Introducing Maine SSN Policy Fellows 2023-24

In the 2023-2024 academic year, the Maine Chapter of SSN is thrilled to continue its "Policy Fellows" initiative, now in its second year. The goal is to provide tailored one-on-one support for scholars and researchers to amplify their public voice and maximize their policy impact (particularly those early in their career or those looking to embark upon new, public-facing work). The Maine Chapter is excited to welcome ten new policy fellows across a range of academic disciplines and institutions within Maine. 

2023-2024 Maine SSN Policy Fellows:

  • Jen Blossom (University of Maine)
  • Elena G. Maker Castro (Bates College)
  • Colleen Coffey (Maine Community College System and the Maine Department of Corrections)
  • Sarah Fucillo (Husson University)
  • Abhilasha Kumar (Bowdoin College)
  • Colleen Marzilli (University of Maine)
  • Irina Popescu (Bowdoin College)
  • Jessica Salley Riccardi (University of Maine)
  • Anamika Sen (Bates College)
  • Patty Williams (University of Maine, Farmington)
University of Maine
Jen Blossom

Jen Blossom (she/her/hers), PhD is a Clinical Child Psychologist and Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychology at the University of Maine. Dr. Blossom received her PhD in Clinical Child Psychology from the University of Kansas (Rock Chalk!). She completed her predoctoral internship and postdoctoral fellowship training at the University of Washington/Seattle Children’s Hospital. As a member of the Clinical Faculty at UMaine, Dr. Blossom maintains an active program of research, mentors doctoral and undergraduate students, and teaches at both the graduate and undergraduate levels. Dr. Blossom has research and clinical expertise in youth internalizing problems, including anxiety, depression, and suicide prevention and maintains an active clinical role through consultation and training of primary care-based clinicians and community providers and supervision of graduate trainees. Dr. Blossom’s program of research employs an implementation science approach to improve community capacity to identify and intervene for youth with mental health problems, including enhancing service delivery, efficiency, access, and engagement. In particular, Dr. Blossom’s research evaluates the effectiveness and implementation of evidence-based interventions (EBIs) within pediatric primary care and community settings with the ultimate goal of realizing a public health impact of EBIs for common youth mental health concerns.

Bates College

Elena G. Maker Castro is an Assistant Professor of Psychology at Bates College. Her research focuses on how adolescents and young adults pursue social change and civic engagement in relation to their developmental trajectories, contexts, and social identities (e.g., their racial-ethnic and gender identities). She uses civic engagement and sociopolitical development frameworks and I often consider youth’s civic development in relation to their wellbeing. She situates her work within the contemporary sociopolitical climate and seek to build collaborative research relationships with local and national community and research partners. She also strives to contribute to Maine’s thriving civic life through better understanding and amplifying youth leaders.

Maine Community College System and the Maine Department of Corrections
Colleen Coffey

Colleen Coffey is an Education Equity and Advancement Coordinator in a joint position between the Maine Community College System and the Maine Department of Corrections. In this role she is tasked with connecting vocational, technical, and trade education opportunities between the organizations to expand enrollment and credential completion for MDOC residents. In her previous role, she worked for the University of Maine at Augusta for 8 years supporting at-risk students and assisting the prison education partnership there. She holds a bachelor’s degree in history from the University of Maine at Machias, a master’s degree in higher education from the University of Southern Maine, and is now completing her PhD in higher education at the University of Maine. The focus of her research is studying how incarcerated students successfully reenter their communities after prison and remain in school to successfully complete their education. Colleen lives with her teenage daughter and large black cat in Bangor, Maine. In her spare time, she enjoys cooking and traveling whenever possible.

Husson University

Sarah Fucillo, Ph.D., NCC, is an Assistant Professor in the College of Science and Humanities in the Graduate Counseling Program at Husson University. She went to Thomas College for undergrad double majoring in Psychology and Criminal Justice. Her goal to bridge the criminal justice and mental health worlds led her to earn a MS in Clinical Mental Health Counseling from the University of South Alabama and Ph.D. in Counselor Education and Supervision from Auburn University. She has experience as a counselor in a variety of settings including a juvenile detention facility, a crisis residential unit, a family and children community mental health agency, and a university counseling center. Sarah’s research interests include trauma-related topics, such as: vicarious trauma, race-based trauma, trauma-informed care, trauma-informed supervision, and counselor wellness. She is a co-founder of an intercollegiate research team. They aim to contribute to the body of literature for the counseling field while also supporting the development of research skills of doctoral and masters students. She is thankful to be able to contribute to Maine by educating future mental health and school counselors who will go on to serve in their communities. Sarah’s favorite place to be is her family’s camp in Blue Hill, ME. She enjoys the water, cookouts, kayaking, and s’mores with her family and friends.

Bowdoin College

Abhilasha Kumar is a computational cognitive scientist and Assistant Professor of Psychology at Bowdoin College in Maine. She completed her Ph.D. at Washington University in St. Louis. Her research focuses on understanding different aspects of human cognition, such as how individuals search through memory for concepts, how language is acquired and used, and how core cognitive capacities contribute to complex social behaviors such as helping and cooperation. Her work uses a combination of gamified and behavioral experiments, computational modeling, and statistical inference. She teaches classes on conducting empirical research in cognitive science, as well as the scientific and sociocultural implications of artificial and human intelligence research.

University of Maine
Colleen Marzilli

Colleen Marzilli, PhD, DNP, MBA, APRN, FNP-BC, CNE, NEA-BC, PHNA-BC, CCM, MedSurg-BC, FNAP is a passionate nurse educator and researcher. She is an alumna of The University of Texas at Tyler and The University of Tennessee Health Science Center at Memphis. She teaches and serves undergraduate and graduate nursing students while conducting research in cultural competence, health disparities, health systems issues, nursing issues, and leadership. She empowers students and promotes student success by serving students as a role model for professionalism and excellence, including cultural competence and implicit bias. She has numerous publications, book chapters, podium and poster presentations, grants, and has given lectures internationally. She serves the profession as a peer-reviewer for several research journals, grants, and conferences. She has led in many capacities including on the board of UT Health East Texas; Sigma, the International Honor Society for Nursing; Texas Nurses Association; and the Global Education Development Institute.

Bowdoin College

Irina Popescu is an Assistant Professor of Latin America, Caribbean, and Latinx Studies at Bowdoin College. Her work focuses on the intersections between human rights and cultural production in the Americas, with an emphasis on women, gender, and sexuality issues and discourses. Her current book project investigates the use of narrative empathy within the human rights novel in North and South America from 1979 to the present. She is interested in policy issues surrounding educational policies in K-12 classrooms and within higher educational spaces, the teaching of critical race and gender issues and texts within these classrooms, women rights issues, LGBTQ+ representations and rights, as well as more local issues impacting culture, inclusivity, and immigration within Maine and New England.

University of Maine
Jessica Riccardi

Jessica Salley Riccardi, PhD CCC-SLP, is an Assistant Professor and the director of the Brain injury, Education, and Rehabilitation (BEaR) Lab at the University of Maine. Her research interests include long-term outcomes for children with brain injury, particularly in the area of cognitive-communication and for high risk groups. As a speech-language pathologist, her research aims to inform multidisciplinary practices and policies for individuals who experienced a brain injury during childhood. During her doctoral training, Dr. Riccardi was an American Speech-Language-Hearing Foundation New Century Doctoral Scholar. She is passionate about mentoring students to be exceptional clinicians and researchers.

Bates College
Anamika Sen

Anamika Sen is an Assistant Professor of Economics at Bates College. Her research interests are centered around macroeconomics, finance, and the economics of gender. In her current research, she studies the role of macroeconomic policies in impacting gender inequality. Anamika earned her PhD in Economics from the University of Massachusetts Amherst in May 2023. Originally from India, she earned her MA in Economics from Jawaharlal Nehru University and her BA (with honors) in Economics from Jadavpur University. When not working, she enjoys exploring restaurants and trying new cuisines, spending time on beaches, and hiking.

University of Maine, Farmington
Patty Williams

Dr. Patty Williams is a Professor of Early Childhood Education and Division Chair for Teacher Education, Health, and Rehabilitation Services at the University of Maine, Farmington. She has been awarded two University of Maine System Grants designed to address the teacher shortage, especially in rural communities in Maine. The first is a Rural Health and Well-Being Challenge Grant for a project examining the teacher shortage in rural, low income communities. The second is a Maine Jobs and Recovery Program Small Campus Initiative Grant which is funding two projects. One is a resilience promotion program for pre-service teachers (Making Maine Teachers Strong), designed to strengthen the future teacher workforce. The second is a comprehensive support program to bolster the mentoring support provided to new teachers in rural areas (The New Teacher Academy) in order to improve the retention of early career teachers. She holds a B.A. from the University of Rochester and a Ph.D. in Applied Child Development from Tufts University.