Mark Dwyer is a staff member and graduate student.
After high school in Hampden, Maine, Dwyer enrolled in chemical engineering at the University of Maine. He quickly realized chemical engineering wasn’t a good fit and decided to leave school to pursue real-world experience.
He worked as a carpenter, a pipe welder and a night janitor, which gave him perspective, experience and hands-on skills he would eventually use to renovate his own home. Eventually, Dwyer realized that in order to have the career he wanted, he would need to return to school.
After researching possible options, he decided that a civil engineering degree would best cover all the areas he was interested in. In fall 2011 he again enrolled at UMaine.
Dwyer was familiar with the Advanced Structures and Composites Center from newspaper articles and was impressed with the center’s research. It seemed like a good fit for his skills, so he toured the facility, submitted his resume, and by his second semester, was working as an undergraduate employee.
Dwyer was recognized as the student employee of the year for UMaine and statewide for the year of 2013–14. The award reflected his exceptional performance on two sets of engineering drawings. In 2012–13, he led production of a set of engineering drawings that detailed the construction and assembly sequence of VolturnUS 1:8, the first grid-connected floating wind turbine in the Americas. In 2013–14, Dwyer led the production of another set of engineering drawings for a full-scale VolturnUS.
Though he was an undergraduate student at the time, he handled work usually reserved for full-time staff, earning the respect of center staff and students.
In May 2014, Dwyer graduated with a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering and is now a full-time research engineer. He also is pursuing a master’s degree in civil engineering. Dwyer is currently investigating how steel hull designs for floating wind turbines compare to concrete hulls.
Ali Abedi, University of Maine associate professor in electrical and computer engineering, was cited in a Portland Press Herald story about radio frequency emissions from a cell tower on the Deering High School roof that will be tested after a biology teacher reported fish in a room below the tower kept dying. Abedi said radio frequency waves barely penetrate water and do not damage DNA. He said they generate heat and that hypothetically an excessively high concentration of radio waves from a cell tower could cause a burn or excessive heat. “Maybe if (the fish) spent a lot of time on the surface,” Abedi was quoted as saying, adding that conclusions cannot be reached unless experiments on the fish are done in a controlled, scientific manner. “I really doubt this is the cause of the fish dying,” he was quoted in the article.
Phys.org picked up a University of Maine release about university researchers testing pathogenic fungi as a way to manage invasive fire ants spreading throughout Maine.
University of Maine researcher Jacquelyn Gill and student Chason Frost were mentioned in a story about an excavation at Wind Cave National Park in South Dakota in the Rapid City Journal. The story compared Frost to a Gold Rush-era prospector who “carefully bathed a pan full of rock and course (sic) sediment in a small pool of water to reveal the tiniest pieces of treasure” as he searched for remains of small animals that lived 11,000 years ago. The excavation project, according to the story, has revealed fossil remains of at least 22 different species recovered from a dug-out section of the cave 27 feet long and less than two feet high. “What’s really cool about the cave is that it includes these animals that are both extinct and animals that are survivors of the Ice Age,” said Jacquelyn Gill, assistant professor UMaine assistant professor of paleoecology and plant ecology, who was sifting through tiny fossilized teeth, vertebrae and rib bones. “When you can put all these different pieces of ecosystem together,” Gill was quoted as saying, “it basically gives you a sense of how an environment changes as the climate changes.”
The University of Maine was listed as one of several universities nationwide that offer free tuition to American Indian residents, in an online piece in Indian Country Today Media Network.com. In February, two Colorado senators introduced the Native American Indian Education Act; it would provide funding to states to fulfill the federal mandate that colleges and universities cover the cost of tuition for out-of-state American Indian students. The mandate was a condition under which the college or state received its original grant of land and facilities from the United States. The bill, it was reported, has 37 co-sponsors from 17 states.
The University of Maine was mentioned in a WVII (channel 7) story about Blackstone Accelerates Growth’s (BxG) newest Innovation Hubs — the York County Innovation Hub and the Lewiston Auburn Innovation Hub. Innovation Hubs are cornerstones of the BxG initiative in Maine. They’re designed to connect entrepreneurs and businesses, provide access to resources and to accelerate growth. UMaine is partner of BxG.
Steven Barkan, a criminologist and professor of sociology at the University of Maine, co-authored a column for the Bangor Daily News that refutes what has been labeled as the “Ferguson effect” — that in response to protests about policing shootings, officers in cities are less proactive, which results in a rise in urban violence. The authors refute the claim, saying crime rates fluctuate, a number of factors account for why crime rates rise and fall, and that crime in some major cities has decreased. “The recent accounts of a ‘Ferguson effect’ are not based on scientific evidence but on nothing more than lazy — at best, nefarious at worst — journalism. They smack of the old tools used to disguise racially charged arguments. In the future, such staunch claims must be backed by science, if they should be made at all,” they wrote. Barkan is a member of the Scholars Strategy Network that addresses public challenges and policy implications.
The Bangor Daily News carried a University of Maine Cooperative Extension press release announcing it would give away more than 400 cherry tomato plants as part of the One Tomato Project — “to grow healthier communities, one tomato at a time.” Tomato plants will be distributed in June at county food cupboards in Dover-Foxcroft, Guilford and Greenville; June 13 at the Black Fly Festival in Milo; and the week of June 15 at the UMaine Extension office at 165 East Main St. in Dover-Foxcroft.
Faculty Member in Residence
2015-16 Academic Year
The Graduate School is currently seeking a new faculty-member-in-residence to provide student service support to the resident population in the Stodder Hall graduate center. The faculty-member-in-residence will be available to help students with housing related issues when the Graduate School office is not open, and working with the Graduate School staff, and the Graduate Student Center coordinator, s/he will help to create an integrated learning community within the Stodder Hall residence. The faculty-member-in-residence and his/her family will receive full room/board in a 2BR apartment on the first floor of Stodder Hall during the academic year with room and partial board available for the summer. The position is renewable based on satisfactory performance.
The faculty-member-in-residence position is open to all faculty members. Applicants must qualify for appointment as Full Graduate Faculty (incoming full time faculty hires are automatically eligible for full grad faculty appointment for an initial term, please contact the Graduate School for process). A strong background in student advising and relevant experience in a residence hall setting is preferred.
To apply, please send a cover letter, vita and the names of 3 references to Crystal Burgess, 5775 Stodder Hall, CAMPUS. Review of applications will begin immediately and continue until the position is filled. The appointment will begin on August 1.
Conserving nature’s stage — the physical features such as landform, soil and bedrock that contribute to species biodiversity — is the focus of a special section of the June issue of the international journal Conservation Biology that includes research by two internationally recognized scientists at the University of Maine.
The special section emphasizes the value of incorporating a variety of geophysical settings into conservation planning when managing diverse species adapting to climate change.
Malcolm Hunter, UMaine’s Libra Professor of Conservation Biology; Paul Beier of Northern Arizona University; and Mark Anderson of The Nature Conservancy are the guest editors of the journal section, which includes 10 research papers by 33 co-authors on the conservation approach known as conserving nature’s stage (CNS).
The approach provides a structure for creating conservation plans that recognize that nature is dynamic and resilient, and needs arenas for evolution.
In 2013, Hunter, Beier and Anderson led a three-day international workshop on the CNS approach to conservation management, funded by the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation. The result is the collection of papers now featured in the Conservation Biology special section.
The principal paper authors include Jacquelyn Gill, UMaine assistant professor of terrestrial paleoecology, writing on “A 2.5-million-year perspective on coarse-filter strategies for conserving nature’s stage.” Gill, Hunter and four other co-authors explore how geodiversity minimized the number of global extinctions caused by past episodes of climate change, despite many local extinctions. They conclude that CNS accommodates dynamic processes, including extinction, evolution, community turnover and novelty, and acknowledges changes as “intrinsic properties of the very nature we aim to conserve.”
Hunter also co-authored two of the other research papers: “Incorporating geodiversity into conservation decisions” and “Why geodiversity matters in valuing nature’s stage.”
Contact: Margaret Nagle, 207.581.3745
University of Maine researchers are one step closer to controlling the ever-growing invasive fire ant populations, Myrmica rubra, that have been spreading throughout Maine for the last 15 years.
Due to the highly competitive and aggressive behavior of these fire ants, eradication has proven to be almost impossible. UMaine researchers are turning their attention to a different kind of control to try and combat these tiny stinging insects. Their weapon — pathogenic fungi.
“We are attempting to try and grow this newly discovered fungi in the lab in order to look at its utility for management of the ants, but it may be too difficult to reproduce which would hamper its development as a biological control mechanism. We aren’t convinced, but we are looking into it,” said Eleanor Groden, UMaine professor of biological sciences. “It has some potential.”
By encouraging the growth of the pathogenic fungi, these researchers hope to scale down the populations of invasive fire ants, which will alleviate Maine residences from the painful stings the tiny insects administer.
In an article that appeared in the Journal of Invertebrate Pathology, titled “Ophiocordyceps myrmicarum, a new species infecting invasive Myrmica rubra in Maine” researchers Rabern Simmons (now at the School of Forest Resources and Conservation at the University of Florida), Groden, Jennifer Lund and Tamara Levitsky isolated and described a newly discovered fungus which they identified as being a member of the genus Hirsutella. The fungi is the first species in this genus to be isolated from the North American European fire ant in New England, though there are two other pathogens within the genus which infect M. rubra in the United Kingdom.
The researchers suspect that the relatedness of the taxa infers that O. myrmicarum is a native of North America or a relatively recent immigrant along with the invasive European fire ant. They also hypothesize that the dramatic increase in fire ant populations over the last decade could be causing increased transmission of the fungi and could explain why we have only observed the fungi in Maine, not in European ant populations.
Ants were collected live from Acadia National Park near Breakneck Ponds, Mount Desert Island, in fall 2010 and 2011. The researchers isolated and maintained the ants in cultures in order to collect morphological data. They then used techniques such as DNA extraction, amplification, sequencing and phylogenetic analysis to determine if it was, in fact, a new species.
The researchers conducted an exposure trial in seven separate chambers, four of which were inoculated with the fungi. Of the four chambers exposed with O. myrmicarum, all individuals died within 30 days, whereas no ants in the remaining three chambers died during the same period. Once dead, the infected ants were transferred to well plates to be monitored for several weeks, during which 20 of the 73 dead ants produced the reproductive structure of the fungal pathogen.
The exotic ant species was first documented in New England in the early 1900s. According to the researchers, the native populations — ranging from Great Britain to Siberia and the Black Sea to the Arctic — remain relatively low in population density. But in New England and other various locations throughout North America, the population density is high for the invasive species.
“There are a lot of steps between what we are doing and determining if a strategy like this would be viable. But, it’s very exciting,” said Groden.
Contact: Amanda Clark, 207.581.3721
Photo courtesy of Jennifer Lund
A free open house will be hosted at the Target Technology Center on Thursday, June 11 from noon to 2 p.m., according to a Press Release from The Maine Edge. The open house will include tours of the facility, a barbecue and opportunities to meet innovators within the Target Technology Center community.
“The open house is an opportunity to have lunch with us, meet our amazing tenants and take a tour of our great facility,” says Jesse Moriarity, co-director of the TTC.
The center is a partnership of Bangor Area Target Development Corporation, the town of Orono, the University of Maine and the state of Maine.
David Yarborough, wild blueberry specialist with the University of Maine Cooperative Extension was quoted in an Ellsworth American article about cooling temperatures and the affect they have on blueberry crop pollination by keeping temperature-sensitive bees from pollinating blueberries.
“If they had adequate bees, they probably did OK,” said Yarborough. “But I would say conditions are far from optimal.”
Sandy Butler, UMaine professor of social work and graduate program coordinator in the School of Social Work, contributed an Opinion article in the Bangor Daily News about the link between home care for the elderly and pulling individuals out of poverty.
Butler is a member of the Maine chapter of the national Scholars Strategy Network, which brings together scholars across the country to address public challenges and their policy implications. Members’ columns appear in the BDN every other week.
According to an article that appeared in Boothbay Register, Noah Oppenheim, graduate student at the University of Maine Darling Marine Center, was recently awarded a Sea Grant Knauss Fellowship.“I am humbled and grateful for the opportunity to pursue a career in marine affairs at the federal level through the Knauss Fellowship,” said Oppenheim.
Rick Wahle, UMaine research professor in the School of Marine Sciences and adviser to Oppenheim, was also quoted in the article.
“I’m tremendously gratified to see that Noah’s being recognized for his hard work,” said Wahle. “He’s a great fit for the Knauss Fellowship because he’s eager to engage with stakeholders and policymakers in translating the findings and implications of new developments in fishery science.”
The one-year paid fellowship is aimed to give graduate students — interested in ocean resources and national policy — experience working with legislative and executive branches of government in the Washington, D.C. area. His fellowship — which is named after John A. Knauss, founder of Sea Grant and a former NOAA administrator — will begin in February 2016.
As outlined in the Bangor Daily News editorial, three UMaine social work students — Mikala Thompson, Alaina Crowley and Daniel Cohen — were cited for conducting a phone survey earlier this year, in which they contacted 112 physicians who were included on the Maine State Opioid Treatment Authority list of Suboxone providers. The students wanted to know how many doctors in the state prescribed Suboxone, which is an alternative treatment drug given to recovering opioid addicts.
The graduate students found that less than half of the listed doctors prescribed the drug, with 42 saying that they had stopped prescribing the addiction treatment drug. Of the 112, 27 did not respond.
“It was really amazing that just over a third of the people that we contacted … could say, ‘No we’re not prescribing Suboxone,’” Thompson said.
Artwork from internationally recognized artists with strong connections to Maine will be the focus of the University of Maine Museum of Art exhibit, reports an article in The Maine Edge. The exhibit will run from June 19 to Sept. 19 and will showcase more than 20 pieces from the museum’s permanent collection. Some artist that will be showcased are John Marin, Andrew Wyeth, Alex Katz, Berenice Abbott and Neil Welliver — all of which spent significant time in Maine and were influenced by its “natural beauty and unique sense of place.”
“Maine has such a rich, artistic history,” said George Kinghorn, the museum’s director and curator. “The museum is delighted to share works by artists who have put Maine on the map internationally.”
The University of Maine Museum of Art is open to the public 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday. More information about the museum is online.
Anne Lichtenwalner, associate professor of animal and veterinary sciences, University of Maine Cooperative Extension, has updated information about avian influenza (AI) in a bulletin for poultry producers.
On June 8, the Michigan Department of Natural Resources reported a confirmed case of avian flu in Michigan, making it the 21st state in the U.S. affected by the outbreak.
AI is a contagious type A influenza virus of birds that occurs worldwide. Some strains can mutate and are capable of affecting other animals and occasionally people. AI is spread via respiratory droplets, saliva, mucus and manure. It also may be capable of airborne spread, if conditions allow.
The updated information is in Bulletin 2109, Avian Influenza and Backyard Poultry 2015 (umaine.edu/publications/2109e). More information about the publication, as well as free downloads, are available at extensionpubs.umext.maine.edu and by contacting email@example.com, 207.581.3792.
Lichtenwalner will blog updates on umaine.edu/veterinarylab.
Contact: Beth Staples, 207.581.3777
University of Maine staff and students are taking part in a two-week field camp at Wind Cave National Park in Hot Springs, South Dakota. Jim Mead of East Tennessee State University is head of the multi-organization crew that will remove material that contains fossils from at least 22 species dating back 11,000 years. The crew also will screen-wash the material and prepare it for curation. Persistence Cave, as it has been dubbed, was discovered in 2004, according to the Rapid City Journal, NewsCenter 1 TV and newser. NewsCenter 1 TV reported that scientists said preliminary samples from the 11,000-year-old animal bones will help them understand how the region, including climate, has changed.
Mary Jane Perry’s research was included in a list of 10 things people might not know about the ocean that the National Science Foundation compiled in celebration of World Oceans Day on June 8. Perry is interim director of the Darling Marine Center and professor in the School of Marine Sciences. Her research appears as No. 5 on the list: “Just as crocus and daffodil blossoms signal the start of a warmer season on land… a massive bloom of microscopic plants unfolds each spring in the North Atlantic Ocean from Bermuda to the Arctic.”