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University of Maine News
News from the University of Maine
Updated: 14 hours 50 min ago
The Portland Press Herald published a review of a book written by Richard Judd, a University of Maine history professor. The review examines Judd’s book, “Second Nature: An Environmental History of New England.” According to the review, Judd’s subject has been historically addressed from two points of view — either the environment determines the culture of those living in it or the culture of those living in it negatively affects the environment. “I resolved to combine these approaches by describing nature and culture not as antagonistic or even as dialectical, but essentially as an ecological whole: a bioregion,” Judd wrote.
The University of Maine Cooperative Extension was mentioned in an article published in The Guardian about Northern Girl, an Aroostook County company that processes the area’s surplus of organic crops. According to the article, one of the company’s founders said Northern Girl can now process about 1 million pounds of produce in the six to seven months following the August harvest. The company continues to work with UMaine Extension to learn the best way to store and preserve produce to enable year-round operations, the article states.
The University of Maine Graduate School will host a Graduate and Professional Programs Open House from 4–6 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 29 in Stodder Hall, Room 42.
Those interested in pursuing a graduate education at UMaine are encouraged to attend.
The school offers doctorate degrees in 30 areas of study and a master’s degree can be earned in more than 75 areas, ranging from the arts, sciences and engineering, to professional degrees in the fields of business, education, nursing, communication sciences and disorders, global policy and social work.
The open house will include refreshments and raffle giveaways.
National Geographic, Live Science, NBC News, Wall Street Journal, Reuters, Newsweek, Daily Mail and The Boston Globe were among several news organizations that reported on a study published in Science that was led by Kurt Rademaker, a University of Maine visiting assistant professor in anthropology who received his Ph.D. from UMaine in 2012 and is now a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Tübingen. In the southern Peruvian Andes, Rademaker and his archaeological team documented the highest altitude ice age human occupation anywhere in the world — nearly 4,500 meters above sea level. Their discoveries date high-altitude human habitation nearly a millennium earlier than previously documented. UMaine researchers Gordon Bromley and Daniel Sandweiss also were members of the team. Discovery News, U.S. News & World Report, The Christian Science Monitor, CBC News and Popular Archaeology also reported on the study.
The Bangor Daily News reported the Municipal Review Committee (MRC), an organization that represents the trash interests of 187 Maine towns, is partnering with the University of Maine to research if new garbage-to-energy technology will work in Maine. The MRC board agreed to hire a team from UMaine’s Forest Bioproducts Research Institute (FBRI) led by Hemant Pendse, a UMaine professor who leads the FBRI research team focused on creating and commercializing new bioproducts. The team will study the operations of Fiberight, a Maryland company, to determine if its “Trashanol” technology that distills municipal solid waste into ethanol, biogas or compressed natural gas will work in Maine, according to the article. The study is expected to start around Nov. 1, and the MRC would like to have a completed report before the annual meeting in January, the article states.
Kyriacos Markides, a sociology professor at the University of Maine, was interviewed about “spiritual healers and the Western world’s blind eye on health” for the podcast “Not Just Paleo: Making Health and Happiness a Breeze.”
The Missoulian reported Jennifer Moxley, an English professor at the University of Maine, will visit the University of Montana on Friday, Oct. 24 to read her poetry. Moxley’s appearance is part of the university’s fall 2014 UM Creative Writing Program President’s Writers-in-Residence Series. Moxley is the author of five books of poetry, as well as a book of essays and a memoir. She also has translated three books from French.
The Combined Charitable Appeal for University Employees (CCAUE) will kick off the 2014 campaign from 10:30 to 11:30 a.m. Wednesday, Oct. 29 in the McIntire Room of the Buchanan Alumni House.
This year’s CCAUE campaign will accept online contributions from Nov. 1–23. Online contributions may be made by payroll deduction, debit or credit card, or by mailing the printed form with a check to Kathleen McIntyre, UMaine’s 2014 campaign chair.
Donations using the paper 2014 contribution form, available from the campaign chair or committee member, will be accepted through Dec. 31.
CCAUE also is hosting Learn at Lunch sessions from noon to 1 p.m. in the Bangor Room of the Memorial Union throughout November. Guests are encouraged to bring a lunch and will earn 20 RiseUP Wellness Points by hearing from agencies listed in the CCAUE Donor’s Guide.
Scheduled CCAUE Learn at Lunch sessions (subject to change due to availability of agencies):
- Monday, Nov. 3 — Senior citizens
- Friday, Nov. 7 — Animals and environment
- Tuesday, Nov. 11 — Veterans, peace and literacy
- Wednesday, Nov. 19 — Women and children
- Friday, Nov. 21 — Health matters
- Tuesday, Nov. 25 — Grassroots and gardening
Donations of nonperishable food items or gently used clothing to benefit the Black Bear Exchange food pantry will enter guests into a drawing to win a donated door prize at each session.
Oceanographers, water-quality experts and satellite remote-sensing scientists from around the world will shine light on developments in ocean optics and their application to environmental issues at a conference Oct. 25–31 in Portland, Maine.
Mary Jane Perry, interim director of the University of Maine Darling Marine Center in Walpole, is co-chair of the conference, Ocean Optics XXII, being held at Holiday Inn by the Bay.
“The conference gives optical ocean scientists from all over the world an opportunity to meet every two years to share ideas and exchange techniques,” says Perry. “Such communication among professionals and students is key to advancing science and developing new ways to use optics to solve ocean problems.”
Conference co-chair Steven Ackleson, oceanographer at the United States Naval Research Laboratory in Washington D.C., agrees.
“Optical observations of oceans on Earth are imperative,” he says. Many core environmental issues related to climate change — the carbon budget, harmful algal blooms, environmental-based management and human health and recreation — “require knowledge of how light interacts with the marine environment, the ability to monitor conditions in near real time and the capability to predict future conditions.”
Attendees from 38 countries can attend eight plenary sessions, including one led by Don Perovich of Thayer School of Engineering in Hanover, New Hampshire, who will discuss “Sunlight and Sea Ice in a Changing Arctic.”
There also will be nearly 50 shorter discussions and more than 200 posters presented on a variety of topics involving ocean optics.
UMaine researchers and graduate students are well represented. Perry, UMaine marine scientist Ivona Cetinic, and UMaine graduate Wayne Slade are reporting on their work this past summer in the Gulf of Maine that combined ship, aircraft and satellite measurements to monitor phytoplankton species. They also will report on another summer field project that used robots to study the distribution of phytoplankton under the ice in the Arctic Ocean.
UMaine professors Emmanuel Boss and Fei Chai, and graduate students Nathan Briggs and Alison Chase are also among the conference presenters.
In addition to the scientific presentations, author Robert McKenna will give a talk titled “Smuggling at Sea During Prohibition: The Real McCoy, the Bootleg Queen, Rum Row and the Origin of the U.S. Coast Guard.”
To view the complete agenda, visit, tos.org/oceanopticsconference/welcome.html.
Contact: Beth Staples, 207.581.3777
In the southern Peruvian Andes, an archaeological team led by researchers at the University of Maine has documented the highest altitude ice age human occupation anywhere in the world — nearly 4,500 meters above sea level (masl).
Their discoveries date high-altitude human habitation nearly a millennium earlier than previously documented.
Despite cold temperatures, high solar radiation and low oxygen conditions at that altitude, hunter-gatherers colonized the remote, treeless landscapes about 12,000 years ago during the terminal Pleistocene — within 2,000 years after humans arrived in South America.
“Study of human adaptation to extreme environments is important in understanding our cultural and genetic capacity for survival,” according to the research team, led by Kurt Rademaker, a University of Maine visiting assistant professor in anthropology, writing in the journal Science.
The Pucuncho archaeological site, 4,355 masl, included 260 formal tools, such as projectile points, nondiagnostic bifaces and unifacial scrapers up to 12,800 years old. Cuncaicha rockshelter, featuring two alcoves at 4,480 masl, contains a “robust, well-preserved and well-dated occupation sequence” up to 12,400 years old. The rockshelter, with views of wetland and grassland habitats, features sooted ceilings and rock art, and was likely a base camp.
Most of the lithic tools at Cuncaicha were made from locally available obsidian, andesite and jasper, and are indicative of hunting and butchering consistent with limited subsistence options on the plateau, according to the researchers. In addition to plant remains, bones at the site indicate hunting of vicuña and guanaco camelids and the taruca deer.
Pucuncho Basin was a high-altitude oasis for specialized hunting, particularly of vicuña, and later, herding of domesticated alpacas and llamas. While the Pucuncho Basin could have sustained year-round residence, wet-season storms and the dangers of hypothermia, as well as the need to maintain extended social networks and collection of edible plants, may have encouraged regular descents, according to the research team.
In addition, the lithic tools and debitage included nonlocal, fine-grained rocks — some stream-polished. That would have required the plateau residents to visit high-energy rivers in the lower elevations.
It is unclear whether the high-altitude human settlement required genetic or environmental adaptations. But with evidence of high-altitude human habitation almost 900 years earlier than previously documented, the implication is that there may have been more moderate late-glacial Andean environments and greater physiological capabilities for Pleistocene humans.
“The Pucuncho Basin sites suggest that Pleistocene humans lived successfully at extreme high altitude, initiating organismal selection, developmental functional adaptations and lasting biogeographic expansion in the Andes,” write the researchers. “As new studies identify potential genetic signatures of high-altitude adaptation in modern Andean populations, comparative genomic, physiologic and archaeological research will be needed to understand when and how these adaptations evolved.”
In addition to Rademaker, who received his Ph.D. from UMaine in 2012 and is now a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Tübingen, the research team members are: Gregory Hodgins, University of Arizona; Katherine Moore, University of Pennsylvania; Sonia Zarrillo, University of Calgary; Christopher Miller, University of Tübingen; Peter Leach, University of Connecticut; David Reid, University of Illinois-Chicago; Willy Yépez Álvarez, Peru; and Gordon Bromley and Daniel Sandweiss, University of Maine.
The team’s research was supported by the Dan and Betty Churchill Exploration Fund at the University of Maine, the National Geographic Society/Waitt Grants Program, and the National Science Foundation.
Contact: Margaret Nagle, 207.581.3745
Vivian Chi-Hua Wu, professor of food science and human nutrition at the University of Maine, is featured in a blog “Wild Blueberries Making a Name for Themselves in China” on the Wild Blueberry Association of North America website.
Wu, who grew up in Taiwan, says she enjoys introducing people in China to the health benefits of wild blueberries, and since 2009, she has worked with the Wild Blueberry Association of North America to do promotional tours in China and introduce chefs and foodservice buyers there to wild blueberries.
Wu has researched antimicrobial properties of wild blueberries and how wild blueberries maintain gut health. Her recent research, which she anticipates will be published soon, indicates phytochemicals in wild blueberries can fight Norovirus. The contagious virus causes a person’s stomach and/or intestines to become inflamed. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Norovirus leads to the hospitalization of as many as 70,000 people annually in the United States and causes the death of approximately 800.
USA Today cited statistics from the Lobster Institute at the University of Maine for a report about a fisherman who caught the same rare calico lobster twice. Lobster Institute oceanographers estimate the odds of finding a calico lobster at 1 in 30 million, the same as for a solid yellow lobster, the report states.
Blackstone Accelerates Growth (BxG) was mentioned in a Portland Press Herald article about a group of 10 Maine entrepreneurs and community organizers who will attend the PopTech innovation conference in Camden. The annual event is held to gather an elite group of innovators and entrepreneurs from around the world to discuss the impact that technology has on society and how it can be used to solve the world’s most pressing problems, according to the article. This year, a group of Mainers selected by BxG will attend to direct energy and expertise toward solving some of Maine’s social and economic challenges, the article states. BxG is committed to building a community of entrepreneurs and innovators throughout Maine by providing advisory services, investment funds, entrepreneurial coaching and support through partnerships with the University of Maine, Maine Technology Institute and Maine Center for Entrepreneurial Development (MCED).
Mark Brewer, a political science professor at the University of Maine, was quoted in a Maine Public Broadcasting Network report on independent gubernatorial candidate Eliot Cutler winning the endorsement of the Bangor Daily News. Brewer spoke about the importance of newspaper endorsements today. “I think that newspaper endorsements do still matter — maybe not to all voters, but I think particularly for voters who may be undecided in a particular race or on a particular ballot question,” he said.
Understanding how different materials react to high heat with sometimes surprising results is the focus of a hands-on University of Maine 4-H Science Saturday workshop Nov. 22 at UMaine’s Engineering Science Research Center, Barrows Hall.
Youth in grades six through eight will learn about technological uses of high-temperature materials by creating a piece of glass bead and wire jewelry to take home. Participants will also learn about research activities during the event from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at UMaine’s Laboratory for Surface Science and Technology.
The $15 fee includes lunch. Registration materials are available online. Maximum enrollment is 20; Nov. 14 is the deadline to register. For more information, or to request a disability accommodation, call Jessica Brainerd at 207.581.3877.
The University of Maine Standardbred Drill Team invites the campus community and public to the annual Trick or Trot from 5 to 7 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 26, at UMaine’s Witter Farm, 160 University Road in Old Town. The event will include a costume contest, games, baked goods and an opportunity to meet and have photos taken with the farm’s horses. Proceeds will benefit the UMaine Standardbred Drill Team. For more information or to request a disability accommodation, email Kathleen Harvey at email@example.com.
University of Maine President Susan Hunter has appointed Dr. Jeffrey Hecker to fill the position of Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost on an ongoing basis.
Last August, Hecker was appointed to the position for a two-year term.
The ongoing appointment culminates an internal search conducted over the past several weeks to evaluate candidate materials and provide opportunities for the UMaine community to participate in this search. Following a daylong interview Sept. 26 and after evaluating feedback from members of the UMaine community, the search committee recommended Dr. Hecker’s appointment to President Hunter.
“Dr. Hecker is an outstanding candidate, and is poised to lead UMaine in a capable and thoughtful manner,” said President Hunter. “Dr. Hecker has had demonstrated success in working to achieve UMaine’s tripartite mission not only as Provost during the past academic year, but as Dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, and as a faculty member in the Department of Psychology. He has an outstanding record of achievement in his academic discipline, as well as in all administrative positions he has held.
“Dr. Hecker is highly regarded by this community and by all of UMaine’s constituencies. He will continue to work diligently and lead UMaine in fulfilling its student centered-mission as well as ensure that UMaine remains a top-100 research university. I am delighted to continue working with him in his capacity as Provost,” President Hunter said.
Hecker received his Ph.D. in clinical psychology from UMaine in 1986 after earning the B.S. degree (Phi Beta Kappa) in liberal arts and sciences (psychology) from the University of Illinois. He joined the UMaine faculty in 1986 as director of the Psychological Services Center, the training clinic for UMaine’s doctoral program in clinical psychology.
Dr. Hecker is a clinical researcher whose work focuses on understanding and treating anxiety, and more recently on risk assessment for people who have committed sexual offenses, including adolescents. He is the author of two books and scores of journal articles and presentations. A licensed clinical psychologist, Dr. Hecker has extensive experience in providing research and clinical consultation to the Maine Department of Corrections, Division of Juvenile Services; and as a mental health consultant for the Penobscot Job Corps Center and Penquis CAP Head Start, both in Bangor.
He advanced through the academic ranks to professor of psychology, chairing the Department of Psychology from 2002–07. In 2007, he was named interim dean and, a year later, dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.
Dr. Hecker has been honored during his distinguished service to the university, community and profession, with recognition including the 2006 University of Maine College of Liberal Arts and Sciences Outstanding Faculty Award for service and outreach, and the 1994 Maine Psychological Association Award for Outstanding Academic Contributions to Psychology.
Contact: Margaret Nagle, 207.581.3745
The Bangor Daily News reported the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has awarded almost $1 million to Maine to help pay for gathering data on violent deaths using the National Violent Death Reporting System over the next five years. The grant will allow the state to compile information about the relationships between domestic abuse, homicide and suicide, according to the article. The data will supplement the work of groups such as the Domestic Abuse Homicide Review Panel, which examines domestic abuse homicides to understand how the deaths can be prevented. Marcella Sorg, a forensic anthropologist for the state and a research professor at the University of Maine, is leading the effort with Margaret Greenwald, the recently retired chief medical examiner. The two doctors previously analyzed drug death statistics, and their work has been nationally recognized and has provided information to guide Maine drug policy decisions, the article states. WABI (Channel 5) also reported on the study.
Mark Brewer, a political science professor at the University of Maine, was quoted in the Bangor Daily News article, “With re-election bid seemingly secure, Pingree devotes attention — and cash — to electing other Democrats,” about incumbent U.S. Rep. Chellie Pingree and the 1st Congressional District race. Pingree is being challenged by political newcomers Isaac Misiuk, a Republican from Gorham, and Sanford independent Richard Murphy. “She has two challengers, but the reality is she’s unchallenged — there’s no way she’s not going to win,” Brewer said. “Especially when you have somebody who aspires to a leadership position, which everybody basically knows Pingree does, it’s common for them to spread the money around to other candidates and call those favors in later.”
Stacy R. Knapp, a Ph.D. candidate at the University of Maine and adjunct faculty instructor at Maine Maritime Academy in Castine, wrote an opinion piece for The Working Waterfront, about current research to measure the amounts of microplastics in the Gulf of Maine.