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Updated: 7 hours 43 min ago

Maine Sea Grant to Help Run Maine Seaweed Festival, The Forecaster Reports

Thu, 08/28/2014 - 09:37

The Forecaster reported the University of Maine’s Maine Sea Grant program is partnering with Hillary Krapf, a holistic healer in Portland, to host the first Maine Seaweed Festival to celebrate the many practical functions of Maine seaweed. The free festival will be held Aug. 30 at Southern Maine Community College in South Portland. The Bangor Daily News carried The Forecaster’s report.

Categories: Combined News, News

AP Quotes Bolton in Article on Lobster Processing Plant Violations

Thu, 08/28/2014 - 09:36

Jason Bolton, a food safety specialist with the University of Maine School of Food and Agriculture, spoke to the Associated Press for an article about Rockland-based Linda Bean’s lobster processing plant stating it has addressed violations cited by the Food and Drug Administration in February. The FDA says it has not yet cleared the firm of violations, according to the article. Bolton told the AP that Bean contacted him for help addressing some of the FDA’s concerns. “In every conversation I had with their plant manager and their chief financial officer, they were very willing to work with me,” Bolton said. Portland Press Herald, Boston Herald and The Boston Globe carried the AP report.

Categories: Combined News, News

Times Higher Education Publishes Segal Column

Thu, 08/28/2014 - 09:36

The London-based Times Higher Education published an opinion piece by University of Maine history professor Howard Segal titled “The systematisation of higher education in the US.”

Categories: Combined News, News

Black Bear Triathlon to be Held Oct. 5

Thu, 08/28/2014 - 09:35

The 35th Black Bear Triathlon will be held Oct. 5 at the University of Maine.

The race, sponsored by UMaine Campus Recreation and sanctioned by USA Triathlon, will be held from 6:30 a.m. to noon. It will feature a 525-yard swim in UMaine’s Wallace Pool, and a 12.5-mile bike race and 3.1-mile run along the UMaine trails and local roadways.

The Black Bear Triathlon is open to athletes ages 16 and older. In addition to individual competition, the event features a relay component for teams of two or three athletes. Eighty people between the ages of 18 and 67 participated in the event last year.

Registration fee is $50; $40 for UMaine students; $75 for teams. Additional registration and event information is online.

Categories: Combined News, News

Welcome Weekend Day of Service

Wed, 08/27/2014 - 14:33

More than 2,000 first-year University of Maine students are expected to volunteer for community projects as part of the fifth annual UMaine Welcome Weekend Day of Service on the morning of Saturday, Aug. 30.

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 at UMaine to give them an opportunity to participate in volunteer activities at community organizations in the Old Town, Orono and Bangor areas.

“Community service is an important part of the culture at the University of Maine,” 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.”

Led by 150 UMaine students, faculty and staff, first-year students will participate in at least 60 different local, regional and international service projects both on and off campus.

Projects include painting at the Bangor Area Homeless Shelter; 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 and Maine Veterans’ Home in Bangor; Penobscot River cleanup; and packing meal, hygiene and school kits on campus.

Last year, approximately 1,800 first-year students volunteered for nearly 60 projects and logged 3,992 hours of service.

For more information, contact Morin at 581.1796 or lisa.morin@umit.maine.edu.

Contact: Elyse Kahl, 207.581.3747

Categories: Combined News, News

President Hunter Featured in Diverse: Issues In Higher Education Article

Wed, 08/27/2014 - 08:29

University of Maine President Sue Hunter is the focus of a Diverse: Issues In Higher Education article titled, “University of Maine’s pioneering president essentially home grown.” The report about UMaine’s first woman president details Hunter’s background both in the state and at the university, where she began her career as an adjunct professor in 1987. “Because I have spent my entire career here, I know people throughout the state. I feel very comfortable on the other campuses, visiting and meeting with people,” President Hunter said.

Categories: Combined News, News

Maine Edge Publishes Report on Blackstone’s Sexual Harassment Study

Wed, 08/27/2014 - 08:28

The Maine Edge published a report about sexual harassment research conducted by Amy Blackstone, an associate professor of sociology at the University of Maine and chairwoman of the Sociology Department. In a recent study, Blackstone examined how perceptions of sexual harassment at work are linked to an individual’s age, experience and historical backdrop. She found age is important because how perceptions shift over time links to several age-related processes such as maturity and historical context. Blackstone’s findings were documented in an article published in the Mid-South Sociological Association’s journal “Sociological Spectrum.”

Categories: Combined News, News

Latino Heritage Month Lecture Series Advanced in Maine Edge

Wed, 08/27/2014 - 08:27

The Maine Edge reported CHISPA-Centro Hispano’s seventh annual Hispanic Lecture Series for Latino Heritage Month will be held at the University of Maine in September and October. Lectures start at 6:30 p.m. Thursdays and are free and open to the public. The series kicks off Sept. 18, when Luis Millones-Figueroa, an assistant professor of Spanish and Latin American studies at Colby College, will speak about “The Story of the Bezoar Stone: A Wonder Medicine from the Andes.” Other speakers are clinical psychiatrist Minerva Villafane-Garcia on Sept. 25; Carlos Villacorta Gonzáles, an assistant professor of Spanish at UMaine, on Oct. 2; and Claudia Paz Aburto Guzmán, Spanish Department chair at Bates College, on Oct. 9.

Categories: Combined News, News

UMaine Vice President Ryan Announces Retirement

Tue, 08/26/2014 - 15:10

University of Maine President Susan Hunter and Judy Ryan, UMaine vice president for administration and finance, announced today that Ryan will retire Sept. 12.

Ryan joined the University of Maine in 2012 as associate vice president for human resources and administration. In April 2014, she replaced Janet Waldron, senior vice president for administration and finance, who resigned to be vice chancellor for finance at the University of North Texas System.

Ryan was asked to step in as vice president to review the organization in preparation for a search for a new vice president for administration and finance, and to meet the University of Maine System budget shortfall in the coming fiscal year. Now, with that oversight largely complete, Ryan will pursue her retirement plans.

“We will miss the breadth and depth of Judy’s experience in administration, finance and human resources,” says Hunter. “She has been an outstanding leader with vision and caring in support of the University of Maine and members of the UMaine community. She made UMaine a better place to live and work, and leaves the university in a solid financial position. We wish her the best.”

Ryan noted that the decision to leave UMaine has not been easy. “I have loved my time at UMaine and treasure this community,” she says. “After more than 30 years in higher education, I feel it is the right time to make this planned retirement a reality and turn over the reins.”

An interim vice president is expected to be announced by President Hunter in the coming weeks.

Categories: Combined News, News

Evelyn Fairman: At the Nano Scale

Tue, 08/26/2014 - 11:15

Click here to view more student profiles

Evelyn Fairman of Bangor graduated from the University of Maine in May with a bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering, and minors in renewable energy engineering and mathematics. This fall, she has begun graduate work in energy science, technology and policy, with a disciplinary concentration in chemical engineering at Carnegie Mellon University. Upon graduation in May 2015, she plans to work with alternative liquid fuels in an industrial setting.

For two years while at UMaine, Fairman was involved in nanocellulose research. Her work, which applied cetyltrimethylammonium bromide (CTAB) in order to dry and rehydrate nanocellulose for easier transport, was recognized with a 2013 UMaine Center for Undergraduate Research Fellowship. This spring, her work was featured in the Maine Journal, and Fairman was recognized by UMaine with the Edith M. Patch Award. Most recently, the poster from her Honors thesis, “Avoiding Aggregation During the Drying and Rehydration Phases of Nanocellulose Production,” was a finalist in the Society of Women Engineers Collegiate Technical Poster Competition.

Earlier this year, Fairman presented her research findings at the 2014 National Collegiate Research Conference at Harvard University. This summer, she also spoke at the 2014 TAPPI International Conference on Nanotechnology for Renewable Materials in Vancouver, B.C.

In her research, Fairman was mentored by engineering faculty members David Neivandt, James Beaupre and Karen Horton; Honors College Dean Francois Amar; and forest operations professor Douglas Gardner.

Why did you decide to major in chemical engineering?
I chose to major in chemical engineering because I wanted to change the way energy is manufactured and distributed. I felt obligated as an educated citizen to reverse the effects of climate change by reducing our nation’s dependence on fossil fuels. As a junior in high school, I hoped to one day design an alternative liquid fuel for the transportation sector. I was especially interested in the potential of fuel cells. I knew I wanted to major in engineering, but it was the University of Maine’s Consider Engineering summer program that convinced me to choose chemical.

How did you get involved in undergraduate research?
I contacted David Neivandt after I graduated high school. I had met him at the Consider Engineering program the previous summer, so I felt comfortable reaching out to him via email. He knew I was an incoming first-year chemical engineering major, and he was more than happy to assign me a student research assistantship under the guidance of one of his Ph.D, students, James Beaupre. The three of us continued to work on various research projects throughout my undergraduate career at the University of Maine.

What difference did the research make in your overall academic experience?
My classroom experience was richer because I was able to reinforce academic topics with hands-on experimental testing. I always loved math and science in high school, but I chose engineering because it was an applied field. It’s not often that an undergraduate has the opportunity to collect and analyze data for an independent research project, while getting paid. I was extremely lucky to have Dave and James as mentors. The research experience gave me the confidence to speak up in class, to ask questions if I didn’t understand the material, to present my results in weekly meetings, and to never hesitate to use upperclassmen and graduate students as resources. Indeed, my research experience convinced me by the end of the summer before my freshman year at UMaine that chemical engineering was the right field for me.

How do you describe your research to lay people?
That is a very good question. It is very important for scientists to be able to translate their research to layman’s terms, not just to fuel curiosity in those who work outside the field, but also for funding purposes. Here is what I usually say: The state of Maine has a strong pulp and paper industry. I am sure you know that we use trees to make paper. Well, trees — and all plant matter — are composed of cellulose. Cellulose is a useful material, but if you break it down into smaller pieces until it reaches nano-scale dimensions, we call that nanocellulose. Nanocellulose has very unique properties that allow it to be applied in a wide variety of fields. There is, however, a problem with the way nanocellulose is being produced industrially. Currently, nanocellulose is produced in an aqueous slurry. The water in this slurry eventually needs to be removed. However, when we remove the water, the nanocellulose clumps together and loses its nanoscale dimensions. Thus, its desirable properties are lost and it is no longer nanocellulose. My research project has a patented solution to this problem: We use the chemical additive CTAB to effectively dry and rehydrate nanocellulose.

Which faculty mentor did you work with most and what did you learn most from him or her?
I worked most closely with James Beaupre. James encouraged me to think outside the box and to consider all possibilities before drawing a conclusion. His guidance taught me to pay close attention to detail both during experiments and during data analysis. Outside the laboratory, his positive attitude reminded me not to forget the big picture.

Why did you choose UMaine?
I chose UMaine for the strong engineering program. Employers all over the U.S. recognize UMaine graduates as hardworking, genuine people. Having worked as an R&D intern for a chemical distribution company based in Delaware, I can say with confidence that UMaine engineers have a very good reputation outside of the state.

What is the most interesting, engaging or helpful class you took at UMaine?
I really enjoyed being in the Honors College. I know that’s not a specific class, but it allowed me to think about problems from alternative perspectives and to interact with students with different majors than my own. Also, my research project ultimately served as my undergraduate thesis for the Honors College. I cannot reflect on my academic experience at UMaine without thinking of the Honors College.

What was your favorite place on campus?
My favorite place on campus was the studio in 1944 Hall because I was actually really involved in the dance department at UMaine.

What advice do you have for incoming students?
Learn to manage your time and to study effectively. Never hesitate to reach out to upperclassmen in your major or faculty in your department. Once you’ve mastered the classroom environment, get involved in extracurricular activities, student clubs and/or Greek life. Join a professional organization (SWE, AIChE, etc.). Make a five-year plan. You’ll be surprised at graduation when you’ve achieved your original collegiate goals. Always push yourself outside of your comfort zone. Take a summer internship or study abroad if your program allows. Attend a hockey game and learn the Stein Song.

Have you had an experience at UMaine that has shaped the way you see the world?
I was a member of Sophomore Eagles, one of the four traditions groups on campus. The Sophomore Eagles is composed of 12 second-year female undergraduate students who exemplify five personality traits: scholarship, leadership, friendship, dignity and character. I cannot speak more highly of the other 11 young women who were Eagles along with me.

Ten years from now, what do you hope to be doing?
I would love to use my engineering background to eventually move into a policymaking role, perhaps at the EPA or at the state level. If that doesn’t happen, then I can see myself working as an investment banker in the energy sector.

Categories: Combined News, News

Casting a Long Shadow

Tue, 08/26/2014 - 10:52

Ask University of Maine School of Policy and International Affairs students what they did in class and the reply could be “helped save the world.”

SPIA graduate students have assisted refugees in South Africa, worked to ensure free and fair elections in the Middle East, compiled security briefings for the FBI, tracked threats directed at the Olympic Games in London and helped reforest Katmandu.

“We tell them, ‘Dream big. Think big.’ It’s there for the taking,” says director Jim Settele with the assuredness that comes from nearly three decades serving on active duty in the U.S. Navy.

Capt. Settele, who logged more than 3,000 flight hours and more than 600 carrier-arrested landings, was military assistant to the Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld at the Pentagon during operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom.

Now he helps SPIA students’ dreams take flight.

Settele asks the 25 SPIA students with a multitude of interests where they want to be two years after graduation. “And we figure out how to get them there,” he says.

When they get there, they’ll be armed with a Master of Arts in Global Policy and a concentration in international environmental policy, international trade and commerce, or international security and foreign policy and they’ll have experience and connections from internships and conferences around the globe.

Like Kate Kirby, an Orono, Maine, native who earned her degree in 2013. SPIA afforded her “space to dream big and the resources to achieve her ambitions,” she says.

“I was provided with unprecedented access to experts in the field on a regular basis,” says Kirby, who concentrated in sustainable community development in the International Environmental Policy track.

She participated in a Mercy Corps’ Fishing for Change pilot project that sought to increase income and protein consumption through improved fishing and agricultural productivity in Timor-Leste. Kirby assessed potential impacts of inland aquaculture development on protein intake by managing a questionnaire administered to fish farmers.

She conducted field visits and interviews with farmers as well as with nongovernmental organizations, international nongovernmental organizations, officials with the Timorese government and United Nations agencies.

“I learned that I could make a lasting impact on people’s lives working in the NGO sector, and that I really enjoy the daily challenges,” Kirby says. “That said, I concluded that with my particular skill set, I could potentially make a larger-scale impact in my short time on Earth.”

So Kirby set out to make her impact by exploring policymaking and enacting positive change through documentary filmmaking. During her final semester at UMaine, Kirby flew to Bolivia to film the daily lives of a quinoa-farming couple.

She sought to learn how the global rise in demand for Andean quinoa — a superfood trendy with health-conscious and gluten-free consumers — was impacting the couple and other growers in Bolivia. Since then, Kirby founded Kindred Planet Productions “to capture the interconnectedness of a 21st-century world, raise awareness around social justice issues and inspire action.”

The SPIA experience, she says, provided her with a “better understanding of the challenges and complexities we face as a global community, and possible solutions for solving these problems.”

Benjamin Levelius agreed. He’s on track to graduate in spring 2014 with a concentration in international security and foreign policy.

The 26 year old says SPIA helps people who want to make a difference in the world access the knowledge, people and positions that will enable them to do so. “Don’t give up on idealistic intentions just because they seem far-fetched,” he says.

Or far-ranging.

Levelius, from Stratford, Wisconsin, has attended conferences in the United Arab Emirates, Maine and Washington, D.C. He’s worked in India and Nicaragua and visited Bangladesh to observe work performed by NGOs in an urban setting. His internship was in Kerala, India, with Yearoutindia, an NGO that concentrates on water, sanitation and hygiene initiatives in tribal communities. He met with the new king of the Mannan Tribe and helped open a new base of operations with the Mudhuvan Tribe.

“As India emerges as a worldwide economic powerhouse, the cost of construction materials, food and transportation has risen faster than the wages of the people in this region, which has hindered the influx of volunteers and slowed the speed of development,” says Levelius, who researched alternative cost-saving toilet construction methods that suited the rainforest climate.

Classes were valuable, as well, Levelius says, including one in which the professor and students tracked developing situations, such as in the Ukraine in spring 2014, and one in which he learned to write grants. “Whether through the connections you can make through faculty and administrators, class work, conferences or internships, it will act as a catalyst to help you get to where you need to go,” Levelius says.

The United Nations is where SPIA student Hamdane Bordji wants to be. And that’s where he is.

In spring 2014, Bordji, who calls Algeria home, interned at the UN in New York City. In an April blog on the SPIA website about his internship he wrote, “The nature of my work … can be summed up in the following: Think differently and act as one … I have realized that it is with no doubt that I want to be a member of the UN community, to be surrounded with this type of people at my workplace, and to be in the midst of world affairs.”

In March, Bordji, who is on track to graduate in December 2014 with a concentration in international security and foreign policy, was in the midst of the International Women’s Day events at the UN. He shook hands with Ban Ki-moon, the eighth Secretary-General of the United Nations and saw former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who during her address to the UN, said gender equality is the “unfinished business of the 21st century.”

Bordji blogged that he has applied much of what he learned with SPIA to his internship, “but there are so many things to learn outside of the classroom.”

“This experience did throw me into the profound workings of the United Nations — in a pool of deals and ideas made by contributions from a diversified group of prominent intellectuals, practitioners and policymakers of our times,” he wrote.

First-year SPIA student Shelby Saucier heard firsthand a speech delivered by one of the most prominent spiritual leaders of the time, the Dalai Lama. The Cumberland, Maine, native attended the January 2014 conference “Bounds of Ethics in a Globalised World” at Christ University in Bangalore, India, where the Dalai Lama delivered the keynote.

“The global economy has made our world one,” reads an excerpt from the speech he delivered. “We need a corresponding sense of the oneness of humanity. If we are realistic, truthful and honest, we can communicate with anyone and everyone.”

Saucier, who is concentrating in International Security and Foreign Policy with a special interest in development, plans to promote education advocacy and family planning education in East Africa. “SPIA is composed of dreamers,” she says, “… and the program nurtures the dreams and facilitates them.”

Settele says SPIA’s accomplished board of advisers helps students achieve dreams by forging connections. And primary benefactor Penny Wolfe’s funding enables students to travel to, and participate in, conferences and internships around the planet.

One member of the SPIA Advisory Board, His Excellency, Dr. Jamal Al-Suwaidi of Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, is director general of the Emirates Center for Strategic Studies and Research (ECSSR). The ECSSR has funded two trips for graduate students to Abu Dhabi, Settele says.

“I have high expectations,” Settele says of SPIA, which admitted its first class in fall 2010. “We (SPIA) have a small footprint but cast a big shadow.”

Students aim to be a significant positive influence, as well.

“If you can point to a person in the world who is doing exactly what you want to do, you can do it too, and SPIA will try to move mountains to get you to where you want to go, but you gotta be down there, pushing with them,” says Levelius.

Categories: Combined News, News

Reuters Interviews Hayes About JAMA Commentary

Tue, 08/26/2014 - 10:17

Marie Hayes, a University of Maine professor of psychology, spoke with Reuters about an invited commentary she co-wrote with Dr. Mark Brown, chief of pediatrics and director of nurseries at Eastern Maine Medical Center, for the Aug. 25 Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA). The commentary, “Legalization of Medical Marijuana and Incidence of Opioid Mortality,” references a study in the same JAMA issue examining the link between medical marijuana laws and unintentional overdose mortality from opioid analgesics. “Because opioid mortality is such a tremendously significant health crisis now, we have to do something and figure out what’s going on,” Hayes told Reuters, adding efforts that states are making to combat deaths, such as prescription monitoring programs, have been relatively ineffective. “Everything we’re doing is having no effect, except for in the states that have implemented medical marijuana laws,” she said. Fox News and the Bangor Daily News carried the Reuters report. Live Science, Boston.com, Los Angeles Times, Science Codex and The Washington Post also reported on the JAMA articles. The Portland Press Herald carried the LA Times article.

Categories: Combined News, News

UMaine Makes Washington Monthly’s ‘Best Bang for the Buck’ List, BDN Reports

Tue, 08/26/2014 - 10:14

The Bangor Daily News reported the University of Maine made Washington Monthly’s “Best Bang for the Buck” list, which recognizes institutions “in America that do the best job of helping non-wealthy students attain marketable degrees at affordable prices,” according to the magazine’s editors. Washington Monthly evaluated about 1,700 colleges and universities and selected 349 based on criteria that reward schools that do well with students from lower-income families, according to the BDN. UMaine was one of four Maine colleges to make the list, with a ranking of 132. The University of Maine at Farmington ranked 184, Maine Maritime Academy ranked 232 and College of the Atlantic ranked 240.

Categories: Combined News, News

BDN Article Cites UMaine Electrical Engineering, MDOT Moose Illuminator Project

Tue, 08/26/2014 - 10:12

The Bangor Daily News reported on efforts the Maine Department of Transportation (MDOT) is taking to reduce the number of moose-vehicle accidents. The article states the MDOT has several plans in the works, including a “moose illuminator project,” that calls for the installation of LED lights along sections of Route 161 with a high moose concentration. The lights would turn on after dark when a vehicle approaches, with the intent of lighting the roadway to reveal moose, the article states. The project was designed in cooperation with students in the University of Maine’s Electrical Engineering Department as part of their senior project this past spring, according to Andrew Sheaff, a lecturer in the department. “This was a really cool project,” he said. “And we hope it will help out motorists avoid moose.”

Categories: Combined News, News

Morse Mentioned in Forecaster Article on Green Crabs

Tue, 08/26/2014 - 10:11

Dana Morse, a Maine Sea Grant researcher who works at the University of Maine’s Darling Marine Center, was quoted in The Forecaster’s article, “Even in retreat, green crabs confound Maine shellfish industry.” Morse said there is a small, but motivated group in the state looking for ways to market the crabs. He added one idea — that hasn’t yet panned out — is to use the crabs as bait for the conch fishing industry in Massachusetts.

Categories: Combined News, News

Brewer Quoted in Press Herald Article on Judge’s Campaign Contribution Ruling

Tue, 08/26/2014 - 10:10

The Portland Press Herald spoke with University of Maine political scientist Mark Brewer for an article about a federal judge siding with four supporters of independent gubernatorial candidate Eliot Cutler who sued the state over campaign contribution limits for non-party candidates. Brewer told the Press Herald he wasn’t surprised by the ruling and has often wondered why the provision wasn’t challenged sooner. “That said, I don’t know that this will affect the (governor’s) race,” he said. “Where this is more important is the precedent it sets.”

Categories: Combined News, News

Latino Heritage Month Lecture Series Announced

Tue, 08/26/2014 - 10:08

CHISPA-Centro Hispano’s seventh annual Hispanic Lecture Series for Latino Heritage Month will be held at the University of Maine’s Arthur St. John Hill Auditorium (165 Barrows Hall) in September and October.

Lectures start at 6:30 p.m. Thursdays and are free and open to the public.

The series kicks off Sept. 18, when Luis Millones-Figueroa, an assistant professor of Spanish and Latin American studies at Colby College, will speak about “The Story of the Bezoar Stone: A Wonder Medicine from the Andes.”

Other lectures are: “Ventajas del bilingüismo — Advantages of Bilingualism,” by clinical psychiatrist Minerva Villafane-Garcia on Sept. 25; “Alicia, esto es el capitalismo: When fiction depicts economy,” by Carlos Villacorta Gonzáles, an assistant professor of Spanish at UMaine, on Oct. 2; and “Immigration Issues Impacting the Latino Community” by Claudia Paz Aburto Guzmán, Spanish Department chair at Bates College, on Oct. 9.

Co-sponsors of the Hispanic Lecture Series include UMaine’s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, Department of Modern Languages and Classics, Department of History and the University of Maine Humanities Initiative.

The mission of Bangor-based CHISPA is to educate the state on Latino culture, heritage and language. For more information about CHISPA-Centro Hispano, email centrohispanochispa@gmail.com or call Angel Loredo at 207.478.1019.

Categories: Combined News, News

Pot Versus Pills

Tue, 08/26/2014 - 07:57

The potential for medical marijuana to curb the growing incidence of opioid analgesic-associated deaths is the focus of an invited commentary in the Aug. 25 Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), co-authored by a University of Maine psychology researcher and a physician at Eastern Maine Medical Center.

The invited commentary, “Legalization of Medical Marijuana and Incidence of Opioid Mortality,” by Marie Hayes, a UMaine professor of psychology, and Dr. Mark Brown, chief of pediatrics and director of nurseries at EMMC, references a study in the same JAMA issue examining the link between medical marijuana laws and unintentional overdose mortality from opioid analgesics.

This is the second time in the past two years that Hayes has been tapped for commentary by JAMA as a result of her research on substance-exposed newborns. And in 2013, she also was the co-author on a JAMA research paper.

“The striking implication is that medical marijuana laws, when implemented, may represent a promising approach for stemming runaway rates of nonintentional opioid analgesic-related deaths,” write Hayes and Brown.

Use of medical marijuana to lessen the drive to use opiates at lethal levels in individuals with psychiatric, nonpain-related conditions is particularly promising, the Maine researchers write. That’s critically important for states like Maine, where the rates of opioid analgesic overdose deaths are high, and addiction and related psychiatric disorders represent an estimated 50 percent of opioid analgesic-related deaths.

The question that needs more study, says Hayes, is whether marijuana provides improved pain control that decreases opioid dosing to safer levels.

Since 2009, research led by Hayes and Brown has included the collection of genetic data as part of a longitudinal study of mothers and their substance-exposed newborns. In 2011, Hayes and Brown began collaborating with Drs. Jonathan Davis and Elisha Wachman at Tufts Medical Center to determine which genes would be most helpful in predicting severity of withdrawal symptoms and, ultimately, most effective treatments and lengths of hospital stays.

Their research is part of a $3 million, multi-institution National Institutes of Health (NIH) study led by Davis at Tufts Medical Center and Barry Lester at Brown Medical School. Hayes is a member of the steering committee on the associated clinical trial, providing expertise on genetic polymorphisms and developmental outcomes in neonatal abstinence syndrome (NAS) infants.

The first findings of the collaborative research with Wachman and Davis at Tufts Medical Center, and Hayes on the genetics of neonatal abstinence syndrome were reported in JAMA in 2013. The research team also included Jonathan Paul, a former UMaine doctoral researcher under Hayes who helped develop the genetic model and who is now an NIH postdoc at the University of Texas Medical Branch.

A year ago, JAMA featured an editorial by Hayes and Brown, “The Epidemic of Prescription Opiate Abuse and Neonatal Abstinence,” detailing the challenges of caring for this vulnerable population, cautioning against defunding maternal treatment programs, and calling for stepped-up research into effective medications and other protocols.

Contact: Margaret Nagle, 207.581.3745

Categories: Combined News, News

Holberton Quoted in SeacoastOnline, AP Reports on Bird Migration Research

Mon, 08/25/2014 - 10:50

Rebecca Holberton, a professor of biological sciences at the University of Maine, was quoted in a SeacoastOnline article about the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service using tiny transmitters to study shorebird migration patterns. The tags transmit signals to radio towers on the Northeast coast of the United States and Canada, with two of the towers in the Rachel Carson Wildlife Refuge in Wells, according to the report. The Wells activity is part of a larger project to study migration patterns of semipalmated sandpipers, which began in 2013, the article states. The larger project is co-directed by Holberton and Lindsay Tudor, a shorebird biologist for the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife. Holberton said the project is still at the beginning. “Last year was the first time for shorebird tracking in Maine,” she said. “This is the first year in Wells. It’s the first year with more than one site in Maine. We want to continue and expand to more sites in Maine and more species.” The Associated Press and the Bangor Daily News picked up the SeacoastOnline article. The Portland Press Herald and Maine Public Broadcasting Network carried the AP report.

Categories: Combined News, News

Moriarity, Hooper Featured in Mainebiz Article on Bangor Innovation Hub

Mon, 08/25/2014 - 10:47

Jesse Moriarity, coordinator of the University of Maine’s Foster Center for Student Innovation, and Jennifer Hooper, an entrepreneur and mentor coordinator at the center, were featured in the Mainebiz article “Innovation, Maine style: A creativity hub hopes to keep good ideas in-state.” Moriarity and Hooper are co-coordinators of the Bangor Innovation Hub, which is one of five hubs planned for development statewide and funded by Blackstone Accelerates Growth, a three-year, $3 million grant from the Blackstone Charitable Foundation. The hubs are aimed at bridging the gap between good ideas and profitable businesses, according to the article. UMaine is one of the key partners in the Bangor Innovation Hub, along with Husson University and the towns of Orono and Old Town.

Categories: Combined News, News