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University of Maine News
News from the University of Maine
Updated: 12 hours 25 min ago
The Climate Change Institute (CCI) at the University of Maine and its director, Paul Mayewski, were mentioned in the Portland Press Herald article, “Looking for edge, Maine plunges into Arctic policy.” Maine is positioning itself as a player in Arctic politics, which could increase opportunities for Maine’s climate researchers and several business sectors, according to the article. As Arctic sea ice continues to melt because of climate change, shipping lanes across the top of the world will become more viable, the article states. The CCI, which was established more than 40 years ago, was cited as “one of the nation’s oldest research institutes dedicated to understanding the climate.” Mayewski said as the Arctic Ocean warms, the effects will be felt in Maine. “We have this very long perspective on how the Arctic operates,” he said. “It is very important that Maine play a critical role.”
The Maine Public Broadcasting Network reported a University of Maine study found more than half of Mainers surveyed say they would be willing to pay extra in their electricity bills to support more efficient and/or cleaner fuel development. The study also found 37 percent of the nearly 400 respondents viewed energy efficiency and renewable energy investments as complementary. UMaine economist Caroline Noblet and colleagues conducted the study in 2013. “What we found was that people are in general supportive,” Noblet said. “So we had 52 percent of our respondents say that they would agree to that energy scenario where we invest in renewable energy or energy efficiency.”
WABI (Channel 5) reported on the Maine National History Day competition held at the University of Maine. More than 300 students and teachers from 36 middle and high schools took part in the contest that promotes critical thinking, research and presentation skills through project-based learning for students of all abilities. Student exhibits, websites, documentaries and performances were on display and judged, with the top state winners becoming eligible to compete in the national contest. “Any time you can see high school and junior high students who are interested in this kind of thing, I think it’s incredibly important. It makes me excited that they’re excited about this kind of stuff,” said UMaine political science professor Mark Brewer. For the second year in a row, a partnership between UMaine and the Margaret Chase Smith Library, with support from the Maine Humanities Council and the Maine Historical Society, brought the event to campus.
Jason Bolton, an assistant extension professor and food safety specialist at the University of Maine Cooperative Extension, was interviewed for a Portland Press Herald article about food safety in restaurants. Recent efforts by health inspectors to bring local restaurants into compliance with federal regulations and reduce the risks of potentially dangerous foodborne illnesses are clashing with some of Portland’s cutting-edge restaurants that use locally sourced ingredients to make inventive dishes, according to the report. Bolton reviews all Hazard Analysis & Critical Control Points plans for Maine restaurants. The plans are required by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for large- and small-scale food producers. “It forces them to look at the hazards and where things can go wrong and document that they are doing things correctly,” Bolton says of the HACCP plans. Health inspectors also have been taking classes at UMaine to learn about cooking processes that expert chefs have already mastered, the article states. “One of the challenges is getting all of the inspectors up to date,” Bolton said. “People are coming in at all different levels of knowledge. It’s a complicated system.”
The Bangor Daily News printed an interview with Karlton Creech, the University of Maine’s director of athletics. The interview, published in question-and-answer format, contains both personal and professional questions that range from “What is the best part about living in Maine” to “What is your vision for the University of Maine’s athletic program?”
WABI (Channel 5) reported University of Maine student Dan Shorette recently shaved his head to donate his hair to Wigs for Kids, an organization that makes wigs for children losing hair for medical reasons. Shorette said he was inspired by fellow classmate, Juli Sclafani, who lost her younger brother to cancer. “I think it’s really incredible that he thinks it’s something he should do and wants to do,” Scalfani said. “[To] be a voice for kids fighting cancer who don’t have a voice.” In addition to donating his hair, Shorette also has raised more than $1,000 for the St. Baldrick’s Foundation, an organization that raises money for childhood cancer research, according to the report.
The Bangor Daily News reported the Maine Military Community Network, Maine Public Broadcasting Network and Maine Humanities Council will host three public screenings of the Oscar-nominated documentary feature “Last Days in Vietnam.” The screenings are April 9 at the The Grand in Ellsworth, April 19 at the Collins Center for the Arts at the University of Maine, and April 21 at the Temple Theatre in Houlton. “[The movie screenings] are a great way to get the vets to come out and to learn what resources are available to them,” said Sgt. 1st Class Nathaniel Grace, Maine Military Community Network community liaison.
The University Credit Union’s 8th annual Healthy High 5k/10k and 1-mile run/walk will be held at the University of Maine at 4:20 p.m. Monday, April 20.
The race, which begins at UMaine’s New Balance Student Recreation Center, promotes health and wellness for members of the university and surrounding community.
Early registration fees for the 5k are $5 for students, $20 for non-students. Early fees for the 10k are $10 for students, $25 for non-students. The 1-mile run/walk is free. Early registration deadline is noon April 15. Registration is available online.
Race day registration fees for both the 5k and 10k races are $10 for students and $25 for non-students.
Proceeds benefit the UMaine Bodwell Center for Service and Volunteerism and the Black Bear Exchange food pantry and thrift store. In addition, donations of used footwear will be collected for Soles4Souls.
UMaine employees who participate will earn 20 RiseUP wellness points.
For more information or to request a disability accommodation, call Lauri Sidelko at the Student Wellness Resource Center, 581.1423.
Former Celtic Thunder and “Glee” star Damian McGinty will be the special guest artist for “The Very Best of Celtic Thunder” show at 7 p.m. Tuesday, April 7, at the Collins Center for the Arts at the University of Maine.
McGinty will join Celtic Thunder performers Colm Keegan, Keith Harkin, Ryan Kelly, Emmett O’Hanlon and Neil Byrne for the nostalgic Irish music show that includes dramatic lighting and choreography. Backed by the Celtic Thunder Band, the group will deliver ensemble songs, as well as anthems, fan favorites and solos. The CCA stage will be transformed into an ancient stone Celtic pathway for the performance.
Since forming in 2007, Celtic Thunder has sold more than 2 million records and performed at more than 800 shows in the U.S., Canada and Australia. For more information, visit the Celtic Thunder website. Tickets, which cost $38, $53 and $68, are available online or by calling 581.1755, 800.622.TIXX.
Developing a noninvasive procedure to determine the viability of lobsters for shipping was the goal of a recent cross-discipline research project led by a University of Maine undergraduate student.
Matthew Hodgkin, a fourth-year animal and veterinary sciences major from Colebrook, Connecticut, developed a method to evaluate lobster livelihood based on claw strength while working with Bob Bayer, executive director of the Lobster Institute at UMaine; Michael “Mick” Peterson, a mechanical engineering professor, and Thomas McKay, a fourth-year mechanical engineering technology student.
The inspiration for Hodgkin’s research came from his adviser Bayer who had approached Peterson two years ago as a result of a press inquiry about the strength of lobster claws. Peterson and McKay then built a device to measure the closing strength of a lobster’s crusher claw, Hodgkin says.
Hodgkin has since worked with Bayer to determine if the device could be used to predict the viability of lobsters for shipping. Knowing a lobster’s viability is relevant to Maine’s primary seafood industry because it can determine if the crustacean is most suitable for shipping live or going straight to a processing plant, according to Hodgkin.
“This research would save the distributors money from losses incurred during shipment. If the most healthy and viable lobsters were picked to ship there would be less casualties due to weakness,” he says.
The device is an alternative to the commonly used invasive procedure that calls for measuring serum protein content in lobster blood. Shipping facilities use handheld refractometers to measure the protein once lobster blood is extracted by a syringe, according to Hodgkin.
The serum protein measurement reflects the amount of muscle mass a lobster has. Lobsters with less muscle mass would not be able to handle the stress of shipping, Hodgkin says.
The technique was developed in the 1980s by Bayer and graduate student Dale Leavitt.
The new device allows for muscle mass measurements to be determined by claw strength as opposed to using a blood sample. The prototype contains an aluminum load cell located at the point where the most pressure is exerted by the lobster when it closes its claw.
“In our first trial the gripper was made from plastic, and that did not last long with the lobsters,” Hodgkin says.
Once the rectangular gripper is placed in the lobster’s grasp, the load cell measures the pressure in pounds per square inch. The measurements then appear on an attached electronic reader that looks similar to a digital alarm clock.
Hodgkin examined various lobsters of the same size from different stages of the molt cycle. He tested the lobsters for crusher claw strength using the load cell meter and used a refractometer to evaluate serum protein in the blood. When comparing the methods, he found the closing strength of a crusher claw correlates with serum protein.
The prototype has been field tested at local lobster dealers and seems to work well, Hodgkin says. He adds more testing is needed to study the effects of water temperature on the ability of the lobster to show interest and on its strength.
Funding for the project came from the Center for Undergraduate Research and the Lobster Institute.
Hodgkin also co-owns a lobster-related business with Bayer; Lobster Institute Associate Director Cathy Billings; and Stewart Hardison, a business partner from outside the UMaine community. Lobster Unlimited LLC, formerly LobsteRx, aims to develop products from lobster-processing industry waste, such as shells. The company’s goal is to get more money to lobstermen and improve Maine’s economy.
After graduating in May 2015, Hodgkin plans to stay in the Orono area to continue work at Lobster Unlimited and eventually pursue a graduate degree in food science and human nutrition at UMaine.
Contact: Elyse Kahl, 207.581.3747
The Bangor Daily News reported on the installation of the University of Maine’s 20th President Susan J. Hunter, where she was formally welcomed to her post during a ceremony in the Collins Center for the Arts. Nancy Zimpher, chancellor of the State University of New York System, gave the keynote address. During President Hunter’s speech, she said the state’s universities are essential to the state’s survival in the face of an aging population spread over a vast area and faltering traditional industries that will need to adapt to survive, according to the report. “UMaine stands ready to work with our sister campuses to meet Maine’s challenges,” she said. President Hunter is the first female president in UMaine’s 150-year history. The installation was part a series of public events during Women’s Leadership Week.
A University of Maine-led child food and fitness study was cited in a USDA news release announcing $9 million in grants that were awarded to develop childhood obesity intervention programs through colleges and universities in 12 states and Puerto Rico. “Successful projects funded in previous years include the University of Maine’s iCook project, which developed online tools to encourage families to cook, eat and exercise together while improving culinary skills and increasing physical activity,” the news release states. The project is a five-state, $2.5 million USDA study designed to prevent childhood obesity by improving culinary skills and promoting family meals.
The Bangor Daily News, Mainebiz and WABI (Channel 5) reported Robert Lilieholm, the E.L. Giddings professor of forest policy at the University of Maine, spoke at a press conference in favor of the Katahdin region’s proposed national park and recreation area. The conference was held to show More than 200 businesses from around the state endorsed the plan. Lilieholm said the national park could create 450 to 1,000 jobs, and that Bangor has made many investments through the years that have benefited northern Maine. “No single act will turn our region around overnight, but bit by bit and piece by piece, we can visualize and build a better future,” he said. The Sun Journal also published the BDN article.
George Markowsky, a computer science professor at the University of Maine, was interviewed for a Bangor Daily News article about the Maine Game Club, a group of 20 students from different area high schools who are interested in digital art and programming. The club aims to educate young programmers and inspire the next generation who could bring tech into the forefront of Maine’s culture and economy, according to the article. Markowsky said it’s important for young students to realize the culture of the tech industry is changing and while Maine may not be home to massive programming campuses “a significant number” of people who live in Maine telecommute. “It isn’t that tech doesn’t happen in Maine, it just hasn’t been realized,” he said. Markowsky also cited Maine’s laptop program as an example of the state helping students pursue computer science. “We need to think about things we can do to keep our young people involved in the cutting edge of technology,” he said. “The more we can do to prepare them for the future, the better.”
The National Science Foundation and Phys.org reported on new research related to the North Atlantic Bloom, when millions of phytoplankton use sunlight and carbon dioxide (CO2) to grow and reproduce at the ocean’s surface. When phytoplankton die, the carbon dioxide in their cells sinks. “But we wanted to find out what’s happening to the smaller, nonsinking phytoplankton cells from the bloom. Understanding the dynamics of the bloom and what happens to the carbon produced by it is important, especially for being able to predict how the oceans will affect atmospheric CO2 and ultimately climate,” said scientist Melissa Omand of the University of Rhode Island, co-author of a paper about the North Atlantic Bloom published in the journal Science. University of Maine Darling Marine Center researchers Mary Jane Perry, Ivona Cetinić and Nathan Briggs were part of the team with Omand, Amala Mahadevan of Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution and Eric D’Asaro and Craig Lee of the University of Washington that did just that. They discovered the significant role that swirling currents, or eddies, play in pushing nonsinking carbon to ocean depths. “I feel that this project is a wonderful example of the chance discovery of an important process in the ocean carbon cycle,” Perry said.
The University of Maine’s fourth annual 12-hour Bearfest Dance Marathon raised $70,599.99 to help an area hospital support local children. The event surpassed last year’s $55,000 total and became the largest community fundraiser on campus.
About 300 people participated in the event at the New Balance Student Recreation Center. Participants stayed at the center for 12 hours, where they danced, played games and visited with several children who have received treatment at Eastern Maine Medical Center in Bangor, an EMHS Foundation Children’s Miracle Network Hospital.
Brittany Dipompo and Josh Bellinger, UMaine students and co-chairs of the event, say Bearfest is a yearlong effort, with the executive committee spending the school year spreading the word about Bearfest and Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals.
“On the night of Bearfest, local Miracle [Network] children and their families attend part of the dance marathon. They share their inspiring stories with the participants,” the organizers say. “It’s also an opportunity to play and have a carefree time making memories with the University of Maine students who have worked so hard to fundraise in honor of them.”
Money raised from the event will be donated to EMMC’s Pediatrics Department and Rosen Neonatal Intensive Care Unit.
Officers will be elected at the Androscoggin-Sagadahoc Counties Extension Association annual meeting at 6 p.m. Monday, April 13, at the University of Maine Cooperative Extension office, 24 Main St., Lisbon Falls.
The public meeting will include presentations by UMaine Extension educators Tori Jackson and Kristy Ouellette and Master Chef Tom Poulin. A catered meal and a baking contest sponsored by King Arthur Flour will follow the meeting. All attendees are eligible to participate. The two baking categories — pies and other desserts — each offer two prizes. First place is a $50 King Arthur gift card and second place is a $25 King Arthur gift card.
The ASCEA is recruiting new members. In partnership with UMaine Extension staff, County Extension Association members give input on programming needs and oversee budget appropriations that support education programs for county residents. For more information, to RSVP or to request a disability accommodation, call 207.353.5550 or email email@example.com.
Maine student entries in the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Annual Junior Duck Stamp Contest are on display from 9 a.m. to noon Friday, March 27, at Buchanan Alumni House at the University of Maine.
The federal program for K–12 students incorporates scientific and wildlife management principles into a visual arts program. It annually introduces youth across the country to wetlands, National Wildlife Refuges and art concepts.
The winning design is used to create the Junior Duck Stamp the following year, which is sold by the U.S. Postal Service. Proceeds support conservation education and provide awards and scholarships for students, teachers and schools that participate in the program.
More than 1,000 backpacks on a college green can get students talking.
That’s part of what they’re intended to do.
Send Silence Packing is a national traveling public education exhibit of 1,100 backpacks that represent the 1,100 college students who annually die by suicide. It’s a program of Active Minds Inc., a national nonprofit with a mission to engage students in discussions about mental health.
Family and friends of the deceased college students donated the 1,100 backpacks, as well as stories and photos, of their loved ones.
Sharing the students’ stories across the country helps to humanize the sobering statistics, including that suicide is the second-leading cause of death of college students and that while 44 percent of college students report being so depressed in the past year that it was difficult to function, two-thirds of those who need help do not get it.
The exhibit thus seeks to increase awareness of mental health and the scope of suicide, eliminate the stigma surrounding mental illness so that students do not suffer in silence, and to provide information and resources for students in need of assistance.
The University of Maine and local community are invited to experience Send Silence Packing from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Thursday, April 2.
Dr. Kelly Shaw, UMaine outreach coordinator and psychologist at the Counseling Center, advises the university’s Active Minds chapter, which is one of more than 400 nationwide. She says the plan is to place the backpacks on the campus Mall, but if it’s snow-covered, the exhibit will be featured in the Memorial Union Atrium, near the campus bookstore.
At Send Silence Packing, members of Active Minds will have handouts about mental health, suicide prevention and where people can seek help. UMaine Counseling Center staff also will be on site.
“Events like these are very important for us as a campus to come together and acknowledge that people are struggling and they often struggle silently,”says Dr. Robert Dana, Vice President for Student Life and Dean of Students.
“We strive to be a kind, caring, compassionate community and raising awareness and letting people know that we are a safe place to talk about these serious topics is one way that we can communicate that. We want people to know they are valued and belong here. This is their community and we are here for them.”
UMaine was selected as one of 12 Northeast campuses to be a part of the Send Silence Packing spring 2015 tour. Shaw says she’s grateful for the financial support of the Resident Hall Association and Student Government to bring the exhibit to UMaine.
Alison Malmon started Active Minds in 2003 after her brother Brian died by suicide when he was a senior in college. More than 300,000 people in 75 communities throughout the United States have experienced Send Silence Packing since it was unveiled in 2008 on the National Mall in Washington, D.C.
Anyone in the UMaine community wishing to talk is encouraged to contact the Counseling Center at 207.581.1392 or stop by 5721 Cutler Health Center, Room 125 (facing Gannett Hall) Monday through Friday, from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Additional resources may be found on the Counseling Center website.
Contact: Beth Staples, 207.581.3777
Just as crocus and daffodil blossoms signal the start of a warmer season on land, a similar “greening” event — a massive bloom of microscopic plants, or phytoplankton — unfolds each spring in the North Atlantic Ocean from Bermuda to the Arctic.
Fertilized by nutrients that have built up during the winter, the cool waters of the North Atlantic come alive during the spring and summer with a vivid display of color that stretches across hundreds and hundreds of miles.
North Atlantic Bloom turns ocean into sea of plankton
In what’s known as the North Atlantic Bloom, millions of phytoplankton use sunlight and carbon dioxide (CO2) to grow and reproduce at the ocean’s surface.
During photosynthesis, phytoplankton remove carbon dioxide from seawater and release oxygen as a by-product. That allows the oceans to absorb additional carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. If there were fewer phytoplankton, atmospheric carbon dioxide would increase.
Flowers ultimately wither and fade, but what eventually happens to these tiny plants produced in the sea? When phytoplankton die, the carbon dioxide in their cells sinks to the deep ocean.
Plankton integral part of oceanic “biological pump”
This so-called biological pump makes the North Atlantic Ocean efficient at soaking up CO2 from the air.
“Much of this ‘particulate organic carbon,’ especially the larger, heavier particles, sinks,” says scientist Melissa Omand of the University of Rhode Island, co-author of a paper about the North Atlantic Bloom published March 26 in the journal Science.
“But we wanted to find out what’’s happening to the smaller, nonsinking phytoplankton cells from the bloom. Understanding the dynamics of the bloom and what happens to the carbon produced by it is important, especially for being able to predict how the oceans will affect atmospheric CO2 and ultimately climate.”
University of Maine Darling Marine Center researchers Mary Jane Perry, Ivona Cetinić and Nathan Briggs were part of the team with Omand, Amala Mahadevan of Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution and Eric D’Asaro and Craig Lee of the University of Washington that did just that.
They discovered the significant role that swirling currents, or eddies, play in pushing nonsinking carbon to ocean depths.
“It’s been a challenge to estimate carbon export from the ocean’s surface waters to its depths based on measurements of properties such as phytoplankton carbon. This paper describes a mechanism for doing that,” says David Garrison, program director in NSF’s Division of Ocean Sciences. The NSF funded the research.
Tracking a bloom: Floats, gliders and other instruments
During fieldwork from the research vessels Bjarni Saemundsson and Knorr, the scientists used a float to follow a patch of seawater off Iceland. They observed the progression of the bloom by making measurements from multiple platforms.
Autonomous gliders outfitted with sensors gathered data including temperature, salinity, as well as information about the chemistry and biology of the bloom — oxygen, nitrate, chlorophyll and the optical signatures of the particulate matter.
At the onset of the bloom and for the next month, four teardrop-shaped seagliders gathered 774 profiles to depths of up to 1,000 meters (3,281 feet).
Analysis of the profiles showed that about 10 percent had unusually high concentrations of phytoplankton bloom properties, even in deep water, as well as high oxygen concentrations usually found at the surface.
“These profiles were showing what we initially described as ‘bumps’ at depths much deeper than phytoplankton can grow,” says Omand.
Staircases to the deep: ocean eddies
Using information collected at sea by Perry, D’Asaro and Lee, Mahadevan modeled ocean currents and eddies (whirlpools within currents), and their effects on the spring bloom.
“What we were seeing was surface water, rich with phytoplankton carbon, being transported downward by currents on the edges of eddies. Eddies hadn’t been thought of as a major way organic matter is moved into the deeper ocean. But this type of eddy-driven ‘subduction’ could account for a significant downward movement of phytoplankton from the bloom,” says Mahadevan.
Perry, interim director of the DMC, says the discovery reminds her of a favorite quote from French chemist and microbiologist Louis Pasteur: “Where observation is concerned, chance favors only the prepared mind.”
“I feel that this project is a wonderful example of the chance discovery of an important process in the ocean carbon cycle,” she says. “It all started when I was chief scientist on the R/V Knorr during the North Atlantic bloom expedition, spending hours and hours staring at profiles of temperature and phytoplankton.
“Initially it was very puzzling — how could high surface concentrations of phytoplankton and oxygen make it down intact to 300 and 400 meters? But the combination of many measurements from autonomous gliders and simulations from models lead to the unexpected finding that ocean eddies or whirlpools are important forces in transporting phytoplankton and their associated carbon to great depths.”
In related work published in 2012 in Science, the researchers found that eddies act as early triggers of the North Atlantic Bloom by keeping phytoplankton in shallower water where they can be exposed to sunlight to fuel photosynthesis and growth.
Next, the scientists will seek to quantify the transport of organic matter from the ocean’s surface to its depths in regions beyond the North Atlantic and at other times of year, and relate that to phytoplankton productivity.
Learning more about eddies and their link with plankton blooms will allow for more accurate global models of the ocean’s carbon cycle, the researchers say, and improve the models’ predictive capabilities.
“The processes described in this paper are demonstrating, once again, how important the ocean is for removal of atmospheric carbon and controlling Earth’s climate,” says Cetinić.
Contact: Beth Staples, 207.581.3777