Amara Ifeji is a nationally award-winning water quality scientist from Bangor—who just graduated high school.
She was recently awarded the 2020 Harvard Pilgrim Health Care Foundation Healthy Food Champion.
Ifeji started a research project that she continued under the mentorship of teachers at Bangor High School’s STEM Academy. Last summer, she earned a Best of Category in Plant Sciences at the International Science and Engineering Fair in Phoenix, AZ. Ifeji showed how arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi, known to farmers to increase crop yield, also protects plants from heavy metals in the water.
In addition to her water quality research achievements, Ifeji founded the Minority Student Union at Bangor High School, creating a space that also included students “in the majority” and worked on developing cultural competence and finding places to spark change.
She also organized a school-wide discussion about anti-bias that brought in local leaders and diversity-and-inclusion training instructors—a tough feat, she says, in a school not known for assemblies.
Olivia Griset, Executive Director of the Maine Environmental Education Association, nominated Ifeji for a Source Award and wrote, “Amara exemplifies transformational leadership. [She] fills me with hope for a Maine that is more just and sustainable.”