University of Maine News
It’s an oft-repeated phrase that the early bird gets the worm.
And, according to a collaborative study between the University of Maine and University of Nevada, Reno, it’s also true that a greater sage-grouse that lays her eggs earliest, lays the most eggs.
During a 10-year study of greater sage-grouse (Centrocercus urophasianus) in Eureka County, Nevada, UMaine wildlife biologist Erik Blomberg found the single most-important determining factor of clutch size (number of eggs a hen lays in one nest) was the date the clutch was started.
Clutches laid earlier in the season had, on average, more eggs than those laid later in the season. The earliest clutches contained, on average, twice as many eggs as those laid later in the season.
The span of time during which greater sage-grouse laid eggs varied as much as 67 days in one nesting season, which typically occurs during April and May. The average clutch contained seven or eight eggs.
Similar seasonal patterns have been demonstrated in a number of other avian species.
The results are important, Blomberg says, as the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service is considering greater sage-grouse — a large ground-nesting species that resides in western North America where sagebrush dominates the landscape — as a candidate for protection under the Endangered Species Act.
The “sagebrush sea” where they breed is an imperiled ecosystem due to residential development, oil and gas drilling, wind farms, invasive plant species and other human uses of land, according to the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service.
“An important finding from this work is that clutch size in greater sage-grouse is influenced by the same evolutionary factors that we see throughout the avian world,” says Blomberg.
“This means that general principles of conservation known to benefit populations of other species (improvements to habitat quality that increase the availability of food resources to pre-breeding females) are likely to also be a good fit to the life histories of sage-grouse.”
Blomberg and his colleagues found that females laid more eggs during wetter years and at high-elevation sites, which also suggest that a degree of large-scale resource availability affects the numbers of a clutch.
Females that entered breeding season in better than average condition also laid more eggs. This was particularly true for second clutches laid after the females’ first nesting attempts had failed, which Blomberg says also indicates that food availability affects how many eggs a female sage-grouse will lay in a single clutch.
Studies conducted in northern latitudes consistently reported larger clutches for sage-grouse than those done at southern latitudes, according to the researchers. This pattern has been demonstrated repeatedly with bird species around the world, he says.
The research team located 400 sage-grouse nests using radio-telemetry, and flushed the females to record the number of eggs in each nest and to measure the size of the eggs.
The study, titled “Individual and environmental effects on egg allocations of female Greater Sage-Grouse,” was published in The Auk; Ornithological Advances. The study team included Daniel Gibson, Michael T. Atamian and James S. Sedinger, all affiliated with the University of Nevada, Reno.
Contact: Beth Staples, 581.3777
Erik Blomberg, an assistant professor of wildlife ecology at the University of Maine, spoke with the Bangor Daily News and the Maine Public Broadcasting Network about a research project he is leading with the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife to gather information on the life, death and breeding habits of ruffed grouse. The three-year study includes trapping, tagging and fitting radio collars on grouse that will be released and followed for a year, according to the article. “This is the first very large-scale investigation of ruffed grouse populations in natural history in the state of Maine,” Blomberg said, adding that scientists tend to only study animals when they have problems, and consequently, ruffed grouse haven’t had much attention.
Sandra Caron, a University of Maine professor of family relations and human sexuality, was quoted in a Shape magazine article titled, “The conversation 40 percent of couples don’t have — but should.” The article also mentioned Caron’s book, “The Sex Lives of College Students: Two Decades of Attitudes and Behaviors.” The book is based on the results of a sexuality survey she administered to thousands of students over the past 20 years.
The Free Press reported registration is still open for University of Maine Cooperative Extension Master Gardener Volunteer training classes in Knox, Lincoln and Waldo counties. Classes will cover the relationship between healthy soil and food plants and sustainable methods to fend off pests and diseases, according to the article. Classes will be held at the Knox-Lincoln Extension office in Waldoboro, and some may be held at the Waldo Extension office in Waldo, the article states. Applications are due by Sept. 18, and classes begin Oct. 2.
Neil Comins, a University of Maine professor of physics and astronomy, and Marcella Sorg, a medical and forensic anthropologist at UMaine, will be part of a panel discussion about how science is represented on film Sept. 15 at the Penobscot Theatre in Bangor. “Good, Bad and Ugly: Science in Film,” begins at 7 p.m. and will touch on the silver-screen portrayals of topics from physics to zombies. The discussion is free and open to the public, and is a preview event for the first Maine Science Festival to be held in March 2015. Donations to support the festival are welcome. More information is on Facebook.
University of Maine Cooperative Extension and FoodCorps announce a free cooking class for families 5–6 p.m. Thursdays, Oct. 2–30, at the UMaine Extension Somerset County office, 7 County Drive, Skowhegan.
The five-session class is designed for income-eligible families with children living at home. Parents will learn to prepare quick and easy main meals while youth make healthy snacks. For more information, including about eligibility, as well as to register or request disability accommodations, contact 207.474.9622 or email@example.com.
Nicholas Giudice knows what it’s like to be vision-impaired, and he’s using his personal experiences and research background to develop an affordable tool to help others in the blind and low-vision community in school, on the job and with independent travel.
Improving access to and the comprehension of visual material such as charts and maps is the focus of a National Science Foundation-sponsored project led by Giudice, an associate professor in the University of Maine’s School of Computing and Information Science. The research aims to develop and evaluate an intuitive, low-cost tool to aid the interpretation of graphic data for those who can’t rely on vision to do so.
The ability to effectively use and accurately understand graphs, figures and other visual representations of numeric data is critical for success in the classroom and at work, Giudice says. Spatial learning and navigating in and outside the home also frequently depend on the use of maps and other graphical aids, which can be challenging for blind people to use, he says.
The World Health Organization estimates vision impairment affects as many as 285 million people worldwide, with numbers expected to rise due to the aging population. About 11 percent of blind or low-vision people have a bachelor’s degree and 75 percent are unemployed, according to Giudice. He says providing blind people with a way to process graphics will boost their employability, as well as confidence, independence and overall quality of life.
The tool has the potential to reduce the information gap between blind people and their sighted peers, Giudice says, giving an example of a teacher displaying a diagram to a class. Instead of relying on descriptions from the teacher, a student who can’t see could pull up the same image on a handheld device and use touch and audio to comprehend what the other students see.
“Many jobs deal with graphics and interpreting them,” Giudice says. “If this tool is developed, deployed and broadly implemented, it would make blind people more confident. Employers would see it’s no big deal if someone can’t see a graphic as long as they can understand and interpret it, and can act upon it.”
Gaining access to these forms of information is often difficult and expensive, Giudice says, citing as an example a printer worth thousands of dollars that creates tactile graphics but can only be used for one purpose.
By developing software that works on commercial, multifunctional and portable hardware such as smartphones and tablets, the tool Giudice and his team create would be readily available and comparably inexpensive.
Screen-reading software that uses text-to-speech is helpful for written material but lacks the ability to convey graphic elements, Giudice says. His proposed tool would present graphics on the touchscreen of a device equipped with a vibration motor.
The tool would allow users to experience touch combined with vibration, or vibrotactile feedback, when they touch a graphic element perceived as points, lines or regions, similar to feeling traditional hard-copy graphics. Sound would be used to enhance the vibrotactile information, creating a vibro-audio approach to materials traditionally processed strictly by vision.
Giudice would like to eventually pair the tool with a real-time map that automatically updates using GPS when the user moves, helping the 70 percent of people with little to no vision who don’t navigate independently outside their home.
Giudice’s research in spatial informatics and cognitive neuroscience is guided by his own experiences of living with vision impairment. The core of his research is multimodal spatial cognition — how we learn about, think about and act in space using different senses. Through personal experiences and research, Giudice has found many spatial tasks done with vision can be completed equally well using other senses.
“If you touch a desk as opposed to seeing it, your brain processes the desk edges and recognizes it as a desk. It doesn’t care how it got the information,” says Giudice, who also directs the Virtual Environment and Multimodal Interaction (VEMI) Laboratory, which houses the university’s first, and Maine’s only, virtual reality research facility.
Giudice has a preference for working with the sense of touch because it’s more closely related to vision than the other senses and shares a lot of the same properties, he says.
The new project, “Non-visual access to graphical information using a vibro-audio display,” recently received $177,568 from the National Science Foundation — the first installment of a three-year $500,000 grant.
The research team is at the early stage of the project, developing a tool that best works with how people process tactile information; discovering an intuitive approach is the team’s first task.
“We know this can work, but to make sure it can be used commercially, we need to understand about cognitive factors, how well it can work compared to hard-copy or traditional tactile approaches,” Giudice says.
Initial data has shown learning similar to that achieved using printed lines is possible using a vibro-audio approach for graphs and shapes, Giudice says, but the process needs to be optimized.
“Early research has worked amazingly well, there’s a lot of potential here. But there’s still a lot we don’t know,” Giudice says, such as determining the best alignment, vibration and resolution.
Preliminary work on map panning and zooming has also been done, he says, adding his team plans to develop software to manipulate on-screen movement; a common practice, especially for reading maps, that’s difficult without sight.
In the future, Giudice would like the tool to be available as an app, or multiple apps, that could be used to supplement existing apps, such as Google Maps.
Contact: Elyse Kahl, 207.581.3747
While evolution often evokes thoughts about ancient origins of life, University of Maine researcher Michael Kinnison says applied evolutionary biology is about improving the future — including pressing matters of day-to-day life and issues of international policy.
A paper by lead authors from the University of Copenhagen and the University of California, Davis, as well as Kinnison, highlights ways in which food security, human health and biodiversity can benefit in the short- and long-term by using principles of evolutionary biology.
The paper published online Sept. 11 at Science Express indicates when evolution is overlooked the prevailing approaches to treat human disease, reduce agricultural pests and manage at-risk wildlife can be detrimental to achieving sustainable solutions and exacerbate the very problems they’re trying to prevent.
“Applying evolutionary biology has tremendous potential because it takes into account how unwanted pests or pathogens may adapt rapidly to our interventions and how highly valued species, including humans …, are often very slow to adapt to changing environments through evolution,” says Peter Søgaard Jørgensen, a lead author from the Center for Macroecology, Evolution and Climate at the University of Copenhagen.
“Not considering such aspects may result in outcomes opposite of those desired, making the pests more resistant to our actions, humans more exposed to diseases, and vulnerable species less able to cope with new conditions.”
Prior research by Kinnison, professor of evolutionary applications, heightened awareness that evolution is a surprisingly dynamic process, often fastest on the shortest time frames — even in one or two generations — and is extensively shaped by human activities. Much of his research considers human evolutionary effects on fish and wildlife populations.
Prime examples affecting humans include pathogens and pests that quickly evolve resistance to antibiotics and pesticides.
“Uncontrolled evolution is often outpacing our best technology,” he says.
For instance, Kinnison and his collaborators note there are more than 11,000 documented cases of pesticide resistance in about 1,000 species of insects and weeds, and that plant pathogens jeopardize agricultural economies and food supplies worldwide.
And, the World Health Organization has warned that microbial resistance to antimicrobial drugs threatens achievements of modern medicine.
“But there is more to this than doom and gloom,” Kinnison says. “A major emphasis of our article is that there are some amazingly creative solutions being applied to manage evolutionary challenges and that these approaches can often be shared and adapted to meet new challenges.”
For example, farmers in the U.S. and Australia set aside pest-friendly refuges, or havens, to delay the evolution of insect resistance to costly chemical controls and genetically engineered crops that support the most production.
Researchers say these refuges have effectively suppressed resistance in the pink bollworm, an invasive pest of cotton.
The paper’s authors suggest refuge strategies may be adapted to broader applications, including preserving the economic value of fisheries and improving outcomes in cancer treatment.
Applied evolution is showing up in some surprising places. The U.S. Atlantic Salmon Recovery Program, and similar programs that use artificial breeding efforts to supplement dwindling wild populations, historically focused on avoiding losses of genetic variation.
These programs now also prioritize a need to avoid inadvertent adaptation of fish to captivity.
Research indicates salmon and other fish adapt rapidly to living in captivity and become dependent on humans, which Kinnison says negatively impacts their ability to survive in the wild.
Fisheries scientists thus seek to limit the number of generations that endangered salmon are bred in captivity and seek opportunities to incorporate new genetic contributions from wild fish.
To show the broad application of evolution to global challenges, the authors promote a simple framework for evolutionary management strategies based on adaptive “match” or “mismatch.”
Researchers say this framework reveals approaches that might otherwise be missed as evolutionary and is applicable to both fast- and slow-evolving species.
Scott P. Carroll, biologist at the University of California Davis and director of the Institute for Contemporary Evolution, says sharing ideas and strategies is particularly important to prevent the spread of new infectious diseases and antimicrobial resistance genes between natural, agricultural and human health systems.
The authors emphasize coordinating applied evolutionary principles across these traditionally isolated sectors and, in some cases, at international scales, will be necessary.
They highlight as an example the dual use of antibiotics in human health and food production. Livestock around the planet are given antimicrobial drugs to increase meat production. The astronomical number of livestock greatly increases the opportunity for evolution of resistant pathogens that might harm humans where animal and human antibiotics overlap in mechanism.
Those resistant pathogens can spread through global trade and, in some cases, exchange resistance genes with other strains, say the researchers.
Use of antibiotics in agricultural animals has been implicated in the origins of resistant Escherichia coli found in people afflicted with a potentially fatal whole-body inflammation.
“It’s sobering to think that farming practices in one part of the world might give rise to pathogens affecting human populations elsewhere,” Kinnison says.
“We need international policies that help mitigate such challenges.”
Jørgensen agrees that policy and coordination are critical.
“By using regulatory and redistribution tools, local communities and governments play a crucial role in ensuring that everybody gains from the benefits of using evolutionary biology to realize the long-term goals of sustainable development such as increasing food security, protecting biodiversity and improving human health and well-being,” he says.
Jørgensen will present the research team’s perspective during the Oct. 22-24 Sustainability Science Congress in Copenhagen. The study is online.
Contact: Beth Staples, 207.581.3777
What’s it like to weather a perfect storm?
Engineers at the University of Maine Advanced Structures and Composites Center and Maine Maritime Academy (MMA) soon will find out.
They’ll have the capability to create one.
Earlier this summer, UMaine broke ground for an $8 million facility that will house W² — the world’s first wind and wave lab to feature a rotating open-jet wind tunnel above a 100-foot-long by 30-foot-wide by 15-foot-deep wave basin.
Waves and wind can be created from different directions converging at a point and creating a perfect storm. The W² facility is an expansion of the UMaine Composites Center, which will increase in size from 83,000 square feet to 100,000 square feet.
“Our current 83,000-square-foot laboratory is used to design, fabricate and test large structures under simulated static, fatigue, earthquake, wind and vehicular loads, and has been doing so for clients around the world for nearly 18 years,” says Habib Dagher, professor of civil/structural engineering, Bath Iron Works Professor of Structural Engineering and founding director of the UMaine Composites Center.
“With the W² facility, we are adding more capabilities to test advanced structures under combined aero- and hydrodynamics loadings.”
UMaine and its partners — including students, MMA engineer Rich Kimball and industrial colleagues — will be able to assume the role of Mother Nature in the wind-wave generating lab.
A wave maker at one end of the basin will be capable of creating waves of varying frequency and as high as 2 feet. The rotating open-wind jet tunnel will produce wind that howls as fast as 22 mph and that can be manipulated to change direction. Scientists also will be able to move the basin’s concrete floor up and down to model a variety of ocean depths.
Picture scenes from The Perfect Storm and The Truman Show.
But rather than stage movie scenes, W² will allow researchers to physically replicate a myriad of realistic, to-scale ocean conditions — in the Gulf of Maine, Gulf of California, Gulf of Mexico, Canada’s eastern seaboard, the North Sea and the Persian Gulf.
“This is a huge opportunity. It’s a landmark,” says Dagher.
Offshore wind turbines, tidal energy devices, seafaring vessels and oil and gas rigs will be able to be tested under a variety of wind and wave conditions. By directly observing structures’ performances, researchers can expect to improve the structures’ respective designs.
“Wind squall, where winds change direction and intensity rapidly, is an important design condition for many ship-shaped structures producing oil and gas in various parts of the world. We can simulate such an environment in W²,” says Krish Thiagarajan, Correll Presidential Chair in Energy and professor of mechanical engineering at UMaine.
And, a beach at one end of the wave basin will enable coastal engineers to study erosion, seawalls, breakwaters, and the impact of sea-level rise on communities. The facility, says Dagher, could also be geared for aquaculture structures research.
For Dagher, Thiagarajan and fellow engineers in the UMaine Composites Center, including Andrew Goupee and Qinping Zou, W² will be an integral addition to the adjacent University of Maine Offshore Wind Laboratory.
There, UMaine scientists are developing commercial technologies to harness power from deepwater offshore wind. In May 2013, UMaine and its partners launched VolturnUs 1:8, the nation’s first grid-connected offshore wind turbine.
The 65-foot-tall semisubmersible floating turbine has a foundation of hollow concrete tubes, catenary mooring lines and a composite materials tower. During its approximate yearlong mooring off the coast of Castine, it collected valuable data to advance its design and performance. VolturnUS 1:8 is a scale prototype for a 6-megawatt floating wind turbine with blades the length of a Boeing 747′s wingspan.
W², says Dagher, will further enable UMaine scientists to research how offshore wind can be cost-effectively harnessed. Studies indicate offshore wind energy capacity within 50 miles of the United States is four times the nation’s current total generation capacity.
Company leaders from a variety of fields surveyed around the country have expressed interest in advancing their respective technologies at the laboratory, says Dagher.
They’ll have to be patient, though.
UMaine is scheduled for the first project when the world-class physical modeling environment is complete in May 2015 — testing a vertical-axis floating wind turbine.
W² was designed and is being built in conjunction with partners Sandia National Laboratories, National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) and MMA.
Cianbro Corp. is constructing the facility and Tom Perkins of Dirigo Architectural Engineering LLC in Turner is project manager.
The $8 million investment to design, construct and equip the W² facility was secured from outside the university, including successful grant proposals from the National Science Foundation Major Research Instrumentation program and the Department of Commerce Economic Development Administration.
“It was a dream that we have been working hard to design and finance for six years, and now it’s being built; I cannot wait to see industry and students using it,” Dagher says.
Contact: Beth Staples, 207.581.3777
The Southern Ocean that encircles Antarctica lends a considerable hand in keeping Earth’s temperature hospitable by soaking up half of the human-made carbon in the atmosphere and a majority of the planet’s excess heat.
Yet, the inner workings — and global importance — of this ocean that accounts for 30 percent of the world’s ocean area remain relatively unknown to scientists, as dangerous seas have hindered observations.
Princeton University and 10 partner institutions seek to make the Southern Ocean better known scientifically and publicly through a $21 million program that will create a biogeochemical and physical portrait of the ocean using hundreds of robotic floats deployed around Antarctica.
In addition, NASA awarded $600,000 to the University of Maine, in collaboration with Rutgers University and scientists from the above project, for a complementary project that equips the floats with bio-optical sensors that gather data about biological processes in the water column.
UMaine oceanographer Emmanuel Boss, an expert in marine optics and in the use of optical sensors to study ocean biogeochemistry, is leading the companion project.
The Southern Ocean Carbon and Climate Observations and Modeling program, or SOCCOM, is a six-year initiative headquartered at Princeton and funded by the National Science Foundation’s Division of Polar Programs, with additional support from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and NASA.
“SOCCOM will enable top scientists from institutions around the country to work together on Southern Ocean research in ways that would not otherwise be possible,” says SOCCOM director Jorge Sarmiento, Princeton’s George J. Magee Professor of Geoscience and Geological Engineering and director of the Program in Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences.
“The scarcity of observations in the Southern Ocean and inadequacy of earlier models, combined with its importance to the Earth’s carbon and climate systems, mean there is tremendous potential for groundbreaking research in this region,” Sarmiento says.
About 200 floats outfitted with biogeochemical sensors that provide near-continuous information related to the ocean’s carbon, nutrient (nitrate, in particular) and oxygen content, both at and deep beneath the surface, are central to the study.
The floats are augmented biogeochemical versions of the nearly 4,000 Argo floats deployed worldwide to measure ocean salinity and temperature. SOCCOM marks the first large-scale deployment of these biogeochemical floats.
“These floats are revolutionary and this major new observational initiative will give us unprecedented year-round coverage of biogeochemistry in the Southern Ocean,” Sarmiento says.
The floats will increase the monthly data currently coming out of the Southern Ocean by 10 to 30 times, Sarmiento says.
The data will be used to improve recently developed high-resolution earth-system models, which will advance understanding of the Southern Ocean and allow for projections of Earth’s climate and biogeochemical trajectory.
Boss says the additional optical sensors measure backscattering of light, which provides information about particles — including bacteria and phytoplankton in the water — and measure chlorophyll fluorescence — a pigment unique to phytoplankton.
The information will help NASA verify data that its satellites glean daily, extend the product to depth, and help improve currently used algorithms.
In keeping with SOCCOM’s knowledge sharing, or “broader impacts,” component, all the information collected will be freely available to the public, researchers and industry.
SOCCOM will provide direct observations to further understand the importance of the Southern Ocean as suggested by models and ocean studies. Aside from carbon and heat uptake, models have indicated the Southern Ocean delivers nutrients to lower-latitude surface waters that are critical to ocean ecosystems around the world.
In addition, the impacts of ocean acidification as levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere increase are projected to be most severe in the Southern Ocean.
Boss says the Southern Ocean — the second smallest of the planet’s five primary oceans — has a disproportionate role in climate regulation. Carbon stored deep in the ocean comes to the surface here and some is released into the atmosphere — however, given the increase in atmospheric CO2 in past decades, much less is released than would be expected.
He says there is still much to learn about this ocean’s significant role in climate regulation.
“It’s a hard area to study,” Boss says of the ocean that encircles Antarctica. “Because there are no barriers, the current is extremely strong. It has some of the roughest seas in the world.”
Other than administering the project, Sarmiento and other Princeton researchers will co-lead the modeling and broader impacts components, as well as coordinated data management. Researchers from NOAA’s Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory housed on Princeton’s Forrestal Campus will carry out high-resolution earth-system simulations in support of the modeling effort, which is led by the University of Arizona and includes collaborators from the University of Miami.
The floats will be constructed at the University of Washington with sensors from the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute; NOAA’s Climate Program Office will provide half of the basic Argo floats. Float deployment, observation analysis and data assimilation will be led by the Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the University of California-San Diego. Climate Central, a nonprofit science and journalism organization based in Princeton, will oversee the broader-impacts component. Researchers from Oregon State University and NOAA will develop the floats’ carbon algorithms.
Contact: Beth Staples, 207.581.3777
The Bangor Daily News spoke with Rhian Waller, an associate research professor at the University of Maine’s School of Marine Sciences, for an article about scientists discovering “spectacular” formations of deep sea corals in the Gulf of Maine. Waller was part of a team of researchers that used a remotely controlled submersible vehicle this summer to find “dense hanging gardens” of coral in the Schoodic Ridges region of the Gulf, according to the article. “It was a great find for us,” Waller said. “We did not expect to find such large colonies.” She said documenting the extent and location of coral is scientifically important because coral often serves as habitat for other marine species that are environmentally and economically significant.
MyNorthwest.com reported Seattle’s Burke Museum would like to bring a native mask to town that may be the inspiration of the original team logo for the NFL’s Seattle Seahawks. The artifact is part of the William P. Palmer III collection at the University of Maine’s Hudson Museum. The wooden Northwest Coast transformation mask depicts a bird of prey when closed and reveals a painted depiction of a human face when opened. According to the article, the Hudson Museum has agreed to lend the mask to the Seattle museum. To get the mask to Seattle, the Burke Museum launched a fundraising campaign seeking $7,500 to pay for costs associated with shipping.
The Associated Press cited statistics from the Lobster Institute at the University of Maine for an article about a Bethel, Maine bait and tackle shop owner who found a calico-colored lobster. The woman said the crustacean, which is covered in orange blotches, appeared in a crate of lobsters brought from the Pemaquid Lobster Co-op in Bristol last weekend. According to the Lobster Institute, the odds of finding a calico lobster are about one in 30 million. The lobster, named Freckles, will be donated to the Maine State Aquarium in West Boothbay Harbor, the report states. The Maine Public Broadcasting Network, Portland Press Herald, Salon, U-T San Diego and Fox News carried the AP report.
Henry Garfield, an adjunct professor in the University of Maine’s English Department, wrote an article for Bangor Metro about the evolution of online learning and today’s virtual classroom. Garfield quoted several UMaine community members, including Andrei Strukov, director of the Faculty Development Center; Gail Garthwait, an associate professor of instructional technology; Duane Shimmel, a faculty technology consultant; and Nate Swan, an undergraduate majoring in computer science. Garthwait said she thinks students work harder in online classes. “The work is out there for everyone to see, and nobody can hide in the back of the room,” she said. Swan said he can’t imagine taking a course like thermodynamics online. “Unless there’s a face-to-face media component, you don’t learn nearly as much in an online class,” he said.
Mark Brewer, a political science professor at the University of Maine, was quoted in a Portland Press Herald article titled, “Candidates to get more TV time as November elections draw near.” Brewer said that so far, the content of the ads has followed a predictable pattern for a gubernatorial election. “Everything I’ve seen has been relatively well done, which is not surprising given the dynamics of the race,” Brewer said. “Generally the arc of campaign ads is, you see the positive, warm-and-fuzzy stuff at the beginning. As we get closer, there will likely be more specifics in ads and also more attacks, because negative still works.” Brewer also spoke about the importance of keeping positive ads within a candidate’s campaign and letting others, such as political action committees, handle the negative ads.
A free training workshop for women interested in political campaigns who want to sharpen leadership skills will be held Saturday, Sept. 27 at Wells Conference Center on the University of Maine campus.
Elect Her — Campus Women Win participants will learn leadership skills and basics of running a successful student government campaign, as well as meet local campaign winners.
The event, which runs from 10:30 a.m. to 4 p.m., is co-hosted by UMaine, the American Association of University Women (AAUW) and Running Start. Complementary breakfast, lunch and refreshments will be served.
The Maine Public Broadcasting Network spoke with George Markowsky, a computer science professor at the University of Maine, for the report, “Advocates: Maine bringing up the rear in digital services race.” Markowsky said he remembers when Maine was a leader in building Internet access across the country, but today, he says, “We are dead last in the United States.” Markowsky said the state’s political leaders must develop public-private partnerships to build out a fiber network that reaches all types of businesses and individuals.
WVII (Channel 7) reported the University of Maine chapter of the Gamma Sigma Sigma service sorority is taking part in a challenge throughout September to help raise awareness of childhood cancer and funds to support related research. The sorority is a supporter of Alex’s Million Mile, a campaign based from the Pennsylvania nonprofit, Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation. ALSF began was formed after 4-year-old cancer patient Alexandra “Alex” Scott announced she wanted to hold a lemonade stand to raise money to help find a cure for all children with cancer, according to the foundation’s website. After her passing in 2004, the Million Mile challenge was formed. “The idea is that the parent of a child with cancer will go a million miles for their child,” said Jessica Moore, a UMaine student and Gamma Sigma Sigma member. “We’re trying to gather that type of support.”
Mark Brewer, a political science professor at the University of Maine, was quoted in a Bangor Daily News analysis titled, “Will person-to-person Maine politics be the next victim of secret smartphone recordings?” The article focused on recent reports about a secret recording of Democratic Sen. Geoffrey Gratwick of Bangor that was made while he was campaigning door-to-door. The recording, which was circulated by the Maine Republican Party, has Gratwick voicing support for independent gubernatorial candidate Eliot Cutler and questioning the intelligence of Democratic nominee Mike Michaud, according to the article. “You would assume at some point that politicians and other public figures are going to learn that in today’s technological age, that virtually anything you do or say has the possibility of showing up on YouTube,” Brewer said. Sun Journal also carried the BDN report.
The Margaret Chase Smith Public Affairs Scholarships for 2014–2015 have been awarded to two University of Maine undergraduates pursuing independent research.
Joshua Paredes, a marketing major from Bangor, Maine, will study the effectiveness of public health marketing strategies for hazing prevention. He will work with the National Collaborative for Hazing Research and Prevention.
Jesse Clark, a political science major from Calais, Maine, will use computer modeling to explore the impact of gerrymandering for his project titled “Determining an Expected House Majority Using Pattern Analysis.” He will work with UMaine political science and spatial information science and engineering researchers.
The scholarships are awarded annually for independent undergraduate research on a topic of public policy relevance. Students in all majors are eligible. Sen. Margaret Chase Smith’s abiding belief was that real progress would be attained through the education of young people. In honor of Sen. Smith’s many years of service to the citizens of Maine and to the nation, this scholarship provides assistance to undergraduates who have demonstrated an active interest in public affairs and who show promise for future leadership in, and contribution to, public affairs.
More information is online.