Fenceviewer, the community news and information website for Hancock County, Maine, recently published the article titled “Developers hoping for big impact from first offshore wind energy turbine in U.S.” The article is about VolturnUS, the turbine developed by the University of Maine-led DeepCwind Consortium, and how investors hope it will positively affect how electricity is produced.
The Bangor Daily News reported Black Bear Sports Properties, a division of Learfield Sports and multimedia rights holder for UMaine athletics, has made a five-year agreement with Blueberry Broadcasting and Waterfront Communications to air UMaine athletic events on the radio. All football, men’s ice hockey, basketball, baseball and select softball games will be broadcast starting in September.
Kate Ruskin, a Ph.D. student in the University of Maine School of Biology and Ecology, and her field crew have been blogging about their experience in the field as part of the 2013 SHARP Maine Demographics project surveying tidal-marsh birds.
The Saltmarsh Habitat and Avian Research Program, or SHARP, was founded by a group of academic, governmental and nonprofit collaborators to provide critical information for the conservation of tidal-marsh birds, according to the program’s website.
As members of SHARP, the UMaine researchers are in charge of conducting point count surveys and monitoring sparrow populations at breeding sites.
This is UMaine’s third year taking part in the survey.
More on the research is available online.
The blog, which includes data, photos and stories can be viewed at sharpmainedemographics.blogspot.com.
Jeffrey Benjamin, University of Maine associate professor of forest operations, recently received the Northeastern Loggers’ Association’s 2012 Outstanding Service to the Forest Industry Award at a banquet in Brewer, Maine.
NELA President Dennis Allard touted Benjamin’s research on developing woody biomass retention guidelines and his study of innovation of logging operations.
The Northeastern Loggers’ Association, headquartered in Old Forge, N.Y., is a trade group representing nearly 2,000 members of the region’s logging, sawmilling and paper industry.
The Portland Press Herald reported researchers and students in the University of Maine Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering are developing computerized street lights designed to help drivers avoid hitting moose on rural roads that don’t have street lights. Andrew Sheaff, a UMaine lecturer who is overseeing the project, told the Press Herald the solar-powered lights will only turn on when a vehicle is present.
The Bangor Daily News reported on the University of Maine’s decision to name Francois Amar the new dean of the Honors College. Amar, who is currently chairman of the UMaine Department of Chemistry, will begin his new role Aug. 1. Amar succeeds the late Charlie Slavin, who passed away in July 2012.
Researchers and students from the Climate Change Institute at the University of Maine are featured in an article and video by Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory. The report cites work by Climate Change Institute researcher Gordon Bromley and UMaine anthropologist Kurt Rademaker.
WVII (Channel 7) spoke with Kate Garland, horticulturist with the University of Maine Cooperative Extension, for the latest installment of its “Backyard Gardener” series. Garland demonstrated planting some of the season’s last crops.
Foster’s Daily Democrat reported last month’s annual plant sale hosted by the Master Gardener Volunteers with the University of Maine Cooperative Extension in York County was a success. The sale, held in Sringvale, saw hundreds of customers and generated several thousand dollars for community programs, according to the report.
Many Mainers earn their livelihoods from harvesting bounty — including blueberries and lobsters — from the land and sea.
And Samuel Belknap and Kourtney Collum, the first students to enroll in the University of Maine’s new anthropology and environmental policy doctoral program, want to preserve those storied traditions, as well as the state’s natural resources.
Belknap and Collum say the doctorate program, which focuses on “understanding human society and culture in cross-cultural perspective and their pivotal role in implementing successful environmental policy,” is an ideal fit for their interests.
“It is so applicable and has an interdisciplinary framework,” says Collum. “I can look at issues holistically.”
Collum favors a multifaceted approach. She double-majored in anthropology and environmental studies at Western Michigan University, and earned her master’s in forest resources at UMaine.
Belknap agrees. He earned his undergraduate degree in anthropology and a master’s in Quaternary and climate studies, both from UMaine. “No problem is one-dimensional and no one person can solve everything,” he says.
His doctoral thesis, “Abrupt Climate Change and Maine’s Lobster Industry,” proposes collaboration between lobstermen and policymakers to better protect the state’s iconic industry, especially in the wake of abrupt environmental changes.
Experienced lobstermen possess valuable information, says Belknap. They have knowledge of the industry, concerns about both climate change and fishing regulations, and about how they’ve adapted their behavior in response to both.
Policymakers will be better informed and better positioned to craft policies customized for various situations if they routinely involve lobstermen in the regulatory process, Belknap says.
Belknap, who grew up in Damariscotta, Maine, knows his way around a lobster buoy. He learned to haul traps from his grandfather, a retired physician.
“I grew up lobstering,” Belknap says. “My wife jokes that I’m clumsy because I learned to walk on a boat, not land.”
Belknap worked as dock manager at his family’s lobster pound prior to starting his doctorate and respects lobstering as a way of life.
Abrupt climate change could threaten that way of life for the roughly 5,000 lobstermen in the state, as well as coastal communities in Maine and around the planet, he says.
Last summer, warmer water temperature in the Gulf of Maine contributed to lobsters molting a month or more earlier than usual, which resulted in a glut of crustaceans on the market. And then the price per pound plummeted.
“It’s humbling,” Belknap says of how quickly a temperature fluctuation of 1.5 to 2 degrees caused the drastic ripple effect. Another sudden change in temperature might have the opposite effect on the lobster population, he says.
Belknap doesn’t have to look far in space or time to see examples of that.
In September 1999, huge numbers of lobsters died within a few days in Long Island Sound. It devastated the local industry, which languished for more than a decade. Scientific reports have indicated warmer ocean water was — and remains — a culprit.
And last summer, lobsters in water off New York, Rhode Island and Connecticut were afflicted with a shell disease, with warming ocean water was again cited as a factor.
How policymakers and Maine lobstermen work together to deal with abrupt climate changes could be a model for other fisheries regionally, nationally and globally, says Belknap.
Practical application of knowledge is also important for Collum, whose doctoral dissertation will explore the impact of the declining bee population on wild blueberry growers and the growers’ ability to conserve wild pollinators.
Because many crops rely on insect pollination to produce fruits and vegetables, the global decline of bees – due to pesticides, habitat loss and disease — threatens food security and the livelihood of farmers who produce food.
The lowbush blueberries that grow in Maine are completely dependent on insect — mostly bee — pollination to produce fruit. Without bees, there are no blueberries for Sal — or anyone else.
Commercial honeybees are crucial for the intensive agriculture practiced in the U.S, says Collum. But research suggests, through conservation efforts, native bees can provide a significant amount of pollination without the cost associated with renting commercial hives, she says.
Last year, Maine blueberry growers imported 70,000 commercial honeybees to pollinate about 60,000 acres of wild blueberries, she says. The busy bees trucked to Maine generally start their trek in California, where they pollinate almonds, and make multiple work stops en route.
The cost to blueberry producers to pay for pollination has risen significantly, says Collum, bringing into question whether the practice is financially sustainable.
She’ll therefore explore the ability of farmers to integrate the use of both wild and commercial bees to pollinate crops and increase the yields.
Because Maine has more than 240 bee species — at least 40 of which pollinate blueberries, Collum says it’s a good place for farmers and researchers to collaboratively figure out the best practices to protect, promote and utilize wild, native bees to pollinate crops.
Collum will explore obstacles that growers in Maine and Canada have to increasing their use of wild bees to pollinate lowbush blueberries. She’ll also study what influence government policies and programs have on the way growers manage pollination of crops and growers can adapt to changing ecological conditions.
Growers of other crops that want to transition to utilizing wild bees, where applicable, could apply the findings, she says.
Collum, who grew up in Monroe, Mich., near the border of Ohio, is used to working in the field and on the trails.
She fell in love with Maine when she was a college intern working on a trail crew at Baxter State Park in Millinocket. As a field coordinator for Rocky Mountain Youth Corps in Colorado, Collum battled the pine beetle infestation. And she worked on an ecotourism project in New Zealand, building trails, battling invasive gorse and planting native trees.
Collum urges people to know where their food comes from, to build relationships with local farmers and to support those doing their best to reduce chemical inputs. She also encourages people do what they can to protect bees, including not using pesticides around their homes and planting bee-friendly gardens.
Collum and Belknap both want to make a positive difference in the state they love and ensure that ensuing generations of lobstermen, farmers and foresters have the opportunity to make livings from the land and sea.
Contact: Beth Staples, 207.581.3777
Creating a garden using only plants native to Maine will take center stage at the University of Maine’s Rogers Farm June 18. The free UMaine Cooperative Extension program begins at 6 p.m. It is the fourth in the summer series Public Nights at the Garden, and will be held rain or shine. Soil preparation, plant selection and best planting practices will be discussed and demonstrated by UMaine Extension Master Gardener Volunteers and Kate Garland, UMaine Extension horticulturist, at the Rogers Farm Demonstration Garden, 914 Bennoch Road, Stillwater. For more information or to request a disability accommodation, contact the UMaine Extension Penobscot County Office, 207.942.7396.
Renewable Energy News, North American Windpower, MPBN, Bangor Daily News, WLBZ (Channel 2) and WVII (Channel 7) were among several news organizations to cover an event in Castine on Thursday recognizing the connection of the VolturnUS offshore wind turbine to the electric grid. The turbine, created under the direction of the University of Maine-led DeepCwind consortium, is the first grid-connected offshore wind turbine in North America.
Mark Brewer, political scientist at the University of Maine, spoke with the Portland Press Herald about a possible “scramble” for U.S. Rep. Mike Michaud’s seat after Michaud announced he is exploring a run for governor in 2014. Brewer said Michaud’s seat is in a district that could go Democrat or Republican depending on the candidate.
WLBZ (Channel 2), WABI (Channel 5) and WVII (Channel 7) reported a 7-year-old from Newport who suffers from hydrocephalus, which has caused her to be developmentally delayed due to seizures, recently received a $4,500 bed specially designed by Millinocket man Patrick Cyr and paid for by the Robbie Foundation. Cyr started his company, Courtney Beds, in 2009 with the help of the University of Maine’s Knowledge Transfer Alliance.
WABI (Channel 5) and the Bangor Daily News reported University of Maine swimming and diving coach Susan Lizzotte attended a check presentation ceremony at Spruce Run in Bangor on Thursday to receive a $7,500 for the swim program and support the presentation of another $7,500 check to the nonprofit organization. The money was raised through the inaugural Erin’s Run: 5K Road Race. The race is held in honor of Erin McGrath Woolley, a former UMaine student and swimmer, and in support of the UMaine swimming and diving team and Spruce Run, an organization dedicated to serving those affected by domestic abuse.
François G. Amar, chair of the University of Maine Department of Chemistry, has been named dean of the Honors College following a national search. His appointment is effective Aug. 1.
Amar succeeds Honors Dean Charlie Slavin, who passed away in July 2012.
David Gross, professor emeritus of English at the University of Oklahoma and a part-time faculty member of the Honors College, has been serving as interim dean.
Amar has been a member of the UMaine community since 1983. In addition to teaching and conducting research, he has served as interim chair and chair of the Department of Chemistry in 1998–99, 2005–06 and since 2011. He is a member of the Maine Center for Research in STEM Education (RiSE Center) and Forest Bioproducts Research Institute (FBRI).
He has been a member of the Honors College faculty since 2000.
Amar received a Ph.D. in physical chemistry from the University of Chicago in 1979. His chemistry research focuses on theoretical chemistry and statistical mechanics, including structure and reaction dynamics in ionic, molecular and metallic clusters, as well as catalytic upgrading of biofuels. His other academic interests include interdisciplinary teaching and chemical education research.
“I am delighted that Dr. Amar has accepted the offer to become the next dean of the University of Maine Honors College,” says Susan Hunter, executive vice president for academic affairs and provost. “Dr. Amar is very familiar with the Honors College, having taught in it for over 10 years. He is respected not only in the honors community, but campuswide, and demonstrates the student-centeredness that has been the hallmark of the Honors Program at the University of Maine. François is a remarkable intellectual who embodies the academic qualities that we embrace as a university community.”
UMaine President Paul Ferguson added: “I look forward to working with Dr. Amar and his leadership of the Honors College. François has demonstrated a real passion for honors education and for ensuring our students experience the very best of UMaine. I wish him much success.”
Exhibitions in the University of Maine Lord Hall Gallery through July 19 showcase the works of two Maine painters — one a well-known artist, the other a recent UMaine graduate.
“Paintings” by Frederick Lynch of Saco features the largest collection of his largest canvases. “Momentary” by Jadrien Cousens of Newburgh includes landscape studies.
The exhibitions are free and open to the public weekdays from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. For more information or to request disability accommodations, call the Department of Art, 207.581.3245.
“We have a magnificent set of painting exhibitions up now by two great painters: One is one of Maine’s most prolific and engaging senior painters, and the other is by a newly minted UMaine graduate,” says UMaine Professor of Art James Linehan. “Jadrien’s works are small, very painterly views of the campus, mostly in grey weather. Fred’s paintings are huge geometric abstractions, so the works could not be more different. But the two artists share a passion for oil on canvas, and are both rigorous and exacting craftsmen.”
According to his artist statement, Lynch says he “applies a system of repeated geometries and mathematical divisions to create his art.” He strives to “evoke the type of order and chaos found in patterns of nature — branching of trees, veining of leaves and molecular systems.”
Lynch says he often “begins a work by drawing a 120-degree line, and then continues to further divide the picture plane into hundreds of increasingly smaller shapes, each layered with variations in color, line and scale.” In recent work, Lynch “has isolated these painted geometries into individual units or segments … The shapes are then magnified in drawings, gouaches and wooden constructions.”
In Cousens’ statement for this, his debut solo show, he notes that he works in both traditional and digital mediums, exploring simple, everyday moments and certain familiar qualities, such as “the sense of light, an individual’s posture or the juxtaposition between what moves and what stays still.” Cousens says he looks for “everyday occurrences” to capture in his art, finding these moments “compelling, relatable and often overlooked.” Cousens is pursuing a career as a digital matte painter and concept artist in the film industry.
VolturnUS 1:8, a 65-foot-tall offshore wind turbine prototype, will be connected to the Central Maine Power Company on June 13, making it the first grid-connected offshore wind turbine in North America.
The turbine is 1:8th the scale of a 6-megawatt (MW), 423-foot rotor diameter design. It is sited off the coast of Castine, Maine.
“Today will constitute a historic moment for offshore wind in the Americas,” says Habib Dagher, director of the Advanced Structure and Composites Center at the University of Maine and leader of the DeepCwind Consortium. Dagher was joined at the event by Peter Vigue, president and CEO of Cianbro Corp.; Jake Ward, UMaine vice president for innovation and economic development; and William Brennan, president of Maine Maritime Academy.
The VolturnUS technology is the culmination of more than five years of collaborative research and development conducted by the University of Maine-led DeepCwind Consortium. The DeepCwind research program is a unique public-private partnership funded by the Department of Energy, the National Science Foundation-Partners for Innovation, Maine Technology Institute, the state of Maine, the University of Maine and more than 30 industry partners.
Jose Zayas, director of the U.S. Department of Energy’s Wind and Water Power Technologies Office who was in Brewer, Maine for the turbine’s May 31 launch, says the Castine offshore wind project represents “a critical investment ensure America leads in this fast-growing industry, to bring tremendous untapped energy resources to market and create new jobs across the country.”
Data acquired during the 2013 deployments off Castine will be used to optimize the design of UMaine’s patent-pending VolturnUS system. The program goal is to reduce the cost of offshore wind to compete with other forms of electricity generation without subsidies.
The UMaine Advanced Structures and Composites Center has partnered with industry leaders to invest in a 12-MW, $96-million pilot farm. The deployments this summer will de-risk UMaine’s VolturnUS technology in preparation for connecting the first full-scale unit to the grid in 2016.
Maine has 156 gigawatts (GW) of offshore wind capacity within 50 miles of its shores and a plan to deploy 5 GW of offshore wind by 2030. The 5 GW plan could potentially attract $20 billion of private investment to the state, creating thousands of jobs.
Contact: Elizabeth Viselli, 207.581.2831