Peter R. Nelson
PhD - Ecology
Department of Botany & Plant Pathology, Oregon State University, Corvallis, OR
B.S. Resource Conservation
College of Forestry & Conservation, University of Montana, Missoula, MT
I am currently on a 2 yr leave from the University to serve as an ORISE faculty scholar with US Forest Service in Washington, DC as the lichen biomonitoring coordinator for the Air Resources Management division. My duties are to analyze, design, synthesize and educate people about biomonitoring data for the agency, with a focus on lichens. As a faculty member at the University, I teach courses in biological sciences and environmental studies at the University of Maine-Fort Kent. In my teaching, I incorporate research experiences and skills, such as data manipulation, scientific writing and field and laboratory methods. My goals as a teacher are to both encourage active learning through engaging in-class experiences as well as to provide career-oriented skill-based outcomes.
In my research, I focus on lichens (fungal/algal/cyanobacterial symbioses) through a variety of perspectives including communities, single-species models, landscape-level problems, disturbance ecology, remote sensing and climate change.
Current Lab Members
Catherine is a Master’s student at the University of Maine’s School of Forest Resources and is co-advised by Peter Nelson. She is originally from Lincoln, Maine and holds a degree in Marketing from Boston College. Her initial interest in environmental studies was sparked from a core class in river morphology that evolved into a pursuit in understanding various aspects of climate change and global feedbacks. She has spent the past few years as an administrative assistant at a Cambridge biotech. Catherine enjoys playing tennis, traveling, reading Quora, and trying new craft beers. She is very excited to be part of the Nelson Lab!
As an undergraduate at the University of Maineat Fort Kent, I’ve been studying environmental science with a concentration in geographic information systems. I have always had an unbounded ‘spectrum’ of interests. Ever since I was a first-year student, I’ve been interested inGIS, especially working with LiDAR derived map products. My interests have recently expanded towards multispectral signature datasets, such as Landsat, which has proven to be a vigorous interest. This said, I am pleased to have the opportunity to work in the Nelson Spectroscopy Lab where I will be populating hyperspectral datasets with species-specific lichens, plot-specific flora, and soils.
I am from Limerick, Maine, and have been interested in the studies of biology and botany since I was in elementary school. I was privileged to grow up in a very rural area, which eventually also drew me to UMFK and their biology department. My intended major is biology with a concentration in botany, and a minor in education. Currently, I am working on a few different projects in the lab, including TLC for New England and Chilean lichens, as well as identification of Maine bryophytes.
Kevaughan Smith is a freshman at the University of Maine at Fort Kent. He is originally from Portland, Jamaica where he attended Port Antonio High School. During this time, he participated in Soccer, Tracks, the Math club and the Environmental club. Kevaughan continues to keep active within the University as he is a part of the UMFK Men’s soccer team and track team. As an Environmental Studies major who has a passion for plant science, he finds working in the woods of Maine to be thrilling. Kevaughan is currently a part of a collaborative research that involves measuring forest understory composition and abundance in. He will be identifying trees, shrubs, other plants (mosses, lichens forbs) and abiotic components throughout the summer. Kevaughan wishes to pursue a career in the field of Environmental Science as he enjoys nature and what it has to offer.
Former Lab Members
I am from Upstate New York and study Biology with a concentration in Zoology. I originally came up to the Fort Kent for Biathlon and cross country ski racing. I enjoy the outdoors and the beautiful environment of Northern Maine. The project I am working on involves identifying trees, shrubs and other plants throughout the Maine woods. We will be spending a lot of time in the woods this summer and am very excited! I hope to go into the environmental biology field in the future, focusing on animals and creating a better way for humans and animals to coexist mutually in the environment. I am currently still an undergraduate at UMFK.
I am from Townsend, Massachusetts and ever since I was a little kid, I have been intrigued by scientific topics, mostly astronomy. In 2010, I began attending the University of Wyoming and I was majoring in astrophysics. Leap ahead to present time and I am currently an environmental science major with a concentration in park ranger/game warden here at the University of Fort Kent. I currently work with Peter Nelson in the Lichen Spectroscopy Lab here on campus. We are putting together a formal library of spectral signatures of various lichens from around Maine, Canada, Alaska and Chile. I have since moved on to another University to complete my studies.
Mikaela Paluszek is a four year senior at the University of Maine Fort Kent from Farmington, NH. This is her first year working in the lab. She is currently working with DNA to understand population genetics of vagrant lichen patches in the Atacama desert in Chile. Mikaela is a very avid outdoors person, as a nordic skier by nature, learning to work with the different areas and subjects that are part of the great outdoors is an exciting and new avenue that she enjoys learning more about everyday. Mikaela hopes to continue her biology career path past graduation into either a teaching field, or a graduate program. She now teaches at a private highschool in New England.
I’m originally from Presque Isle but came to Ft Kent to ski on the biatholon team and study biology. During my time at UMFK, I worked with Peter collecting and identification of lichen samples in Maine and northern Chile. I also did Thin Layer Chromatography and DNA extraction/amplification with some of those lichens samples. Peter also helped guide me on a project I was working on about the phylogenetic classification of Furbish's lousewort (Pedicularis furbishiae), a federally engandered, endemic plant found only in northern Maine. I am focusing on the clade containing the Furbish lousewort to resolve its sister species. I plan to further education in a graduate program but I am currently working for the Mount Desert Island Biological Labs in Dr. Dustin Updike's lab. In the Updike lab, we study a species of roundworm to answer questions about the germline.
Contact me here.