University of Maine marine scientist Rhian Waller is heralded as a risk taker in “New Age of Exploration” in the March edition of National Geographic Magazine.
The National Geographic Society, one of the largest nonprofit scientific and educational institutions in the world, is celebrating its 125th birthday in 2013 with a yearlong series that highlights 21st-century explorers who “press the limits.”
Waller, a University of Maine assistant research professor in the School of Marine Sciences, has pressed the limits of diving during more than 40 expeditions around the planet. In a submersible, she once plunged to a depth of 3,600 meters for corals on the New England Seamount chain in 2005. She frequently scuba dives in temperatures of 35 degrees F and below in the name of science.
Her research focuses on how environmental factors such as climate change, fishing and oil exploration affect deep-sea coral ecology and reproduction, as well as what effect that altered life cycle could have on the rest of the marine ecosystem.
“You can imagine all it takes is one trawler or one piece of garbage to land on the coral and suffocate it, and that’s 4,000 years of growth and 4,000 years before that colony will grow back to support 1,000 different invertebrates, which in turn support maybe tens or hundreds of different species of fish,” she says.
The question-and-answer piece with Pat Walters on page 121 of National Geographic Magazine is titled “Ice Water Diver” and includes a portrait by Emmy Award-winning photographer Marco Grob.
In January 2013, Waller conducted research along fjords near Juneau, Alaska, where red tree coral forms essential habitat for rockfish and crustacean species. She is examining how healthy the coral is, when and how much it reproduces, and if there is a specific time of year when it should be protected because it’s reproducing.
Last summer, Waller traveled to Chile to study reproductive ecology of deep-sea corals. National Geographic and the National Science Foundation funded the study, which allowed her to establish three long-term sites that she’ll monitor and from which she’ll take coral samples.
Waller says her goal with each research project is to demonstrate the importance of deep-sea coral systems to the rest of the ocean ecosystem. “If we continue to damage these coral habitats, we’re going to damage the fish and invertebrate populations that live around them,” she says. “Even though they’re out-of-sight, out-of-mind, and many people don’t know they’re there, we have to explore and research why these ecosystems are important.”
Waller’s fascination with the beautiful, mysterious, slow-growing marine animals called corals was sparked when she snorkeled in the Red and Arabian seas as a youth.
While overlooking Tracy Arm fjord near Juneau, Alaska a month ago, Waller, 34, blogged for National Geographic: “This is one of those rare places, where fewer divers than you can count on one hand have dove and seen. Where even the marine radio won’t reach and you’re completely out of touch with the rest of humanity. Where when the sun shines on the top of the mountains and glistens off the aquamarine ocean, the scale of this glacial cut fjord becomes instantly apparent, and you feel so small. I think it’s important we take ourselves places where we can feel small occasionally, to remind us that we are protectors of our lands and our oceans, and to understand it we need to explore it.”
The online edition of National Geographic Magazine was available Feb. 15; the magazine is scheduled to hit newsstands Feb. 26.
The winter issue of UMaine Today magazine features an in-depth look at Waller’s research.
Contact: Beth Staples, 207.581.3777
Maine 4-H, which turns 100 years old this year, has a lot to celebrate — deep roots, a large, supportive family and a lot of successes.
Today, 4-H youth programs enrich children’s lives through technology and hands-on programming. 4-H — which stands for head, hands, heart and health — is the youth development branch of University of Maine Cooperative Extension. Extension leaders and volunteers utilize university resources to develop the life skills and broaden horizons of 30,000 Maine children each year.
If youth ages 5–18 are interested in raising steers, making cheese, shearing goats, learning about tractor safety, sewing, growing vegetables and being a member of a Dairy Quiz Bowl Team, UMaine Extension has opportunities for them.
And if they’re fascinated with rocketry, adventure camps, new media photography, Junior Maine Guiding, public speaking, climate change, website development and LEGO robotics, 4-H has programs for them as well.
While 4-H has grown in size and scope since its inception in Maine in 1913, its core belief is the same — children are the promise for the future.
As 4-H history goes, in the late 1800s and early 1900s, farmers were reluctant to use new agricultural techniques developed by public university researchers, so universities established rural youth programs to introduce the concepts to children, which they eagerly shared with their parents.
Alumni praise 4-H for the positive and lasting impact it’s had in their lives.
Maine Assistant Attorney General Patrick Larson, a 1985 UMaine graduate, enjoyed hunter safety, outdoor programming, photography, cooking and electricity demonstrations as a member of Union River Valley 4-H in Aurora, Maine.
“The strong sense of public service and volunteerism I learned through 4-H helped me give back to the community later in life,” he says. “You learned that that was what you do; you offer your time to help others.”
Jodi Harnden of Wilton, Maine, says community service was also a vital component of the Dandy Crafter 4-H Club. Harnden, a third-year secondary education and mathematics double major at UMaine, says her group gave homemade quilts and crafts to residents and hospital patients, and raffled other crafts to support community service projects, including buying animal oxygen masks for area fire departments.
She says participating in 4-H trips and activities helped her develop skills and confidence. The peer tutor and snare drummer in the UMaine pep band wants to be a high school teacher.
Lisa Phelps, UMaine Extension’s 4-H program administrator, says the key is to empower children and raise aspirations. “I have had parents tell me that because of their child’s involvement in 4-H, he or she will graduate from high school and go on to college,” Phelps says. “And if they were not in 4-H, they would have most likely dropped out of school.”
John Rebar, executive director of UMaine Extension, says the self-directed, hands-on 4-H programs encourage children to learn about the world and all that they can achieve in it. “4-H provides the kinds of experiences that build skills and excitement that are remembered for a lifetime,” he says.
The glowing testimonials are backed by research. In 2008, initial results of Tufts University professor Richard Lerner’s longitudinal study indicated fifth-grade 4-H members across the country earned better grades, were more engaged in school and were more likely to envision themselves attending college than nonmembers.
That research supports UMaine Extension’s most recent efforts to increase UMaine recruitment, enrollment and retention through 4-H Science. The new statewide initiative was awarded a three-year Presidential Request for Visions of University Excellence (PRE-VUE) Program grant last summer as part of the university’s five-year strategic plan, the Blue Sky Project.
Contact: Jennifer O’Leary, 207.299.7751
University of Maine finance professor Pankaj “Pank” Agrrawal is cited in a list of influential business school professors who are reshaping the curriculum and teaching extensively about exchange-traded funds at major universities, according to ETF Database (ETFdb), a global leader in market analysis, tracking and ratings.
ETF (exchange traded funds) are a type of derivative investment vehicle often linked with a stock, bond, commodity, currency, sector or country index, which have gained popularity in recent years. Their correct use can dampen volatility and improve the risk-return tradeoff. ETFdb noted that the 17 professors it featured on its website “have continually played a major role in the world of finance and economics.”
Among those also on the list are Nobel Prize winner William Sharpe of Stanford University, Yale University’s Robert Shiller, and faculty members from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the Wharton School, and Northwestern, NYU, Boston University, University of Notre Dame, Lehigh and other leading universities. The list is online.
Agrrawal, an associate professor of finance who joined the UMaine Business School in 2005, frequently has been recognized for his expertise in finance, investments and portfolio efficiency methods. His research on ETF’s and related topics has been listed on the Frankfurt-DAX stock exchange website and cited in the Wall Street Journal. He previously spent more than eight years in the investment management industry, where he was portfolio manager and director of research at leading global asset management firms in San Francisco, Boston, London and Philadelphia. He received his doctorate from the University of Alabama and has taught evening classes at Harvard and Drexel universities.
Agrrawal’s research interests include financial modeling using ETFs, forecasting using big data simulation and numeric analysis, portfolio optimization procedures, stable-beta estimation, digitizing investor sentiment as applied to behavioral finance and developing algorithms for Web-harvesting financial information. Agrrawal applies the data to extend existing work in areas such as multi-asset class diversification, risk-parity investing and modeling of human fallout during financial crises.
He is a the author of more than 25 papers at refereed conferences and 12 papers in academic journals, including the Financial Analysts Journal, the Journal of Behavioral Finance and the Journal of Investing.
Agrrawal also is the founder of Advanced Portfolio Solutions and Cloud Epsilon LLC, which he created as a service to disseminate information to the quantitatively oriented finance community. Products include large-scale ETF correlation-covariance matrices, beta estimates and the CorrectCharts and ReturnFinder finance iApps, which have been downloaded on iTunes in more than 30 countries.
Contact: George Manlove, 207.581.3756
This spring in Orono, University of Maine Cooperative Extension will offer its Recipe to Market series for anyone considering starting a food business.
The four-session program, with two optional sessions, is scheduled March 21 through April 25 at UMaine’s Foster Center for Student Innovation. It is a step-by-step course for converting a personal recipe into a business.
Leading the program are Beth Calder, a UMaine Extension food science specialist and associate professor of food science, and Jim McConnon, UMaine Extension business and economics specialist, professor of economics and authority on small and family businesses in Maine. Also participating in the series are UMaine Extension Professor Louis Bassano, Jason Bolton, UMaine Extension assistant professor for food safety, and program planning team member Jesse Moriarity, director of the Foster Center for Student Innovation. A panel discussion will include representatives from the Maine Department of Agriculture, in addition to an insurance expert, banker, attorney and food business owner.
Recipe to Market is an extensive workshop series focusing on such topics as licensing, regulations, food safety, testing and business management skills. The program also delves into regulations on labeling and special considerations for producing acidified canned foods.
In addition, program participants learn about some of the sources available to support them in business development, and how to add value to an existing business.
Recipe to Market is offered twice a year throughout the state, and has generated success stories about how specialty food producers have succeeded in marketing a product that began with a great idea, according to McConnon and Calder. The spring 2013 sessions are the first to be offered at UMaine. In the fall, the program will be offered in Cumberland County. Since the program’s inception in 2007, more than 100 people have participated.
Magic Dilly Beans company founder Brian McCarthy of Belfast, who intends to begin marketing specialty pickled dilly beans this spring, says the Recipe to Market classes he took at UMaine Extension’s Waldo County office saved him time and probably money by introducing him to the many complexities of market research, product pricing, packaging and distribution. Most important, he says, was learning to better understand his target market, his competition and pricing for a successful business start-up.
“I think it was very important, for multiple reasons,” he says. “This course helps you know what it takes. You can have a great recipe, butt here’s much more to it. That’s why a lot of people fail in this industry.”
Orono sessions now scheduled:
March 21, 5:30–8 p.m., “Are You an Entrepreneur? What Is Involved?”
March 28, 5:30–9 p.m., “Developing Your Product and Process”
April 4, 5:30–9 p.m., “Business Realities”
April 11, 5:30–9 p.m., “Resource Panel”
April 18, 9 a.m.–4:30 p.m., individual business counseling
April 25: food pilot plant tours on campus
Recipe to Market program fees are $50 per person; $25 for students. Additional information is available on the UMaine Extension website. Registration deadline is March 14. For reservations or to request disability accommodations, contact Theresa Tilton, 207.942.7396 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Contact: Jim McConnon, 207.581.3165 / Beth Calder, 207.581.2791
Master of Sciences in Oceanography Student, Thomas Leeuw, Receives Recogntion for Research and is Published in Scientific Journal
Posted February 18, 2013
Channel 5 (WABI) reported on the annual Junior Achievement Titan Challenge business and marketing competition for Bangor-region high school students, which was held Feb. 13 at the University of Maine Foster Center for Student Innovation.
In his Bangor Daily News blog “Education: Future Imperfect,” University of Maine Professor of History Howard Segal discussed Gov. Paul LePage’s recent disparaging comments to Maine schoolchildren about newspapers’ objectivity.
Members of the UMaine community have an opportunity to support the nominations of UMaine history doctoral candidate Rob Gee and Honors College and Maine Studies Program faculty member Katherine O’Flaherty for two international awards in recognition of their work in the digital humanities.
The public may vote until midnight, Sunday, Feb. 17 on the Digital Humanities Award website.
Gee and O’Flaherty are nominated in two categories: “Best DH Blog, Article, or Short Publication” for their post “Summer Project: Start a Digital History Toolbox” available online and “Best Professional Resource for Learning About or Doing DH Work” for their “Digital Humanities Tool Box,” also available online.
The 2012 DH Awards recognize excellence in digital humanities in a number of categories. Nominations for DH Awards came from around the digital humanities community and were overseen by a nominations committee consisting of James Cummings at the University of Oxford; Craig Bellamy of the University of Melbourne; Sheila Brennan of George Mason University; Marjorie Burghart at the École des Haute Études en Sciences Sociales, Lyon; and Kiyonori Nagasaki of the International Institute for Digital Humanities.
Phi Kappa Sigma will hold an Orono Classic pond hockey tournament at Orono High School, 10 a.m.–3 p.m., Saturday, Feb. 16, to raise funds for the Leukemia Lymphoma Society and Phi Kappa Sigma member Jon Cairns, who is going through treatment for Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. The cost is $35 per team; games will be three-on-three with teams of five members (including two alternates), double elimination. Food and hot chocolate will be available. There is no cost to watch the games. For information, email email@example.com.
Members of Beta Theta Pi will hold their 20th Annual Beta Sleep-Out, a fundraiser for Rape Response Services in Bangor, from 6 p.m., Friday, Feb. 15–6 a.m. Saturday, Feb. 16 at the organization’s home on Munson Road. Members will remain outside their house and gather around a bonfire throughout the night. This year’s fundraising goal is $10,000. For information, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
The University of Maine Counseling Center and Touchstone Resources has been reaccredited by the International Association of Counseling Services, Inc. (IACS), a Virginia-based organization of United States, Canadian and Australian counseling agencies.
The IACS evaluated the UMaine center against high standards of counseling practice and found it to offer competent and reliable professional services. Reaccreditation by IACS also requires evidence of continuing professional development and a demonstration of excellence in counseling performance.
Directed by Douglas Johnson, the Counseling Center is a department in the Division of Student Affairs and provides services and programs that promote the personal development and psychological well-being of UMaine students. The center also assists in developing and maintaining a university atmosphere conducive to growth and maximizing student educational achievement. Touchstone Resources promotes student engagement, connections and a sense of belonging to the UMaine community.
University of Maine Professor of Mechanical Engineering Mick Peterson, who also is a cooperating professor of animal and veterinary sciences and co-founder of the Racing Surfaces Testing Laboratory in Orono, is listed by BloodHorse.com Thoroughbred horse-racing magazine as being among 12 influential people improving the Thoroughbred racing industry, but not often recognized for their contributions. Through his work analyzing track surfaces with a biometrical track-testing device, Peterson can assess factors affecting both track safety and performance. A profile of Peterson in the Feb. 16, 2013 edition of Blood Horse, notes that Peterson’s laboratory and track analysis equipment have become “an invaluable component in the industry’s wide-ranging efforts to improve the safety of its athletes.” Others on the list include philanthropists who have contributed to improving training and working conditions of “backstretch” employees behind the scenes, supported and strengthened horse farms and breeding programs, created safe havens for retired racehorses, and establishing a fund for permanently disabled jockeys.
Graduate students in the University of Maine College of Natural Sciences, Forestry, and Agriculture will showcase their research at a free public Graduate Students Research Awards Competition from 10 a.m.–1:30 p.m., Thursday, Feb. 21, in Room 57 of Stodder Hall. Topics being explored include mathematically predicting global oceanic carbon dioxide uptake; migrating songbird stopover habitat use in the Gulf of Maine; optimum tree-cutting standards for productivity; forest-based sustainable bioenergy development; drying cellulose nanofibrils, the effect of wild blueberries on health risk factors in rats, using dung beetles to suppress pathogens in wild blueberry crops; gentrification and vulnerability of Maine fishing communities; and processing polymer nanocomposites with cellulose nanofibrils. For information or to request disability accommodations, call 207.581.3205.
Channel 2 (WLBZ), Channel 7 (WVII) and the Bangor Daily News reported on the Feb. 12 swearing in ceremony held in Hermon for the new five-member Maine Wabanaki-State Child Welfare Truth and Reconciliation Commission, which includes University of Maine School of Social Work Director Gail Werrbach. The commission will report to the Maine Legislature on an earlier practice by state government and churches of placing Native American children in foster care or special schools, ostensibly to accelerate their integration into a broader society.
Channel 5 reported on the Feb. 12 celebration of Mardi Gras in the Dexter Lounge in the Harold Alfond Sports Arena, which included food, music and beads. Lisa Michaud, communications coordinator for the Franco-American Centre at UMaine, said Franco Americans make up 40 percent of the state’s population and also share enthusiasm for the celebration normally associated with New Orleans.
Comments from Habib Dagher, director of the UMaine Advanced Structures and Composites Center, were included in a news report on the Co.EXIST innovative energy, education, food and health website about the feasibility of harnessing some of the untapped energy potential in offshore wind. UMaine is collaborating with Norway’s Statoil North America corporation and with a public-private DeepCwind consortium to place an experimental offshore wind farm in the Gulf of Maine. SustainableBusiness.com also carried an article about the University of Maine leading the trend toward offshore floating wind turbines and a $4 million U.S. Department of Energy grant the university received to advance the research and development of offshore turbine materials. A Bangor Daily News article about UMaine’s wind energy research quoted Maine Public Utilities Commission Chair Thomas Welch as saying that even though the project cannot guarantee economic benefits, it would be a bonanza for the state as a leader in an evolving industry if the planned demonstration wind project is successful.
A Maine Public Broadcasting Network report on the contributions of Karen Mills of Brunswick, who announced this week she will step down as administrator of the U.S. Small Business Administration, a Cabinet-level appointment in the Obama administration, included comments from Jim McConnon, University of Maine Cooperative Extension business and economics specialist and professor of economics, who said Mills’ appointment in 2009 was “very, very positive.”
A Bangor Daily News feature story about the University of Maine Virtual Environment and Multimodal Interaction (VEMI) Laboratory in Boardman Hall included comments from Nicholas Giudice, a UMaine School of Computing Information Sciences assistant professor in spatial information science and engineering, and Richard Corey, VEMI laboratory manager, who discussed a head-mounted device that can simulate a variety of virtual realities. The device could be used for emergency training or, eventually, to augment navigation for people with diminished spatial recognition.