TREMONT—University of Maine student Abigail Muscat is in good company. She is the fourth student from the college to be named a 2020 Ernest F. Hollings Undergraduate Scholar by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
Muscat, who is a marine sciences major and international affairs minor, is scheduled to receive a two-year academic scholarship and opportunity for a 10-week summer internship, as well as participate in two national science conferences as a chosen scholar. She is one of 123 Hollings scholars named this year from around the country.
“I have a passion for ornithology, as well as marine science,” Muscat told the Islander recently. “Atlantic puffins are one of my favorite species.”
While one of the places she is most interested in is the Arctic because of her interest in birds and marine mammals, Muscat is looking forward to exploring the western coast of the United States during her internship, slated to take place next summer.
A resident of Massachusetts until she graduated high school in 2018, Muscat then moved to Mount Desert Island with her family. As a student at UMO, Muscat has taken on the roles of research assistant with Maine Sea Grant and lab assistant in the Klemmer and Jayasundara labs.
In each of these roles, she takes different approaches to science. With Maine Sea Grant, Muscat’s role is focused on project communications through social media and other outlets. Food web interactions are the focus of the Klemmer lab where Muscat works to identify and sort invertebrate species found in rockweed samples.
Her work in the Jayasundara lab is in collaboration with MDI Biolab and focuses on well water contaminants and their effects on zebrafish embryos. It is interesting to see what the regulations are and what falls under the radar, Muscat explained about the work.
“This project really has a strong human health impact to it, which is why I really enjoy it,” she said, noting that is also the reason she added the international studies minor. “A lot of marine and climate change discussions are policy related.”
Muscat is a student of the Honors College and facilitates a course called Currents and Contexts. She also recently earned her scuba diving certification, is a member of UMO’s equestrian team and vice president of the Marine Science Club. Through the last group, Muscat was excited to be able to attend the release of a rehabilitated seal at Popham Beach in Phippsburg.