our Oceans: The Story of our Persistent Pollution Problem

    by Marina Garland

    Marina presents her senior project about marine plastic pollution in Frenchman Bay.

  • Paper/Essay:

    Augment, A Novel

    by Heather Hayden

    Augment, by Heather Hayden

    An excerpt from Chapter One:

    It felt like I was flying.

    My sneakers gripped the pavement and pushed off again, one after the other. Leg muscles and implants worked together to send me soaring down the sidewalk. I could feel the contact with hard concrete through my soles as electronic and biological nerves interfaced. The implants that formed my lower legs and right knee were as much a part of me as my elbows, which pumped by my sides.

    Download PDF

  • Paper/Essay:

    Compost and Community: A Case Study

    by Lisa Bjerke

    Through this project I aim to better comprehend COA’s understanding of the human role in managing ecological services on campus.

    I examine the ways in which the community views and engages with the organic material in the campus landscape. Through intimate exploration of the interconnectedness between different activities on campus, I have been able to outline the past and current efforts with composting and organic material management.

    I have gathered historical information around organic material management at COA, and I have organized and structured my own documentation of compost and landscape management. 

    Download PDF

  • Website/Blog:


    by Alisa Nye, dru colbert

    A collaborative document forged by ten different culturally-immersed artists, both students and teachers alike, all with their own take on life and work abroad in Vichy, France.

    Contains photography, journal entries, poetry, and more.

    Read the Blog

  • Presentation:

    Living on the Edge: Gulls and Humans in Off-shore Colonies

    by Lindsey Nielsen and Annie Hart

    This presentation looks at the effects on nesting gull behavior that results from increased interaction between nesting birds and people. The study sites are Mount Desert Rock (MDR) and Great Duck Island (GDI). We find that flush distance increases with distance to nearest neighbor and that Gulls on GDI flush earlier when approached than Gulls on MDR.

    Download PDF

  • Video:

    As Above, So Below

    by Joslyn Richardson

    In this presentation, Josyln shares excerpts of her animation created using microscopes at the Jackson Laboratory in Bar Harbor.

  • Paper/Essay:

    Fiction: The Water Cycle

    by Eloise Schultz

    At some point, she stopped wearing the ring. I noticed when I came home from the library, helping her peel wax off the kitchen counter. When I asked, she told me that it had slipped off while she was swimming and sunk to the bottom of the lake. They searched for it, a gold glint in the mud and pebbles, but soon gave up.

    It made sense that way; there were two things that she had been given by her mother and presumably her mother before that; two things that she managed to find wherever she went; the two things that she would eventually give to me, her eldest daughter: water and loss.Keep reading at

    Download the mp3

  • Website/Blog:

    Learning from the Land

    by Nimisha Bastedo

    Nimisha Bastedo in Yellowknife

    Having grown up in Yellowknife, I am drawn towards returning home to northern Canada as an educator.

    Realizing I had (and still have) much to learn about education in this setting, I am very grateful to the Deh Gáh School staff and community members for being open to having me work with them throughout this project. 

    Visit Project Site

  • Paper/Essay:

    APOE Stabilization by Exercise Prevents Aging Neurovascular Dysfunction and Complement Induction

    by Weronika Grabowska

    COA student Weronika Grabowska is a co-author on a paper detailing the roles that exercise and genetics play with regards to neurovascular aging in mice. The piece shows that exercise from middle to older age preserves the cerebrovascular health, prevents behavioral deficits and reduces age-related neuroinflammation in the cortex and hippocampus in aged mice. Mice deficient in APOE, a gene associated with longevity and Alzheimer’s disease, are resistant to the beneficial effects of exercise, suggesting a possible mediating role for APOE in the maintenance and function of the neurovascular system during aging. The paper appeared in the peer-reviewed journal, PLOS Biology.

    Read the paper

  • Website/Blog:

    Arboretum of Eden

    by Marketa Doubnerova

    Arboretum thumbnail image

    This online collection features information about College of the Atlantic’s on-campus arboretum.

    The site includes printable and interactive maps, history, a botanical glossary, and species information.

    Visit the Site

  • Poster:

    A Vision for Town Hill

    by Land Use Planning Class

    The objective of this presentation was for the Land Use class to report to residents of Town Hill with the results of a visioning session, and to present additional research that may be important to the planning process in general.

    This work is intended to be a stepping off point for further dialog between residents and planners as the Bar Harbor planning office moves ahead to draft a “Mini Plan” for Town Hill. 

    Download the Presentation (PDF)

  • Poster:

    Culvert Operations: Stormwater Management in Ellsworth, Maine

    by Land-Use Planning Class, 2014

    Stormwater infrastructure in various parts of Maine is facing increasingly heavy strain and increasingly frequent failure from stormwater.

    Working with the University of Maine’s Sustainability Solutions Initiative (SSI), we as students had the opportunity to work on an actual problem and do applied work rather than a theoretical study, and the city of Ellsworth was provided with valuable information. 

    Download the PDF

  • Poster:

    Behavioral responses of Herring Gulls, Larus argentatus, to lobster fishing in the eastern Gulf of Maine

    by Yoko Bowen

    Lobster fishing is an iconic element of communities in Downeast Maine. Lobster traps are typically baited with herring, Clupea harengus, which is discarded when traps are pulled. Some lobstermen toss bait immediately overboard, while others bucket the bait for later disposal. Prior studies show that a significant portion of food fed to young gulls in Maine consists of lobster bait discards. During the summer of 2008, I observed gulls responding to lobster boats fishing in the vicinity of Great Duck Island, an off-shore island in the western Gulf of Maine. Over the course of 6 weeks I was able to observe gull behavior around 30 boats, with repeat observations of vessels concentrating their activity in the immediate vicinity of the island. I also analyzed 20 samples of food boli regurgitated by young gulls during banding procedures. Flock sizes around boats were recorded for fishing vessel behaviors that included rapid transit, slow, stop, turn, hauling trap, trap up, toss lobster and bait over. Gull numbers in the vicinity of lobster boats increased in apparent response to visual cues from gulls already over boats and also to lobster boat activity. Peak numbers of gulls (Max = 57) were observed over boats that were actively tossing bait. Some gulls persisted in following boats that were not throwing bait, although flock size never exceeded 12. Eight out of 20 sample food boli contained lobster bait. Bait was found in samples collected on both clear and extremely foggy days, suggesting that gulls may also use aural cues to locate fishing vessels.

    Download PDF

  • Poster:

    An Examination of Potential Predation threats to the Common Eider at a Mixed Offshore Seabird Colony

    by Nina Duggan

    During 141 hours of observation on Great Duck Island there were a total of five predation attempts by great black-backed gulls on eider chicks, with no successful predation.There was stalking behavior exhibited by harbor and grey seals, and predation attempts observed by bald eagles. The defensive behavior of the female eiders proved to be effective against predation with no successful predation upon their chicks observed.

    Download PDF

  • Website/Blog:

    Blog: A Lot of Yesterdays

    by Emily Peterson

    I am interested in aging, and how our society views old age. 

    I created this blog as a way to inform the Mount Desert Island (MDI) community on current news and research regarding elderly care. I include interviews, entries on dementia care, caring for caregivers, medications, exercise, and more.

    Visit the Blog

  • Poem:


    by Shir Orner

    i dreamt of you, crushed
    under the wing of a plane,
    and i wasn’t sorry…

    Read the entire poem

  • Poster:

    Preferential Utilization of Rocky Coastline Habitat by Herring Gulls

    by Aspen Reese

    Herring Gull on rocky habitat

    The Herring Gull (Larus argentatus) has an extensive Holarctic distribution encompassing many habitat types. In order to isolate possible factors contributing to nesting site selection, this study analyzed the effects of territoriality concerns, presence of nesting Great Blackbacked Gulls, and chick survivorship as a function of habitat choice.

    Download PDF

  • Paper/Essay:

    Lyme Disease in Maine: The Science and Stories of an Emerging Epidemic

    by Ellie Oldach

    Lyme disease is the most prevalent vector-borne disease reported in the United States, and it is spreading particularly quickly in Maine. 

    My project is titled “The Science and Stories of Lyme Disease”, and throughout the research process, I constantly rediscovered how deeply these two aspects intertwined. Scientific articles and community conversations fed off of each other, and built into my growing understanding of the spider web-like nature of this disease. 

    Download PDF

  • Poster:

    New Species of Lichens in Hawaii

    by Ian Medieros


    Of 14 species of [lichens] … collected on the islands of Oahu, Maui, and Kaua‘i, eight are new to science. (Poster presented at the Botany 2015 conference in Edmonton, Alberta.)

    Read the full abstract.

  • Video:

    This Dark Sea

    by Moses Bastille

    “This Dark Sea” is the culminating animation of Moses’s research about underwater exploration and deep sea creatures.

  • Poster:

    Herring Gull and Greater Black Backed Gull Chick Growth on Great Duck Island

    by Audra Novine McTague

    Two assistants and I selected 34 nests that were checked on a daily basis as long as the weather was not too cold or wet for the chicks

    The strong correlation between the age of both species of gulls and their weight, as well as the correlation between their age and head to bill length, is a strong enough indicator to predict either measurements based on their age, and age can also be predicted based on the chick’s head to bill length.

    Download PDF

  • Poster:

    Predation on Common Eider Ducklings on Great Duck Island

    by Sarah E.A. Spruce

    Whale watching takes time.

    Since the 1920s, Great Black-Backed Gulls have increased in frequency in the Gulf of Maine, raising concerns over possible effects on Common Eider populations from over-predation.

    In order to assess whether predation rates on ducklings by Great Black-Backed Gulls are affected by human disturbances, particularly researcher created disturbance, we observed a Common Eider nursery from a vantage point that nullified observer effects.

    Download PDF

  • Paper/Essay:

    A Study of Cooperation Waves in the Spatial Iterated Prisoners Dilemma

    by Aura F. Silva

    The model presented in this paper aims to provide a powerful insight on the classic Spatial Iterated Prisoners Dilemma game, and “how an invading wave of Tit-for-Tat (TFT) individuals could invade a hostile population dominated by an Always-Defect (AD) strategy.”

    This particular form of the game has previously been studied in a one-dimensional system. The main contribution of this paper is an adaptation to provide a 2-dimensional version that can be reproduced and analyzed.  

    Download PDF

  • Sound/Audio Recording:

    Live at the Gates Auditorium

    by Nathaniel Hillard

    The Nathaniel Hilliard Sextet recorded a digital album during their performance of Nathaniel’s original compositions.

    Listen to the album

  • Website/Blog:

    Podcasting the Human Body

    by Emily Hollyday


    When I was in 5th grade, my classmate, Luke, and my teacher, Mr. Eaton, both had diabetes. Many of us in the class wondered why Luke could have gatorade in the middle of class and why Mr. Eaton often checked the blue device that he wore on his hip. 

    My aim is to create educational podcasts and life science modules in which students learn about concepts in science through personal stories. 

    Visit Project Site

  • Poster:

    Assembling a Geology Teaching Collection

    by Tyler Prest, Jane Strader, and Miranda Galey

    Over the past two years, various COA students and community members have been building a geological teaching college. The collection is used by COA classes, and the goal is that this collection can be used for future study of the geology of Mount Desert Island.

    Download the PDF