A groundbreaking ceremony for the new Emera Astronomy Center at the University of Maine will be held April 29 at 2 p.m.
The $5.2 million astronomy center is made possible with a $1 million naming gift from Emera Inc., the parent company of Bangor Hydro and Maine Public Service.
The Emera Astronomy Center will be the future home of the Maynard F. Jordan Planetarium and Observatory. Construction will begin by mid-May. The 7,400-square-foot center, with adjacent 618-square-foot observatory, could be open as early as fall 2014.
WBRC has teamed with planetarium specialists Kasian on the design of the facility, and Nickerson & O’Day, a Maine-based construction firm, has been awarded the bid for construction.
The site is at the intersection of Rangeley and Long roads on campus, adjacent to the Lyle E. Littlefield Ornamentals Trial Garden.
“This is truly an opportunity for the UMaine community and the state to celebrate Emera’s investment in the University of Maine, the study and appreciation of Maine’s night sky, and the spirit of philanthropy,” says UMaine President Paul Ferguson. “This facility, with its focus on education and outreach, will be a landmark in Maine, and it would not have happened without Emera’s generous gift.”
Expected to join President Ferguson for the groundbreaking ceremony will be Chris Huskilson, President and CEO, Emera Inc., and Gerry Chasse, President and COO, Bangor Hydro and Maine Public Service.
“Emera is proud to invest in the communities where we live and work. We’re also working to make energy cleaner, so the center’s use of geothermal heat pumps is a great example of renewable energy use,” says Chris Huskilson.
The groundbreaking event also celebrates the investment and vision of an anonymous donor who first proposed the astronomy facility to enhance the viewing of the night sky, and who provided $3.2 million in funding to help make the project a reality.
The new Emera Astronomy Center will feature a planetarium dome 33 feet in diameter — the largest in the state — equipped with a state-of-the-art Definiti projection system. The new observatory’s 20-inch digital PlaneWave CDK20 telescope also will be the largest in Maine.
The center will include innovative exterior lighting designed to help preserve the dark-sky critical to enhanced stargazing.
The center will be heated with geothermal heat pumps – the first building at UMaine to benefit from this energy efficient electric technology.
The Emera Astronomy Center will enhance UMaine’s role in outreach to K–12 students and promotion of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education. The planetarium and observatory will complement the many other efforts at UMaine to attract students to scientific disciplines by inspiring children — and all those who are children at heart — about the science of astronomy.
Contact: Margaret Nagle, 207.581.3745
The University of Maine’s 211th Commencement will be held May 11 in Harold Alfond Sports Arena on campus.
Held in two ceremonies at 10 a.m. and 2:30 p.m., the university’s Commencement is one of Maine’s largest graduation events. Live streaming of the ceremonies will be available online (umaine.edu/commencement) for friends and family worldwide. Also on the Commencement website that day will be the names of all graduating students.
This year in keeping with UMaine’s leadership as a nationally recognized “Green campus,” each graduating student attending one of the ceremonies will receive a digital Commencement program on a commemorative 2GB USB flash drive. The full program will contain the names of all degree-earning undergraduate and graduate students, as well as a welcome message from the University of Maine Alumni Association. At the ceremonies, an abbreviated print version of the program will be available for audience members.
The 10 a.m., ceremony is for graduating students in three colleges: Liberal Arts and Sciences; Business, Public Policy and Health; and Education and Human Development. Joining them will be students graduating from the Division of Lifelong Learning.
The 2:30 p.m., ceremony is for graduates in the College of Engineering and the College of Natural Sciences, Forestry, and Agriculture.
The honorary degree recipient and Commencement speaker will be UMaine alumnus Lawrence Bender, the producer of films that have won a total of six Academy Awards®. He will address both ceremonies. Bender graduated from UMaine in 1979 with a degree in civil engineering. His successful career as a producer and activist spans two decades. His films, which include such noteworthy projects as “Inglourious Basterds,” “Pulp Fiction” and “Good Will Hunting,” have been honored with 29 Academy Award® nominations, including three for Best Picture.
This year’s valedictorian and salutatorian are Spencer Hathaway of Turner, Maine, and Lindsay LaJoie of Van Buren, Maine, respectively. Both were 2009 valedictorians of their high schools. Hathaway will receive two bachelor’s degrees — economics and business administration in accounting. LaJoie will receive a bachelor’s degree in food science and human nutrition.
Also being honored at Commencement and at a Faculty Appreciation and Recognition Luncheon that day are four faculty members in physics, insect ecology, finance and computer science. Professor of Physics Robert Lad, director of UMaine’s Laboratory for Surface Science and Technology is the 2013 Distinguished Maine Professor, an award presented by the University of Maine Alumni Association in recognition of outstanding achievement in the university’s mission of teaching, research and public service.
Professor of Insect Ecology Francis “Frank” Drummond is the 2013 Presidential Research and Creative Achievement Award recipient. This year’s Presidential Outstanding Teaching Award recipient is Professor of Finance Richard Borgman. Professor of Computer Science George Markowsky is the recipient of the Presidential Public Service Award.
Contact: Margaret Nagle, 207.581.3745
During the last two weeks of the semester at the University of Maine, when undergraduates are camping out in Fogler Library poring over textbooks and notes in preparation for finals, Joey will be on duty. He may be only a few feet tall, but his silky hair, dark brown eyes and gentle demeanor make him the perfect calming agent.
Joey is one of seven certified therapy dogs who will have special office hours in the Reserve Reading Room on the library’s first floor, May 1–8, for any student or faculty member looking to escape from end-of-semester stress.
No appointment is necessary.
“We really think of this as the student’s library,” Fogler’s Public Relations Manager Gretchen Gfeller says. “They brought the suggestion to us, so we wanted to do it for them. We’re trying to keep it as relaxed and open as we can.”
The event is in response to student suggestions on the library’s comment board to “please bring puppies” during finals week, according to Gfeller, who says this is the first time Fogler Library will host therapy dogs.
Fogler’s staff did research into similar successful programs at the University of New Hampshire and Massachusetts Institute of Technology before reaching out to Rebecca Henderson of Holden-based Renaissance Dogs who organizes a group of trained handlers not affiliated with her business.
Henderson says visiting with the dogs would be great for someone who is missing their own pet, seeks comfort and laughter from animals, or wants a five-minute diversion from studying.
“Studies have proven that petting a dog can lower blood pressure and reduce anxiety,” Henderson says. “What other time are students more stressed than during finals week?”
Seven dogs of various sizes and personalities are scheduled to visit the library, according to Henderson, who will bring her own yellow Labrador retriever Atticus and two papillons, Finch and Keeper. The other dogs include another Lab, a Sheltie, a corgi and a goldendoodle. All of the animals have been trained and certified by either Therapy Dogs International, Therapy Dogs Inc., or Love on a Leash.
One of the dogs scheduled to visit the library is owned by Patty Counihan, director of UMaine’s Career Center.
Counihan’s dog Joey is a 6-year-old Shetland sheepdog, or Sheltie, who will be making his official debut since passing Therapy Dogs International’s certification test a few months ago.
Counihan, who has used Henderson’s boarding, doggie day care and agility training services for years, thinks the event will be a great way to help students and is confident everyone will love Joey.
“Joey is so sweet and cuddly — not to mention soft and furry — and petting him is really soothing. He will just crawl in your lap and snuggle in,” Counihan says of her pet. “I know how nice it is to cuddle with Joey when I’ve had a bad day or if I’m stressed, so I’m looking forward to sharing him with others who might need a four-legged, furry destressor.”
Henderson, whose dogs also volunteer at the Bangor Public Library, is excited to introduce more people to therapy dogs while giving back to the community. She says she is proud of the owners and dogs who are volunteering their time.
Gfeller says if the event is well received, the library would like to expand the program and host the dogs two or three times a semester in addition to finals week.
Dogs will be available in the library 2:30–4:30 p.m. May 1 and May 8; 10 a.m.–noon May 2–3; and 2–4 p.m. May 6–7. For more information or to request disability accommodations, call Gfeller, 207.581.1696.
Contact: Elyse Kahl, 207.581.3747
Growing up in Kars, a heavily wooded city in northeast Turkey, Alper Kiziltas appreciated nature and understood the importance of natural resources at an early age. That interest in forestry science and its effect on his country led him to the University of Maine in 2007 to pursue graduate research in the School of Forest Resources.
Three years later on a trip back to Turkey, Kiziltas met a carpet manufacturer with a growing concern over nonbiodegradable waste. Kiziltas wanted to find a solution not only for the businessman, but for the country, environment and future generations.
“My biggest concern is to find uses for recycled materials to keep the environment beautiful for younger generations,” says Kiziltas.
Kiziltas’ award-winning research in UMaine’s Advanced Structures and Composites Center in collaboration with Professor Douglas Gardner has focused on the use of natural fillers such as microcrystalline cellulose, wood flour, hemp, flax and kenaf fibers as opposed to conventional reinforcing fillers such as glass fiber, carbon fiber, nanoclay and silica. He is exploring new heat-resistant automotive plastics from these natural materials, which he has determined can stand the stress of high temperatures and are low-cost, low-density, strong, renewable, recyclable and biodegradable.
Kiziltas will continue his research at Ford Motor Co. in Dearborn, Mich., when he starts a six-month internship in August.
Last year, Kiziltas received an Automotive Composites Conference & Exhibition (ACCE) Graduate Scholarship Award from the Society of Plastics Engineers for his research proposal focused on cellulose-filled recycled carpet for under-the-hood applications for the automobile industry.
Other recognition he has received for his preliminary research results include the Dean’s Undergraduate Mentoring Award at UMaine’s 2013 Graduate Academic Exposition and first place for his oral presentation and third place in the commercialization competition at the 2012 GradExpo. He also won first place in the poster competition in the 2012–2013 SPE Automotive Composites Conference & Exhibition (ACCE) for his project having the greatest potential effect on ground transportation.
Most recently, Kiziltas was named the 2013 outstanding Ph.D. student in UMaine’s College of Natural Sciences, Forestry, and Agriculture.
In 2010, Kiziltas submitted the “Under the Foot to Under the Hood” proposal to the Republic of Turkey, Ministry of Science, Industry and Technology. Out of more than 700, it was chosen to receive $60,000 in funding if he returns to Turkey and opens his own company. The competition is open to students from Turkey until five years after earning an undergraduate, master’s or Ph.D. degree.
Kiziltas earned an undergraduate degree in forest products engineering from Karadeniz Technical University in Trabzon, Turkey, and in 2006 was awarded one of two full scholarships from the Republic of Turkey’s Ministry of National Education to pursue graduate studies in wood sciences and technology in the United States.
In August 2009, Kiziltas earned a master’s degree from UMaine’s School of Forest Resources and became the first UMaine student to earn a graduate certificate in innovation engineering. This August, he will start his internship with Ford, and will receive his Ph.D. from UMaine in May 2014.
Kiziltas hopes to convert the nylon used in carpets to a form that could be used by automobile manufacturers by mixing the recycled nylon with the natural fillers.
Many scientists think natural materials can only be used in thermoplastics with a low melting point, Kiziltas says. However, he thinks UMaine is the only research institute that can heat cellulose at such high temperatures, opening the door for more uses of the materials.
Kiziltas says according to carpet industry estimates, about 4–6 million tons of carpet are disposed every year worldwide, with less than 5 percent of the disposed materials being recycled and less than 1 percent being reused. Nearly 95 percent of nonbiodegradable carpet waste ends up in landfills, taking up space that could be used for other materials.
Carpet is generally made up of a face fiber and backing. About 65 percent of carpets sold in the U.S. are made of nylon, making it the most popular face fiber because of its versatility, moldability and resistance to high temperatures and harsh chemicals. Even though nylon performs the best among synthetic fibers, it is also the most expensive.
Demand for nylon in the automotive industry is expected to increase because of government regulations requiring fuel economy upgrades. Lightweight nylon can help make cars lighter, more efficient and environmentally friendly, according to Kiziltas.
Kiziltas believes nylon from carpet waste can fill the demand in the automotive industry once properties from the materials are converted to meet required standards.
After speaking with automotive manufacturers, Kiziltas learned the market requires a high specific strength and modulus, low density and inexpensive reinforcements for nylon. From his master’s thesis research, he knew cellulose fiber reinforcement could be a suitable candidate to mix with the recycled nylon and found natural fibers-filled nylon composites could be produced for under-the-hood applications where conditions are too severe for other plastics.
The reused nylon could be used in simpler automobile applications, such as dashboards, engine covers and side panels, that require less modification, Kiziltas says, but adds that he and his team “like a challenge.”
Kiziltas, who lives in Orono with his wife — who is also a UMaine graduate student — and their two young children, says he would like to return to Turkey to continue his research with the scholarship he was awarded, but he may wait a few years to do so.
“I would like to work in a research institute to mentor young scientists while using my background to make new materials,” Kiziltas says.
He has already mentored and supervised more than six students in the field of natural fillers-filled thermoplastic composites for automobile applications. One of his mentees, third year civil engineering student Alex Nash, won the Society of Plastic Engineers (SPE) 2013–2014 Extrusion Division/Lew Erwin Memorial Scholarship.
Kiziltas says he used to want to be a professor, but after taking the innovation engineering courses at UMaine, his image of his future began to shift as he discovered his passion for creating new materials with moneymaking potential.
In the long term, Kiziltas would like to return to Turkey to help his native country become more developed and scientifically advanced. He also hopes to help build a relationship between Ford Motor company and UMaine while doing his internship at Ford’s research facilities this summer.
“I don’t want to see my degrees on a shelf. I want to see them put to use in the industry,” Kiziltas says.
Contact: Elyse Kahl, 207.581.3747
The Bangor Daily News reported University of Maine officials have advised students and staff to be on the lookout for measles symptoms after being told by the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention that a recent out-of-state visitor to the campus has a confirmed case of the contagious respiratory disease. No cases of the measles have been detected within the campus community.
Anne Lichtenwalner, assistant professor and extension veterinarian at the University of Maine, spoke with the publication Bovine Veterinarian about the National Mastitis Council’s upcoming regional meeting in Portland, Maine. Lichtenwalner is also the 2013 NMC regional chairwoman.
WABI (Channel 5) covered a benefit concert performed by four University of Maine athletes at Moe’s restaurant in Bangor. The concert was held to raise money for a local effort to provide clean drinking water in Haiti.
The University of Maine Cooperative Extension’s Maine Harvest for Hunger program was mentioned in a recent “Food and Dining Dispatches” column for the Portland Press Herald. The program is seeking gardeners willing to plant an extra row of produce this year to donate to local soup kitchens and food pantries.
WLBZ (Channel 2) and WVII (Channel 7) reported on Princeton Review’s ranking of the University of Maine as one of the most environmentally responsible colleges in the U.S. and Canada for the fourth consecutive year. Daniel Dixon, sustainability coordinator at UMaine, spoke about the ranking.
The Portland Press Herald reported two officers from the University of Maine will attend a memorial service in Massachusetts for an MIT police officer who was shot and killed in the aftermath of the Boston Marathon bombings. The officers will travel with a group of Maine police that will include about 30 Portland officers and two dozen state troopers.
The Bangor Daily News spoke with Hollywood producer Lawrence Bender who will deliver the commencement address at UMaine on May 11. Bender spoke about his time as a student at the university.
Foster’s Daily Democrat recently carried a report on the winner of the 2013 John M. Rezendes Annual Ethics Essay Competition. Gwendolyn Beacham of Farmington won the $2,800 prize for her essay “Ethics of the United States’ Clinical Trials in India.”
Over 25 digital posters by University of Maine Art Department students in Kerstin Engman’s 2-D design class are on display through finals week in Hauck Auditorium.
The posters depict climate change issues, such as sustainability and the divestiture of fossil fuels, and are the result of a collaboration between Engman and Karen Marysdaughter, organizer with 350 Maine, a grassroots movement dedicated to solving the Earth’s climate crisis.
Engman asked the students to chose a particular climate change topic and direct a clear, visual message to the campus community.
“By working together as a community of concerned students, the hope is that the impact of a collective effort will have greater inﬂuence in general public awareness and policymaking,” Engman says.
For more information, contact Engman on FirstClass.
Two University of Maine sophomores have been named winners of the George J. Mitchell Peace Scholarship and will study abroad in Ireland as part of the student exchange program.
George J. Mitchell Scholars Gwendolyn Beacham and Lorna Harriman will each spend a semester at the University College Cork in Ireland. The scholarship honors the 1998 Northern Ireland peace accord brokered by Sen. Mitchell between Ireland and the United Kingdom and is open to full-time undergraduate students in the University of Maine system.
The scholarship allows one student to study for a year in Ireland or two students to study for a semester each with all expenses paid, including airfare. This year, for the first time, both winners are from the Orono campus.
Harriman, an elementary education major from Troy, Maine, will study in Ireland during the fall 2013 semester. Beacham, a molecular and cellular biology major and Honors College student from Farmington, Maine, will make the trip in spring 2014. Neither Harriman or Beacham have been to Ireland before, and they are both looking forward to the experience.
Along with attending school full time, Harriman is a member of and teacher at the Robinson Ballet Co. in Bangor, and employee of the Family Dog restaurant in Orono. She also volunteers with the Black Bear Mentor Program and makes time every week to visit with her 10-year-old mentee at the Old Town Recreation Department.
Harriman, who has a concentration in English and is working on a minor in psychology, hopes to teach English abroad after she graduates, earn a master’s degree in literacy education and then return to Maine to teach middle-level language arts.
Harriman, who is on the Dean’s List and is a UMaine Merit Award winner, says she chose UMaine because of its financial flexibility and wide range of academic and campus opportunities.
“There are so many opportunities for success at UMaine. If you’re willing to work hard and explore, there is a place for everyone,” Harriman says. UMaine’s College of Education and Human Development “has really encouraged me toward my career goals and made me certain I am on the right path.”
Harriman says the academic atmosphere at UMaine is supportive and many people had a positive effect on her undergraduate experience.
She credits education professor Phyllis Brazee and her class, Teaching in a Multicultural Society, for making her realize she was on the right career path, and honors and English professor Kathleen Ellis for challenging her and helping her become a better student.
“As a student, you really get the feeling that your professors want you to succeed,” she says.
Harriman calls the scholarship an opportunity of a lifetime and looks forward to learning in a new culture.
“My biggest goal is to absorb as much of the culture as possible while I am there, but I also hope to learn about different education styles they may employ that can help me in the future as a teacher,” Harriman says.
Harriman says the scholarship has also given her confidence.
“It has made me realize what I am capable of if I put my mind to it,” she says. “I feel confident and excited about the direction my life is going in. I am incredibly grateful for the people and opportunities that have brought me to where I am.”
Beacham, who is on the Dean’s List and is a Presidential Scholar has won several scholarships, including the Lamey Wellehan Maine Difference Scholarship and the Pine Tree Section ASQ Sumner K. Wiley Jr. Scholarship.
Last summer she was awarded an IDeA Networks of Biomedical Research Excellence fellowship and spent eight weeks at the Mount Desert Island Biological Laboratory in Salisbury Cove, Maine, where she studied the differentiation of primary mesenchyme cells, or cells that form the skeleton, in echinoderm embryos.
During the academic year, Beacham has been researching bacteriophages, or viruses that infect bacteria, and has been focusing her research on the repressor protein.
Beyond academics, Beacham is the secretary of the UMaine student chapter of Engineers Without Borders and will be president of the chapter next year. She traveled with the group to Honduras during Spring Break to install a septic system to improve water quality in a rural community. She is also a member of the Sophomore Eagles, a UMaine traditions group and honor society, and participates in campus dance clubs.
Beacham credits UMaine with challenging her as a student and providing opportunities for personal growth in an open, friendly atmosphere.
“UMaine is a great place,” Beacham says. “The academic courses, my activities, and my research experiences have been nothing but positive. I have learned that I am extremely passionate about science and scientific research, as well as about being involved in a community and helping others.”
Beacham says she considers herself lucky to be a student at a large research university and to have been exposed to research since her first year at the school. Leadership positions in UMaine clubs have also helped her gain confidence in her abilities as a leader.
“I never before imagined I would be able to work with a community in Honduras to help improve their sanitation, or that I would have my own independent research project while only being a sophomore in college,” she says.
Although she says she has worked with many UMaine professors and have had positive experiences with all of them, she has worked the most with assistant research professor Sally Molloy, both in the classroom and in the lab. Beacham says she appreciates the support Molloy has given her.
Beacham says she is honored to be able to study in Ireland as a representative of Sen. Mitchell.
“I admire his work very much, and am so appreciative of the support from him and the Mitchell Institute that will assist me in reaching my educational and career goals,” Beacham says. “I am also excited about being able to study in Ireland and experience another culture for a semester, and I am very appreciative of the financial support that will make this possible.”
After graduation, Beacham plans to obtain her Ph.D. in a microbiology-related field and pursue research in microbial ecology or astrobiology.
The Bangor Daily News has started a photo-a-day project with University of Maine new media student Derek O’Brien. O’Brien, who hasn’t had full use of his legs or arms since a swimming accident in July 2005, uses photography as an artistic outlet. His project will be updated on the BDN website until he graduates in May.
WABI (Channel 5) and WVII (Channel 7) reported on the University of Maine’s observance of Earth Day. Unity College President Stephen Mulkey was the featured speaker. Mulkey spoke about his college’s decision to divest from fossil fuels and the importance of climate change.
The Associated Press reported the University of Maine is one of seven colleges and universities in northern New England that has pledged to reduce food waste through the EPA’s Food Recovery Challenge. The partnership with the EPA, announced on Earth Day, aims to reduce the 1.6 million tons of food wasted in New England each year.
James Dill, pest management specialist for the University of Maine Cooperative Extension, spoke with WABI (Channel 5) about the bed bug epidemic in the U.S. Dill offered tips on how to avoid and get rid of the pests.
The Portland Press Herald article “Maine, others may soon get to tax Web sales” cited a 2012 study by University of Maine economist Todd Gabe. Gabe’s study found Maine would receive between $18 million and $28 million if Congress authorized tax collections from online and catalog purchases.
The Minneapolis Star Tribune recently published the Chicago Tribune article “Students hazy on the dangers of hazing.” Mary Madden, a University of Maine education professor, and her 2008 study on hazing were cited in the article. Her study found nearly half of high school students have been hazed.