Students in the Spotlight
Posted April 14, 2014
Dr. Kurt Rademaker, 2012 doctoral graduate from the University of Maine and faculty associate of both the Department of Anthropology and the Climate Change Institute, recently received the 16th Tubingen Research Prize in Early Prehistory and Quaternary Ecology. The award is offered by the Eberhard Karls University in Tubingen, Germany and was created to foster innovative research among young scholars studying Ice Age archaeology, Quaternary ecology and human evolution. As the 2014 recipient, Rademaker delivered the prize lecture February 6th in Germany, received 5,000 Euros, and is expected to contribute a research paper summarizing his research for the journal Mitteilungen der Gesellschaft für Urgeschichte.
Rademaker’s research is focused on highest known ice-age archaeological site in the world; a 12,000 to 12,500 year old settlement at 14,700 feet above sea level in the Peruvian Andes. He said of his research, “The fact that hunter-gatherers were physiologically capable of living in high-altitude mountains at the end of an ice age is an example of how amazingly adaptable our species is. My team and I are trying to learn more about how people managed this initial settlement and how Andean environments, ecology and culture have changed since then.” Through a variety of archaeological and geological techniques Rademaker and his team of interdisciplinary scientists have learned about possible seasonal migrations, diet, and other elements of our incredible capacity for survival at such high elevations. For more information, check out the piece in the Graduate School Newsletter; The Higher Degree here and the Bangor Daily News article here.
Posted April 14, 2014
School of Marine Sciences graduate student Jocelyn Runnebaum helped develop and write the recently funded project for studying Atlantic cod and cusk bycatch in the lobster fishery, which potentially has significant impacts on the management of the Maine lobster fishery. Runnebaum is in the dual MS program in Marine Policy and Marine Biology. The Saltonstall-Kennedy Grant grant was awarded through NOAA for a two year project. Specifically this research aims to assess if Atlantic cod and cusk can survive physical trauma that is induced when brought to the surface in a lobster trap if a treatment is applied in a timely manner. Jocelyn will be working with Dr. Chen to play a critical role in the three components of the research; modeling, fieldwork, and outreach. This is a cooperative research endeavor that utilizes opportunistic sampling methods by researchers accompanying commercial lobster harvesters on regular fishing trips to collect data about Atlantic cod and cusk. Jocelyn has identified fisherman participants and has already been working with them to collect data on cusk; she will continue conducting research on cusk and a future graduate student will focus their research on Atlantic cod.
Jenny Shrum, Ph.D student, Researches the Connections Between Climate Change and Maple Syrup Production
Posted February 24, 2014
Jenny Shrum, a Ph.D. candidate in the Ecology and Environmental Sciences program, seeks to understand what factors influence sap flow in maple trees, how climate change may influence the factors, and how Maine maple syrup producers will be affected. Shrum is interested both in the biophysical relationships as well as the human dimensions and implications of a changing maple syrup season. She will be using on-site weather station data and sap flow rates at three different Maine test sites to better understand the process of sap flow and how exactly freeze-thaw events stimulate that process. Recent data has suggested that the timing and sequence of these events has been shifting, potentially altering the sugaring season in Maine. Shrum also wants to understand how this, and other potential climate change impacts, will affect maple syrup producers and how. Larger operations, for which sap collection is their primary business, will likely be able to adjust to seasonal changes, but smaller producers may be adversely affected. “They might not be able to change their season,” she says. “A lot of the smaller operators have multiple jobs; they make money off maple syrup, but also in other fields such as woodcutting or construction. It just so happens maple syrup is a block of time when they’re not doing anything else, so it makes sense. But if that season changes, it might not fit into their schedule as well.” Despite this, Shrum feels confident that maple syrup production will remain a possibility in Maine. For further information, please go here.
Posted February 4, 2014
Master of Science in Chemistry student Ashley Hellenbrand presented her research at the 2013 International Conference on Wood Ashesives in Toronto, Canada, where she won third prize and $100 for her poster “Formaldehyde Emissions from ‘Native Wood’”. Hellenbrand is a member of the Wood-Based Composite Center at Virginia Tech, an organization that brings industry and universities together to work on projects collaboratively and to solve or understand major issues. Her research on formaldehyde emissions is “an important topic because the government has been setting levels of emissions so low that ‘native’ wood itself will surpass the emission levels. Major players in the industry would like to know now much “native" wood emits naturally, what the conditions are that produce the most emissions and what is the best mechanism to monitor emissions.”