Jon Ippolito, a new media professor at the University of Maine, was a recent guest on the Maine Public Broadcasting Network’s “Maine Calling” radio program. The show, titled “Raising kids in the digital age,” focused on the positive and negative effects of digital culture and screen time on children.
Noodls published a University of Maine profile on Heather Leslie, the new director of the Darling Marine Center in Walpole. Leslie is a marine scientist with expertise in coastal marine ecology; human-environment interactions, particularly those related to coastal marine fisheries; the design and evaluation of marine management strategies; and the translation of knowledge to inform policy and practice. She was named director of the center effective Aug. 1, 2015.
A 1996 University of Maine study on water quality was mentioned in the Morning Sentinel article, “Belgrade Lakes water quality could dive in a decade.” A recent analysis of 40 years of water tests indicates that water quality on the lakes is on a downward trend, and if not reversed, could lead to serious water quality issues and widespread algae blooms in as few as 10 years, according to the article. The landmark UMaine study found that water quality has an effect on property values, meaning reduced quality could cause a drop in tax dollars, the article states.
John Bear Mitchell, Wabanaki Center Outreach and Student Development Coordinator at the University of Maine and University of Maine System Native American Waiver Coordinator, was quoted in a Morning Sentinel article about Wabanaki representatives planning to protest the American Indian sports mascot of Skowhegan schools. A rally representing the four tribes of Maine’s Wabanaki federation is planned for Aug. 6 during Moonlight Madness, part of Skowhegan’s annual six-day River Fest, according to the article. Mitchell said the demonstration will be a learning and teaching opportunity. “Any kind of social awareness is beneficial to the message, and the message in this case is to end a very negative imagery associated with the word ‘Indian,’” Mitchell said. “When it comes to mascots, we would like to have the final say as to whether or not it’s OK that our imagery be played with. The school district should really be utilizing students in trying to find a more appropriate name that honors the history of that town and the surrounding towns.”
The University of Maine, in partnership with the Maine Technology Institute, is building a startup seed accelerator for Maine entrepreneurs. The pilot program, called Scratchpad Accelerator, starts Aug. 31 in Bangor.
Scratchpad Accelerator will work with up to four high-potential, high-growth entrepreneurial teams to validate their customer base, value proposition and business model. The selected startups will participate at no cost and will each receive $25,000 in seed funding. Participating entrepreneurs will work full time on their businesses, with daily learning sessions, extensive mentor interactions, and a push to develop and test hypotheses as frequently as possible to ensure that their companies are moving in the right direction.
The program will culminate with a Demo Day, at which each team will pitch its company to a group of potential investors for additional funding.
The accelerator will help entrepreneurs get to “go” or “no-go” decisions quickly — saving them time, money and energy — with the help of the Scratchpad team and statewide supporters. Ideally, the business ideas will lead to commercialization, but even a “no-go” result is considered a win if it shaves off months or years figuring it out.
The planning team is building on expertise from the University of Maine and the Maine Technology Institute (MTI). Leading the team is Jason Harkins, associate professor of entrepreneurship in the Maine Business School, in collaboration with Jennifer Hooper, entrepreneur and mentor coordinator at UMaine’s Foster Center for Student Innovation, and Joe Migliaccio, MTI’s director of business development.
The pilot program has long-term implications. The team also will create a Maine accelerator “playbook” that can be shared with other areas of the state, broadening the accelerator to a replicable model for any region.
Scratchpad is currently taking applications on its website. The application deadline is Aug. 14. To be eligible, entrepreneurs must have an idea with high-growth potential, a team of collaborators, a commitment to living in the Bangor area during the accelerator and a willingness to work long days for three months.
Nicholas Giudice, a professor in the School of Computing and Information Science who directs the Virtual Environment and Multimodal Interaction (VEMI) Laboratory at the University of Maine, and Richard Corey, the lab’s director of operations, spoke about the lab with Portland Monthly for an article about the variety of innovation in Maine. VEMI is one of the few laboratories in the country — and the only lab in Maine — to research and study applications of virtual reality and augmented reality technologies with a multimodal focus, according to the article. “People are horrible at imagining things. What we do is allow people to get inside scenarios and actually experience them,” Giudice said. VEMI was created in 2008 to serve as a research resource, the article states. “The idea is how we use technology to understand how we interact with our environment. For example, navigation. How do you get from one place to another, and how can technology be used to better navigate a physical space?” Giudice said. Corey said the real-world applications of the research being done at VEMI are broad — from rendering a digital model of proposed wind turbines to assisting the visually impaired with navigating physical spaces.
The Bangor Daily News and Portland Press Herald reported University of Maine head softball coach Lynn Coutts has been promoted to senior associate director of athletics, and Mike Coutts, the associate head coach of softball, has been named head coach. Lynn Coutts, a former Black Bear star player, was named softball coach in 2010. In her new role, she will oversee compliance, Title IX, financial aid, student-athlete conduct, sports medicine, sports performance and equipment. She will serve as the liaison to academic support, the NCAA-designated senior woman administrator and a sport program administrator. “I love change. We have some great things coming up at the university and I want to be a part of it,” Lynn Coutts told the BDN. “When I look at my job, I don’t see it as being administrative. I’m still going to be coaching but I’ll be coaching different people.” Mike Coutts joined the softball program as an assistant in 2012 and was promoted to associate head coach in 2014.
The Bangor Daily News reported University of Maine’s sustainable agriculture program is growing and studying winter rye, red fife wheat, triticale — a cross between wheat and rye — and other grains to increase local, organic bread-grain production. The research also will help Bangor native Alex Bennett, who is developing a drinking straw made from the stalks of the grain plants. He is selling straws grown and harvested in Germany and is preparing for his first Maine harvest, according to the article. Ellen Mallory, a professor with the University of Maine Cooperative Extension and in the School of Food and Agriculture who heads the sustainable agriculture program, said UMaine researchers already are studying 10 varieties of wheat and other grains to see how they handle the Maine climate, so adding extra data points for Bennett was easy to accomplish — especially because he’s looking to change the discarded straw into a “value added product,” the article states. The Maine Public Broadcasting Network and Sun Journal also published the report.
WABI (Channel 5) reported the University of Maine has been awarded $337,100 for influenza research. U.S. Sens. Susan Collins and Angus King announced the award in a press release. The National Institute of General Medical Sciences awarded the grant funding to aid scientists in their study of influenza and the host cells it inhabits to learn how to best manipulate the virus for remedial treatment, according to the release. “The flu’s pervasive and contagious nature makes it a top priority for medical researchers year in and year out,” the senators said in a joint statement. “This research is particularly important for states like Maine with large elderly populations that are more susceptible to the flu. Thankfully, scientists at the University of Maine are hard at work to understand the best solutions for combatting this serious illness, and the grant funding will support them in that important effort.” The full release is online.
Summer camps at the University of Maine 4-H Camp & Learning Center at Bryant Pond were the focus of the Sun Journal article, “Bryant Pond primitive camps teach ‘life-changing’ skills.” The article focused on a two-week Bushcraft Camp. “Bushcraft is our one program that bridges the primitive skills with that of the Maine woodscraft or guiding skills,” said Ron Fournier, conservation education manager at Bryant Pond. “These campers not only learn primitive and traditional skills, but they plan a canoe trip and learn the ways of the traditional Maine guide on a one-week expedition.” Primitive campers immerse themselves in the natural world by learning and practicing outdoor survival skills and earth-based living, according to the article. “Our survivor-based programs focus on survival skills — both primitive and modern,” Fournier said. “These skills then are practiced in the way of team challenges to add in the fun and excitement. There’s a focus on team spirit or rivalry in survivor camps, unlike the noncompetitive primitive camps.”
Fdlreporter.com, based in Fond du Lac, Wisconsin, reported on Maggie Halfman, a fourth-year marine science student at the University of Maine, who will conduct a research expedition in Antarctica. The Fond du Lac native will travel to a research station in October, where she will conduct an independent project for two months. This summer, Halfman is conducting research at the Darling Marine Center in Walpole in preparation for her trip. “I was pretty taken aback when I found out I would be going to Antarctica, and I don’t think it will fully hit me until I am actually there,” Halfman said. The trip is being led by Rhian Waller, an associate research professor in the University of Maine School of Marine Sciences, who specializes in the reproduction and development of cold-water and deep-sea invertebrates around the globe. Her research explores how the animals are affected by both natural and anthropogenic environmental change.
Mark Brewer, a political science professor at the University of Maine, was quoted in the Portland Press Herald article, “Referendum push a plus, and risk, for Maine Republicans.” The effort to pursue referendum campaigns on eliminating Maine’s income tax and cutting welfare spending will likely provide short-term benefits for the Maine Republican Party’s candidates for election, but poses long-term risks for future legislators and the next governor, according to the article. However, Brewer said much will depend on how the ballot question on eliminating the state income tax is written, when it goes into effect, and whether it offers a plan for dealing with the lost tax revenue. He added ballot questions on the income tax and welfare could benefit Republican candidates, in a year when a presidential election and likely referendums on legalizing marijuana use will attract more liberal voters, the article states. “You have a presidential race in 2016 that generally puts Republicans at a disadvantage in terms of the electorate that comes out (to vote),” he said. “If I were the Republican Party leader, I would want something on the ballot that could counter that, especially if marijuana is going to be on the ballot.”
University of Maine Director of Athletics Karlton Creech has announced the promotion of head softball coach Lynn Coutts to senior associate director of athletics. Mike Coutts, the associate head coach of softball, has been named head coach.
Lynn Coutts was hired in fall 2010 as the head softball coach and spent the previous four seasons at the helm of the Black Bears. In her new role, she will oversee compliance, Title IX, financial aid, student-athlete conduct, sports medicine, sports performance and equipment. She will serve as the liaison to academic support, the NCAA-designated senior woman administrator and a sport program administrator.
A member of the University of Maine Sports Hall of Fame, Lynn Coutts graduated from UMaine in 1987 following an All-American senior season.
She replaces Eileen Flaherty, who resigned to take a high school athletics director position in Massachusetts.
Mike Coutts joined the softball program as an assistant in 2012 and was promoted to associate head coach in spring 2014. A former Black Bear baseball team member and assistant Black Bear baseball coach, Mike Coutts graduated from UMaine in 1982 and earned a master’s degree in education/administration from UMaine in 1989.
The public good and humanities in Maine will be the focus of a keynote address by William Adams, chairman of the National Endowment for the Humanities, at 4:30 p.m. Aug. 13, at Point Lookout, Northport. Adams’ address is part of a free public Celebration of the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Humanities in Maine, coordinated by the University of Maine Humanities Center.
In addition to the keynote address, Adams will join a panel discussion about the “Historical Atlas of Maine,” published in January by the University of Maine Press. Joining Adams on the panel will be Stephen Hornsby, director of the Canadian-American Center at UMaine and a co-editor of the Atlas; University of Maine Press Director Michael Alpert; Margaret Chernosky, Maine Geographic Alliance; and Anne Kelly Knowles, UMaine professor of history. Panel moderator will be Liam Riordan, director of the UMaine Humanities Center. More information about the event is online.
To attend the Celebration of the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Humanities in Maine, RSVP is requested by Aug. 3 by calling 581.3582. The event is sponsored by the Fisher Foundation, the Maine Community Foundation and an anonymous donor.
The University of Maine Darling Marine Center offers free, guided, 90-minute tours of its waterfront laboratories at 10:30 a.m. Wednesdays through Aug. 19.
Ashley Rossin, an undergraduate student in the School of Marine Sciences and a DMC summer intern, is the tour guide. She recounts the history of the center’s founding — 50 years ago this year — and shares her perspective on the DMC today.
Scallops, crabs, lobster and squid are subjects of study in the wet lab. The histology lab focuses on deep-sea corals from Antarctica, Alaska and the Gulf of Maine, and the focus of the optics lab is to explore oceans using satellites and robots. Visitors to the aquaculture lab will learn how oysters are farmed and see the algae room where food for oysters is grown. Throughout the tour, scientists and other students will be available to discuss research, explain its significance, and answer questions.
Registration is not necessary; those wishing to take a tour can meet at the circle driveway on the lower waterfront campus. The center is at 193 Clarks Cove Road, seven miles from downtown Damariscotta. More information is online.