University of Maine News
Medical Xpress reported on research by Dorothy Klimis-Zacas, a clinical nutritionist and professor at the University of Maine. Klimis-Zacas’ latest research found eating 2 cups of wild blueberries a day for two months can reduce chronic inflammation, improve metabolism of fat and lower LDL cholesterol. She also found a diet enriched with the fruit can normalize gene expression of inflammatory markers and those related to lipid and lipoprotein metabolism.
Fenceviewer, the community news and information website for Hancock County, Maine, included an article on the need for participants in a University of Maine-led child food and fitness study called iCook. The five-state, $2.5 million USDA study is designed to prevent childhood obesity by improving culinary skills and promoting family meals. Researchers are seeking 100 children from the Ellsworth, Orono or Dover-Foxcroft areas who are 9 or 10 years old.
The University of Maine-led offshore wind project and its deployment of the first floating offshore wind turbine in the U.S. was mentioned in a Design News blog titled “Researchers build concrete-composite offshore floating wind turbine.”
The University of Maine System’s use of the company Study Group to recruit international students to UMaine in Orono and the University of Southern Maine in Portland is the focus of a Maine Center for Public Interest Reporting article. Sun Journal, Portland Press Herald and Bangor Daily News also carried the report.
An author and retired University of Maine forestry professor will talk about the roots of the Appalachian Trail in the state at 6:30 p.m. Sept. 24 at the Buchanan Alumni House on campus.
David Field, a member of the Maine Appalachian Trail Club (MATC), will share stories and insights, as well as scenic and historical photographs, during the free presentation titled “Finding the Trail — How the Appalachian Trail Came to Maine.”
The MATC is sponsoring the 45-minute presentation in the McIntire Maine Event Room. Doors open at 6 p.m. Since 1935, the MATC has managed the 267 miles of trail in the state.
Since 1956, Field has maintained the same six miles of the trail near Saddleback Mountain. After his presentation, the member of the Appalachian Trail Hall of Fame will sign copies of his book, “Along Maine’s Appalachian Trail.”
Upon the recommendation of Provost-Designate Jeffrey Hecker, University of Maine President Paul W. Ferguson has named Naomi Jacobs as interim dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, effective Sept. 1, 2013. Jacobs, a professor of English, has been appointed to a one-year term, with a national search to begin this academic year.
Hecker, who was dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences prior to his appointment as provost earlier this month, said Jacobs is the ideal person to lead the college in the coming year. “I am very pleased that Naomi is willing to move into the dean position on such short notice,” he said. “Naomi is an innovative and savvy administrator who was tremendously successful as chair of the English Department. She has the confidence of the college’s leadership team and faculty.”
Jacobs noted that “almost every student who graduates from the University of Maine has gained knowledge, insights and skills through classes taken in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. It is an honor to have the opportunity to oversee the college’s talented faculty and staff during this transitional period, and to continue work on the exciting initiatives begun under Dean Hecker’s leadership.”
President Ferguson added, “It is a pleasure to have Naomi join the UMaine leadership team. She brings substantive experience and wisdom to our College of Liberal Arts and Sciences at a time when this college is an integral partner in defining and implementing our 21st-century vision and mission.”
Jacobs has been a UMaine faculty member since 1982 and served as chair of the Department of English from 2007–12. She received a Ph.D. in the theory and history of the novel and an M.A. in English literature, both from the University of Missouri, Columbia in 1982 and 1977, respectively. Her B.A. in English literature in 1975 is from Luther College, where she was a National Merit Scholar.
Jacobs’ research focuses on utopian literature, women’s literature and the novel. She is the co-editor and author of two books and numerous journal articles, and has presented regionally, nationally and internationally on her research. Her long-time leadership in the Society for Utopian Studies included serving as president from 1998–2002.
The Harold L. Chute DVM Center for Equine Research and Education was dedicated at its official opening Aug. 19 at the J.F. Witter Teaching and Research Center at the University of Maine.
Harold Chute was a UMaine professor of animal and veterinary sciences for more than 22 years. Chute, who died in 2008, also wrote more than 200 papers about poultry and equine studies.
Approximately 40 people gathered with Chute’s wife, Marion; daughters, Pamela Chute and Hazel Lee Richard; and granddaughter, Courtney Richard, to celebrate the opening. UMaine President Paul Ferguson, University of Maine Foundation President Jeff Mills, Provost Designate Jeff Hecker and Witter Farm Superintendent Jake Dyer were among the attendees who watched students Nichole Daniszewski and Kayla Sheaffer lead equine walking drills at the new multipurpose facility.
Robert Causey, UMaine associate professor of animal and veterinary sciences, hosted the dedication. He secured a grant from the Maine Technology Asset Fund that initiated the $300,000 project. Completion of the facility was made possible by donations from the Chute family, as well as Justin Jamison, former Witter superintendent, and the Maine Farriers Association.
The 60-foot-by-120-foot facility may be arranged for variety of uses, including isolation of sick animals.
Based upon the recommendation of Provost-designate Jeffrey Hecker, University of Maine President Paul W. Ferguson has named Carol Kim vice president for research, effective Sept. 1, 2013, and will initially serve a two-year term.
Kim, a professor of molecular and biomedical sciences, is the director of UMaine’s Graduate School of Biomedical Science and Engineering. She also is a cooperating professor in the School of Marine Sciences.
President Ferguson commented that, “I am extremely pleased that Dr. Carol Kim has accepted our offer to become UMaine’s next Vice President for Research. In this role, Carol will effectively bring her remarkable combination of deep research experience, administrative acumen, and broad respect among all UMaine constituencies to advance the strong research agenda of the Blue Sky Plan.”
“The call for nominations for the Vice President for Research yielded tremendous support for professor Kim,” said Provost-designate Hecker. “Faculty across campus nominated Carol for the position. She is highly respected as a scientist, administrator and spokesperson for UMaine’s research mission.”
Kim said she looks forward to “working with the faculty, Provost Hecker and President Ferguson to build on the tremendous research, scholarship and creative strengths of the UMaine community.”
Kim received a Ph.D. in microbiology from Cornell University in 1992 and conducted postdoctoral research in biochemistry at Molecular Probes Inc., the following year, and in microbiology at Oregon State University from 1993–97. She earned a B.A. in biological chemistry and philosophy at Wellesley College in 1987.
Kim joined the UMaine faculty in 1998 as an assistant professor in the Department of Biochemistry, Microbiology and Molecular Biology. She was promoted to professor in 2010. Kim is the director of the Graduate School of Biomedical Science and Engineering, established in 2006.
In her research, which has been published extensively, Kim uses the zebrafish as a model organism to study innate immune response to pathogens. The goal is to identify factors that influence the regulation of innate immunity and the role of environmental toxicants in modulating the immune response to pathogens. The University of Maine Zebrafish Facility, which Kim established in 1999, supports her research and that of seven other UMaine scientists.
Kim has successfully received funding from diverse sources including the National Science Foundation, USDA, National Institutes of Health and NASA. Most recently, her research is part of a nearly $11 million NIH grant to Dartmouth Medical School. Kim is leading a $1.8 million study on the effects of low levels of arsenic in a zebrafish model for cystic fibrosis.
An initiative to transform the University of Maine by enhancing opportunities for women has received an additional $284,093 from the National Science Foundation.
The supplemental funds will be used to develop a regional consortium to assist in the retention of female science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) faculty by facilitating dual-career hiring –– providing opportunities for partners of UMaine faculty and staff members.
The new hiring consortium — Maine Career Connect — will help partners and professionals seeking employment in the region by connecting them with employers and resources, as well as supporting transitions.
“This funding will assist in recruiting and retaining dual-career couples at UMaine,” says Susan Gardner, director of the Rising Tide Center at UMaine.
“In our study of faculty who left UMaine, up to half of those who did so in a given year was due to a lack of employment for their professional spouses and partners.”
National studies have indicated 70 percent of academics, and 83 percent of female scientists, are in dual-career relationships.
UMaine’s ADVANCE Rising Tide Center, which was formed after the initial portion of the five-year, $3.2 million grant was secured, strives to improve opportunities for female faculty members in social-behavioral sciences (SBS) and STEM to “create a rising tide for the entire university.”
The initiative has four goals: to increase the percentage of women teaching in STEM and SBS; to support effective policies and opportunities to recruit, retain and promote female faculty; to decrease isolation of women faculty by fostering a positive work environment, promoting work-life balance, pursuing diversity and partner relocation assistance, lowering barriers to success and improving connections within and outside of Maine; and to engage the University of Maine System and the faculty union with programs and policies.
UMaine’s ADVANCE Rising Tide Center personnel include Jeffrey Hecker, principal investigator and incoming executive vice president of academic affairs and provost. He takes over for Susan Hunter, former provost who Sept. 1 becomes vice chancellor for academic affairs for the University of Maine System; Gardner, associate professor of higher education; Amy Fried, professor of political science; Eleanor Groden, professor of entomology; and Karen Horton, associate professor of mechanical engineering technology.
Contact: Beth Staples, 207.581.3777
IPh.D. Candidate McGreavy Reflects on Her Selection for the Doctoral Honors Seminar and Her Research
University of Maine graduate student Bridie McGreavy was one of 29 doctoral students nationwide who were selected to participate in this year’s Doctoral Honors Seminar of the National Communication Association, July 18–21 in Bar Harbor. For more than three decades, the seminar has brought together the top Ph.D. students and faculty to discuss current topics in communication. The National Communication Association is the largest professional communication organization in the United States. UMaine has had an interdisciplinary doctoral program in communication since 2007.
McGreavy is pursuing an interdisciplinary Ph.D. in communication. She is a research fellow with Maine’s Sustainability Solutions Initiative (SSI), where her work as a member of the Knowledge-Action team focuses on resilience from multiple perspectives. She also studies collaboration in interdisciplinary partnerships.
McGreavy received a master’s degree in environmental studies/conservation biology from Antioch University New England in 2008, where her research focused on science communication and vernal pool conservation in Maine.
Tell us what it was like to be one of the 29 doctoral students competitively selected to participate in the Doctoral Honors Seminar. What did you take away from the experience?
Participating in the National Communication Association’s Doctoral Honors Seminar was one of the most significant experiences in my doctoral experience. This was a unique opportunity to advance a chapter of my dissertation and to meet early-career scholars in my field. The seminar provided me with an enhanced focus and sense of clarity about my work, as faculty mentors and fellow students in my session gave supportive and helpful insights for how to strengthen my writing. I also met new colleagues and friends with whom I am now planning to collaborate on future conference presentations and writing projects. I came away from the experience with a much greater sense of identification with and community within the national field of communication.
How did you get interested in your research field and how has it evolved from your master’s work on vernal pools to your IPh.D. studies with SSI?
I went into my master’s program with an interest in conducting ecological fieldwork that would contribute to vernal pool conservation. But as the thesis developed, I realized a growing interest in understanding the human dimension of conservation. By the end of my master’s, I knew I wanted to learn more about how to integrate communication and conservation. I came to the study of communication with a narrow idea about what this field would offer and have since expanded my understanding of the range of theories and methods that allow a flexible orientation to the study of human interactions in diverse contexts.
What are the major questions you’re pursuing in your doctoral research and what do you hope your work contributes?
I am interested in how communication, as a field of study, offers insights into the processes of sustainability and resilience. My core questions ask: How do we work together to figure out what to sustain and how to get there? How can communication help us understand and work through complexity? What does communication offer to encourage transformation across scales? My overarching dissertation theme focuses on the concept of resilience, which I approach through three different research projects: interdisciplinary and community partnerships; conservation action planning; and, as a discourse, a system of rules that produce particular ideas about what resilience is and what it is not.
What’s it like being a graduate student at UMaine? Aspects you appreciate most?
As a graduate student at UMaine I have received strong interdisciplinary and community engagement training in my program of study and research. I feel that I have gained depth in the field of communication and breadth across disciplines based on my dual experience in the Department of Communication and Journalism and with SSI.
There are a couple of aspects of my graduate experience that I deeply appreciate. I am grateful for the advising and mentorship I have received from Laura Lindenfeld, Linda Silka and Nathan Stormer. Working with them has enabled me to form and sustain multiple partnerships within the department and field of communication, across disciplines and with community partners. Collectively, we conduct research, write papers, develop curriculum, offer workshops, initiate grant projects, advance conservation plans, hold collaborative capacity sessions and more. I did not realize that my academic experience would result in so many relationships on which I will continue to build for the remainder of my career.
Are you going to be working with UMaine researchers on the latest $6 million EPSCoR grant funding health beaches work? If so, can you tell us about your role in the project?
I accepted a postdoctoral fellowship with the New England Sustainability Consortium (NEST), a collaborative effort led by UMaine and the University of New Hampshire in collaboration with many other academic, governmental and nongovernmental institutions. For me, this project extends research I have been doing with the Frenchman Bay Partners, an organization that seeks to build ecological and economic resilience in the bay. The NEST project aims to strengthen the scientific basis for decision making related to the management of recreational beaches and shellfish harvesting. My role is still emerging, though I expect that I will be studying collaboration within the core group of research partners and with various stakeholders as at least one point of focus.
Where will we find you in your career 10 years from now?
In 10 years, I see myself working as a faculty member in an interdisciplinary environmental communication program or serving in a leadership position at a nonprofit conservation and research organization. I will have published my first book, an outgrowth of my dissertation research, that explores material relationships and transformations among people and ocean tides. More than anything, you will still find me enjoying what I love most about this work: reading, writing, developing ideas with interesting people, and finding ways to make this knowledge useful in collective efforts to create a shared and sustainable future.
Contact: Margaret Nagle, 207.581.3745
Eating 2 cups of wild blueberries a day for two months can reduce chronic inflammation, improve metabolism of fat and lower LDL cholesterol and triglycerides, according to research by a University of Maine clinical nutritionist.
Additionally, UMaine professor Dorothy Klimis-Zacas says a diet enriched with the fruit can normalize gene expression of inflammatory markers and those related to lipid and lipoprotein metabolism.
The findings from her research with obese Zucker rats have promising implications for people wanting to reduce inflammation and thus their risk of coronary heart disease and Type 2 diabetes, says Klimis-Zacas.
The obese male Zucker rat is a valid experimental model for human metabolic syndrome (MetS), which is characterized by chronic inflammation, obesity, hypertension, glucose intolerance and insulin resistance.
The results are significant in light of the MetS epidemic in the United States, which affects an estimated 37 percent of adults, says Klimis-Zacas. That figure is expected to increase in direct relationship with the rate of obesity, according to National Health Statistics Reports.
Heart disease alone annually kills 600,000 people in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Being able to improve health by eating blueberries rich in antioxidants and anti-inflammatory agents that prevent degenerative disease, rather than relying on pharmaceuticals, is a great benefit, she says.
Klimis-Zacas is the first to report that wild blueberries lowered triglycerides (fatty materials) in the rats’ blood in vivo.
The fruit lowered low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol — which clogs people’s blood vessels and increases the risk of a heart attack — while maintaining the level of beneficial high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol, says Klimis-Zacas, who has studied nutritional benefits of wild blueberries for 15 years.
There was an overall anti-inflammatory effect in the obese rats, she says. Circulating levels of inflammatory markers were reduced in their blood, fatty tissues and livers. She found the blueberry-enriched diet improved abnormal overall blood lipid profiles and the genetic expression of enzymes that regulate lipids and cholesterol.
The multiple benefits for obese Zucker rats eating a wild blueberry-enriched diet are detailed in two research articles recently authored by Klimis-Zacas.
The study “Wild blueberry (Vaccinium angustifolium) consumption improves inflammatory status in the obese Zucker rat model of the metabolic syndrome,” was published in SciVerse ScienceDirect, a Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry. Stefano Vendrame, Allison Daugherty and Alekandra S. Kristo, all UMaine graduate students, as well as Patriza Riso of the Universita degli Studi di Milano in Italy, participated in the research.
The study “Wild blueberry (Vaccinium angustifolium)-enriched diet improves dyslipidaemia and modulates the expression of genes related to lipid metabolism in obese Zucker rats” was published in the British Journal of Nutrition. Vendrame, Daugherty and Kristo are co-authors.
Contact: Beth Staples, 207.581.3777
Robert Steneck, marine biology professor at the University of Maine, was interviewed by Reuters for an article published in the Bangor Daily News titled “Booming lobster population pinches profits for Maine’s fishery.” Steneck said no one knows exactly why lobster populations have increased so quickly, but he thinks it may be from a combination of warming water temperatures, the overfishing of inshore predators and a history of forward-thinking conservation measures.
The Portland Press Herald reviewed the current exhibits at the University of Maine Museum of Art in downtown Bangor. The exhibits include paintings by Joanne Freeman, Emily Trenholm, Rachelle Agundes and Sean Downey.
Scott See, the Libra professor of history at the University of Maine, has been awarded a Fulbright Canada fellowship for research at Dalhousie University in Halifax, Nova Scotia for the 2013–2014 academic year. He will study the emergence of written Canadian history that portrays the country in a peaceful light.
See’s research project, “Public Memory and the Construction of Canada’s ‘Peaceable Kingdom’ Ideal,” seeks to understand how Canada’s modern political and social landscapes have been shaped by the portrayal of the country as a peaceful and orderly society as written by historians, intellectuals and politicians since the 19th century.
“This project will explore the ways in which scholarly and political writings in different periods of national development have reflected, critiqued and shaped the enduring notion that unlike their southern neighbors, Canadians have constructed a peaceable kingdom,” See says.
As a Fulbright Scholar, See will also look at public memory and the ways myths shape residents’ views of nationalism, he says.
“The linkages between myth, public memory and the construction of nationalism are profound, and in many ways the peaceable kingdom concept provides an ideal bonding agent to connect them,” See says. “Through communication and public memory, all individuals in a society have a stake in articulating a sense of nationalism.”
See says the opportunity to engage in seminars and conferences with an interdisciplinary group of scholars at Dalhousie University will be crucial as he explores scholarly and popular examples of the construction of the peaceable kingdom myth, which is often both criticized and celebrated by scholars.
“This project will look at two paradoxes of Canadian national development,” See says. “First, Canadians have engaged in numerous armed conflicts throughout history, making the peaceable kingdom ideal seem problematic. Second, historians and other scholars who argue against the substance of the peaceable kingdom idea are prone to using the myth as a reference to draw attention to their work or frame their questions. Even some of the most skeptical critics of the popular myth seem to engage in a sort of intellectual negotiation in their studies of the concept.”
This project grows out of See’s research on rioting in Canada that was completed during a Fulbright Research Fellowship to study at the National Archives of Canada from 1995–1996. He was also awarded a Senior Research Fellowship from the Canadian Embassy in Washington, D.C., from 2001–2005.
See is the former chair of UMaine’s History Department and served as the first director of the University of Maine Humanities Initiative. He has written “The History of Canada” and “Riots in New Brunswick: Orange Nativism and Social Violence in the 1840s” and has published articles in several journals including Acadiensis, Canadian Historical Review, Labour/Le Travail and The American Review of Canadian Studies. His forthcoming book, “Affront to Peace and Order: Collective Violence in Nineteenth-Century Canada,” is under contract at University of Toronto Press.
At UMaine, See teaches graduate and undergraduate courses on Canadian history, historiography of the Northeastern Borderlands, Canadian-American history, and the history of violence in North America.
Fulbright Canada is a joint, bi-national, treaty-based organization created to encourage mutual understanding between Canada and the United States of America through academic and cultural exchange. Fulbright Canada is supported by the Canadian government through Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada; the United States government through the Department of State; and a diverse group of corporate sponsors, charitable trusts and university partners. It is governed by an independent board of directors and operates out of Ottawa.
Contact: Elyse Kahl, 207.581.3747
The Morning Sentinel spoke with Jimmy Jung, vice president for enrollment management at the University of Maine, about President Barack Obama’s series of higher education proposals that would rate colleges on metrics and tie federal aid to schools based on their ranking. Jung said he thinks the proposals are a “good way to hold colleges accountable for the services they provide and for how affordable they are.”
The Maine Public Broadcasting Network spoke with College of Engineering Dean Dana Humphrey about a new partnership between the University of Maine and Thornton Academy in Saco. The collaboration will allow students from the school’s four-year science, technology, engineering and mathematics curriculum to be admitted into the College of Engineering with sophomore standing.
David Yarborough, a wild blueberry specialist and horticulture professor at the University of Maine, spoke with the Bangor Daily News for the article “Blueberry harvest looking bountiful.” Yarborough said berry size and yields are “average or above” but warned about the increased presence of the spotted wing drosophila, a fruit fly that attacks blueberries.
The Sun Journal published a photo of 4-H members from Maine with Sen. Angus King during the Citizenship Washington Focus. The national 4-H citizenship and leadership program offers youth the chance to learn about politics and their role as citizens. 4-H is the youth development program of the University of Maine Cooperative Extension.
Elaine Gershman, who taught microbiology and child psychology at the University of Maine and was an associate dean of arts and sciences, passed away Aug. 19, 2013 at 83 years old.
Her obituary is available online.
This week, more than 180 representatives from the U.S. Northern Command, New England National Guard Units, Maine Emergency Management Agency and other local, state and federal emergency preparedness groups were on campus for a two-day conference focused on improving communication and operational relationships in the event of a domestic crisis. Nationally, the Vigilant Guard program is an annual interagency training exercise designed to establish and reinforce relationships to support the needs of citizens during domestic emergencies.
The conference, Aug. 20-21 in Wells Conference Center, was in preparation of a series of disaster scenarios planned statewide in November. One of the key mock training scenarios will occur on campus.
Nov. 5-6, the University of Maine will participate in a New England Vigilant Guard exercise designed to simulate emergency scenarios and practice the emergency response plans. UMaine’s key role in the statewide, two-day exercise will be to host an emergency response team from the New England region National Guard Unit and Orono Fire Department, and activate the university’s Emergency Operations Center (EOC).
Note: The campus-based Vigilant Guard exercise will involve a simulated emergency at Holmes Hall, requiring some rerouting of vehicle and pedestrian traffic.
For more information on the Vigilant Guard exercise planned for November, contact Dr. Wayne M. Maines, UMaine’s director of safety and environmental management, 581.4055.