ORONO — Biochemistry major Bailey West, of Stockton Springs, is the University of Maine 2021 valedictorian and mechanical engineering major Drew Bennett, of Brewer, is this year’s salutatorian.
“We are very proud of these two exceptional students,” says UMaine President Joan Ferrini-Mundy, in a news release. “Both Bailey and Drew have excelled in all that they have pursued at UMaine and have made their own significant contributions as engaged students – Bailey in the laboratory as part of a team studying a harmful toxicant, and Drew in the Advanced Manufacturing Center involved in 3D modeling and machining. We look forward to seeing just how far their talents will take them.”
West also is the Outstanding Graduating Student in the College of Natural Sciences, Forestry, and Agriculture. The honors student and Maine Top Scholar is the recipient of the Society of Toxicology Undergraduate Research Award and the George J. Mitchell Peace Scholarship. In spring 2020, West studied abroad at University College Cork.
West has been involved in research since high school, first with scientists at The Jackson Laboratory, MDI Biological Laboratory and Maine Medical Center, and then at UMaine with professor Julie Gosse. Her honors thesis is titled, “Oral-care antimicrobial cetylpyridinium chloride inhibits mast cell function: role of tyrosine phosphorylation cascade.”
On campus, she has been a peer tutor and teaching assistant, and a student ambassador for the Honors College and the Study Abroad Program.
“I was drawn to UMaine for the extensive opportunities to engage in undergraduate-driven research in my home state,” says West. “UMaine strikes a great balance between a tight-knit community and a wealth of opportunities limited only by your imagination. Whenever I have wanted to pursue something here, there has been a mentor who has helped me find or create an avenue to do so.”
This summer, West will participate in The Jackson Lab’s Summer Student Program, a 10-week research fellowship in mammalian genetics and genomics. She plans to pursue a doctorate in pathobiology at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine this fall.
Bennett, who has a minor in robotics, has received Mid-South Engineering scholarships and the Thomas P. Hosmer Scholarship. Throughout his time on campus, Bennett has been an undergraduate research assistant in the Advanced Manufacturing Center. Last year, he also was a manufacturing intern with General Electric in Bangor and is currently an education application engineering intern with PTC in Boston.
On campus, Bennett is president of Black Bear Robotics and of the UMaine NASA Robotic Mining Challenge Team. In the community, he mentors youth robotics teams, including one at Brewer High School and one at Bucksport High School.
“I would define the opportunities for student success as both unique and endless,” says Bennett. “There are so many different research opportunities, internships, and on-campus jobs that allow students to explore their passions and find success in the fields they care about.”
Bennett has accepted a full-time position as an education technical services engineer at PTC, where he will work with teachers, students and STEM organizations to implement the company’s software technology.
About the University of Maine:
The University of Maine, founded in Orono in 1865, is the state's land grant, sea grant and space grant university. It is located on Marsh Island in the homeland of the Penobscot Nation. As Maine's flagship public university, UMaine has a statewide mission of teaching, research and economic development, and community service. UMaine is the state's only public research university and among the most comprehensive higher education institutions in the Northeast. It attracts students from all 50 states and more than 75 countries. UMaine currently enrolls 11,741 undergraduate and graduate students who have opportunities to participate in groundbreaking research with world-class scholars. UMaine offers more than 100 degree programs through which students can earn master's, doctoral or professional science master's degrees, as well as graduate certificates. The university promotes environmental stewardship, with substantial efforts campuswide to conserve energy, recycle and adhere to green building standards in new construction. For more information about UMaine, visit umaine.edu.