University of Maine News
Several news organizations, including Channel 5 (WABI) reported on the selection by National Geographic magazine of University of Maine marine scientist and cold-water diver Rhian Waller for a select list of New Age of Exploration scientists to be profiled. Waller, an assistant research professor in the UMaine School of Marine Sciences, has been on 40 expeditions around the world and is a cold-water coral expert. The Portland Press Herald carried an Associated Press article about Waller.
UMaine students interested in IT internships and jobs after graduation are invited to a Project>Login networking reception from 5–7 p.m., Monday, Feb. 25, in Room 3, Wells Conference Center. The reception is an opportunity for students majoring in computer science and computer engineering to meet IT professionals and leaders of some of the Maine companies that want to hire them as part of Project>Login, the newest program of Educate Maine.
The networking reception is the first in a statewide series of relationship-building events for aspiring IT professionals and potential Maine employers as part of Project>Login’s goal to double the number of computer and technology degree graduates in Maine in four years.
Among the businesses expected to attend the UMaine reception to talk to students about the role of IT in their companies, the opportunities for internships and co-ops, and the need to hire qualified graduates in these fields: Bangor Savings Bank, Eastern Maine Healthcare Systems, Unum, Tyler Technologies, Cianbro, WEX and Dead River Co.
Project>Login was launched earlier this month with the goal of generating enough trained professionals in computer science, computer engineering and information technology to keep Maine businesses at the forefront of their industries. The initiative is a partnership between the University of Maine System, Educate Maine and private-sector businesses. Educate Maine is a business-led organization whose mission is to champion college, career readiness and increased education attainment.
Contact: Margaret Nagle, 207.581.3745.
UMaine Students Rolling Up Sleeves for Spring Break Volunteerism
Dozens of University of Maine students are headed to Honduras, Belize, Florida, the Grand Canyon and New Orleans and other places over spring break, March 4–15, to build houses and a sewage system, clean up parks, deliver health care services to the poor, and help out in rural schools and orphanages.
In the last few months, students from varied academic disciplines have been raising tens of thousands of dollars for travel and living expenses during their service-learning and volunteer projects in the U.S. and Central America. Some leaving Maine for the first time will immerse themselves in diverse cultural and philanthropic adventures while making a difference in the quality of life for the people they will serve.
“I feel very grateful to have the opportunity to be able to make an impact in the lives of people in need,” says Gwen Beacham, a molecular and cellular biology major from Farmington, Maine. She is heading March 2 to the outskirts of Dulce Nombre in western Honduras with the UMaine chapter of Engineers Without Borders. She and four other students, an interpreter, a faculty adviser and a private-sector engineering consultant will spend two weeks finishing a new sewer collection and sanitation system that UMaine student engineers designed and helped build. They’ll also teach the 120 villagers in Dulce Vivir how to operate it.
Beacham, who has never been outside the United States or Canada, isn’t sure what to expect on her first “real” travel experience, she says.
“I can imagine that I will return to Maine with such different eyes,” she says. “I am excited that I am actually able to do something to help, and I especially love that this project is so collaborative, as the community members have played a major role in the implementation of the system. Not only is this more sustainable, but it ensures that our effort is being put into a project that the community wants.”
UMaine’s Engineers Without Borders has won several honors, including a $25,000 award last year from the Newman’s Own Foundation for its work in Dulce Vivir, which started in 2008. The project will help villagers struggling with poor sanitation and overflowing latrines during the rainy season, which contaminates water supplies.
“This project provides valuable lessons in the field of engineering, while allowing me to participate in a humanitarian, life-changing experience,” says Logan Good, a mechanical engineering major from Presque Isle.
Meanwhile, 13 UMaine School of Nursing students in the UMaine Nursing International organization have partnered with International Service Learning to offer medical assistance in rural clinics in San Ignacio, Cayo District of Belize. Accompanied by Nilda Cravens, School of Nursing faculty member, they’ll work over the break with physicians providing health care to underprivileged families and children.
The UMaine Bodwell Center for Service and Volunteerism and UMaine Alternative Break also are organizing dozens of students planning spring break trips in the United States, says Andrea Gifford, assistant dean of students for Student Affairs and director of student and administrative support services. The students will partner with a variety of national organizations to help children victimized by domestic abuse in Virginia; improve housing conditions for low-income families in the coal-camp communities of West Virginia; assisting at a rescue camp for neglected and abused animals in Pennsylvania; provide respite in Florida for vacationing families of children with terminal illnesses; and help with disaster relief and rebuilding homes in New Orleans.
The Bodwell Center also is overseeing student volunteer trips to help with maintenance and trail restoration in the Grand Canyon in Arizona and in the Moody Forest Natural Area in Georgia.
Aaron Cyr, a Bangor native and senior nursing student making his second trip to Belize, says his trip last year was a startling introduction to poverty that many Americans can’t imagine unless they experience it firsthand.
“Things such as clean running water, the availability of limitless amounts of food and small things such as heat or air conditioning, that we take for granted every day,” he says. “I am being given the opportunity to positively affect countless lives for the better.”
Gwen Beacham agrees. “I believe that becoming aware of the different ways people live will lead to positive personal growth and development, and I’m sure I will realize how lucky I am to have some things I have always taken for granted,” she says.
Contact: George Manlove, 207.581.3756
Small migratory male birds that winter in a stressful environment age faster than those that winter in a high-quality habitat, according to research stemming from a collaborative National Science Foundation grant between the University of Maine and Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute.
The team of biologists, led by former postdoctoral researcher Frederic Angelier working under the direction of UMaine Professor of Biological Sciences Rebecca Holberton, focused on telomeres — the long, repetitive noncoding sequences of DNA at the end of chromosomes that protect chromosomes from degradation and play a role in the aging process.
The researchers found that telomeres of male American redstarts (Setophaga ruticilla) that winter in the arid Jamaican scrub habitat shortened significantly faster than telomeres of male American redstarts that winter in a lush Jamaican black mangrove forest.
The findings suggest birds’ nonbreeding environment impacts the rate of telomere shortening and has important indirect effects on migratory bird population, the team says.
The researchers also found males with shorter telomeres are less likely to return to the nonbreeding territory the ensuing year than those with longer telomeres, confirming previous studies that telomere length is related to survival in vertebrates.
American redstarts generally arrive in the Font Hill Nature Preserve in Jamaica in mid-September, where they remain until spring migration in April or May.
The NSF project is part of a long-term collaboration between Holberton and Peter Marra, a research scientist at the Smithsonian’s Migratory Bird Center. Holberton is a migratory bird expert who researches how external and internal factors affect avian survival.
Angelier is now a researcher at Centre d’Etudes Biologiques de Chizé in France. Angelier, Holberton and Marra were joined in the NSF research by Carol Vleck, an associate professor in the Department of Ecology, Evolution, and Organismal Biology at Iowa State University.
The team’s findings were published in the Jan. 31, 2013 edition of Functional Ecology.
Contact: Beth Staples, 207.581.3777
St. John Valley Times reported on the discovery through testing at the University of Maine Animal Health Laboratory of a tiny parasitic tapeworm that can exist in the lungs of moose and intestines of canines, both wild and domestic, which could expose humans to the parasite. Excessive lungworm presence can compromise the health of moose. The Maine Center for Disease Control, the Animal Health Lab and UMaine Cooperative Extension, and the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife advise people to wear latex or rubber gloves when field dressing game and thoroughly cook game meat, the article said. Channel 7 (WVII) also carried a report on the parasite.
The Bangor Daily News reported on the temporary evacuation Feb. 21 of Hitchner Hall at the University of Maine after a chemical reaction released chlorine gas in a lab in the building. The chemical reaction was contained, no injuries were reported and employees and students returned to the building after several hours.
Hitchner Hall reopened at 2:15 p.m., Feb. 21 after a small chemical reaction in a third-floor hallway caused the building to be evacuated midday.
No injuries were reported. As a precaution, four building occupants were sent to Cutler Health Center for observation.
A laboratory manager was attempting to neutralize chlorine tablets in a five-gallon bucket for disposal when the reaction occurred. The chlorine tablets are used for disinfecting laboratories.
The lab manager added sodium bisulfate, followed by water. The chemicals reacted and offed gas.
The lab manager put the lid on the bucket, pulled the fire alarm and called the University of Maine Police Department, which evacuated building.
An estimated 150 people were in the building when the incident occurred.
The Orono-Old Town Emergency Response Team has verified that the chemical reaction was contained in the bucket and there were no further chemical reactions or residual in the building. The hazmat unit placed the bucket in a separate overpack container and removed it from the building.
The Panhellenic Council at the University of Maine, an organization of UMaine’s seven sororities, received five national awards recently from the Association of Fraternal Leadership Values. The awards are for academic achievement, council management, philanthropy and community service, risk reduction and management, self-governance and judicial affairs. Council members Geena Lucas, president, Elissa Bate, vice president of programming, and Katy Clement, vice president for recruitment, received the awards at a ceremony in Indianapolis.
University of Maine alumnus and Professor Emeritus of Agricultural and Resource Economics Edward F. Johnston Jr. died Feb. 17 in Bangor at age 85, according to his obituary in the Bangor Daily News. A native of Easton, Maine, Johnston spent 37 years with the Maine Agricultural and Forest Experiment Station researching potato storage, handling and marketing, and taught statistics at UMaine for 22 years. He retired in 1991. A longtime member of the Maine Potato Board, he was the first archivist and compiled a history of the association. He was named an honorary life member in 1982. Johnston is survived by his wife of 29 years, Jean-Marie Boddy-Johnston of Milford, and children, grandchildren, nieces and nephews. A memorial service will be held at 11 a.m., Wednesday, March 27 at St. James Episcopal Church, 132 Center St., Old Town. A reception will take place afterward at the University of Maine Buchanan Alumni House. Gifts may be made in his memory to St. James Church, P.O. Box 183, Old Town, 04468.
Andover, the magazine of Phillips Academy, noted in its alumni accomplishments section on page 58 that University of Maine Research Professor of Geological Sciences Ed Grew recently had two newly discovered minerals named after him by Russian geologists.
The international website Fresh Plaza published an article about University of Maine Department of Plant, Soil, and Environmental Sciences graduate student Kristen Brown, who is working to develop a potato variety that is resistant to potato blight. Channel 7 (WVII) also reported on the research.
Orono Town Planner Evan Richert will be the guest speaker from 9 a.m.–noon, Thursday, Feb. 21 at 107 Norman Smith Hall for a free public workshop and discussion on university-community partnerships, presented by CERTS (Community Engaged Research, Teaching and Service) at the University of Maine. The workshop title is “Community Engagement: Co-Determining Needs and Capacities.” To register or to request disability accommodations, contact to Claire Sullivan. A light breakfast and refreshments will be provided.
Jeff Thaler, University of Maine Visiting Professor of Energy Law and Policy with the UMaine School of Economics and the University of Maine School of Law, will join a panel discussion March 2 at a Yale Law School conference on environmental law. Themes to be explored at the “New Directions in Environmental Law: The Power of Voice” conference include resolving conflicts between environmental values.
In late May, Thaler also will present at the Institute for Natural Resources Law Teachers in Flagstaff, Ariz., a three-day conference to discuss environmental law and climate change. The title of his presentation is “Are Our Environmental Laws Obsolete or Unhelpful in our Climate Changed World?”
Terry Porter, UMaine associate professor of management, has been awarded a Fulbright fellowship to spend the spring 2014 semester at Cardiff University in the United Kingdom researching, in collaboration with colleagues there, the social processes by which business organizations navigate toward greater sustainability.
A University of Maine graduate student and a faculty member have received an international Digital Humanities Award for their work in digital humanities, which combines studies and information in liberal arts and humanities with computer technology for storage, sharing or exploring research. In recognition of their collaborative Digital Humanities Toolbox UMaine history doctoral candidate Rob Gee and Honors College and Maine Studies faculty member Katherine O’Flaherty won first place in the category “Best Professional Resource for Learning About or Doing DH Work.” Nominations for the awards, which recognize excellence in digital humanities in six categories, came from around the international digital humanities community. Members of the public chose the winners through online balloting. Gee and O’Flaherty were nominated in two categories: “Best DH Blog, Article, or Short Publication” for their post “Summer Project: Start a Digital History Toolbox,” available online and “Best Professional Resource for Learning About or Doing DH Work” for their Digital Humanities Tool Box.
Celebrating its 100-year anniversary in 2013, University of Maine Cooperative Extension 4-H continues to offer a series of activities that enrich the lives of more than 30,000 Maine children ages 5–18 throughout Maine each year with hands-on indoor and outdoor experiences. Here is a list of some of the 4-H programs offered in 2013 that could make colorful, educational feature stories illustrating how 4-H broadens life skills and horizons for Maine’s youth.
Robotics Expos — March 16, Machias, and tentatively scheduled in October in southern Maine
Robotics expos include workshops and presentations by college students and professionals who work with robotics. Youths engage in hands-on learning as teams tackle an engineering challenge. Staff contacts: Jennifer Lobley, UMaine Extension educator, Washington County, 800.255.3345; Sarah Sparks, Extension 4-H youth development professional, Androscoggin-Sagadahoc counties, 207.353.5550.
Children, Youth & Families at Risk Grant Project: Sustainable Living Teen Volunteers —
4-H Camp and Learning Center at Bryant Pond and Cumberland County, mid-April-early June. Many of these schools also are Environmental Living & Learning for Maine Students Project schools. The Maine Sustainable Communities Project is an effort to provide Maine teens with knowledge, skills, attitudes and behavior necessary for fulfilling, contributing lives. Sustainable Living Teen Volunteer training for middle school students promotes ecological and sustainable living, and life skills. It also involves service-learning projects. Long-term outcomes of the program for high school students include developing positive relationships with adults in inclusive and safe environments; engaging in their own learning; and experience belonging, independence and generosity. High school and middle school students engage in positive learning experiences in classroom and outdoor settings; learn the value of living sustainably and the importance of community service. The program encourages individuals, families and schools to adopt sustainable living practices that will reduce their environmental impact. Contact Catherine Elliott, UMaine Extension wildlife and fisheries specialist, Orono, 207.581.2902.
Kids Can Grow Programs — April–September
Kids Can Grow is a gardening program for ages 7–12. Through a series of hands-on gardening classes, children learn how to choose, plant and grow vegetables, herbs and flowers; the basics of good nutrition and food safety; how to build and plant a raised-bed garden at home, with materials, seedlings and amended topsoil supplied by UMaine Extension. Children are matched with Master Gardener Program or 4-H volunteers who mentor, assist and inspire them to be home gardeners. Sessions are 10 a.m.–12:30 p.m., April 27, May 11, June 1, July 20, Aug. 17 and Sept. 21. Contact Frank Wertheim, UMaine Extension educator, York County, 207.324.2814.
Maine 4-H Days — July 19–21, Windsor Fairgrounds
In 2012, more than 480 youths, volunteers and parents traveled from across the state to attend the three-day Maine 4-H Days. The program offered more than 60 workshops for 4-H youth, including robotics, rocketry, archery, gardening, cooking, nutrition, forestry and physics, in addition to traditional 4-H livestock experiences. Maine 4-H Days activities are for all Maine youths and their families. This year’s event will include a 4-H 100-year celebration. Contact Sarah Sparks, Extension 4-H youth development professional, Androscoggin-Sagadahoc counties, 207.353.5550.
Tech Wizards — ongoing at the Bryant Pond Learning Center and in Kittery
Tech Wizards offers a variety of service-learning projects and ongoing school support. Two camps scheduled this summer on rockets and robots involve Operation Military Kids and Tech Wizards. Camps at Bryant Pond are scheduled July 21–26 and Aug. 4–9. Tech Wizard training in Kittery is scheduled April 29–May 1. The mission of 4-H Tech Wizards, held both in classrooms and after school, is to engage ages 8–17 in small-group mentoring programs focused on technology. In a previous project, students used submersible robots and tarps to assist with invasive milfoil identification and eradication with a western Maine community lake association. The program is funded by the National 4-H Council and the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention. Based at Bryant Pond, other groups also participate in Tech Wizards in other counties. Contact Susan Jennings, UMaine Extension educator, Oxford County, 207.743.6329.
National 4-H Science Day — October
In Maine, 4-H celebrates National 4-H Science Day throughout October with a designated science project each year in many counties. This year’s experiment will relate to geospatial technologies. 4-H staff members will conduct a specific experiment with 4-H clubs, after-school programs and public libraries. Contact Sarah Sparks, 207.353.5550, for details.
4-H Afterschool Academy — ongoing
The academy focused on 4-H science and youth development has trained 380 after-school providers and reached 15,000 youths. Contact Kristy Ouellette, assistant UMaine Extension educator in 4-H youth and family development, Androscoggin-Sagadahoc counties, 207.353.5550; and Jennifer Lobley, Washington County, 800.255.3345.
4-H and the Lewiston Housing Authority — ongoing
4-H opportunities in Lewiston with the Housing Authority reach underrepresented and underserved youth. This year, the project has expanded to include 4-H science activities. Contact Kristy Ouellette, assistant Extension educator in 4-H youth and family development, Androscoggin-Sagadahoc counties, 207.353.5550.
SciGirls Training — ongoing
“SciGirls” is a PBS Kids television series designed to change how tweens think about STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics). SciGirls Training, offered in Maine by UMaine Extension and UMaine’s College of Engineering, integrates inquiry-based STEM instruction with a commitment to gender equity. Educators attending SciGirls Training learn about the latest research for engaging girls and boys in STEM, as well as activities that can put a creative twist on teaching STEM. Contact Laura Wilson, UMaine Extension 4-H science and youth development professional, Orono, 207.581.2971.
Expanded Learning Opportunities — 4-H Camp and Learning Center at Bryant Pond
Throughout the year, Expanded Learning Opportunities STEM programs are offered every Friday at Bryant Pond and every Tuesday and Wednesday at either Bryant Pond or Molly Ockett Middle School in Fryeburg. Supported by local superintendents, principals and teachers, the program involves middle school students partnering with local at-risk youths to engage in experiential learning programs. The program has resulted in decreased school absenteeism, improved grades and more engaged students. Contact Susan Jennings, UMaine Extension educator, Oxford County, 207.743.6329.
As the Maine Office of Tourism looks for new strategies to strengthen the tourism economy in the state, University of Maine Associate Professor of Marketing Harold Daniel in the Maine Business School is available to discuss a “quality labels” concept that UMaine market research suggests would be help.
Daniel says a UMaine student survey in late 2011 indicated that four out of 10 visitors interviewed said they would pay higher prices for a “certified” vacation destination. Quality labels assigned to certain Maine woods and outdoors vacation establishments that put a premium on environmental stewardship, for example, would acknowledge qualifying businesses that share a commitment to quality lodging, dining, recreational opportunities, positive environmental practices and community contributions.
At the first in a series of Governor’s Conference on Tourism statewide hearings recently, speakers suggested ways to heighten tourists’ awareness of and interest in high-quality vacation experiences through consistent brand marketing and advocacy.
David Vail, Bowdoin College professor of economics and director emeritus of environmental studies at the college, and Daniel explained their research in an article, “Consumer Support for a Maine Woods Tourism Quality Label,” in the 2012 Volume 21, Issue 2 edition of the Maine Policy Review, published by the University of Maine Margaret Chase Smith Policy Center.
The next two state tourism conferences are March 19 in the Portland area and April 17 in the Bangor area.
Contact: Harold Daniel, 207.581.1933, or George Manlove, 207.581.3756
The Bangor Daily News published a feature story about University of Maine Assistant Research Professor Rhian Waller, whose cold-water coral research is being featured in the March issue of National Geographic magazine. National Geographic has included Waller in its Risk Takers series on scientists who push the limits for the betterment of society.