Students in the Spotlight
Master of Arts in Liberal Studies Student Timothy Baker Receives First Prize at Maine Water Conference
Posted May 15, 2013
Timothy Baker, student in the Master of Arts in Liberal Studies program, received first prize for his poster “Combining Environmental Education and Computational Thinking” at the 2013 Maine Water Conference in Augusta. The Maine Water Conference was founded in 1994 by the Mitchell Center as an annual forum for water resource professionals, researchers, consultants, citizens, students, regulators, and planners to exchange information and present new findings on water resource issues in Maine. The conference has grown to become one of the largest environmentally-related conferences in Maine attracting over 350 attendees each year. Baker’s research is focused on watershed education in middle school curriculum. He and a team of UMaine students have developed and tested seven different activities as part of a pedagogical framework combining computational thinking, environmental learning, and integrative thinking. Integrative thinking refers to both system-based learning -such as exploring 'what if' questions of an environmental model and adjusting the model appropriately- and also multi-disciplinary possibilities, such as activities that require or allow students to use skills and knowledge from math, science, english, and other subjects. Baker said of his research, “Water and watershed issues are used to explore creative learning and problem solving through computer programing based activities. The activities provide a way for students to explore and learn about interconnected human and natural systems, specifically watershed systems.”
Posted May 6, 2013
Merida Batiste, PhD student in Physics, and David Pearson, Master of Science student in Physics, presented at the 221st Meeting of the American Astronomical Society. The meeting is the largest annual meeting for astronomers and astrophysicists in North America and attracts scientists from all over the globe. Presentations at the Meeting can take one of three forms: posters, regular oral presentations which are five minutes, and dissertation talks which in 15 minutes aim to explain a major conclusion from thesis work. Batiste presented her research on gravitationally bound superclusters of galaxies, the largest structures in the universe held together by gravity. She said of her present ation, “While about 10 million superclusters of galaxies have been identified in the Universe, bound superclusters are incredibly rare; prior to our work only one had been identified. I presented on my results for the Corona Borealis supercluster, which provide the most conclusive observational evidence to date that this structure is bound and in collapse.”
Pearson presented his research on superclusters of galaxies as well, in which he looks for the signature of dark energy in the large scale structure of the universe. He said of his presentation, “My talk discussed computer simulations of these structures, the results of which highlighted that if we only consider the mass contained inside individual clusters of galaxies then there is a good chance that these structures will not be gravitationally bound, though a few may be. We also compared our simulation results with the predictions of two analytical models, finding that they could be used to establish
widely separated upper and lower bounds to the true limits. These results are the basis for a paper which I recently submitted to the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society.”
Posted May 1, 2013
Rachel Kennedy, a Doctor of Philosophy student set to graduate in the Biomedical Sciences program in August 2013, has accepted a postdoctoral position at Columbia University. She will be working in the neurobiology and neuroscience labs of Drs. Rae Silver and James Curley researching the role of immune cells called mast cells in the brain. These cells are known to defend the body against parasitic attack, and are main effector cells in allergies and asthma, but their normal physiology in the brain is not known. Kennedy’s dissertation research, performed in the laboratory of Dr. Julie Gosse, focused on the effect of environmental toxicants on mast cell degranulation, and she said of her future research, “There is no real understanding of what mast cells are doing in the brain. We are interested in understanding both the normal physiology and pathology of mast cells in the brain, which may have implications for disease states such as anxiety and depression.” While at Columbia University Kennedy will also be a lecturer in psychology for the Frontiers of Science program, part of the core curriculum for undergraduate students.
Master of Social Work Students Receive President's Research Impact Award at Graduate Research Exposition
Posted April 22, 2013
Master of Social Work students Leah Agren, Meagan Foss, Jennifer Koch, Alison Mitchell and their advisor Dr. Jennifer Middleton recently received the President’s Research Impact Award at the Graduate Research Exposition. The honor is awarded to the student(s) and advisor whose project best exemplifies the University of Maine mission cornerstones of teaching, research, scholarship, and outreach to the State of Maine. Their research, titled “What happens next? Exploring child protection outcomes in a cohort of opioid-exposed infants” aims to investigate what happens after an infant born with prenatal opioid-exposure is discharged from the hospital, from a child welfare system perspective. Their research is the first-ever attempt to share data between Eastern Maine Medical Center (EMMC) and the State’s Office of Child and Family Services (OCFS). The team said of their work, “Maine has the highest rate of opioid addiction per capita in the nation and the impact of this epidemic is being felt throughout the greater-Bangor region. Of the 195 substance-exposed births recorded at EMMC in 2011, 175 involved opioid-exposure, representing a 27% increase in opioid-exposed births in just two years. Though the population of infants born with prenatal opioid-exposure in the greater-Bangor region is growing, very little is known about what happens after the infant leaves EMMC.” This study will determine how many of these infants had subsequent child protection cases opened in their first year of life, and will explore risk and protective factors associated with child protection services involvement. Findings from this community-engaged research project will inform local practice and policy efforts aimed at supporting one of our most vulnerable populations in the State of Maine. In addition to receiving the President’s Research Impact Award, project team members have been invited to present their work at the EMMC Pediatric Services meeting in June and to the Penquis Regional Linking Partnership, a 25-agency regional partnership collaborating to support substance-affected infants and their families in the Penquis region.