WVII (Channel 7) reported on a new $6 million grant from the National Science Foundation’s EPSCoR program that will fund a four-year study examining the future of dams in New England. The project marks an expansion in partners and scope for the New England Sustainability Consortium (NEST), adding Rhode Island to the existing partnership between Maine and New Hampshire. The study will look at strengthening connections between scientists and decision-makers on a number of options including maintaining existing hydropower dams, expanding hydropower capacity, and removing aging dams in order to restore fisheries, according to the report. The NEST team says solutions to sustainability challenges require a collaborative approach in which researchers from the natural sciences, social sciences, engineering and humanities combine their expertise. UMaine researchers on the project include David Hart, Sharon Klein, Bridie McGreavy, Darren Ranco, Sean Smith and Joe Zydlewski.
The Bangor Daily News published the opinion piece “We should prepare for the worst consequences of climate change,” by Michael Howard, a philosophy professor at the University of Maine. Howard 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.
The Forecaster reported the University of Maine Cooperative Extension will host a fundraising event to support the gardens and outdoor classrooms at the UMaine Gardens at Tidewater Farm in Falmouth. The Taste of Tidewater event will be held 5–8 p.m. Aug. 22 at the Episcopal Church of Saint Mary Parish House. The event will include food, music and art. The gardens are an educational project on about three acres of land operated by the UMaine Cooperative Extension in Cumberland County, according to the article. Amy Witt, a horticulturist with UMaine Extension, said the space is mostly used as teaching gardens and outdoor classrooms to show people how to grow their own food and plants and learn sustainable practices, the article states. “Everything we do here has an educational component,” Witt said.
The Maine Edge carried a University of Maine news release about a hike and memorial service to honor fallen service members from UMaine and surrounding communities. The Summit Project (TSP) event will take place Saturday, Sept. 26 with a walk from the Maine Veterans Home in Bangor to Alfond Stadium on the UMaine campus for the military appreciation football game. As part of the event, hikers will carry engraved TSP memorial stones that have been donated by family members to represent their fallen loved ones. Volunteers will learn about the service members whose stone they will carry, write a letter for the service member’s family, and read it during a memorial service on campus following the trek. About 25 hiking spots are available with preference being given to the military family community at UMaine. Backup hikers may be assigned. A registration form is available online. Spots are limited.
The first Northern Maine Rural Living Day will be held from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 12, at Southern Aroostook Agricultural Museum, 1664 U.S. Route 1, Littleton.
Class topics include livestock barns and fences, buying used farm equipment, raising livestock and poultry, gardening and soil health, cheese-making, and food preservation methods, including canning and root cellaring. A panel discussion on sustainable beekeeping will be held, and there will be youth activities, livestock displays, craft demonstrations and a harvest lunch with local foods.
University of Maine Cooperative Extension and the Southern Aroostook Soil & Water Conservation District are co-sponsors of the event. For more information, or to request a disability accommodation, call 532.6548, 800.287.1469 (in Maine) or visit the website.
Heather Leslie, director of the University of Maine Darling Marine Center, will share findings developed through an international, interdisciplinary research initiative focused on coastal fisheries at the 100th annual meeting of the Ecological Society of America.
Ecological scientists are celebrating the ESA centennial in Baltimore, Maryland with presentations, workshops and musical performances focused on ecology’s role in advancing knowledge of human-environment interactions in the changing world.
The theme of the Aug. 9–14 meeting is “Ecological Science: At the Frontier.” Leslie’s talk is part of an Aug. 12 symposium she co-organized titled “Coupled Natural and Human Systems Science: The Need, Challenges and Rewards.”
Marine ecosystems that provide food, protection from coastal storms and recreation are threatened by human impacts at multiple scales, including fisheries over-exploitation and global climatic change, says Leslie, who advocates for advancing solutions-oriented knowledge of connections between people and nature.
The integrative, coupled system analyses that her team have conducted with the support of the U.S. National Science Foundation yield understanding of the sustainability of coupled social-ecological systems that is distinct from that provided by either biophysical or social sciences alone, she says.
The DMC director will talk about her development as an interdisciplinary scientist and educator and how that path has enabled her to forge connections among experts in the social and ecological sciences, as well as professionals engaged in marine policy and management and members of local communities.
For the event, Leslie also organized a companion graduate student poster session and game show on related themes.
“We are hoping that the ‘shark tank of societal relevance’ game show this evening will help us all to think a bit more creatively how to leverage our knowledge and skills in ways that benefit both nature and people,” she says.
“I, for one, am a lot more nervous about my three minutes in front of the judges — all of whom are internationally known leaders in the conservation field — than I am about my 20-minute talk for my scientific colleagues.”
The ESA, according to the conference website, “stands at a boundary between 100 successful years for the Society and an uncharted future for the planet. The Centennial meeting will support both retrospective and prospective sessions looking back at the history of the field of ecology as well as forward into its future.”
UMaine’s Top Gun Entrepreneurial Program an Entryway into Maine’s Business Network for Bar Harbor CEO
Chuck Donnelly, CEO of RockStep Solutions in Bar Harbor, Maine, has a software product that could potentially transform the way scientists and companies conduct their research. With CLIMB, the Cloud Information Management Bundle, organizations like pharmaceutical companies and university laboratories can immediately access their data anywhere in the world with a mobile device. In this video, Donnelly, former director of Computational Sciences at the Jackson Laboratory, talks about the UMaine Top Gun Entrepreneurial Accelerator Program and how it has been his entryway into the business network in Maine.
The Top Gun entrepreneurship accelerator is a five-month program that engages entrepreneurs in growing their businesses. Top Gun combines education, mentoring, pitch-coaching and networking opportunities. The program is a partnership of the Maine Center for Entrepreneurial Development, Maine Technology Institute, Blackstone Accelerates Growth and the University of Maine. UMaine organizes and hosts a Bangor region class and has also developed curriculum to support the statewide program. More information about Top Gun is online.
For more information about these and other innovation and economic development initiatives at UMaine, visit umaine.edu/econdev.
Motherboard spoke with Katherine Thompson, a Ph.D. marine science student at the University of Maine, for an article about the challenges researchers face with the current scientific funding system. According to a Massachusetts Institute of Technology study, 4 percent of the 2015 U.S. federal budget was appropriated for scientific research, compared to 10 percent in 1968. Thompson is studying the effects of changing water temperature on northern shrimp in the Gulf of Maine, and she is using Instrumentl, a scientific research crowdfunding site, to raise money for her research, according to the article. “The thought was that maybe this could give me some short-term, not-too-distant future funding to get supplies so I can obtain preliminary results to strengthen our grant proposals. Anything would help at this point,” Thompson said.
The Weekly published a University of Maine student profile on Pam Wells, a nontraditional undergraduate who is enrolled in the School of Forest Resources. Already a UMaine alumna, Wells holds a bachelor’s degree in anthropology-English that she earned in 1981 and a master’s degree in social work earned in 1991. She now is considering going for a master’s degree in forestry to learn the best way to manage the more than 1,000 acres of forest she owns.
The Maine Edge published a University of Maine news release about civil engineering doctoral student Andrew Young being named a 2015 NASA Space Technology Research Fellow for his work on the Hypersonic Inflatable Aerodynamic Decelerator (HIAD) project at the Advanced Structures and Composites Center. A HIAD is a nose-mounted device on a spacecraft that slows the craft as it enters a planet’s atmosphere. UMaine is assisting NASA by testing its structures in the lab and analyzing stresses and deformations in the HIAD. NASA annually selects a group of graduate and doctoral students to become fellows. The goal is to sponsor U.S. citizen and permanent resident graduate students who show significant potential to contribute to NASA’s goal of creating innovative new space technologies for the nation’s science, exploration and economic future. The yearlong fellowship includes a 10-week visiting technologist experience, providing the opportunity to work and collaborate with engineering experts.
The Free Press reported the University of Maine will take part in the annual Maine Boats, Homes & Harbors Show, August 14–16 on the Rockland waterfront. UMaine’s Herring Gut Learning Center, a marine resources education facility in Port Clyde, will host a seaweed-bookmark-making station, according to the article. UMaine’s learning centers at Tanglewood and Blueberry Cove, which provide affordable ecology education and nature-based experiences for young Mainers, will organize watershed activities throughout the weekend, the article states.
The Waldo County Extension Association will announce the 2015 Woman Farmer of the Year at its annual meeting 5–6:30 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 1, at Windgate Farm, 36 Stevens Road, Unity. The public is invited to attend.
WCEA, with support from Cellardoor Winery in Lincolnville, developed the award to recognize the county’s female agricultural leaders.
In addition, host farmers Penny and Jeff Stevens, who practice no-till farming for corn silage production, will discuss soil health. Will Brinton, associate faculty with UMaine Extension and president of Woods End Laboratories in Mount Vernon, and other Extension researchers, also will participate in the talk. Election of WCEA officers and a request for approval of the 2016 budget will take place.
For more information, or to request a disability accommodation, contact 800.287.1426 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
The non-hydropower dam on lower Montsweag Stream in Maine was removed in November 2010 with the goal of restoring fish passage
Photo courtesy of Laura Wildman, PrincetonHydro
A new $6 million grant from the National Science Foundation’s EPSCoR program will fund a four-year study examining the future of dams in New England. This project marks an expansion in partners and scope for the New England Sustainability Consortium (NEST), adding Rhode Island to the existing partnership between Maine and New Hampshire.
NEST was launched in 2013, when Maine and New Hampshire began an innovative collaboration focused on increasing the safety of coastal beaches and shellfish beds threatened by bacterial pollution and other microbial pathogens.
NEST is designed to respond to societal challenges where economic and community development goals need to be balanced with environmental protection. Such sustainability objectives are not only of central importance in New England, they also represent national and global imperatives.
This new tri-state collaboration will strengthen connections between scientists and decision-makers about a number of potential dam options, including maintaining existing hydropower dams, expanding hydropower capacity, and removing aging dams to restore fisheries or reduce safety risks. By examining economic, environmental and social tradeoffs, the project will help individuals and communities make better decisions about dams.
The project is highly relevant given that hydropower is a major source of renewable energy in New England. More than 50 hydropower dams are scheduled for relicensing in the next decade, requiring states to make important decisions about their futures. The region is also home to thousands of iconic milldams that are an integral part of New England’s industrial history and continue to provide recreational and water supply benefits for many communities. But some of these milldams pose safety and liability risks due to their age and poor condition. Both hydropower dams and milldams can also have adverse effects on coastal ecosystems and economies, particularly because they often block the migrations of economically important fisheries. This project will empower stakeholders to make complex decisions about dams by taking the innovative step of combining the best available science with creative forms of community engagement.
New England has received widespread recognition for its innovative approaches to the management of dams. “This new project will greatly enhance New England’s role as a national and global leader in finding better ways to support informed decision-making about dams,” said Richard Merrick, chief science advisor and director of scientific programs at NOAA Fisheries.
The research is designed to support the process by which stakeholders evaluate the many trade-offs associated with potential dam decisions, including removal, relicensing and retrofitting. Because a single watershed often contains many dams of different sizes and types, the project will focus particular attention on developing tools that facilitate coordinated decision-making. “NEST’s emphasis on basin-wide decision-making has the potential to generate much better environmental, social and economic outcomes than can be achieved if decisions are made (dam by dam) in an independent and uncoordinated manner,” said Mike Tetreault, director of the Maine office of The Nature Conservancy.
The multistate NEST team believes that solutions to sustainability challenges require a collaborative approach in which researchers from the natural sciences, social sciences, engineering, and the humanities combine their expertise. In Maine, the researchers include David Hart, Sharon Klein, Bridie McGreavy, Darren Ranco, Sean Smith, and Joe Zydlewski from UMaine as well as Karen Wilson from the University of Southern Maine. NEST’s approach to problem solving also benefits from the local knowledge and know-how of diverse stakeholders representing government, business and industry, and nongovernmental organizations. One of NEST’s greatest strengths is its ability to develop customized solutions that are tailored to meet local needs and circumstances.
The Maine project team is led by the Senator George J. Mitchell Center for Sustainability Solutions at the University of Maine. The Mitchell Center has gained national and international recognition for its innovative approach to stakeholder-engaged, solutions-focused, interdisciplinary research.
The NSF news release about the project is online.
Contact: David Hart, Director of the Senator George J. Mitchell Center for Sustainability Solutions, University of Maine, 207.581.3257; Ruth Hallsworth, Strategic Program Manager, Mitchell Center, 207.581.3196
WABI (Channel 5) reported on Upward Bound’s 50th anniversary reunion at the University of Maine. Upward Bound provides support to youth from low-income families to prepare for college. The goal is to increase the rate at which participants complete secondary education and enroll in and graduate from colleges and universities. Participants from the past five decades reunited in Orono to celebrate the program, and many said the support from the program encouraged them to go to college, according to the report. Program director Becky Colannino said Upward Bound has served about 2,000 students. The Maine Edge also carried a UMaine news release on the program’s anniversary.
The University of Maine’s “Think 30″ program was mentioned in a Portland Press Herald article on college debt in Maine and around the country. Schools, including UMaine, have adopted new programs and policies aimed at helping students get through their college years more efficiently — keeping costs down without wasting time and tuition money — and helping them stay in school, according to the article. Currently, about 79 percent of freshmen return the following year at UMaine, and the target retention rate is 85 percent, said Jeffrey Hecker, executive vice president for academic affairs and provost. “It’s the right thing to do and it will also help us with our budgetary challenges,” he said. The Think 30 program launching this fall aims to encourage students to take at least 30 credit hours every year, Hecker said. To graduate on time, students should take 15 credit hours per semester. Currently, more than a third of UMaine students end their freshman year with fewer than 30 credits, the article states. The Press Herald also published a related article on UMaine wildlife ecology major Caroline MacKenzie, who is juggling work and school.
Kirsten Jacobson, a philosophy professor at the University of Maine, spoke about the importance of philosophy on Maine Public Broadcasting Network’s “Morning Edition.” Jacobson’s interview is the first in a series of interviews on what role the humanities play in our lives. All of the guests wrote articles in the special issue of Maine Policy Review earlier this year on the humanities and policy, produced by the Margaret Chase Smith Policy Center in cooperation with the UMaine Humanities Center. Jacobson wrote about her “Philosophy Across the Ages” program, which allows undergraduate students the opportunity to hold seminars with students at Orono High School and members of the Dirigo Pines Retirement Community, according to the report. Jacobson said philosophy is less abstract than people think.
Kate Garland, a horticulturist with the University of Maine Cooperative Extension program, spoke with the Bangor Daily News for an article about public tours of the Hammond Street Senior Center’s rooftop garden. Senior center members and volunteers from the University of Maine Cooperative Extension Master Gardener Volunteer program recently built 17 raised beds for flowers, herbs and vegetables, according to the article. The public is invited to tour the Bangor garden for free from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Monday, Aug. 10. Master gardeners and UMaine students helped design and build a customized drip irrigation system for the garden, Garland told the BDN. “It was good to get the UMaine students up here,” she said. “It helped develop their skills and showed them the value of civic involvement.” Produce from the garden is used in meals prepared in the senior center kitchen or sold to members to take home, the article states. “It all gets snapped up pretty quickly,” Garland said.
The University of Maine was mentioned in the Maine Public Broadcasting Network report, “Volunteers count bats in Maine in an effort to save them.” It’s estimated that between five to seven million hibernating bats, 80 to 90 percent of entire colonies in some cases, have been killed by white-nose syndrome, according to the report. BatME, an effort by researchers at UMaine, the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife, and Maine Audubon, aims to document bat populations around the state, the report states. As part of the program, UMaine researchers are looking to get acoustic bat detectors into the hands of as many citizen scientists as possible. The bat detector is an iPad equipped with an ultrasonic microphone that interfaces with an app on the tablet. It records high-frequency bat calls and interprets and identifies the type of bat that’s making the sound, the report states. The idea is to not only to collect data about bats but to get people to lose their misconceptions about them, the article states.
Bruce Hoskins, an assistant scientist of plant, soil and environmental sciences at the University of Maine, spoke with the Portland Press Herald for the article, “Poor soil? Test now and be ready for next year’s planting season,” the latest column in the Maine Gardener series. Hoskins, who is the coordinator of the soil testing program at UMaine’s Analytical Soil Testing Lab, said home gardeners should do a soil test every two to three years. Gardeners can choose from a standard test that checks soil pH (acidity), organic matter, all important minerals except available nitrogen, and whether there are problems with lead; or a comprehensive test that also tests for available nitrogen, Hoskins said. The Analytical Soil Testing Lab does about 15,000 tests a year, and Hoskins said he is finding many gardens with low nitrogen this year. “There’s kind of an urban legend that you can grow things on compost and don’t need anything else,” he said. “There are lots of nitrogen shortages in gardens where people use compost and nothing else.”
WVII (Channel 7) spoke with students and organizers of the University of Maine Cooperative Extension 4-H livestock program at the Bangor State Fair. Students in the Penobscot County club are responsible for raising a cow to have the animal market ready in time for the fair, according to the report. “Overall it’s been a really good experience. It’s a great program that 4-H has,” said Dexter Sibley, a student in the program. He said he has learned a lot about livestock, as well as leadership and people skills.