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University of Maine News
News from the University of Maine
Updated: 16 hours 49 min ago
The 2015 Top Gun Regional Pitch Competition and Product Showcase will take place 5:30 p.m. May 26 at the University of Maine Foster Center for Student Innovation.
At least two regional entrepreneurs will be selected by a panel of judges to compete in the statewide Top Gun Showcase in June where they will pitch for a chance to win $10,000.
Participants include Ass Over Teakettle of Skowhegan, Tip Whip of Orono, RockStep Solutions of Bar Harbor, Coursestorm of Orono, L&K Manufacturing of Orono, Zeomatrix of Orono and Whoopie Pie Cafe of Bangor.
The Top Gun entrepreneurship accelerator is a five-month program that engages entrepreneurs in growing their businesses. Top Gun combines education, mentoring, pitch-coaching and networking opportunities. The program is a partnership of the Maine Center for Entrepreneurial Development, Maine Technology Institute, Blackstone Accelerates Growth and the University of Maine. UMaine organizes and hosts a Bangor region class and has also developed curriculum to support the statewide program.
Registration for the regional competition is online.
Mary Ellen Camire, University of Maine professor of food science and human nutrition and president of the Institute of Food Technologists, was a featured guest in the HuffPost Live video “What’s behind the government’s ban on trans fats?” A coming court ruling could mean the end of most trans fats, according to the video, but some members of the food industry warn of potential consequences. “The functionality is probably the biggest point. It’s more about the texture you get and not so much about the flavor,” Camire said of the benefits of using trans fats. She said the alternative would be going back to using foods such as lard. “We really don’t have a lot of options. It’s either go to more saturated fats or work with fats that are more likely to get rancid,” she said.
Mike Bilodeau, director of the University of Maine’s Process Development Center, was quoted in a Portland Press Herald article about an event hosted by E2Tech, an organization that supports Maine’s environmental, energy and clean technology sectors. The event also served as an introduction to Biobased Maine, a reimagined organization supporting efforts to encourage research and development in new technologies that enable manufacturers to turn trees into biobased fuels, chemicals and advanced materials, according to the article. Bilodeau said three factors are driving renewed interest in biobased materials: new technologies that have lowered the cost of the manufacturing processes; novel applications for the materials; and shifting national priorities that have made available more federal funding, the article states. He said the research and development at the center will help paper mills diversify and find new products to help them remain relevant.
The University of Maine Cooperative Extension’s Tick ID Lab was mentioned in the Bangor Daily News article, “How many Maine ticks carry Powassan? We’re one step closer to finding out.” The article focused on a Maine Medical Center Research Institute study that will conduct a statewide survey for Powassan virus, which is transmitted by ticks. More state labs are working to test for the virus, according to the article. UMaine Extension’s Tick ID Lab will soon be equipped, after being awarded funding through a referendum last fall, the article states.
The Maine Edge published a University of Maine news release announcing organizers of UMaine’s inaugural Black Bear Marathon, Half Marathon and 10K are seeking volunteers to assist on race day and at packet pickup, as well as host cheer stations along the route. The races begin at 7:30 a.m. Sunday, June 21 and will start and finish on the UMaine track located at the Harold Alfond Stadium. A race expo and packet pickup will be held from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday, June 20 at the New Balance Field House. Those interested in volunteering for the race at packet pickup or on the course can register online. Race organizers also are recruiting cheer squads for the course and will supply noisemakers and poster board for any group interested in encouraging the runners. To be listed as an official race cheer station, contact race director Lauri Sidelko at firstname.lastname@example.org or 581.1423.
Spencer Wood of Salisbury, New Hampshire graduated in May with a master’s degree in human development. He also earned his undergraduate degrees in communications and human development with a minor in peace and reconciliation studies from the University of Maine.
Throughout his UMaine career, the student-athlete has been involved in several academic, entrepreneurial and social initiatives including the UMaine student organization Male Athletes Against Violence. As an undergraduate, he played on the UMaine football team while pursuing a double major and minor.
Wood has worked closely with the staff at UMaine’s Foster Center for Student Innovation who helped him enter and succeed in two local business competitions — the UMaine Business Challenge and the Big Gig.
In April, Wood won the latest Big Gig pitch-off finale where finalists from three Big Gig pitch-off events competed for a $1,500 grand prize. Wood presented the app Tip Whip, which would allow college students to find a ride within a 3-mile radius of their location in order to avoid drunk driving.
The Big Gig is a series of business pitch events for entrepreneurs in Greater Bangor designed to bring together area innovators and entrepreneurs and offer networking opportunities. It was started by a partnership between UMaine, Old Town, Orono and Husson University and was supported by Blackstone Accelerates Growth.
In 2013, Wood placed second in the UMaine Business Challenge, the state’s largest student entrepreneurship competition. He was awarded $1,000, as well as patent and law consulting for his business, BodyGuard Fitness that offers a comprehensive and demanding full-body workout.
“I needed something to keep my body in peak physical condition that I could take on the road and use in the residence halls when I was living on campus,” Wood says.
Wood was the outreach and professional development officer for the Graduate Student Government this year; a Black Bear Mentor for a local at-risk youth the past four years; the graduate assistant for family relationship professors Sandy Caron and Gary Schilmoeller; and a tenant of the Foster Center for Student Innovation for the past five years.
Wood also is a graduate of Foundations, a one-year program that provides students who do not meet the admissions standards for their chosen major an opportunity to adjust to college on an academic contract with a restricted class schedule. He credits the program with allowing him to pursue two majors and a minor while playing a college sport.
Congratulations on winning the Big Gig. Why did you participate?
At this stage in my [app] startup, every dollar and connection counts. I wanted to challenge myself to create a winning pitch and meet others in my shoes.
Can you describe your ride-sharing app?
Tip Whip is a free ride-sharing service for college students. We do not put a price tag on a student’s decision to stay safe. The app connects our students, community and school with each other so we can help one another stay safe. Tip Whip is unique because we don’t charge. Our sole mission is to reduce the consequences of college drinking while improving the student experience. I formally established Tip Whip LLC in December 2014. Since then we have safely transported over 6,000 UMaine students.
Why did you join Male Athletes Against Violence and how have you been involved with the group?
I have been involved with MAAV for four years. I coordinated and taught the course for three of those years. I got involved for personal reasons. My sister’s college roommate was dating a football player that I naturally looked up to as an aspiring college athlete myself. He assaulted her and threatened my sister’s life. I wanted to be a positive role model for our youth and community. People need to know there are male athletes who are working everyday to create a stronger community.
What was Foundations like and how did it help you academically?
Foundations was the first time someone told me it was OK to not have a focus. They allowed me to dabble in a lot of different classes. By the end of my freshman year, I had already compiled enough classes to have minors in communication and human development. I never looked back. I received bachelor degrees in both and compiled a minor in peace and reconciliation studies because I wasn’t locked into something specific. Not many people can say they double majored/minor while playing a college sport; I credit that to the Foundations program.
Any updates on the BodyGuard fitness system since placing in the UMaine Business Challenge?
The BodyGuard is nearly complete and ready for the open market. After five different prototypes, a million meetings, and some prize money later, the BodyGuard is set to be completed by May 14. The final product is better than I expected, does more than I expected, and looks awesome; I can’t wait to start using it. I plan on being the Jared of Subway for the BodyGuard. I want create a college-priced diet plan so a majority of people can afford it. I also will create the workout routine and possibly a reality show type feel as I document my progression over the course of a month.
How has the Foster Center helped you throughout your time at UMaine?
The Foster Center is a hidden gem on this campus. Without the Foster Center, none of this would have ever happened. Both businesses would have remained cool ideas, and that is as far as they would have went. I have a deep love and respect for that facility and the faculty that run it. I could write a book about the connections, guidance, support and opportunities they have given me; you will just have to take my word for it. The Foster Center for Student Innovation is my favorite place on campus.
Have you worked closely with a professor or mentor who made your UMaine experience better?
I have many. Sandy Caron has been my adviser since sophomore year and my UMaine mother. Without her, I would have procrastinated my time away. She taught me a lot about my work ethic and drive to get things done. Robert Milardo, “Bob” said I didn’t belong in graduate school during my first year there. Needless to say, he was responsible for lighting a fire underneath me to do better. I email, talk and visit with Bob weekly. He is responsible for my determination to produce top-quality work. Jesse Moriarity at the Foster Center is the most connected person I know — period, end of story. She scheduled meetings with people I should have never had access to, persuaded me to get an office at the Innovation Center, compete in the Big Gig, and made me realize I could run my own business. Jesse is responsible for my confidence in the business world.
What difference has UMaine made in your life and in helping you reach your goals?
UMaine allowed me to turn my goals into a reality. We may not have a city full of bars and nightlife opportunities up here in Orono, but we have a community of people that will give you the shirt off their backs. This school made me focus on myself rather than where I was going out Thursday night. The people and community here taught me a lot.
What are your plans for after graduation?
Closing a Tip Whip technology license deal with UMaine for next fall. I will also be traveling around New England compiling other schools, as well. There is no reason why the Tip Whip shouldn’t be at a majority of New England colleges and universities. I will also be working on selling the rights to the BodyGuard to a [fitness] company.
Any final thoughts?
Treat people the way you want to be treated … or better. I also live by a couple quotes: “Keep it simple” — my family’s motto; “If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough” — Einstein; and “You miss 100 percent of the shots you don’t take” — Wayne Gretzky.
The Portland Press Herald reported on University of Maine vernal pool research being conducted by several doctoral candidates and led by Aram Calhoun, a professor of wetland ecology. UMaine researchers are pursuing several vernal-pool studies through a $1.48 million grant from the National Science Foundation, according to the article. “Amphibians breed in the pool but live in the forest,” Calhoun said. “Many other states don’t even have a law [to protect vernal pools]. We’re lucky to be on the map. But it’s only a starting point. We’re doing this fleet of research to get a better understanding of land practices.” Calhoun hopes the research leads to an enhancement of the 250-foot buffer zone around vernal pools that are identified by biologists as important, the article states.
David Fuller, an agricultural and non-timber forest products professional with the University of Maine Cooperative Extension, was quoted in a Bangor Daily News article about “Fiddlemainia: Maine’s Organic Edible Fern,” a recently published book by Monty Barrett and Lin Diket that includes 125 recipes using fiddleheads. Fuller said fiddleheads have been a part of Maine cuisine for as long as people have lived here. “Fiddleheads herald spring. This is the earliest green, and it’s a big part of our culture,” he said. The article also included tips by Fuller on how to pick and safely prepare the plant to avoid food-borne illnesses. “You have to remember that this is a wild food, but that’s also what is so cool about it,” he said.
Gary Anderson, a University of Maine Cooperative Extension professor and and animal and bio-sciences specialist, spoke with the Portland Press Herald for an article about an increase in Maine residents raising rabbits for meat. Anderson said that during the World War II and Depression era, rabbits were frequently eaten in Maine and around the nation. Through the 1990s, rabbit breeders in Maine mostly catered to ethnic markets in Boston and Rhode Island, he said. Increasing interest in raising rabbits for meat prompted UMaine Extension to write a bulletin that includes instructions on how to dress a rabbit, as well as recipes, according to the article. Anderson says raising rabbits is affordable and relatively easy, and the meat is healthier than beef and chicken, the article states.
The Bangor Daily News published “UMaine women’s basketball team enjoys breathtaking views in ‘City of Love,’” the first in a series of articles by Anna Heise who is writing a blog during the team’s trip to Italy. The senior center from Halle, Germany, will provide readers with a student-athlete’s perspective on the experience as the team enjoys the history and culture of Italy while playing a handful of games, according to the article. Heise is majoring in journalism with a double minor in child development and family relations and creative writing.
The Boston Globe Magazine printed an excerpt from the book “The President’s Salmon,” by Catherine Schmitt, communications director for Maine Sea Grant College Program at the University of Maine. Schmitt’s book is expected to be released in June.
Jim Dill, a pest management specialist with the University of Maine Cooperative Extension, was a recent guest on the Maine Public Broadcasting Network’s “Maine Calling” radio program. The show focused on the predicted prevalence of ticks this season and what can be done to prevent bites.
The Haskell family, which has had five generations graduate from the University of Maine since it opened its doors in September 1868, was mentioned in the Bangor Daily News genealogy column “Family Ties.” Edwin Haskell was one of the six men in the first-ever graduating class at the university, then called the Maine State College of Agriculture and the Mechanic Arts, in 1872. Haskell’s great-great-granddaughter Johanna Haskell was among the graduates at this year’s commencement. The column includes information on Edwin Haskell found through Ancestry.com.
The Daily Bulldog reported the University of Maine singing group Renaissance will perform at 7 p.m. May 19 at Mt. Blue High School in Farmington. Renaissance is a women’s auditioned a cappella vocal ensemble that performs a variety of choral music including contemporary pop vocal styles, according to the article.
Enjoy the taste of summer fruits and vegetables all throughout the year by taking the University of Maine Cooperative Extension’s Preserving the Harvest workshop 5:30–8:30 p.m. Tuesday, June 23 at UMaine Regional Learning Center, 75 Clearwater Drive, Falmouth.
The workshop, led by UMaine Extension staff members, includes hands-on, USDA-recommended food preservation methods. Participants will preserve low-sugar strawberry jam and learn basics of hot water bath canning and freezing to preserve pickles, jam and vegetables. Fresh produce, canning jars and other equipment will be provided. Participants should bring a pot holder.
Cost is $20 per person; partial scholarships are available. Register online by June 19. For more information, or to request a disability accommodation, call 781.6099, 800.287.1471 (toll-free in Maine).
The Associated Press, Portland Press Herald, Bangor Daily News, The Ellsworth American, WVII (Channel 7), Sun Journal and the Maine Public Broadcasting Network reported on an analysis released by the Maine attorney general’s office and conducted by Marcella Sorg, a research professor of the Margaret Chase Smith Policy Center at the University of Maine. The study found Maine residents who died of drug overdoses in 2014 hit a record number of 208 — an increase of 18 percent over the previous year, according to reports. “What is remarkable about the numbers in 2014 is a new increase in heroin and fentanyl deaths driving the number of total deaths to an unprecedented level for Maine,” Sorg said, citing statistics that found heroin deaths increased from 34 in 2013 to 57 in 2014, and fentanyl-related deaths increased from nine in 2013 to 43 in 2014. WABI (Channel 5), Fosters.com and The Houston Chronicle carried the AP report.
Mainebiz published a feature article on recent University of Maine graduate Matthew Hodgkin, an animal and veterinary sciences major. The article focused on Hodgkin’s research, lobster-related business and his working relationship with Bob Bayer, executive director of the Lobster Institute. While at UMaine, Hodgkin was involved with research related to developing a noninvasive way of testing the viability of lobsters for shipping, as well as finding a way to commercialize the invasive green crab. Hodgkin also co-owns Lobster Unlimited LLC with Bayer; Lobster Institute Associate Director Cathy Billings; and Stewart Hardison, a business partner from outside the UMaine community. The company aims to develop products from lobster-processing industry waste, such as shells with the goal to get more money to lobstermen and improve Maine’s economy. Hodgkin spoke about how Bayer and UMaine’s Innovation Engineering program helped him discover his interest in research. “It’s been fun, it’s always exciting. And once you reach those milestones where your idea is getting closer and closer to fruition, it’s very exciting,” Hodgkin said.
Research and development of technologies being conducted at the University of Maine’s Center on Aging were mentioned in U.S. Sen. Susan Collins’ weekly column, “The aging and thriving in place movement.” The column also cited a recent testimony before the U.S. Senate Special Committee on Aging by Carol Kim, vice president for research and dean of the graduate school at UMaine. The hearing of the committee, which Collins chairs, was held to examine how advances in technology can help seniors live independently and age in place, according to the column. Kim spoke about UMaine’s multidisciplinary initiatives focused on helping elders to age and thrive in place.
Maine EPSCoR, the Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research, was mentioned in the Mainebiz article “Training budding scientists: Federal funding boosts Maine’s science and technology workforce.” EPSCoR was established by the National Science Foundation in 1978 for states that typically receive small amounts of federal R&D funding, according to the article. Maine became an EPSCoR state in 1980, with the program that is based at the University of Maine. “Since then, more than $97 million has been used to expand our research capacity as a state,” said Laurie Bragg, outreach and program manager for Maine EPSCoR. From 2009–15, more than 100 faculty and 752 high school, undergraduate and graduate students have taken advantage of the program, which is largely hands-on field work, according to the article. Bragg expects about 5,000 students, from kindergarten through high school, to participate in the program annually over the next five years, she said. “We want to build capacity to build a larger STEM workforce in Maine. We need scientists and consumers of science,” she said. “You need science just to operate your cellphone.”
Mick Peterson, a professor of mechanical engineering at the University of Maine, was quoted in a Baltimore Sun article about track conditions at Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore ahead of the 140th Preakness Stakes horse race. In the week leading up to the race, sun and wind drew moisture from the track, requiring that up to 70,000 gallons of water be sprayed on the track each day, according to the article. Peterson, whose research focus is horse racing track surfaces, said mud isn’t necessarily dangerous and a 1980s study showed wet tracks were safer. He said the problem is when racing surfaces become uneven and inconsistent, making it difficult for horses to see slippery places or puddles.