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News from the University of Maine
Updated: 21 hours 14 min ago

Tamara Thomson: Racetrack Tester

Tue, 02/17/2015 - 16:31

Tamara Thomson, a second-year mechanical engineering major with a minor in mathematics, has worked at the Racing Surfaces Testing Laboratory in Orono since her first year at UMaine.

The Racing Surfaces Testing Laboratory is a nonprofit organization that performs testing of horse racing track surfaces for performance and safety, as well as compares a variety of surfaces used in the industry. The lab’s executive director is Michael “Mick” Peterson, a mechanical engineering professor at UMaine.

Thomson is one of the lab’s primary testers, who has traveled to conduct on-site testing of tracks. She also contributes through training and writing. She was first author of a bulletin written at the lab titled “Predicting Horse Performance on Turf Using Three Commercially Available Monitoring Tools.” She performed all of the statistical analysis for the report.

Thomson has also worked at Biologically Applied Engineering, a corporation organized by Peterson to provide engineering services for research in the biological, veterinary and natural sciences.

Born in Brownsville, Texas, Thomson’s family currently lives in Waite, Maine. She was the valedictorian of her class at Woodland High School in Baileyville, Maine; is a student in the Honors College; and is involved with the Society of Women Engineers (SWE).

Describe Racing Surfaces Testing Laboratory and the work you do there
Working at Racing Surfaces Testing Laboratory has been an amazing experience.

We perform analysis on samples sent from all over North America and the U.K. We look at composition, shear strength, cohesion, etc. and provide data to the tracks so they can better maintain their surfaces.

It might sound mundane, but it’s actually a relatively novel concept; testing of this sort is pretty new to racetrack managers, who have been operating simply with intuition and tradition for hundreds of years.

With the information that the lab provides, we can tell the track managers things like how long it takes for their sand to break down and how their surfaces behave at different temperatures and moisture contents. All of this information helps fine-tune the track maintenance process and ultimately helps make racing safer for horses and jockeys.

Our long-term goal is to create a database containing all the data we have collected over the years. When this goal is realized, comparing track surfaces will be a snap, and data will be easier than ever to analyze.

Describe the work you have done at Biologically Applied Engineering
While Racing Surfaces handles the laboratory testing, Biologically Applied Engineering completes on-site testing. We use the Orono Biomechanical Surface Tester (OBST), which was designed and built by Mick Peterson and his colleagues, as well as ground penetrating radar (GPR) and time domain reflectometry (TDR) to get a better idea of the surfaces’ characteristics during racing.

This past summer, I traveled to Illinois, New York, Kentucky, Ohio and Florida to work on-site. As expected, I learned so much about the mechanics of granular materials, but I also learned a lot about the politics of the racing industry and communication in general.

Why UMaine?
UMaine is the best engineering school in the state, and out-of-state schools are a touch beyond my budget.

Why engineering?
When I was a kid, I decided I would be a wildlife zoologist. Allergies to basically everything outside culled that dream, and I devised a new life plan through the process of elimination.

I knew I needed to find something fascinating that would allow me to secure a job and be financially stable. I don’t like hospitals, and I’m not a great orator, so I ruled out medicine and law.

Engineering was a big category that was left, and it was really the only one that seemed interesting. I picked mechanical engineering because it is the most versatile. From here, I could go on to almost anything.

I’m so pleased with my choice. I have found that I fit in well with the students in my classes, I’m challenged and interested in the curriculum, and I’m very excited to graduate into the field of engineering.

What are your plans for after graduation?
As a student, I haven’t had the opportunity to see all the options that are available yet. I think my best course is to find a job in the engineering field and take some time deciding what I want to focus on before going to graduate school.

What difference has UMaine made in your life and in helping you reach your goals?
UMaine is the institution through which I am learning the skills I will need to support myself for the rest of my life. Beyond that, it’s been a safe place to grow up and figure out how to be an adult. I’ve made a lot of friends that I think will remain close for a long time. It’s definitely the college of my heart always.

Categories: Combined News, News

Archival Photo Exhibit, ‘Fish, Wind and Tide,’ at UMaine’s Hutchinson Center

Tue, 02/17/2015 - 15:33

A photography exhibition, “Fish, Wind and Tide: Art and Technology of Maine’s Resources,” is on display through March 21, at the Allen and Sally Fernald Art Gallery at the University of Maine Hutchinson Center in Belfast.

The free public exhibit showcases photos from the archives of the Penobscot Marine Museum in Searsport, Maine, depicting unique and varied uses of wind energy. Maynard Bray, technical editor of “Wooden Boat Magazine,” captioned the photographs.

The exhibit is open 9 a.m.–8 p.m. Monday through Friday; 9 a.m.–noon Saturday. The Hutchinson Center is on 80 Belmont Avenue.

Categories: Combined News, News

Media Report Students’ Volunteer Efforts at Belfast Wood Bank

Tue, 02/17/2015 - 12:22

WABI (Channel 5) and the Bangor Daily News reported about a dozen students from the University of Maine Woodsmen’s Team and Society of American Foresters Student Chapter volunteered their services for Maine’s newest wood bank in Belfast. At Maine Grilling Woods in Waldo, the students helped chop nine cords of firewood that was purchased through a fundraising effort by Waldo County Woodshed, a nonprofit that seeks to provide firewood to low-income residents. “The students were so excited at the chance to volunteer,” Jessica Leahy, an associate professor in UMaine’s School of Forest Resources, told the BDN. “Students today care about making a difference. The Woodsmen’s Team trains nearly every day on their logging sports skills, so the chance to come down and work up some wood while helping others was the perfect fit for them.”

Categories: Combined News, News

WABI Covers 4-H Science Saturday

Tue, 02/17/2015 - 12:19

WABI (Channel 5) reported on a University of Maine 4-H Science Saturday workshop at UMaine’s Climate Change Institute. About a dozen children in grades six through eight helped design a canister to keep ice core samples gleaned from the Peruvian Andes frozen and intact for research. “Kids were eager to give me a recommendation on how to design and pack my ice to bring it back,” said Charles Rodda, a UMaine graduate student and 4-H STEM Ambassador who will travel to Peru on a research expedition in March. “Certainly some of those ideas are going to be incorporated in how we bring back our ice.”

Categories: Combined News, News

Stack Quoted in Press Herald Maine Gardener Column

Tue, 02/17/2015 - 12:18

Lois Berg Stack, an ornamental horticulture specialist with the University of Maine Cooperative Extension, was interviewed for the latest column in the Portland Press Herald’s Maine Gardener series. The column, “Sure, grow your own flowers for nuptials, but have a Plan B,” included advice from Stack and other gardening experts. “Plants are going to do what they are going to do,” Stack said. She suggested couples grow more flowers than they need in three sets at different times — “one for the date, one a little behind and one a little ahead.” She also warned growing flowers may not save money because investing in the extra flowers will probably be more expensive than buying the exact number of blooms needed.

Categories: Combined News, News

BDN Reports Women’s Basketball Team Wins Play 4Kay Game, Meets Goal

Tue, 02/17/2015 - 12:17

The Bangor Daily News reported on the University of Maine women’s basketball team’s annual Play 4Kay breast cancer awareness game. The team beat Stony Brook 57–49 and exceeded their $10,000 fundraising goal for the Kay Yow Foundation to support breast cancer research. Coach Richard Barron, who dyed his hair pink for the game, followed through with his promise to shave his head if the team’s goal was reached, according to the BDN.

Categories: Combined News, News

National History Day Student Research Workshop March 3

Tue, 02/17/2015 - 12:16

Middle and high school students who are interested in history are welcome to attend a National History Day (NHD) research workshop at the University of Maine on March 3.

Students, along with parents and/or teachers, will have the opportunity to meet with UMaine history faculty, graduate students and library staff from 2:30–4:30 p.m. on campus to help advance their research. Students can come with a fully developed idea or seek help starting a project for the national competition that encourages independent research.

The workshop will begin in Fogler Library, where students can discuss their research project, seek assistance with online database searches, and connect with experts who can point to primary sources in Fogler Library’s Special Collections and the Maine Folklife Center.

For more information about the workshop or to request a disability accommodation, email Liam Riordan at

More than half a million students, encouraged by thousands of teachers, participate in NHD annually. Students choose historical topics and conduct extensive primary and secondary research related to the annual theme. Students present their work in the form of original papers, websites, exhibits, performances or documentary videos. Projects are evaluated by judges in a statewide competition, and state winners move on to the national contest in Washington, D.C.

UMaine is hosting the Maine National History Day competition March 28. Registration for the state contest is online and closes March 7. The national contest will take place June 14–18 at the University of Maryland, College Park.

More information about Maine National History Day is available on the UMaine website, Facebook and by contacting John Taylor, the NHD state coordinator, at or 207.474.7133.

Categories: Combined News, News

Woodsmen’s Team, Forestry Students to Volunteer for Belfast Wood Bank

Fri, 02/13/2015 - 16:16

A dozen students from the University of Maine Woodsmen’s Team and Society of American Foresters Student Chapter will volunteer their services for Maine’s newest wood bank in Belfast on Feb. 14.

At Maine Grilling Woods in Waldo, the students will help chop nine cords of firewood that was purchased through a fundraising effort by Waldo County Woodshed, a nonprofit that seeks to provide firewood to low-income residents.

The UMaine Woodsmen’s Team is a co-ed organization dedicated to maintaining the old woods skills and competing on the intercollegiate level in logging sports throughout the Northeast and Canada. The team has been a UMaine tradition for more than 40 years.

The Society of American Foresters is the national, scientific and educational organization representing the forestry profession in the United States. The student chapter at UMaine is dedicated to furthering professionalism, networking and the learning experience of forestry students and related majors.

Categories: Combined News, News

UMaine Climate Change Report Cited in Seacoast Online Article

Fri, 02/13/2015 - 11:41

A 2009 University of Maine climate change study was mentioned in a Seacoast Online article about state Rep. Lydia Blume, D-York, sponsoring a bill to help Maine’s coastal towns prepare for sea level changes. The report, “Maine’s Climate Future,” showed that Maine’s sea levels are rising and the frequency of severe storms will increase, according to the article. The report also estimates that more than 260 businesses in York County are at risk of flooding, the article states.

Categories: Combined News, News

Blueberry Commission Director to Help UMaine Extension Get Funding, Mainebiz Reports

Fri, 02/13/2015 - 11:40

Mainebiz reported the Wild Blueberry Commission of Maine has named former attorney Nancy McBrady its new executive director. McBrady is expected to help grow and advocate for Maine’s wild blueberry industry, according to the article. She also will help the University of Maine Cooperative Extension obtain funding for research and development programs related to the state’s blueberry industry, the article states. The Portland Press Herald also carried a report.

Categories: Combined News, News

Art Department Accepting Applications for After-School Program

Fri, 02/13/2015 - 11:39

The University of Maine Department of Art is accepting applications for the after-school ArtWorks! program.

For more than 30 years, UMaine’s Art Education Program has offered the program for students in grades K–8. ArtWorks! provides children an opportunity to explore the world of art through hands-on experiences with a variety of visual media, the history of art, and the viewing of art works.

The spring ArtWorks! session will run five consecutive weeks with classes held 3:30–5 p.m. Fridays in Lord Hall on the UMaine campus. Classes begin March 20 and continue through April 17.

Classes are organized by grade level and are taught by art education majors, who are preparing to become art teachers. The program is supervised by Laurie Hicks, professor of art.

Participants will have the opportunity to work with diverse media as they explore the ways experiences with art help encourage creative expression and manipulative skills, as well as aid in viewing and understanding the visual world. This semester, students will consider and make art as a form of storytelling.

A $25 fee covers the cost of materials. The program is offered on a first come, first served basis. Applications are available through the Department of Art and are due no later than Feb. 25.

For more information or an application, contact Hicks at 581.3247 or Lord Hall is wheelchair accessible.

Categories: Combined News, News

Office of International Programs Offering Passport Day Feb. 18

Fri, 02/13/2015 - 11:38

The Office of International Programs is offering a Passport Day on Wednesday, Feb. 18 to help UMaine students, faculty and staff apply for a new passport or renew an expiring one.

Those who visit Estabrooke Hall, Room 240 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. will get their photo taken and be able to pick up a U.S. passport application. The cost for two photos is $10; exact amount in cash is required. Passport applications can be processed at post offices in Orono and Old Town.

For more information or to request a disability accommodation, call the Office of International Programs at 581.3437.

Categories: Combined News, News

Journal Article on Wireless Sensor Research One of the Most Downloaded

Thu, 02/12/2015 - 11:42

An paper co-authored by Ali Abedi, associate professor of electrical and computer engineering, was one of the 50 most downloaded articles in the IEEE Sensors Journal in October-November 2014. The paper, “Wireless Sensor Systems for Space and Extreme Environments: A Review” (Vol. 14, No. 11, November 2014), was co-authored by Abedi and Habib Rashvand, School of Engineering, University of Warwick; Jose M. Alcaraz-Calero, School of Computing, Telecommunications and Networks, University of the West of Scotland; Paul Mitchell, University of York; Subhas Chandra Mukhopadhyay, Massey University. The latest Top 50 papers are online.

Categories: Combined News, News

UMaine Career Fair Featured on WLBZ

Thu, 02/12/2015 - 11:36

WLBZ (Channel 2) covered the University of Maine Career Center’s 17th annual UMaine Career Fair at the New Balance Student Recreation Center. About 120 employers from Maine and around the country with job and internship opportunities exhibited at the fair. Several graduate and professional schools, as well as branches of the military, also were represented at the event. “It’s really rewarding to be able to come back to your alma mater and be on the other side of the table and help students just like yourself identify if it’s the right opportunity for them, and figuring out what they want to do, and being in a position to provide them that opportunity,” said Nathan Kinney, a 2012 UMaine graduate who is now a small business manager for Key Bank. Patty Counihan, director of the Career Center, said about 800 students attended the fair.

Categories: Combined News, News

WABI Previews Annual Play 4Kay Women’s Basketball Game

Thu, 02/12/2015 - 11:36

WABI (Channel 5) reported the University of Maine women’s basketball team is prepared to play the annual Play 4Kay breast cancer awareness game on Feb. 15. Play4Kay is named after Kay Yow, a longtime North Carolina State women’s coach who died of breast cancer in 2009. Funds raised for the game go to the Kay Yow Foundation to support breast cancer research. Coach Richard Barron said if the team raises $10,000, he will shave his head. Barron also visited WABI‘s studio to talk about the game.

Categories: Combined News, News

UMaine Road Snow, Ice Removal Research Cited in Hartford Courant Article

Thu, 02/12/2015 - 11:35

Research conducted at the University of Maine was mentioned in a Hartford Courant article about a debate in Connecticut over road snow and ice removal methods. The Connecticut Academy of Science and Engineering (CASE) is currently studying whether widely used effective salt compounds are corroding vehicles faster than sand and/or salt, as several truckers claim, according to the article. In Maine, the DOT protocol for snow removal uses the same ingredients as in Connecticut, but in different concentrations. UMaine has also studied road snow and ice removal methods, similar to what CASE is researching now, the article states.

Categories: Combined News, News

UMaine Extension Offers Course to Veterans Interested in Farming

Thu, 02/12/2015 - 11:33

University of Maine Cooperative Extension is offering “So You Want to Farm in Maine?” to military veterans beginning 6–9 p.m. Tuesday, March 17, at University of Maine at Augusta, Richard Randall Student Center, 46 University Drive, Augusta.

Extension educators Tori Jackson and Caragh Fitzgerald and other area experts will teach the course, which will be held six consecutive Tuesdays. The class is designed for farmers and those who want to operate a farm. It will cover knowledge and skills necessary to start, adapt and maintain a profitable land-based business.

Cost is $50, which includes the textbook and all materials; the fee covers more than one farm business partner if they share materials. Online registration is required; the course is limited to 25 participants. For more information or to request a disability accommodation, call 207.353.5550 or email

Categories: Combined News, News

UMaine Business Challenge Expands to Other Schools, Mainebiz Reports

Wed, 02/11/2015 - 11:30

Organizers of the UMaine Business Challenge, the state’s largest student entrepreneurship competition, recently announced the contest is no longer limited to Maine’s public universities, according to Mainebiz. The organizers said students at all of Maine’s higher education institutions looking to pitch their business ideas are eligible to compete for a total of $20,000 in cash and consulting prizes, including free entry into the Maine Center for Entrepreneurial Development’s Top Gun program, the article states. The UMaine Business Challenge was founded in 2011 by a group of 2010 UMaine graduates who wanted to give back to their alma mater while creating more opportunities for student entrepreneurs. “Our two main goals have never changed: Support collegiate entrepreneurs and help contribute to Maine’s economic growth. Opening up the competition helps us accomplish both of those,” said organizer James Morin in a prepared statement.

Categories: Combined News, News

Media Cites Simons-Legaard’s Declining Deer Habitat Research

Wed, 02/11/2015 - 11:29

A study by Erin Simons-Legaard, an assistant research professor in forest landscape modeling in the School of Forest Resources, was the focus of a segment on Bob Duchesne’s “Wild Maine” radio show on 92.9 FM The Ticket. Simons-Legaard’s research focuses on the decline of wintering habitat for deer in the Northern Maine woods. The interview also was cited in a Bangor Daily News blog post by George Smith titled, “Homeless deer may be doomed in Maine’s North Woods.”

Categories: Combined News, News

WABI Advances UMaine Extension’s Cooking on a Budget Class in Skowhegan

Wed, 02/11/2015 - 11:28

WABI (Channel 5) reported the University of Maine Cooperative Extension and FoodCorps are hosting a four-session class in Skowhegan for parents to learn tips about cooking on a budget. Participants who complete the program will receive a cooking kit with recipes and tools. Classes start March 4.

Categories: Combined News, News