Three University of Maine student research teams in bioengineering are collaborating with The Jackson Laboratory in Bar Harbor and IDEXX Laboratories Inc., in Westbrook on senior capstone projects.
Working under the supervision of Professor David Neivandt, director of UMaine’s Graduate School of Biomedical Science and Engineering, and coordinator of the undergraduate bioengineering program, the bioengineering seniors are involved in semester-long capstone projects in which they develop device concepts and methods to improve biological systems that benefit society.
“In the early stages of our classes, we have a lot of canned problems,” says Jeff Servetas, Hancock, Maine, of his bioengineering coursework. Now as seniors, the students are developing solutions to open-ended questions that have not been addressed before.
Two teams are working with IDEXX — one team will work to develop a device veterinarians could use to test for ear mites in dogs, while the other team’s focus is to design a method to provide precise, accurate and rapid quantification of spot density in the IDEXX SNAP® test for screening for diseases.
“I really feel like I’m making a difference,” says Servetas of the project. “If the work I do relieves pet owner of the burden, we’re making a difference.”
Tony DiMarco, vice president for research and development at IDEXX, says working with UMaine students in co-ops and on capstone projects is enjoyable. “The students are fantastic — they jump headlong into projects and thrive on working through complex design problems, using a systematic approach that reveals their intense training. It allows us to get a head start on new projects, or explore some new areas that we might not otherwise work on,” he says.
A third bioengineering team was asked by Jackson Laboratory to develop a device to keep mice warm during embryo transplant surgery, thereby improving the success rates.
The next project in the course will send the students to Dirigo Pines in Orono, where they will be working with the residents and staff to identify problems that can be addressed with engineering solutions.
Majoring in bioengineering at UMaine means majoring in problem-solving, says Coady Richardson of Madison, Maine. “I’ve always liked puzzles and solving problems. (Bioengineering) is the most challenging program on campus,” says Richardson, adding that working with Jackson Lab mentors has taught him how to effectively communicate about research.
Having a well-rounded “toolbox” of problem-solving and communication skills with which to address bioengineering challenges is a true boon, according to the students.
“We learn to be professionals,” says Haylea Ledoux of Bedford, N.H. While communicating in different “engineering languages” is important, being able to learn in different styles has made the most difference, she says.
“It’s a big test for us to prove to ourselves that we have the knowledge and are capable of doing this,” says Ledoux.
Contact: Margaret Nagle, 207.581.3745
WLBZ (Channel 2) and WVII (Channel 7) attend the Big Gig finale at the University of Maine’s Foster Center for Student Innovation. Finalists from the last three Big Gig pitch-off events competed for a $1,000 grand prize sponsored by University Credit Union. Jessica Jewell of Northern Maine Distilling Co. was named the winner. The other finalists were John and Christine Carney of Thick & Thin Designs, and Bruce and Kathy Chamberlain of Stone Fox Farm Creamery. UMaine student Christine Carney told WLBZ the experience and getting to connect with people in the community has been invaluable. The Big Gig is a series of business pitch events for entrepreneurs in Greater Bangor designed to bring together Bangor-Orono area innovators and entrepreneurs and offer networking opportunities. It was started by a partnership between UMaine, Old Town, Orono and Husson University and is supported by Blackstone Accelerates Growth.
The University of Maine Cooperative Extension publication “Children and Respect” was cited in an examiner.com parenting report titled “Respect: You get what you give.” The article states the publication helps breakdown what respect is and how better to teach it. Marilyn Ellis, a UMaine Extension 4-H youth specialist, prepared the publication.
The Bangor Daily News, Denton Record Chronicle and Lewisville Leader reported University of Maine Senior Vice President for Administration and Finance Janet Waldron will resign to join the University of North Texas (UNT) System as vice chancellor of finance, effective April 28. In a prepared statement, Waldron said the decision “has come with deeply mixed emotions as I care for and respect President Ferguson, his vision and our successful partnership at UMaine.” UMaine professors Robert Rice, a professor of wood science, and Howard Segal, a history professor, spoke to the BDN about Waldron. “She has risen to be, at least in my experience here, the most competent of CFOs we’ve ever had. She has worked tirelessly to help the university through some of the most challenging times we’ve had, including the current one,” Rice said. Segal said Waldron is “extremely well respected on campus not only for her exceptional expertise in finances overall, but also for her ability to find sources of funds for various campus needs that might have been missed by less capable persons.” Waldron has led UMaine’s Office of Administration and Finance for 11 years.
University of Maine Cooperative Extension is offering a six-class workshop on building, planting, maintaining and harvesting square-foot gardens in raised beds and containers.
Classes meet monthly from May through October at the UMaine Extension office, 7 County Drive, Skowhegan. The first class is 9–11 a.m. May 1; the final class is Oct. 9. UMaine Extension Somerset County staff will teach the classes, and local Master Gardener Volunteers will work with participants in demonstration gardens throughout the growing season. Harvested produce will be shared with area schools and senior and food kitchen programs.
Course fee is $10 per person. Scholarships are available. To register, or to request a disability accommodation, call Pete Bastien at 207.474.9622 or 800.287.1495 (in Maine).
Award-winning author Mary Doria Russell will present the 2014 John M. Rezendes Visiting Scholar in Ethics Lecture at 4 p.m. Wednesday, April 16, in Hauck Auditorium at the University of Maine.
Russell has authored five books, including the 2005 historical fiction “A Thread of Grace,” which was nominated for the Pulitzer Prize. Her talk, titled “The Age of Discovery: From Spain to Space,” is free and open to the public.
The biological anthropologist also penned the science fiction novel “The Sparrow,” which was named one of the Ten Best Books of the Year by Entertainment Weekly and was the 2013 Honors Read for UMaine’s Honors College.
“Important novels leave deep cracks in our beliefs, our prejudices, and our blinders. ‘The Sparrow’ is one of them,” reads Entertainment Weekly’s review of the book that describes a Jesuit missionary’s voyage to the planet Rakhat and his interaction with extraterrestrial life there.
Before becoming an author, Russell taught human anatomy at Case Western Reserve University School of Dental Medicine. She lives near Cleveland with her husband, Don.
The John M. Rezendes Visiting Scholar in Ethics Lecture was established in 1999 to critically engage students, faculty and the community in ethical issues of national importance.
The lecture is part of the John M. Rezendes Ethics Initiative, a program established through a gift from Dennis and Beau Rezendes, which also includes the John M. Rezendes Ethics Essay Contest open to undergraduate students at the University of Maine.
The Rezendes Scholars in 2013 and 2012, respectively, were Arthur Serota ’66, co-founder of the United Movement to End Child Soldiering; and Robert Kenner, creator of the award-winning documentary “Food, Inc. The Ethics of How We Eat.”
Contact: Beth Staples, 207.581.3777