Maddie Hallowell ’20 grew up in North Haven, Maine, an island community in Penobscot Bay. For her family and neighbors, the effects of climate change are immediate.

“I recognize the changes that are happening in the coastal system and the ecosystem,” she says.

With the guidance of Bates professors, Hallowell discovered the value of data collection, primarily through sensors deployed along the coast. She designed an interdisciplinary major incorporating digital and computational studies and geology, and her senior thesis involves developing a sensor that can be attached to lobster traps.

“I want there to be a future for where I live and for there to be a place that I can come back to when I’m older,” Hallowell says. “I think that getting this information will help solidify my ability to do that.”

To expand and hone her abilities, Hallowell has devoted her extracurricular time to collecting data in another direction — straight up — with the High Altitude Ballooning Club.


Video by Theophil Syslo.

For a recent launch, club president Hallowell and the rest of the student team rose at 5 a.m. to drive to New Hampshire, where they launched a balloon filled with 200 cubic feet of helium dozens of miles into the atmosphere.

When the team retrieved the balloon two hours later in central Maine, along with sensors that measured things like temperature, pressure, and humidity, “it felt like we had done something really big,” Hallowell says.

“Data collecting really excites me,” she adds. “You expect what you’re going to see, and then you can get a whole new frame of information, and it can completely change what you thought.”

Madison "Maddie" Hallowell ’19 of North Haven, Maine, Interdisciplinary Studies,High Altitude Ballooning Club leader, fills a ballon with helium on November 9, 2019.

Maddie Hallowell ’19 of North Haven, Maine, fills a high-altitude balloon with helium before a launch on Nov. 9, 2019. (Theophil Syslo/Bates College)

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