News

Science On Tap: Urchins, Crabs and Kelp in the Gulf of Maine

University of Maine News - Mon, 07/06/2015 - 14:05

The University of Maine’s Darling Marine Center (DMC) will host the Science on Tap Seminar series at the Newcastle Publick House on Wednesday evenings, from 6–7 p.m.

The first Science On Tap Seminar will be presented by Dr. Bob Steneck on July 8. Where green sea urchins once roamed over a pavement of crustose coralline algae, Jonah crabs now rule supreme in dense kelp forests. When and how this change occurred will be the topic of Steneck’s seminar titled “Some lasting effects of fisheries on Maine’s hidden kelp forests.”

Steneck is a Professor of Oceanography, Marine Biology and Marine Policy in the University of Maine’s School of Marine Sciences and based at the DMC. He is a world-renowned ecologist whose research focuses on the structure, function and health of coastal marine ecosystems from the frigid waters of the Gulf of Maine and the Bering Sea to the tropical coral reefs of the Caribbean and Indo-Pacific Ocean. Steneck is a resident of Whitefield.

The Science On Tap Seminar series continues through July with more great talks by UMaine/DMC scientists. Future talks will focus on the history of aquaculture in the Damariscotta River, robotic explorations of the ocean, and novel marine biological studies going on at the Darling Marine Center.

The DMC is also offering Wednesday Walking Tours of its waterfront facility through Aug. 19. Tours begin at 10:30 a.m. and last about 90 minutes.

On Aug. the DMC will host an Open House from 10 a.m.–2 p.m.

All events are free and open to the public.

The Darling Marine Center, which is celebrating its 50th anniversary in 2015, is the marine laboratory of the University of Maine. It is located on the Damariscotta River Estuary in Maine’s midcoast region, 100 miles south of the Orono campus. Resident faculty and students are associated with UMaine’s School of Marine Sciences. Their research interests range from biogeochemistry, remote sensing and ocean optics to invertebrate taxonomy and ecology, deep-sea biology, phytoplankton physiology and marine archaeology.

Additional information on all these events, as well as Darling Marine Center history, can be found on the DMC’s website dmc.umaine.edu.

Categories: Combined News, News

Darling Marine Center Hosts “Wednesday Walking Tours”

University of Maine News - Mon, 07/06/2015 - 14:00

The University of Maine’s Darling Marine Center (DMC) will host “Wednesday Walking Tours” for the months of July and August. The event will begin at 10:30 a.m. and will last approximately 90 minutes.

Staff will give a walking tour of their waterfront laboratories and speak about current research projects focusing on lobster ecology and fisheries management, shellfish aquaculture, remote sensing, coastal food webs and ocean acidification.

The event is open to the public and will run through Aug. 19.

The Darling Marine Center, which is celebrating its 50th anniversary in 2015, is the marine laboratory of the University of Maine. It is located on the Damariscotta River Estuary in Maine’s midcoast region, 100 miles south of the Orono campus. Resident faculty and students are associated with UMaine’s School of Marine Sciences. Their research interests range from biogeochemistry, remote sensing and ocean optics to invertebrate taxonomy and ecology, deep-sea biology, phytoplankton physiology and marine archaeology.

Categories: Combined News, News

Maggie Halfman: Antarctic Adventurer

University of Maine News - Mon, 07/06/2015 - 13:51

When Maggie Halfman, a fourth-year marine science student, hears the word “Antarctica,” her imagination runs wild with images of the place she has yet to experience.

The thick blanket of ice that covers the continent, which comprises one-tenth of the planet’s land surface.

The whistling wind that dances across the expansive ice-filled landscape, echoing off the towering glacial cliffs.

The smell of the salty, sapphire ocean scattered with icebergs.

The cold on her cheeks.

As Halfman enters her final undergraduate year at the University of Maine, she won’t be buying textbooks as usual. Instead, she’ll be purchasing long underwear, wool socks and sea-sickness medicine (just in case).

In October, Halfman and several other researchers will board a cruise ship in Punta Arenas, Chile that will head 837 miles south to Palmer Station — one of three United States research stations on the continent — located on the Western Antarctic Peninsula. Here, Halfman will conduct an independent research project and assist Jay Lunden, a School of Marine Science postdoctoral investigator, with his project exploring the impact warming ocean temperatures have on the development of cold-water coral larvae.

“I was pretty taken aback when I found out I would be going to Antarctica, and I don’t think it will fully hit me until I am actually there,” says Halfman, who hails from Fond du Lac, Wisconsin, and was drawn to the University of Maine for its beautiful landscape and nationally recognized marine science program.

The research station they will be traveling to contains a biology laboratory, research facilities, two main buildings and housing for researchers. Offering year-round accommodations, the station supports 20 people in the winter and as many as 44 in austral summer. Until she departs, Halfman will be conducting research at the Darling Marine Center in Walpole, Maine for Rhian Waller, professor of marine science.

Halfman’s interest in climate change research was sparked during high school and steadily grew as she progressed in her undergraduate career with a major in marine science and a concentration in physical science. Her project is looking at how water masses are changing around the Western Antarctic peninsula using both oceanographic and biological analysis. By looking at CTD transects — conductivity, temperature and depth — from the past five years, she hopes to determine how temperatures vary in the area of Antarctica experiencing the greatest rate of basal melting.

“It’s important to understand how the oceans are changing, what the potential repercussions of climate change might be, and how we can and should act in order to minimize disturbances, which could involve the economy, natural disasters, or ecosystem degradation — it’s all important,” said Halfman.

During the voyage south, Lunden and Halfman will be collecting larval samples of Flabellum Impensun — one of the largest species of solitary coral in the world — from the ocean floor at depths from 100–1000m using remotely operated underwater vehicles (ROVs). They will expose the baby corals to several warming scenarios, observing their physiological stress responses to changes in environmental conditions. Using these observations, the researchers hope to shed light on the implications climate change will have on coral organisms and marine ecosystems as a whole.

Flabellum Impensun is an ideal model organism because of its reliable source of brooded larva, year-round reproduction, lack of symbionts and limited dispersal.

They will incubate the samples for a period of time before sending them back to the DMC for further analysis. Once they arrive back in Maine, the real work begins.

Lunden will use the data he collected over the course of the trip to determine what happened to the larvae during the experiment using transmission electron microscopy (TEM), flow cytometry and scanning electron microscopy analysis.

The team hopes to bring back around 2,500 samples. “When you’re collecting in nature, you never know what you’re gonna get,” Waller says.

Waller, who will lead the expedition, specializes in the reproduction and development of cold-water and deep-sea invertebrates from around the globe and explores how these animals are affected by both natural and anthropogenic environmental change. In March 2013, Waller was featured as a risk taker in an article in National Geographic titled, “New Age of Exploration.”

During the summer of 2013, Halfman accepted an undergraduate research position in Waller’s laboratory. The two had been in contact after Halfman enrolled in Waller’s polar marine ecology class. The class was not held, but that summer Halfman learned histological techniques used to analyze marine organisms in Waller’s lab. The Dearborn Fellowship program through the DMC, which allows faculty members to hire students for summer internships, funded her research experience.

While Halfman was working in the lab, Waller was notified that the National Science Foundation’s Polar Program would fund her expedition to Antarctica. Within the grant proposal, Waller had requested funding to bring an undergraduate and postdoctoral researcher with her.

When deciding which undergraduate student to bring with her on her expedition, Waller had a mental list of characteristics that she needed the student to embody.

She needed a reliable, independent worker excited for an authentic research experience. She needed to know the person she picked would be able to handle working in Antarctica’s harsh conditions. And she needed someone she could trust.

Halfman was the perfect fit.

“Maggie worked really hard in the histology lab that summer, and was willing to search out methodology instead of waiting for my direction,” Waller says. “Someone willing to do that is exactly what I was looking for.”

Looking into the future, Waller hopes to expand the project to include adult coral samples and to take into account ocean acidification changes — caused by increased CO2 levels in oceans which decreases the pH of seawater.

According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), changes in ocean acidification have been shown to significantly reduce the ability of reef-building corals to produce their calcium carbonate shells, or skeletons essential for life.

“We know that the ocean is warming, we know that the air is warming, we know that the oceans are starting to acidify. What we don’t really know, in most habitats, is what is going to happen to the organisms,” Waller says.

Cold-water corals play an integral role in marine ecosystems — providing habitats for many invertebrates and fishes, modulating ocean chemistry and serving as “hot spots” for biological diversity.

If a base organism — the coral — dies, what’s going to happen to the rest of the ecosystem? That is what the research team hopes to find out. By looking at sensitive larval stages, the researchers will start to piece together the puzzle of these organisms, to better predict — in the light of climate change — what the future has in store for species that lay at the bottom of some of the world’s deepest oceans.

This will be Lunden’s second experience in Antarctica, but his first time going to Palmer Station. Though he has a good idea of what to expect, he hopes the station offers more darkness. Being outside of the Arctic Circle, the sun shines for 22 hours a day. After his postdoctoral position he hopes to become a professor at a research university.

During Waller’s undergraduate career at the University of Wales, Aberystwyth (UK) she did not have as much exposure to research as she would have liked. Today, she is dedicated to giving students research opportunities she wished she had obtained earlier in her studies.

“I like putting undergraduate and graduate students on big research projects because I think it’s fantastic experience to go and see research being done, even if it’s in a lab,” says Waller. “It helps students tailor what they want to do in the future, and I love being able to do that for them.”

Categories: Combined News, News

Marissa Bovie: Archaeological Researcher

University of Maine News - Mon, 07/06/2015 - 13:45

Marissa Bovie, a double major in anthropology and Earth science at the University of Maine, traveled to Croatia in 2014 as part of a team to help build a collaborative network of colleagues from different fields in relation to an archaeological study on urban transformation and landscape change along the Adriatic Sea.

This summer, Bovie returned to Croatia as a research assistant with Gregory Zaro, an associate professor and chair of the Department of Anthropology, as well as researchers from the University of Zadar, Croatia, and students from both the University of Zadar and UMaine.

The majority of UMaine student participation comes through an archaeological field school and travel course directed by Zaro. Eleven students were enrolled in the course that ran from May 15 to June 11.

The excavation, which is funded by the National Geographic Society, is the next phase in building a long-term program of study concerning human society, environment and climate in the eastern Adriatic region. The initiative to study at the Nadin archaeological site grew out of Zaro’s Fulbright experience at the University of Zadar in 2013.

The project work will generate archaeological data related to urban form, spatial organization, economy, subsistence and environment from the site’s inception in the Iron Age. The project also will work to more precisely delineate the site’s chronology, an essential prerequisite to articulating changes in urban form with broader changes in landscape and environment.

Bovie of Vassalboro, Maine expects to graduate in May 2016.

Describe your trip to Croatia in 2014 and your related research:
I traveled to Croatia in 2014 with Dr. Zaro and with the help of the Center for Undergraduate Research to lay the groundwork for an international, multidisciplinary archaeological project investigating human agency in landscape change over time. This research focuses on the Zadar region of Croatia, along the Adriatic coast.

My role in the project was to assist in the creation of this team and begin preliminary archaeological research. The project will utilize the knowledge from a variety of academic disciplines — from archaeology to geology to paleobotany.

While in Croatia, I met with academic professionals to gain their insight into the project and to connect the different disciplines together into a multidisciplinary team; something crucial for this type of research. I also spent time working with students from the University of Zadar at the field school the university hosts for their archaeology students. This allowed me to gain more experience with the types of objects and artifacts we could encounter in our own research.

What was your favorite part of the trip?
In all, my favorite part of the trip last summer was being able to experience a different culture with such a long history. It was crazy for me to be able to walk down the street and see a church built in the 1100s or to encounter a piece of medieval pottery on the work site and have the other students be nonplused by its age. This span of history is something that is not immediately present in the everyday life of the United States, particularly in cities, and was an experience I don’t think I will ever forget.

What was the most important thing you learned on the trip?
The most important thing I learned over the course of that trip was that things do not go according to plan.

When we originally planned the collaborative portion of our meetings with Croatian academics, we planned to host talks at the beginning and end of the trip, with a presentation and ample time for open dialogue between those in attendance.

However, when we implemented this at the first meeting, it didn’t really provide the outpouring of ideas that we had hoped it would. It would have been easy to feel defeated with that, but we soon found that having individual meetings with those same individuals provided a lot more open discussion and helpful information and ideas for building our research.

Particularly when it comes to working internationally, I found that being flexible with even the best laid plans allows for adjustment for cultural and academic differences and an overall better outcome.

Can you talk about how this year’s trip differs from the last? What made you want to return?
This year I am returning to Croatia in a research capacity. Last summer was all about the setup of this project; setting up the framework that would allow it to succeed. This year we are actually breaking ground and beginning excavation.

We will be digging at a site called Nadin near Zadar, Croatia. The site has been occupied from the Iron Age to Roman colonization and was eventually a Turkish fort. This summer will be my chance to be part of this archaeological dig.

Since it’s looking at human agency in landscape and environmental change, this dig is of particular interest to me as it combines both of my majors, Earth science and anthropology, into one project. I wanted to return to be a part of it and gain experience in the field.

How would you describe Croatia to a Mainer?
The best way to describe Croatia to a Mainer would be sunshine and history. I think it rained maybe two of the days I was there last summer and I was always surrounded by culture and history. I got lucky last year and was living right in the heart of the old town of Zadar. It’s a Mediterranean climate and Zadar is right near the coast, so in all it’s very beautiful.

Why did you choose your majors?
Getting a dual degree in Earth sciences and anthropology may not be the first thing that pops into someone’s head when it comes to picking a major, but for me it just made sense and the programs are more complementary than most people realize.

I’ve always been interested in the world around me as a child and used to like to collect rocks. At the same time, I’ve always been interested in people; in how they are different and what they were like in the past, even the past we don’t have writing for. This dual degree seemed to be the best of both worlds.

Why UMaine?
I chose the University of Maine because it was a school that offered what I knew I was interested in and the flexibility to do both. Not every school has both Earth science and anthropology programs, and not every school has the ability to let you pursue both at the same time. The University of Maine provided me that wonderful opportunity.

Beyond academics, what extracurricular activities occupy your time?
This past year I was a resident assistant here on campus, but I’ve also been part of the Maine Learning Assistant program for both the Mathematics and Earth Science departments. I am also part of Mainely Voices, a coed a cappella group here on campus.

Have you worked closely with a professor or mentor who made your UMaine experience better?
I’ve worked with several individuals that have helped make my experience here better. Dr. Gregory Zaro, with whom I am working on this project in Croatia, has provided me with the chance to be involved with this unique opportunity as an undergraduate. Not many undergrads get the chance to be part of the construction of an archaeological dig from the ground up. Without Dr. Zaro, I wouldn’t have had this amazing opportunity.

My adviser in the Earth Sciences Department, Alice Kelley, also has been someone who has shaped my experience here at the University of Maine. She has always helped by providing advice to get me to where I wanted to go next on my academic journey and pushed me to get involved. She also has been very active in calling various opportunities — both on campus and off — to my attention. I am so very grateful to them both.

What difference has UMaine made in your life and in helping you reach your goals?
The University of Maine has helped me reach my goals by providing opportunities for me to learn new things, to be involved — both academically and nonacademically — and to gain experience in my fields of study. Being here has allowed me to meet academic professionals and people in general that I wouldn’t have met anywhere else and provided a strong community to help me feel supported. All the opportunities at the University of Maine have helped me grow as an individual, and the people here have always encouraged me to reach my full potential.

What are your plans for after graduation?
After graduation, I plan to take a few years off to work before attending graduate school for Earth sciences. I haven’t decided where yet or exactly what I will be focusing on, but I’m looking to get some real-world experience to help put graduate school in perspective.

Categories: Combined News, News

Celebrating 50 Years

University of Maine News - Mon, 07/06/2015 - 13:16

The Darling Marine Center, located on the edge of the Damariscotta River estuary, is celebrating its 50th anniversary.

The center was opened in 1965 after Ira C. Darling, a retired Chicago insurance executive, donated 127 acres of farmland to the University of Maine with the purpose of establishing a marine laboratory.

Today, 50 people occupy the center year-round, including faculty, staff and students. The center invites alumni and members of the community to celebrate its half-century birthday with events, tours and seminars.

To kick off the celebrations, the center will host “Wednesday Walking Tours” which will run for the months of July and August at 10:30 a.m. at the DMC. Staff will give a walking tour of their waterfront laboratories and speak about current research projects focusing on lobster ecology and fisheries management, shellfish aquaculture, remote sensing, coastal food webs and ocean acidification. The tour is open to the public and will last approximately 90 minutes.

Four talks will follow as part of the “Science on Tap Seminar” series, which will take place from 6–7 p.m. at the Newcastle Publick House.

The following describes the focus of each talk:

  • July 8: “Some lasting effects of fisheries on Maine’s hidden kelp forests”
    Bob Steneck, School of Marine Sciences and Darling Marine Center
  • July 15: “Spying on our oceans with satellites and robots”
    Mary Jane Perry, interim director, Darling Marine Center
  • July 22: “Shellfish aquaculture: Job creation, tasty bivalves and some cool science too”
    Carter Newell, Pemaquid Oyster Company, Pemaquid Mussel Farms
  • July 29: “Darling worms: A rich legacy of polychaete research”
    Pete Jumars, School of Marine Sciences and Darling Marine Center

Additional events include an Alumni Day on Thursday, Aug. 6 which will feature a Damariscotta River cruise, lobster bake and campfire entertainment. The following day, the center will host a UMaine Celebration Day. These two events are by invitation only and participants should register by July 24 at dmc.umaine.edu.

The final event — Darling Marine Center Open House — will consist of activities for all ages and will take place from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Aug. 8. Staff will lead participants throughout the facilities to meet the plants and animals that share Maine’s shores and learn the tools and techniques used in the field of marine science.

Contact: Amanda Clark, 207.581.3721

Categories: Combined News, News

Just Add Water

University of Maine News - Mon, 07/06/2015 - 13:15

Detecting invasive lake and river species using just a water sample would be a dream come true for wildlife managers and regulators in the state. And University of Maine researchers may soon make this an inexpensive reality.

Michael Kinnison, professor of evolutionary applications at the University of Maine, realized the need for an early invasive species detection system that would be more sensitive, require less specialized training and labor by field staff, present little to no threat to non-targeted species, and could be implemented at a fraction of the cost of current detection approaches.

The method now typically used for detecting the presence of invasive species is word of mouth from anglers and other concerned members of the public, followed by many hours of netting, angling and electrofishing by state biologists, says Kinnison.

Many times, reports go unverified until fish are abundant enough to be regularly caught. Current methods also are unlikely to detect the presence of invasive juveniles before they are large enough to be caught by anglers and biologists.

Kinnison is leading a project to adapt emerging environmental DNA (eDNA) approaches to detect the presence of invasive species, and other aquatic species, in Maine waters. Environmental DNA detection targets species-specific DNA material shed by aquatic organisms when they die, defecate or shed skin cells. That DNA can last up to several weeks in surrounding waters and be detected in water samples.

The pilot portion of this project, funded by the Maine Outdoor Heritage Fund, includes use of water samples to describe the extent of invasive northern pike, Esox lucius, in the Penobscot River system.

“This technology has the potential to greatly enhance detection of many aquatic species by providing a much more sensitive and cost-effective approach than current field survey approaches,” he says.

According to the Maine Inland Fisheries & Wildlife Department, Northern Pike was illegally introduced into the Belgrade Chain of Lakes in the 1970s.  Today, they are present in at least 16 lakes in the Kennebec, Androscoggin, and coastal river drainages and are suspected in several other locations. Managers have traced the introduction of species such as pike from illegal transport or by out-migration from lakes where they have become established. Because pike are top predators, their introduction negatively impacts the state’s prized salmon populations.

Kinnison and ecology and environmental science graduate student Lauren Turinetti refined a quantitative polymerase chain reaction (PCR) primer set, and fluorescent DNA binding probe, to detect a short but unique sequence of the northern pike DNA. The PCR amplification system turns a few original copies of pike DNA in a water sample into billions, and the fluorescent probe signals how many copies are made. Using this technique they have successfully detected pike DNA in water samples collected from Pushaw Lake in Penobscot County, Maine. The water samples they used were no bigger than a normal soda bottle (1 liter). They’re now working to refine their field sampling and detection approaches to implement a wider-scale survey for pike in the Penobscot drainage.

By collecting water samples throughout the drainage the investigators hope to obtain a snapshot of how far pike have spread in places where dam removals, passage projects and repairs have improved migration of anadromous species — but also may have inadvertently opened the door to pike, says Kinnison.

Further funding by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service State Wildlife Grants Program via the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife will allow Kinnison to expand this technique to other species of special concern, including imperiled native species.

This relatively quick and inexpensive method could help Maine combat its invasive species crisis and help managers more efficiently apply their limited resources to a diversity of conservation challenges, saving valuable resources for management of invasions from the start rather than detecting them when they’re already established.

The most widely referenced paper (Pimental et al. 2005) on this issue reports that invasive species costs the United States more than $120 billion in damages every year, according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife service.  Invasive species are also a leading cause contributing to the demise of many threatened or endangered species.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has adopted eDNA early detection as a core component of its invasive Asian carp monitoring program in the Great Lakes region. In 2010 alone, the federal government spent $78.5 million to prevent the introduction of carp to the Great Lakes, where they would threaten Great Lakes fisheries and endangered aquatic species.

In the future, the researchers hope to fine tune the method so it will not only determine the presence of multiple species, but also abundance.

“Right now we are using quantitative PCR to detect single species, but with the developments that are occurring, we are probably not that far down the road from being able to detect and estimate the abundance of numerous species within the same water samples,” says Kinnison.

Contact: Amanda Clark, 207.581.3721

Categories: Combined News, News

WLBZ Reports on Toxic Chemicals Found in Plastic Bags That Affect Fish

University of Maine News - Mon, 07/06/2015 - 11:29

WLBZ (Channel 2) reported University of Maine marine scientist Heather Hamlin and colleagues discovered that certain plastic bags with FDA food-grade approval leach nonylphenol (NP) in concentrations that are highly toxic to fish. The researchers found one type of bag commonly used to transport fish home from pet stores released NP into the water that the fish would ingest, according to the report. The researchers said that in a little more than a week, the fish died, the report states. “In this one particular bag with this one particular manufacturer it was not safe, so it’s something in the manufacturing process,” Hamlin said. “So if you went to buy this particular bag off the shelf it would be labeled identically to other bags but it just happens to be highly unsafe.” Phys.org published the UMaine release.

Categories: Combined News, News

Maine Magazine Names Mayewski a Bold Visionary

University of Maine News - Mon, 07/06/2015 - 11:28

Paul Mayewski has been named one of the 50 bold visionaries defining the state in the July issue of Maine magazine.

The director of the Climate Change Institute at the University of Maine was included in the third annual list for his four decades of exploration aimed at understanding “why and how the climate is changing so that society can be prepared for adaptation and sustainability.”

Mayewski, who has conducted research in Antarctica, the Arctic, Himalayas, Tibetan Plateau, Tierra del Fuego and the Andes, has earned a number of awards for his research, including the inaugural International Medal for Excellence in Antarctic Research and the International Glaciological Society Seligman Crystal.

His findings have been published in more than 350 scientific journals; two of his most popular books are “The Ice Chronicles: The Quest to Understand Global Climate Change” with Frank White and “Journey Into Climate: Adventure, Exploration, and the Unmasking of Human Innocence.”

Mayewski also was highlighted in Showtime’s Emmy Award-winning series “Years of Living Dangerously.”

Categories: Combined News, News

Media Publish Marriage Equality Op-Ed by Fried, Glover

University of Maine News - Mon, 07/06/2015 - 11:27

The Bangor Daily News published the opinion piece, “How Maine showed marriage means the same to everyone,” by Amy Fried and Robert Glover, political science professors at the University of Maine and members of the Scholars Strategy Network. The piece originally appeared on Talking Points Memo.

Categories: Combined News, News

SMART Institute Mentioned in BDN Article on Bangor Teen

University of Maine News - Mon, 07/06/2015 - 11:26

The Bangor Daily News mentioned the University of Maine’s Stormwater Management Research Team (SMART) Institute in an article about Paige Brown, a 16-year-old Bangor High School student and program participant. Brown also delivered the keynote address at the three-day program that focused on creating innovative solutions to environmental problems related to stormwater management. Brown is the winner of the Maine Stockholm Junior Water Prize, a prestigious youth award for a water-related science project, and will represent Maine at this year’s national competition in Washington, D.C. Mohamad Musavi, associate dean of engineering at UMaine and one of the program’s organizers, spoke to the BDN about SMART. He said students in the program are expected to take what they learn back to their communities to continue studying stormwater issues and work with officials. “This is not like any other camp. This is just the beginning of the process for these students, and they’re going to be engaged in this for the entire year,” Musavi said.

Categories: Combined News, News

Lexicon of Sustainability Exhibit Now in Brewer

University of Maine News - Thu, 07/02/2015 - 11:29

The next Lexicon of Sustainability pop-up art show, sponsored by the University of Maine Office of Sustainability, is on display at Tiller & Rye, 20 South Main St., Brewer.

The exhibition, part of a national effort, is designed to spur community dialogue to help strengthen local food systems. Most recently, it was on display as part of the Bangor Artwalk.

The Lexicon of Sustainability, founded in 2009 by farmers and filmmakers Douglas Gayeton and Laura Howard-Gayeton, focuses on sharing stories that explain sustainability. Lexicon uses information artworks, pop-up shows, street art, short films series and other formats to educate and engage people to pay closer attention to how they eat, what they buy and where their responsibility begins for creating a healthier, safer food system in America. Nearly 200 leaders in food and farming from across the country have shared their experiences as part of Lexicon of Sustainability.

Annually, Lexicon offers 100 artwork sets to curators. The UMaine Office of Sustainability and the other 2015 curators each will organize at least five pop-up art shows that involve local communities, then will act as lending libraries to schools and community groups.

At UMaine, the Sustainability Office is collaborating in its shows with the Humanities Center and the Innovative Media Research and Commercialization Center (IMRC).

Categories: Combined News, News

Comins Speaks About Space on MPBN’s ‘Maine Calling’

University of Maine News - Thu, 07/02/2015 - 09:16

Neil Comins, a University of Maine professor of physics and astronomy, was a recent guest on the Maine Public Broadcasting Network’s “Maine Calling” radio show. The show, titled “News out of NASA,” focused on the latest NASA projects including the New Horizons mission as it closes in on Pluto after a 3 billion mile journey from Earth.

Categories: Combined News, News

BDN Reports on UMaine Football’s 2015 TV Schedule

University of Maine News - Thu, 07/02/2015 - 09:15

The Bangor Daily News reported the University of Maine football team will have six of its contests broadcast on television throughout the 2015 season. Three games will be shown nationally under the league’s television package and several will air on WVII-ABC 7 Bangor, the official Black Bear television affiliate. All broadcasts on WVII also will be shown on WPME-Portland and Fox College Sports. More information, including the full 2015 UMaine football schedule is online.

Categories: Combined News, News

Press Herald Publishes Op-Ed by Peterson

University of Maine News - Thu, 07/02/2015 - 09:15

The Portland Press Herald published the opinion piece “Public higher education cuts threaten class mobility, UMaine professor says,” by Mick Peterson, a professor of mechanical engineering at the University of Maine.

Categories: Combined News, News

Make Dilly Beans at UMaine Extension Workshop

University of Maine News - Thu, 07/02/2015 - 09:14

Learn to make dilly beans at the University of Maine Cooperative Extension Preserving the Harvest workshop 5:30–8:30 p.m. Tuesday, July 21, at the UMaine Extension office, 24 Main St., Lisbon Falls.

Extension food preservation staff member Kate McCarty will lead the workshop, which features hands-on, USDA-recommended food preservation methods, including hot water bath canning. Participants can take home the dilly beans they make.

Fresh produce, canning jars and other canning equipment will be provided. Participants should bring a pot holder.

Cost is $20 per person; partial scholarships are available. Register online by July 13. For more information, or to request a disability accommodation, call 353.5550 or 800.287.1458 (toll-free in Maine).

Categories: Combined News, News

Graduate Student to be Guest on MPBN’s ‘Maine Calling’

University of Maine News - Wed, 07/01/2015 - 15:50

Skylar Bayer, a graduate student at the University of Maine Darling Marine Center, will talk about storytelling on the Maine Public Broadcasting Network’s “Maine Calling” radio show at noon Thursday, July 2.

Bayer studies scallop reproduction and the sustainability of the scallop fishery in the Gulf of Maine. She also enjoys storytelling and recognizes it as an important tool for scientists.

“We need to be able to do more than communicate our findings to other scientists,” Bayer says. “We must be able to share our science with anyone. Scientists are people, too, and science affects all of us.”

After Bayer shared a story about calling her father from the submersible Alvin on the science podcast “The Story Collider,” she became a producer for the program.

Bayer also edits and writes for the StrictlyFishwrap blog, which she created to give graduate students an opportunity to practice their writing skills and share anecdotes about conducting research and job hunting. In 2013, she appeared on “The Colbert Report.”

Categories: Combined News, News

Not All Plastics Equal

University of Maine News - Wed, 07/01/2015 - 13:43

Ever buy a fish at a pet store that died within days of being put in an aquarium at home?

The plastic bag in which the fish traveled home may be the culprit, according to research by University of Maine marine scientist Heather Hamlin.

Hamlin and colleagues discovered that certain plastic bags with FDA food-grade approval leach nonylphenol (NP) in concentrations that are highly toxic to fish.

The chemical NP — also found in food packaging, cosmetics and laundry and dish detergents — binds to estrogen receptors. Even at low concentrations, it mimics estrogen, which feminizes and alters fertility in fish, thus threatening their existence.

NP also has been found to alter fish immune function and damage DNA.

Hamlin’s findings, published in the journal Chemosphere, demonstrate that NP may pose a greater health risk to people, the ocean and to aquatic wildlife than can be predicted from examining properties of plastic from one manufacturer, which is the method the FDA currently uses to test for toxicity.

“This study contributes to the growing body of research highlighting concerns with plastic contaminants,” says Hamlin, an assistant professor of aquaculture and marine biology.

“While not all plastic is bad, this study highlights difficulties in differentiating good from bad plastic, and it makes sense to reduce the use of plastics if alternatives, such as glass, are available.”

For the study, for 48 hours, captive-bred orchid dottybacks (Pseudochromis fridmani) were kept in synthetic seawater in Teflon bags, glass bowls or in plastic bags from one of two manufacturers. The FDA labels both types of plastic bags as food-safe polyethylene.

All of the fish in Teflon bags and glass bowls lived for the 48 hours, while 89 percent of the fish in one manufacturer’s plastic bags survived, says Hamlin, a reproductive endocrinologist interested in mechanisms by which environmental factors influence aquatic animal reproduction and development.

In the other manufacturer’s plastic bags (PE2), 60 percent of the fish died within the two days. Those that survived 48 hours in the plastic bags all died within eight days of being released in an aquarium. This, says Hamlin, demonstrates the exposure to NP caused irreversible damage to the fish.

In 48 hours, the NP concentration in the seawater in the PE2 bags was 163 parts per billion (ppb), which is nearly 24 times higher than the U.S. EPA water quality criteria for acute exposure of NP in seawater.

While this study tested for the ability of NP to leach into seawater, Hamlin says it’s possible that food stored in the PE2 plastic bags could absorb increased levels of NP as well and that it’s likely that risks to aquatic animals exposed to increasing quantities of plastic waste could be greater than previously realized.

In 2010, industry demand for NP was estimated to be more than 170,000 metric tons; another study estimated as many as 12.7 million metric tons of plastic waste entered the ocean in 2010.

NPs, says Hamlin, enter aquatic systems though a number of ways, including wastewater discharge.

Studies have indicated NP can last for decades in estuary mudflats. And one survey of 93 organic wastewater contaminants in 139 streams in the United States revealed NP was one of the most commonly occurring contaminants and measured at higher concentrations than other contaminants.

Taking all of this into consideration, Hamlin says greater oversight on the manufacture of plastics and allowable thresholds of contaminant leaching is warranted.

Kathleen Marciano, who earned her degree in marine science with a concentration in aquaculture in 2014 from UMaine; and Craig Downs of Haereticus Environmental Laboratory in Virginia, helped lead the study.

Support for the project came, in part, from a Hatch Grant from the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture as well as from the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Small Business Innovation Research.

Hamlin talks about her research in this video.

Photo courtesy of Sea & Reef Aquaculture

Contact: Beth Staples, 207.581.3777

Categories: Combined News, News

WVII Covers Sustainable Energy Leaders of the Future Institute

University of Maine News - Wed, 07/01/2015 - 13:38

WVII (Channel 7) reported 13 female students from high schools around the state are spending a week participating in Sustainable Energy Leaders of the Future (SELF) at the University of Maine. The SELF Institute is a residential program that connects Maine girls from rural high schools to STEM careers through research, mentoring and community service in forest bioproducts. The group spent their week learning about different sustainable and renewable energy methods including hydrogen fuel cells, solar power, wind power, and exploring Maine’s available resources through field trips, according to the report. “Surrounding them with a bunch of girls that are also interested in it might encourage them that yeah there are more females that are actually interested in science and math and can do it; do it just as well if not better than a lot of the guys,” said Lindsey Smith, SELF camp counselor.

Categories: Combined News, News

Las Vegas Informer Publishes Q&A with Allen

University of Maine News - Wed, 07/01/2015 - 13:38

Doug Allen, a philosophy professor at the University of Maine, was interviewed by the Las Vegas Informer for the article “Long distance running: An interview with veteran peace activist Doug Allen.” When Allen, now 74 years old, arrived at UMaine in 1974, he helped found the Maine Peace Action Committee which is still going strong today, according to the article. Allen’s also a long-distance runner who runs five days a week, the article states.

Categories: Combined News, News

Gabe’s Minimum Wage Increase Research Cited in BDN Article

University of Maine News - Wed, 07/01/2015 - 13:37

Research by Todd Gabe, an economics professor at the University of Maine, was mentioned in a Bangor Daily News article about Bangor City Councilor Joe Baldacci pushing forward a plan to raise the minimum wage in the city and tie future wage changes to inflation. If approved, Baldacci’s ordinance would incrementally increase the minimum wage in Bangor, bumping the lowest paid workers to $8.25 per hour in 2016, $9 per hour in 2017, and $9.75 per hour in 2018, according to the article. Gabe’s research found raising the minimum wage from $7.50 to $8.25 per hour would impact 7 percent of workers in the Bangor metropolitan statistical area, the article states. At $9 per hour, 12 percent of the workforce would be affected, and at $9.75 per hour, 18 percent would see an increase, Gabe determined.

Categories: Combined News, News
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