Archive for the ‘News Releases’ Category

Hitting the Right Notes

Friday, April 24th, 2015

Seven teams of University of Maine Mechanical Engineering Technology (MET) students will unveil their design challenge projects from 9 a.m. to noon on Maine Day, Wednesday, April 29, in Bennett Hall on campus.

Maine Day at the university is about providing service. And for MET students, it’s typically when they debut their senior capstone projects, which often are created to meet needs of people with challenges.

An 8-year-old girl from a local community will be particularly interested in the demonstrations. Not only will she select the winner, the project will benefit her. The girl, who was born without a left hand, will take home the design that best helps her play a Baroque soprano recorder.

Last summer, the girl’s music teacher proposed the project to UMaine MET personnel. The teacher wants the girl to be able to fully participate in music class.

Criteria for the device include that it allows the girl to use both arms in some way and play nine Baroque notes. It also needs to be able to be disinfected and continue to function as she grows. The girl needs to be able to put the discrete device together and take it apart. And, if possible, it should be her favorite color — purple.

For about six months, UMaine student teams have been brainstorming, building, testing and tweaking the devices. MET teaching assistant Emmett Hodder says the 50 participating seniors have become more knowledgeable about music and instruments, as well as better educated about the engineering design process.

“The ability to play music has been an inspiration for many throughout generations,” writes Team 4 scholars Gentry Burch of Owls Head, Maine; Corey Denis of Waterville, Maine; Justin Dobrovich of Kennebunk, Maine; Dylan Johnson of Bennington, N.H.; Brian Kearns of Eddington, Maine; Aaron Koss of Vermont; and Travis Sherman of Winthrop, Maine.

“Opportunities to assist someone in need and allow for their personal enjoyment is an inspiration to create the best product possible.”

Previous years’ MET projects have included a stair-climbing wheelchair and a human-powered watercraft for a person without arms.


The first portion of the design challenge begins at 9 a.m. Sessions run back-to-back, thus the end time could be between 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Events will be in Room 137, Bennett Hall unless otherwise noted.

  1. Musical tone testing, Room 140, Bennett Hall
  1. Judging at team tables
  1. Case Race — Students will be timed removing the device from the case, assembling it, playing a note, disassembling it and returning it to the storage case.
  1. Cleaning demonstration — Teams will show how to maintain the device and give directions for disassembly and cleaning.
  1. Presentations — Each team will provide a 10-minute description about how it came up with the design and why it’s the best choice for the client.
  1. Musical competition — One member per team will play “Camptown Races” on a recorder equipped with his or her team’s respective design. This is the only event the audience will judge

Contact: Beth Staples, 207.581.3777

Exceptional in Their Fields

Friday, April 24th, 2015

Stellar seniors — who come from throughout Maine, and Canada and Nepal — share their UMaine experiences. Learn about their research, community service and world travels, and their plans for the next chapter in their lives.

Zoe BerkeyZoe Berkey
Outstanding Graduating International Student
College of Engineering
Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering

Zoe Berkey of Duncan, British Columbia, Canada, majored in civil engineering. A midfielder on the UMaine field hockey team, her America East Conference honors include All-Academic Team since 2012. Most recently and for the fourth consecutive year, Berkey also was named to the National Academic Squad of the National Field Hockey Coaches Association, Division I. In the summers of 2012 and 2013, Berkey worked as an engineering summer student in the municipal wastewater treatment plant of North Cowichan, Duncan, British Columbia. Her plans include pursuing a career in hydrology and environmental engineering.

Katherine BolsterKatherine Bolster
Outstanding Graduating Student
Maine Business School
Bachelor of Science in Business Administration in Accounting with an additional major in Finance

Katherine Bolster of Walpole, Maine, majored in accounting and finance. Bolster is a member of Beta Gamma Sigma and Alpha Lambda Delta honor societies, and served as a peer tutor. She is Bloomberg certified. Bolster has accepted an internship at State Street in Boston, Massachusetts, and ultimately plans to pursue certification as a public accountant.

Samantha Dunton

Samantha Dunton
Outstanding Graduating Student
College of Education and Human Development
Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education
Bachelor of Science in Secondary Education

Samantha Dunton of Winterport, Maine, majored in elementary education and secondary education, with concentrations in science and mathematics, and a minor in French. She received a Galen Cole Family Foundation Scholarship and a Project Reach Endorsement to be certified to teach English as a Second Language. Last summer, Dunton served as an undergraduate research assistant for the Maine Physical Science Partnership, conducting research on problem solving in a college chemistry course. In 2012, she studied abroad at the University of Angers. She completed her student teaching at Dedham School and Hermon Middle School. Dunton was involved in the Student Education Association of Maine and worked in an after-school program in Bangor. In addition, for the past six years, Dunton has worked for Bangor Parks and Recreation as a coach, counselor and assistant supervisor. She plans to teach in Maine.

Robert Fasano

Robert Fasano
Outstanding Graduating Student
College of Liberal Arts and Sciences
Bachelor of Science in Physics

Robert Fasano of Jefferson, Maine, majored in physics, with a minor in mathematics. His academic honors include a Theodore and Dorothy Whitehouse Scholarship, and a Creative and Academic Achievement Fellowship from the Center for Undergraduate Research. For the past two years, Fasano has been conducting research to develop a fast, flexible code to construct model galaxies in dynamical equilibrium — models that can be used in conjunction with N-body simulators to investigate galactic instabilities and dynamics over long time scales. Last summer, as part of a National Science Foundation Research Experience for Undergraduates at the University of Colorado, he developed a semiclassical model of cavity-assisted atom cooling for narrow line-width atoms, with the ultimate goal of harnessing synchronization of atoms as a new laser cooling technique. For the past two years, Fasano has been a Maine Learning Assistant and a member of UMaine’s Society of Physics Students, this year serving as president. He served as secretary of Black Bear Robotics and was a member of the design team for the UMaine chapter of Engineers Without Borders, translating into Spanish a septic system operations and maintenance manual used in a rural Honduran community. In August, he will join the Optical Frequency Measurements Group at the National Institute of Standards and Technology in Boulder, Colorado, conducting research on cavity-stabilized laser systems for use in cutting-edge atomic clocks. This fall, he will enter the Ph.D. program in physics at the University of Colorado Boulder.

Michael Munson

Michael Munson
Outstanding Graduating Student
Division of Lifelong Learning
Bachelor of University Studies

Michael Munson of Hudson, Maine, majored in university studies and minored in Maine studies. After attending UMaine and earning professional certification at Eastern Maine Technical College in the early 1980s, Munson went on for licensing in the state of Maine in the oil and natural gas service fields. At UMaine, he pursued interdisciplinary coursework, with particular focus on Maine history, environmental and climate change, and respect for cultural diversity and preservation. He developed a series of experiential learning videos on reverence for life and cultures, veteran recovery programs and a living history trail of the 1775 Arnold mission to Quebec. The videos were created for nontraditional students who are challenged in making Maine’s often resource-based historical patterns relevant to their employment, education and community involvement.

Ben Pomeroy

Benjamin Pomeroy
Outstanding Graduating Student
College of Engineering
Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering

Benjamin Pomeroy of Cape Elizabeth, Maine, majored in civil engineering. He holds a bachelor’s degree in international development studies from McGill University, which he earned in 2011. Pomeroy served as president of the UMaine chapter of Tau Beta Pi honor society, and since 2012, has been a member of Engineers Without Borders, which took UMaine student crews to Honduras for a wastewater treatment project and a clean water initiative in Ecuador. For two years, he worked for UMaine’s Advanced Structures and Composites Center, first in lab research and design related to VolturnUS, UMaine’s 1:8 scale model floating wind turbine platform, and engineering design related to composite arch bridges. Last summer, he had a structural bridge design internship with HNTB Corporation in Westbrook, Maine. Pomeroy plans to pursue a career in structural bridge design in Maine.

Riju Shresha

Riju Shrestha
Outstanding Graduating International Student
College of Natural Sciences, Forestry, and Agriculture
Bachelor of Science in Biochemistry

Riju Shrestha of Katmandu, Nepal, majored in biochemistry. She received the Frederick H. Radke Award and is a member of the Phi Beta Kappa honor society. Last summer, Shrestha received a research fellowship from the Maine IDeA Network for Biomedical Research Excellence (INBRE) to serve as a research assistant at Bowdoin College, examining the impact of phenotypic and genotypic changes in the fungal pathogen Candida albicans during host adaptation. In the previous summers, and throughout the past academic year, Shrestha has been a research assistant at UMaine, analyzing host-pathogen interaction using zebrafish and Candida albicans, a commensal fungal organism that can cause severe infections in immunocompromised individuals. For the past three years, she has worked as a resident assistant on campus, and has been an active member of the International Student Association, South Asian Association of Maine, Partners for World Health and the UMaine chapter of the Maine Society for Microbiology. Shrestha plans to pursue a career in public health research.

Holly StewartHolly Stewart
Outstanding Graduating International Student
College of Education and Human Development
Bachelor of Science in Kinesiology and Physical Education

Holly Stewart of North Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, majored in kinesiology and physical education, with a concentration in exercise science. Stewart, a forward on the UMaine field hockey team, received the 2014 “M” Club Dean Smith Award and was on the Gladiator National Academic Squad from 2011–13. She was named to the National Field Hockey Coaches Association (NFHCA) All-Region Team and the America East Conference First Team, both in 2013 and 2014. Stewart also was an SGI/NFHCA Division I Scholar of Distinction in 2013 and 2014. Last summer in Vancouver, she had a physical therapy internship at the Allan McGavin Sports Medicine Centre and volunteered in a stroke rehabilitation class in the North Vancouver Community Recreation Centre. Stewart has been playing for Team Canada, and hopes to help the team qualify for the 2016 Olympics. She also plans to pursue graduate work in physical therapy.

Contact: Margaret Nagle, 207.581.3745

Nutritious Sea Vegetables

Friday, April 24th, 2015

University of Maine associate professor Denise Skonberg and graduate student Dhriti Nayyar are working with a Bristol company to study the shelf life and nutritional values of aquacultured sea vegetable products.

Maine Fresh Sea Farms, a startup based on the Damariscotta River, is one of five Maine companies to share $471,571 in Value Added Producer Grants from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Rural Development Program. The federal grants were awarded in August 2014 to preserve rural jobs at companies that process and add value to agricultural products.

Maine Fresh Sea Farms received $71,673 to help “study the feasibility of delivering fresh aquacultured sea vegetable products to the marketplace using agricultural produce and seafood distribution systems,” in addition to helping it create a business plan, the USDA said. The funds also will help the company retain 21 jobs and create 10 more over the next decade.

To study the products, the company turned to Skonberg, a professor of food science and human nutrition in the School of Food and Agriculture. Skonberg and Nayyar are collecting baseline data on the length of time several species of sea vegetables can be considered fresh while under refrigeration. They also are conducting basic nutritional analyses to help meet nutritional labeling requirements.

Skonberg anticipates the study will provide key information about the nutritional benefits and shelf-life stability of four varieties of sea vegetables that are farm raised in Maine.

“This information will help the newly developing seaweed industry in Maine with marketing their products, and will help them make decisions about how best to harvest, handle, process, store and distribute products to their customers,” Skonberg says. “The results will promote the production of locally sourced, high-quality and nutritious seaweed products from Maine and help in job creation along the coast.”

Throughout the yearlong project, the researchers will look at four species of freshly harvested aquacultured seaweeds — sugar kelp (Saccharina latissima), dulse (Palmaria palmata), Gracilaria, and winged kelp (Alaria) — grown on the company’s Clark Cove farm.

Basic nutritional analyses will be conducted on the raw sea vegetables on a wet weight basis — not dried — for use on nutrition labels. Samples of each species will be collected throughout the year during the time period that each would normally be available for harvest and sale. Using standard harvesting and handling procedures, Maine Fresh Sea Farms will transport the vegetables to UMaine where they will be refrigerated and then stored for up to 12 days, or until they are unfit for human consumption. Whole fronds along with a shredded seaweed salad version of three species — sugar kelp, winged kelp and dulse — will be periodically tested for quality.

Although some nutrient data already exist for dried sugar kelp and dulse, it has been shown that growing conditions, region, strain and time of harvest can affect the nutrient profile of sea vegetables, according to Skonberg. The sea vegetables will be assessed for basic nutrient composition — water, fat, protein, total minerals and carbohydrates.

The shelf-life studies will be conducted at two holding temperatures, one close to freezing at 35 F and another at 45 F, which is on the high end of normal holding temperatures.

The researchers will look at how each species performs at different temperatures and forms. Soluble protein content, which has been shown to be a good indicator of quality loss in fresh seaweed, will be monitored through protein analyses, Skonberg says.

An in-house sensory evaluation will be conducted by an experienced panel to assess quality deterioration of the whole fronds and seaweed salad. Panel members will rate aroma, texture, color and overall quality of the samples.

Nayyar has already conducted shelf-life studies on sugar kelp and dulse, and will be starting another shelf-life study on winged kelp this spring. The researchers have found that sensory evaluation, as well as instrumental color and texture were better indicators for assessing shelf life than microbial analyses.

The shelf life studies and basic nutritional analysis are expected to be completed in December 2015.

Maine Fresh Sea Farms also has worked with Maine Sea Grant, the Brawley Laboratory at UMaine, and the Center for Cooperative Aquaculture Research.  One result of the collaborations is Sea Belt, a Scotch Ale brewed by Marshall Wharf Brewing in Belfast using dried sugar kelp grown at the Damariscotta River sea farm.

In addition to funding from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Rural Development Program, Maine Fresh Sea Farms won a Phase I Small Business Innovation Research Grant from the National Oceanographic Atmospheric Administration and has applied for a Phase II. The Maine Technology Institute has provided grant writing assistance and a Business Accelerator Grant.

Restaurants interested in the company’s fresh sea greens can email or call 800.944.7848. Maine Fresh Sea Farms also supplies wholesale dried sugar kelp; more information is available by emailing

Contact: Elyse Kahl, 207.581.3747

UMaine Ranked in the Top 50 Environmentally Responsible Colleges by Princeton Review

Tuesday, April 21st, 2015

The University of Maine has been named one of the Top 50 Green Colleges in the nation by Princeton Review, part of the sixth annual guide to the most environmentally responsible higher education institutions in the country.

The Princeton Review’s Guide to 353 Green Colleges: 2015 Edition profiles colleges with the most exceptional commitments to sustainability based on their academic offerings and career preparation for students, campus policies, initiatives and activities. The profiles in the guide give college applicants information about each school’s admission requirements, cost and financial aid, as well as student body facts and stats.

UMaine and the College of the Atlantic were the two institutions in Maine to make the top 50.

UMaine was already one of Princeton Review’s Best 379 Colleges — rated by students on factors ranging from financial aid to on-campus dining, and ranked as one of the best 226 in the Northeast — considered “academically outstanding and well worth consideration” by students in their colleges searches.

“We are proud to have made the Green Colleges cut for the sixth consecutive year,” says UMaine Sustainability Coordinator Dan Dixon. “Our top 50 ranking highlights the ongoing dedication to sustainability that is shared by UMaine’s students, faculty, staff and administrators.”

Princeton Review’s Top 50 Green Colleges is a new ranking this year. Leading the list was Lewis & Clark College in Oregon. UMaine, with a rating of 98 out of 99 possible points, was ranked 26th between Columbia University and the University of Colorado Boulder.

In the free green guide, institutional profiles include “green facts,” such as use of renewable energy, recycling and conservation programs to the availability of environmental studies and career guidance for green jobs, availability of transportation alternatives and the percentage of the school food budgets spent on local/organic food.

Princeton Review cited UMaine’s innovative “Blue Bikes” program and its free public transportation system as particularly notable initiatives. In addition, the university operates a campuswide single-stream recycling program and composts over 400,000 pounds of pre- and post-consumer food waste from campus dining facilities annually. By using the compost to grow greens in campus hoop houses, UMaine is effectively going from plate to plant and back to plate. Motivated students can join one of the many sustainability-focused groups such as The Green Team, which promotes sustainability on and around campus.

How Schools Were Chosen for the Guide
The Princeton Review chose the colleges based on “Green Rating” scores (from 60 to 99) that the company tallied in summer 2014 for 861 colleges using data from its 2013–14 survey of school administrators. The survey asked them to report on their school’s sustainability-related policies, practices, and programs. More than 25 data points were weighted in the assessment. Schools with Green Rating scores of 83 or higher made it into this guide. Most of the schools (347) in this edition are in the U.S. Five are in Canada. One is in Egypt. Information about Princeton Review’s Green Rating and its Green Honor Roll saluting schools that received the highest possible rating score, 99, is at Note: The Princeton Review does not publish the schools’ Green Rating scores in this guide. The scores can be found in the profiles of the schools on and in the 2015 edition of The Princeton Review books, The Best 379 Colleges and The Complete Book of Colleges, published in August 2014.

How the Top 50 Green Colleges List Was Done
The Princeton Review developed the ranking list using data from its institutional survey for its Green Rating and its surveys of students attending the colleges. Ten data points from the institutional survey were factored into the assessment. Data from the student survey included student ratings of how sustainability issues influenced their education and life on campus; administration and student support for environmental awareness and conservation efforts; and the visibility and impact of student environmental groups.

The Princeton Review first published this guide in 2010. It remains the only free, annually updated downloadable guide to green colleges. The company is also known for its dozens of categories of college rankings in its annual books, The Best 379 Colleges and Colleges That Pay You Back.

Contact: Margaret Nagle, 207.581.3745

UMaine to Recognize Three Exceptional Leaders at May Commencement

Monday, April 20th, 2015

The University of Maine will award honorary doctorates on May 9 to alumni Dana Connors of Gray, Maine, president of the Maine State Chamber of Commerce, and Dennis Rezendes of Boulder, Colorado, who pioneered the hospice program in the United States; and M. Peter McPherson, president of the Washington, D.C.-based Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (APLU).

The honorary doctorates will be conferred at UMaine’s 213th Commencement, part of the university’s 150th anniversary celebration.

McPherson will deliver a keynote address at both the 10 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. ceremonies.

Dana Connors
As the leader of the state’s largest and most diverse business association for more than 20 years, Dana Connors oversees the Maine State Chamber’s broad range of activities: advocacy efforts, economic development initiatives, workforce development opportunities, and a wide variety of member services on behalf of the state’s business community.

Connors began his career as the city manager of Presque Isle for 16 years, and then spent 11 years as commissioner of the Maine Department of Transportation. He has been president of the Maine State Chamber of Commerce since 1994.

A Maine native, Connors received a bachelor’s degree in public management from UMaine in 1965. He has been appointed by the Governor to serve on the Northern New England Passenger Rail Authority and the State of Maine Governor’s Business Roundtable for Early Childhood Development. Other boards on which he currently serves include Maine Economic Research Institute; Maine Manufacturing Extension Partnership; and Maine & Company.

Dennis Rezendes
Dennis Rezendes provided national leadership to improve end-of-life care for millions of people by helping establish the hospice program in this country, offering quality and compassionate care for those with terminal illnesses. As a volunteer and philanthropist, he devoted himself to educational and social justice causes at home and abroad. He is a strong believer in the power of education to open minds and change lives. With his wife, he has contributed generously to scholarships and the arts, and has created UMaine endowments to support a visiting scholar in ethics, an ethics essay competition and the Honors College.

Under the auspices of the Global Volunteers organization, he also endowed a program enabling a student to volunteer for two weeks in a Third World country.

Rezendes is a member of the Charles F. Allen Society, President’s Club and Stillwater Society. In 2012 he received the Stillwater Presidential Award. In 2014, he was the recipient of Bernard Lown ’42 Alumni Humanitarian Award. He received the Founder’s Award from the National Hospice Organization (NHO), which provided national leadership to define hospice and develop the standards of hospice care. Rezendes provided direct leadership in the passage of federal legislation enabling hospice care to be a Medicare benefit. In New Haven, Connecticut in 1974, he became the nation’s first hospice executive director, guiding the development of the first hospice program of care.

Of Portuguese heritage, Rezendes is a second-generation immigrant and the first of his family to graduate from college. After graduating from UMaine in 1957 as an honors student with a degree in public management, he continued his education at the University of Pennsylvania, the Wharton School. From 1960–70 he served as director of administration for the City of New Haven, Connecticut. He has had a successful career both in government and the private sector.

Peter McPherson
Since 2006, M. Peter McPherson has been president of the Washington, D.C.-based APLU. The association, founded in 1887, is North America’s oldest higher education association, comprised of public research universities, land-grant institutions and universities in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, four territories, Canada and Mexico. APLU is the leading research, policy and advocacy organization for public research universities like UMaine.

McPherson also chairs the Partnership to Cut Hunger and Poverty in Africa, an organization he co-founded to address agricultural production and rural income issues. He is chair of the advisory committee for HarvestPlus, an organization funded at approximately $40 million annually to research the biofortification of crops grown by workers in poor countries. Biofortification is the genetic improvement of crops to fortify them with vitamin A, iron and zinc.

From 1993–2004, McPherson served as president of his alma mater, Michigan State University. Prior to that, he was a group executive vice president with Bank of America, based in San Francisco. He also served as deputy secretary of the U.S. Department of the Treasury and the administrator of the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID). McPherson is a former chair of the board of directors of Dow Jones and Company, publisher of The Wall Street Journal.

McPherson received an MBA from Western Michigan University and a J.D. from American University Law School.

Top Faculty Honors

Friday, April 17th, 2015

The University of Maine’s top honors are being awarded to faculty in civil engineering, philosophy, history and communication.

The 2015 Distinguished Maine Professor is Bill Davids, the John C. Bridge Professor of Civil Engineering. The annual award is presented by the University of Maine Alumni Association in recognition of outstanding achievement in UMaine’s statewide mission of teaching, research and economic development, and community engagement.

Kirsten Jacobson, associate professor of philosophy, will receive the 2015 Presidential Outstanding Teaching Award; Richard Judd, Col. James C. McBride Distinguished Professor of History, will receive the 2015 Presidential Research and Creative Achievement Award; and Laura Lindenfeld, director of the Margaret Chase Smith Policy Center and associate professor of communication, will receive the 2015 Presidential Public Service Achievement Award.

The award recipients will be honored at the Faculty Appreciation and Recognition Luncheon, noon–1:30 p.m., May 9 at Wells Conference Center.

“In our 150th anniversary year, there is no better way to look at the difference a land grant university makes than through the quality teaching, research and community engagement demonstrated by four faculty members of this caliber,” says UMaine President Susan J. Hunter. “The work of Bill, Kirsten, Dick and Laura in Maine is known nationally and internationally. The direct beneficiaries are UMaine students and the people of Maine.”

The following faculty citations are excerpted from the nomination packages submitted to the selection committees:

2015 Distinguished Maine Professor
Bill Davids
John C. Bridge Professor of Civil Engineering

Bill Davids is a gifted, committed educator and outstanding researcher with a strong record of public service. His popular and rigorous upper-level undergraduate and graduate courses produce well-prepared structural engineers who truly understand how engineers design. Davids’ internationally recognized research applies numerical modeling to a wide range of multidisciplinary problems. He has made fundamental contributions to structural, geotechnical, environmental and pavement engineering, and engineering mechanics. Davids’ work has been central to many University of Maine-developed technologies, including blast-resistant structures. His work on inflatable structures resulted in a NASA-funded project focused on atmospheric reentry systems for spacecraft. The breadth of Davids’ expertise makes him a resource for the state. As a structural engineer with particular expertise in bridge engineering, he is frequently tapped by the Maine Department of Transportation for critical safety assessments. He also has helped many Maine-based engineering firms solve difficult structural modeling problems. Davids’ many national, state and UMaine awards include the 2012 L.J. Markwardt Wood Engineering Award from the Forest Products Society and the George Marra Award from the Society of Wood Science and Technology. In 2010, he was named the State of Maine Civil Engineer of the Year by the Maine chapter of the American Society of Civil Engineers. Davids was the UMaine valedictorian in 1989. He also received a master’s degree in civil engineering from UMaine in 1991, and a Ph.D. in civil and structural engineering from the University of Washington in 1998. That year, Davids joined the UMaine College of Engineering faculty. He has chaired the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering since 2012.

2015 Presidential Outstanding Teaching Award
Kirsten E. Jacobson
Associate Professor of Philosophy

Kirsten E. Jacobson is recognized for her enthusiasm for teaching and how she encourages students to think for themselves. Since coming to the University of Maine in 2006, she has taught undergraduate and graduate classes in 19th- and 20th-century continental philosophy and the philosophy of art, and has created topics-based courses in response to the interests and demands of students, and reflecting her active research. By incorporating ideas, examples and texts from multiple disciplines — from biology and political science to art history and physics — she empowers students in active learning. She encourages students to find the relevance of significant philosophical debates in their lives and in the community, marrying theoretical engagement with practical concerns. That involvement goes beyond the classroom, as Jacobson advises students in Phi Sigma Tau, the philosophy honor society, and the Philosophy Club. Another example of Jacobson’s commitment to the quality and value of teaching is in the volunteer-based service-learning program she established in 2009 called Philosophy Across the Ages. The initiative connects UMaine undergraduates with area high school students and retirement community members to discuss philosophical questions and examine their relevance in everyday life. Philosophy Across the Ages epitomizes Jacobson’s commitment as a teacher to “continue always to ask questions of myself and others about the nature of human experience in order that we might become increasingly adept at reflecting and responding to the reality of our situation.” Jacobson received a bachelor’s degree in liberal arts from St. John’s College in 1996 and a Ph.D. in philosophy from Pennsylvania State University in 2006.

2015 Presidential Research and Creative Achievement Award
Richard W. Judd
Col. James C. McBride Distinguished Professor of History

Richard W. Judd is an internationally recognized researcher and author of environmental history who exemplifies the importance of academic scholarship with a public purpose. By bringing a Maine and New England perspective to bear on how environmental history is conducted and conceptualized, Judd’s research has reshaped — and continues to inform — this area of scholarship. He has inspired the current generation of environmental historians and earned UMaine a reputation for pioneering environmental history research. The depth and breadth of Judd’s scholarship were most recently reflected in The Historical Atlas of Maine, published this year by the University of Maine Press. Judd co-edited and contributed to the Atlas, a geographical and historical interpretation of Maine, from the end of the last ice age to the year 2000. The volume culminates a 15-year humanities project led by Judd, Stephen Hornsby and other UMaine researchers. Judd also is the award-winning author of 11 books, including Second Nature: An Environmental History of New England, published last year; and the definitive history of the state, Maine: The Pine Tree State from Prehistory to the Present, published in 1995. His 12th book, Finding Thoreau: The Meaning of Nature in the Making of an Environmental Icon, is expected in 2016. For three decades, he has been the lead editor of the state journal of historical record, Maine History, published by the UMaine History Department and the Maine Historical Society. Judd came to UMaine as a postdoctoral researcher in 1980 and joined the History Department faculty four years later. He received bachelor’s and master’s degrees in history from California State University, Fullerton, and a Ph.D. in history from the University of California at Irvine.

2015 Presidential Public Service Achievement Award
Laura A. Lindenfeld
Director of the Margaret Chase Smith Policy Center
Associate Professor of Communication and Journalism

As a researcher of communication, Laura A. Lindenfeld has demonstrated a deep commitment to applying her knowledge and skills to enhancing the public good and well being of citizens and organizations in Maine. Her research focuses on understanding stakeholders’ needs and helping build more effective partnerships, developing strategies to help align University of Maine resources with the state’s needs. By linking her research, teaching and mentorship of students to on-the-ground action, she has advanced collaboration across organizations and contexts. In 2013 in collaboration with the Office of the Vice President for Innovation and Economic Development, she launched UMaine’s Faculty Fellows — a two-year professional development program to empower 20 faculty leaders to advance the impact of their work by engaging with communities and university stakeholders. The second cohort of Faculty Fellows is now being selected. Lindenfeld’s community engagement initiatives also include leadership on engaging students in a series of advertising campaigns that directly supported local businesses and nonprofit organizations; stewardship of teacher training grants to support English as a Second Language educators in Maine; membership on the Governor’s Task Force to Engage Maine’s Youth; and service on the Maine Humanities Council. Lindenfeld joined the UMaine faculty in 2004. She received a master’s degree in German and Scandinavian literature and language studies from the University of Bonn, and a Ph.D. in cultural studies from the University of California, Davis.

2015 Valedictorian and Salutatorian: Gwen Beacham, Katelyn Massey at the Top of their Class

Tuesday, April 14th, 2015

Gwendolyn Beacham of Farmington, Maine, is the 2015 valedictorian at the University of Maine and Katelyn Massey of Waterville, Maine, is the salutatorian.

They will receive their degrees at UMaine’s 213th Commencement in Harold Alfond Sports Arena May 9.

Beacham, a biochemistry major and honors student, was named the Outstanding Graduating Student in the College of Natural Sciences, Forestry, and Agriculture.

She received the Barry Goldwater Scholarship, a national award given to rising undergraduate juniors and seniors in the STEM fields, and the George J. Mitchell Peace Scholarship to study abroad in spring 2014 at University College Cork in Ireland. Most recently, she was awarded a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship.

At UMaine, Beacham has been involved in the national Phage Genomics Program, sponsored by Howard Hughes Medical Institute, by taking the HON 150/155 Phage Genomics course. She interned at the Boyce Thompson Institute for Plant Research, an affiliate of Cornell University, where her work focused on the commercial algae biofuel production, and the Mount Desert Island Biological Laboratory, studying cilia differentiation in sea urchin and sand dollar embryos.

On campus, Beacham’s research has focused on mycobacteriophages, which are viruses that infect bacteria of the genus Mycobacterium. In collaboration with Assistant Research Professor Sally Molloy, Beacham studied a particular phage named Ukulele that was isolated at UMaine in the Phage Genomics course Beacham took in her first year. Beacham’s project focused on identifying which genes encode the proteins that are involved in regulating Ukulele’s life cycles.

Her numerous awards for research and academic achievement included fellowships from UMaine’s Center for Undergraduate Research, and research fellowships from the Maine IDeA Network for Biomedical Research Excellence (INBRE).

Beyond the laboratory and classroom, Beacham has been involved in many student organizations, including the UMaine chapter of Engineers Without Borders, which took her to Honduras in 2013 to finish installing a septic system in a rural community. She also was a member of Alternative Breaks, and campus-based All Maine Women and Sophomore Eagles honor societies. Beacham was a teaching assistant and, in 2013, took first place in the annual Rezendes Ethics Essay contest.

This fall, Beacham will enter the Ph.D. track at Cornell University in biochemistry, molecular and cell biology. She hopes to be a professor and contribute to science policy.

Massey is a psychology major with a concentration in development and a minor in communication sciences and disorders. Her academic honors include the Frederick W. and Marianne Hill Scholarship, the Marcus L. Urann Scholarship, Class of 1945 Scholarship, and the Jane Gerry Chase Hangar Scholarship. She also was named a Kornetsky Scholar as the graduating psychology student with the highest GPA.

For the past four years, Massey has been a forward on the UMaine women’s ice hockey team, serving as assistant captain this year and taking Hockey East Top Scholar Athlete honors from 2012–14. She and her teammates have been active in fundraising and volunteer activities in the community, and local youth hockey clinics.

This fall, Massey will pursue graduate work in communication sciences and disorders at UMaine. She also has been selected for a clinical assistantship in UMaine’s Audiology Clinic.

Contact: Margaret Nagle, 207.581.3745

Michael Bailey: Studying in Ireland

Tuesday, April 14th, 2015

Michael Bailey, a third-year history major at the University of Maine, has been awarded the George J. Mitchell Peace Scholarship for the 2015–16 academic year and will study abroad in Ireland as part of the student exchange program.

As a George J. Mitchell Scholar, Bailey plans to learn more about history and peace to not only further his academic and career aspirations, but also to enhance his ability to improve the community.

The scholarship honors the 1998 Northern Ireland peace accord brokered by Sen. Mitchell between Ireland and the United Kingdom and is open to full-time undergraduate students in the University of Maine system. The all-expenses paid scholarship allows one student to study for a year, or two students to study for a semester each, at University College Cork in Ireland.

“Through studying history and active community involvement, I will make my community a better place while I am in Cork, when I return to Orono, and for the rest of my life,” Bailey says.

While overseas, Bailey, who aspires to earn a doctorate in history, plans to study Ireland within the context of the early modern period and as a place of imperialist and counter-imperialist hostility.

“Understanding the beginnings of imperialism in our era, I truly believe, is the first logical steps toward understanding how and why people come to dominate other people. It’s also the first step toward fighting the process,” Bailey says.

Bailey describes himself as a lifelong activist dedicated to improving his community and plans to give back when he returns by organizing residence hall events about study abroad and volunteerism; speaking about the trip to grade school children in the Black Bear Mentors program; and bringing home a more broadened awareness of the world.

Bailey, a first-generation college student originally from Lynn, Massachusetts who grew up and attended high school in Sen. Mitchell’s hometown of Waterville, says he is looking forward to the challenge of living abroad in a new culture and is confident he will adapt well to a new environment.

As a resident assistant on campus, Bailey has experience not only taking care of himself, but taking responsibility for others, he says. Growing up as a child of a struggling single parent, Bailey often was in charge of running the household, as well.

Bailey is a member of Divest UMaine and he is interested in looking into divestment at UCC with Tadhg Moore, a George J. Mitchell Peace Scholarship recipient from UCC that Bailey befriended while Moore studied at UMaine.

As president of the Maine Peace Action Committee, Bailey has reached out to students to advocate becoming involved in the university and community. He has helped lead the group in organizing their film series and newsletter, participated in campus sustainability efforts and played an important leadership role in organizing a weekend trip to New York City for The People’s Climate March this past fall. He is vice president of the History Club and is involved with the Peace & Justice Center of Eastern Maine and Phi Alpha Theta Historical Society.

Bailey is a firm believer of supporting labor organizations and was awarded a competitive internship in the Maine State Department of Labor in summer 2014 where he conducted research on the history of Maine’s labor laws.

More about the George J. Mitchell Peace Scholarship is online.

Biochemistry and Physics Majors Land NSF Graduate Research Fellowships

Monday, April 13th, 2015

Two University of Maine seniors have been awarded Graduate Research Fellowships from the National Science Foundation (NSF).

The UMaine honors students, Gwendolyn Beacham of Farmington, Maine, a biochemistry major, and Julia Sell of Cushing, Maine, a physics major, were among 2,000 students nationwide selected from among 16,500 applicants in the 2015 competition.

BeachamThis fall, Beacham will enter the Ph.D. track at Cornell University in biochemistry, molecular and cell biology. Sell will pursue a Ph.D. in experimental condensed matter physics at the University of Maryland.

Beacham is UMaine’s 2015 valedictorian and the Outstanding Graduating Student in the College of Natural Sciences, Forestry, and Agriculture. She received the Barry Goldwater Scholarship, a national award given to rising undergraduate juniors and seniors in the STEM fields, and the George J. Mitchell Peace Scholarship to study abroad in spring 2014 at University College Cork in Ireland. At UMaine, Beacham has been involved in the national Phage Genomics Program, sponsored by Howard Hughes Medical Institute, by taking the UMaine honors course in phage genomics, and she interned at the Boyce Thompson Institute for Plant Research, an affiliate of Cornell University, and the MDI Biological Laboratory.

Beacham’s research focuses on mycobacteriophages, which are viruses that infect bacteria of the genus Mycobacterium. She is studying a particular phage named Ukulele that was isolated at UMaine in the Phage Genomics course Beacham took in her first year. Her project focuses on identifying which genes encode the proteins that are involved in regulating Ukulele’s life cycles. Her numerous awards for research and academic achievement include fellowships from UMaine’s Center for Undergraduate Research, and research fellowships from the Maine IDeA Network for Biomedical Research Excellence (INBRE).

SellsSell is an undergraduate researcher at UMaine’s Laboratory for Surface Science and Technology, where she has studied the structural and electrical stability of Pt-ZrB2 nanolaminate thin films at temperatures above 1800 degrees F. The films have potential use as electrical contacts in a new generation of microelectronics that enhance the reliability and safety of high-temperature machinery, such as jet engines and industrial power plants.

Sell participated in NSF’s Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) at UMaine. Her numerous awards for research and academic achievement include fellowships from UMaine’s Center for Undergraduate Research and the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, Bath Iron Works scholarships, and the 2015 Edith Patch Award.

NSF’s Graduate Research Fellowship Program provides three years of financial support within a five-year fellowship period ($34,000 annual stipend and $12,000 cost-of-education allowance to the graduate institution) for graduate study that leads to a research-based master’s or doctoral degree in science or engineering, according to the NSF announcement of the awards.

Since 1952, NSF has provided fellowships to individuals selected early in their graduate careers based on their demonstrated potential for significant achievements in science and engineering. The Graduate Research Fellowship Program is part of NSF’s overall strategy to develop the globally engaged workforce necessary to ensure the nation’s leadership in advancing science and engineering research and innovation.

Contact: Margaret Nagle, 207.581.3745

Fresh and Safe

Tuesday, April 7th, 2015

The University of Maine has been awarded two food safety competitive grants from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), including a $4.9 million, five-year award to improve processing technologies to enhance the safety and quality of fresh produce and low-moisture foods, such as raw grains, spices, seeds and nuts. The awarded projects are led by Vivian Wu, professor of microbiology and food safety in the School of Food and Agriculture.

UMaine was one of 36 universities nationwide to receive a total of $19 million in awards from the USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA), including more than $6.7 million for antimicrobial resistance strategies. The grants focus on research to ensure a safe, nutritious food supply and maintain American agricultural competitiveness, according to the announcement by the USDA.

Wu receives a two-year, $150,000 grant to improve food safety through use of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to examine the invasion and localization of pathogens in plants. MRI technology, the same used in medical radiology to visualize internal structures in detail, has the potential to provide more accurate information when compared to the traditional microbiological methods.

This new project is expected to develop a novel, noninvasive method using MRI to better determine and understand the internalization of pathogens — first, in produce, and eventually in live animals. The MRI detection system could inform pre-harvest interventions to reduce internalized contamination, meeting USDA/NIFA’s goal to reduce food-borne illness and deaths through a safer food supply.

This year, Wu receives the first year funding, $900,000, as first position of the $4.9 million, five-year research project she leads, focused on enhancing the safety and quality of fresh produce and low-moisture foods by waterless, nonthermal technologies. The focus is on the effectiveness and mechanisms of inactivating bacterial, viral and parasitic pathogens using light and gaseous treatments.

In recent decades, there has been a significant increase in the consumption of produce and low-moisture foods, such as nuts, cereals and spices, which are susceptible to contamination by pathogens, from pre- to post-harvest. The challenge for food scientists is to develop new technologies that will improve the safety and extend the shelf life of food products without compromising safety or sensory properties.

Unless they are fresh fruits and vegetables consumed raw, most foods are thermally preserved or cooked at high temperatures. Nonthermal treatments allow for the processing of foods below the temperatures used during pasteurization and canning, causing minimal changes in flavor and quality while removing pathogens.

This project will investigate the emerging nonthermal technologies, such as decontaminating lights, gaseous treatment and cold plasma (ionized atmospheric air) — processes used on an industrial scale for manufacturing of electronics and medical instruments. Wu’s team will use combinations of technologies to optimize product quality and inactivate pathogens, with a goal of commercializing the process.

With the technology transfer to industry, it is expected that processors will spend less money on energy inputs — energy for heat, water and chemicals — passing the savings on the consumer.

With the increasing outbreaks associated with fresh produce and low-moisture foods, the ability to provide effective microbiological control will be critical to maintaining consumer confidence in the agricultural and food industries, both in the United States and with international trading partners.

This five-year project led by Wu is built on the collaborative efforts of UMaine, USDA ARS Eastern Regional Research Center, University of Delaware, Ohio State University and Virginia Tech.

Margaret Nagle, 207.581.3745