Students in the Spotlight
Posted October 28, 2013
Amanda Favreau, Doctor of Philosophy in Biomedical Sciences student, has published multiple research papers since beginning her graduate studies at the University of Maine. Favreau has worked on a variety of research topics in her rotations in both Dr. Sathyanarayana’s and Dr. Vary’s labs at the Maine Medical Center Research Institute. Her own thesis research focuses on the role microRNA have in acute myeloid leukemia with the hope that by better understanding what, how, and why microRNA are being regulated, researchers will be able to create more successful therapeutic approaches for the disease. Her most recent publication as first author is a paper titled “CD44 Receptor Unfolding Enhances Binding by Freeing Basic Amino Acids to Contact Carbohydrate Ligand” in the September 2013 issue of Biophysical Journal. The research for this paper was conducted while she worked under Dr. Olgun Guvench at the University of New England. Favreau said of the paper, “This study utilized computational molecular dynamics to determine the structural binding of the cell receptor CD44 to its ligand/activator, the carbohydrate hyaluronan. Because CD44 is associated with various cancers, understanding how this protein-carbohydrate interacts will give better insight into the key components that small molecule inhibitors will need to block CD44 activation as a therapeutic.” During her studies, Favreau has also been first author on articles for the American Journal of Hematology in 2012 and in Leukemia Research in 2011.
Posted October 21, 2013
Three Doctor of Philosophy and one Master of Science students in Mechanical Engineering from four different home countries have received prestigious funding awards. Matthew Hall received a Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council Fellowship from the Canadian Government, Razieh Zangeneh has been named a Correll Fellow, Javier Moreno is an Iberdrola Foundation Scholar, and Domingos de Sousa Freitas is a Fulbright Scholar. All four students are part of Correll Professor Krish Thiagarajan’s research group.
Hall is a Ph.D. student originally from Ontario, Canada and is researching floating wind turbines. After receiving his master of science degree in Canada last spring he, “wanted to continue working in that area and UMaine – having just deployed the first grid-connected floating offshore wind turbine on the continent – seemed like the best place for me to do that.”
Zangeneh is a Ph.D. student from Iran. Her primary interest is in the hydrodynamics of floating structures. She will be working on the hydrodynamics and dynamics of deep water offshore structures.
Javier Moreno, M.S. student, is originally from Madrid, Spain. Wanting to increase his knowledge in the design and construction of Floating Offshore Wind Energy Turbines (FOWT), he chose UMaine due to its involvement in offshore wind energy and the construction of the prototype scale FOWT VolturnUS.
Domingos de Sousa Freitas is a Ph.D. student from East Timor. His research interests focus around tidal energy and hydro power and he has participated in some offshore floating system design.
Sonja Birthisel, Master of Science in Ecology and Environmental Sciences, Receives Grant from Maine Agricultural and Forest Experiment Station
Posted October 15, 2013
Sonja Birthisel studies how both weeds and weed seed predators affect farming in Maine. A Master student in Ecology and Environmental Sciences, Birthisel works under UMaine’s School of Food and Agriculture to study how local environments influence weed seed predators and the activity and density of particular species. Using a 10 acre organic farm in Dixmont, Maine Birthisel established a 20 meter grid and conducted pitfall trapping to characterize the invertebrate community, and seed feeding assays, with and without invertebrate exclosures. Her results show that habitat features such as vegetative cover and presence of key plant species are more important regulators of seed predation than spatial orientation. Her work led to the development of a method to measure second-order predation of invertebrate seed predators, and to conducting work investigating the effect foodweb dynamics may play in regulating seed predation. This work led to a grant from Maine Agricultural and Forest Experiment Station. Sonja’s results have also been accepted into the publication Biological Control and she has presented her research at the national meetings of the Ecological Society of America and the Weed Science Society of America.
Ph. D. Student in Ecology and Environmental Science Participates in Major Study on Impact of Hurricane Sandy
Posted on September 25, 2013
Maureen Correll, Ph.D student and IGERT fellow, was involved in a ten-state wide study under the National Science Foundation’s Saltmarsh Habitat and Avian Research program to assess Hurricane Sandy’s devastation of bird communities in coastal marshes. IGERT is the Integrative Graduate Education and Research Traineeship of the National Science Foundation; UMaine’s latest IGERT program is the first of its kind to focus specifically on adaptation to abrupt climate change. Correll’s role in the NSF study, which extended from Maine to Virginia, was coordinating data collection from New York to Maine from 2011 to 2013. For her dissertation, Correll will be taking a look at the change in bird communities both within and outside of Sandy's impact zone. She will work with a large historical survey database covering the same ten-state study area as the current study, but will include some data dating back to the early 1990s as well. Correll said of her work, “I am interested to see how the short-term community change caused by Sandy compares to longer-term change we detect in these bird communities. Do extreme storm events such as Sandy incite community change similar to slower, gradual change occurring over longer timescales? The larger goals of both my dissertation research and my collaborative research program are to inform conservation goals and support management decision-making at local, state and national levels.