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University of Maine News
News from the University of Maine
Updated: 2 hours 31 min ago
John Mahon, the John M. Murphy Chair of International Business Policy and Strategy at the University of Maine, and Michael Hastings, director of UMaine’s Office of Sponsored Programs, wrote an opinion piece for the Portland Press Herald. The article is titled “Public university students should get two years of free tuition.”
Dustin Sleight, an engineering student at the University of Maine, spoke with WVII (Channel 7) about a research project he is raising funds for at UMaine’s Virtual Environment and Multimodal Interaction (VEMI) Laboratory. Sleight and other undergraduate students have started a Kickstarter campaign to aid the purchase of a virtual reality motion platform that would be used with other VEMI equipment, such as the driving simulator that calculates reaction time. “I think engineering in general, there’s an obligation to do something good for the community, good for an individual, good for the progress of humankind,” Sleight said.
The Ellsworth American reported the University of Maine Cooperative Extension’s Eat Well Volunteers Program in Hancock County is recruiting volunteers for its second season. Participants will be trained to teach clients of food pantries and community meal sites about nutrition, food safety and preparation, and using fresh garden produce, according to the article. The hands-on volunteer training consists of six weekly sessions starting in April at the Hancock County Extension Office. The training fee is $60, and partial scholarships and payment plans are available.
The Maine Edge published a University of Maine news release announcing the University Singer’s spring tour. Under the direction of Francis Vogt, a School of Performing Arts faculty member, the group of about 60 singers will perform several free concerts around central and northern Maine in March as part of the choir’s annual spring tour. The tour kicks off March 9 at Stearns High School in Millinocket. Other free concerts are scheduled in Presque Isle, Madawaska, South Paris and Augusta. The tour ends with two performances at Minsky Recital Hall on the UMaine campus in Orono at 7:30 p.m. March 21 and 2 p.m. March 22. Tickets for the Orono shows are $9, or free with a valid student MaineCard. Tickets are available at the Collins Center box office by calling 581.1755.
Chef, author and sustainable food system expert Barton Seaver is being honored by the Margaret Chase Smith Policy Center (MCSPC) as a Distinguished Maine Policy Fellow at a reception at 4 p.m. Wednesday, March 18, at the University Club in Fogler Library at the University of Maine.
This event, originally slated for Jan. 27, was rescheduled due to inclement weather.
Seaver works collaboratively with industry and institution leaders, policymakers, media and conservationists and is a leading voice for sustainable food systems. The director of the Sustainable Seafood and Health Initiative at the Center for Health and the Global Environment at the Harvard School of Public Health spearheads initiatives to inform citizens about how menu and diet choices can promote healthier people, more secure food supplies and thriving communities.
“Esquire” magazine’s 2009 Chef of the Year also is on a mission to restore people’s relationship with the ocean, the land, and with each other — through dinner. Seaver is both a National Geographic Society Fellow and the first Sustainability Fellow in Residence at the New England Aquarium, where he educates restaurant and culinary school staffs about sustainable seafood. In 2012, then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton named Seaver to the United States Culinary Ambassador Corp.
The March 18 event is co-sponsored by University of Maine Cooperative Extension, Maine Sea Grant College Program at the University of Maine, Maine EPSCoR at the University of Maine and the university’s School of Marine Sciences.
The MCSPC, a nonpartisan, independent, research and public service unit of UMaine, brings Fellows to campus each semester to teach an undergraduate class, engage faculty in discussions about research and public policy, tour research projects and meet with UMaine administration and graduate students. By connecting Maine leaders with students and faculty, the program stimulates interest in state policy research and gives policymakers a better understanding of the value of the university.
University of Maine marine scientist Bob Steneck spoke with the Maine Public Broadcasting Network about his recent alga research. Steneck is part of an international team studying arctic algae for answers about the world’s changing oceans. The researchers say recent experiments conducted on algae growing in coral-like reefs in Alaskan waters indicate the ocean has been acidifying at a rate that corresponds with rising carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere since the 19th century, according to the report. “The coralline alga can tell us something about ocean acidification, it can tell us about ocean composition. We’re learning a lot about the changing ocean conditions over the last one to 200 years,” said Steneck. The findings were published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
Jim Dill, a pest management specialist with the University of Maine Cooperative Extension, and Andrei Alyokhin, a professor of applied entomology at UMaine, spoke with the Portland Press Herald for an article about how Maine insects survive, and sometimes thrive, during the winter. Experts say some pests, including ticks, black flies and browntail moth caterpillars have acclimated well to harsh winters and deep snow, which acts as an insulating blanket against the frigid air, according to the article. “This really cold weather we’ve had, it would really be nasty to overwintering insects, but unfortunately, most of them are 3 feet under, fat and happy,” Dill said. According to Alyokhin, cold winters are usually bad for insect mortality if the conditions — bare ground with prolonged cold — are right.
The Maine Public Broadcasting Network reported on the new Follow a Researcher program offered by the University of Maine Cooperative Extension with support from UMaine’s Climate Change Institute (CCI) and the Maine 4-H Foundation. The program aims to give K–12 students a glimpse into a scientist’s world by providing live expedition updates and facilitating communication between the youth and researcher. “The paper-pushing aspect is what I think gets represented. It’s what youth think science is,” said Charles Rodda, a doctoral student at CCI and the program’s first researcher. While in the field, Rodda will interact with participating classrooms and students by sharing prerecorded weekly videos and live tweeting in response to questions. “It just gives youth a sense of how this research actually looks,” said Laura Wilson, a 4-H science professional with UMaine Extension. The Maine Edge also carried a report about the program.
The University of Maine’s Fogler Library was mentioned in a Bangor Daily News “Family Ties” column about old newspapers. “Speaking of old newspapers, there is a wonderful collection on microfilm in the microforms room on the first floor of Fogler Library at the University of Maine,” the author wrote. Newspapers, vital records microfilms and U.S. Census microfilms are available for use anytime the library is open, including evenings and weekends. Newspapers on film range from the Bangor Daily News to the Piscataquis Observer to the London Times, the article states.
Youth in grades 6–8 are invited to explore ocean waves and develop sensors at a UMaine 4-H Science Saturday workshop from 8:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. March 28 at Darling Marine Center, 193 Clarks Cove Road, Walpole.
Participants will be introduced to sensors, learn how sensors are used in marine science applications and develop and test a light or temperature sensor. They will also explore shellfish aquaculture with a tour of an active oyster/mussel hatchery. Scheduled activities include water-quality sampling from the dock, viewing algae with a microscope and dissecting oysters.
The $5 fee includes the science program and lunch. Registration materials are available online. Maximum enrollment is 15 and March 19 is the deadline to register. For more information, or to request a disability accommodation, call Jessica Brainerd, 581.3877. The program is supported, in part, by the Maine 4-H Foundation Board of Trustees and a National Science Foundation award to Maine EPSCoR at the University of Maine.
A grant-writing workshop designed for people interested in submitting federal applications for the Farmers Market and Local Food Promotion Program will be offered 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m Monday, March 23, at Viles Arboretum, 153 Hospital St., Augusta.
The training is free; registration is required by March 16. Lunch will be provided. Register online or contact Caragh Fitzgerald, 207.622.7546, email@example.com. For more information or to request a disability accommodation, call Fitzgerald, 800.287.148 (TTY 800.287.8957).
University of Maine Cooperative Extension is conducting the workshop under the Agricultural Marketing Service Technical Assistance Project, in collaboration with the Maine Federation of Farmers Markets and the Northeast Regional Center for Rural Development, in partnership with the U.S. Department of Agriculture Agricultural Marketing Service and the National Institute for Food and Agriculture.
Susan MacKay of Cerahelix, a current tenant in the Target Technology Incubator in Orono, Maine, is one of the four finalists for the East Coast campaign of Google’s Solve for X — one of 12 worldwide Solve for X events that feature technology “moonshots” addressing key global problems with innovative technology solutions. Cerahelix uses DNA to make ceramic coatings that filter contaminants 100 times smaller than a virus while using less energy than competing technologies. Initially, this technology is being used to treat highly contaminated water from fracking, currently a multibillion-dollar problem. Cerehelix has had the business and technical support of UMaine since its inception. Incorporated in 2011, Cerahelix employs five scientists and engineers, all of whom are UMaine graduates, including the project scientist who is an inventor on all five of the company’s issued patents.
Continuing or accelerating warming of the atmosphere and ocean. Intense precipitation events. Rising sea levels.
These are signs of climate change, and all of them are affecting Maine people, according to Maine’s Climate Future: 2015 Update, a new report from the University of Maine.
Recent consequences include: a record number of reported Lyme disease cases; a white pine needle disease epidemic; erosion of beaches, farmland and roads; and a Gulf of Maine heat wave in 2012 that resulted in a glut of lobsters on the market and an ensuing price crash.
“This report goes beyond global and national climate change assessments to what is happening in Maine,” says one of the report’s authors, Ivan Fernandez, a professor in the UMaine School of Forest Resources, Climate Change Institute and School of Food and Agriculture.
“We want to encourage cost-effective adaptation by citizens, businesses and communities in Maine using the best available information and tools. Being informed about how climate change affects the state is vital to developing cohesive plans to lessen its negative effects and capitalize on resulting opportunities.”
The new report builds on the report Maine’s Climate Future 2009. In 2008, at the request of then-Gov. John Baldacci, the University of Maine Climate Change Institute began assessing climate-related changes in the state. More than 70 scientists contributed to that report.
The 2015 update, say its authors, highlights researchers’ grasp of past, present and future trends of changing climate in Maine given their understanding and the accumulating evidence in 2015.
It also provides examples of how Mainers, including community planners and business people, are adapting to existing realities and preparing for future expected changes.
Noted in the 24-page report:
- Rockland’s mapped flood zone has been moved inland 100 feet.
- The city of Portland assigned $2.7 million to elevate Bayside neighborhood streets two feet so building foundation heights would meet new insurance regulations that anticipate flooding and sea-level rise.
- The U.S. Department of Agriculture revised its Plant Hardiness Zone Maps because boundaries have shifted north by half a zone.
- Maine ski resort operators have signed the Climate Declaration to advocate for national action on climate change.
It’s important for stakeholders to continue proactive and preemptive preparation, say the report’s authors.
“Mitigation is also important, even as we engage in adaptation, since little has been done to reduce the rise in greenhouse gas emissions,” Fernandez says.
While the Northeast is experiencing a bitterly cold and snowy winter of 2015, the average temperature on the planet in 2014 was the warmest in 135 years of record keeping. Last year was the 38th consecutive year that Earth’s yearly temperature was above average, and nine of the 10 hottest years ever recorded have occurred since 2000.
While it may not feel like it now, the average annual temperature in Maine has warmed about 3 degrees since 1895.
Sean Birkel, Maine State Climatologist and a research assistant professor with the Climate Change Institute, analyzed Maine’s future climate using models from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) — which account for both natural and human impacts.
His findings indicate by 2050 the annual temperature in Maine will rise another 3–5 degrees F.
Also, Maine’s warm season — when the average daily temperature is above freezing — has increased by two weeks since 1914 and is expected to lengthen another two more weeks by 2050.
The longer warm season, which now extends from mid-March to late November, has translated into longer growing seasons for farmers. In the future, it could mean the prime time to tap maple trees for sap will be in early February.
Warming temperatures also have provided a more suitable environment for ticks and their hosts, resulting in the northward spread of Lyme disease in Maine.
Reported cases of the bacterial infection hit an all-time high in the state in 2013, according to the Maine Center for Disease Control
The global climate system changes that have resulted in the temperature rise also have impacted the seasonal distribution and amount of precipitation in Maine.
Since 1895, total annual precipitation in the state has increased by approximately six inches, or 13 percent; most increases occur in the summer and fall. Precipitation is expected to increase another 5–10 percent across Maine by 2050.
Precipitation also has become more frequent and intense. In the last century, nine of 11 meteorological stations in Maine have registered the highest frequency of extreme events — defined for this analysis as two or more inches of rain or snow falling in a 24-hour period — in the last decade.
In August 2014, a record-breaking 6.44 inches of rain flooded Portland streets. The downpour caused $200,000 in damage to infrastructure in Brunswick, including culverts and roads. In May 2012, six inches of rain fell in Auburn in 24 hours. Due to erosion and nutrients flushing into Lake Auburn, an excessive algae bloom developed, oxygen levels plummeted and many trout died.
The report’s authors say the warming ocean surface water, which puts more water vapor into the atmosphere, is one factor that fuels extreme precipitation events, including this winter’s record snowstorms.
The report also points to adaptation efforts by agencies and communities in Maine that highlight the importance of communication and coordination regarding the climate change challenge.
In 2013, Gov. Paul LePage established the Environmental and Energy Resources Working Group to develop a coordinated strategy to address climate change issues.
The Maine Department of Environmental Protection’s report from that working group recommended greater coordination among state and federal agencies, nongovernmental organizations, Native American tribes, municipalities, researchers and UMaine to improve the state’s “ability to respond and adapt to changing physical conditions in the environment due to climatic influence.”
In spring 2014, the UMaine School of Policy and International Affairs, the Maine National Guard and the U.S. Coast Guard co-hosted a conference that addressed political, military, economic and environmental challenges and opportunities related to diminished sea ice in the Arctic.
And last fall, at a University of Maine Climate Change Institute conference, researchers unveiled online tools, including the Climate Reanalyzer, to help community planners develop local solutions for specific consequences they are likely to experience.
“The University of Maine is uniquely capable of exploring the challenges associated with climate change in our state through research, education and community engagement and the complex themes encompassed in climate change-related studies are closely aligned with the recently developed signature and emerging issues related to climate change and marine science,” says Paul Anderson, director of the Maine Sea Grant program, which helped produce the report.
“Maine, the nation and the world stand at a crossroad imposed by our changing climate, but we have an amazing opportunity to reduce uncertainty about the future of climate and its impact and in so doing understand, address and deal with the challenge through rational and productive action,” says Paul Mayewski, director of the Climate Change Institute and another author of report.
Other authors of the report are: Catherine Schmitt, communications director, Maine Sea Grant College Program at the University of Maine; Esperanza Stancioff, educator, University of Maine Cooperative Extension, Maine Sea Grant; Andrew Pershing, chief scientific officer, Gulf of Maine Research Institute; Joseph Kelley, professor, UMaine School of Earth and Climate Sciences, Climate Change Institute; Jeffrey Runge, research scientist, UMaine School of Marine Sciences, Gulf of Maine Research Institute; and George Jacobson, UMaine Professor Emeritus, Climate Change Institute, UMaine School of Biology and Ecology.
Contact: Beth Staples, 207.581.3777
Sean Birkel, a research assistant professor at the University of Maine’s Climate Change Institute, was quoted in the Portland Press Herald article, “Ocean scientists report ‘unprecedented’ spike in sea level off Portland several years ago.” Scientists at the University of Arizona, with help from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, found sea levels off Portland rose by 5 inches during 2009 and 2010 as a result of changes in ocean circulation that are tied to rising carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere, according to the article. Birkel said he wasn’t surprised by the rise, but it’s not as alarming as it seems. “It’s definitely a significant rise during a short interval, but our research has shown a lot of variability, or ups and downs, and that 2009–10 is likely a peak,” he said. “But the overall trend is certainly that seas are rising. No one disputes that.”
The Bangor Daily News reported University of Maine undergraduate students and Robert Glover, an assistant professor of political science and Honors, are conducting research in collaboration with the city of Bangor and city councilors. They are studying what makes recent graduates from UMaine settle within the greater Bangor area, according to the article. “This information will help decision makers in Bangor craft strategies to grow our community and keep more talented young people in our local communities,” Glover wrote. UMaine alumni, or current students, who have settled in the Bangor area can complete a survey online.
The Free Press reported the Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association (MOFGA) will hold a “Farming in the Face of Climate Change” conference in Unity on March 7. Participants will hear about trends in Maine’s weather patterns and how on-farm nutrient cycling can help farms build resilience, according to the article. Glen Koehler, a University of Maine Cooperative Extension professional, is scheduled to present “Recent Observations and 30-Year Forecast for Climate Change in Maine.” Ivan Fernandez, a professor of soil science and forest resources at UMaine and a cooperating professor in the Climate Change Institute, will present “Maine’s Climate Future: 2015 Update.”
Former and current students of the University of Maine were mentioned in a Mainebiz article about Wiscasset-based company Peregrine Turbine Technologies LLC. The business has developed an energy-efficient turbine and is raising the necessary capital to move forward, according to the article. The company also aims to create jobs in Maine and keep technology in the state. It has hired two recent graduates and an intern from the University of Maine, the article states. “All of our investors are told up front about the state of Maine objectives,” said David Stapp, CEO and chief technology officer at Peregrine Turbine. “The technology stays here.”
The University of Maine had the highest percentage of its fall student-athletes named to the America East Fall Academic Honor Roll, released Feb. 26.
The Black Bears had 59 student-athletes, or 77.6 percent, honored for their academic standing. UMaine led all America East field hockey schools, with 85 percent of the team honored for achieving a 3.0 grade point average or higher.
The America East Conference released its 2014 fall academic honor roll with nearly two-thirds of all student-athletes receiving recognition. There were 694 student-athletes named to the America East Academic Honor Roll for achieving a 3.0 GPA or higher, with more than 400 student-athletes named to the America East Commissioner’s Academic Honor Roll for achieving a 3.5 GPA or better.
The full news release with a complete list of honorees is online.
University of Maine Cooperative Extension is offering a one-year poultry egg business project to 4-H members ages 9–18 and their families.
The statewide project is intended to generate income for participants and provide learning experiences in business, entrepreneurship, keeping records, documentation, problem-solving, food safety and animal husbandry.
Participants will learn and follow state and local regulations for producing and selling poultry eggs. Regular support, including calculating the number of pullets (young hens) to order, will be provided via online webinars. Twelve-week-old Golden Comet chicks will be ordered from a local producer March 15; pullets will begin laying eggs this summer.
Before pullets arrive, participants will draft a business plan and do a survey to determine the approximate number of eggs and hens needed to meet market demand. Participants also will build or secure a facility and equipment for the birds and track expenses, including the purchase of equipment, shavings and feed. Each flock requires at least 14 hours of light per day.
Extension 4-H staff and agricultural specialists will provide training via webinar. Several in-person workshops — the first is Saturday, May 2 — will be centrally located. Limited financial assistance is available.
More information and registration is online. For more information, contact Jessica Brainerd, 581.3877, 800.287.0274 or firstname.lastname@example.org. To participate, youth must be 4-H members in the county in which they live; interested people may contact their local Extension office for information about joining 4-H.
Amber Rowley, a third-year psychology major at the University of Maine, has received the Laurence A. Jones Jr. scholarship for the past two years.
The scholarship was established in memory of Laurence A. Jones Jr., who graduated from UMaine with a psychology degree in 1992 and was killed while he was a graduate student at Johns Hopkins University. Jones’ mother created the scholarship to be awarded to students who demonstrate excellence in psychology.
In fall 2014, Rowley spoke at the annual memorial service to honor the life of Jones, which was held near the Laurence A. Jones Jr. memorial tree on campus.
During the event, Jeffery Mills, president and CEO of the University of Maine Foundation, said he hopes through Rowley’s studies and work in psychology, she will “continue on the living memory of Laurence.”
Rowley of Howland, Maine, also is pursuing a minor in sociology and expects to graduate in May 2016. Beyond academics, she is a supervisor at a clothing store in the Bangor Mall and is involved with her high school cheering squad. She helps the team prepare for upcoming competitions and even took classes to become a certified assistant coach.
Tell us about receiving the Laurence A. Jones Scholarship and speaking at the memorial ceremony
Receiving that scholarship — not once, but both years — was the most honorable thing I can say I’ve received since my time here at UMaine. Laurence’s story was so inspiring, and he had such big dreams. I was so honored and grateful to participate in the memorial ceremony and personally give my thanks to his mother and tell her how much he has inspired me. Laurence’s story will continue to be heard and he will continue to make a difference in people’s lives through this scholarship.
Why did you choose to study psychology?
I chose to study psychology because I find people to be so interesting. Everyone is so unique and has their own story. In high school I joined an extracurricular peer helpers group my sophomore year, and I absolutely loved it. You were encouraged to introduce yourself to people you’ve never really talked to before; be a first friend to a new student; or maybe let someone who seems distraught know that if they ever want to talk, you are there for them. It inspired me to want to be the best person I could be and to make a difference in someone’s life. After three years of studying it, I’ve never been more sure that this is what I want to do.
I chose UMaine because it has an amazing psychology degree program — one of the best in the state. It was close to home, and I grew up in a very small town, where some classes only had four people. Everyone knew everyone and I wanted something completely different. I love the large classrooms and the beautiful campus, the events that go on, and the energy that team UMaine brings. I love it here.
What difference has UMaine made in your life and in helping you reach your goals?
I didn’t know a thing about college, or the outside world, or where to even start when it came to deciding what I wanted to do. The idea of the real world made me nervous. I came from a small school, graduating with a class of 50 people. UMaine has given me the chance to experience and learn things with a large group of people and get that feel of being surrounded by large crowds, which will be a benefit for me in the future.
Having to take gen-ed classes, I’ve been introduced to real-life topics that I would never have even thought about taking or had interest in taking if I had the choice. I didn’t realize how subjects that you would think to be completely different to your major, actually tie in with it.
I used to be the type of person that didn’t pay attention to the news and headlines, especially ones that had to do with other countries. But through every class I have learned so much and notice things that I never would have thought twice about. It’s just given me a whole new perspective on life and is eye opening to what is really happening in this world and the things that are being done about it.
By taking these classes and by taking a class in each psychology focus, I was able to narrow what I wanted to do with a psychology degree, bringing me one step closer to my goal. At the moment, I want to concentrate on abnormal/social psychology and see what my options are and go from there.
What’s your favorite place on campus?
My favorite place on campus, I actually found out about by taking a peace studies class. The professor assigned us to go to the peace garden right across from the Collins Center for the Arts. I didn’t even know about that little hidden spot, but it’s beautiful.
What are your plans for after graduation?
After graduation, I want to hopefully continue my education in grad school here at UMaine and eventually find my way to move toward a more urban area. I love big crowds and the city and hope to find somewhere in an area like that to pursue my career. I haven’t decided whether or not I want to leave the state, but I’m very open to expanding my horizons.