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University of Maine News
News from the University of Maine
Updated: 10 hours 16 min ago
University of Maine graduate and former field hockey standout Holly Stewart will compete at the 2015 Pan American Games, a qualifying tournament for the 2016 Olympic Games.
Stewart of North Vancouver, British Columbia was one of 16 women selected to the Canadian field hockey team that will compete in the Toronto tournament from July 10–26.
The winner of the Pan American Games will earn a spot at next year’s summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
Stewart wrapped up her UMaine career this past fall. Earlier in June, she was named the 2015 America East Woman of the Year.
Team Canada’s schedule is online.
Mainebiz mentioned the University of Maine’s Advanced Structures and Composites Center in an article about Brunswick-based Harbor Technologies Inc. which creates hybrid composite beams for bridge construction. The company works with research facilities including the UMaine Composites Center for testing, according to the article. Roberto Lopez-Anido, a civil engineering professor at UMaine, said he has seen the lab grow from nothing when he first arrived on campus 17 years ago to a world-class accredited testing facility whose industry clients range from Fortune 500 companies to startup firms developing innovative products and processes, the article states. Lopez-Anido said the center provides a valuable service to Harbor Technologies and other Maine composites companies. “Our mission is to support industry in this region, to help them get products into the market,” he said. “We’re also training students to get proficient in working with these products so that they have the skills to work at these Maine companies after they graduate.”
David Yarborough, a blueberry specialist with the University of Maine Cooperative Extension and professor in the School of Food and Agriculture, was quoted in an Associated Press article about the abundance of rain in June and how it has affected Maine farmers. The rain has saturated some low-lying crops, made fields too muddy for farm machinery and delayed the first cutting of hay in some parts of northern New England, according to the article. Yarborough said wild blueberry growers needed rain after a dry spring, but the timing of the rain and cooler weather prevented maximum pollination, potentially reducing the crop’s size. The Portland Press Herald, Times Union and The Caledonian-Record carried the AP report.
Jessica Miller, a clinical bioethicist at Eastern Maine Medical Center and chair of the Philosophy Department at the University of Maine, was quoted in the Bangor Daily News article “Should the Internet pay for your health care? Maine kidney surgery raises ethical quandary.” A 24-year-old South Portland mother who used an online crowdfunding campaign to cover her kidney transplant raised nearly $50,000, eight times the amount sought, according to the article. Royles’ transplant surgery was delayed because the hospital was leery of federal regulations that prohibit individuals from profiting off the donation of an organ, the article states. Miller said online campaigns for medical care raise a unique set of issues. “The spaghetti supper draws on community relationships and community identity,” Miller said. “The GoFundMe, the Indigogo, the YouCaring [sites] draw on strangers. It’s almost like you have to fill in your own gaps. In your mind, what is a deserving patient? There’s no context,” Miller said, adding the gaps leave room for morally loaded judgements. “It rewards the perfect patient,” she said. “The cute child with cancer might be more likely to have their campaign funded than, say, a woman who has a campaign to obtain an abortion.”
The Portland Press Herald spoke with Gianna Marrs, director of student financial aid at the University of Maine, for the article “In many Maine households, parents shoulder high costs of college.” According to Sallie Mae, the nation’s largest private education lender, two-thirds of parents help pay for college, while the average amount saved in advance by parents is only $10,400, the article states. Marrs told the Press Herald her office receives the most calls in March, April and May, as parents seek help calculating costs and explore borrowing options. “We’re not being a good nation of savers, whether it’s for retirement or our children’s college education,” she said. “That really puts pressure on students to pay their own way through college.”
Wiscasset Newspaper reported the University of Maine’s Darling Marine Center in Walpole will celebrate its 50th anniversary with summer events including Wednesday Walking Tours, Science on Tap Seminars and an open house. From July 1 through Aug. 19, visitors are invited on Wednesday mornings for a walking tour of the center’s waterfront laboratories, according to the article. The 90-minute tours will highlight current research projects focusing on lobster ecology and fisheries management, shellfish aquaculture, remote sensing, coastal food webs, and ocean acidification, the article states. The first Science on Tap Seminar will be presented by UMaine marine scientist Bob Steneck on July 8. The open house on Aug. 8 will feature activities for all ages to introduce visitors to the plants and animals that share the shore and learn about marine research tools and technology, the article states.
David Marcinkowski, a dairy expert with the University of Maine Cooperative Extension and animal and veterinary science professor in the School of Food and Agriculture, was quoted in a Portland Press Herald article about Portland business ImmuCell Corp. The company, which develops products to prevent and treat diseases among dairy and beef cattle, recently completed its most profitable quarter in 12 years in part because of harsh environmental conditions faced by cattle ranchers in the West, according to the article. Dairy farmers generally bring feed to their cows, which becomes expensive when farmers need to truck in hay from other locations, Marcinkowski said. As a result, the price of milk hit a record high in mid-2014 before dropping down because of overproduction, he said. In the beef and dairy industries, the price of a calf increased 40 percent from 2012 to 2014, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Now that herds are expanding again in some states, prices should begin to normalize, the article states. However, Marcinkowski said it is a long process that could take four or five years.
The Sun Journal reported on students from the Lewiston-Auburn area who are taking part in the 2015 Maine Government Summer Internship Program. The program, which began May 26, has 34 college students interning in various state agencies. The Margaret Chase Smith Policy Center at the University of Maine administers the full-time, 12-week, paid work experience. Students’ majors include political science, economics, engineering and environmental science. Most study at in-state colleges and universities, while others are Maine residents pursuing their education out of state.
University of Maine student Stephanie Griffin was awarded a 2015 Next Step Maine Employee of Promise Scholarship.
Griffin, who is pursuing a bachelor’s degree, is the account manager assistant at Allen Insurance and Financial in Camden, Maine.
The goal of the Next Step Maine Scholarship Program is to support and recognize working adults who are attending school while juggling jobs, families and other responsibilities.
The third annual event included 12 scholarship award recipients from 11 Maine employers, according to a Maine Development Foundation press release. Scholarship amounts ranged from $500 to $2,300.
Scholarship recipients were nominated by their employers who are part of the Next Step Maine Employers’ Initiative. The initiatives is a statewide network of 245 Maine employers committed to the skill development and educational advancement of their employees. Fifteen higher education partners are involved statewide, along with local and regional support providers, the release states.
The full MDF release is online.
More about the Next Step Maine Scholarship, including awardee profiles, are on the organization’s website.
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.
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.” Fosters.com, Sun Journal and the Portland Press Herald carried the AP report.
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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.
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
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 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.
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.
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.