University of Maine News
David Handley, a University of Maine Cooperative Extension specialist of vegetables and small fruits at UMaine’s Highmoor Farm in Monmouth, was interviewed for a Portland Press Herald article about this year’s strawberry season. Handley said conditions have been ideal starting last fall and continuing through this week, when many farms in the Augusta area are opening for picking. He said the last two years the crop has come in early, but this year is a more normal ripening schedule. He said he expects the best strawberry crop Maine has had in three or four years.
The Bangor Daily News reported on two studies conducted by researchers at the University of Maine’s Sustainability Solutions Initiative (SSI) on women’s knowledge of the dangers and health benefits of eating fish while pregnant. The researchers found pregnant women are learning how to safely eat fish after early warnings about the dangers turned many off from eating it entirely. The first study determined that a Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention advisory led women to decrease their consumption of fish, while a follow-up study found a new advisory led to a healthier, more balanced approach to fish consumption. Mario Teisl, an economics professor at UMaine, will discuss study results at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s 2014 National Forum on Contaminants in Fish in September.
James Breece, an economics professor at the University of Maine who is a member of the Bureau of Economic Analysis advisory group, was interviewed for a Portland Press Herald article about a statement issued by Gov. Paul LePage that equated Social Security with welfare, and his following clarification of the statement. LePage criticized the newspaper for making an “erroneous interpretation” of a media release from his office that dealt with a report from the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis, according to the article. Breece said it’s not unheard of for people to pick apart components of the bureau’s personal income reports for political or other purposes, and a narrow focus offers perspective on how commerce, industry and governments are doing, as reflected in the pay that employees are receiving.
Including other figures compiled by the bureau provides a fuller picture of what “drives the economy,” the article states.
Steve Coghlan, an associate professor of freshwater fisheries at the University of Maine, was mentioned in a Morning Sentinel article about the Maine Trout Unlimited Trout Camp in Solon. The weeklong camp is sponsored by Trout Unlimited, a national organization that works to conserve coldwater fisheries. Throughout the camp participants fish, learn to tie flies and cast, and study the ecosystem and biology of the Kennebec River. Coghlan is a camp instructor who teaches the students about seine fishing, a method of capturing fish using a large net that usually works best on lakes and ponds or slow-moving water. Coghlan said the camp is mostly about getting students to think about sustainability and the human impact on ecology. “Many popular fisheries, not necessarily this one, but many, are collapsing because they are harvested unsustainably,” Coghlan told campers. “That’s something that you guys coming into this world are going to have to deal with. It’s up to you to think sustainably, to think are we living sustainably and can we sustain ourselves.”
The Bangor Daily News, Portland Press Herald, WVII (Channel 7), WLBZ (Channel 2) and WABI (Channel 5) reported on comments made during a Bangor Region Chamber of Commerce meeting by Susan Hunter, who will take office as the new University of Maine president on July 7. Hunter said UMaine has many research and development projects that are a resource to the state. “In spite of challenges, there are wonderful things happening at UMaine and the sister campuses,” she said. She added she plans to visit with the presidents of each campus to figure out how UMaine can better support them. University of Maine System Chancellor James Page also spoke at the meeting.
The Bangor Daily News and WABI (Channel 5) reported on the 20th annual Maine Child Welfare Conference held at the University of Maine. Child welfare professionals gathered at the conference to learn about potential risk factors affecting the well-being of children. This year’s conference was focused on teaching child protection caseworkers, nurses, social workers, students and mental health professionals how to recognize the signs of mental illness in a parent and if it leads to child abuse.
Monique LaRocque, executive director of Division of Professional and Continuing Education at the University of Southern Maine, has been named University of Maine associate provost for the Division of Lifelong Learning (DLL), effective July 1.
LaRocque replaces Lucille Zeph, who resigned as associate provost and DLL dean to allow her to focus solely on her duties as director of the Center for Community Inclusion and Disability Studies at UMaine. For the past three years, Zeph had held both positions.
“Monique has a unique set of skills and experiences that match extremely well with UMaine’s needs at this time,” says Jeffrey Hecker, executive vice president for academic affairs and provost. “Online courses, certificates and degree programs are growing pieces of the UMaine academic portfolio. Monique will lead our efforts to grow this portfolio intelligently, ensuring that our offerings match the needs of Maine and beyond, and are delivered with the highest quality.”
At UMaine, LaRocque will help develop online program offerings, particularly at the graduate level, and establish a team to support faculty developing online courses using state-of-the-art pedagogies. LaRocque also will lead the growth of UMaine’s Summer University.
LaRocque joined USM in 2004 as director of summer and winter session, and international programming. She served as associate dean of academic outreach from 2006–10, then as executive director of the Division of Professional and Continuing Education. Prior to joining USM, LaRocque served as assistant dean of academic affairs and director of winter term at DePauw University from 2001–04. She also has held positions at Butler University and Westbrook College.
LaRocque holds a Ph.D. and a master’s degree in comparative literature from Indiana University, and a second master’s in French from Middlebury College School in Paris, France.
Noah Binette of Berwick, Maine, won first place in the individual exhibit category at the National History Day Competition in June. Binette was one of 47 students representing Maine at the contest held at the University of Maryland in College Park.
The rising sophomore at Noble High School, won the senior individual exhibit division for his presentation on Malaga Island. In April, Binette also won at Maine’s National History Day competition held at the University of Maine.
A new partnership between UMaine and the Margaret Chase Smith Library, with support from the Maine Humanities Council and the Maine Historical Society, brought the event for students in grades 6–12 to the UMaine campus for the first time since the national program began in 1980.
“Our first year of coordinating National History Day in Maine has been successful for many reasons, and Binette’s win demonstrates the strides we have made in organizing this program,” said John Taylor, Maine National History Day State Coordinator and museum assistant at the Margaret Chase Smith Library. “We look forward to building upon this success as we prepare for the 2015 season.”
The Bangor Daily News covered a Penobscot River rafting trip by University of Maine researchers and students who are noting changes in the waterway by using sonar technology to study the riverbed. “Primarily, we’re interested in the structure of the bottom of the Penobscot River and the changes to that bottom as a result of everything that’s gone on, including human interventions, floods, dam removals and all the other things that have been a part of the history of the river in the last 200 years,” said Sean Smith, an assistant professor at UMaine’s School of Earth and Climate Sciences. He added rivers can’t be managed effectively unless people know how they work and respond to different influences. Gayle Zydlewski, an associate professor at UMaine’s School of Marine Science who studies sturgeon, was also part of the expedition. “Sturgeon would get as far as the Milford Dam, and when the dams went in, they were blocked,” Zydlewski said, adding she wants to know if the fish will use the area and if their population will change now that the dam has been removed.
The Maine Public Broadcasting Network spoke with Timothy Waring, an assistant professor of social-ecological systems modeling at the University of Maine, about a consumer survey on local foods. The survey was conducted by Waring and other researchers at the Maine Food Strategy. The survey found Mainers are going out of their way to buy more local produce and seafood. More than a third of people surveyed said they purchased up to a quarter of their food from local sources. Ninety percent said that freshness, flavor and nutrition were their main reasons for seeking out locally raised food. “They’re also eager to do it to support local farmers, so people are doing it out of some sense of commitment to the people who are raising the food,” Waring said.
A Bangor Daily News editorial titled “Keeping up with Maine’s changing climate” cited several University of Maine initiatives that aim to mitigate the effects of extreme weather. The editorial mentioned the Maine Futures Community Mapper, an online tool developed by Maine’s Sustainability Solutions Initiative (SSI) that allows people to see the best locations for development, conservation, agriculture or forestry in Maine, and then shows what future landscapes would look like under different scenarios. Research being conducted by SSI with coastal communities to update stormwater plans and identify problem culverts, as well as a bill sponsored by Rep. Mick Devin, a researcher and shellfish hatchery manager at UMaine’s Darling Marine Center, that will establish a commission to study ocean acidification and how it affects the harvest of shellfish were also mentioned. UMaine’s Climate Change Institute was cited as “one organization with the expertise to guide community leaders in their climate adaptation and sustainability plans.” The CCI will host a workshop at the Wells Conference Center on Oct. 23 to help Maine communities with climate change planning, the editorial states.
The Maine Edge published an article about research to be conducted by University of Maine professor of oceanography Emmanuel Boss and UMaine master’s graduate Thomas Leeuw. This summer, the pair will board the sailboat Tara to collect data and conduct research on ocean color, composition and pigments of surface particles in the Mediterranean Sea. In addition to collaborating with international scientists, they’ll talk with schoolchildren about the ocean.
University of Maine Cooperative Extension Master Gardener Volunteers will offer a hands-on yardscaping workshop, including how to incorporate native Maine plants in the yard, 2–4 p.m. Sunday, July 20, at Wells Reserve, 342 Laudholm Farm Road, Wells.
UMaine Extension Master Gardener Volunteers Allan Amioka and Ginger Laurits will cover basics of yardscaping — an ornamental gardening strategy that minimizes or eliminates the use of pesticides and fertilizers, thereby reducing harmful downstream effects. Learn about choosing the right place with the right plants that have low-pest profiles and are well adapted to the area. There also will be a tour of the Native Plant Garden at Wells Reserve, as well as a segment on identifying invasive species.
The $7 workshop fee ($5 for Laudholm Trust members) is payable at the event. Participants will meet at the All Seasons Garden behind the lab/science building, and should dress for the outdoors and be prepared for hands-on learning.
To preregister, call UMaine Extension in York County at 207.324.2814 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information or to request a disability accommodation, call Frank Wertheim at 207.324.2814 or 800.287.1535 (in state).
The program is part of the Four Season Gardening series brought to the Wells Reserve at Laudholm by UMaine Extension’s York County Master Gardener Volunteers. The next workshop — Hoop Bending and Extending the Gardening Season in Maine — is scheduled for Wednesday, Aug. 13.
The University of Maine’s Advanced Manufacturing Center (AMC) and Ecoshel, a company that produces cedar shingle panels, recently completed their UMaine-based project, Smart Shingle Production. AMC, along with private and public partners, designed, developed and built a manufacturing assembly line for the company. The line, which includes custom manufacturing equipment, blends conventional woodworking systems with state-of-the-art controls and laser-scanning technology.
“Developing this new type of shingle manufacturing system will greatly increase safety and production efficiency over current systems,” says AMC director John Belding, talking about the assembly line that will be operated in Ecoshel’s new production facility in Ashland, Maine.
The Ecoshel project created more than 11 jobs and provided a learning experience for UMaine engineering students.
Bryan Kirkey, owner and CEO of Ecoshel, was referred to the AMC by the Maine Technology Institute. He met with AMC staff and engineering student interns to discuss how to reach his goal of having a cutting-edge manufacturing facility in Maine. With support from AMC’s innovative engineering and manufacturing services, Kirkey opened the production facility in Ashland.
AMC sought private industry partners such as Dana Hodgkin, owner of Manchester, Maine-based Progress Engineering, for additional system integration and controls support.
Working with Ecoshel and Progress Engineering over the past six months, AMC developed an automated system that can scan, optimize and cut raw lumber to produce a shingle every second with the specialized features of Ecoshel’s system. Once the shingles are made, they are assembled into Ecoshel’s cedar siding panels that use a unique, patented installation system that minimizes installation effort, waste, extra weight and materials, and extends shingle life.
This is the first of many assembly lines Ecoshel plans to use based on the specifications and prints developed by the AMC, according to Belding. AMC plans to share information and assist Ecoshel’s private partners with building the remaining systems.
More about Ecoshel is online.
WVII (Channel 7) and WABI (Channel 5) reported on the completion and demonstration of the Ecoshel — Smart Shingle Production Project at the University of Maine’s Advanced Manufacturing Center. The AMC, engineering students, and private and public partners designed, developed and built a manufacturing assembly line for Ecoshel, a company that produces cedar shingle panels. The assembly line will be operated in Ecoshel’s new production facility in Ashland, Maine. The project created more than 11 jobs and provided a learning experience for the students. Ben White, a mechanical engineering student, told WABI he was happy to see the project come together and run smoothly. “This facility has really been essential to being able to experiment, develop, have a work-in-progress kind of relationship with the team here and get it off the ground,” said Bryan Kirkey, owner and CEO of Ecoshel.
The Bangor Daily News and WLBZ (Channel 2) reported on an updated study conducted by University of Maine economist Todd Gabe on the economic impact of Bangor’s Waterfront Concerts series. Gabe first released the study in early 2013, which estimated the first three years of the concert series brought more than $30 million into the local economy. Gabe recently released an update to include data from the 2013 season, which surpassed each previous year in terms of attendance, number of performances, impact on local businesses and people’s willingness to travel long distances to see a show, according to the article. The 19 shows in 2013 had a total economic impact of nearly $17.5 million — more than half the total of the first three years combined, according to the study. Gabe’s journal article on the study is scheduled to be published in the Review of Regional Studies. Mainebiz also cited the BDN report.
The Bangor Daily News published the opinion piece “Why it makes no sense to put more people in jail,” by Steve Barkan, a sociology professor at the University of Maine. Barkan also is a member of the Maine Regional Network, part 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.
A Maine Edge reporter and former University of Maine student wrote the feature, “Saying goodbye to a teacher and friend,” about his memories of Sandra Hardy. Hardy, who was an associate professor of theatre at UMaine, taught acting and literature of the theatre, as well as drama in education during her 26-year career. Hardy passed away June 19 in Connecticut. She was 76. “She was never at a loss for something to say, but at the same time, she was one of the greatest listeners I ever encountered,” the reporter wrote. “She was there to make you better — better as a student, better as an actor and better as a person.”
An economic impact study by University of Maine economist Todd Gabe was cited in a Portland Press Herald article about Downeast LNG altering plans for a proposed liquefied natural gas import terminal in Washington County. Downeast LNG commissioned Gabe to conduct the study. Gabe found the new project would create 2,350 jobs and $375 million in labor income during its three-year construction period. He also estimated the terminal would support 337 jobs in the state and have an annual economic impact of $68 million.
Foster’s Daily Democrat reported Noah Binette of Berwick, Maine, won first place in the individual exhibit category at the National History Day Competition at the University of Maryland in College Park. In April, the Noble High School freshman won Maine’s National History Day competition. The state competition for students in grades 6–12 was held at the University of Maine for the first time since the national program began in 1980.