A multi-institutional research team is working to understand the vital connections between landowner concerns, municipal planning, conservation activities, and the ecology of vernal pools. The team, led by Mitchell Center Fellow Aram Calhoun, has created a new website designed to provide information on vernal pools. The site contains a variety of resources on vernal pool ecology, the animals that breed in and use vernal pools, an explanation of state and federal regulations pertaining to vernal pools, and materials developed to assist stakeholders with field assessments and local mapping projects.
The research is funded by a grant from the National Science Foundation’s Coupled Natural and Human Systems Program.
Citing his innovative work on sustainable fisheries management at the Senator George J. Mitchell Center for Sustainability Solutions, Joshua Stoll, a graduate student in the School of Marine Sciences, has been awarded a prestigious yearlong fellowship from the Robert and Patricia Switzer Foundation. Read full release.
Joseph Kelley, a professor of marine geology in the University of Maine School of Earth and Climate Sciences and Climate Change Institute, was quoted in a Free Press article on a proposed U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) dredging project in Searsport. The decision on whether to approve the project to dredge 929,000 cubic yards of bottom sediments from Searsport Harbor is likely to be made by the end of the year after a public hearing this fall, according to the article. The project aims to enlarge the shipping channel and deposit the dredge spoils in the bay six miles away off the tip of Islesboro, the report states. One concern among residents is the dump site, which was chosen by the USACE because it has natural depressions that can be filled with dredge spoils. According to Kelley, the methane that created the pockmarks is still there. He conducted studies of the area two decades ago and advised against dumping dredge spoils at the site when he served as state geologist. Kelley recommended conducting dump tests in the area and tracking resulting sediment plumes to see if they spread, the article states.
Research conducted at the University of Maine was mentioned in the Saga article, “10 ways to feed your brain.” Since 60 percent of the human brain is made of fat, it needs a steady supply of healthy fats, plus other key nutrients, to function at its best, according to the article. The report lists 10 foods and drinks that can boost brain power, including milk. Adults who consume milk or other dairy products daily perform better in brain function tests than those who rarely or never touch dairy, scientists from the University of Maine and University of South Australia have found. The researchers suggest the effect may stem from the specific mix of nutrients found in dairy, which includes calcium, whey protein, vitamin D and magnesium.
The University of Maine will host a hike and memorial service to honor fallen service members from UMaine and surrounding communities.
The Summit Project (TSP) event will take place Saturday, Sept. 26 with a walk from the Maine Veterans Home in Bangor to Alfond Stadium on the UMaine campus for the military appreciation football game.
TSP is a nationally recognized, Maine-based service organization, that provides a living memorial to pay tribute to the fallen service members from Maine who have died in the line of duty since Sept. 11, 2001.
As part of the event, hikers will carry engraved TSP memorial stones that have been donated by family members to represent their fallen loved ones. Volunteers will learn about the service members whose stone they will carry, write a letter for the service member’s family, and read it during a memorial service on campus following the trek.
Among the service members to be honored are four fallen UMaine Black Bears: Staff Sgt. David Veverka, Sgt. Nicholas Robertson, 1st Lt. James Zimmerman and Capt. Jay Brainard.
The 8-mile walk is expected to take about four hours.
About 25 hiking spots are available with preference being given to the military family community at UMaine. Backup hikers may be assigned. A registration form is available online. Spots are limited.
Members of the public are welcome to observe the event along the route, on campus or at the football game.
The stones will be on display at the stadium prior to and during the game before becoming part of a temporary TSP display in the Memorial Room of the Memorial Union.
More about The Summit Project is online.
The hydrology of peatlands will be the focus of an August talk through the Orono Bog Boardwalk led by University of Maine professor Andy Reeves.
Reeves, a professor in the Department of Earth Sciences who specializes in groundwater flow and solute transport in peatlands systems, will deliver the talk, “Hydrology in Bogs and Fens — Where Does the Water Go?” from 10–11:30 a.m. Saturday, Aug. 8.
The discussion will focus on the continuous stream of water that percolates beneath the boardwalk, and how the movement influences the development of peatlands and affects the living ecosystem. Reeves will discuss how groundwater movement is evaluated, the reasons for peat accumulation and recent hydrology research done at the Orono Bog Boardwalk.
The walk will start at the beginning of the boardwalk — located in the Rolland F. Perry (Bangor) City Forest. Space is limited to 12 participants and registration is required. To register, email firstname.lastname@example.org with your name and telephone number. Use “Boardwalk Nature Walk” as the email subject line.
In the lower Chao Valley on the north coast of Peru, University of Maine graduate student Ana Cecilia Mauricio is uncovering history.
Mauricio defended her thesis this past May and is expected to graduate from the University of Maine with her Ph.D. in geoarcheology in August 2015. Her research focused on an archaeological preceramic period site called Los Morteros, located in Pampa de las Salinas — an area nestled between iconic Andean foothills to the east and south, the Pacific Ocean to the west and the Chao River to the north.
Geoarchaeology is a multidisciplinary approach that combines techniques and subject matter from a variety of Earth science fields to interpret archeological findings.
The site was originally thought to be a natural feature, resembling a dune common to the Peruvian terrain. At the start of her research project, Mauricio aimed to uncover what was once under the sand cover of the mound, and to understand how humans utilized the area.
Her research showed that the site holds one of the oldest manifestations of monumental buildings in the central Andes.
The site — 200 by 200 meters, with its highest point being 15 meters high — contains structures built with mud bricks, scientifically referred to as adobes. The use of adobes is an ancient architectural tradition found in the Andes.
The adobes Mauricio discovered in Los Morteros are the oldest reported mud bricks in the central Andes, making the site and region a potential origin for the use of such materials.
Growing up in Chimbote, Peru, Mauricio was inspired to be an archaeologist by the rich and ancient history of her homeland. She received her undergraduate degree in archaeology at Peru’s National University of Trujillo before arriving at UMaine in 2009.
“I have always worked in Peru, mostly on the central and north coast. It is a region where you can find all periods of prehistory and makes it possible to investigate all sorts of topics. The weather is perfect and the food is wonderful,” Mauricio said.
When she was looking into graduate programs, Mauricio was drawn to UMaine for the interdisciplinary opportunities. While in Orono, she enjoyed going to the gym, biking around campus and the beauty that came with the changing of the leaves.
“I chose this university because I wanted to develop environmental approaches in Peruvian archaeology,” she said. “I decided on the interdisciplinary master’s program in the Climate Change Institute because you learn about the climate and environment from different perspectives.”
She came to UMaine on a Fulbright and subsequently received the Waitt Grant of the National Geographic Society, and the Beca Andina de Investigacion from the French Institute for Andean Studies.
Among other accomplishments, she published her first book in June, which described a previous archaeological research project carried out in the Lima region. She hopes to have a second book published in September.
Mauricio and her team found the first phase of human occupation in Los Morteros was in the center and lowest part of the mound, where they discovered stone hearths containing small fish bones, charcoal and scallop shells. The calibrated dates for this occupation are from 5700 to 5400 BP.
The second phase of occupation was found at the northwest sector of the mound, where researchers uncovered a large room made of adobes with plastered walls, clay floors and internal architectural features.
The third phase of the occupation — and most recorded — was located near the top of the mound. The researchers discovered the remains of stone architecture, including a large room, a stone platform, stone hearths and clay floors.
A particular feature of this architecture is the presence of standing stone, which is a characteristic element of late preceramic sites. The feature is locally called huanca a quechua, a word from the ancient language of the the Andes.
Mauricio estimated the age of the mound to be at least 7,000 years BP. She used the rate of sand accumulation, which was 10 meters to 12 meters, between the level of stone hearth and the base of the mound to calculate the amount of time passed.
She is currently back in Peru and will soon be working as the research director for the archaeological site of Chan Chan — a UNESCO world heritage site — sponsored by the Peruvian government. She plans on continuing her research at Los Morteros.
Mauricio’s adviser while at UMaine was Daniel Sandweiss, a leader in Andean archaeology and environmental archaeology. Sandweiss is a professor in the Climate Change Institute and the Department of Anthropology, as well as cooperating professor in the School of Earth and Climate Sciences and the School of Policy and International Affairs.
Mauricio was a master’s student when she first became involved with the site at Morteros in 2010. That year, she helped a team of UMaine researchers, led by Sandweiss, complete a georadar survey of the site — a continuation of preliminary georadar work done in 2006. She then decided to focus her dissertation on what was found.
Among the survey team members was Alice Kelley, an assistant professor in the Climate Change Institute, who became one of Mauricio’s primary mentors throughout her research project and served on her dissertation committee.
“It’s very exciting to contribute to building the history of my country with my research,” Mauricio said. “I also like very much the fact that archaeology is a discipline where you have to learn about other scientific fields and work in interdisciplinary environments.”
Contact: Amanda Clark, 207.581.3721
As this past spring semester came to a close, researchers and students at Rogers Farm — the sustainable agriculture research facility of the College of Natural Sciences, Forestry, and Agriculture — were gearing up for another busy summer.
July 16, the Sustainable Agriculture Field Day was held at Rogers Farm, which featured demonstrations by graduate students, researchers and faculty. Topics included cultivation efficacy, small grain customization, producing and certifying small grain seed, weed management and malt barley varieties for new craft brewing markets.
Rogers Farm, located 3.5 miles from the University of Maine, is one of two locations that make up the college’s J.F. Witter Teaching and Research Center.
As a mixed-usage research site, crops grown on the farm include silage corn, sweet corn, potatoes, dried beans, small grains and mixed vegetables. The farm provides land for the Penobscot County Cooperative Extension Master Gardeners Demonstration Garden and the Black Bear Food Guild, the university’s student-run community-supported agriculture program.
The farm, purchased in 1947, is used for a wide range of sustainable agriculture research, UMaine Extension and teaching projects year-round.
Barley to Beer
In recent years, Ellen Mallory, sustainable agriculture extension specialist and associate professor in plant, soils, and environmental science, has led a large research and outreach program focused on grains for local food, beverage and feed markets.
Her current projects include evaluation of barley varieties for craft brewing markets and Danish wheat and rye varieties for bread flour, optimizing nitrogen management for fall-planted grains and forage or feed production with field peas. Her research group also is working with Maine entrepreneur Alex Bennett to grow cereals for a natural drinking straw, a project called “Straw Straws.”
Optimizing Potato Research
John Jemison, UMaine Extension specialist, recently completed a multiyear project evaluating double crop forage systems and winter canola. Jemison’s project is in collaboration with Greg Porter, professor of agronomy and director of UMaine’s potato breeding program, to provide a central Maine location for evaluating potato varieties.
Harnessing the Power of the Sun
Eric Gallandt, professor of weed ecology and management, leads various research projects at the farm. His research focuses on dynamics and management of annual weeds in organic farming systems.
In a new series of field experiments, motivated by questions from Maine farmers, Gallandt and Ph.D. student Sonja Birthisel are studying soil solarization as a weed management practice. Solarization is the practice of controlling agricultural pests by heating the soil using clear plastic mulch that harnesses solar energy.
This strategy is an established practice in arid climates, where ambient temperatures and solar radiation are often lethal to weed seeds and soil-borne pathogens. In temperate environments such as Maine, soil solarization is not widely used, but early results indicate it can dramatically reduce weed pressure, creating a “stale seedbed” that is relatively free of weeds before seeding vegetable crops. Birthisel and Gallandt were surprised by the early field results.
“When we removed the plastic and found no weeds, we really wondered what was going on,” says Gallandt. “We expected the warmer soil to encourage a large flush of weeds that could be killed by tillage before planting.”
Later, after retrieving temperature data loggers from the soil, they found soil temperatures at a 4-inch depth were as high as 115 F, conditions lethal to many weed seeds.
Organic Weed Management
Ph.D. student Bryan Brown is working on a project aimed at quantifying multiple dimensions of the performance of four common and fundamentally different weed management strategies to help growers choose a strategy that best fits their production goals. Brown was awarded $13,147 from the Northeast Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education Association to support this project.
The researchers believe successful weed management may be achieved by: intensive, repeated cultivation during the “critical weed-free period” of the crop; comprehensive seed-focused management with a goal of zero seed rain; weed prevention through plastic mulch; or weed prevention through organic mulch.
In field experiments comparing these weed management systems, researchers are characterizing both short- and long-term effects, looking at how each system affects soil quality, the weed seedbank and profitability over time.
“We were quite surprised last year to find that our longer-term zero seed rain and mulch-based strategies were also the most profitable,” says Brown.
The researchers seek to understand factors that motivate farmers to adopt these contrasting weed management strategies and to help growers determine the optimum weed control strategy based on resources and management goals.
Rare Weeds in Northern New England
In a changing climate, rare species are coming into the spotlight. Climate change could lead to local extinctions, or allow for increased abundance and potential new invasions by rare species.
In a study led by Gallandt, researchers are determining the abundance and distribution of agronomic weeds. Researchers collected soil samples from 77 farms in Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont. The collected seeds were germinated in a greenhouse and the seedlings were identified to species.
They found in Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont that the ratios of rare weed species to total weed species identified were 67:94, 20:64, and 24:67, respectively.
This study is a first attempt to identify rare agronomic weeds in Maine’s environment. Further work integrating naturalistic approaches with climate projections could further help to predict potential invasions and identify conservation targets in a changing climate.
In July and August, Birthisel and Brown are revisiting Maine farms to survey fields and talk with farmers to identify rare or unusual weeds that could present a problem in the future.
Pam Wells of Old Town owns more than 1,000 acres of land and wants to know the best way to manage her forest. To do so, she enrolled as a student in the School of Forest Resources at the University of Maine.
Already a UMaine alumna, Wells holds a bachelor’s degree in anthropology/English that she earned in 1981 and a masters of social work in 1991. She is now considering going for a master’s in forestry.
Wells also has been a field instructor for the School of Social Work and has taught software engineering in the School of Computing and Information Science with her husband.
In 2013, she worked with Jessica Leahy, an associate professor of human dimensions of natural resources in the UMaine School of Forest Resources, to help small woodlot owners create a peer-to-peer network in Baldwin. The project aimed to find more efficient ways to serve Maine landowners by incorporating social work strategies — including effective communication and resource-linking skills — into forest management. Wells supervised two social work interns who were involved with the study.
Beyond academics and work on her forest, Wells also does website design, wildlife photography and helps her sister on her alpaca farm business. She also enjoys gardening and taking care of her pets and saltwater fish tank.
Describe the land you own:
Our 1,058 acres woodlot is about 10 miles from Old Town in Milford/Greenfield. It abuts the Stud Mill Road and is adjacent to Sunkhaze Meadows National Wildlife Refuge.
We allow hunting, fishing, hiking, etc., but our goal is to create a demonstration forest for other woodlot owners and a place for students to conduct wildlife and forestry research. A long-term goal is to have our woodlot provide habitat for wildlife, increase forest productivity, and at some point obtain income from a sustainable harvest.
Our property has been harvested extensively for decades. It resembles much of Maine’s forests. We purchased it after its last harvest 10 years ago. It has grown a lot since then. Precommercial thinning was performed last year with assistance from NRCS [the Natural Resources Conservation Service]. Several years ago, a crop tree release was performed in a six-acre stand. This year, we have created a “stream team” which consists of both state and federal fish biologists. Our goal will be to restore our portion of the Sunkhaze Stream in order to provide better habitat for trout and salmon.
I am also exploring the remains of an 1800s shingle mill. While the most noticeable feature is a large rock wall, there is also a lot of logs and shingles buried in the banks of the stream itself. It provides a wonderful demonstration of how the logging industry altered the Maine landscape.
Why did you decide to pursue this degree? Why now?
I grew up a poor kid in Bangor, Maine. My dad left our family when I was very young and my home life was somewhat challenging. I brought up both my mom and my sister. For me, the forest was safety. I found it both exciting and peaceful. It still is. I also believe it is one path to a better climate for Earth.
I very much wanted to be a forester in the ’70s. Women were not encouraged to be foresters in the ’70s.
After graduating in the ’80s, I worked in retail management for 10-plus years, then became a licensed clinical social worker in children’s mental health. I managed group homes, foster care programs, family therapy programs, case management programs and corrections programs for about 20 years.
Finally, I decided to return to my passion — the forest. It has been a long journey.
It is close, and I know it well. It is also known as a good school for forestry.
Have you worked closely with a professor or mentor who is making your UMaine experience better?
I would say Shawn Fraver is an amazing professor. He is a great teacher; passionate about his field and willing to have discussions with students. He has managed to put up with my incessant questions even after I finished his class.
What difference has UMaine made in your life and in helping you reach your goals?
UMaine has helped me be who I am in many ways. I would never have done my journey without it. Currently, I am learning so much about my forest because of the classes I attend. I would not be able to have the important conversations with my forester and loggers without that education.
What are the benefits and challenges of being a nontraditional undergraduate? Would you recommend going back to school for those who are considering it later in life?
I do encourage older people to go back for a variety of reasons.
First, for knowledge; the world is changing quickly and there is no better place to learn about new possibilities than in a classroom. Second, to enjoy the energy of younger people who are on the cusp of their own journeys. Third, to contribute to the futures of young people. When you are older, you are more willing to ask questions and to share your point of view. That can be invaluable in a classroom discussion. The benefits are outstanding.
There are some challenges. In my instance, my last math course was in the early ’80s. I say, “What happened to the math in my head?” I think aliens took it. I also have some challenges with field trips. Young people appear to be able to run through the woods a lot faster than I can. Now when did that happen?
University of Maine alumnus Jim Rittenburg is captivated by technology, specifically when it’s used to make improvements.
As an inventor on 11 patents, the technologist and business development executive has experience developing and commercializing products based on advanced technologies.
His latest venture is a business he co-founded with his wife, and fellow UMaine alumna, Lorna. The Perkasie, Pennsylvania-based couple formed IC Optix® to develop and commercialize convenient vision aids to assist millions of people in reading product label information.
Before IC Optix, Rittenburg worked for 20 years as a vice president for Authentix, a global leader in authentication that provides brand protection and supply chain security solutions.
Rittenburg, who was born and raised in Massachusetts, earned three degrees from UMaine — a bachelor’s in microbiology in 1976, a master’s in animal and veterinary sciences in 1978, and a Ph.D. in microbiology and animal sciences in 1981.
Describe IC Optix and how it started:
IC Optix has recently obtained two patents on a new type of lens technology that can provide consumers with easy and convenient ways to read the small print on health care products, food and agricultural products, and many other items.
In the United States and Europe, there are well over 300 million people that have difficulty reading important product information such as ingredient lists, use instructions, recommended dosage, nutritional information and warnings.
To accomplish this mission we have developed novel thin film magnifier technology that is integrated into product labels and also into everyday items like pens. We help manufacturers engineer convenient vision aids into their product packaging for easy use by the consumer.
We started IC Optix after about three or four years of tinkering with ideas for simple and convenient vision aids. I thought it would be handy to have a decent magnifier that was easy to carry in your pocket and had come up with an idea for creating magnifier lenses on a thin film that could be scrolled in and out of a pen like a roller blind. Lorna saw this and had the idea for making the thin film lens part of a product label or product packaging.
After doing some research we realized our ideas were novel, and we filed patent applications to protect the intellectual property. About the same time we filed the patents we decided to form a company to pursue product development and commercialization, and IC Optix was born.
What are your goals for IC Optix?
Our goal for IC Optix is to create products that are useful and genuinely help people. There is a large segment of the population — about 50 percent of the U.S. population — that has trouble reading small print without some form of vision aid.
Our goal is to create vision aids that are convenient, unobtrusive and close at hand when needed. To achieve this goal we are working with brand owners to integrate the lens technology with products such as pharmaceuticals, over-the-counter medicines, garden chemicals and many other products that have labels or packaging with very small print.
What interests you about developing and commercializing products?
I have always been fascinated by technology and with using technology to make things better. The process of identifying a problem, coming up with ideas on how to address the problem, and then developing and commercializing solutions to the problem can be challenging, stimulating and ultimately very satisfying.
It also can be frustrating at times, but as long as you are convinced that success is one of the possible outcomes, then it pays to be persistent and to keep learning from every result you get along the way.
Why did you decide to study microbiology and animal and veterinary sciences?
Since I can remember, I have been interested in nature and I had originally thought I would major in biology or zoology. However, once I took an introductory microbiology course I was fascinated by the diversity of the world of “little creatures” that exist in a dimension beyond what we can see with our direct vision.
I also felt at the time that the field of microbiology was developing quickly and there would probably be some good opportunities for people with a background in this area. Pursuing a graduate degree in animal and veterinary sciences was a natural progression from my undergrad work in microbiology.
Toward the end of my undergraduate degree I was fortunate to meet Bob Bayer who was a professor in the Animal and Veterinary Sciences Department. Bob was conducting very interesting and applied research in both marine and avian science, and he was looking to take on a graduate student that had experience in microbiology — it was a perfect fit.
Did you work closely with a professor or mentor who made your UMaine experience better?
Some of the fondest memories I have of UMaine are the years that I worked on my master’s and Ph.D. degrees under Bob Bayer. Bob was an extraordinary mentor who I will always be grateful to for his inspiration and innovative thinking. Bob has an excellent way of working with students. He encourages his students to embrace new approaches and out-of-the-box thinking, and not to be afraid to challenge convention.
Maine had been an annual vacation destination for my family since I was a child, and it led to a love for the outdoors. I knew I did not want to attend college in a city, and I also did not want to go a large university. So when it came time to consider university, UMaine was already high on the list.
After checking out the curriculum and following a visit to Orono to look at the campus, I thought this would be a great place to pursue both my academic interests and my outdoor interests. It was the perfect choice.
How did UMaine prepare you for your career?
UMaine had a very good microbiology program that provided a strong foundation for the master’s and Ph.D. graduate programs that I subsequently embarked on at UMaine. In addition to the solid academic training I received, I also found the environment and culture to be very down to Earth.
My career has mostly been focused on developing technology in practical ways and applying it to solving problems. UMaine and Maine in general has a strong culture of living life in a practical way and applying practical approaches to solving problems. UMaine provided solid academic training and a balanced outlook on life that has served as a great foundation from which to develop a career.
What was your favorite place on campus?
During undergraduate years my favorite place was the handball courts. During graduate school it would be the Bear’s Den.
Most memorable UMaine moment?
Proposing to Lorna in Hitchner Hall. She was a foreign student from England and had enrolled in a master’s degree program in the Animal and Veterinary Sciences Department and I was just starting my Ph.D. program when I met her.
How does UMaine continue to influence your life?
Bob Bayer and I have continued to stay in regular contact and we compare notes on our respective ventures. I have also participated in lectures at UMaine and the University of Maine at Farmington over the years and Skyped into Bob’s class periodically to speak with his students. There also are some long-lasting friendships that remain today from my years at UMaine, not to mention my 33-year marriage with Lorna.
How often do you visit Maine?
I usually go back to Maine at least two times every year. Every fall I meet up with friends — including Bob Bayer — for a camping trip on the Maine/New Hampshire border. Also every February, I meet up with two UMaine classmates for an annual winter camping trip to hike up a Maine mountain. We have done this nearly every year since we finished undergrad in 1976.
Any advice for students today?
The job scene is more competitive than ever, so it is really important to develop an interesting resume that includes more than just good grades. Internships or summer jobs in a related field are extremely helpful for gaining experience, developing a network, getting references and differentiating yourself from others who do not do this. Being active in clubs or volunteer activities also provides a good break from academics and makes for a more interesting job candidate.
How do you like to spend your time outside of the office?
I have a passion for astronomy and regularly give lectures at our local astronomy club. I also enjoy fly-fishing in various parts of the world for both freshwater and saltwater species. With our kids scattered across North America — from Vermont to Idaho to British Columbia — Lorna and I usually find time to plan trips that include some combination of hiking, camping, fishing and boating. And then there are those trips back to Maine for hiking and camping with old friends.
Jennifer Crittenden, assistant director of the University of Maine Center on Aging, wrote an article for the Bangor Daily News titled, “The advantages of being an older dater, and tips for finding romance.” Nearly 18 percent of adults age 57–64, and 14 percent of adults ages 65–74 are in a dating relationship, the article states. “Being in a relationship can improve health, well-being and expand social support,” Crittenden wrote.
Richard Kersbergen, a University of Maine Cooperative Extension educator on sustainable dairy and forage systems, was mentioned in a Valley News article about invasive bedstraw in New Hampshire. Bedstraw has became a concern for farmers as infestations crowd other plants and take over patches of ground and entire fields, according to the article. The problem with bedstraw is that it’s of little value for feeding livestock, the article states. The report cites Kersbergen’s four different control strategies, each with its own costs and limitations. His strategies include rotating fields, increasing nitrogen fertilizer, applying the herbicide glyphosate or trying one of the powerful new herbicide products that manufacturers say will be more effective against bedstraw. Kersbergen’s studies also show that if the prior year’s seed rain isn’t prevented, the money and hassle most likely won’t make a difference, the article states.
WABI (Channel 5) reported on Acadia Harvest Inc., a startup business housed at the University of Maine’s Center for Cooperative Aquaculture Research (CCAR) in Franklin. The business grows black sea bass and California yellowtail using sustainable land-based aquaculture production. “There are a lot of things here that we do better than what they get in the wild,” said Kevin Neves, product and operations manager at Acadia Harvest. “For example, the fish here never get hungry. They’re always being fed. That’s something a fish in the wild doesn’t get, so fish here grow faster than they would in the wild.” Currently the company is working with a batch of 5,000 fish — the next batch will be double, according to the report. Ed Robinson, chairman and CEO of Acadia Harvest, said he eventually would like to be able to support as many as 200 thousand fish per year, or about 1 million pounds. “I think the story of a local Maine-grown fish is also attractive to people, and we’d like to bring investment and jobs back into Maine and help build a serious business,” he said.
The Bangor Daily News reported former University of Maine quarterback Marcus Wasilewski has joined the school’s sports performance staff as a coach. The sports performance coaches assist athletes with speed, strength and conditioning, according to the article. Wasilewski has served the past three months in an interim role as assistant strength coach and nutrition adviser with the Black Bears. He achieved his Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist certification in July and has worked as a graduate assistant of exercise physiology at UMaine, the article states. “Marcus was a great performer here as a Black Bear student-athlete. We have high expectations from him and have great confidence that he will be an outstanding teacher, coach and role model,” head football coach Jack Cosgrove said.
Foster’s reported University of Maine historian Richard Judd will speak as part of a series in Alfred sponsored by The Friends of Alfred Shaker Museum and the Sanford-Springvale Historical Society. On Oct. 4, Judd will discuss the newly published “Historical Atlas of Maine.” The atlas is a geographical and historical interpretation of the state, from the end of the last ice age to 2000. It culminates a 15-year scholarly project led by UMaine researchers. Judd and UMaine geographer Stephen Hornsby edited the book that contains cartography by Michael Hermann. The series is offered with support from the Maine Humanities Council, Kennebunk Savings Bank, the Alfred Historical Society and individual donors.
The University of Maine Cooperative Extension was mentioned in the Wiscasset Newspaper article, “Wild blueberries are ripe for the picking.”
Maine’s wild blueberries ripen in midsummer and the picking is usually best following a wet spring, according to the article. UMaine Extension estimates there are more than 40,000 acres of wild blueberries statewide, the article states.
A summer exhibit at the University of Maine’s Hudson Museum features art created by students at the Indian Island School.
Students in grades four through eight in artist Michael Vermette’s art classes created sculpture in a variety of media for the exhibit.
Works for the show were selected by Jennifer Neptune, the executive director of Maine Indian Basketmakers Alliance; Pam Cunningham, a master basketmaker; Cunningham’s mother ssipsis, an artist and poet; and Gretchen Faulkner, director of the museum.
The exhibit is on display through early September in the Merritt Gallery. More information is online.
Students in the University of Maine’s online master of social work program will be able to meet university officials, faculty and classmates in a virtual orientation offered by UMaineOnline.
On Aug. 6 and 11, MSW students will be able to take part in one of two mandatory orientation sessions. Using an avatar to represent themselves in the virtual world, students will participate in a meet and greet with program directors, as well as representatives from the graduate school, financial aid office and student services.
The pilot program aims to use technology to help students feel more engaged. UMaineOnline plans to use the virtual orientation for other programs in the future, including for general studies.
More information about UMaineOnline is on its website.
A University of Maine-based center that aims to improve outcomes for individuals with autism spectrum disorder through leadership, training, collaboration and research continues to grow with funding from the Maine Department of Education (DOE).
The Maine Autism Institute for Education and Research (MAIER), recently was awarded more than $150,000 from the Maine DOE to advance its work as the state’s first autism institute.
The funds are in addition to the $209,802 the department and UMaine’s College of Education and Human Development contributed to open the institute in January 2014. The collaborative partnership between Maine DOE and the college was formed to create a statewide system of supports for Mainers who serve children with autism and their families.
“Our vision was that parents of kids with autism would say, ‘I’m glad I live in Maine because of the resources available for our family here,’” said Jan Breton, director of special services at Maine DOE. “In a short time, the institute has made incredible progress in realizing that vision and improving the quality of life for children with autism and their families.”
The institute serves as Maine’s primary source of education and training related to evidence-based practices for professionals working with children and families with autism spectrum disorders, and for undergraduate and graduate students aspiring to serve children, families, schools and community service providers. For families seeking assistance, the institute offers services, resources and information; support and guidance; as well as tools to contribute to awareness.
In its first 16 months, the institute has supported hundreds of professionals who work with children with autism and their families.
“We are working to ensure that educators receive the most current, relevant and research-based tools and strategies to support and teach children with autism,” says Deborah Rooks-Ellis, an assistant professor of special education at UMaine and the institute’s director. “This impacts both the individual with autism and their family, and ensures that all children receive consistent and reliable educational experiences, no matter where they live in Maine.”
Autism is a developmental disability with varying degrees of severity that affects a person’s ability to communicate, reason and interact with others. It can cause significant social, communication and behavioral challenges. An estimated one in 68 children is diagnosed with autism spectrum disorders, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Much of the institute’s latest funding will be used to expand training in evidence-based practices for teams from Maine school districts to help increase the academic and social success of autistic students. About 9 percent, or 2,776, of the identified children with disabilities in Maine’s K–12 public schools have been diagnosed with autism, according to the Maine DOE.
In response to this need, MAIER provides training to teams that represent educators working with children with autism from Maine Child Development Services sites and school districts. To date, 28 Maine Autism Leader Teams have been established around the state and applications are being accepted to add a dozen more.
The teams focus on students in their district for the purposes of collecting data, implementing evidence-based practices and measuring outcomes.
“The overall goal of these teams is to create sustainable change,” Rooks-Ellis says. “MAIER helps to support this change by providing both districtwide training and team coaching.”
Teams receive six days of advanced training throughout the school year to better prepare staff to work with individuals with autism and their families. Teams also are provided on-site coaching from MAIER staff in between training dates to help as they work through training materials, implement strategies, and develop goals such as creating universal strategies for all children in their schools or raising awareness of autism to staff and students. Success of the training and coaching strategies is based on each team’s goals and goal attainment.
“I consider it a success for schools to recognize the need to put together an autism team and to support the team through the training process,” Rooks-Ellis says.
An additional support to measure progress is being piloted by Maine Autism Leader Teams, according to Rooks-Ellis. MAIER staff developed an autism program assessment tool to help teams review their delivery of services and practices, as well as create action plans for improvements. The online tool and user guide, along with training and technical assistance, will be available statewide to agencies and districts in spring 2016.
Several strategies that have been shown to work well for students on the autism spectrum can be universally beneficial for many students, Rooks-Ellis says.
“Team members are responsible for sharing the training information and teaching others within their agency or district, building the understanding and knowledge of all staff,” she says.
The institute’s Maine Family Partnership, a family-led initiative, is working to create a support system for families affected by autism. The group offers online resources and guides as well as educational and social events. Individuals with autism, family members and caregivers are welcome to join the partnership.
With the Maine Child Development Services, the institute launched an initiative in July 2014 to support young children with autism and their families through the Early Start Denver Model. The model is a home-visiting, early-intervention program designed to promote language, learning and engagement for children ages 12 to 36 months.
Working with UMaine, the institute also established a three-course Graduate Certification in Autism Spectrum Disorders to prepare educators, administrators and related service providers for a leadership role in the development and implementation of educational programs for students with autism. Six students have earned the certification and 14 are currently enrolled. The Maine DOE’s funding will allow expansion of the certificate program.
In the first year, the institute has provided training to nearly 400 people at 13 professional development opportunities around the state. The institute will host the second annual Professional Development Series throughout the 2015–2016 academic year. More information and registration is online.
PRI’s “The World” mentioned two University of Maine researchers in the article, “Here’s what climate change looks like from the edge of the Greenland icecap.” According to the article, Greenland is melting fast, which is bad news for sea level rise and other effects of climate change. Glaciologist Gordon Hamilton, an associate professor in the Climate Change Institute and School of Earth and Climate Sciences, is leading a research team in Greenland. His team is using laser-mapping to image the calving of Helheim Glacier into Sermilik fjord in unprecedented detail, according to the article. The report also included photos of icebergs in Greenland contributed by Ellyn Enderlin, a research assistant professor in CCI and School of Earth and Climate Sciences.