In the southern Peruvian Andes, an archaeological team led by researchers at the University of Maine has documented the highest altitude ice age human occupation anywhere in the world — nearly 4,500 meters above sea level (masl).
Their discoveries date high-altitude human habitation nearly a millennium earlier than previously documented.
Despite cold temperatures, high solar radiation and low oxygen conditions at that altitude, hunter-gatherers colonized the remote, treeless landscapes about 12,000 years ago during the terminal Pleistocene — within 2,000 years after humans arrived in South America.
“Study of human adaptation to extreme environments is important in understanding our cultural and genetic capacity for survival,” according to the research team, led by Kurt Rademaker, a University of Maine visiting assistant professor in anthropology, writing in the journal Science.
The Pucuncho archaeological site, 4,355 masl, included 260 formal tools, such as projectile points, nondiagnostic bifaces and unifacial scrapers up to 12,800 years old. Cuncaicha rockshelter, featuring two alcoves at 4,480 masl, contains a “robust, well-preserved and well-dated occupation sequence” up to 12,400 years old. The rockshelter, with views of wetland and grassland habitats, features sooted ceilings and rock art, and was likely a base camp.
Most of the lithic tools at Cuncaicha were made from locally available obsidian, andesite and jasper, and are indicative of hunting and butchering consistent with limited subsistence options on the plateau, according to the researchers. In addition to plant remains, bones at the site indicate hunting of vicuña and guanaco camelids and the taruca deer.
Pucuncho Basin was a high-altitude oasis for specialized hunting, particularly of vicuña, and later, herding of domesticated alpacas and llamas. While the Pucuncho Basin could have sustained year-round residence, wet-season storms and the dangers of hypothermia, as well as the need to maintain extended social networks and collection of edible plants, may have encouraged regular descents, according to the research team.
In addition, the lithic tools and debitage included nonlocal, fine-grained rocks — some stream-polished. That would have required the plateau residents to visit high-energy rivers in the lower elevations.
It is unclear whether the high-altitude human settlement required genetic or environmental adaptations. But with evidence of high-altitude human habitation almost 900 years earlier than previously documented, the implication is that there may have been more moderate late-glacial Andean environments and greater physiological capabilities for Pleistocene humans.
“The Pucuncho Basin sites suggest that Pleistocene humans lived successfully at extreme high altitude, initiating organismal selection, developmental functional adaptations and lasting biogeographic expansion in the Andes,” write the researchers. “As new studies identify potential genetic signatures of high-altitude adaptation in modern Andean populations, comparative genomic, physiologic and archaeological research will be needed to understand when and how these adaptations evolved.”
In addition to Rademaker, who received his Ph.D. from UMaine in 2012 and is now a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Tübingen, the research team members are: Gregory Hodgins, University of Arizona; Katherine Moore, University of Pennsylvania; Sonia Zarrillo, University of Calgary; Christopher Miller, University of Tübingen; Peter Leach, University of Connecticut; David Reid, University of Illinois-Chicago; Willy Yépez Álvarez, Peru; and Gordon Bromley and Daniel Sandweiss, University of Maine.
The team’s research was supported by the Dan and Betty Churchill Exploration Fund at the University of Maine, the National Geographic Society/Waitt Grants Program, and the National Science Foundation.
Contact: Margaret Nagle, 207.581.3745
Vivian Chi-Hua Wu, professor of food science and human nutrition at the University of Maine, is featured in a blog “Wild Blueberries Making a Name for Themselves in China” on the Wild Blueberry Association of North America website.
Wu, who grew up in Taiwan, says she enjoys introducing people in China to the health benefits of wild blueberries, and since 2009, she has worked with the Wild Blueberry Association of North America to do promotional tours in China and introduce chefs and foodservice buyers there to wild blueberries.
Wu has researched antimicrobial properties of wild blueberries and how wild blueberries maintain gut health. Her recent research, which she anticipates will be published soon, indicates phytochemicals in wild blueberries can fight Norovirus. The contagious virus causes a person’s stomach and/or intestines to become inflamed. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Norovirus leads to the hospitalization of as many as 70,000 people annually in the United States and causes the death of approximately 800.
USA Today cited statistics from the Lobster Institute at the University of Maine for a report about a fisherman who caught the same rare calico lobster twice. Lobster Institute oceanographers estimate the odds of finding a calico lobster at 1 in 30 million, the same as for a solid yellow lobster, the report states.
Blackstone Accelerates Growth (BxG) was mentioned in a Portland Press Herald article about a group of 10 Maine entrepreneurs and community organizers who will attend the PopTech innovation conference in Camden. The annual event is held to gather an elite group of innovators and entrepreneurs from around the world to discuss the impact that technology has on society and how it can be used to solve the world’s most pressing problems, according to the article. This year, a group of Mainers selected by BxG will attend to direct energy and expertise toward solving some of Maine’s social and economic challenges, the article states. BxG is committed to building a community of entrepreneurs and innovators throughout Maine by providing advisory services, investment funds, entrepreneurial coaching and support through partnerships with the University of Maine, Maine Technology Institute and Maine Center for Entrepreneurial Development (MCED).
Mark Brewer, a political science professor at the University of Maine, was quoted in a Maine Public Broadcasting Network report on independent gubernatorial candidate Eliot Cutler winning the endorsement of the Bangor Daily News. Brewer spoke about the importance of newspaper endorsements today. “I think that newspaper endorsements do still matter — maybe not to all voters, but I think particularly for voters who may be undecided in a particular race or on a particular ballot question,” he said.
Understanding how different materials react to high heat with sometimes surprising results is the focus of a hands-on University of Maine 4-H Science Saturday workshop Nov. 22 at UMaine’s Engineering Science Research Center, Barrows Hall.
Youth in grades six through eight will learn about technological uses of high-temperature materials by creating a piece of glass bead and wire jewelry to take home. Participants will also learn about research activities during the event from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at UMaine’s Laboratory for Surface Science and Technology.
The $15 fee includes lunch. Registration materials are available online. Maximum enrollment is 20; Nov. 14 is the deadline to register. For more information, or to request a disability accommodation, call Jessica Brainerd at 207.581.3877.
The University of Maine Standardbred Drill Team invites the campus community and public to the annual Trick or Trot from 5 to 7 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 26, at UMaine’s Witter Farm, 160 University Road in Old Town. The event will include a costume contest, games, baked goods and an opportunity to meet and have photos taken with the farm’s horses. Proceeds will benefit the UMaine Standardbred Drill Team. For more information or to request a disability accommodation, email Kathleen Harvey at firstname.lastname@example.org.
University of Maine President Susan Hunter has appointed Dr. Jeffrey Hecker to fill the position of Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost on an ongoing basis.
Last August, Hecker was appointed to the position for a two-year term.
The ongoing appointment culminates an internal search conducted over the past several weeks to evaluate candidate materials and provide opportunities for the UMaine community to participate in this search. Following a daylong interview Sept. 26 and after evaluating feedback from members of the UMaine community, the search committee recommended Dr. Hecker’s appointment to President Hunter.
“Dr. Hecker is an outstanding candidate, and is poised to lead UMaine in a capable and thoughtful manner,” said President Hunter. “Dr. Hecker has had demonstrated success in working to achieve UMaine’s tripartite mission not only as Provost during the past academic year, but as Dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, and as a faculty member in the Department of Psychology. He has an outstanding record of achievement in his academic discipline, as well as in all administrative positions he has held.
“Dr. Hecker is highly regarded by this community and by all of UMaine’s constituencies. He will continue to work diligently and lead UMaine in fulfilling its student centered-mission as well as ensure that UMaine remains a top-100 research university. I am delighted to continue working with him in his capacity as Provost,” President Hunter said.
Hecker received his Ph.D. in clinical psychology from UMaine in 1986 after earning the B.S. degree (Phi Beta Kappa) in liberal arts and sciences (psychology) from the University of Illinois. He joined the UMaine faculty in 1986 as director of the Psychological Services Center, the training clinic for UMaine’s doctoral program in clinical psychology.
Dr. Hecker is a clinical researcher whose work focuses on understanding and treating anxiety, and more recently on risk assessment for people who have committed sexual offenses, including adolescents. He is the author of two books and scores of journal articles and presentations. A licensed clinical psychologist, Dr. Hecker has extensive experience in providing research and clinical consultation to the Maine Department of Corrections, Division of Juvenile Services; and as a mental health consultant for the Penobscot Job Corps Center and Penquis CAP Head Start, both in Bangor.
He advanced through the academic ranks to professor of psychology, chairing the Department of Psychology from 2002–07. In 2007, he was named interim dean and, a year later, dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.
Dr. Hecker has been honored during his distinguished service to the university, community and profession, with recognition including the 2006 University of Maine College of Liberal Arts and Sciences Outstanding Faculty Award for service and outreach, and the 1994 Maine Psychological Association Award for Outstanding Academic Contributions to Psychology.
Contact: Margaret Nagle, 207.581.3745
The Bangor Daily News reported the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has awarded almost $1 million to Maine to help pay for gathering data on violent deaths using the National Violent Death Reporting System over the next five years. The grant will allow the state to compile information about the relationships between domestic abuse, homicide and suicide, according to the article. The data will supplement the work of groups such as the Domestic Abuse Homicide Review Panel, which examines domestic abuse homicides to understand how the deaths can be prevented. Marcella Sorg, a forensic anthropologist for the state and a research professor at the University of Maine, is leading the effort with Margaret Greenwald, the recently retired chief medical examiner. The two doctors previously analyzed drug death statistics, and their work has been nationally recognized and has provided information to guide Maine drug policy decisions, the article states. WABI (Channel 5) also reported on the study.
Mark Brewer, a political science professor at the University of Maine, was quoted in the Bangor Daily News article, “With re-election bid seemingly secure, Pingree devotes attention — and cash — to electing other Democrats,” about incumbent U.S. Rep. Chellie Pingree and the 1st Congressional District race. Pingree is being challenged by political newcomers Isaac Misiuk, a Republican from Gorham, and Sanford independent Richard Murphy. “She has two challengers, but the reality is she’s unchallenged — there’s no way she’s not going to win,” Brewer said. “Especially when you have somebody who aspires to a leadership position, which everybody basically knows Pingree does, it’s common for them to spread the money around to other candidates and call those favors in later.”
Stacy R. Knapp, a Ph.D. candidate at the University of Maine and adjunct faculty instructor at Maine Maritime Academy in Castine, wrote an opinion piece for The Working Waterfront, about current research to measure the amounts of microplastics in the Gulf of Maine.
The Maine Business School at the University of Maine is sponsoring a talk by Steven Kydd, a UMaine alumnus and co-founder of Tastemade, the world’s first global food network built for digital platforms.
Kydd, who graduated from UMaine in 1991 with a degree in business administration, will speak from 3–4:30 p.m. Monday, Oct. 27 in D.P. Corbett Business Building, Room 100.
Tastemade’s mission is to connect the world through food by allowing creators to make and share video programming instantly on a global and social scale.
Before Tastemade, the Orrington, Maine, native was part of the founding team of Demand Media and executive vice president of Demand Studios, was vice president of business development and strategy for Yahoo! and served as vice president of Internet marketing with 20th Century Fox International in Hong Kong, Indonesia and Los Angeles.
To attend the talk, RSVP by Friday, Oct. 24 to Cindy D’Angelo at 207.581.1963 or email@example.com.
More information about Kydd, including a Q&A with him, is online.
Renowned cellist Matt Haimovitz brings his Bach Listening Room tour to the University of Maine Minsky Recital Hall at 3 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 26.
Haimovitz has renewed his acclaimed 2000 exploration of Bach’s cello suites with a new recording, video and critical study of Bach’s manuscripts. The Sunday program will include “Suite III in C Major” by Johann Sebastian Bach, “Solo Sonata” by Eugène Ysaÿe, “Orbit” by Philip Glass (Maine premiere) and “Suite VI in D Major” by Johann Sebastian Bach (on cello piccolo).
Haimovitz, who plays a Venetian cello made in 1710, has received the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers’ Concert Music Award for his advocacy of living composers and pioneering spirit as well as the American Music Center’s Trailblazer Award for his far-reaching contributions to American music.
“We are thrilled to present our audience with the exquisite talent of Matt Haimovitz,” says Daniel Williams, executive director of the Collins Center for the Arts (CCA). “Our Chamber Music Series draws world-class musicians to our stage and Matt will help us carry on that great tradition.”
Tickets to the concert, which is part of the CCA Chamber Music Series, are $32. For more information and tickets, call 207.581.1755 or visit the CCA website.
Lara Katz, a senior from Arlington, Virginia majoring in wildlife ecology, with minors in anthropology and psychology, is this year’s Robert I. Ashman Scholar, the top academic award in UMaine’s forest resources and wildlife programs.
Growing up in the suburbs of Washington D.C., Katz began her wildlife career volunteering at the Smithsonian National Zoo where she discovered her passion for conserving wildlife and their habitats. At UMaine, she is involved in research focused on fish ecology and river restoration. Her career goals include working as a wildlife biologist and effectively communicating wildlife science to the public for sound conservation.
Also selected for recognition as top students in forest resources and wildlife as Dwight B. Demeritt Scholars are Lucas Lamond and Tabatha Hawkins.
Lamond is a senior from Brewer, Maine majoring in forest operations, bioproducts and bioenergy. He is a student employee working in the University Forests and plans to start his own business managing Maine woodlands for improved wildlife habitat.
Hawkins is a senior from Norway, Maine majoring in wildlife ecology. She also in the Honors College, conducting thesis research on the factors affecting the reintroduction success of the federally endangered tiger beetle in Nantucket. Hawkins is co-president the UMaine Student Chapter of The Wildlife Society, and is a student ambassador for the Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Conservation Biology.
A survey of Monhegan Island’s summer visitors led by Caroline Noblet, an economics professor at the University of Maine, was the focus of the Working Waterfront article, “Monhegan tourism survey reveals low worry about wind project.” Researchers asked 180 summer visitors their views on the university’s proposed floating wind turbines off the island’s coast. According to the article, more than half of the study participants did not know about the wind power proposal; 70 percent said if built, the project would neither detract from nor enhance their visit; and 88 percent said turbines would not change the number of visits they would make to the island. Noblet said the survey was less about the project and more about “how people react to scientific information in decision making.”
The Bangor Daily News reported Rabbi A. James Rudin of Florida will speak at 3 p.m. Thursday in the Bangor Room of the Memorial Union at the University of Maine and at 7 p.m. the same day at Congregation Beth Israel in Bangor. Rudin is the senior interreligious adviser of the American Jewish Committee and has served as the organization’s longtime director of interreligious affairs, the article states. The title of Rudin’s UMaine talk is “The Jewish Jesus and the Christian Christ: Is There a Difference?” Rudin’s Maine appearances are sponsored by several groups including the UMaine Judaic Studies Program, Honors College and the Wilson Center.
The Working Waterfront spoke with John Rebar, executive director of the University of Maine Cooperative Extension, and Anne Lichtenwalner, director of UMaine’s Animal Health Laboratory, about Question 2 on the November ballot that will ask Maine voters to approve an $8 million bond for animal and plant diagnostic services. The bond would allow UMaine Extension to build a new facility on campus to house labs for the monitoring and testing of insects and pests that affect domestic and wild plants and animals in Maine. “As a state with a large international border, thousands of miles of coastlines, and people and goods coming to Maine ports every day, the threat of disease and invasive species is increasing annually. This threat can destroy crops, kill or injure livestock and pose a threat to public health,” Rebar said, adding staff is “very limited” in what they can do in the current lab.
A University of Maine study was cited in the Mainebiz article, “On the edge: Monhegan Island’s year-round residents take charge of their future.” The study reported that residents of Maine’s 15 year-round islands pay at least one-third more for basic food items than the state average, according to the article. Recent UMaine graduate Ben Algeo also was mentioned in the article. Algeo graduated in May with a bachelor’s degree in political science and renewable energy. He is an Island Institute fellow working with Monhegan and Matinicus islands to identify their most pressing energy efficiency needs and possible solutions, the article states.
University of Maine Campus Recreation will host the 2014 UMaine Community Health and Wellness Fair from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday, Oct. 27 in the New Balance Student Recreation Center. The event is free for all UMaine students, faculty and staff. Participants will be able to get their blood pressure checked, try biofeedback and have a chair massage. More than 20 vendors from on- and off-campus organizations will provide health and wellness related tests, information, samples and more. Participating vendors include Cigna EAP, Provant, UMaine Dining Services, EMMC providers and the Student Wellness Resource Center. In addition to Campus Recreation, the fair is sponsored by the UMaine Counseling Center, Student Wellness Resource Center, HealthyU, Provant Health Coaching and the UMS Wellness Manager’s Office.
Just in time for Halloween, two thrilling National Theatre Live broadcasts of “Frankenstein” will be presented at the Collins Center for the Arts at the University of Maine.
Version 1, featuring Jonny Lee Miller (“Trainspotting”) as Dr. Victor Frankenstein and Benedict Cumberbatch (“12 Years A Slave”) as Creature, will be shown at 7 p.m. Friday, Oct. 24. Version 2, with the roles reversed, will be shown at 7 p.m. Friday, Oct. 31.
Directed by Academy Award-winner Danny Boyle, “Frankenstein” was a sell-out hit at the National Theatre in 2011. Since then, the broadcast of the production has become an international success. National Theatre Live is the National Theatre’s endeavor to broadcast British theatre live from the London stage to cinemas and arts centers around the world. Concerns of scientific responsibility, parental neglect, cognitive development and the nature of good and evil are embedded within this thrilling, disturbing classic gothic tale.
For tickets, $15 general admission/$10 for students, call 207.581.1755 or visit the CCA website.