University of Maine News
Two University of Maine political science professors spoke to news organizations about Chechen conflicts following the Boston bombings. James Warhola spoke with the Bangor Daily News and Seth Singleton spoke with WABI (Channel 5).
The Village Soup previewed an upcoming event to be led by University of Maine Cooperative Extension Educator Ellie Libby. Libby will speak about regional school garden programs and their effect on the local food movement at Merryspring Nature Center in Camden on April 30.
Idaho Press-Tribune recently published an Associated Press article on common gardening questions. Donna Coffin, an educator with University of Maine Cooperative Extension, gave advice on how to answer the question, “What’s eating my plants?”
WVII (Channel 7) covered the 6th annual Healthy High 5/10K and 1-Mile Fun Run at the University of Maine on Saturday. Hundreds of runners took part in the race that aims to promote health and wellness for the university and community.
WVII (Channel 7) reported dozens of University of Maine students are expected to shave their heads to raise money for children with cancer. UMaine Circle K, a Kiwanis-affiliated college service organization, will hold its 3rd annual St. Baldrick’s head shaving event on Maine Day, May 1, in the Steam Plant Lot.
Professor George Denton of the Climate Change Institute, and co-authors Philip Conkling, Richard Alley and Wallace Broecker are recipients of the Phi Beta Kappa Book Award in Science for “The Fate of Greenland: Lessons from Abrupt Climate Change,” published in 2011. The award recognizes outstanding contributions to science literature. As noted in Phi Beta Kappa news site, previous book award winners include Stephen Jay Gould, Marjorie Garber, Jared Diamond, Harold Bloom and Ernst Mayr.
In May, MPBN will rebroadcast the “Sustainable Maine” series, highlighting the research of Maine’s Sustainability Solutions Initiative (SSI), based at UMaine’s Senator George J. Mitchell Center. SSI is helping communities solve interconnected economic problems while advancing sustainability science. Information about the MPBN documentary series is online. The rebroadcast schedule is:
Desperate Alewives, 8:30 p.m. May 9
Saving our Lakes, 8:30 p.m. May 16
Basket Trees — Saving a Tradition, 8:30 p.m. May 23
Pools, Policy and People, 8:30 p.m. May 30
For the fourth consecutive year, Princeton Review has rated the University of Maine as one of the most environmentally responsible colleges in the U.S. and Canada.
UMaine is profiled in the newly released “The Princeton Review’s Guide to 322 Green Colleges.” Four-year colleges are chosen for the guide based on schools’ course offerings, campus infrastructure, activities and career preparation to measure their commitment to the environment and to sustainability.
The Princeton Review creates its “Guide to 322 Green Colleges” in partnership with the Center for Green Schools at the U.S. Green Building Council, with generous support from United Technologies Corp., founding sponsor of the Center for Green Schools.
“This is national recognition of the University of Maine’s leadership and long-standing commitment to being one of the most sustainable universities in the country,” says UMaine President Paul Ferguson. “At UMaine, stewardship of place is a priority in how we live in our campus community, conduct research, and provide service that benefits Maine and addresses global issues.”
The University of Maine’s “Green Highlights” in the guide range from the campuswide Blue Bikes initiative and the Orono Black Bear Express shuttle service that reduce motor vehicle use to UMaine’s Sustainability Council, alternative energy research and the University of Maine Foundation’s Green Loan Fund.
The university is now home to five LEED-certified buildings — three silver and one gold. It has a comprehensive campus Zero-Sort recycling program and a new advanced composting facility, and is a participant in STARS — the Sustainability Tracking, Assessment & Rating System.
The university was a recipient of the 2011 Second Nature Climate Leadership Award recognizing outstanding climate leadership (UMaine received the award representing doctoral institutions). UMaine is a charter signatory of the American College and University Presidents’ Climate Commitment in 2007 and has been a member in good standing for six years. President Ferguson was elected to the ACUPCC Steering Committee in 2012.
The “Green Guide” is one of UMaine’s multiple national ranking citations. This year, for the ninth consecutive time, Princeton Review also named UMaine one of the country’s best institutions for undergraduate education. UMaine is featured in Princeton Review’s 2013 edition of its annual college guide, “The Best 377 Colleges.” Only about 15 percent of America’s 2,500 four-year colleges are profiled in the book, which is Princeton Review’s flagship college guide.
Contact: Margaret Nagle, 207.581.3745
Due to outdoor recreational events scheduled throughout the day Saturday, April 20, UMaine Parking Services will close campus roads north of Long Road.
Gannett and Hilltop Roads will remain closed from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. to accommodate the Cub Tracks Youth Triathlon in the morning and the Healthy High 5/10k run/walk in the afternoon.
Parking for UMaine baseball and softball games will be in the Memorial Gym lot.
Orono Black Bear Express shuttle service will not have stops at the Recreation Center Saturday.
The pickup point during these hours will be Hauck Circle.
The article offered advice provided by University of Maine Cooperative Extension.
The Maine Edge reported on a project by students in a University of Maine advanced art education course taught by Constant Albertson.
The students are making and selling mugs to benefit the Hirundo Wildlife Refuge in Alton. Albertson and student Abigail LeBlanc were interviewed for the story.
The Machias Valley News Observer spoke with Alan Majka of University of Maine Cooperative Extension about an Extension program based in Machias to establish free summer meal sites for children.
TMCnet, or Technology Marketing Corporation, included a release on the University of Maine’s four top faculty award winners.
Maryland-based The Bay Net recently published an article about the need for Vitamin D. The article cited a University of Maine study that found half of the females in the sample were Vitamin D deficient.
Despite eating right, the female subjects’ Vitamin D levels dropped from November to March because of the limited amount of sun exposure during the winter.
The Portland Press Herald blog, “The Root: Dispatches from Maine’s Food Sources,” mentioned programs and advice offered by University of Maine Cooperative Extension on back-to-the-land pursuits.
The University of Maine Humanities Initiative’s first weeklong development seminar will be held May 13-17 on campus, and in Bangor and Augusta.
The interdisciplinary sessions, which are free and open to the public, will feature presentations by 37 participants, including UMaine faculty and staff, area teachers, city councilors, and leaders of regional arts and cultural organizations.
The sessions will showcase UMaine arts and humanities research, and explore ways of making this scholarship more visible and pertinent to community partners.
The week concludes with a Maine Humanities Summit at the Governor Hill Mansion in Augusta featuring arts and humanities professionals examining present and future relationships of the humanities to Maine and its citizens.
To register for the May 17 summit or to request disability accommodations, contact Amy Cross (firstname.lastname@example.org).
A full schedule of the Faculty and Staff Development Seminar is online. UMaine’s Humanities Initiative is dedicated to advancing research in the humanities, linking scholars to one another and the broader Maine community.
A team of University of Maine graduate students and their faculty adviser Jennifer Middleton are the recipients of the 2013 President’s Research Impact Award for the research project “What Happens Next? Examining Child Protection Outcomes in a Cohort of Opioid-Exposed Infants.”
Alison Mitchell, Meagan Foss, Leah Agren, Jenifer Koch and Middleton won the annual President’s Research Impact Award at the 2013 GradExpo where Mitchell presented the project. The award is given to a graduate student and adviser who best exemplify the UMaine mission of teaching, research and outreach. The $2,000 award will be split among the grad students and their adviser.
The community-engaged research project, part of a research methods series for the Master in Social Work curriculum, is being conducted by the graduate students in collaboration with Middleton.
“The Graduate Student Leadership and I created this award last year to recognize the high-quality research of University of Maine graduate students occurring in so many academic areas across the campus,” says UMaine President Paul Ferguson. “I wanted to specifically recognize the research that has tangible impact for our state with the potential to make a difference — in this case, in the lives of some of Maine’s youngest citizens. This is an outstanding example of the research excellence that a land grant university offers to the people it serves.”
Though the population of infants born with prenatal opioid exposure in the Greater Bangor region is growing — from 23 in 2003 to 183 in 2012 — little is know about what happens to the infants after they leave Eastern Maine Medical Center, Mitchell says.
The project aims to clarify what happens, from a child welfare system perspective, after the infant is discharged. The team plans to explore rates and reasons families with opioid-exposed infants become subsequently involved with child protective services through the Office of Child and Family Services, or OCFS, at the Maine Department of Health and Human Services.
Currently, there are no other studies tracking the child protection outcomes of opioid-exposed infants in Maine, Mitchell says, and the project represents the first attempt to share data between EMMC and OCFS.
“Winning this award is enormously gratifying,” says Mitchell, noting that the project is a team effort. “Social workers in general aren’t particularly recognized for their research very often so for that it’s really exciting.”
The project was proposed to Middleton by EMMC contact Mark Moran, a graduate of UMaine’s Master’s in Social Work Program who works with families of substance-exposed infants.
There has been a significant increase in the number of drug-exposed babies born in Maine, from 165 in 2005 to 667 in 2011, and Maine’s opiate addiction rate is also the highest in the country per capita at 386 per 100,000 as opposed to the national average of 45 per 100,000, according to data collected by the research team.
The Bangor area, which is home to three methadone clinics and a hospital equipped to handle drug-exposed infants, has a concentration of opioid-exposed births compared to more rural areas. Drug-exposed babies who are delivered in regional hospitals get transferred to EMMC for treatment, Mitchell says.
When a substance-exposed infant is born at or transferred to EMMC, the hospital makes a notification and sends it to OCFS, she says.
“All of those infants in our cohort were already in the OCFS database so what this project is trying to do is just match cases,” Mitchell says.
By using the name and birth date of the drug-exposed infants from the EMMC record and having OCFS run a query on the infants one year from their birth date, the team was able to see if the child showed up in protective services’ database again, Mitchell says.
“It really is a three-way partnership,” Mitchell says of the involvement of the UMaine School of Social Work graduate students, EMMC and OCFS. “Each of the partners has had quite a bit of influence in shaping how the project has evolved.”
From their data collection, the team has determined that 68 percent of their sample does not show up again in child protection, while 32 percent showed up as having an open case with OCFS within their first year.
The students expect to receive information from the hospital on the severity of the 60 cases once the hospital eliminates identifying information and clears the data for release.
In the remaining weeks of the semester, the students will conduct statistical analyses. Agren and Koch will graduate in May 2013, while Mitchell and Foss, who are scheduled to graduate next year, will continue to do analyses over the summer once they find out where the cases fall in terms of severity.
Mitchell says she believes one of the reasons the project won the President’s Research Impact Award is because it’s a community-engaged partnership.
During the course of the class, the region received a $4 million federal grant for the Penquis Regional Linking Project, a five-year effort aiming to enhance the network of over 25 agencies in the Penobscot and Piscataquis counties supporting trauma-informed services for substance-exposed children and their families. Middleton is the lead researcher and co-director of evaluation for this project.
The team members think their research will help the agencies in the project reach their goal, and Mitchell says they have already received positive feedback from project members.
“What Happens Next?” also aims to generate knowledge useful in advancing local practice and policy efforts and pave the way for future collaborations.
“The primary aim is right in the title, ‘What happens next?’” Mitchell says. “The goal of the study is to see if we can figure out what happens from a child protective perspective and to establish those precedents of how to come together as a service-providing community.”
Contact: Elyse Kahl, 207.581.3747
The Barbara Wheatland Geospatial Analysis Laboratory in the School of Forest Resources at the University of Maine will be dedicated in a ceremony April 23 in Nutting Hall.
The state-of-the-art laboratory was made possible by $200,000 from the Maine Timberlands Charitable Trust (MTCT) to honor the Massachusetts native who had a passion for the Maine woods, and was committed to forestry research that can promote environmental quality and economic development. The lab focuses on global positioning systems (GPS), geographic information systems (GIS) and geospatial analysis methods that have revolutionized forest management.
Barbara “Bee” Wheatland earned a degree in economics from Radcliffe College at Harvard University and pursued a 50-year career that included editing articles for the New England Journal of Medicine. Although much of her life was spent in Massachusetts, she sailed and hiked in Maine, and retired to Sargentville, where she built a home and pursued woodlands-related interests that included certified “green” forestry practices.
Upon Wheatland’s death in 2010, her estate established MTCT to be used, in part, to promote the development of forestry or timberland technology and activities that support the forest and other land resources in Maine.
In January 2012, the MTCT provided $200,000 to build and endow the Wheatland Geospatial Analysis Laboratory. The Wheatland Lab was designed to provide a center of excellence for geospatial analysis for undergraduate and graduate education, as well as faculty research.
The lab opened in January 2013 and course enrollment increased from 40 to 70 students.
In addition, MTCT funded a five-year Wheatland Assistant Professorship ($50,000 per year for five years) to hire a new faculty member to teach and conduct research in the laboratory and oversee lab activities.
Contact: Margaret Nagle, 207.581.3745
On a cold February day, with a freezing mist in the air and mud and melting snow on the ground, University of Maine wildlife ecology professor Lindsay Seward and her students bundled up and headed deep into the North woods near Alton.
Led by Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife (MDIF&W) biologist Randy Cross and his team — Phillip Adams, Lisa Bates and John Wood — the students were on a mission to find a bear’s den, complete with a mother and her cubs.
The trip, part of a wildlife ecology capstone course that teaches students about field, analytical and laboratory techniques for evaluating wildlife habitats, is one Seward has taken 11 times. But for most of the 12 students, it was their first opportunity to see a bear in the wild.
“I tell them to come with no expectations because you never know what could happen out here,” Seward said on the 1.5-mile walk down the logging road.
Cross, a UMaine alumnus, lets the class observe biologists assessing and tracking the bears in their Maine Black Bear Monitoring Program, which began as a study in 1975 and includes tagging the newest cubs.
“I basically contact Randy each year and ask if we can tag along,” Seward said. “I feel a bit sheepish asking Randy to accommodate our large group each year. It’s no small request. But, the rewards of showing an undergraduate wildlife ecology student a black bear den is worth the coordination and effort.”
MDIF&W has three study areas, one of which is the Bradford study area that includes Alton, and 93 collared bears — around 10 of them yearlings that were recently collared. Every winter the biologists make the rounds to dens of the collared bears to see how many cubs were born and to collar 1-year-olds. This year the biologists visited 82 dens and handled 180 bears between early January and late March.
The den checks help biologists monitor the bears and their environment by tracking how many cubs are born and survive from year to year.
“Randy is willing to bring these focused, wildlife ecology seniors because he recognizes that it’s an experience of a lifetime and looks to contribute to our student’s education,” Seward said.
When students first enroll in the wildlife ecology program, it’s often because they’re interested in animals and the outdoors, but most don’t know specifically what that means in terms of a career, Seward says.
She says the program attracts a variety of students, but all of them think carnivore mammals are fascinating. Most of the students realize these animals are difficult to study because it usually involves expensive and logistically complicated work such as trapping, sedating and safe handling.
“To actually get to see this kind of work in action is a rare and special experience that most people will never experience due to the intrinsic challenges of working with carnivores,” Seward said. “That’s why I try to facilitate this trip each year — it means so much to the students to have this unique experience with a charismatic species.”
Senior wildlife ecology major Joe Roy was one of the few who knew what to expect after the quiet walk into the woods because he’d made the trek before.
Roy, who loves bears, spent two summers volunteering to trap the animals with Cross. He was part of a team that set bait sites to trap bears for radio collaring. The collars allow pilots to use a transmitter to track bears before den visits.
“It was the best job I’ve ever had,” said Roy, a native of Jay, Maine, who plans to attend graduate school before becoming a bear biologist.
Not all students prefer bears over other animals, but they all welcomed the February field trip.
Emily Patrick, a senior wildlife ecology major from Greenville, Maine, prefers elephants to bears, but she calls herself an “equal opportunity animal lover” and said she felt “lucky to get this opportunity.”
Once the group made its way down the logging road and to the edge of the woods, Cross and his team went ahead of the group to tranquilize the female bear and secure the site. The students waited patiently and quietly in an effort to not spook the mother.
Derek Trunfio, the lone zoology major in a class of wildlife ecology majors, whispered he was “stoked” about seeing and handling the bear cubs.
“I’ve never been up close and hands-on with any wildlife like that,” Trunfio said. “I’ve handled animals like squirrels, but nothing like a bear.”
Trunfio, from Billerica, Mass., knew coming out of high school he wanted to work with animals and the University of Maine seemed to have the best programs and hands-on opportunities.
He called the bear den trip a “once-in-a-lifetime opportunity” and was most interested in seeing how the cubs would react to humans.
Once Cross gave the OK, the group climbed over and under branches on a twisting, overgrown path that led to the ground den covered with branches and four glossy-eyed, dark brown, fuzzy cubs.
The cubs, who cuddled together and snuggled close when held by the students, let out cries and shivered in the cold, but didn’t seem to mind the attention.
The students had their own comments while passing around the cubs:
“She’s so tiny.”
“This is amazing.”
“This is the first time I’ve seen a black bear.”
“I just want to put her in my jacket to keep her warm.”
“This is really exciting. It’s putting together what you learn in the classroom out here,” wildlife ecology major Olivia Reed said while holding a cub.
After juggling all four bears at once for a photo, Jennifer Hussey of Gray, Maine called the experience “exciting, definitely a highlight of the program.”
“They have a way of humbling us,” Hussey said of the critters.
Contact: Elyse Kahl, 207.581.3747