News

Bulking Up

University of Maine News - Tue, 07/08/2014 - 15:20

Enhancing green sea urchin egg production to aid Maine’s depressed urchin market is the research focus of a University of Maine marine bioresources graduate student.

Ung Wei Kenn, a second-year master’s student from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, hopes to increase the egg or roe yield of farm-raised green sea urchins through high-quality feed, a process known as bulking. His research is part of a two-year, more than $215,000 research project funded by the National Sea Grant National Strategic Initiative and led by director Nick Brown and biologist Steve Eddy of UMaine’s Center for Cooperative Aquaculture Research (CCAR) in Franklin, Maine.

“I was always interested in the vertical integration of aquaculture and seafood processing,” says Ung, who completed his undergraduate work at the University of Tasmania, Australia. “I am also passionate about seafood that is popular in Asia. This topic is a blend of all that.”

Ung came to UMaine because he was attracted to the project, but he praises CCAR, where he conducts his research, as a key part in his decision to work at UMaine.

“I always felt that aquaculture is not just a science; it is a business as well,” says Ung. “CCAR is special in that it is specifically set up to assist aquaculture businesses by providing scientific and technical know-how. I would not have this luxury at most other places.”

Ung’s research potentially could have significant economic benefit for the state. Maine exports roe to Japan, where it is considered a delicacy. Since the late 1990s, Maine has suffered a dramatic sea urchin industry decline, dropping to a 2.6 million-pound yearly harvest after 1993’s 42-million-pound high, according to information on the Maine Sea Grant website.

“(Using bulking), we can produce out-of-season urchins, enabling the industry to get the best prices, such as when there is a festival in Japan,” Ung says.

Ung places wild green sea urchins, which are harvested from Hancock County’s Frenchman Bay, in a recirculating aquaculture system, where they are fed fresh and dried kelp and a commercial diet that fosters higher-quality eggs. Harvested sea urchins are usually 57 mm in diameter.

Ung hopes his research will lead to increased roe yield and improved roe quality. After four months of urchin dieting, Ung analyzes roe yield, texture and color data at the Food Science and Human Nutrition Department’s physical properties lab. Taste testing is completed at the UMaine Consumer Testing Center. Roe pre- and post-experimentation aspects are compared to determine if quality has been enhanced.

High-quality roe is sweet, smooth and yellow, gold or orange in color, while poor-quality roe has a watery appearance or bitter taste.

“There is a commercial component where we want to demonstrate that the urchins can be enhanced at a commercial scale,” Ung says. “A higher-quality roe yield would mean better selling prices.”

Contact: Margaret Nagle, 207.581.3745

Categories: Combined News, News

Improving Safety in Space

University of Maine News - Tue, 07/08/2014 - 15:20

University of Maine researchers will design and test a wireless leak detection system for the International Space Station (ISS) that could lead to increased safety on the ISS and for other space activities, as well as on Earth in the event of gas and oil leaks at industrial plants.

The project was one of five in the nation to receive funding from NASA’s Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (EPSCoR) for research and technology development onboard ISS.

Ali Abedi, a UMaine associate professor of electrical and computer engineering, was awarded a three-year, $100,000 NASA grant through the Maine Space Grant Consortium in Augusta, which consists of higher education institutions and nonprofit research organizations that are actively involved in aerospace-related research and education.

“We are very excited to be selected among the only five groups in the nation to conduct a flight test on ISS,” Abedi says. “This will be a great training experience for our students to learn how to take a prototype out of the lab, and not only to the field but also to space.”

Leaks causing air and heat loss are a major safety concern for astronauts, according to Abedi.

“It is important to save the air when it comes to space missions; find the leak and fix it before it is too late,” he says.

Abedi’s project involves the development of a flight-ready wireless sensor system that will be able to quickly detect and localize leaks based on ultrasonic sensor array signals. The proposed system is fast, accurate and capable of detecting multiple leaks and localizing them with a lightweight and low-cost system, Abedi says.

“Our goal is to push the boundaries of hardware and software in order to design a highly accurate, ultra-low-power and lightweight autonomous leak detection and localization system for ISS,” he says.

The lab prototype was developed by UMaine Ph.D. student Joel Castro and postdoctoral fellow Hossein Roufarshbaf as part of a previously funded NASA EPSCoR project and was tested on UMaine’s inflatable lunar habitat, located in the Wireless Sensing Laboratory (WiSe-Net Lab) on campus. The new funding will allow researchers to make the system more rugged and revise it for a microgravity environment through testing at the NASA Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas, and then onboard the ISS over the next two to three years.

The testing and verification of the system in a microgravity environment will help determine how well the system performs in space, as well as on Earth.

“Leak detection methods developed for extreme space environments will push the limits of current technology for ground-based leak detection at home and in industrial plants,” says Abedi, who directs the WiSe-Net Lab. The lab conducts research on wireless communications ranging from coding and information theory to wireless sensor networks and space applications, as well as houses the NASA’s lunar habitat.

Vince Caccese, a UMaine mechanical engineering professor, and George Nelson, a former astronaut and current director of ISS Technology Demonstration Office at the NASA Johnson Space Center, also are involved with the project.

Proposals from the University of Kentucky, Lexington; Montana State University, Bozeman; University of Nebraska, Omaha; and the University of Delaware, Newark also were funded. Other research includes improving spacewalking suits by incorporating self-healing polymers that are tested against micrometeor impacts.

Contact: Elyse Kahl, 207.581.3747

Categories: Combined News, News

Turning Down The Heat

University of Maine News - Tue, 07/08/2014 - 15:19

A new pepper variety has been developed with a high capsinoid content to make it less pungent while maintaining all the natural health benefits of the fruit, according to researchers with the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the University of Maine.

The researchers — Robert Jarret from the USDA/Agricultural Research Service in Griffin, Georgia, and Jason Bolton and L. Brian Perkins from the University of Maine School of Food and Agriculture — developed the new small-fruited Capsicum annuum L. pepper through traditional breeding methods in an effort to make the health benefits of hot peppers available to more consumers.

In hot peppers, capsaicinoids are the compounds associated both with their signature heat and health benefits, which include being a source of antioxidants. But that pungency can limit their use in foods and pharmaceuticals.

Capsinoids, closely related compounds of capsaicinoids, provide the same benefits without the pungency.

Starting in 2006 with a USDA seed grant, Perkins, a UMaine assistant research professor and director of the Food Chemical Safety Laboratory, and Bolton, then a food science graduate student, screened about 500 subspecies of Capsicum annuum. They forwarded their data to Jarret, who selected those with the highest concentrations of capsinoids.

Jarret then began to classically breed the selected varieties at the USDA facility in Georgia. Perkins screened the results and they repeated the process, selecting the best capsinoid producers from each generation.

The culmination of their work is germplasm 509-45-1. The peppers are very small, with each plant producing up to 1,000 peppers. According to Perkins, there will likely be additional selection to prepare the plants for marketability, both as a food product and for medical experiments.

Currently, small quantities of seed are available from the USDA for research purposes.

Contact: Margaret Nagle, 207.581.3745

Categories: Combined News, News

Reuters, Press Herald Cite UMaine Blueberry Industry Research

University of Maine News - Tue, 07/08/2014 - 11:26

Reuters and the Portland Press Herald cited information on the state’s blueberry industry from the University of Maine in articles about a lawsuit alleging labor violations during the state’s 2008 wild blueberry harvest. The Reuters article states Maine harvested nearly $70 million worth of wild blueberries in 2012, and the industry depends on migrant labor to harvest the native crop, which grows on about 60,000 acres of fields, according to UMaine. The Press Herald reported the industry’s economic impact in Maine was about $250 million in 2007. Chicago Tribune carried the Reuters report.

Categories: Combined News, News

SeacoastOnline Interviews Kaczor About Health of Maine’s Beaches

University of Maine News - Tue, 07/08/2014 - 11:24

Keri Kaczor, of the University of Maine Cooperative Extension and coordinator of Maine Healthy Beaches, spoke with SeacoastOnline about the health of Maine’s beaches following the release of the Natural Resources Defense Council’s annual report on the water quality at beaches throughout the nation. Maine Healthy Beaches is a partnership between the UMaine Extension/Sea Grant, the Maine Department of Environmental Protection, and local municipalities. The statewide organization is dedicated to monitoring and keeping beaches clean. Kaczor said despite Maine’s low rank in the NRDC report, there are plenty of beaches in the state with nearly spotless records, and most of those beaches are in state or national parks where there is little to no development.

Categories: Combined News, News

UMaine Extension 4-H Offers Bug Club

University of Maine News - Tue, 07/08/2014 - 11:23

University of Maine Cooperative Extension is offering a youth 4-H club focusing on entomology from 9 to 11 a.m. Mondays and Wednesdays, Aug. 4–20, at the UMaine Extension office, 28 Center St., Machias. Activities are designed to teach youth ages 8–10 about the environment through bugs. Cost is $10 per child; registration is limited to 10. For more information, to register or to request a disability accommodation, call 207.255.3345 or email nicole.h.willey@maine.edu.

Categories: Combined News, News

Silka Talks with MPBN About Innovation, Maine Policy Review

University of Maine News - Mon, 07/07/2014 - 14:11

Linda Silka, director of the Margaret Chase Smith Policy Center at the University of Maine, spoke with the Maine Public Broadcasting Network for Part 1 of its “Innovation in the Maine Economy” series. Silka spoke about the importance of innovation for the state’s future and the latest Maine Policy Review, which focuses on innovation in Maine’s economy.

Categories: Combined News, News

Press Herald, AP Report on Increased Enrollment of Out-of-State Students

University of Maine News - Mon, 07/07/2014 - 14:10

The Portland Press Herald reported the number of out-of-state students enrolling at University of Maine System schools is on the rise. The University of Maine is one of four of the system campuses that is seeing an increase in the number of out-of-state students, who pay almost three times more in tuition than in-staters. So far this year, the flagship Orono campus has seen a 13.5 percent increase in out-of-state enrollments for this fall when compared to last fall. Jimmy Jung, vice president for enrollment management at UMaine, said out-of-state recruiting efforts by officials are “paying off quite well.” The Associated Press published a report citing the Press Herald article, which was carried by The Washington Times, Maine Public Broadcasting Network, WABI (Channel 5), SFGate and The Republic.

Categories: Combined News, News

Kent Talks to Press Herald About Skier’s Writing

University of Maine News - Mon, 07/07/2014 - 14:09

Rich Kent, an associate professor of literacy education at the University of Maine, spoke with the Portland Press Herald for an article about Sam Morse, an 18-year-old skier from Carrabassett Valley Academy who is a member of the U.S. ski development team. According to the article, Morse has been writing journals since childhood and believes the practice makes him a better

Alpine skier by allowing him to reflect on and improve his skills. Kent, who wrote, “Writing on the Bus: Using Athletic Team Notebooks and Journals to Advance Learning and Performance in Sports,” is a leading proponent of journal writing. He has a resource website and works with college coaches to establish journal training among their teams. Kent was introduced to Morse in 2011 by Morse’s English teacher at Carrabassett Valley Academy. “Sam’s writing is huge,” said Kent. “I’ve never seen such a package of writing. In Sam’s writing you see evidence of planning.” Kent added he believes writing gives Morse a psychological advantage over other skiers.

Categories: Combined News, News

BDN Reports on New Associate Director of Collins Center

University of Maine News - Mon, 07/07/2014 - 14:08

The Bangor Daily News reported Karen Cole, the current executive vice president of the Bangor Region Chamber of Commerce, will take over as the associate director of the Collins Center for the Arts at the University of Maine. “She brings a lot of experience in marketing and in the arts, and she is deeply connected to the Bangor area and the university,” said Danny Williams, executive director of the CCA. “She’s familiar with the landscape and the Bangor scene, and I think she will help the Collins Center position itself appropriately in the new and ever-shifting landscape.”

Categories: Combined News, News

Murphy Gives Gardening Advice on MPBN’s ‘Maine Calling’

University of Maine News - Mon, 07/07/2014 - 14:07

Barbara Murphy, a University of Maine Cooperative Extension educator and gardening expert, was a guest on the Maine Public Broadcasting Network’s “Maine Calling” radio show. The show focused on gardening advice and touched on topics such as soil conditions and crops gardeners should expect to see ready by July.

Categories: Combined News, News

BDN Publishes Op-Ed by Brinkley

University of Maine News - Mon, 07/07/2014 - 14:07

The Bangor Daily News published the opinion piece, “Eliot Cutler has a leadership problem,” by Tony Brinkley, an English professor at the University of Maine.

Categories: Combined News, News
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