When Zachary Mason came to the University of Maine, he was unsure of what field he wanted to pursue. With strong interests in science and math, he joined a variety of clubs to dip his toes into different scientific disciplines.
When he signed up to attend a field trip with the UMaine geology club, he didn’t know anyone on the list.
A year later, he was elected president of the club.
“I was just a shy guy in a group of great people, barely even talking to other members,” Mason says. “But somehow they voted me the president for the next year. I must have done something right.”
The group was joining the New England Intercollegiate Geological Conference at Sugarloaf mountain to find marine fossils. The group hiked to the summit, where the director of the trip explained that the area they were exploring was once partially submerged by the ocean.
Mason was astounded.
“At that moment, I knew that this was the major to be in. I knew that geology would fulfill my academic desires,” Mason says.
Mason, an Earth science major with a minor in ecology and environmental sciences, is expected to graduate in May 2016.
For his Honors thesis, he is looking at when certain quartz-bearing boulders were deposited in Peru by glaciers using cosmogenic dating of beryllium. He hopes the inferences he makes will inform researchers about paleoclimate changes in the tropics, which can help researchers better understand and predict climate activity in the future. His research integrates topics from various geologic fields such as petrology, geochemistry, geochronology, climate science and glaciology. He was awarded a Center for Undergraduate Research (CUGR) grant to fund his summer research.
He recently completed a summer internship at the Northeast Geophysical Services in Bangor.
The internship is intended to equip students with knowledge of the latest methods in the field of geology. During the internship, he learned how to survey bedrock depth, groundwater contamination and buried drums/tanks.
Mason pursued the internship to take the knowledge he learned in the classroom a step further and apply it in the field.
“I enjoy interpreting and making inferences about the data I collect. I’ll take a day in the field over a day behind a desk anytime,” Mason says.
Hailing from Tweksbury, Massachusetts, Mason hopes to attend graduate school in a field related to geology — such as petrology, structural/tectonic geology or geochemistry. After his master’s, he plans on pursuing a career in mineral exploration with the eventual goal of earning a Ph.D. and teaching geology at the college level.
“I feel that UMaine has provided me with avenues to discover and explore, and the School of Earth and Climate Sciences has provided me with the resources and tools to further my goals of being a researcher in the sciences,” Mason says. “I believe my experiences at the university have allowed me to become more competitive as an applicant in the job market and for graduate schools.”
One of Mason’s most memorable UMaine experiences was traveling to Utah and Arizona with the geology club for Spring Break 2014. Destinations included Zion National Park and Grand Canyon National Park. It was one of the best trips of his life, Mason says.
Stephanie Welcomer, an associate professor of management and associate dean of the Maine Business School, spoke with the Maine Public Broadcasting Network for the report, “Maine farmers sail to new markets the old-fashioned way.” As part of the Maine Sail Freight project, a 90-year-old, twin-masted schooner sailed into Portland harbor Thursday morning to pick up three tons of Maine-grown farm produce to bring to Boston, according to the report. While it’s part of a historical re-enactment, project organizers say they’re also interested in making a serious point about food systems and regional economics, and the idea is to educate people about local food systems and how relevant they are, even in a globalized economy, the report states. Even though Welcomer said she doesn’t think moving the bulk of our food around by sail is sustainable, the project does an important job of demonstrating how reliant all food production and distribution systems are on a fossil fuel-based transportation model. “And as we know, with climate change it’s important to think about how we can reduce our reliance on fossil fuels,” she said, adding it involves coming up with new business models for the 21st century.
CBS New York cited research by University of Maine scientists for a report about a pending ban on lobster harvesting in the Long Island Sound. The moratorium aims to boost a lobster population that has decreased 95 percent, according to the report. Temperatures in the sound have warmed several degrees beyond what lobsters can tolerate, UMaine researchers told CBS2. The researchers said the sound was already on the edge for lobster survival, and warmer temperatures pushed them past the threshold.
The Republican Journal reported Judge Nancy Torresen, chief judge of U.S. District Court of Maine, will be the keynote speaker for “Justice Matters: When We Cry for Justice, What Do We Really Mean?” from 8:30 a.m.–noon. Sept. 18 at the University of Maine Hutchinson Center in Belfast. The UMaine Peace and Reconciliation Studies program and the Restorative Justice Project of the Midcoast will present the event in celebration of the 10th anniversary of the Restorative Justice Project, which promotes fundamental change in the justice system and schools. A panel of five guests will join Torresen. The $15 registration fee may be paid at the door; students may attend for free. Registration information is online.
University of Maine alumnus and chair of the Department of Modern and Classical Languages and Religion at Rockford University in Illinois will deliver lectures and host a poetry program at UMaine in September.
John Burns, an associate professor of Spanish who teaches Latin American literature, will give the lecture “Behind The Savage Detectives: The Infrarrealist Movement” at 4 p.m. Sept. 16 in Hill Auditorium, Barrows Hall.
The talk will examine the genealogy of a group of Latin American poets known as the infrarrealists who lived in Mexico City in the mid–1970s.
On Sept. 17, Burns will take part in a lecture and discussion with the Bangor area’s CHISPA-Centro Hispano, titled “Aesthetic of the Rain: Translating the work of contemporary Chilean poet Raúl Hernández.” The event will be held at 6:30 p.m. in Hill Auditorium.
At 6:30 p.m. Friday, Sept. 18, Burns will host “Secrets of the Old,” readings of William Butler Yeats’ most famous poems in the Bear’s Den Cafe & Pub in the Memorial Union.
Joining the worldwide celebration of Yeats’ 150th birthday, UMaine will feature an evening of speakers and readers with an open microphone. Guests are asked to bring their favorite Yeats poem to share.
During his visit, Burns also will meet with classes.
His UMaine appearance is sponsored by the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, Honors College, School of Performing Arts, Department of Modern Languages, English Department, UMaine Humanities Center and Cultural Affairs/Distinguished Lecture Series.
Burns’ recent publications include “Contemporary Hispanic Poets: Cultural Production in the Global, Digital Age;” “Aesthetic of the Rain,” a translation of work by Chilean poet Raúl Hernández; and “Una tribu de salvajes improvisando a las puertas del infierno: Antología Beat,” an extensive anthology of Beat poetry compiled, translated into Spanish and annotated in collaboration with Rubén Medina.
In a report on the closing of an outpatient opiate addiction treatment center in Sanford, Fosters.com cited an analysis released by the Maine attorney general’s office and conducted by Marcella Sorg, a research professor of the Margaret Chase Smith Policy Center at the University of Maine. The study found drug-induced deaths in Maine rose from 176 in 2013 to 208 in 2014, an increase of 18 percent, according to the article. The increase was due largely to a rise in deaths from heroin/morphine and fentanyl, a synthetic opiate that is 40 to 50 times stronger than heroin, the article states.
Mark Brewer, a political science professor at the University of Maine, spoke with the Maine Public Broadcasting Network for the report, “Maine Green Party opens some primaries to all independent voters.” At the Maine Green Independent Party’s recent state convention, the party decided to welcome all unenrolled Maine voters to help decide nominees in gubernatorial and legislative contests, according to the report. Brewer said the “Greens have been on the decline in Maine,” and opening the party primary to independents could help. “The Green profile would seem to have a relatively natural constituency here in Maine,” he said. “They’ve been in a lower profile recently. In my opinion that doesn’t mean they have to stay that way.”
Granite Geek published an article on a study conducted by a group of researchers including Brian Olsen, assistant professor of biology and ecology at the University of Maine. Some closely related bird species interbreed where their ranges overlap, producing hybrid offspring that can backcross with either parent species until a whole population of mixed-species birds forms in the area and creates what’s known as a “hybrid zone,” according to the article. In the coastal marshes of New England, this has been happening between the saltmarsh sparrow and Nelson’s sparrow, the article states. Olsen worked with researchers at the University of New Hampshire, the University of Delaware and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to capture and examine birds in hybrid zones on the coast of Maine, New Hampshire and Massachusetts. The researchers found appearance alone is not enough to identify hybrid zone birds, and birds from further backcrossed generations were often indistinguishable from the parent species, the article states. Fifty percent of birds identified as pure Nelson’s or saltmarsh sparrows in the field turned out be the descendants of hybrids when their DNA was analyzed.
Neil Comins, a University of Maine professor of physics and astronomy, was quoted in the Kennebec Journal’s latest “Backyard Naturalist” column. In “M31 and the limits of visibility,” the author writes that decades ago, it was observed that Andromeda galaxy, or M31, is moving in our direction. Recently, some astronomers have found it’s likely the Milky Way and M31 will collide some 4 billion years from now, the article states. “The statistical likelihood that the sun will strike another star is extremely low ([though] not zero),” Comins said when asked about the predicted collision. “It is more likely that the gravitational attractions of passing stars from M31 will cause the Earth and other objects in the solar system to change orbits. Depending on how elliptical our orbit became, that could severely affect life on Earth. “That is, if there is any life here in 4 billion years,” he wrote, “which is shortly before the sun will end the life-supporting phase of its evolution.”
The Lincoln County News reported Allen Spinney, who works in maintenance at the University of Maine’s Darling Marine Center in Walpole, has been named Lincoln County’s Firefighter of the Year. The Lincoln County Fire Chiefs Association presented the award to Spinney during the organization’s annual meeting and lobster bake at the South Bristol Fire Department on Aug. 19.