Mark Brewer, a political science professor at the University of Maine, was quoted in a Reuters article about Sen. Angus King officially endorsing independent gubernatorial candidate Eliot Cutler. The article referenced the 2010 Maine governor’s race when Cutler posted a late-season surge following a similar endorsement from King. According to the article, many observers say Gov. Paul LePage and Democratic candidate Mike Michaud may be less susceptible to pressure from a third-party candidate this year. “People have been informed by the 2010 race and are very wary of splitting the non-LePage vote,” Brewer said. Yahoo News and Business Insider carried the Reuters report.
The University of Maine Cooperative Extension was mentioned in a Portland Press Herald article about changes in U.S. Department of Agriculture standards that require organic beer to be brewed with organic hops and how those changes are inspiring more Maine brewers to grow hops. According to the article, UMaine Extension is testing several organic hop varieties to see which thrive and can make tasty brews in Maine.
A documentary about climate change that features a University of Maine explorer has won an Emmy Award.
Paul Mayewski, director of UMaine’s Climate Change Institute, appeared in the ninth and final episode of Years of Living Dangerously, which aired weekly from April to June on Showtime.
Developed by David Gelber and Joel Bach of 60 Minutes, Years of Living Dangerously won Outstanding Documentary or Nonfiction Series at the Creative Arts Emmy Awards held Saturday, Aug. 16, at the Nokia Theatre L.A. LIVE in Los Angeles; it is scheduled to be broadcast at 8 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 24, on FXM.
“Years of Living Dangerously offers a critical view of climate change and its impacts that drive right to the heart of the issue: ‘How does climate change impact one’s life today,’” says Mayewski. “We clearly need many more such views of critical issues.”
Actors Matt Damon, Harrison Ford and Arnold Schwarzenegger, as well as journalists Lesley Stahl and Thomas Friedman and scientist M. Sanjayan, were among the documentary’s correspondents. They traveled the planet to examine stories about impacts of climate change. In addition to detailing devastation in New Jersey wreaked by Superstorm Sandy, they explored drought and lost jobs in Plainview, Texas, worsening wildfires in the U.S. and civil unrest heightened by water shortage in the Middle East. Sanjayan and a film crew joined Mayewski and his team of CCI graduate students in 2013 for the nearly 20,000-foot ascent of a glacier on Tupungato, an active Andean volcano in Chile.
Mayewski’s team was in Chile to collect ice cores from the melting glacier that serves as the drinking water supply for Santiago’s 4 million residents. Temperature there is rising, greenhouse gases are increasing and winds from the west that have traditionally brought moisture to the glacier have shifted, Mayewski says. By understanding trends, he says it’s possible to better predict where climate events will occur so plans can be made.
For decades, Mayewski has made discoveries in Earth’s remote regions. “When you go all over the world, you get a global view,” he says. “By nature, I’m an optimist. That is tempered with this problem. I do believe there will be a groundswell of people, or governments, or some combination so that there will be a better future in store.”
The impact that hemlock tree die-offs have had — and continue to have — on freshwater forest ecosystems is the focus of a research project at the University of Maine.
Hamish Greig, a UMaine assistant professor of stream ecology, and Jacquelyn Gill, an assistant professor of terrestrial paleoecology at the Climate Change Institute (CCI) and the School of Biology and Ecology, are leading a research team that is studying past and present declines of the conifers known for their dense shade. The resulting biomass the dying trees introduce into the watershed, as well as the other tree species that take their place on the forest floor, affect freshwater systems, including streams and lakes.
Understanding those implications is particularly important in Maine, where hemlocks are now being threatened by the same exotic pest that, in recent years, has decimated the tree species in the southeastern United States.
“People in Maine have a huge affinity to their rivers and lakes. It’s huge economically; it’s huge socially, and through recreational activities,” says Greig, who is joined on the research team by research assistant professor Krista Caps, postdoctoral scientist Robert Northington, as well as several graduate, undergraduate and high school students.
About 5,500 years ago, the hemlocks of eastern North America sustained a massive die-off that lasted about 1,000 years, brought on by severe drought and the hemlock looper, a native pest, Gill says. Today, the tree species has been nearly decimated in the southeastern United States by the hemlock woolly adelgid, an exotic insect from Asia.
Maine’s cold winters typically protect against exotic pests. However, warmer temperatures have allowed exotic pests to thrive and move north. Since 2004, the hemlock woolly adelgid has been in southwestern Maine. This year, it has made it as far north as Owls Head, according to the researchers.
“As the climate warms, there won’t be anything preventing the woolly adelgid from hitting our hemlocks in Maine as hard as they’ve been hit elsewhere,” Gill says.
As part of their study, the research team has set up 36 livestock water tanks as experimental freshwater mesocosms, or isolated experimental environments. Hemlock needles, along with rhododendron and maple leaves, have been added to the ecosystems to observe what happens when a hemlock dies.
The mesocosms allow the scientists to study these isolated environments as they develop over time — in this case, into the fall.
“You can’t really control something in a natural lake,” Greig says. “And if you do experiments in the lab, you’re really simplifying things down to two or three species of invertebrates. By having this happy medium, we can have natural complexity with the controlled replication of a true experiment.”
Next, Gill and Northington will study radiocarbon-dated records from the bottom of lakes and bogs in southeastern, coastal and central Maine regions to help understand how aquatic systems were affected by hemlock die-off in the past. By linking the paleo record with a modern experiment, the team hopes to will new light on hemlock’s role in changing ecosystems.
UMaine Ph.D. in Communication Alumna, Hollie Smith New Assistant Professor at the University of Rhode Island
Posted August 18, 2014
Dr. Hollie Smith, a recent doctoral graduate in UMaine’s Communication and Journalism program will be moving to Rhode Island to be an Assistant Professor of Communication Studies at the University of Rhode Island. Smith, a member of the Knowledge to Action team, worked on a variety of different projects that looked at how to involve stakeholders into the research process and make knowledge more accessible and applicable to different stakeholder groups. Her research focused on the intersection of science, policy, and media as they relate to environmental issues.
Among other achievements including a number of co-authored publications during her time at UMaine, Dr. Smith placed first in the GradExpo's Oral Presentation for the Social Sciences fields this past April.
Sarah Nelson, an assistant research professor with the Senator George J. Mitchell Center and cooperating assistant research professor in Watershed Biogeochemistry in the UMaine School of Forest Resources, was interviewed for a Bangor Daily News article about her research with Steve Kahl, a sustainability professor at Unity College, on acid rain. After a decades-long study, the researchers found the negative effects of acid rain have been reversed much faster than expected. Nelson said the study shows the value of long-term monitoring. “Because these lakes have been sampled for so long, they’re really sentinels of what’s been going on in the Northeast,” she said. “It’s really an amazing resource.”
An art-making and fundraising project that was facilitated by University of Maine students in an advanced art education course was mentioned in a Weekly article about music becoming an important part of the lives of Shaw House residents. The first three instruments at Bangor’s Shaw House, an organization that works with youth who are homeless or are at risk of becoming homeless, were purchased with money raised through the sale of ceramic and found-object pins created by house residents under the instruction of Constant Albertson, an associate professor of art education, and students in her class.
WLBZ (Channel 2) spoke with Robert Rice, a professor of wood science and technology at the University of Maine, for a report on mill officials remaining optimistic about Old Town Fuel and Fiber’s future despite the recent shutdown of the mill. Rice said if mill owners choose to sell, they should consider options, including whether the new owner will continue researching biofuels. He added one of the major challenges the mill faced was that it produced only market pulp, an operational structure that is becoming less viable in the United States.
The Bangor Daily News reported engineers with University of Maine’s Advanced Structures and Composites Center are working with NASA to perfect the Hypersonic Inflatable Aerodynamic Decelerator (HIAD). The HIAD is a spacecraft nose-mounted “giant cone of inner tubes” stacked like a ring toy that slows a spacecraft as it enters a planet’s atmosphere. The HIAD could make it possible for a spaceship large enough to carry astronauts and heavy loads of scientific equipment to explore Mars and beyond. “There aren’t that many people in the U.S., or around the world, working on these sorts of things,” said Bill Davids, chair of the civil and environmental engineering department and the John C. Bridge Professor at UMaine who is working on the project. “It really helps support education as well,” he added.
University of Maine political science professors Amy Fried and Mark Brewer were quoted in a Sun Journal political analysis on social media use in Maine campaigns. Fried spoke about anonymous commenters who use hate speech online, saying “Not giving their names gives them a perch from which to lob uncivil comments, to present themselves as multiple individuals, and to avoid accountability for themselves and the parties and candidates for whom they may speak.” Brewer said campaigns should consider adopting stringent social media policies, including some pre-screening rules for people affiliated with a campaign. The Bangor Daily News carried the Sun Journal report.
The Portland Press Herald, WLBZ (Channel 2) and WABI (Channel 5) reported former players, coaches and community members joined family and friends to remember longtime college baseball coach John Winkin who passed away July 19. Attendees of the memorial at Colby College in Waterville shared stories for two and a half hours, the Press Herald reported. For more than 50 years, Winkin coached college baseball in Maine, first at Colby, then at the University of Maine, and at Husson University. Winkin led the Black Bears for 22 seasons, compiled a 642–430–3 record with the team, and helped the squad reach the College World Series six times, according to previously published reports.
The annual Bear Necessities and Athletic Equipment Room Tent Sale will be Wednesday, Aug. 27 through Saturday, Aug. 30 in the Alfond Arena parking lot and in the University of Maine Athletics Department store. The sale will run from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday, from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. Friday, and from noon to 9 p.m. Saturday. Deals on Black Bear merchandise will be featured. Prices start at $5.95 for T-shirts, $10 shorts, $19.95 sweatshirts and $20 jackets.
The Bangor Daily News reported on an Advanced Education Nursing Traineeship grant that was awarded to the University of Maine School of Nursing to defray educational costs of family nurse practitioner (FNP) students who will provide primary health care for rural Mainers in medically underserved areas. The nearly $600,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, will aid eligible, full-time FNP students in the School of Nursing master’s degree program in 2014 and 2015. “The goal of the funding is they want more care providers in underserved areas as soon as possible,” said Nancy Fishwick, director of UMaine’s School of Nursing.
The Bangor Daily News published an article about the Collins Center for the Art’s 2014–15 season. Danny Williams, executive director of the CCA, told the BDN his goal is to offer the most varied season possible through world-class dance, theater, classical music and a new partnership with Waterfront Concerts. “We want to offer something for everybody, which includes our roots, of course, along with new audiences. Diversity is the key,” Williams said.
WLBZ (Channel 2) and the Bangor Daily News reported UFC fighters and former college football players, Shawn Jordan and Ovince St. Preux, attended a University of Maine football team practice. The men stopped by to offer advice and talk about their college football careers and experiences.
Bangor’s first Startup Weekend will be Sept. 19–21, focused on jump-starting companies and networking entrepreneurs.
Startup Weekend Bangor will be held Sept. 19 at Bagel Central, 33 Central St., Bangor, and Sept. 20–21 at the University of Maine’s Foster Center for Student Innovation and the Innovative Media Research and Commercialization (IMRC) Center. Registration is $99 per person ($75 through Sept. 5); $25 for students. Registration and more information is online.
The hands-on, immersive event is part of Startup Weekend Maine, which brings designers, developers and entrepreneurs together to pitch their startup ideas and receive peer feedback. Teams form around the top ideas — determined by popular vote — and spend the remainder of the three days building a business model. Final presentations before local entrepreneurial leaders culminate the weekend.
Startup Weekend Portland was held June 13; Startup Weekend Auburn is Nov. 14. The events take their mission from the global grassroots effort Startup Weekends that helps community volunteers organize the 54-hour events to share ideas, form teams, build products and launch startups, according to its website.
The community organizers of Startup Weekend Bangor include Jesse Moriarity and Jennifer Hooper of the Foster Center for Student Innovation; Chuck Carter of Eagre Interactive; Gerry Hall of Emera Maine; UMaine students Silvia Guzman and Michael Kennedy; and Erika Allison, winner of Startup Weekend Portland.
UMaine is a Blackstone Accelerates Growth (BxG) partner and Bangor is one of three regional BxG Innovation Hubs.
UMaine’s Littlefield Ornamentals Trial Garden on Rangeley Road will be closed Monday–Tuesday, Aug. 18–19, for maintenance.
The University of Maine’s Center for Cooperative Aquaculture (CCAR) in Franklin was mentioned in an Aquaculture North America article about Acadia Harvest Inc. of Brunswick, Maine, reaching the final pilot phase of its work on land-based re-circ aquaculture of California yellowtail. The company also is laying the groundwork for commercial production of yellowtail, and hopes to add black sea bass in the future, the article states. Taylor Pryor, a chief scientist and marine biologist at Acadia Harvest Inc., said the company wouldn’t have accomplished as much in the past three years without the expertise at CCAR, which supports aquaculture business incubation. “The CCAR staff are wonderfully competent in their hatchery work,” Pryor said. “Having their expertise and the CCAR facility can vastly reduce the time needed to move projects forward.”
Reuters interviewed Mark Brewer, a political science professor at the University of Maine, for the article “Maine campaign finance law challenged as unfair to independents.” Independent gubernatorial candidate Eliot Cutler recently filed a suit in U.S. District Court in Portland that claims the state’s campaign finance law violates First and 14th Amendment rights to free speech, equal protection and political expression by allowing individuals to donate twice as much to major-party candidates as to independents. “We’ve had the two major parties writing our campaign laws, and they’ve really stacked the deck in their favor, making it difficult for third parties to compete. This could change things,” Brewer said. The Courant and Yahoo News carried the Reuters report.
The Bangor Daily News spoke with University of Maine economist Philip Trostel for an article about enrollment at community colleges. Trostel said it’s common during difficult economic times for community college enrollments to increase. “Going to college is expensive, especially when going means you have to take off time from work,” he said. He said when it’s hard to find a job, some people see an opportunity to go to school, and they’re likely to look for an affordable option.