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News from the University of Maine
Updated: 29 min 56 sec ago

SMART Institute Featured on WABI

Fri, 06/26/2015 - 10:12

WABI (Channel 5) reported on the University of Maine’s Stormwater Management Research Team (SMART) Institute, a three-day program that focuses on creating innovative solutions to environmental problems related to stormwater management. About 100 students and teacher from high schools around the state participated in the program that aims to engage a diverse group of students and teachers in training for the implementation of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) in their schools while addressing an important environmental issue. Throughout the conference, students took part in hands-on projects led by STEM professionals in areas such as engineering design, science, computer modeling and information technology to monitor and map water quality. “It’s really cool because we are actually doing something that will affect our community. To be part of something that is groundbreaking and going to make a difference,” said Sarah Montenbeau, a junior at Traip Academy in Kittery. Cary James, chairman of the science department at Bangor High School, said students are learning about a variety of topics, including science and engineering, technology, and mathematics. “Someone made the comment yesterday that they’re used to being lectured, and this is as far as you can get from that,” James said. On Wednesday, students took water samples from the Stillwater River, WABI reported. “And we’re analyzing whether it’s healthy to drink; whether it’s healthy for fish to live in,” said Takquan Parks, a senior at Bangor High School.

Categories: Combined News, News

Garder Quoted in AP Article on Maine Commuting Times

Fri, 06/26/2015 - 10:11

Per Garder, a civil engineering professor at the University of Maine, was quoted in an Associated Press article about commuting times in Maine’s largest metropolitan area. Workers in the Portland-South Portland area enjoy shorter commuting times than the national average despite the area’s status as an employment hub for the state, according to the article. Commuters in the area spent an average of 24.1 minutes getting to work in 2013, slightly less than the national average of 25.8 minutes, the article states. About three-fourths of Maine’s workforce commutes alone by car, and because Maine has few major employers and they aren’t concentrated in one city, many workers commute long distances every day. “We have seen the same trend as the rest of the U.S. — that people are moving out of the service centers and living not only in nearby suburban municipalities but even ex-urban places 30 minutes away or so,” Garder said. “Workplaces on the other hand seem to be concentrating to the traditional urban centers.” and the Portland Press Herald carried the AP report.

Categories: Combined News, News

Crittenden Writes Op-Ed on Aging Research for BDN

Fri, 06/26/2015 - 10:11

The Bangor Daily News published the opinion piece, “A tech-friendly future for seniors: From ‘smart homes’ to an app that lets you read to your grandchildren remotely” by Jennifer Crittenden, assistant director of the University of Maine Center on Aging. UMaine has recently designated aging as an emerging area of excellence, Crittenden wrote, adding the designation will stimulate the development of cutting-edge aging-in-place technologies in Maine. Crittenden is a member of the Maine chapter of the Scholars Strategy Network, which brings together scholars across the country to address public challenges and their policy implications. Members’ columns appear in the BDN every other week.

Categories: Combined News, News

MPBN Reports on Launch of Lifelong Learning Initiative

Fri, 06/26/2015 - 10:10

The Maine Public Broadcasting Network covered the launch of Maine State of Learning, a statewide effort supporting learning and skill-building to ensure growth, empowerment and success for all Maine residents. The project is fueled by public and private partnerships across the state to provide more learning opportunities to Maine residents of all ages; recognize that learning through digital badges; and connect it to statewide proficiency standards, career pathways and personal goals. The University of Maine is a founding partner of the initiative along with Breakwater Learning, Maine Afterschool Network, Badge Labs, Gulf of Maine Research Institute and Educate Maine. Jay Collier, Educate Maine program director, said the effort will allow learners to collect digital badges at a number of locations around the state, including after school programs and camps, according to the report. The badges are designed to serve as verifiable records of learning. Participants can earn three digital badges in the UMaine 4-H STEM Ambassador program.

Categories: Combined News, News

Riordan Speaks to BDN About Importance of Downtown Theaters

Fri, 06/26/2015 - 10:09

Liam Riordan, a University of Maine history professor and director of the University of Maine Humanities Center, was quoted in a Bangor Daily News article about the Colonial Theatre in Belfast being put on the market. Riordan told the BDN downtown theaters such as the Colonial matter a lot to the cultural lives of Maine communities. “I do think theaters have played an extraordinary role as a hub of local culture,” Riordan said, mentioning the Criterion in Bar Harbor, the Grand in Ellsworth, the Alamo in Bucksport and the Strand in Rockland as some other examples of early 20th century downtown theaters that remain relevant along the coast. “Now all are multifunctional spaces and performance hubs,” he said. “We do need these kinds of gathering spaces. They can include music and dance and lectures.”

Categories: Combined News, News

Angela Hanscom: Summer Camp Founder

Thu, 06/25/2015 - 14:13

In the woods of New Hampshire, there’s a place children can escape the real world. It’s a place where they can let go of their fears, develop skills and feel free; a place where they can learn to interact with peers while connecting to nature and getting their hands dirty.

The place is TimberNook, a summer camp with a name meant to convey a hidden spot in the woods.

TimberNook campers take part in a variety of new experiences — from acting out a classic story in the woods, such as “Three Little Pigs,” complete with building houses out of hay, sticks and bricks, to designing an art gallery walk through the forest.

“There is no typical day at TimberNook,” says founder Angela Hanscom. “Every camp experience is different, but all focus on fostering healthy sensory and motor development while challenging the mind at the same time to think in new ways.”

The campers come for many reasons. Some children come to overcome fears of going barefoot or walking into the woods, others to learn how to take risks and play with friends appropriately, Hanscom says. Some come to simply learn how to use their imagination for the first time.

Since 2010, about 1,180 children have attended TimberNook camps at three New Hampshire locations in Barrington, Brentwood and Madbury, as well as in Florida and Ohio, and around the world in New Zealand and soon to be in Australia.

Hanscom, a University of Maine alumna, founded the camp after determining many children aren’t spending enough time playing outdoors, which affects their sensory systems and quality of life.

“I’m on a mission to get children back outdoors to once again foster healthy sensory and motor development,” she says. “My focus is on prevention and a new approach to play.”

Hanscom, who graduated from UMaine in 2001 with a bachelor’s degree in kinesiology and physical education, earned a master’s degree in occupational therapy from the University of Southern Maine in 2003.

After graduate school, Hanscom worked as an occupational therapist in hospitals, schools and clinics. When her second daughter was born, Hanscom chose to stay home to raise her children.

Among her children’s classmates, Hanscom noticed many seemed to have poor balance and coordination, were weaker than they should be at their age, and had trouble thinking creatively. Many of the children needed occupational therapy and only a few of them played outdoors on a regular basis.

Through research and observation at local schools, Hanscom found children were noticeably weaker and their balance systems were significantly underdeveloped as compared to children of previous generations. She also found teachers reported children becoming more aggressive on the playground and having trouble staying in their seats.

In 2010, Hanscom created a summer camp in New Hampshire to get children outdoors while enhancing and fostering development. After one week, those who attended the camp showed signs of improvement, she says. Some became more social while others showed less anxiety when trying new activities or playing outdoors.

As the camp’s popularity grew, Hanscom decided to license the program to allow parents and therapists to replicate the curriculum. TimberNook was officially trademarked in 2014 and began expanding to other locations.

The camp is geared toward children who are 4–11 years old.

“This is the age of imagination and the start of independence; both we like to foster in young children,” Hanscom says.

Hanscom credits her kinesiology and therapy background with allowing her to fully understand the importance of movement in the development of young children.

Wanting to become a physical therapist, Hanscom majored in kinesiology and physical education at UMaine, which she attended because her father, an alumnus, spoke highly of his time at the university. While in college, Hanscom decided to make the switch to occupational therapy, earning her master’s in the discipline.

“I became interested in treating the whole child — not just the physical aspects of development. I wanted to help foster healthy development of both the mind and the body,” she says.

As a hands-on learner, Hanscom thrived in the interactive kinesiology and physical education program at UMaine that provided her first glimpse into the professional world. She enjoyed the practical courses, especially those taught by Stephen Butterfield, professor and chair of UMaine’s Department of Exercise Science and STEM Education.

“He really made quite the impact on me,” Hanscom says of Butterfield. “He had such an innovative way of engaging his class. He challenged us and expected great things from our work. I’ll never forget the quality of his teaching.”

Always a fan of nature, Hanscom spent a lot of her free time at UMaine mountain biking on university trails.

When she’s not in meetings or strategically planning for TimberNook, Hanscom promotes her program and philosophies through writing and speaking engagements.

She is a regular contributor to The Washington Post. Her first article, “Why kids fidget and what we can do about it” went viral around the world. She has given a TED Talk for more than 100,000 Johnson & Johnson employees  on the importance of movement and play outdoors on the overall well-being of children.

Hanscom recently wrote “Balanced & Barefoot,” a nonfiction book that examines the importance of free play outdoors on the sensory and motor development of children.

“It is designed for parents and educators as a guide on how to foster healthy development and creativity through play experiences outside,” Hanscom says of the book that is expected to be published by New Harbinger in spring 2016.

In the future, Hanscom hopes to see more TimberNook camps around the world to reach as many children as possible.

“My goal is to create change for the youngest of our society — to educate adults on the therapeutic importance of having enough time to play outdoors on a regular basis,” she says.

Categories: Combined News, News

Scott Walker: Combating Life-threatening Diseases

Thu, 06/25/2015 - 14:11

Scott  Walker, a principal scientist of infectious diseases at Merck Research Laboratories in New Jersey, graduated with a bachelor’s degree in microbiology from the University of Maine in 1986.

For 18 years Walker, who earned a Ph.D. in molecular biology and biochemistry in 1992 from the University of Connecticut Health Center, School of Medicine, has been employed by Merck where he works to discover new antibiotics to treat life-threatening infections by resistant bacteria.

Born in Bangor to a pair of 1962 UMaine graduates, Walker grew up in Orono and graduated from Greely High School in Cumberland after his family moved while he was entering 10th grade.

Like himself and his parents, Walker’s wife, Celesta Sbardella Walker, also is a Black Bear and graduated in 1986 with a degree in elementary education.

“We met the second weekend of sophomore year, both 19 years old; a true bear pair,” Walker says.

The Walkers have two children. Their oldest, Adam, attends UMaine and expects to graduate in 2017.

Describe some of your latest research and what you aim to discover:
My current research is aimed at discovering new drugs to fight deadly, antibiotic-resistant bacterial infections. These are the “superbugs” we see in the news. Many bacterial infections, especially those acquired in the hospital, are resistant to common or “first-line” antibiotics and some are resistant to all antibiotics. New drugs to combat these infections are desperately needed.

What are some of the life-threatening infections you are hoping to treat with new antibiotics?
The so-called Gram-negatives are the focus of the work we do. Examples of Gram-negative bacteria are Escherichia coli, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Klebsiella pneumoniae, and Acinetobacter baumannii. The really nasty infections usually occur in the hospital and can be very tough, if not impossible, to treat. The Centers for Disease Control has categorized these organisms as significant threats to human health worldwide.

Why did you want to work at Merck?
Merck and, prior to that, Schering-Plough are world-class companies. We do groundbreaking drug discovery and development to combat or treat life-threatening diseases, viral and bacterial infection, cancer and heart disease. It’s amazing to be a part of that.

Growing up in Maine, did you ever think you would be working for a big pharmaceutical company in New Jersey?
I had no idea. My parents grew up in Auburn and are both UMaine grads. I was born in Bangor and we lived in Orono for many years, but they always told me there is a big world out there. My dad is a Vietnam veteran and we lived in the South for a few years and a couple of years in New Jersey after that before returning to Orono. I will always consider Maine my home, but the winds of a career blew us to New Jersey.

Why did you decide to study microbiology?
With the inspiration of an outstanding high school biology teacher I developed a love for biology and in particular microbiology. It sounds really nerdy, but I’m fascinated by the unseen world around us and in us. My bio teacher had a life-changing influence on me at a time when I wasn’t sure which direction to go. We had just moved to a new town (Cumberland) and I was feeling lost until I took biology.

Why UMaine?
I was born in Bangor, grew up in Orono, and my parents are UMaine grads; was there any other choice? I filled out one college application.

How did UMaine and the microbiology program in particular prepare you for your career?
Microbiology at UMaine was, and still is, a rigorous program that provided a solid foundation for my graduate work at the University of Connecticut Health Center. The training I received at UMaine gave me the background and confidence to handle the coursework for a Ph.D. program. My Hitchner Hall laboratory experience also exposed me to many of the modern molecular biology techniques I would later use in my graduate research project.

Did you work closely with a professor or mentor who made your UMaine experience better?
Two professors at UMaine had a huge influence on me; professors Richard Blake and Keith Hutchison. They both challenged me to think as a scientist and to push the limits of my abilities. I wouldn’t be the scientist I am today without their mentoring and inspiration.

What was your favorite place on campus?
Alfond Arena. We were there for Coach Walsh’s first season. What a special place to enjoy a hockey game with your friends. I watched a game with my son in January of this year and it felt exactly the same. Also, the Bear’s Den — the original one downstairs.

Most memorable UMaine moment?
It’s hard to point to a single moment; there were so many. Having fun at an intense hockey game against UNH, doing well on an exam you really worked hard for, meeting a Nobel laureate, walking across campus on the first warm day of spring.

How does UMaine continue to influence your life?
I am very proud to call myself a UMaine graduate and a Black Bear. My education there prepared me, without a doubt, for the success I enjoyed in graduate school and in my current profession.

How often do you visit Maine?
Our ties to Maine are wide and deep. My family has had its roots in Maine for hundreds of years. My brothers live in Maine and the Boston area and Celesta’s family all live in and around Portland. The pull is pretty strong.

We travel back to Maine as often as we can for holidays and summer vacations to visit family in the Portland area and to be “tourists” in our home state.

I love to ski, hike, bike, fish and camp in Maine. I did the Dempsey Challenge 100-mile bike ride last fall and skied Sugarloaf several times this season. There’s really no place we’d rather be for some rest and relaxation.

Any advice for students today?
Don’t be afraid of hard work; it will pay off. Sometimes it takes a few years (like a Ph.D. program), but even when you’re in the midst of working harder than you ever thought you would or could, think about the small day-to-day successes in your life. It’s like putting coins in a jar, it takes a while, but you’d be surprised what you can build up.

Anything else you’d like to add?
In January I had the honor of giving a seminar in Hitchner Hall on the work I do at Merck and talk with students about life in “Big Pharma.” It truly was the highlight of my professional career, so far, to come back to Orono and talk with faculty and especially students.

It’s easy to see that the faculty has a passion for their research and training the next generation of scientists. If we as a nation are going to remain at the forefront of the biomedical sciences we need places like UMaine and people so dedicated to research and education. Plant the seeds and watch them grow.

 Photo by Michael Lund, Photographer for Merck Media Studio

Categories: Combined News, News

Maine State of Learning Initiative Officially Launches

Thu, 06/25/2015 - 13:45

A statewide effort supporting learning and skill-building to ensure growth, empowerment and success for all Maine residents officially launched at the Gulf of Maine Research Institute during Maine Startup & Create Week.

The Maine State of Learning (MSOL) is a project fueled by public and private partnerships across the state to provide more learning opportunities to Maine residents of all ages; recognize that learning through digital badges; and connect it to statewide proficiency standards, career pathways and personal goals.

The University of Maine is a founding partner of the initiative along with Breakwater Learning, Maine Afterschool Network, Badge Labs, Gulf of Maine Research Institute and Educate Maine.

MSOL also includes a cohort of learning providers including the University of Maine Cooperative Extension’s 4-H youth development program. Participants can earn three digital badges in the UMaine 4-H STEM Ambassador program.

“The University of Maine is excited to be a founding partner of Maine State of Learning,” said Jeffrey Hecker, executive vice president for academic affairs and provost at the University of Maine. “This initiative clearly fits with the land grant mission and vision of UMaine. Connecting learning opportunities, both inside and outside the classroom setting, will provide students multiple pathways for skill development, knowledge acquisition, and continued civic engagement. UMaine is committed to fostering lifelong learning opportunities for all citizens of Maine and beyond.”

The full release about the MSOL launch is online. More information about MSOL is on the initiative’s website.

Categories: Combined News, News

Nominations Sought for Maryann Hartman Awards, Maine Edge Reports

Thu, 06/25/2015 - 09:45

The Maine Edge reported nominations are invited for the Maryann Hartman Awards for Maine Women of Achievement and the Maryann Hartman Young Women’s Social Justice Award. Each year since 1986, the Maryann Hartman Awards Ceremony has celebrated significant contributions of Maine women in a variety of fields, according to the article. The awards are named after Maryann Hartman, a University of Maine associate professor of speech communication from 1969 to 1980 and a pioneer in the field of oral interpretation, the article states. “The Maryann Hartman Awards are a highlight of our year,” said Mazie Hough, director of the Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies Program at UMaine, which organizes the awards. “It is always inspiring to see the wide variety of accomplishments of women who have committed themselves to making Maine what it should be.” The 30th annual awards ceremony will be held in March 2016. The deadline to submit nominations is Friday, Aug. 28, 2015.

Categories: Combined News, News

Franklin County 4-H Award Winner Announced in Sun Journal Article

Thu, 06/25/2015 - 09:45

The Sun Journal reported on the announcement of the annual Franklin County 4-H Award by the Franklin County Extension Association. Janna Winslow of New Sharon, who has been a member of the Happy H’s 4-H Club for 14 years, was named this year’s recipient. The award is given to a 4-H member who has demonstrated the character and life skills that 4-H promotes, and who will pursue further education after high school, according to the article. Winslow has completed her first year at the University of Maine at Augusta where she studies business administration. The Franklin County Extension Association supports the work of the University of Maine Cooperative Extension in Franklin County. 4-H is one of the association’s important programs, providing hands-on background in agriculture, community service, science and technology, the article states.

Categories: Combined News, News

Fernandez Speaks About Climate Change, Health on MPBN’s ‘Maine Calling’

Wed, 06/24/2015 - 13:27

Ivan Fernandez, a professor in the Climate Change Institute and School of Forest Resources at the University of Maine, was a guest on the Maine Public Broadcasting Network’s “Maine Calling” radio show. The show focused on how climate change is affecting our health.

Categories: Combined News, News

Garder Featured in WalletHub Study on Best, Worst States for Summer Road Trips

Wed, 06/24/2015 - 13:26

Per Garder, a civil engineering professor at the University of Maine, was featured in the “Ask the Experts” section of WalletHub’s recent study about 2015’s best and worst states for summer road trips. Garder said he thinks more people will take road trips this summer than in previous years because gas is still relatively cheap and the economy is slowly turning around. For those taking road trips, he suggests using the GasBuddy app to find cheap gas; using Internet or coupon books to find low-cost, high-quality hotels; and eating local at small restaurants for some meals while supplementing with food from grocery stores.

Categories: Combined News, News

Morning Sentinel Interviews Hopkins About Maple Mania

Wed, 06/24/2015 - 13:25

Kathy Hopkins, a maple syrup expert with the University of Maine Cooperative Extension, spoke with the Morning Sentinel for an article about the Maine Maple Producers Association’s Maple Mania stop in Skowhegan on June 11–13. Maple Mania is an annual tour of Maine maple farms that seeks to share and promote the state’s maple syrup industry, according to the article. The event also includes workshops and educational components for maple syrup producers. “It’s a good time because it’s after the maple season is over and the cleanup is over,” Hopkins said. “In the far parts of the state, maple syrup production goes into May.” UMaine Extension works with the Maine Maple Producers Association to organize Maple Mania, which has been held at different locations around the state for the last five years, the article states.

Categories: Combined News, News

College of Education and Human Development Co-Hosts Book Drive, BDN Reports

Wed, 06/24/2015 - 13:24

The Bangor Daily News reported on the the third annual Children’s Book Drive to be held at The Briar Patch book and toy store on Central Street in Bangor on Thursday, June 25. The drive aims to benefit Literacy Volunteers’ programs to help adults and families learn to read, according to the article. This year, Darling’s Ice Cream for a Cause, the Literacy Volunteers of Bangor, the University of Maine College of Education and Human Development and The Briar Patch have partnered for the event, which raised more than 1,100 books for children and teens last year, the article states.

Categories: Combined News, News

Maine Edge Publishes Release on Online Hay Directory Updates

Wed, 06/24/2015 - 13:23

The Maine Edge published a University of Maine news release reminding growers and marketers of hay and hay products to update their listings on the University of Maine Cooperative Extension online hay directory. “Extension has maintained the hay directory for many years and growers and consumers have found the resource valuable,” said Rick Kersbergen, UMaine Extension educator in Waldo County.

Categories: Combined News, News

Camp Combines Environmental Science, Traditional Native Culture

Wed, 06/24/2015 - 08:36

Weaving baskets while learning about brown ash identification and habitat is one of the hands-on projects at the Wabanaki Youth Science Program (WaYS) wskitkamikww, or Earth, summer camp June 22–26, at Cobscook Community Learning Center in Trescott.

At the third annual WaYS summer camp, Native American youth in grades 9–12 also will use compasses and forest tools, learn about medicinal and edible saltwater plants, tidal ecology and climate change issues as they relate to fish.

“It’s great fun. It’s intense,” says Wabanaki Center program manager tish carr, who earned a Master of Forestry degree at the University of Maine.

WaYS, a long-term, multi-pronged program coordinated by the Wabanaki Center at the UMaine, integrates environmental science and traditional Native culture.

WaYs, says carr, seeks to connect the next generation of Native youth with their cultural heritage and legacy of environmental management and stewardship.

In addition to summer camps, seasonal mini-camps are open to junior and senior high school-age students. Each mini-camp focuses on one activity; topics have included shelter building, maple tree tapping, snowshoeing and fishing.

Internships also are available for Native high school-age boys and girls to work with area natural resource experts, including those from the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), as well as cultural resource professionals.

And, Traditional Ecological Knowledge (TEK) and American Indian Science and Engineering Society (AISES) programs are offered to Native students year-round to continue the long-term connection.

The various approaches and offerings are intended to develop a model education program that promotes Native American persistence and participation in sciences from junior high through college and when choosing a career.

The WaYS program is the brainchild of John Banks, director of the Department of Natural Resources for Penobscot Nation; Darren Ranco, UMaine associate professor of anthropology and chair of Native American Programs; as well as members from each of Maine’s Wabanaki Tribal Nations.

For three days at summer camp, water will be the broad topic for activities for the 25 participants. One day will be devoted to wildlife topics and another day will be dedicated to forestry.

Forestry activities, says carr, will utilize compasses and GPS units and include data collection, tree identification and possibly “forest forensics.”

Food at camp will be Native-based. “We’ll concentrate on a healthy lifestyle and talk about where food comes from,” says carr, adding that as many as four interns will assist educators during the week.

Barry Dana, WaYs cultural knowledge keeper, a Penobscot community elder and former tribal chief, teams with carr, a liaison with other natural resource professionals, to make the program a success.

The camp and WaYs are supported by National Science Foundation awards to Maine EPSCoR at the University of Maine.

In related news, the Penobscot Nation, with support from the Wabanaki Center and the USFS, recently received a grant totaling nearly $46,000 from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation for a Native habitat restoration project in Penobscot Experimental Forest in Bradley, Maine.

Wabanaki students will work hand-in-hand with members of the U.S. Forest Service, other scientists and cultural knowledge keepers to examine invasives in the forest

The 3,900-acre forest is a site for U.S. Forest Service research; it’s one of 80 experimental forests in the U.S. and the only one in the transitional zone between the Eastern Broadleaf and boreal forests.

During the 18 months of the grant, Wabanaki students will collect and analyze data on invasives, including Asiatic bittersweet and Norway maples.

The grant, says carr, will help develop future Native environmental leaders by providing participants with the ability to participate in cutting-edge research and learn from various professional and cultural mentors.

Contact: Beth Staples, 207.581.3777

Categories: Combined News, News

UMaine Training 100 High School Students, Teachers to Help Solve Stormwater Problem

Tue, 06/23/2015 - 15:52

About 100 students and teachers from 12 high schools and local Native American communities around the state will gather at the University of Maine for a three-day program that focuses on creating innovative solutions to environmental problems related to stormwater management.

UMaine Stormwater Management Research Team (SMART) Institute participants will work with university faculty, undergraduates and graduate students; city water planners; and representatives from the Maine Department of Environmental Protection during the program that runs from Wednesday, June 24 through Friday, June 26.

Now in its second year, the SMART Institute aims to engage a diverse group of students and teachers in training for the implementation of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) in their schools while addressing an important environmental issue. Stormwater runoff is a pressing and expensive problem for most major cities, and the model of the program — STEM solution-focused with diverse citizen involvement — will have nationwide applicability and appeal, program organizers say.

The institute is supported by a more than $735,000 grant awarded by the National Science Foundation’s Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (EPSCoR) Track III program that aims to empower female and minority high school students who are often underrepresented in STEM fields. The program also is supported by Emera Maine, Maine Community Foundation (Haskell-Stetson Trust) and IDEXX Corp.

Throughout the conference, students will take part in hands-on projects led by STEM professionals in areas such as engineering design, science, computer modeling and information technology to monitor and map water quality. Participants will tour UMaine labs and stormwater areas on campus, hear from guest speakers, and learn how to use wireless sensors to test water, as well as collect, enter and analyze data. Institute participants also will tour a lunar habitat on campus to see applications of wireless technology in other areas of research.

With the guidance of a representative from the Maine Department of Environmental Protection, students will begin their work as “live sensors” on the Stillwater River in Orono, collecting samples of insects that are indicators of water quality. Students also will collect water samples and retrieve data from wireless sensors built by UMaine students. New this year, students will prepare and be judged on a group presentation to “tell the story” of the Stillwater River, based on data they gather and analyze during the institute.  An awards ceremony will be held before students depart.

An opening session will be held from 8–9 a.m. Wednesday, June 24 in the Hill Auditorium of Barrows Hall. Paige Brown, a 2015 SMART Institute participant and Bangor High School junior, will deliver the keynote address, “Identifying and Remediating the Sources of Pollution in Impaired Bangor Streams.” 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.

The SMART Institute is open to Maine students who are currently in 10th or 11th grade. Females and minorities are strongly encouraged to apply. The program also trains high school teachers to co-facilitate the academic-year internships of their participating students.

This year’s participating high schools include Bangor, Casco Bay and Deering in Portland, Edward Little in Auburn, Greely in Cumberland, Lewiston, Old Town, Orono, Portland, Shead in Eastport, Traip Academy in Kittery and Washington Academy in East Machias.

Categories: Combined News, News

Wahle, Steneck Quoted in Business Insider Article on Lobster Prices

Tue, 06/23/2015 - 13:23

University of Maine marine scientists Bob Steneck and Rick Wahle were quoted in the Business Insider article “Something strange is happening to the Maine lobster population this year — and it could drastically raise prices.” This year, the price of lobster is increasing due to changing water temperatures that affect when lobsters molt, according to the article. Warmer water makes lobsters molt earlier in the year, and in 2012 New England’s ocean was relatively warm because of an “ocean heat wave,” Wahle said. The changing temperatures meant lobsters matured earlier, and the increase in lobsters caused the price per pound to plummet. Now the price is on the rise because the harsh winter dropped ocean temperatures around Maine to the lower end of the lobster comfort zone, the article states. “I predict that it will be a one-molt season, based on temperatures,” Steneck said, adding he thinks the molt will take place in July or August leaving not enough time for lobsters to grow enough for a second molt before the water cools. Yahoo Finance also carried the Business Insider article, and the Daily Meal and IntraFish cited the report.

Categories: Combined News, News

Science Daily Reports on Olsen’s Sparrow Research

Tue, 06/23/2015 - 13:22

Science Daily published the article, “Species lines blur between two sparrows in New England’s tidal marshes,” on a study conducted by a group of researchers including Brian Olsen, assistant professor of biology and ecology. Olsen worked with researchers at the University of New Hampshire, the University of Delaware and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to capture and examine birds on the coast of Maine, New Hampshire and Massachusetts, according to the article. The line between bird species is sometimes blurry, with related species interbreeding where their ranges overlap to create populations of hybrid offspring, the article states. In their study, the researchers found that in the saltmarsh sparrow/Nelson’s sparrow hybrid zone on the New England coast, identifying hybrid birds is challenging. DNA revealed that half the birds identified as “pure” in the field were of mixed ancestry.

Categories: Combined News, News

WVII Covers Aging Initiative Workshop

Tue, 06/23/2015 - 13:21

WVII (Channel 7) reported on an Aging Initiative Workshop hosted by the Office of the Vice President for Research at the Buchanan Alumni House. Organizers said Maine’s 65 and older population is growing at a rate three times faster than those under 65, meaning now is the time to use resources to plan for the future, according to the report. The workshop aimed to bring together interested faculty and staff from all disciplines on campus to review past and current research in the area of aging. Breakout sessions provided opportunities to shape the direction of future research, explore interdisciplinary and interprofessional synergies, and build new collaborations.

Categories: Combined News, News