University of Maine News
Ask University of Maine School of Policy and International Affairs students what they did in class and the reply could be “helped save the world.”
SPIA graduate students have assisted refugees in South Africa, worked to ensure free and fair elections in the Middle East, compiled security briefings for the FBI, tracked threats directed at the Olympic Games in London and helped reforest Katmandu.
“We tell them, ‘Dream big. Think big.’ It’s there for the taking,” says director Jim Settele with the assuredness that comes from nearly three decades serving on active duty in the U.S. Navy.
Capt. Settele, who logged more than 3,000 flight hours and more than 600 carrier-arrested landings, was military assistant to the Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld at the Pentagon during operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom.
Now he helps SPIA students’ dreams take flight.
Settele asks the 25 SPIA students with a multitude of interests where they want to be two years after graduation. “And we figure out how to get them there,” he says.
When they get there, they’ll be armed with a Master of Arts in Global Policy and a concentration in international environmental policy, international trade and commerce, or international security and foreign policy and they’ll have experience and connections from internships and conferences around the globe.
Like Kate Kirby, an Orono, Maine, native who earned her degree in 2013. SPIA afforded her “space to dream big and the resources to achieve her ambitions,” she says.
“I was provided with unprecedented access to experts in the field on a regular basis,” says Kirby, who concentrated in sustainable community development in the International Environmental Policy track.
She participated in a Mercy Corps’ Fishing for Change pilot project that sought to increase income and protein consumption through improved fishing and agricultural productivity in Timor-Leste. Kirby assessed potential impacts of inland aquaculture development on protein intake by managing a questionnaire administered to fish farmers.
She conducted field visits and interviews with farmers as well as with nongovernmental organizations, international nongovernmental organizations, officials with the Timorese government and United Nations agencies.
“I learned that I could make a lasting impact on people’s lives working in the NGO sector, and that I really enjoy the daily challenges,” Kirby says. “That said, I concluded that with my particular skill set, I could potentially make a larger-scale impact in my short time on Earth.”
So Kirby set out to make her impact by exploring policymaking and enacting positive change through documentary filmmaking. During her final semester at UMaine, Kirby flew to Bolivia to film the daily lives of a quinoa-farming couple.
She sought to learn how the global rise in demand for Andean quinoa — a superfood trendy with health-conscious and gluten-free consumers — was impacting the couple and other growers in Bolivia. Since then, Kirby founded Kindred Planet Productions “to capture the interconnectedness of a 21st-century world, raise awareness around social justice issues and inspire action.”
The SPIA experience, she says, provided her with a “better understanding of the challenges and complexities we face as a global community, and possible solutions for solving these problems.”
Benjamin Levelius agreed. He’s on track to graduate in spring 2014 with a concentration in international security and foreign policy.
The 26 year old says SPIA helps people who want to make a difference in the world access the knowledge, people and positions that will enable them to do so. “Don’t give up on idealistic intentions just because they seem far-fetched,” he says.
Levelius, from Stratford, Wisconsin, has attended conferences in the United Arab Emirates, Maine and Washington, D.C. He’s worked in India and Nicaragua and visited Bangladesh to observe work performed by NGOs in an urban setting. His internship was in Kerala, India, with Yearoutindia, an NGO that concentrates on water, sanitation and hygiene initiatives in tribal communities. He met with the new king of the Mannan Tribe and helped open a new base of operations with the Mudhuvan Tribe.
“As India emerges as a worldwide economic powerhouse, the cost of construction materials, food and transportation has risen faster than the wages of the people in this region, which has hindered the influx of volunteers and slowed the speed of development,” says Levelius, who researched alternative cost-saving toilet construction methods that suited the rainforest climate.
Classes were valuable, as well, Levelius says, including one in which the professor and students tracked developing situations, such as in the Ukraine in spring 2014, and one in which he learned to write grants. “Whether through the connections you can make through faculty and administrators, class work, conferences or internships, it will act as a catalyst to help you get to where you need to go,” Levelius says.
The United Nations is where SPIA student Hamdane Bordji wants to be. And that’s where he is.
In spring 2014, Bordji, who calls Algeria home, interned at the UN in New York City. In an April blog on the SPIA website about his internship he wrote, “The nature of my work … can be summed up in the following: Think differently and act as one … I have realized that it is with no doubt that I want to be a member of the UN community, to be surrounded with this type of people at my workplace, and to be in the midst of world affairs.”
In March, Bordji, who is on track to graduate in December 2014 with a concentration in international security and foreign policy, was in the midst of the International Women’s Day events at the UN. He shook hands with Ban Ki-moon, the eighth Secretary-General of the United Nations and saw former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who during her address to the UN, said gender equality is the “unfinished business of the 21st century.”
Bordji blogged that he has applied much of what he learned with SPIA to his internship, “but there are so many things to learn outside of the classroom.”
“This experience did throw me into the profound workings of the United Nations — in a pool of deals and ideas made by contributions from a diversified group of prominent intellectuals, practitioners and policymakers of our times,” he wrote.
First-year SPIA student Shelby Saucier heard firsthand a speech delivered by one of the most prominent spiritual leaders of the time, the Dalai Lama. The Cumberland, Maine, native attended the January 2014 conference “Bounds of Ethics in a Globalised World” at Christ University in Bangalore, India, where the Dalai Lama delivered the keynote.
“The global economy has made our world one,” reads an excerpt from the speech he delivered. “We need a corresponding sense of the oneness of humanity. If we are realistic, truthful and honest, we can communicate with anyone and everyone.”
Saucier, who is concentrating in International Security and Foreign Policy with a special interest in development, plans to promote education advocacy and family planning education in East Africa. “SPIA is composed of dreamers,” she says, “… and the program nurtures the dreams and facilitates them.”
Settele says SPIA’s accomplished board of advisers helps students achieve dreams by forging connections. And primary benefactor Penny Wolfe’s funding enables students to travel to, and participate in, conferences and internships around the planet.
One member of the SPIA Advisory Board, His Excellency, Dr. Jamal Al-Suwaidi of Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, is director general of the Emirates Center for Strategic Studies and Research (ECSSR). The ECSSR has funded two trips for graduate students to Abu Dhabi, Settele says.
“I have high expectations,” Settele says of SPIA, which admitted its first class in fall 2010. “We (SPIA) have a small footprint but cast a big shadow.”
Students aim to be a significant positive influence, as well.
“If you can point to a person in the world who is doing exactly what you want to do, you can do it too, and SPIA will try to move mountains to get you to where you want to go, but you gotta be down there, pushing with them,” says Levelius.
Marie Hayes, a University of Maine professor of psychology, spoke with Reuters about an invited commentary she co-wrote with Dr. Mark Brown, chief of pediatrics and director of nurseries at Eastern Maine Medical Center, for the Aug. 25 Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA). The commentary, “Legalization of Medical Marijuana and Incidence of Opioid Mortality,” references a study in the same JAMA issue examining the link between medical marijuana laws and unintentional overdose mortality from opioid analgesics. “Because opioid mortality is such a tremendously significant health crisis now, we have to do something and figure out what’s going on,” Hayes told Reuters, adding efforts that states are making to combat deaths, such as prescription monitoring programs, have been relatively ineffective. “Everything we’re doing is having no effect, except for in the states that have implemented medical marijuana laws,” she said. Fox News and the Bangor Daily News carried the Reuters report. Live Science, Boston.com, Los Angeles Times, Science Codex and The Washington Post also reported on the JAMA articles. The Portland Press Herald carried the LA Times article.
The Bangor Daily News reported the University of Maine made Washington Monthly’s “Best Bang for the Buck” list, which recognizes institutions “in America that do the best job of helping non-wealthy students attain marketable degrees at affordable prices,” according to the magazine’s editors. Washington Monthly evaluated about 1,700 colleges and universities and selected 349 based on criteria that reward schools that do well with students from lower-income families, according to the BDN. UMaine was one of four Maine colleges to make the list, with a ranking of 132. The University of Maine at Farmington ranked 184, Maine Maritime Academy ranked 232 and College of the Atlantic ranked 240.
The Bangor Daily News reported on efforts the Maine Department of Transportation (MDOT) is taking to reduce the number of moose-vehicle accidents. The article states the MDOT has several plans in the works, including a “moose illuminator project,” that calls for the installation of LED lights along sections of Route 161 with a high moose concentration. The lights would turn on after dark when a vehicle approaches, with the intent of lighting the roadway to reveal moose, the article states. The project was designed in cooperation with students in the University of Maine’s Electrical Engineering Department as part of their senior project this past spring, according to Andrew Sheaff, a lecturer in the department. “This was a really cool project,” he said. “And we hope it will help out motorists avoid moose.”
Dana Morse, a Maine Sea Grant researcher who works at the University of Maine’s Darling Marine Center, was quoted in The Forecaster’s article, “Even in retreat, green crabs confound Maine shellfish industry.” Morse said there is a small, but motivated group in the state looking for ways to market the crabs. He added one idea — that hasn’t yet panned out — is to use the crabs as bait for the conch fishing industry in Massachusetts.
The Portland Press Herald spoke with University of Maine political scientist Mark Brewer for an article about a federal judge siding with four supporters of independent gubernatorial candidate Eliot Cutler who sued the state over campaign contribution limits for non-party candidates. Brewer told the Press Herald he wasn’t surprised by the ruling and has often wondered why the provision wasn’t challenged sooner. “That said, I don’t know that this will affect the (governor’s) race,” he said. “Where this is more important is the precedent it sets.”
CHISPA-Centro Hispano’s seventh annual Hispanic Lecture Series for Latino Heritage Month will be held at the University of Maine’s Arthur St. John Hill Auditorium (165 Barrows Hall) in September and October.
Lectures start at 6:30 p.m. Thursdays and are free and open to the public.
The series kicks off Sept. 18, when Luis Millones-Figueroa, an assistant professor of Spanish and Latin American studies at Colby College, will speak about “The Story of the Bezoar Stone: A Wonder Medicine from the Andes.”
Other lectures are: “Ventajas del bilingüismo — Advantages of Bilingualism,” by clinical psychiatrist Minerva Villafane-Garcia on Sept. 25; “Alicia, esto es el capitalismo: When fiction depicts economy,” by Carlos Villacorta Gonzáles, an assistant professor of Spanish at UMaine, on Oct. 2; and “Immigration Issues Impacting the Latino Community” by Claudia Paz Aburto Guzmán, Spanish Department chair at Bates College, on Oct. 9.
Co-sponsors of the Hispanic Lecture Series include UMaine’s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, Department of Modern Languages and Classics, Department of History and the University of Maine Humanities Initiative.
The mission of Bangor-based CHISPA is to educate the state on Latino culture, heritage and language. For more information about CHISPA-Centro Hispano, email email@example.com or call Angel Loredo at 207.478.1019.
The potential for medical marijuana to curb the growing incidence of opioid analgesic-associated deaths is the focus of an invited commentary in the Aug. 25 Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), co-authored by a University of Maine psychology researcher and a physician at Eastern Maine Medical Center.
The invited commentary, “Legalization of Medical Marijuana and Incidence of Opioid Mortality,” by Marie Hayes, a UMaine professor of psychology, and Dr. Mark Brown, chief of pediatrics and director of nurseries at EMMC, references a study in the same JAMA issue examining the link between medical marijuana laws and unintentional overdose mortality from opioid analgesics.
This is the second time in the past two years that Hayes has been tapped for commentary by JAMA as a result of her research on substance-exposed newborns. And in 2013, she also was the co-author on a JAMA research paper.
“The striking implication is that medical marijuana laws, when implemented, may represent a promising approach for stemming runaway rates of nonintentional opioid analgesic-related deaths,” write Hayes and Brown.
Use of medical marijuana to lessen the drive to use opiates at lethal levels in individuals with psychiatric, nonpain-related conditions is particularly promising, the Maine researchers write. That’s critically important for states like Maine, where the rates of opioid analgesic overdose deaths are high, and addiction and related psychiatric disorders represent an estimated 50 percent of opioid analgesic-related deaths.
The question that needs more study, says Hayes, is whether marijuana provides improved pain control that decreases opioid dosing to safer levels.
Since 2009, research led by Hayes and Brown has included the collection of genetic data as part of a longitudinal study of mothers and their substance-exposed newborns. In 2011, Hayes and Brown began collaborating with Drs. Jonathan Davis and Elisha Wachman at Tufts Medical Center to determine which genes would be most helpful in predicting severity of withdrawal symptoms and, ultimately, most effective treatments and lengths of hospital stays.
Their research is part of a $3 million, multi-institution National Institutes of Health (NIH) study led by Davis at Tufts Medical Center and Barry Lester at Brown Medical School. Hayes is a member of the steering committee on the associated clinical trial, providing expertise on genetic polymorphisms and developmental outcomes in neonatal abstinence syndrome (NAS) infants.
The first findings of the collaborative research with Wachman and Davis at Tufts Medical Center, and Hayes on the genetics of neonatal abstinence syndrome were reported in JAMA in 2013. The research team also included Jonathan Paul, a former UMaine doctoral researcher under Hayes who helped develop the genetic model and who is now an NIH postdoc at the University of Texas Medical Branch.
A year ago, JAMA featured an editorial by Hayes and Brown, “The Epidemic of Prescription Opiate Abuse and Neonatal Abstinence,” detailing the challenges of caring for this vulnerable population, cautioning against defunding maternal treatment programs, and calling for stepped-up research into effective medications and other protocols.
Contact: Margaret Nagle, 207.581.3745
Rebecca Holberton, a professor of biological sciences at the University of Maine, was quoted in a SeacoastOnline article about the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service using tiny transmitters to study shorebird migration patterns. The tags transmit signals to radio towers on the Northeast coast of the United States and Canada, with two of the towers in the Rachel Carson Wildlife Refuge in Wells, according to the report. The Wells activity is part of a larger project to study migration patterns of semipalmated sandpipers, which began in 2013, the article states. The larger project is co-directed by Holberton and Lindsay Tudor, a shorebird biologist for the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife. Holberton said the project is still at the beginning. “Last year was the first time for shorebird tracking in Maine,” she said. “This is the first year in Wells. It’s the first year with more than one site in Maine. We want to continue and expand to more sites in Maine and more species.” The Associated Press and the Bangor Daily News picked up the SeacoastOnline article. The Portland Press Herald and Maine Public Broadcasting Network carried the AP report.
Jesse Moriarity, coordinator of the University of Maine’s Foster Center for Student Innovation, and Jennifer Hooper, an entrepreneur and mentor coordinator at the center, were featured in the Mainebiz article “Innovation, Maine style: A creativity hub hopes to keep good ideas in-state.” Moriarity and Hooper are co-coordinators of the Bangor Innovation Hub, which is one of five hubs planned for development statewide and funded by Blackstone Accelerates Growth, a three-year, $3 million grant from the Blackstone Charitable Foundation. The hubs are aimed at bridging the gap between good ideas and profitable businesses, according to the article. UMaine is one of the key partners in the Bangor Innovation Hub, along with Husson University and the towns of Orono and Old Town.
WLBZ (Channel 2) reported in its community section, that the Mount Desert Island Historical Society and the University of Maine will announce a new partnership at the society’s annual meeting Aug. 27 in Northeast Harbor. With funding from the University of Maine Humanities Initiative (UMHI), the organizations will create a collaborative internship to engage students of history, new media and other disciplines. The outcomes of the project will depend on the interests of students and faculty, and could range from a redesign of the society’s website, to the development of guided historical tours for handheld computer applications, to ways to explore and present historical research projects, according to the report. “This is precisely the sort of project the Public Humanities Grant program aims to support. We are especially excited about the opportunities for student engagement with Mount Desert Island Historical Society resources and the community,” said Justin Wolff, UMHI director.
Renae Moran, a tree fruit specialist with the University of Maine Cooperative Extension, spoke to the Maine Public Broadcasting Network about this year’s apple crop in Maine. According to the report, experts are predicting an excellent crop this year, with good size and color. Moran said most people who pick their own apples will not see much hail damage, and added most apple farms in Maine get a significant portion of their incomes from pick-your-own and retail farm stand sales. Moran said pick-your-own has started in southern Maine with summer varieties. Activity usually picks up after Labor Day, when the main crop harvest begins the second week in September in southern Maine and continues into October in more northern areas, she said.
Daniel Williams, executive director of the University of Maine’s Collins Center for the Arts, spoke to Mainebiz about the Bangor region becoming an entertainment destination. Williams said he remembered when the Collins Center opened its doors in 1986 under the name Maine Center for the Arts. “It changed our community overnight. I believe the MCA was the start of a cultural experiment that has been wildly successful. Ten or 15 years ago, we heard a lot of talk about the creative economy. I think we are seeing that concept in full swing in greater Bangor,” he said. Indigenous arts at CCA’s Hudson Museum and fine arts at the University of Maine’s Museum of Art in downtown Bangor were also recognized in the article. An economic impact study on Bangor’s Waterfront Concerts conducted by UMaine economics professor Todd Gabe also was cited in the article. Gabe found from 2010 to 2013, the series drew more than 300,000 people to the region.
The Portland Press Herald, USA Today, Inquisitir and the New York Daily News cited statistics from the Lobster Institute at the University of Maine in articles about a 14-year-old girl from Old Orchard Beach who caught a bright blue lobster in a trap off Pine Point in Scarborough. According to the Lobster Institute, about 1 in 2 million lobsters is blue.
Darren J. Reid, a visiting research scholar in the University of Maine William S. Cohen Center, wrote an op-ed in the Bangor Daily News about the Sept. 18 Scottish independence referendum. Reid said the vote of the people of Scotland whether to remain part of the United Kingdom or become the 196th independent country on the planet, “will have serious ramifications for the United Kingdom, Europe and also the U.S.,” including having possible implications for U.S. foreign policy. Discussion about Scotland’s independence has centered on democracy, political representation and redistribution of wealth. “I strongly believe in the importance of American engagement in the debate, and for the U.S. government and citizens alike, to give serious consideration to the implications of an independent Scottish state and a reduced U.K.,” Reid wrote.
University of Maine Cooperative Extension and the Maine State Beekeepers Association (MSBA) will offer Beginner Bee School, 6–8:30 p.m. Wednesdays, Oct. 1-29, at Anderson Learning Center, 21 Bradeen St., Springvale.
Instructor Larry Peiffer, master beekeeper and former MSBA vice president, will discuss honeybee colonies, hive construction, pests and diseases and honey production. During the five-week course, participants will also observe area hives and gain hands-on experience during a field lab. Cost is $90 per person/$130 for two people who share the text and materials. A one-year membership in the York County Beekeepers Association is included with the fee. Sept. 19 is the deadline to register.
More information, including registration, is available online or by contacting the UMaine Extension York County office at 800.287.1535 (in state), 207.324.2814 or firstname.lastname@example.org. To request a disability accommodation, call Frank Wertheim, 800.287.1535 (in state) or 207.324.2814.
Three University of Maine business students — Brent Martin of Acton, Craig Blackwell of Corinth and Casey Libby of Hollis Center — have been chosen for Patriot Insurance scholarships. Six other students attending the University of Southern Maine, Central Maine Community College, Thomas College and Saint Joseph’s College also received awards. The scholarships totaled $62,000. The scholarship are awarded to Maine high school graduates studying business at Maine colleges and universities. More information about the scholarships awarded by Patriot Insurance, based in Yarmouth, is online.
WCSH6 interviewed University of Maine student Emily Mayer about the exhibit of moon jellies and lion’s manes jellies – commonly called jellyfish — she designed during her summer internship at the Maine State Aquarium in Boothbay Harbor.
A number of media outlets covered the induction of three University of Maine sports legends —Joanne Palombo-McCallie, Rachel Bouchard and Thomas “Skip” Chappelle — into the newly formed Maine Basketball Hall of Fame. UMaine graduate, former men’s player and Maine Basketball Hall of Fame vice chair Tony Hamlin emceed Thursday night’s inaugural event at Cross Insurance Center in Bangor. The Portland Press Herald, 92.9 The Ticket, Bangor Daily News, WABI-TV5 and WCSH6 were among the outlets to cover the ceremony.