FARMINGTON — The University of Maine at Farmington’s 2010 Harvey Aft Award for Excellence in Chemistry was recently awarded to Jennifer Baum, a sophomore from Union; and to John Leso, a junior from Chesterville. In addition to the recognition of their high academic achievement, Baum and Leso also received matching monetary awards of $1,500 at the annual UMF Michael D. Wilson Symposium where they presented the results of their original research projects.

The Harvey Aft Award for Excellence in Chemistry is an annual monetary award given to UMF students who have excelled in upper-level chemistry courses, have outstanding general scholarship, have demonstrated interest in chemistry, project a positive attitude toward the field and other criteria the UMF chemistry faculty deem appropriate.

Named to the dean’s list each of her semesters at UMF, Baum is majoring in secondary education in science with a concentration in both chemistry and biology. Her passion for science is evident in her learning experiences beyond the classroom, including her work with the Northeast Undergraduate Research and Development Symposium analyzing the effects of road salt on residential wells, her research conducted at St. John in the Virgin Islands on the effects of habitat complexity on diversity in the coral reefs and her recent acceptance to the upcoming mini medical school program through Maine Medical Center and Tufts University.

A non-traditional student majoring in biology, Leso is building on a previous bachelor’s degree in psychology and considering a career in the medical profession. He has been named to the dean’s list each of his semesters at UMF and has found the experience both challenging and rewarding. He will serve an internship this summer at Bates College with the Maine IDeA Network of Biomedical Research studying the prenatal effects of environmental stresses.

The Harvey Aft Award was established in 1996 with a gift from Harvey Aft (1969 to 1990), UMF professor emeritus, who after his retirement from a 21-year teaching career, was looking for a way to celebrate student achievement and help students pursue graduate degrees in chemistry.