Understanding the biodiversity of bacteria associated with marine algae that contribute to marine ecosystem health is the focus of a study led by three University of Maine researchers.
Susan Brawley, a professor of plant biology in the School of Marine Sciences and a cooperating professor in the School of Biology and Ecology, is leading the three-year project. At UMaine, Brawley is working with John Singer, a professor of microbiology, and Benildo de los Reyes, a professor of biological sciences.
The three-year study is a collaborative research project with Hilary Morrison at the Marine Biological Laboratory (MBL) in Woods Hole, Massachusetts, and is funded by a more than $1.4 million grant from the National Science Foundation — $986,515 to UMaine and $480,016 to MBL.
“The macroalgal microbiome in space and time — maintaining primary producers in the Atlantic rocky intertidal zone,” will focus on interactions between microbes and intertidal macroalgae, and how their relationships change in response to natural and human-driven stresses.
Intertidal macroalgae, or seaweeds, provide shelter and food to many invertebrates and young fishes. Although much is known about how intertidal algae react to natural stresses, little is known about their associated bacteria and how these bacteria react to those stresses. Past studies found that some macroalgae disintegrate after bacteria are removed, suggesting the bacteria are essential to the algae’s health, according to the researchers.
The study will examine genetic, taxonomic and functional aspects of the biodiversity of bacteria associated with seaweeds that are important to the health of marine ecosystems. It will determine how the bacteria change depending on the season, position within the intertidal zone and latitudinal range, the researchers say.
The researchers say little is known about how macroalgal microbiomes change in space and time, and they hope the study will serve as an important trans-Atlantic baseline of the microbiomes’ biodiversity.
The project is one of 12 studies funded by NSF’s Dimensions of Biodiversity Program. A total of $23 million was invested with contributions from NSF’s Directorates for Biological Sciences and Geosciences, the Sao Paulo Research Foundation and the National Natural Science Foundation of China, according to the foundation.
The Dimensions of Biodiversity Program differs from traditional biodiversity research that focuses on one ecosystem by integrating multiple aspects into research projects and offering opportunities to make advances in understanding the generation, maintenance and loss of biodiversity, the NSF states.
“This year’s portfolio of projects will accelerate our understanding of biodiversity across disciplines and across scales of time and space,” Penny Firth, director of NSF’s Division of Environmental Biology, says in a press release. “Through this program, we’re witnessing a transformation in our ability to bridge scientific approaches and perspectives.”
The research will fill in gaps in biodiversity knowledge, Firth says. It also has the potential for significant effects on agriculture, fuel, manufacturing and health.
Contact: Elyse Kahl, 207.581.3747
WABI (Channel 5) reported on aquaculture research at the University of Maine for the report, “Aquaculture in Maine: A look inside.” WABI visited UMaine’s Center for Cooperative Aquaculture Research (CCAR), a state-of-the-art business incubation facility and center for aquaculture research, development and demonstration on a 25-acre campus on the shore of Taunton Bay in Franklin, Maine. “The intent is that we can help potential businesses, fishermen, aquaculturists and other people that want to grow seafood,” said Paul Anderson, director of the UMaine Aquaculture Research Institute.
WVII (Channel 7) reported on the 27th annual International Culturefest held at the University of Maine. The UMaine Office of International Programs and International Students Association hosted the daylong celebration of cultures that featured exhibits, a food court, children’s activities, a style show and performances. Sarah Joughin, assistant director of International Students and Scholars Services at UMaine, spoke about the students’ love of the event. “They really put their all into it,” she said. “Every summer when people go home, they always bring a little something back from their country and are thinking about it all year long.”
The Associated Press and WVII (Channel 7) reported on the 2014 debut of “Ghost Brothers of Darkland County,” a Southern gothic supernatural musical created by Stephen King, a best-selling author and University of Maine alumnus; Rock and Roll Hall of Famer John Mellencamp; and Grammy Award-winning T Bone Burnett. The haunting tale of fraternal love, lust, jealousy and revenge kicked off its national tour at the Collins Center for the Arts. Danny Williams, executive director of the CCA, told WVII the collaborative work gave students insight into what goes into making a major production. The Maine Public Broadcasting Network, The Republic and SFGate carried the AP report.
Mark Brewer, a political science professor at the University of Maine, was interviewed by the Kennebec Journal and Seacoast Online for articles about election results. Brewer was quoted in the Seacoast Online article, “Election results bring Maine closer to ‘the middle.’” He said the Republican gains in Maine are a reflection of many factors such as the bear baiting referendum, which drew people who typically don’t vote, and a nationwide anti-Obama trend, the article states. “They appear to have caught up with Democrats on their ground game,” he said of Republicans. “This is an area where the Democrats have dominated for a long time. The Republicans’ strategy clearly closed the gap this time.” The KJ spoke with Brewer for the article, “What kind of congressman will Maine’s Bruce Poliquin be?” Brewer said the Republican from the state’s 2nd District rejected the “tea party” label during his campaign, but his past statements suggest “there will be some connection between him and the more tea party-type faction of the GOP.”
Nominations are currently being accepted for the 2014 Steve Gould Award.
The award was created in 1981 by the family and friends of Steve Gould in memory of “a man of honest and passionate concern for others.” The award is given to those who have demonstrated superior qualities of unselfishness and compassion in the course of service to the university and its ideals.
Students, staff, faculty members and organizations serving the University of Maine are eligible. Those involved in acts of heroism may also be nominated. The winner(s) will receive campuswide recognition as well as a monetary prize.
Nomination forms are available by contacting Suzi Miller in the President’s Office at 207.581.1516 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Forms are due to Miller by 4:30 p.m. Friday, Dec. 5.
The Bangor Daily News reported on a University of Maine tour of the Virtual Environment and Multimodal Interaction (VEMI) Laboratory and Advanced Manufacturing Center that was given to Maine Health Access Foundation members to showcase the university’s research into helping Maine’s elderly population age comfortably and conveniently. “At the VEMI Lab, we specialize in looking at the way people move around spaces and how they use different senses,” said Rick Corey, the lab’s director of operations. “[We’re] looking at creating an indoor navigation system that would be less intrusive than camera systems you would find in nursing homes.” Len Kaye, director of UMaine’s Center on Aging, spoke about the involvement of students in aging research. “I’ve been working in the field of aging for nearly 40 years and I’ve never seen the level of interest that we’re now seeing among our younger student population. They’re building careers in researching and serving an older population,” Kaye said. Carol Kim, a microbiologist and vice president for research and graduate school dean, also spoke to the BDN about the research. “What I’d love to see in the next three to five years is that Maine is the model for the country [in terms of aging research]. People in Oregon, in Idaho and across the country, people are going to be asking, ‘Oh, what is Maine doing about this issue because they are the leaders in aging,’” she said.
A $20 million National Science Foundation EPSCoR grant that was awarded to the University of Maine in August to help establish a Sustainable Ecological Aquaculture Network (SEANET) program in Maine, was mentioned in a Portland Press Herald article about a group of marine-based businesses and institutions that are working to apply for $7 million in state bond funding to enhance Maine’s marine industry. The money was approved by voters on Tuesday as part of Question 7. One of the groups, the University of New England, is looking to create a lab facility for its marine sciences program, according to the article. If the UNE grant is awarded, it would complement the UMaine funding to establish a network of Maine aquaculture and marine research institutions, the article states.
The University of Maine was cited in a Government Executive article on the Schoodic Institute at Acadia National Park titled “Repurposed Navy installation in Maine looks for a more firm financial footing.” According to the article, the institute is centered around research and education on topics including the ecology of birds, aquatics and forests, with a major focus on citizen science, and is often in partnership with UMaine and other organizations.
Colorful cranberries are a sign of the holiday season and University of Maine Cooperative Extension is offering preservation tips to enjoy the flavorful fruit throughout the coming months.
In a new bulletin, Kathleen Savoie, UMaine Extension associate professor, explains how to choose, prepare, store, freeze and can fresh cranberries. The bulletin also has several recipes, including for cranberry sauce and spicy cranberry salsa. Copies of bulletin 4045, “Let’s Preserve: Cranberries” may be ordered for $1 each or downloaded for free online.
For more information, contact 207.581.3792 or email@example.com.
Engineering News-Record reported on the new wind and wave laboratory being built at the University of Maine. During the summer of 2014, UMaine broke ground for an $8 million facility that will house W² — the world’s first wind and wave lab to feature a rotating open-jet wind tunnel above a 100-foot-long by 30-foot-wide by 15-foot-deep wave basin. The facility, which is an expansion of the UMaine Advanced Structures and Composites Center and is being constructed by Cianbro Corp., will be used to create waves and wind from different directions converging at a point and creating a storm. A beach at one end of the wave basin will enable coastal engineers to study erosion, seawalls, breakwaters, and the impact of sea-level rise on communities. “It will allow us to build a model of a city and apply seven potentially new environments to evaluate the effects of sea-level rise,” said Habib Dagher, director of the UMaine Composites Center.
Mark Brewer, a political science professor at the University of Maine, was interviewed by several local news organizations following Election Day. The Portland Press Herald spoke with Brewer about Question 1, the referendum that asked votes to ban bear baiting. He said the involvement of the state’s game wardens and biologists had an influence on the result, which allows baiting to continue. Brewer spoke with the Bangor Daily News about Republican Bruce Poliquin winning the 2nd Congressional District seat. He said a high turnout of rural voters due to the governor’s race and bear baiting referendum, paired with the current national anti-Democratic sentiment helped Poliquin win. The Maine Public Broadcasting Network interviewed Brewer about the gubernatorial race. He said the Maine Democratic Party didn’t have a compelling action agenda for voters this election. “You had Eliot Cutler with very detailed policy plans, books, proposals, all kinds of stuff; and Paul LePage had a well-defined record to run on and was very clear on what he thought he accomplished,” Brewer told MPBN. “I think [Mike] Michaud’s ambiguity or vagueness not only hurt his campaign, but I think that kind of spread to the party as a whole.”
The University of Maine will recognize veterans with a week of ceremonies, presentations and panel discussions.
The activities, which are coordinated by the UMaine Office of Veterans Education and Transition Services (VETS) and UMaine Veterans Association, will begin at noon Monday, Nov. 10, with an opening ceremony on the Mall.
The flag raising and remembrance ceremony will include a welcome address by Robert Dana, UMaine’s vice president for student life and dean of students; a speech by Capt. Joe Miller, a UMaine doctoral candidate and three-tour Operation Iraqi Freedom Army veteran; a performance of the national anthem and a UMaine memorial song by Mainely Voices, a coed student a cappella group; posting and retiring of the colors; and taps.
Tony Llerena, VETS coordinator and school certifying official for veterans, says VETS has compiled a list of all UMaine veteran alumni who have died in the line of duty during World War II to present day. The nearly 200 names will be read by veterans during the ceremony that will take place on the steps of Fogler Library.
The ceremony will be followed by a reception in the VETS office, Room 143 of the Memorial Union.
Other events include:
- Tuesday, Nov. 11 — Free lunch vouchers available to student veterans throughout Veterans Day; vouchers can be picked up at the VETS office and used at the Bear’s Den in the Memorial Union
- 7 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 12 — Presentation on choices involving alcohol with Mark Sterner, a CAMPUSPEAK keynote presenter, at the Collins Center of the Arts; sponsored by Greek Life
- Noon–1 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 13 — Veteran panel discussion on “Why Soldiers Miss War” with author and war journalist Sebastian Junger in the Coe Room, Memorial Union; lunch will be provided
- Noon–1 p.m. Friday, Nov. 14 — Annual veterans luncheon with guest speaker Chuck Knowlen, Vietnam veteran and chairman of the Maine Troop Greeters, in the Bangor Room, Memorial Union
Free coffee and doughnuts provided by Dunkin’ Donuts will be available at the VETS office throughout the week.
In addition, a presentation titled “Military 101: Introduction to Military Structure and Culture” led by Col. Andrew Gibson of the U.S. Army Maine National Guard will be held from 1–3 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 20 in the Coe Room.
The Armed Forces Appreciation football game is set for 3:30 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 22, when the Black Bears take on the University of New Hampshire. The men’s ice hockey team will have a Military Appreciation game at 7 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 29, when they face Vermont.
For more information or to request a disability accommodation, contact Llerena at 207.581.1316 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
A free workshop on writing and publishing successfully will be held on Thursday, November 6 from 3-4p.m. in 48 Stodder Hall with Dr. Robert Milardo.
Kevin Duplissie, director and head teacher of the Child Study Center at the University of Maine, has been named the 2015 Maine Agriculture in the Classroom (MAITC) Teacher of the Year.
Duplissie, who also teaches psychology courses in cognitive and social development in children at UMaine, has been working at the university for 27 years and teaching at the Child Study Center for 12 years.
The preschool education center offers a developmentally based curriculum focused on agriculture, art, language and self-help. The center also serves as a lab for the UMaine Psychology Department and other academic programs.
Duplissie, who has been using Ag in the Classroom’s food, land and people curriculum since 2008, integrates agriculture into every subject and conducts several agriculture-related activities with the college students and preschool children each week.
“I’m from northern Maine,” Duplissie says. “I grew up surrounded by agriculture so it’s second nature to me. A lot of preschool and college students don’t understand the importance of agriculture in our lives.”
Teaching children about agriculture while they’re young is important, Duplissie says, because at the preschool age, they’re learning and retaining information quickly.
“If they can learn about agriculture now, they can build upon it later,” he says. “If you explain and demonstrate agriculture to children, they’re able to grasp it, understand it and work with it.”
Each year, MAITC recognizes an outstanding elementary or secondary school teacher who uses agricultural education materials and/or activities in the classroom.
With Duplissie’s guidance, preschool children build greenhouses, plant gardens, visit farms and hatch chicks every year at the center. Teaching children where their food comes from is an important focus of the curriculum.
“We make snacks with the children, and they know where it comes from,” he says, adding the students grew pumpkins and made cookies and muffins with them during the fall. “We relate it all back to agriculture and the farms that grow their food. Good nutrition is easy to relate back to agriculture. Everything we eat comes from farms.”
At the center, Duplissie works with college students from several majors, including marine science, early development and nursing. He says he enjoys watching the students learn while they teach others.
“I get the chance to work with students who see and use education firsthand,” he says. “The more experience and the more you do things, the more it sticks with you. We want them to see and follow children’s development, and help enhance it.”
MAITC is a grassroots program coordinated by the United States Department of Agriculture and housed at the Maine Department of Agriculture. The primary funding source in Maine is the agriculture specialty license plate. Programs are designed to help preschool through 12th grade students gain a greater awareness of the role of agriculture in their daily lives so they will become citizens who support wise agricultural policies and local agriculture endeavors.
Duplissie and his program have received several MAITC grants to fund the agriculture curriculum at the Child Study Center. The program uses lesson plans available through MAITC and provides annual field trips to local farms and orchards.
“This recognition shows that our little program is doing some pretty neat things; even a small program like this can be reaching out. Our projects are being replicated by other teachers in other parts of the state and they are expanding something we have created,” he says.
Duplissie says even though he’s honored to be the 2015 MAITC Teacher of the Year, he doesn’t teach for recognition.
“I like what I’m doing,” he says. “I do it because I enjoy seeing the kids learn and grow. Those are the things that fuel me to continue on.”
As the 2015 MAITC Teacher of the Year, Duplissie will attend the National Agriculture in the Classroom conference in June 2015 in Louisville, Kentucky, where he will meet other teachers from around the country and abroad who are using agriculture to teach their students.
More about MAITC and the award are online.
Contact: Elyse Kahl, 207.581.3747
Learning more about the biodiversity of the Falkland Islands and what can be done to preserve it is the focus of a planned trip for three University of Maine researchers.
Jacquelyn Gill, an assistant professor of paleoecology and plant ecology in the University of Maine’s School of Biology and Ecology and Climate Change Institute (CCI), is leading the fieldwork that will be completed from Dec. 4–22 on the small, remote group of islands about 300 miles east of South America.
Gill will travel with two graduate students — Kit Hamley, who is pursuing a master’s degree in quaternary studies at CCI, and Dulcinea Groff, a doctoral student of ecology and environmental science in the School of Biology and Ecology and CCI, who also is part of a two-year fellowship called Interdisciplinary Graduate Education Research Traineeship (IGERT) in Adaptation to Abrupt Climate Change (A2C2).
The researchers will study the islands’ environmental history throughout the last 20,000 years to establish a baseline for conservation efforts, and to understand the effects climate change and human land use have on the area’s biodiversity, according to Gill.
“The Falklands are home to some of the most important penguin rookeries in the world, and a number of species not found anywhere else,” Gill says. “Sadly, this biodiversity is at risk due to a number of threats. Climate change and sea level rise threaten critical habitat already degraded by sheep grazing, and offshore oil drilling is scheduled to begin in the next couple of years.”
The researchers hope to learn more about when humans arrived on the islands and what the ecosystem was like before their arrival. They want to research the threats facing the Falklands’ wildlife — climate change, sea level rise, overgrazing, tourism and offshore drilling — and help residents develop sustainable practices in sheep grazing, eco-tourism and fishing that would benefit the economy in addition to wildlife, she says.
The researchers will collect data from locals, as well as materials, including cores from peat bogs, ponds and lagoons, that we will be shipped to the U.S. and analyzed in UMaine labs. The cores contain records of past climate change, fire history and species composition, Hamley says.
The team plans to travel around the islands, visiting penguin rookeries, including the world’s largest rockhopper penguin colony, according to Gill.
Groff’s Ph.D. research will focus on the sensitivity of the penguin-tussac grass relationship to abrupt climate change since the end of the last ice age.
The native grass provides habitat for penguins and other seabirds and marine mammals and relies on nutrients provided from the animals’ waste. The relationship may be threatened by climate change’s effect on the ocean food web, which would affect the nutrients the animals bring to land. Sheep grazing has also reduced the plant’s presence, according to Gill.
While in the Falklands, Groff will collect sediment cores from several locations. She will study pollen and seabird guano, or waste, within the cores.
“By looking at the records in these cores I will be able to reconstruct how penguin and tussac grass populations have fluctuated through time, under different climatic conditions, especially during times when it is known that climate changed within a short time span,” Groff says.
She also will collect environmental samples including plants and soil to learn more about how tussac grass uses nutrients from penguin guano.
“The overall theme of my project is what I call a marine-terrestrial linkage,” Groff says. “The marine-terrestrial linkage is the connection of nutrients originating in the marine ecosystem that are transferred to the terrestrial ecosystem. The soil in the region is very nutrient poor, which makes nutrients coming from the marine ecosystem very important.”
Groff hopes her research will be used to help predict what will happen to the island’s wildlife and vegetation in the event of a future abrupt climate change scenario.
Hamley’s research will focus on the Falkland Islands wolf, or warrah, a fox-sized carnivore that was the first canid to go extinct in the historic record and was found only on the archipelago, according to Gill.
Hamley will look into whether indigenous people brought the warrah to the Falklands before Europeans arrived.
“Before the warrah was hunted to extinction in the 1870s, the islands were home to no other terrestrial mammals, and had no human inhabitants, raising the question of how and when the wolves first got to the islands, which are separated from mainland Patagonia by 600 km [about 373 miles] of ocean,” Hamley says. “They would have either had to swim, cross a theoretical land or ice bridge — which to date has not been shown to have been present — during periods of lower sea level, drift across on an ice chuck or log, or perhaps be transported via canoe by early humans.”
At this point, no archaeological record has been discovered in the Falkland Islands to definitively indicate that humans were there before European arrival, according to Hamley. She will use the same core samples as Groff to look at charcoal within them to determine if there was a human presence in the Falkland Islands before Europeans arrived.
Hamley will visit sites where warrah bones have been found to look for human artifacts. She will also visit a local museum to take samples of warrah bones for carbon dating.
The islands are home to less than 3,000 residents, according to Gill, and the main economies are fishing, sheep and wool, and tourism, with offshore oil drilling expected in the next couple of years. The climate is windy, cool and damp year-round.
“The Falklands are a fascinating place — home to biodiversity found nowhere else on the planet, and yet they’ve had a long history of human impacts,” Gill says, citing as examples the arrival of the warrah as a native predator, early whaling years, sheep ranching and the Falklands War that left large areas roped off with land mines.
“The past has thrown a lot at the wildlife of the Falklands,” she says. “The future has even more in store, and it’s critical that we get a baseline sense of the biodiversity and how sensitive it is to global change.”
Gill says the islands have a lot in common with the Gulf of Maine, including potential threats to seabirds due to climate change and land use. She says researchers can benefit from studying both areas.
To help fund the $20,000 trip, Hamley and Groff have created and launched a crowdfunding campaign through Experiment.com. The students hope to raise $10,000 in 35 days.
“We started this initiative because we feel this project has the potential to be successful in the crowdfunding realm as it deals with a lot of issues that people care deeply about; climate change, loss of unique biodiversity, conservation and human history,” Hamley says.
Gill says while she is applying for traditional funding sources, there are a lot of alternative methods such as crowdfunding to kick start new projects.
“Crowdfunding also provides the public with a direct connection to science so they can feel like they’re closely connected to the research,” she says. “You’re not just funding my students’ exciting research, you’re also investing in them as future scientists and conservation leaders, who are trained right here at the University of Maine.”
Groff says those who contribute to the campaign will be able to follow the team’s updates during fieldwork and in the lab when they process the cores.
The Falkland Islands research is part of a new partnership between the CCI and the South Atlantic Environmental Research Institute (SAERI), a U.K. organization in the Falklands.
“SAERI approached the Climate Change Institute to develop a partnership, as they are keenly interested in developing research in climate change in particular,” Gill says. “We’re a world leader in climate change research, so there was a natural connection there. Most of SAERI’s expertise is in marine sciences, so they’re excited to have folks working on land.”
Donations to the crowdfunding campaign can be made online.
Contact: Elyse Kahl, 207.581.3747
The Associated Press, Bangor Daily News, Inside Higher Ed, Science, Maine Public Broadcasting Network, Portland Press Herald, Mainebiz and WLBZ (Channel 2) reported voters approved Question 2 on the Maine ballot. The bond will give $8 million to the University of Maine Cooperative Extension to build a new animal and plant disease and insect control laboratory. The lab will be biosecure. Sun Journal, WGME (Channel 13 in Portland) and SFGate carried the AP report.
The Maine Public Broadcasting Network spoke with Mark Brewer, a political science professor at the University of Maine, for a report about Democrat Chellie Pingree winning her fourth term representing Maine’s 1st District. Brewer said Pingree could potentially end up in a leadership role in Congress. “What’s really stood out to me the most about Pingree and her time there is that she has made herself really a centrally important member to her party’s operations in the House,” Brewer said. “She is someone who other members of the party turn to for assistance, whether it’s assistance in terms of policy or in terms of re-elections.” Brewer also was quoted in a U.S. News & World Report published earlier on Election Day titled “The status quo election: Even if the GOP wins the Senate, gridlock likely will continue.” Brewer said he would be “stunned if we get anything that can even remotely be considered a clear message” from the American electorate, according to the article. “It’s not a wave [election], and the only reason the Republicans are going to control, or come close to controlling the Senate, is that the cycle worked out for them,” he added.
The Bangor Daily News published an article about Hide and Seek, a new student-owned coffee bar that is housed in the IMRC center on the University of Maine campus. The shop is run by UMaine graduate students Rachel Nelson, Sarah Hollows and Kris Mason, who credit Dan Sturrup, executive director of UMaine Auxiliary Services, with helping to get the business started, according to the report. “The response so far has been incredible,” Nelson told the BDN. “There’s definitely a market for craft coffee around here.”
Kristine Jenkins, coordinating director of Partners for a Hunger-Free York County, will deliver the keynote address at the York County University of Maine Cooperative Extension Association annual meeting 6:30–8 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 19 at Anderson Learning Center, 21 Bradeen St., Springvale.
Jenkins will talk about the needs of locals who are food insecure, as well as responses from organizations, including church food pantries, soup kitchens and Cooperative Extension’s Maine Harvest for Hunger. The free, public program is titled “Planting Seeds and Laying Down Roots: Partners for a Hunger-Free York County Team Up with UMaine Extension Master Gardeners.”
A dessert social will begin at 6:30 p.m.; the annual meeting will follow. For more information, or to request a disability accommodation, call 324.2814 or 800.287.1535 (in Maine) or email email@example.com.