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Updated: 5 hours 42 min ago
Granite Geek published an article on a study conducted by a group of researchers including Brian Olsen, assistant professor of biology and ecology at the University of Maine. Some closely related bird species interbreed where their ranges overlap, producing hybrid offspring that can backcross with either parent species until a whole population of mixed-species birds forms in the area and creates what’s known as a “hybrid zone,” according to the article. In the coastal marshes of New England, this has been happening between the saltmarsh sparrow and Nelson’s sparrow, the article states. Olsen worked with researchers at the University of New Hampshire, the University of Delaware and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to capture and examine birds in hybrid zones on the coast of Maine, New Hampshire and Massachusetts. The researchers found appearance alone is not enough to identify hybrid zone birds, and birds from further backcrossed generations were often indistinguishable from the parent species, the article states. Fifty percent of birds identified as pure Nelson’s or saltmarsh sparrows in the field turned out be the descendants of hybrids when their DNA was analyzed.
Neil Comins, a University of Maine professor of physics and astronomy, was quoted in the Kennebec Journal’s latest “Backyard Naturalist” column. In “M31 and the limits of visibility,” the author writes that decades ago, it was observed that Andromeda galaxy, or M31, is moving in our direction. Recently, some astronomers have found it’s likely the Milky Way and M31 will collide some 4 billion years from now, the article states. “The statistical likelihood that the sun will strike another star is extremely low ([though] not zero),” Comins said when asked about the predicted collision. “It is more likely that the gravitational attractions of passing stars from M31 will cause the Earth and other objects in the solar system to change orbits. Depending on how elliptical our orbit became, that could severely affect life on Earth. “That is, if there is any life here in 4 billion years,” he wrote, “which is shortly before the sun will end the life-supporting phase of its evolution.”
The Lincoln County News reported Allen Spinney, who works in maintenance at the University of Maine’s Darling Marine Center in Walpole, has been named Lincoln County’s Firefighter of the Year. The Lincoln County Fire Chiefs Association presented the award to Spinney during the organization’s annual meeting and lobster bake at the South Bristol Fire Department on Aug. 19.
The Maine Edge reported on scheduled public star shows in September at the University of Maine’s Emera Astronomy Center. The Maynard F. Jordan Planetarium shows are held 7 p.m. Fridays and 2 p.m. Sundays. Friday nights in September feature “Undiscovered Worlds” and “Astronaut.” Sunday afternoons, which are geared toward younger audiences, show “Magic Treehouse: Space Mission” and “Earth, Moon and Sun.” Admission to all shows is $6, and seating is limited.
Mick Peterson, executive director of the Racing Surfaces Testing Laboratory and a mechanical engineering professor at the University of Maine, took part in a two-day equine surfaces forum held at the Fédération Equestre Internationale headquarters in Lausanne, Switzerland in July, according to a news release.
Thirty-six equine, veterinary and footing specialists from Belgium, Canada, Germany, Italy, Malaysia, the Netherlands, Switzerland, the U.K. and the United States came together to discuss standards for arena surfaces in jumping, the release states.
Peterson spoke as part of a panel during the event.
“Everyone attending the forum has practical experience of events from all over the world, and everyone voiced the need by equestrian sport to demonstrate commitment to consistent footings at major events,” Peterson said. “It is critical that we retain our momentum so that we can provide consistent surfaces for all of the major events in the next year.”
The full release is online.
More than 2,000 first-year students at the University of Maine are expected to volunteer for community projects as part of the sixth annual Welcome Weekend Day of Service on Saturday, Aug. 29.
The Bodwell Center for Service and Volunteerism and First Year Residential Experience offer the Welcome Weekend Day of Service on the first weekend students are on campus to provide opportunities to volunteer at community organizations.
Community service is an important part of UMaine’s culture, says Lisa Morin, coordinator of the Bodwell Center.
“These projects give the students time to bond with others from their residence hall, allows us to show them how community service will enhance their UMaine experience, and provides valuable assistance to community organizations,” she says.
Led by 150 UMaine students, faculty and staff, first-year students will participate in more than 58 local, regional and international service projects both on and off campus.
Projects include washing Down East Emergency Medical Institute (DEEMI) vehicles in Orono; grounds work at Hirundo Wildlife Refuge in Alton, Leonard’s Mills/Maine Forest and Logging Museum in Bradley, Orono Bog Boardwalk, Orono Land Trust and Maine Veterans’ Home in Bangor; cleanup of the UMaine bike path, around Riverside Park in Old Town, downtown Orono and Alfond arena and stadium; gardening at Bangor Edible Park Collaborative, Orono Community Garden and for the Campus Greenhouse Project; collecting donations at the American Folk Festival in Bangor; and packing meal, hygiene and school kits on campus.
One project, the Bangor Edible Park Collaborative, was started by UMaine student David Patrick, with assistance from the Foster Center for Student Innovation and funding from the Maine Hunger Dialogue.
The Bangor Edible Park Collaborative is a group of individuals and organizations committed to advancing the vision of creating a sustainable, open and freely accessible food system for everyone in the community. This year marks the park’s first growing season.
At Manna Ministries in Bangor, students will work with Patrick to harvest, weed and do general area maintenance for the park.
Last year, approximately 1,900 first-year students volunteered for nearly 60 projects and logged 4,140 hours of service.
UMaine was one of 240 colleges and universities in the United States selected to receive the 2015 Community Engagement Classification of the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. The classification, which is valid until 2025, recognizes colleges and universities with an institutional focus on community engagement.
The day will end with the President’s annual Dinner on the Mall from 5–6:30 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 29. In case of inclement weather, the dinner will be held in the Field House. The dinner will feature food provided by UMaine Dining Services, lawn games and other activities provided by Campus Recreation, and music coordinated by Team Maine and UMaine Campus Activities and Student Engagement (CASE).
Following the dinner, the Traditions Ceremony and Class Picture will be on Morse Field, Alfond Stadium.
Contact: Elyse Kahl, 207.581.3747
The Maine Edge reported the Collins Center for the Arts at the University of Maine is set to kick off its 30th anniversary season. “The 30th season — it’s hard to believe, but it really is very exciting,” said Danny Williams, executive director of the CCA. “For us as an organization, for the university, and for the community, this was an experiment that was put in place 30 years ago, that I think by any measure and all measures has been a success and that has led to other successful performing arts endeavors in our community.” The season’s opening gala performance, “Piano Men: The Music of Elton and Billy,” is slated for 8 p.m. Sept. 12 and will feature the Bangor Symphony Orchestra. “Our gala is definitely a nod to the anniversary by including the BSO,” Williams said. “The BSO opened the hall back in September of 1986 with Isaac Stern and Yo-Yo Ma, and now 30 years later we are so excited to be starting off the anniversary season with [the BSO].”
David Yarborough, a blueberry specialist with the University of Maine Cooperative Extension and professor in the School of Food and Agriculture, spoke with The Ellsworth American for the article, “Competition increasing for state’s wild blueberries.” Highbush blueberries — which can be cultivated easily and grow rapidly — are presenting increasing competition for Maine’s wild blueberries, according to the article. Yarborough said highbush blueberries can be propagated in three to five years, while wild blueberry bushes are often a century old. “We have plants we planted in the 1970s and they still haven’t filled in,” he said of UMaine Extension’s research station in Jonesboro. Yarborough said highbush blueberries also are tall — up to 6 feet — and yield more fruit than a wild blueberry bush, which might grow 1 inch per year. He said the number of acres devoted to wild blueberry production in Maine has decreased from 200,000 acres in the 1950s to 44,000 acres, according to the article.
A 2012 University of Maine Cooperative Extension newsletter on growing sweet corn in Maine was mentioned in a Bangor Daily News article about “corn smut,” a fungus that grows in kernels, causing them to become grayish and bulbous. August is typically when corn smut is most often discovered in Maine, according to UMaine Extension. “This fungus disease is easily recognized by the large galls which form in the ears, tassels and on leaves,” the 2012 publication states. “The young galls are silvery-white in color. When the galls mature they rupture into masses of powdery, black spores.” UMaine Extension goes on to report there’s “no effective fungicide for corn smut,” the article states.
The Maine Edge reported the Maine Folklife Area at the American Folk Festival on the Bangor Waterfront will celebrate the University of Maine’s 150th anniversary with programming provided by students, faculty and staff from several campus departments. The narrative stage in the folklife area will feature student performances on violin, fiddle, mandolin and guitar, as well as the UMaine Brass Quintet, according to the article. The Maine Folklife Area, which will be located off Front Street in between the food court and the Sea Dog Brewing Co., also is scheduled to include exhibits and displays from the Hudson Museum, 4-H STEM Ambassadors, the Maine Folklife Center, and the Page Farm and Home Museum. The festival runs Aug. 28–30. More information and a full schedule is online.
The University of Maine International Programs’ Study Abroad Fair will be held Thursday, Sept. 10 to inform UMaine students, faculty and staff about the programs available for all majors to study, intern, research or teach abroad. The free event will run from 2 to 5 p.m. in the first-floor ballroom of Estabrooke Hall. Information will be available on UMaine’s direct exchange and recommended programs, as well as scholarships and financial aid. More information on UMaine’s study abroad program is online.
University of Maine researchers are working to bring locally grown plums to farm stands around the state.
The two-year project — funded by the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry — is identifying suitable plum varieties for Maine’s climate that would help diversify the state’s apple farms.
The project is a joint collaboration between Angela Myracle, a phytochemist and nutritional biochemist at UMaine, and Renae Moran, a tree fruit specialist with the UMaine Cooperative Extension.
The team is assessing locally grown plum varieties by evaluating crop yields, fruit quality, consumer acceptance and production costs.
“When farmers can sell fruit directly to the consumer, it’s a lot more profitable for them,” says Moran.
Moran is collecting yield measurements, assessing the plum trees and evaluating the economic feasibility of growing plums in Maine. She got involved with plum research after farmers began to show interest in growing another fruit crop in addition to apples.
Plums were the perfect candidate.
Currently, the team is harvesting different plum varieties — grown at Highmoor Farm in Monmouth — for sensory testing, which will allow the researchers to see how consumers will perceive the fruit based on appearance, taste and texture. The last testing had approximately 100 participants.
Leading the sensory testing is Zakkary Castonguay, a master’s student in food science and human nutrition.
Castonguay’s research project is focused on the consumer acceptability and phytonutrient assessment of locally grown Maine plums. He is measuring the bioactive constituents found in plums to determine if local, tree-ripened plums have greater health benefits.
“Plums are a very low calorie snack. They are a good source of fiber and are a very good source of Vitamin C and potassium,” Myracle says. “Beyond just the basic nutrients that you hear about, they are just a good fruit that encourages people to eat the recommended number of fruits and vegetables a day.”
By assessing the phytonutrient content of the plums, the researchers are able to better market the fruit, Castonguay says.
“We don’t want to recommend a variety to a farmer that grows well, but doesn’t sell well,” Myracle says.
The majority of plums found in Maine are shipped long distances and are harvested unripe, compromising quality. Growing plums in Maine could bring in extra income for farmers, as well as decreasing transportation costs by selling the plums locally, Myracle says.
Myracle also hopes that the project will help farmers diversify their farms with fruit that could be harvested during peak tourist season.
“By the time apple season rolls around, the tourist have already left. So the potential market for apples is decreased,plums are ready during the peak tourist season” Myracle says.
“As a Mainer, I find it essential that we continue to increase the state’s economic success and we can do this by determining which plums are enjoyed by consumers as well as which plums can be grown in our local climate,” Castonguay says.
Contact: Amanda Clark, 207.581.3721
Education majors at the University of Maine will soon have the opportunity to teach in front of a virtual classroom of avatars in preparation for doing their student teaching in Maine schools.
The new lab will enable students in UMaine’s College of Education and Human Development to teach five avatars controlled by professional technicians and actors in a classroom simulation, allowing them to better hone their skills and become more confident teachers.
TeachLivE is a mixed-reality teaching environment that supports teacher practice in classroom management, methods and content. It provides preservice and in-service teachers the opportunity to learn new skills without placing students at risk during the learning process.
The program was developed by education and computer science faculty at the University of Central Florida (UCF) with funding from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
UMaine’s TeachLivE Lab is expected to open in September and will be used with three undergraduate courses in the fall. The college plans to expand the lab’s use in the coming semesters and would like to hold open houses, visits and meetings for those who want to learn more about the simulation’s potential.
Susan Gardner, interim dean of the College of Education and Human Development, says the low-risk environment provides a safe space to make errors and learn.
“It provides our preservice teachers, who may not have had the opportunity to teach before, with a low-risk laboratory environment in which to experiment with different teaching techniques and to try on some of the theoretical pieces they are learning about in classes,” Gardner says.
Unlike a classroom with real children, the simulations can be “paused” and “rewound” to allow for feedback and a chance to try different techniques, she says.
“Research with TeachLivE has found that as little as three, 10-minute sessions can change teaching behaviors,” Gardner says.
The lab in Shibles Hall will consist of a large display with a computer used to interact with the TeachLivE engineers who run the simulation. A camera and microphone will connect the educator to the interactor, or actor, who portrays the voices and mannerisms of the avatars who have distinct personalities and behaviors, as well as a range of compliance levels. The program also has an adult avatar for parent-teacher conference simulations.
TeachLivE engineers and interactors are given lesson plans and educational objectives before each simulation for a tailored learning experience.
Additional seating will be available in the lab to allow classmates and teachers to observe the simulation and provide feedback on the session.
The idea for bringing TeachLivE to the College of Education and Human Development came after Mary Mahoney-O’Neil, the college’s assistant dean for academic services, attended a conference where she learned about the technology. After visiting UCF to see a demonstration and the program’s potential, she brought the idea back to UMaine, which will be the first college of education in northern New England to use the technology.
“The opportunity for learning is limitless,” Mahoney-O’Neil says of the program.
College officials learned more about the program, including its research possibilities, at the TeachLivE conference at UCF in June.
“We think there is a lot of amazing potential for some groundbreaking research,” Gardner says, citing research that is being produced related to the social skills of autistic children after interacting with the avatars.
The program, which started with 10 data sites in 2011, has been used by about 10,000 educators and is now being implemented at about 75 educational sites around the United States including higher education institutions, school districts and charter schools, according to Carrie Straub, executive director of educational programs and research at Mursion, Inc.
TeachLivE is administered by Mursion, a company that provides virtual training environments where professionals practice and master the interpersonal skills they need to be effective in their career. Working closely with UCF researchers, Mursion is expanding the program as well as participating in research and development efforts.
Mursion also is working with the Educational Testing Service (ETS) to create and test licensure exams for educators using TeachLivE, Straub says.
More about TeachLivE is online.
Contact: Elyse Kahl, 207.581.3747
L&K Manufacturing Inc., didn’t always reside in a 1,500-square-foot space in Bangor Maine. The company was initially founded in a college apartment by Vincent Lewis and Andrew Katon who were UMaine engineering undergraduates. Once Katon, company president, and Lewis, CFO, launched L&K Manufacturing, they were able to utilize space at UMaine’s Advanced Manufacturing Center before making their move to Bangor. L&K Manufacturing helps entrepreneurs and businesses improve their products with rapid prototyping services, including precision 3D-printing, silicone molding and wearable biotechnology. In this video, Katon talks about UMaine and how the UMaine Top Gun Entrepreneurial Accelerator Program helped him gain business skills and develop an extensive network in the community.
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. More information about Top Gun is online.
For more information about these and other innovation and economic development initiatives at UMaine, visit umaine.edu/econdev.
Reliawire reported on recent climate change research by University of Maine scientists Paul Mayewski and Sean Birkel. Two different climate scenarios appear plausible for Antarctica in the 21st century, according to Mayewski, director of the Climate Change Institute at UMaine. An examination of climate models as well as records of climate change developed through ice cores reveal a potential for future climate surprises in the Southern Hemisphere, he said. Mayewski and fellow researchers with AntClim21 (Antarctic Climate in the 21st century), a Scientific Research Programme of the Scientific Committee on Antarctic Research (SCAR), discovered potentially different forecasts as part of a published review they developed for the scientific community. “In a nutshell, the review describes how the examination of past analogs compared to model projections differ, and the implications,” Mayewski said. Birkel, also of the Climate Change Institute, took part in the study.
In celebration of the 10th anniversary of the Restorative Justice Project, the University of Maine Hutchinson Center will host “Justice Matters: When We Cry for Justice, What Do We Really Mean?” from 8:30 a.m.–noon. Sept. 18.
The UMaine Peace and Reconciliation Studies program and the Restorative Justice Project of the Midcoast, which promotes fundamental change in the justice system and schools, will present the event that will feature a keynote address by the Honorable Judge Nancy Torresen, chief judge of the U.S. District Court of Maine.
A panel of five guests will join Torresen — Jon Wilson, director of JUST Alternatives; Judith Josiah-Martin, UMaine School of Social Work faculty; Jeffrey Trafton, Waldo County high sheriff; Margaret Micolichek, MPA, Restorative Justice consultant; and Kevin Martin, Restorative Justice advocate and UMaine student. Publisher, entrepreneur and Restorative Justice advocate Reade Brower will introduce Torresen.
The $15 registration fee may be paid at the door; students may attend free of charge. Registration information is online.
For 21 years, Torresen worked for the United States Attorney for the District of Maine and the Maine Attorney General’s office, handling civil cases and criminal prosecutions. In 2011, President Barack Obama appointed her to become a federal U.S. district judge. Torresen became the first woman to sit as an Article III judge in the district of Maine since the court was established in 1789.
Since 2012, Torresen has led a federal drug court program called SWiTCH (Success with the Court’s Help) that aims to help high-risk, high-needs offenders re-enter their communities, conquer their addiction and become productive members of society.
For more information or to request a disability accommodation, contact Kim Raymond, conference services coordinator, at 338.8034, firstname.lastname@example.org; or the Restorative Justice Project office at 338.2742, email@example.com.
The Franco-American Centre at the University of Maine will host a free concert Aug. 31 to celebrate the launch of a new after-school program.
A 5 p.m. potluck will precede the 6 p.m. Quebec fiddle music concert by Le Bruit Court dans la Ville (The Buzz Around Town) at the center on campus.
The event will mark the start of a new French language instruction program the center will provide for elementary school children in Old Town and Orono. During the concert, parents will have the opportunity to register their children for classes that begin Sept. 21.
Guests are encouraged to bring food to share.
The program is the result of collaboration among UMaine’s Franco American Studies program, Modern Languages and Classics Department and the College of Education, as well as local school officials.
The event is sponsored by the Franco American Studies program, Canadian-American Center and University of Maine Humanities Center.
More about Le Bruit Court dans la Ville is on the group’s website.
The Bangor Daily News reported on University of Maine research that could help NASA put humans on Mars. Engineers at UMaine’s Advanced Structures and Composites Center are working closely with NASA on the Hypersonic Inflatable Aerodynamic Decelerator, or HIAD. The HIAD, which is made up of a series of large, inner tube-like inflatable rings, slows a spacecraft as it enters a planet’s atmosphere. The technology may make it possible for a spaceship large enough to carry astronauts and heavy loads of scientific equipment to explore Mars. “It seems like a bit of a leap for a bunch of civil engineers to start working on something that slows down a spacecraft,” said Bill Davids, chair of the UMaine Civil and Environmental Engineering Department and the John C. Bridge Professor. “But at the end of the day, it’s an inflatable fabric structure, and we’ve built a lot of expertise and infrastructure here at this lab around that.” The university is in the third year of a four-year grant to study various inflatable braided fabrics, using a machine provided by NASA, according to the article. “[NASA is] really pushing the envelope all the time; they’re looking for the best materials,” Davids said. Popular Mechanics and WLBZ (Channel 2) also reported on the research.
The Maine Public Broadcasting Network spoke with University of Maine art professor Michael Grillo and UMaine archivist Desiree Butterfield-Nagy as part of a series that focuses on the importance of humanities. In part three, Grillo and Butterfield-Nagy discuss the future of archives in a digital age. Both wrote articles in the special issue of Maine Policy Review earlier this year on the humanities and policy, produced by the Margaret Chase Smith Policy Center in cooperation with the UMaine Humanities Center.
The Portland Press Herald reported on pollinator gardens planted in May by University of Maine researchers at the former Pine Tree Landfill in Hampden. The gardens — one mostly flowers on the capped landfill itself, and the other shrubs at its edge — are intended to attract threatened native bees and nourish them with pollen and nectar, according to the article. Frank Drummond, an entomology specialist with the University of Maine Cooperative Extension and a UMaine professor of insect ecology, said the idea often occurred to him as he drove by the old landfill on the way to work. He said he thought “it would be nice to make the landscape a little more beneficial to the biodiversity of animals in the area.” Drummond mentioned the idea to his colleague, Alison Dibble, now the project’s lead researcher. She wrote and received a grant from the Natural Resources Conservation Service, a branch of the USDA, and then reached out to Casella Waste Systems, the company that manages the old landfill, the article states. “Usually, what happens is the first year, the bees will begin to discover it, but it’s the second, third and fourth year when you tend to get large amounts of flowering and the bees can take advantage,” Drummond said.