Chemical engineering major Sierra Yost of Windham, Maine is the 2020 University of Maine valedictorian, and Grace Smith of Holden, Maine, a molecular and cellular biology major, is this year’s salutatorian.
Both Honors College students have been peer tutors and are members of All Maine Women. They also are community volunteers with young athletes active in running or track and field. And both are runners.
Yost is a member of the cross-country, and track and field teams. Her honors thesis focuses on the application of cellulose nanofibers as an alternative to plastics in disposable utensils. She completed a two-term co-op with Onyx Specialty Papers in South Lee, Massachusetts — an opportunity that she credits with sparking her love of research, which has inspired her to pursue a Ph.D. in chemical engineering.
Yost is a Mitchell Scholar, and Pulp and Paper Scholar. She is a member of the UMaine chapter of Engineers Without Borders, and was named to the America East All-Academic Team 2018.
Smith received a 2019 Goldwater Scholarship and an Undergraduate Research in Comparative Functional Genomics Senior Fellowship. She is a member of UMaine Club Track, and was a teaching assistant and Maine Learning Assistant. Her honors thesis research focuses on identifying novel regulatory genes that modulate phenotypic severity in muscular dystrophy.
Smith was selected for the Novartis Institutes for BioMedical Research Scientific Summer Scholars Program in Cambridge, Massachusetts and the Amgen Research Scholars Program at Washington University in St. Louis.
Smith will enter a two-year post-baccalaureate program at the National Institutes of Health. She then plans to pursue a dual M.D./Ph.D.