- Events Calendar
- Graduate School News
- Student Diversity
- Student Center
- Faculty Hub
University of Maine News
Just another University of Maine Sites site
Updated: 6 hours 2 min ago
Mainebiz reported on a new startup accelerator program offered by the University of Maine and Maine Technology Institute. The pilot program, called Scratchpad Accelerator, starts Aug. 31 in Bangor for up to three startups that have “high-growth potential.” Scratchpad is accepting applications online through Aug. 14. After the deadline closes, Scratchpad will choose businesses that will each receive seed funding, mentoring guidance and daily learning lessons throughout the program’s duration, according to the article. The program also will help the businesses fast-track ideas, which Scratchpad’s organizers said will help them save time and money, the article states.
Cumberland County Extension Association (CCEA) will hold its annual meeting 6 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 9 at the University of Maine Regional Learning Center, 75 Clearwater Drive, Falmouth.
An hour before the public meeting, a light meal will be served, including dessert featuring entries from the annual pie bake-off. Sponsored by King Arthur Flour, the contest is open to all attendees, and recipes will be included in a Cumberland County UMaine Extension cookbook.
The program includes a talk by Maine State Sen. Justin Alfond on “Growing Maine’s Agricultural Future: Kids and Local Food,” the election of CCEA officers, and recognition of UMaine Extension volunteers.
More information and guidelines for the pie bake-off are available online; by calling 781.6099 or 800.287.1471; or emailing email@example.com. To request a disability accommodation, call 781.6099.
University of Maine civil engineering doctoral student Andrew Young has been named a 2015 NASA Space Technology Research Fellow for his work on the Hypersonic Inflatable Aerodynamic Decelerator (HIAD) project at the Advanced Structures and Composites Center.
A HIAD is a nose-mounted device on a spacecraft that slows the craft as it enters a planet’s atmosphere.
The NASA technology is intended to make it possible for a spaceship large enough to carry astronauts and heavy loads of scientific equipment to explore Mars — 34,092,627 miles from Earth — and beyond.
UMaine is assisting NASA by testing its structures in the lab and analyzing stresses and deformations in the HIAD.
Bill Davids, the John C. Bridge Professor and chair of the Civil and Environmental Engineering Department, and Andrew Goupee, Libra Assistant Professor of Mechanical Engineering, are Young’s advisers.
NASA annually selects a group of graduate and doctoral students to become NASA Space Technology Research Fellows. The goal is to sponsor U.S. citizen and permanent resident graduate students who show significant potential to contribute to NASA’s goal of creating innovative new space technologies for the nation’s science, exploration and economic future.
The yearlong fellowship includes a 10-week visiting technologist experience, providing Young with the opportunity to work and collaborate with engineering experts in his field.
To learn more about the HIAD project at UMaine, visit umainetoday.umaine.edu/archives/fall-2014/safe-space and umainetoday.umaine.edu/archives/fall-2014/safe-space/testing-technology-that-could-land-people-on-mars.
Contact: Josh Plourde, 207.581.2117
Black Bear pride is in full force at a middle school in Los Angeles, California, where a classroom of 23 students is focusing on the University of Maine to learn about college, what it takes to get there and how to succeed.
The students in UMaine alumna Caitlin Rafferty’s sixth-grade advisory group chose the university as the college they are most interested in and want to research.
“The students love UMaine and get excited any time we learn more about it or watch sports highlights,” Rafferty says.
Alliance Kory Hunter Middle School is a free, public charter school. It is under the management of the Alliance College-Ready Public Schools, a nonprofit organization that aims to open and operate a network of small, high-performance charter middle and high schools in historically underachieving, low-income, overcrowded communities in Los Angeles.
Rafferty, who graduated from UMaine in 2010 with a bachelor’s degree in elementary education and holds a master’s degree in curriculum and instruction from California State University Long Beach, is a founding teacher of the school. She teaches English and history to sixth-graders.
As a college-ready academy, the school’s curriculum includes having weekly discussions about college, using technology to “visit” college campuses, exploring areas of study, introducing other parts of the country and identifying academic strengths needed to be successful in higher education.
“I find it amazing that these young people — who have never traveled outside the state of California — have become so invested in a state and university so far across the country,” Rafferty says.
Sixth-graders in the school select a college they would like to learn about and represent throughout their three years of middle school. They work with the same teacher and advisory group in order to foster strong, long-term relationships and establish consistency. When students reach eighth grade, the goal is to hold a college fair for the students and community to explore college and career readiness.
“As a college-ready school, our focus is to start children thinking about higher education early, as we prepare them academically and socially,” Rafferty says. “The connection to the University of Maine extends my students’ thinking beyond their community, and enables them to consider the range of possibilities for each of their futures.”
Rafferty’s students have developed UMaine cheers, created posters with UMaine logos, designed UMaine T-shirts, and decorated the classroom door to show UMaine pride.
A primary concern for Rafferty’s students is paying for college, she says. Having shared her own family’s experiences with financial aid, work study and scholarships, she hopes the students can hear more on the topic from current UMaine students and financial aid officers.
Rafferty’s students already have Skyped with a graduate assistant and some UMaine tour guides.
As part of the coming school year’s curriculum, Rafferty plans to focus on exploring careers and concentrations of study, and hopes her group will be able to communicate with more UMaine students.
Kate Warner, a Ph.D. student in ecology and environmental sciences at the University of Maine, and Mario Teisl, director of the UMaine School of Economics and professor of resource economics and policy, wrote the Bangor Daily News article, “Why there’s cause for concern with Maine’s water supply.” The article is a summary of “Water Quality in Maine,” the sixth quarterly report analyzing critical economic indicators in Maine released by UMaine’s School of Economics and the Maine Development Foundation. The publication is part of a series that explores the economic indicators in “Measures of Growth,” the Maine Economic Growth Council’s annual report on the critical issues affecting Maine’s economy.
The August 2105 issue of Down East magazine describes the recently published “Historical Atlas of Maine,” as a sophisticated, accessible book that “visualizes everything you never realized you wanted to know about Maine history.” The atlas is the brainchild of the late Burton Hatlen, a former University of Maine professor of English. The 208-page book, packed with 367 original maps, 112 original charts and 248 other images, was edited by UMaine historian Richard Judd and UMaine geographer Stephen Hornsby, with cartography by Michael Hermann. “It’s a cartographic time machine chock full of eye candy … chronicling the cultural, geographic, environmental, and economic factors that shaped the Pine Tree State,” reads the introduction of the two-page spread.
Boothbay Register published a University of Maine news release announcing the new director of the Darling Marine Center in Walpole. Heather Leslie, a leading conservation scientist, was named director of the center effective Aug. 1, 2015. Leslie is a marine scientist with expertise in coastal marine ecology; human-environment interactions, particularly those related to coastal marine fisheries; the design and evaluation of marine management strategies; and the translation of knowledge to inform policy and practice.
Artist Anna Hepler spoke with Bangor Metro about her current exhibit at the University of Maine Museum of Art in downtown Bangor. “Anna Hepler: Blind Spot” is on display through Sept. 19. The exhibit features small ceramics and metal sculptures, according to the article. Most of the art featured in the show was created this year, Hepler said. “It’s all quite abstract, but using forms and patterns in different ways,” she said.
Work by University of Maine mechanical engineering students was mentioned in a WABI (Channel 5) report about the Maine Forest and Logging Museum’s event celebrating logging machinery of the past. A Lombard steam log hauler, famous for being the first successful vehicle to run on tracks, was on display at the Bradley museum, according to the report. The log hauler was invented and built in Waterville between 1910 and 1917 and was the subject of a 2014 UMaine capstone project in which students restored the machine to working condition.
The University of Maine Cooperative Extension’s Tick ID Lab was mentioned in a Bangor Metro article on learning from Lyme disease. In the last few years, more than 1,000 Lyme disease cases were reported annually in Maine, according to the article. The disease comes from infected deer ticks that transmit the Borrelia burgdorferi bacteria to humans when they bite. The Tick ID Lab at UMaine offers a free identification service to determine what kind of tick has bitten a person, the article states. However, no labs in Maine can test a tick for Lyme disease.
The Lyle E. Littlefield Ornamentals Trial Garden at the University of Maine was mentioned in the latest Portland Press Herald “Maine Gardener” column. The article, titled “Need a break from your summer guests? Send them out to the garden,” mentioned many gardens around the state — including UMaine’s Littlefield garden — that are ideal for visitors. The recently renovated garden has 2,500 species of plants, according to the article.
A course offered at the Harpswell Heritage Land Trust in February was mentioned in a Bangor Daily News article about finding new ways for lifelong clammers to continue to make a living on the flats as the industry changes. The course, which was funded through the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and organized by the Maine Sea Grant Program, the University of Maine, Maine Aquaculture Association, Maine Aquaculture Innovation Center, Coastal Enterprises Inc. and the Island Institute, brought together a large group of biologists, professors, fishermen and other experts. The group met weekly to learn about shellfish biology, shellfish management, site selection, gear and biosecurity, or biological threats to shellfish, according to the article.
A multi-institutional research team is working to understand the vital connections between landowner concerns, municipal planning, conservation activities, and the ecology of vernal pools. The team, led by Mitchell Center Fellow Aram Calhoun, has created a new website designed to provide information on vernal pools. The site contains a variety of resources on vernal pool ecology, the animals that breed in and use vernal pools, an explanation of state and federal regulations pertaining to vernal pools, and materials developed to assist stakeholders with field assessments and local mapping projects.
The research is funded by a grant from the National Science Foundation’s Coupled Natural and Human Systems Program.
Citing his innovative work on sustainable fisheries management at the Senator George J. Mitchell Center for Sustainability Solutions, Joshua Stoll, a graduate student in the School of Marine Sciences, has been awarded a prestigious yearlong fellowship from the Robert and Patricia Switzer Foundation. Read full release.
Joseph Kelley, a professor of marine geology in the University of Maine School of Earth and Climate Sciences and Climate Change Institute, was quoted in a Free Press article on a proposed U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) dredging project in Searsport. The decision on whether to approve the project to dredge 929,000 cubic yards of bottom sediments from Searsport Harbor is likely to be made by the end of the year after a public hearing this fall, according to the article. The project aims to enlarge the shipping channel and deposit the dredge spoils in the bay six miles away off the tip of Islesboro, the report states. One concern among residents is the dump site, which was chosen by the USACE because it has natural depressions that can be filled with dredge spoils. According to Kelley, the methane that created the pockmarks is still there. He conducted studies of the area two decades ago and advised against dumping dredge spoils at the site when he served as state geologist. Kelley recommended conducting dump tests in the area and tracking resulting sediment plumes to see if they spread, the article states.
Research conducted at the University of Maine was mentioned in the Saga article, “10 ways to feed your brain.” Since 60 percent of the human brain is made of fat, it needs a steady supply of healthy fats, plus other key nutrients, to function at its best, according to the article. The report lists 10 foods and drinks that can boost brain power, including milk. Adults who consume milk or other dairy products daily perform better in brain function tests than those who rarely or never touch dairy, scientists from the University of Maine and University of South Australia have found. The researchers suggest the effect may stem from the specific mix of nutrients found in dairy, which includes calcium, whey protein, vitamin D and magnesium.
The University of Maine will host a hike and memorial service to honor fallen service members from UMaine and surrounding communities.
The Summit Project (TSP) event will take place Saturday, Sept. 26 with a walk from the Maine Veterans Home in Bangor to Alfond Stadium on the UMaine campus for the military appreciation football game.
TSP is a nationally recognized, Maine-based service organization, that provides a living memorial to pay tribute to the fallen service members from Maine who have died in the line of duty since Sept. 11, 2001.
As part of the event, hikers will carry engraved TSP memorial stones that have been donated by family members to represent their fallen loved ones. Volunteers will learn about the service members whose stone they will carry, write a letter for the service member’s family, and read it during a memorial service on campus following the trek.
Among the service members to be honored are four fallen UMaine Black Bears: Staff Sgt. David Veverka, Sgt. Nicholas Robertson, 1st Lt. James Zimmerman and Capt. Jay Brainard.
The 8-mile walk is expected to take about four hours.
About 25 hiking spots are available with preference being given to the military family community at UMaine. Backup hikers may be assigned. A registration form is available online. Spots are limited.
Members of the public are welcome to observe the event along the route, on campus or at the football game.
The stones will be on display at the stadium prior to and during the game before becoming part of a temporary TSP display in the Memorial Room of the Memorial Union.
More about The Summit Project is online.
The hydrology of peatlands will be the focus of an August talk through the Orono Bog Boardwalk led by University of Maine professor Andy Reeves.
Reeves, a professor in the Department of Earth Sciences who specializes in groundwater flow and solute transport in peatlands systems, will deliver the talk, “Hydrology in Bogs and Fens — Where Does the Water Go?” from 10–11:30 a.m. Saturday, Aug. 8.
The discussion will focus on the continuous stream of water that percolates beneath the boardwalk, and how the movement influences the development of peatlands and affects the living ecosystem. Reeves will discuss how groundwater movement is evaluated, the reasons for peat accumulation and recent hydrology research done at the Orono Bog Boardwalk.
The walk will start at the beginning of the boardwalk — located in the Rolland F. Perry (Bangor) City Forest. Space is limited to 12 participants and registration is required. To register, email firstname.lastname@example.org with your name and telephone number. Use “Boardwalk Nature Walk” as the email subject line.
In the lower Chao Valley on the north coast of Peru, University of Maine graduate student Ana Cecilia Mauricio is uncovering history.
Mauricio defended her thesis this past May and is expected to graduate from the University of Maine with her Ph.D. in geoarcheology in August 2015. Her research focused on an archaeological preceramic period site called Los Morteros, located in Pampa de las Salinas — an area nestled between iconic Andean foothills to the east and south, the Pacific Ocean to the west and the Chao River to the north.
Geoarchaeology is a multidisciplinary approach that combines techniques and subject matter from a variety of Earth science fields to interpret archeological findings.
The site was originally thought to be a natural feature, resembling a dune common to the Peruvian terrain. At the start of her research project, Mauricio aimed to uncover what was once under the sand cover of the mound, and to understand how humans utilized the area.
Her research showed that the site holds one of the oldest manifestations of monumental buildings in the central Andes.
The site — 200 by 200 meters, with its highest point being 15 meters high — contains structures built with mud bricks, scientifically referred to as adobes. The use of adobes is an ancient architectural tradition found in the Andes.
The adobes Mauricio discovered in Los Morteros are the oldest reported mud bricks in the central Andes, making the site and region a potential origin for the use of such materials.
Growing up in Chimbote, Peru, Mauricio was inspired to be an archaeologist by the rich and ancient history of her homeland. She received her undergraduate degree in archaeology at Peru’s National University of Trujillo before arriving at UMaine in 2009.
“I have always worked in Peru, mostly on the central and north coast. It is a region where you can find all periods of prehistory and makes it possible to investigate all sorts of topics. The weather is perfect and the food is wonderful,” Mauricio said.
When she was looking into graduate programs, Mauricio was drawn to UMaine for the interdisciplinary opportunities. While in Orono, she enjoyed going to the gym, biking around campus and the beauty that came with the changing of the leaves.
“I chose this university because I wanted to develop environmental approaches in Peruvian archaeology,” she said. “I decided on the interdisciplinary master’s program in the Climate Change Institute because you learn about the climate and environment from different perspectives.”
She came to UMaine on a Fulbright and subsequently received the Waitt Grant of the National Geographic Society, and the Beca Andina de Investigacion from the French Institute for Andean Studies.
Among other accomplishments, she published her first book in June, which described a previous archaeological research project carried out in the Lima region. She hopes to have a second book published in September.
Mauricio and her team found the first phase of human occupation in Los Morteros was in the center and lowest part of the mound, where they discovered stone hearths containing small fish bones, charcoal and scallop shells. The calibrated dates for this occupation are from 5700 to 5400 BP.
The second phase of occupation was found at the northwest sector of the mound, where researchers uncovered a large room made of adobes with plastered walls, clay floors and internal architectural features.
The third phase of the occupation — and most recorded — was located near the top of the mound. The researchers discovered the remains of stone architecture, including a large room, a stone platform, stone hearths and clay floors.
A particular feature of this architecture is the presence of standing stone, which is a characteristic element of late preceramic sites. The feature is locally called huanca a quechua, a word from the ancient language of the the Andes.
Mauricio estimated the age of the mound to be at least 7,000 years BP. She used the rate of sand accumulation, which was 10 meters to 12 meters, between the level of stone hearth and the base of the mound to calculate the amount of time passed.
She is currently back in Peru and will soon be working as the research director for the archaeological site of Chan Chan — a UNESCO world heritage site — sponsored by the Peruvian government. She plans on continuing her research at Los Morteros.
Mauricio’s adviser while at UMaine was Daniel Sandweiss, a leader in Andean archaeology and environmental archaeology. Sandweiss is a professor in the Climate Change Institute and the Department of Anthropology, as well as cooperating professor in the School of Earth and Climate Sciences and the School of Policy and International Affairs.
Mauricio was a master’s student when she first became involved with the site at Morteros in 2010. That year, she helped a team of UMaine researchers, led by Sandweiss, complete a georadar survey of the site — a continuation of preliminary georadar work done in 2006. She then decided to focus her dissertation on what was found.
Among the survey team members was Alice Kelley, an assistant professor in the Climate Change Institute, who became one of Mauricio’s primary mentors throughout her research project and served on her dissertation committee.
“It’s very exciting to contribute to building the history of my country with my research,” Mauricio said. “I also like very much the fact that archaeology is a discipline where you have to learn about other scientific fields and work in interdisciplinary environments.”
Contact: Amanda Clark, 207.581.3721
As this past spring semester came to a close, researchers and students at Rogers Farm — the sustainable agriculture research facility of the College of Natural Sciences, Forestry, and Agriculture — were gearing up for another busy summer.
July 16, the Sustainable Agriculture Field Day was held at Rogers Farm, which featured demonstrations by graduate students, researchers and faculty. Topics included cultivation efficacy, small grain customization, producing and certifying small grain seed, weed management and malt barley varieties for new craft brewing markets.
Rogers Farm, located 3.5 miles from the University of Maine, is one of two locations that make up the college’s J.F. Witter Teaching and Research Center.
As a mixed-usage research site, crops grown on the farm include silage corn, sweet corn, potatoes, dried beans, small grains and mixed vegetables. The farm provides land for the Penobscot County Cooperative Extension Master Gardeners Demonstration Garden and the Black Bear Food Guild, the university’s student-run community-supported agriculture program.
The farm, purchased in 1947, is used for a wide range of sustainable agriculture research, UMaine Extension and teaching projects year-round.
Barley to Beer
In recent years, Ellen Mallory, sustainable agriculture extension specialist and associate professor in plant, soils, and environmental science, has led a large research and outreach program focused on grains for local food, beverage and feed markets.
Her current projects include evaluation of barley varieties for craft brewing markets and Danish wheat and rye varieties for bread flour, optimizing nitrogen management for fall-planted grains and forage or feed production with field peas. Her research group also is working with Maine entrepreneur Alex Bennett to grow cereals for a natural drinking straw, a project called “Straw Straws.”
Optimizing Potato Research
John Jemison, UMaine Extension specialist, recently completed a multiyear project evaluating double crop forage systems and winter canola. Jemison’s project is in collaboration with Greg Porter, professor of agronomy and director of UMaine’s potato breeding program, to provide a central Maine location for evaluating potato varieties.
Harnessing the Power of the Sun
Eric Gallandt, professor of weed ecology and management, leads various research projects at the farm. His research focuses on dynamics and management of annual weeds in organic farming systems.
In a new series of field experiments, motivated by questions from Maine farmers, Gallandt and Ph.D. student Sonja Birthisel are studying soil solarization as a weed management practice. Solarization is the practice of controlling agricultural pests by heating the soil using clear plastic mulch that harnesses solar energy.
This strategy is an established practice in arid climates, where ambient temperatures and solar radiation are often lethal to weed seeds and soil-borne pathogens. In temperate environments such as Maine, soil solarization is not widely used, but early results indicate it can dramatically reduce weed pressure, creating a “stale seedbed” that is relatively free of weeds before seeding vegetable crops. Birthisel and Gallandt were surprised by the early field results.
“When we removed the plastic and found no weeds, we really wondered what was going on,” says Gallandt. “We expected the warmer soil to encourage a large flush of weeds that could be killed by tillage before planting.”
Later, after retrieving temperature data loggers from the soil, they found soil temperatures at a 4-inch depth were as high as 115 F, conditions lethal to many weed seeds.
Organic Weed Management
Ph.D. student Bryan Brown is working on a project aimed at quantifying multiple dimensions of the performance of four common and fundamentally different weed management strategies to help growers choose a strategy that best fits their production goals. Brown was awarded $13,147 from the Northeast Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education Association to support this project.
The researchers believe successful weed management may be achieved by: intensive, repeated cultivation during the “critical weed-free period” of the crop; comprehensive seed-focused management with a goal of zero seed rain; weed prevention through plastic mulch; or weed prevention through organic mulch.
In field experiments comparing these weed management systems, researchers are characterizing both short- and long-term effects, looking at how each system affects soil quality, the weed seedbank and profitability over time.
“We were quite surprised last year to find that our longer-term zero seed rain and mulch-based strategies were also the most profitable,” says Brown.
The researchers seek to understand factors that motivate farmers to adopt these contrasting weed management strategies and to help growers determine the optimum weed control strategy based on resources and management goals.
Rare Weeds in Northern New England
In a changing climate, rare species are coming into the spotlight. Climate change could lead to local extinctions, or allow for increased abundance and potential new invasions by rare species.
In a study led by Gallandt, researchers are determining the abundance and distribution of agronomic weeds. Researchers collected soil samples from 77 farms in Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont. The collected seeds were germinated in a greenhouse and the seedlings were identified to species.
They found in Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont that the ratios of rare weed species to total weed species identified were 67:94, 20:64, and 24:67, respectively.
This study is a first attempt to identify rare agronomic weeds in Maine’s environment. Further work integrating naturalistic approaches with climate projections could further help to predict potential invasions and identify conservation targets in a changing climate.
In July and August, Birthisel and Brown are revisiting Maine farms to survey fields and talk with farmers to identify rare or unusual weeds that could present a problem in the future.