News

Bridging Missions

University of Maine News - Wed, 08/06/2014 - 09:00

The Curiosity Rover took a selfie June 24 to celebrate its one Martian-year anniversary — 687 Earth days — on the Red Planet.

If NASA perfects its Hypersonic Inflatable Aerodynamic Decelerator (HIAD), a spacecraft nose-mounted “giant cone of inner tubes” stacked like a ring toy, one day people also may be taking selfies on the fourth planet from the Sun.

The HIAD slows a spacecraft as it enters a planet’s atmosphere. The technology, says NASA, is intended to make it possible for a spaceship large enough to carry astronauts and heavy loads of scientific equipment to explore Mars — 34,092,627 miles from Earth — and beyond.

Bill Davids, Joshua Clapp, Andrew Goupee and Andrew Young — engineers with University of Maine’s Advanced Structures and Composites Center — are working with NASA to accomplish that mission.

The out-of-this world opportunity isn’t the first impressive inflatable technology to be worked on by UMaine Composites Center engineers.

First there was the groundbreaking Bridge-in-a-BackpackTM, so named because each deflated bridge arch fits into a Black Bear hockey equipment bag.

The award-winning, patented Bridge-in-a-BackpackTM has earned the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials’ certification. Bridges similar to those in Belfast, North Anson and Pittsfield, Maine, as well as those in Massachusetts and Michigan, can be built around the country and world. One was built in the Caribbean, says Habib Dagher, Bath Iron Works Professor and founding director of the world-renowned research and development center.

The bridges — stronger than steel and able to be built in a couple of weeks — are made of light, portable carbon-fiber tubes that are inflated, formed into arches and infused with resin. Concrete is poured inside the carbon fiber tubes, which protect the concrete from water and other natural elements, thus extending the bridge’s lifespan to double or triple that of a traditional bridge.

Following Bridge-in-a-BackpackTM, Davids, chair of the civil and environmental engineering department and the John C. Bridge Professor, led a UMaine group that worked on portable, lightweight, rapidly deployable inflatable fabric arch-supported structures for the U.S. Army Natick Soldier Systems Center.

Designed for military forces, the tents supported by inflatable arches also can be used for disaster relief shelters, temporary medical facilities and storage.

The research involving inflatable fabric arch-supported structures caught the attention of NASA scientists several years ago. NASA officials working on HIAD inflatable technology contacted Davids about possible research collaborations.

Ultimately, Davids’ research proposal on the structural investigation of the HIAD technology to NASA-EPSCoR through the Maine Space Grant Consortium was accepted. UMaine is now about 17 months into the three-year, $750,000project funded by NASA and EPSCoR. The Maine Space Grant Consortium administers the funds.

Dagher says it’s fascinating how one research discovery gives rise to another idea in a completely different field. “The beauty is you don’t know where you’re going to end up in the discovery process. One research discovery leads to another. It’s a big roller coaster,” he says.

UMaine engineers have weekly telecoms with NASA project officials as they strive to make this promising technology a reality.

“Our role is to fill in holes in NASA’s technical knowledge,” says Davids. “They have developed the technology; we help them advance it through testing the structures in the lab and analyzing stresses and deformations in the HIADs.”

Davids and Clapp say the HIAD technology is viewed as one of the most, if not the most, feasible options for a successful human spaceflight to Mars and has the potential to allow landing at higher elevations on the planet, carrying more payload, or both.

Payloads that have landed on Mars to date have had a mass less than 1 metric ton; 40-80 metric tons likely will be required for a mission that includes people, says Clapp, a doctoral student and research engineer.

Also, all Mars landings thus far have been below -1.4 kilometer Mars Orbiter Laser Altimeter (MOLA) elevation due to the vertical distance required for deceleration. A number of scientifically interesting sites are at higher elevations, Clapp says.

UMaine researchers are working on a 6-meter diameter HIAD tested at NASA’s National Full-Scale Aerodynamics Complex — the largest wind tunnel in the world — in Moffett Field, California.

“The 6-meter HIAD created the most air blockage of anything ever tested in the wind tunnel and pushed the limits of the equipment to the maximum,” Clapp says. “The HIAD diameter needed for a manned mission to Mars is estimated to be on the order of 20 meters, therefore we will not be able to conduct aerodynamic testing in a wind tunnel, which makes a reliable predictive tool (i.e. the finite element models that we’re all working on) that much more important.”

Dr. Neil Cheatwood, principal investigator with the Inflatable Reentry Vehicle Experiment (IRVE-3) — a precursor to HIAD — says in a NASA video that if funding was not a concern, he estimated people could be on Mars, where temperatures range from minus 195 F to 70 F, by 2020.

Keeping with the space theme, Dagher says with a smile that the Advanced Structures and Composites Center, much like Star Trek’s starship Enterprise, allows people to boldly go where no one has gone before.

Contact: Beth Staples, 207.581.3777

Categories: Combined News, News

Advancing Marine Farming

University of Maine News - Tue, 08/05/2014 - 13:37

A $20 million National Science Foundation EPSCoR (Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research) grant will establish a Sustainable Ecological Aquaculture Network (SEANET) program in Maine.

Maine EPSCoR at the University of Maine will use the grant to mobilize the collective capacity of Maine’s coastal science resources to establish SEANET, a research network focused on sustainable ecological aquaculture. SEANET will take a multi-institutional, transdisciplinary research approach to gain a comprehensive understanding of how sustainable ecological aquaculture can interact with coastal communities and ecosystems.

This multi-institutional, public-private partnership led by UMaine, in collaboration with the University of New England and other institutions in Maine, will use the state’s 3,500-mile coastline as a living laboratory to study physical oceanography, biophysical, biogeochemical, socioeconomic and policy interactions that have local, bioregional, national and global implications.

Maine has multiple institutions with world-class expertise in marine sciences, engineering, climate change and social sciences. The SEANET research partners will initially include UMaine, UNE, University of Southern Maine, University of Maine at Machias, Bowdoin College, Maine Maritime Academy, St. Joseph’s College, Southern Maine Community College, Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences and the Cobscook Community Learning Center. In addition, dozens of other partners and stakeholder groups will collaborate on the project’s research, education, workforce development and economic development activities.

The SEANET research program will utilize the field of sustainability science to understand the social and environmental connections, and feedback loops among sustainable ecological aquaculture and coastal communities and coastal ecosystems.

“This research project will use various types of science to understand how aquaculture fits in our multi-use working waterfront, while building partnerships and training students, so that we can use similar approaches to other coastal resource management issues in the future.” said Paul Anderson, director of SEANET at the University of Maine.

“I am delighted that the National Science Foundation selected Maine EPSCoR for this Research Infrastructure Improvement grant,” said Sen. Susan Collins. “Through tourism, commercial fishing, and sea farming, our state’s economy is highly dependent on the ecological well-being of the Gulf of Maine. This grant will help fund the vital research performed by faculty and students at the University of Maine and its partners at other research and education institutions in the state as they seek to find new ways to support the cultural and economic traditions of Maine’s working waterfronts and assist local governments in making informed decisions regarding coastal usage.”

“This award is great news for the university, its partners, and indeed, the entire state of Maine,” said Sen. Angus King. “This important funding will help establish a new and innovative network of experts who will work together to advance our understanding of Maine’s working waterfronts, which are a vital part of our state’s economy. It will also benefit countless students who will gain valuable research and field experience, making this a win for everyone involved. I look forward to seeing the good work it will support.”

Rep. Mike Michaud said: “This significant investment is wonderful news for the University of Maine, all of those involved with EPSCoR, and the entire state. Maine has established itself as a leader in innovation when it comes to better understanding how we can both support our valuable ecosystems and ensure they are strong drivers of our economy, and I’m excited that this grant will further that work. I know this grant will allow that innovation to continue, and I look forward to following the project.”

“The coast of Maine is not only a big part of our economy but it’s an important part of what makes our state unique,” said Rep. Chellie Pingree. “Our history and our future are wrapped up in our coastline, and this grant is going to help us better understand the risks and opportunities for our coastal economy. It’s a big investment in the university and coastal communities that will pay big dividends in the future.”

University of Maine President Susan Hunter affirmed the project’s importance, saying, “This NSF grant recognizes the leadership and contribution of University of Maine scholars and students who aim to support coastal ecosystems, economies, and communities by promoting sustainable policies and practices in Maine.”

University of New England President Danielle Ripich said, “UNE is committed to building research and programs to support the marine economy of Maine. This public-private partnership brings two great institutions together to improve our coastal enterprises. Together with all the partners, we can do good things for Maine.”

EPSCoR is a federal program directed at states that have historically received less federal research and development funding. The program provides states with financial support to develop partnerships between their higher education institutions, industry, government, and others in order to effect lasting improvements in its research and development infrastructure, capacity, and national academic competitiveness. Maine EPSCoR at the University of Maine is responsible for administering and implementing the NSF EPSCoR program for the state.

The National Science Foundation release is online.

More information about Maine EPSCoR is online.

Contact: Andrea Littlefield, 207.581.2289

Categories: Combined News, News

Media Report on $18M Grant Awarded to Network for Biomedical Research, Workforce Training

University of Maine News - Tue, 08/05/2014 - 12:02

The Associated Press, Maine Public Broadcasting Network, WLBZ (Channel 2), WABI (Channel 5) and WVII (Channel 7) reported on an event held at the MDI Biological Laboratory in Bar Harbor on Aug. 4 where Sen. Susan Collins joined leaders from colleges and research institutions across Maine as well as dozens of Maine college students to celebrate the receipt of an $18.4 million grant from the National Institutes of Health. The five-year award aims to strengthen biomedical research and hands-on workforce training in Maine through the continuation of the Maine IDeA Network of Biomedical Research Excellence (INBRE), a collaborative network of 13 Maine research institutions, universities and colleges led by the MDI Biological Laboratory. The University of Maine and UMaine’s Honors College are part of the network. Anne Campbell, who graduated from UMaine in 2012 with degrees in chemistry and biochemistry, spoke with MPBN about her experience with the program. As a member of UMaine’s Honors College, she took a weeklong course at MDI Bio Lab on functional genomics, which was paid for by Maine INBRE. Campbell said during that course she met her thesis adviser, and was able to develop a thesis project. The Portland Press Herald carried the AP report.

Categories: Combined News, News

Blueberries Ready for Picking, Yarborough Tells Kennebec Journal

University of Maine News - Tue, 08/05/2014 - 12:01

David Yarborough, a blueberry specialist with the University of Maine Cooperative Extension, spoke with the Kennebec Journal about blueberry picking and this year’s harvest. Yarborough said the season started last week in central Maine, with reports of a good crop. Down East barrens will likely be ready for harvesting next week, he added. “The season is running a little later than usual because of the cold spring,” he said. “I think the pickings are pretty excellent.” He recommended picking berries that are fully blue. “When you pick your own, you know it’s fresh,” he said.

Categories: Combined News, News

Brewer Quoted in BDN Article on Gubernatorial Debates

University of Maine News - Tue, 08/05/2014 - 11:59

Mark Brewer, a professor of political science at the University of Maine, was interviewed for the Bangor Daily News article, “Pundits ponder why Eliot Cutler is so eager to debate Michaud, LePage.” According to the article, independent gubernatorial candidate Eliot Cutler has been urging his major-party opponents — Republican Gov. Paul LePage and Democratic U.S. Rep. Mike Michaud — to debate with him. Brewer said Cutler’s actions could benefit him. “Any little bit of information that the citizenry can glean about a political candidate for office, as long as it’s not an absolute blatant falsehood, is of value,” he said. “If people think Gov. LePage and Congressman Michaud don’t want to debate and Cutler does, they may think that says something positive about Cutler.” Brewer added that with absentee voting beginning, it’s unfortunate that some Mainers may vote before ever seeing or hearing a debate.

Categories: Combined News, News

Maine Edge Publishes Report on Extreme Weather Events Research

University of Maine News - Tue, 08/05/2014 - 11:58

The Maine Edge published a report about University of Maine scientists working with agencies to improve the accuracy of forecasts of hurricanes, superstorms, blizzards and floods that endanger people and animals and destroy property. UMaine received $1.5 million of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s $5.5 million award to increase the precision of predictions of extreme weather events and coastal flooding in the northeastern United States. “This project allows us to develop rapid response capability and deploy ocean observing assets before extreme weather events, and use these targeted observations to constrain ocean models and issue timely forecasts for coastal cities and towns in the Northeast United States,” said Fei Chai, professor and director of UMaine’s School of Marine Sciences, and one of four university co-investigators taking part.

Categories: Combined News, News

Office of Student Records Fall 2014 Newsletter Available

University of Maine News - Tue, 08/05/2014 - 11:57

The University of Maine’s Office of Student Records has published its most recent newsletter. The August–October 2014 issue of the quarterly newsletter “For the Record” is available online.

Categories: Combined News, News

Sen. Collins, Researchers Celebrate $18M Grant for Biomedical Research, Workforce Training

University of Maine News - Mon, 08/04/2014 - 14:00

Sen. Susan Collins joined leaders from colleges and research institutions across Maine as well as dozens of Maine college students at the MDI Biological Laboratory in Bar Harbor on Aug. 4 to celebrate the receipt of an $18.4 million grant from the National Institutes of Health.

The five-year award aims to strengthen biomedical research and hands-on workforce training in Maine through the continuation of the Maine IDeA Network of Biomedical Research Excellence (INBRE), a collaborative network of 13 Maine research institutions, universities and colleges led by the MDI Biological Laboratory. The University of Maine and UMaine’s Honors College are part of the network.

“The INBRE program is a powerful instrument for bringing educational institutions from Fort Kent to South Portland together to build on their collective strengths and help our state be more competitive nationally,” Collins said at the event. “Since it began in 2001, INBRE has brought more than $100 million in federal funds into Maine. It has strengthened our state’s research infrastructure and trained more than 2,000 Maine students in biomedical research techniques.”

The full MDI Biological Laboratory news release is online.

Categories: Combined News, News

Bayer Quoted in National Geographic Article on Rare Calico Lobsters

University of Maine News - Mon, 08/04/2014 - 11:02

Robert Bayer, executive director of the Lobster Institute at the University of Maine, was interviewed for a National Geographic article about a rare calico lobster that was caught in Maine. Even though the chance of finding a calico lobster is estimated to be between 1 in 30 million and 1 in 50 million, according to the article, Bayer said he thinks calicos may be more common than people think. “I’ve seen quite a few of them,” said Bayer. “I’ve seen more calicos than any other color variant.” Bayer said how a calico lobster gets its spotted shell is poorly understood, but he thinks the cause may be more environmental than genetic.

Categories: Combined News, News

UMaine Mentioned in WordPress Blog on University Websites

University of Maine News - Mon, 08/04/2014 - 11:01

The University of Maine was mentioned in a WPBeginner article listing “40+ popular universities that are using WordPress.” WordPress is a free and open source blogging tool and content management system (CMS) that is gaining popularity among big brands, bloggers and many top universities around the world, the article states. WordPress in higher education is used as a learning, communication and collaboration tool, according to the post.

Categories: Combined News, News

WVII Interviews Mowdy, 4-H Members at Bangor State Fair

University of Maine News - Mon, 08/04/2014 - 11:01

Brenda Mowdy, a 4-H community education assistant with University of Maine Cooperative Extension, and 4-H members were featured in a WVII (Channel 7) report on the group’s work at the Bangor State Fair. “In order to be a state fair, you have to have an agricultural emphasis, and we are it,” Mowdy said of the organization that teaches youth about agriculture.

Categories: Combined News, News

Press Herald Reports on Gosse’s Study on Chemical in Antibacterial Products

University of Maine News - Fri, 08/01/2014 - 12:33

The Portland Press Herald interviewed Julie Gosse, an assistant professor of molecular and biomedical sciences at the University of Maine, about her research on how a synthetic antimicrobial common in soaps and deodorants inhibits cells that sometimes fight cancer. Gosse told the Press Herald the chemical triclosan is added to many over-the-counter products advertised as antibacterial, such as soaps, toothpaste, body washes and facial cleansers. The chemical also is used in fabrics and plastics to help prevent mold growth, and has become so common that it’s now in the water supply. “This is not a chemical people need to have every day,” Gosse said. The National Institutes of Health awarded Gosse more than $420,000 for the three-year project. “We’re not going to be able to resolve the public health question, but we will be one piece of the puzzle,” she added.

Categories: Combined News, News

WVII Covers UMaine Paddleboarding on Stillwater River

University of Maine News - Fri, 08/01/2014 - 12:32

WVII (Channel 7) reported on paddleboarding offered by the University of Maine’s Maine Bound on the Stillwater River. The activity is offered every Thursday evening during the summer for $5. Kaitlyn Fowle, Maine Bound coordinator, told WVII the activity isn’t just for students. “We definitely love having the community here,” Fowle said. “The past three or four weeks we’ve had tons of families with kids, and they’re just a blast.”

Categories: Combined News, News

Climate Change Institute Cited in Press Herald Article on Growing Food in Winter

University of Maine News - Fri, 08/01/2014 - 12:31

The University of Maine’s Climate Change Institute was mentioned in the Portland Press Herald article “Grow food in Maine winters? Four projects take aim.” The article stated the CCI is building a carbon-negative solar-powered structure called the Extreme Environment Education and Research Building to house its Arctic research equipment. Although food won’t be grown there, how the building generates its own power will provide data for future projects, and could potentially be a model for future solar-heated barns for livestock or warehouses for storing potatoes, according to the article.

Categories: Combined News, News

Lobster Institute Data Cited in Huffington Post Report on Yellow Crustacean

University of Maine News - Fri, 08/01/2014 - 12:27

The Huffington Post cited statistics from the Lobster Institute at the University of Maine for an article about a yellow crustacean that was spotted in a supermarket tank in Florida. According to the Lobster Institute, the odds of finding a yellow lobster are one in 30 million.

Categories: Combined News, News

BioMediaLab Highlighted in Software Vendor’s Promotional Video

University of Maine News - Fri, 08/01/2014 - 12:26

The University of Maine BioMediaLab is featured in a new promotional video for Wowza Media Systems, one of the lab’s software providers.

The School of Biology and Ecology lab is an advanced technology-centric science new media lab in Murray Hall that recently started using Wowza, a versatile media streaming server that efficiently allows students access to online course video, prompting Wowza Media Systems to film a video spotlighting the lab’s work.

A cutting-edge technology environment, the BioMediaLab’s main focus is Synapse, a content learning management system. UMaine science faculty use the system to create a collaborative learning environment. Media such as videos, audio, slide shows, PDFs and other course material can be added to its courses. Wowza and Synapse allow easier streaming of video to numerous devices, no matter the file format.

The video can be viewed on Wowza’s website.

Categories: Combined News, News

BOV Member Richard Higgins Has Passed Away

University of Maine News - Fri, 08/01/2014 - 12:25

University of Maine Board of Visitors member Richard Higgins of Santa Fe, New Mexico, passed away July 30. He was 64. Mr. Higgins was a member of the UMaine Class of 1979 and a member of the College of Engineering Dean’s Advisory Council. Mr. Higgins and his wife Jean established an endowment for the Boardman Hall materials testing laboratory that now bears their names. A reception is scheduled for Aug. 3 in Santa Fe. An In Memoriam notice is online.

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Two UMaine Grads Recognized by Maine Art Education Association

University of Maine News - Fri, 08/01/2014 - 12:24

Two recent University of Maine graduates have been named the 2014 Higher Education Student Art Educators of the Year by the Maine Art Education Association (MAEA).

Elizabeth Miller of Kittery and Hilary Kane of Concord, New Hampshire, both graduated in May 2014. Miller earned a bachelor’s degree in art education with minors in studio art and art history. Kane received a bachelor’s degree in art education, as well as studio art.

The award is given to MAEA members who have completed their art student teaching internship within the academic year and have demonstrated outstanding evidence of professional leadership in schools and the community, use of new technology, and innovative teaching performance and written curricula. An award ceremony will be held in September during the 2014 MAEA conference at Haystack Mountain School of Crafts in Deer Isle, Maine.

MAEA is the state chapter of the National Art Education Association, the leading professional membership organization for visual arts educators.

Miller, who is searching for a full-time teaching position, currently is an intern at the Piscataqua Fine Arts Gallery in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, and works at Art with a Splash, also in Portsmouth, teaching painting classes.

“This award is such an honor and I am very pleased to be able to represent the art education program at the university,” Miller said.

Kane plans to move to New Orleans in the fall where she will continue to focus on art education work and community arts.

Categories: Combined News, News

Calhoun Quoted in Press Herald Article on Wood Frog Die-Off

University of Maine News - Thu, 07/31/2014 - 10:49

Aram Calhoun, a professor of wetland ecology at the University of Maine, was quoted in a Portland Press Herald article about research being done by Bowdoin College biologist Nat Wheelwright, who says he has found evidence of a mass die-off of wood frog tadpoles. “The die-off is significant; however, in warm weather, we do see mass mortalities of wood frogs from ranavirus in some years,” Calhoun said. “We don’t know enough about the synergistic effects of all the stressors in a frog’s environment.” Calhoun told the Press Herald that UMaine is using a four-year National Science Foundation grant to study the effects of urbanizing landscapes on pool-breeding amphibians. Calhoun said she agrees with Wheelwright that researchers should encourage citizen scientists to monitor vernal pools. “However, these events happen quickly and in our experience, the carcasses are scavenged in less than 24 hours so people could easily miss die-off events,” she cautioned.

Categories: Combined News, News

Bayer Speaks with Press Herald About Lobster Restaurant Owner

University of Maine News - Thu, 07/31/2014 - 10:48

Robert Bayer, executive director of the Lobster Institute at the University of Maine, was quoted in a Portland Press Herald article about Cape Elizabeth native Luke Holden who owns 13 Luke’s Lobster restaurants, with locations in New York, Washington, D.C., and Philadelphia, as well as a processing plant in Saco. Last year, Holden became more involved in efforts to boost the Maine lobster industry and joined the board of the Lobster Institute, which works on conservation, outreach, research and education to sustain the lobster fishery, the article states. “Because he’s at the end of the food chain — serving lobster to the customer on an everyday basis — and he has his own processing facility he has more than knowledge. He has an understanding that’s helped us all,” said Bayer.

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