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University of Maine News
News from the University of Maine
Updated: 4 hours 58 min ago
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.
Mary Ellen Camire, University of Maine professor of food science and human nutrition, was quoted in a Shape magazine article about the health benefits of resistant starch. The starch is a carbohydrate with health benefits such as regulating blood sugar and acting as a probiotic, according to the article. Camire said resistant starch is a carbohydrate your body can’t digest, and it behaves a lot like fiber, helping food move through your system. Resistant starch can be found in cooked and cooled rice, pasta and potatoes, as well as in beans, legumes and lentils, the article states.
Edith Patch, a major figure in entomology at the University of Maine from 1904–37, was featured in an Entomology Today article on famous female entomologists. Patch was the first female president of the Entomological Society of America, was the head of the Entomology Department at UMaine and published several works including “Food Plant Catalogue of the Aphids of the World,” according to the article. “After being employed for more than 30 interesting and pleasant years as a research entomologist, I shall never discourage any capable young woman — with a real desire for the work — from preparing for it,” Patch had said.
Anne Miller, a doctoral student at the University of Maine who has been an English teacher, library/media specialist and literacy specialist, was a recent guest on the Maine Public Broadcasting Network’s “Maine Calling” radio show. The show focused on Lois Lowry’s “The Giver” as part of the Maine Calling Book Club.
The University of Maine’s research and development spending for fiscal year 2013 was mentioned in the Mainebiz article, “As public funding for R&D slows, universities feel pinch.” University R&D spending increased by less than half a percent nationally in fiscal year 2013, according to National Science Foundation data. The University of Maine spent $77.58 million in FY2013, down from $92.14 million, and was ranked 161st nationally, according to the article. UMaine ranked 57th among all universities for money from the U.S. Department of Agriculture — at $4.66 million — that went to life sciences, engineering and environmental sciences. UMaine also was ranked 102nd in funding from the Department of Energy at $4.54 million, with funds going to engineering, life sciences and physical sciences. For involved personnel, UMaine had 1,782 people, with 347 of them being principal investigators, 25 post-doctoral students and the rest in the “others” category, the article states. The Portland Press Herald also ran the Mainebiz article.
Times Higher Education of London recently published the column, “The ABC of tolerance and the ‘alphabet community,’” by Deborah Rogers, an English professor at the University of Maine.
Connecting K–12 students in Maine and around the world with researchers in the field is the goal of a new program offered by the University of Maine Cooperative Extension with support from UMaine’s Climate Change Institute (CCI) and the Maine 4-H Foundation.
Follow a Researcher aims to give students a glimpse into a scientist’s world by providing live expedition updates and facilitating communication between the youth and scientist.
“Science isn’t just white lab coats and pouring things into beakers,” says Charles Rodda, a doctoral student at CCI and the program’s first researcher. In his case, science means putting on crampons, scaling glaciers and drilling ice cores in Peru and Tajikistan to conduct research focused on abrupt climate change.
In March, Rodda and fellow CCI graduate student Kit Hamley will travel to Peru to collect snow and ice from glaciers high in the Andes. During the summer, he will travel to Tajikistan to join an international team that will retrieve and research samples from the world’s largest nonpolar glacier.
While in the field, Rodda will interact with participating classrooms and students by sharing prerecorded weekly videos and live tweeting in response to questions.
“We’re interested to see what they’re interested in,” Rodda says. “We of course are focused on the science, but we’re hiking in some of the most beautiful regions on Earth.”
To interact with students, Rodda will use the inReach Explorer, a global satellite communicator created by Maine-based company DeLorme. The tool allows him to text or tweet directly to students from the glacier. It also will track his movements and generate an online map so students can follow his trek in nearly real time. To document his journey, Rodda also will take several cameras, including a GoPro; a solar panel and battery pack to charge electronics; an iPad; satellite receiver; and memory cards.
In advance of the weekly question-and-answer sessions, prerecorded videos of Rodda explaining aspects of the expedition and research will be released. The videos were created to spark discussion among students and are aligned with Next Generation Science Standards.
Rodda, who has participated in several outreach events around the state as a UMaine Extension 4-H STEM Ambassador, says having a science-literate society is important and getting students interested at an early age is essential.
“I think that’s the time — middle and early high school — when students seem to decide if they’re going to be interested in science or not. There’s great research happening here at the University of Maine and we want to make sure students know about it,” he says.
Several schools from around Maine, as well as schools in Iowa, Ohio, Rhode Island and Connecticut have already signed on to take part in the program, which is funded by the Maine 4-H Foundation. Rodda and Hamley plan to visit participating Maine classrooms after they return from Peru in April.
In Peru, Rodda and Hamley will look at signals that have been captured in the ice during El Nino events, or warming in the waters of the equatorial Pacific. They hope to see what El Ninos look like in climate records to determine if those events may be a trigger that shifts the climate system in Central and South America from one phase to another. Rodda completed preliminary research in Peru in 2013.
This summer in Tajikistan, Rodda will work with researchers from around the world to drill a long core that will be split among teams from the University of Idaho, Japan, France, Germany and Austria who will study a variety of the core’s characteristics. Rodda will focus on the ice’s chemistry makeup while others will focus on topics including physical measurements or biological signals, he says.
In advance of Rodda’s Peru trip, youth in grades six through eight took part in a UMaine 4-H Science Saturday workshop where they were challenged with determining how to keep ice core samples frozen and intact for research. Students were given ice and materials and were tasked with designing a container that would keep ice frozen under a heat lamp for a specific amount of time.
In reality, Rodda says bringing ice cores home from Peru is more like “Planes, Trains & Automobiles.” It involves horseback riding, long car rides, even longer airplane rides, and a lot of dry and blue ice, which he describes as heavy-duty freezer packs.
“It’s a great way to get students on campus to sort of demystify the university and show them some of the cool stuff we do at the university and in the sciences,” Rodda says of 4-H Science Saturdays, which are offered by UMaine Extension.
“Follow a Researcher is part of a big effort to connect youth in Maine with current university students. It may be the first time a youth has contact with someone who is going to college, or their first connection to a university,” says Laura Wilson, a 4-H science professional with UMaine Extension. “STEM Ambassadors are working in areas all over the state, from an after-school program in Washburn to programs offered in urban areas of Lewiston and Portland.”
Organizers would like to continue Follow a Researcher after the pilot year, as well as expand it to other disciplines throughout the university.
“By connecting youth to campus, we may be inspiring them to explore higher education, and perhaps come to UMaine in the future,” Wilson says.
Teachers interested in following Rodda on his expeditions may call Jessica Brainerd at 800.287.0274 (in Maine), 581.3877; or email email@example.com. More about Follow a Researcher is online.
Contact: Elyse Kahl, 207.581.3747
WABI (Channel 5) and WVII (Channel 7) reported on events held in Orono and Augusta in celebration of the University of Maine’s 150th anniversary as the state’s land grant university. Faculty, students and representatives from businesses that partner with UMaine had displays in the Hall of Flags in the State House while a proclamation declaring Feb. 24 as University of Maine Day was read. On that day in 1865, the Maine legislature passed a bill to create the state’s land grant university. UMaine President Susan Hunter spoke to WVII in Augusta about the university’s history and future, as well as planned events to mark the anniversary throughout the year. In Orono, the UMaine community marked the day with a birthday cake and the dedication of the Spirit Room, an exhibition paying tribute to the university’s mascot, Bananas. “The University of Maine is a place for all people of the state of Maine, people nationally and across the world. This is a place where difference matters and we’re making a difference so we’re very excited about it,” Robert Dana, UMaine’s vice president for student life and dean of students, told WABI. The Augusta event also was mentioned in a Bangor Daily News political blog post.
Nancy McBrady, the new executive director of the Wild Blueberry Commission of Maine, spoke with the Portland Press Herald about her position, as well as the important role played by the University of Maine Cooperative Extension. McBrady, who is expected to help grow and advocate for Maine’s wild blueberry industry, will work closely with UMaine Extension on research and development issues, according to the article. “The University of Maine and the Cooperative Extension are the backbone” of what the Wild Blueberry Commission of Maine does, providing an “invaluable service” in terms of scientific research, she said.
WVII (Channel 7) reported on a new project created by the University of Maine’s Cohen Institute for Leadership and Public Service. The Cohen Journal provides UMaine students and alumni the opportunity to publish original research in a peer-reviewed journal. It will also highlight and promote the student research found at Maine’s flagship university.
Barbara Murphy, coordinator for the University of Maine Cooperative Extension’s Harvest for Hunger program, is scheduled to speak at a food security forum in Wiscasset, according to the Boothbay Register. “Local Food, Local Hunger” takes place March 7 and is open to the public. It is sponsored by the Morris Farm in Wiscasset, a working farm and education center that promotes sustainable agriculture and stewardship, and Chewonki, an environmental education organization that promotes sustainable living, according to the article. The forum will address the current state of food insecurity in Lincoln County among families, individuals, children and seniors, the article states.