University of Maine News
A Bangor Daily News editorial titled “Keeping up with Maine’s changing climate” cited several University of Maine initiatives that aim to mitigate the effects of extreme weather. The editorial mentioned the Maine Futures Community Mapper, an online tool developed by Maine’s Sustainability Solutions Initiative (SSI) that allows people to see the best locations for development, conservation, agriculture or forestry in Maine, and then shows what future landscapes would look like under different scenarios. Research being conducted by SSI with coastal communities to update stormwater plans and identify problem culverts, as well as a bill sponsored by Rep. Mick Devin, a researcher and shellfish hatchery manager at UMaine’s Darling Marine Center, that will establish a commission to study ocean acidification and how it affects the harvest of shellfish were also mentioned. UMaine’s Climate Change Institute was cited as “one organization with the expertise to guide community leaders in their climate adaptation and sustainability plans.” The CCI will host a workshop at the Wells Conference Center on Oct. 23 to help Maine communities with climate change planning, the editorial states.
The Maine Edge published an article about research to be conducted by University of Maine professor of oceanography Emmanuel Boss and UMaine master’s graduate Thomas Leeuw. This summer, the pair will board the sailboat Tara to collect data and conduct research on ocean color, composition and pigments of surface particles in the Mediterranean Sea. In addition to collaborating with international scientists, they’ll talk with schoolchildren about the ocean.
University of Maine Cooperative Extension Master Gardener Volunteers will offer a hands-on yardscaping workshop, including how to incorporate native Maine plants in the yard, 2–4 p.m. Sunday, July 20, at Wells Reserve, 342 Laudholm Farm Road, Wells.
UMaine Extension Master Gardener Volunteers Allan Amioka and Ginger Laurits will cover basics of yardscaping — an ornamental gardening strategy that minimizes or eliminates the use of pesticides and fertilizers, thereby reducing harmful downstream effects. Learn about choosing the right place with the right plants that have low-pest profiles and are well adapted to the area. There also will be a tour of the Native Plant Garden at Wells Reserve, as well as a segment on identifying invasive species.
The $7 workshop fee ($5 for Laudholm Trust members) is payable at the event. Participants will meet at the All Seasons Garden behind the lab/science building, and should dress for the outdoors and be prepared for hands-on learning.
To preregister, call UMaine Extension in York County at 207.324.2814 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information or to request a disability accommodation, call Frank Wertheim at 207.324.2814 or 800.287.1535 (in state).
The program is part of the Four Season Gardening series brought to the Wells Reserve at Laudholm by UMaine Extension’s York County Master Gardener Volunteers. The next workshop — Hoop Bending and Extending the Gardening Season in Maine — is scheduled for Wednesday, Aug. 13.
The University of Maine’s Advanced Manufacturing Center (AMC) and Ecoshel, a company that produces cedar shingle panels, recently completed their UMaine-based project, Smart Shingle Production. AMC, along with private and public partners, designed, developed and built a manufacturing assembly line for the company. The line, which includes custom manufacturing equipment, blends conventional woodworking systems with state-of-the-art controls and laser-scanning technology.
“Developing this new type of shingle manufacturing system will greatly increase safety and production efficiency over current systems,” says AMC director John Belding, talking about the assembly line that will be operated in Ecoshel’s new production facility in Ashland, Maine.
The Ecoshel project created more than 11 jobs and provided a learning experience for UMaine engineering students.
Bryan Kirkey, owner and CEO of Ecoshel, was referred to the AMC by the Maine Technology Institute. He met with AMC staff and engineering student interns to discuss how to reach his goal of having a cutting-edge manufacturing facility in Maine. With support from AMC’s innovative engineering and manufacturing services, Kirkey opened the production facility in Ashland.
AMC sought private industry partners such as Dana Hodgkin, owner of Manchester, Maine-based Progress Engineering, for additional system integration and controls support.
Working with Ecoshel and Progress Engineering over the past six months, AMC developed an automated system that can scan, optimize and cut raw lumber to produce a shingle every second with the specialized features of Ecoshel’s system. Once the shingles are made, they are assembled into Ecoshel’s cedar siding panels that use a unique, patented installation system that minimizes installation effort, waste, extra weight and materials, and extends shingle life.
This is the first of many assembly lines Ecoshel plans to use based on the specifications and prints developed by the AMC, according to Belding. AMC plans to share information and assist Ecoshel’s private partners with building the remaining systems.
More about Ecoshel is online.
WVII (Channel 7) and WABI (Channel 5) reported on the completion and demonstration of the Ecoshel — Smart Shingle Production Project at the University of Maine’s Advanced Manufacturing Center. The AMC, engineering students, and private and public partners designed, developed and built a manufacturing assembly line for Ecoshel, a company that produces cedar shingle panels. The assembly line will be operated in Ecoshel’s new production facility in Ashland, Maine. The project created more than 11 jobs and provided a learning experience for the students. Ben White, a mechanical engineering student, told WABI he was happy to see the project come together and run smoothly. “This facility has really been essential to being able to experiment, develop, have a work-in-progress kind of relationship with the team here and get it off the ground,” said Bryan Kirkey, owner and CEO of Ecoshel.
The Bangor Daily News and WLBZ (Channel 2) reported on an updated study conducted by University of Maine economist Todd Gabe on the economic impact of Bangor’s Waterfront Concerts series. Gabe first released the study in early 2013, which estimated the first three years of the concert series brought more than $30 million into the local economy. Gabe recently released an update to include data from the 2013 season, which surpassed each previous year in terms of attendance, number of performances, impact on local businesses and people’s willingness to travel long distances to see a show, according to the article. The 19 shows in 2013 had a total economic impact of nearly $17.5 million — more than half the total of the first three years combined, according to the study. Gabe’s journal article on the study is scheduled to be published in the Review of Regional Studies. Mainebiz also cited the BDN report.
The Bangor Daily News published the opinion piece “Why it makes no sense to put more people in jail,” by Steve Barkan, a sociology professor at the University of Maine. Barkan also is a member of the Maine Regional Network, part of the Scholars Strategy Network, which brings together scholars across the country to address public challenges and their policy implications. Members’ columns appear in the BDN every other week.
A Maine Edge reporter and former University of Maine student wrote the feature, “Saying goodbye to a teacher and friend,” about his memories of Sandra Hardy. Hardy, who was an associate professor of theatre at UMaine, taught acting and literature of the theatre, as well as drama in education during her 26-year career. Hardy passed away June 19 in Connecticut. She was 76. “She was never at a loss for something to say, but at the same time, she was one of the greatest listeners I ever encountered,” the reporter wrote. “She was there to make you better — better as a student, better as an actor and better as a person.”
An economic impact study by University of Maine economist Todd Gabe was cited in a Portland Press Herald article about Downeast LNG altering plans for a proposed liquefied natural gas import terminal in Washington County. Downeast LNG commissioned Gabe to conduct the study. Gabe found the new project would create 2,350 jobs and $375 million in labor income during its three-year construction period. He also estimated the terminal would support 337 jobs in the state and have an annual economic impact of $68 million.
Foster’s Daily Democrat reported Noah Binette of Berwick, Maine, won first place in the individual exhibit category at the National History Day Competition at the University of Maryland in College Park. In April, the Noble High School freshman won Maine’s National History Day competition. The state competition for students in grades 6–12 was held at the University of Maine for the first time since the national program began in 1980.
The Maine Edge published an advance of the University of Maine Cooperative Extension’s annual Sustainable Agriculture Field Day to be held Thursday, June 26, at Rogers Farm in Old Town. The free event is designed for farmers, crop advisers and others interested in agricultural production. UMaine agricultural researchers and Extension faculty will present field research highlighting current applied agricultural research projects, including alternative weed management strategies in vegetable production, opportunities and challenges with winter grains and evaluating plants to support native pollinators.
University of Maine Cooperative Extension is offering a Cooking for Crowds workshop 1–5 p.m. Monday, July 7, at the UMaine Extension Somerset County office, 7 County Drive, Skowhegan.
Learn up-to-date methods for safely preparing, handling and serving food for large groups, including at soup kitchens, church functions, food pantries and community fundraisers. The class meets the Good Shepherd Food Bank food safety training requirements. The workshop covers the following food safety guidelines: planning and purchasing; storing food supplies; preparing food; transporting, storing and serving cooked foods; and handling leftovers. Cost is $15 per person; scholarships are available.
For more information, to register or to request a disability accommodation, call Crystal Hamilton at 207.622.7546 or 800.287.1481 (in Maine). Details about future workshops are online.
Two studies by researchers at the University of Maine’s Sustainability Solutions Initiative (SSI) uncovered compelling data on women’s knowledge of both the dangers and health benefits of eating fish while pregnant.
The first study found that Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) advisory led women to decrease their consumption of fish, while a follow-up study found a newly designed advisory led to a healthier, more balanced approach to fish consumption.
Mario Teisl, professor in the School of Economics, will present and discuss results of the studies, which were published in two peer-reviewed journals, as a featured speaker at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) 2014 National Forum on Contaminants in Fish.
Both journal papers are among the first to examine how information about methylmercury in fish is conveyed to pregnant women in specific states and how that information is used, which is information the EPA has indicated it needs.
Teisl has been part of two research teams from SSI’s Knowledge to Action Collaborative that have closely examined CDC’s methylmercury advisories sent to pregnant women. He will lay out how the successive sets of data tracked an evolution in the way information is conveyed to and interpreted by pregnant women in Maine.
“CDC suspected that the original advisory was not working as best as it could and our initial study confirmed the state could do better,” Teisl said.
In the first study, published in 2011 in the journal Science of the Total Environment, Teisl and colleagues found the advisory was changing pregnant women’s eating habits, but not always in the intended manner.
Instead of limiting high-mercury fish and switching to a careful diet of low-mercury fish, many pregnant women were dramatically decreasing consumption of all fish, thus missing out on the benefits of eating fish. The misinformation seemed to stem from the fact the advisory was aimed at wild caught fish and mainly focused on the risks of eating fish.
“The old pamphlet was targeted more toward anglers. On the cover, there was a photo of a family fishing. The problem is that very few women eat sport-caught fish. Most eat fish from the grocery store. A lot of pregnant women didn’t understand how the information pertained to them,” Teisl said.
In 2006, the CDC, with the assistance of a health literacy expert at the University of New England, redesigned its advisory, adding specific information about fresh, frozen and canned fish.
The new literature contains recipes, meal plans and colorful charts, informing women of fish to avoid, fish to limit and fish that are low enough in mercury to eat twice a week while pregnant. The pamphlet emphasizes the importance of fish in the diet, including the fetal/maternal health benefits of Omega 3 fatty acids and protein.
In the second study, published in 2013 in the journal Environmental Science, Teisl and colleagues found women who read the updated advisory were knowledgeable about healthy fish consumption in pregnancy.
For instance, informed women could distinguish between similar products such as canned white tuna, which is high in mercury, and canned light tuna, which is not. People who did not read the advisory generally lacked essential knowledge about healthy fish diets.
“Our evaluation of the Maine CDC’s updated fish consumption advisory suggests that it successfully improved women’s specific knowledge of both the benefits and risks of consuming fish while pregnant. This improved knowledge has the potential to minimize methylmercury health impacts and maintain, if not increase, overall low-mercury fish consumption,” said Haley Engelberth, who received a master’s of science in ecology and environmental science from UMaine in 2012. Engelberth was on both SSI methylmercury research teams and the lead author of the 2013 paper.
Other researchers on the teams included: Kathleen P. Bell, associate professor, UMaine’s School of Economics; Eric Frohmberg, (then) toxicologist, state of Maine; Karyn Butts, research associate, University of Southern Maine; Sue Stableford, director of the Health Literacy Institute at University of New England; Andrew E. Smith, director, Environmental and Occupational Health Programs, Maine CDC; Kevin J. Boyle, (then) professor of ecology and environmental sciences, UMaine.
Teisl will make his presentation at the Sept. 22–24 conference in Alexandria, Virginia.
Contact: Margaret Nagle, 207.581.3745
The Associated Press and WABI (Channel 5) reported on the five-day Stormwater Management Research Team (SMART) Institute at the University of Maine. About 70 high school students and teachers and representatives of tribal communities are gathering to come up with ideas for solutions related to stormwater management. UMaine scientists and students, city water planners, and representatives from the Maine Department of Environmental Protection, and businesses including Woodard & Curran and IDEXX will also take part in the institute. At the end of the week, participants will install wireless sensors at the Arctic Brook watershed in Bangor and collect data as citizen scientists. Mohamad Musavi, associate dean of the College of Engineering, told WABI he hopes students who participate can focus on their education, get into a STEM field, and spread the word in their community about their work toward improving the environment. SFGate, Maine Public Broadcasting Network, seattlepi and WLBZ (Channel 2) carried the AP report.
Neil Comins, a University of Maine professor of physics and astronomy, was a recent guest on the Maine Public Broadcasting Network’s “Maine Calling” radio show. The show, titled “‘Cosmos’ and Space,” focused on space, exploration and the science of astronomy and touched on the latest news from NASA, the International Space Station and the SETI (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence) Institute.
The University of Maine Cooperative Extension’s integrated pest management (IPM) programs were mentioned in a Portland Press Herald article about local organic strawberries being limited in Maine. Cathy Karonis of Fairwinds Farm in Bowdoinham said she has contemplated going organic, but can’t risk crop failure or inconsistent quality on her 14 acres of strawberries. Karonis said she follows UMaine Extension’s IPM reports and sprays when necessary. IPM is a comprehensive, decision-making process for solving pest problems. It is a sustainable approach providing economical control with the least possible hazard, to people, property and the environment.
WABI (Channel 5) reported the University of Maine finished third in the 2014 America East Academic Cup that was released June 18 by the America East Conference. Black Bear student-athletes posted a 3.16 grade point average for the academic year.
Mark Brewer, a political science professor at the University of Maine, was interviewed for a Maine Public Broadcasting Network report, titled “Mike Michaud Courting Support of 1st District Voters.” Brewer said gubernatorial candidate Mike Michaud’s coming out could help him with more progressive voters in Maine’s 1st District, but it could hurt him in the conservative 2nd District. “It’s a more rural population,” Brewer says of Michaud’s home base. “It’s an older population. It’s a less educated population and all of those characteristics tend to correlate with being less supportive of same-sex marriage and other equality issues for homosexuals.”
Red Gendron, head men’s ice hockey coach for the University of Maine, was quoted in a Portland Press Herald article about Maine Startup and Create Week. More than 40 events featuring 158 speakers from around the country took place at 15 venues across Portland to celebrate entrepreneurs and startups. Gendron, who attended the week’s “Think Big” kickoff party at Port City Music Hall, said, “For me, thinking big is a national championship for the state of Maine.”
University of Maine marine biology graduate student Skylar Bayer is co-producing a live science storytelling event at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, July 17, at the Frontier in Brunswick.
Five scientists, including UMaine alums Jennifer McHenry and Ryan Elizabeth Cope, will share true experiences of being caught “On the Hook” for The Story Collider, which produces live shows and podcasts where people tell stories about how science has affected their lives “on a personal and emotional level.”
Bayer was featured in a February podcast for The Story Collider titled “Phoning Home from Alvin.” In the 15-minute podcast, the Massachusetts native shares a touching and humorous experience about facing her fears and taking part in a deep-ocean dive in a submersible named Alvin.
Bayer has dreamed of being a marine scientist since she was 8; she is pursuing her Ph.D. in marine reproductive ecology at the Darling Marine Center in Walpole. Bayer also manages, edits and writes the blog, Strictlyfishwrap. She might be better known as “the lonely lady scientist” from a 2013 feature titled “The Enemy Within” on “The Colbert Report.” Bayer is co-producing the storytelling event with Ari Daniel, who has reported for NPR’s “Morning Edition,” “All Things Considered” and “Weekend Edition.” Daniel earned a Ph.D. in biological oceanography at Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution.
Scheduled storytellers also include Jeffrey M. Schell, associate professor of oceanography with Sea Education Association; Meredith White, postdoctoral researcher at Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences; and Nick Bennett, an environmental advocate. Tickets may be purchased online at eventbrite.com. The theater is at 14 Maine St., Mill 3 at Fort Andross, in Brunswick.