Archive for the ‘News Releases’ Category

Shining a Light

Thursday, October 23rd, 2014

Oceanographers, water-quality experts and satellite remote-sensing scientists from around the world will shine light on developments in ocean optics and their application to environmental issues at a conference Oct. 25–31 in Portland, Maine.

Mary Jane Perry, interim director of the University of Maine Darling Marine Center in Walpole, is co-chair of the conference, Ocean Optics XXII, being held at Holiday Inn by the Bay.

“The conference gives optical ocean scientists from all over the world an opportunity to meet every two years to share ideas and exchange techniques,” says Perry. “Such communication among professionals and students is key to advancing science and developing new ways to use optics to solve ocean problems.”

Conference co-chair Steven Ackleson, oceanographer at the United States Naval Research Laboratory in Washington D.C., agrees.

“Optical observations of oceans on Earth are imperative,” he says. Many core environmental issues related to climate change — the carbon budget, harmful algal blooms, environmental-based management and human health and recreation — “require knowledge of how light interacts with the marine environment, the ability to monitor conditions in near real time and the capability to predict future conditions.”

Attendees from 38 countries can attend eight plenary sessions, including one led by Don Perovich of Thayer School of Engineering in Hanover, New Hampshire, who will discuss “Sunlight and Sea Ice in a Changing Arctic.”

There also will be nearly 50 shorter discussions and more than 200 posters presented on a variety of topics involving ocean optics.

UMaine researchers and graduate students are well represented. Perry, UMaine marine scientist Ivona Cetinic, and UMaine graduate Wayne Slade are reporting on their work this past summer in the Gulf of Maine that combined ship, aircraft and satellite measurements to monitor phytoplankton species. They also will report on another summer field project that used robots to study the distribution of phytoplankton under the ice in the Arctic Ocean.

UMaine professors Emmanuel Boss and Fei Chai, and graduate students Nathan Briggs and Alison Chase are also among the conference presenters.

In addition to the scientific presentations, author Robert McKenna will give a talk titled “Smuggling at Sea During Prohibition: The Real McCoy, the Bootleg Queen, Rum Row and the Origin of the U.S. Coast Guard.”

To view the complete agenda, visit,

Contact: Beth Staples, 207.581.3777

Extreme Living

Thursday, October 23rd, 2014

In the southern Peruvian Andes, an archaeological team led by researchers at the University of Maine has documented the highest altitude ice age human occupation anywhere in the world — nearly 4,500 meters above sea level (masl).

Their discoveries date high-altitude human habitation nearly a millennium earlier than previously documented.

Despite cold temperatures, high solar radiation and low oxygen conditions at that altitude, hunter-gatherers colonized the remote, treeless landscapes about 12,000 years ago during the terminal Pleistocene — within 2,000 years after humans arrived in South America.

“Study of human adaptation to extreme environments is important in understanding our cultural and genetic capacity for survival,” according to the research team, led by Kurt Rademaker, a University of Maine visiting assistant professor in anthropology, writing in the journal Science.

The Pucuncho archaeological site, 4,355 masl, included 260 formal tools, such as projectile points, nondiagnostic bifaces and unifacial scrapers up to 12,800 years old. Cuncaicha rockshelter, featuring two alcoves at 4,480 masl, contains a “robust, well-preserved and well-dated occupation sequence” up to 12,400 years old. The rockshelter, with views of wetland and grassland habitats, features sooted ceilings and rock art, and was likely a base camp.

Most of the lithic tools at Cuncaicha were made from locally available obsidian, andesite and jasper, and are indicative of hunting and butchering consistent with limited subsistence options on the plateau, according to the researchers. In addition to plant remains, bones at the site indicate hunting of vicuña and guanaco camelids and the taruca deer.

Pucuncho Basin was a high-altitude oasis for specialized hunting, particularly of vicuña, and later, herding of domesticated alpacas and llamas. While the Pucuncho Basin could have sustained year-round residence, wet-season storms and the dangers of hypothermia, as well as the need to maintain extended social networks and collection of edible plants, may have encouraged regular descents, according to the research team.

In addition, the lithic tools and debitage included nonlocal, fine-grained rocks — some stream-polished. That would have required the plateau residents to visit high-energy rivers in the lower elevations.

It is unclear whether the high-altitude human settlement required genetic or environmental adaptations. But with evidence of high-altitude human habitation almost 900 years earlier than previously documented, the implication is that there may have been more moderate late-glacial Andean environments and greater physiological capabilities for Pleistocene humans.

“The Pucuncho Basin sites suggest that Pleistocene humans lived successfully at extreme high altitude, initiating organismal selection, developmental functional adaptations and lasting biogeographic expansion in the Andes,” write the researchers. “As new studies identify potential genetic signatures of high-altitude adaptation in modern Andean populations, comparative genomic, physiologic and archaeological research will be needed to understand when and how these adaptations evolved.”

In addition to Rademaker, who received his Ph.D. from UMaine in 2012 and is now a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Tübingen, the research team members are: Gregory Hodgins, University of Arizona; Katherine Moore, University of Pennsylvania; Sonia Zarrillo, University of Calgary; Christopher Miller, University of Tübingen; Peter Leach, University of Connecticut; David Reid, University of Illinois-Chicago; Willy Yépez Álvarez, Peru; and Gordon Bromley and Daniel Sandweiss, University of Maine.

The team’s research was supported by the Dan and Betty Churchill Exploration Fund at the University of Maine, the National Geographic Society/Waitt Grants Program, and the National Science Foundation.

Contact: Margaret Nagle, 207.581.3745

Dr. Jeffrey Hecker Appointed to Fill Ongoing Position as Provost

Wednesday, October 22nd, 2014

University of Maine President Susan Hunter has appointed Dr. Jeffrey Hecker to fill the position of Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost on an ongoing basis.

Last August, Hecker was appointed to the position for a two-year term.

The ongoing appointment culminates an internal search conducted over the past several weeks to evaluate candidate materials and provide opportunities for the UMaine community to participate in this search. Following a daylong interview Sept. 26 and after evaluating feedback from members of the UMaine community, the search committee recommended Dr. Hecker’s appointment to President Hunter.

“Dr. Hecker is an outstanding candidate, and is poised to lead UMaine in a capable and thoughtful manner,” said President Hunter. “Dr. Hecker has had demonstrated success in working to achieve UMaine’s tripartite mission not only as Provost during the past academic year, but as Dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, and as a faculty member in the Department of Psychology. He has an outstanding record of achievement in his academic discipline, as well as in all administrative positions he has held.

“Dr. Hecker is highly regarded by this community and by all of UMaine’s constituencies. He will continue to work diligently and lead UMaine in fulfilling its student centered-mission as well as ensure that UMaine remains a top-100 research university. I am delighted to continue working with him in his capacity as Provost,” President Hunter said.

Hecker received his Ph.D. in clinical psychology from UMaine in 1986 after earning the B.S. degree (Phi Beta Kappa) in liberal arts and sciences (psychology) from the University of Illinois. He joined the UMaine faculty in 1986 as director of the Psychological Services Center, the training clinic for UMaine’s doctoral program in clinical psychology.

Dr. Hecker is a clinical researcher whose work focuses on understanding and treating anxiety, and more recently on risk assessment for people who have committed sexual offenses, including adolescents. He is the author of two books and scores of journal articles and presentations. A licensed clinical psychologist, Dr. Hecker has extensive experience in providing research and clinical consultation to the Maine Department of Corrections, Division of Juvenile Services; and as a mental health consultant for the Penobscot Job Corps Center and Penquis CAP Head Start, both in Bangor.

He advanced through the academic ranks to professor of psychology, chairing the Department of Psychology from 2002–07. In 2007, he was named interim dean and, a year later, dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.

Dr. Hecker has been honored during his distinguished service to the university, community and profession, with recognition including the 2006 University of Maine College of Liberal Arts and Sciences Outstanding Faculty Award for service and outreach, and the 1994 Maine Psychological Association Award for Outstanding Academic Contributions to Psychology.

Contact: Margaret Nagle, 207.581.3745

Reception Announcing Sandy and Bobby Ives Fund Oct. 19

Thursday, October 16th, 2014

A new fund has been established at the University of Maine Foundation in honor of the late founder of the Maine Folklife Center Edward “Sandy” Ives and his wife Bobby.

The Sandy and Bobby Ives Fund will be used to provide financial assistance to full-time UMaine students engaging in ethnography, folklore or oral history fieldwork in Maine and the Canadian Maritime Provinces. The UMaine Humanities Center director will oversee the awards to students.

A reception announcing the fund will be held 11 a.m.–noon Sunday, Oct. 19 at Buchanan Alumni House; the reception also will honor Bobby Ives.

The fund was established in 2014 with a gift from David Taylor and LeeEllen Friedland in recognition of Ives’ mentorship and friendship throughout Taylor’s academic experience at UMaine.

Ives was a popular UMaine English and anthropology professor from 1955–99, an internationally known folklorist and founder of the Maine Folklife Center. He was married to Bobby Ives for 57 years before his death in 2009.

Two undergraduate students who are studying folklore — Hilary Warner-Evans and Taylor Cunningham — will speak during the reception.

Warner-Evans of West Bath, Maine, is an undergraduate Honors student in anthropology and one of the first UMaine students to take the new folklore minor. Since 2012, she has volunteered at the Maine Folklife Center, where she has contributed to the center’s community outreach efforts by conducting research for its Maine Song and Story Sampler on Fogler Library’s Digital Commons.

Warner-Evans will present her fieldwork on songs written about the North Pond Hermit at the National Collegiate Honors Council conference in Denver this November. She also presented her folkloric research on Geoffrey Chaucer’s, “The Franklin’s Tale,” at Plymouth State University’s Medieval and Renaissance Forum last spring.

Taylor Cunningham of Massachusetts is an English major and Honors student with a minor in folklore studies. She is the coordinator of a new interdisciplinary humanities series of lectures on linguistics and culture, and has been working on the Maine Hermit Project for two years.

The Maine Hermit Project is a collaborative interdisciplinary humanities lab venture involving a team of undergraduate researchers working with Sarah Harlan-Haughey, an assistant professor in UMaine’s Honors College and  Department of English.

Cunningham has presented her work on greening the humanities in Honors at the National Collegiate Honors Council conference in New Orleans.

Both students are conducting research on songs and ballads written about the North Pond Hermit, as well as conducting interviews, for a book on the topic. The book — co-written by members of the Maine Hermit Project lab using the Maine Folklife Center archives, Fogler Library’s Special Collections and new fieldwork — will explore different facets of Maine’s interest in and valorization of hermits and outlaws, according to Harlan-Haughey.

A buffet will be offered at the reception. For more information or to request a disability accommodation, contact Joan Peters, 581.1154;

Contact: Elyse Kahl, 207.581.3747

Emera Astronomy Center Ribbon-Cutting Ceremony to be held Oct. 17 During Homecoming Weekend

Tuesday, October 14th, 2014

The University of Maine’s Emera Astronomy Center will be dedicated in a ceremony at 10 a.m. Friday, Oct. 17, as part of UMaine’s Homecoming weekend.

The Emera Astronomy Center is the new home of the Maynard F. Jordan Planetarium and Observatory. It features a planetarium dome 33 feet in diameter equipped with a state-of-the-art projection system. Both the dome and the observatory’s 20-inch digital telescope are the largest in the state.

Architects and engineers from WBRC teamed with planetarium specialists from Kasian, a global architecture firm based in Canada, on the design of the facility; Nickerson & O’Day, a Maine-based construction firm, completed the construction.

Expected to take part in the dedication ceremony are Jeffery Mills, president and CEO of the University of Maine Foundation; UMaine President Susan Hunter; Alan Davenport, Emera Astronomy Center director; Bill Chomik, planetarium designer at Kasian; Karl Ward, president of Nickerson & O’Day; Rob Bennett, executive vice president and COO of Emera, Inc.; and representatives from WBRC also will be in attendance.

Following a ribbon cutting, tours of the facility will be given. The planetarium also will have an open house from 2 to 5 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 18, and a public star party will be held at the observatory that evening from 6 to 10 p.m., weather permitting.

The Maynard F. Jordan Planetarium and Observatory hosts thousands of children annually. The planetarium will continue to offer a changing line-up of family star shows or private showings for parties and school field trips. The center’s first public star show is scheduled for 7 p.m. Friday, Oct. 17. A full schedule is online.

The $5.2 million Emera Astronomy Center was made possible by a $3.2 million donation from an anonymous donor, who first proposed the astronomy facility to enhance the viewing of the night sky, and a $1 million gift came from Emera Inc., the parent company of Emera Maine.

According to President Hunter, the Emera Astronomy Center is the culmination of the visions of the anonymous donors to enhance the viewing of the night sky and Emera, a leader in the energy field, to make the dream of building the state’s largest and most energy-efficient planetarium and automated telescope a reality.

The Emera Astronomy Center includes innovative exterior lighting designed to help preserve the dark-sky critical to enhanced stargazing. It is heated and cooled with geothermal heat pumps — the first building at UMaine to benefit from this energy-efficient electric technology.

As part of UMaine’s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, the center will enhance the university’s role in outreach to K–12 students and promotion of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education. STEM education research has been designated as one of UMaine’s Signature Programs. The planetarium and observatory will complement the many other efforts at UMaine to attract students to scientific disciplines by inspiring children — and all those who are children at heart — about the science of astronomy.

“The new Emera Astronomy Center’s programs will extend UMaine’s already deep commitment to education in STEM fields. The center’s planetarium and observatory complement each other to excite students’ imagination and advance their knowledge,” says Emily Haddad, dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.

The center has already sparked interest from Students for the Exploration and Development of Space (SEDS), a student organization focused on the exploration and development of space.

More information about the Emera Astronomy Center is online. To RSVP to the dedication ceremony or to request a disability accommodation, contact Sarah Penley, 207.581.1159.

Contact: Elyse Kahl, 207.581.3747

Savage Challenge

Tuesday, October 14th, 2014

A $1 million donation to the University of Maine by alumnus Tom Savage and his wife, Sally, of Key Largo, Florida, will launch the Savage Challenge, a five-year endowment drive for the men’s ice hockey program.

The donation will be used to match up to $1 million in gifts from UMaine hockey alumni and former coaches to the endowment fund. The Savage Challenge is part of a larger fundraising effort to build a significant endowment for the University of Maine men’s ice hockey program. The endowment will provide direct operational support for the men’s ice hockey team, and the goal of the Savage Challenge is to motivate former Black Bear men’s ice hockey student-athletes and coaches to become directly involved with the program’s future.

“Like thousands of other Mainers, Maine hockey holds a special place in my heart,” says Tom Savage. “I will never forget how proud we were when we drove over the bridge in Kittery and saw the ‘1993 National Champions’ sign over 20 years ago, and I still get excited when Alfond Arena is shaking after a big Maine goal. For many of us, this program provides a great sense of pride, knowing that Maine can compete for championships on a national stage.

“When Sally and I discussed making this gift, we agreed it was a meaningful and worthy endeavor. Our goal is to help the University of Maine provide the best experience possible for the student-athletes, help our coaches put a product on the ice that Mainers can be proud of and put the Maine Black Bears in the best position possible to compete for championships. We are excited to play a role in ensuring that Maine hockey is financially strong for years to come, and hope others will join us in this effort,” says Tom Savage.

Men’s ice hockey is a signature athletic program for the University of Maine and the state, says UMaine President Susan Hunter, in announcing the $1 million gift at a media conference Oct. 14. The gift by Tom and Sally Savage will help ensure that the program will continue to be a national point of pride.

“(The) gift will serve to build a network of support for our men’s ice hockey program by strengthening the bond between our former student-athletes and our future,” Hunter says.

Tom Savage earned a bachelor’s degree in economics from the University of Maine in 1968. The avid UMaine athletics fan is a retired attorney who practiced law in Bangor for more than 20 years. He is a member of Phi Gamma Delta and a former member of the University of Maine Foundation board of directors.

Sally Savage, who grew up in Belfast, is an artist and author. The couple are members of the University of Maine Stillwater Society and are the 2007 recipients of the Stillwater Presidential Award. The Savages live in Florida and maintain a summer home in Searsport.

“The generosity and vision of Tom and Sally Savage will have a permanent positive impact on the men’s ice hockey program at the University of Maine,” says UMaine Athletics Director Karlton Creech.

“Endowments are a powerful part of a sustainable Division I athletics model, and the Savage Challenge represents a tremendous leap forward in preserving the nationally competitive profile of our men’s ice hockey program. Tom and Sally are great friends of the university, and I am humbled by their generous gift that will be a difference maker for our student-athletes and coaches.”

The vision of Tom and Sally Savage to maintain the competitive excellence of Maine men’s ice hockey forever is both inspiring and transformational, says UMaine men’s ice hockey coach Dennis “Red” Gendron.

“Their generosity inspires all at Maine men’s ice hockey to do what is required of us to return this program to a position of national prominence, to do it consistently and to bring a national championship back to Maine,” he says.

“It is transformational because it represents a giant step forward to ensure the financial viability of Maine men’s ice hockey and Maine athletics into perpetuity. Because of Tom and Sally’s endowment gift and the countless other gifts that they will inspire from others, we will be able to recruit, outfit and support our team in a manner consistent with the best college hockey programs in the nation.”

Contact: Margaret Nagle, 207.581.3745

Monitoring Carbon Movement

Thursday, October 9th, 2014

Studying the movement of carbon dioxide into the deep ocean to improve climate projections and understanding of deep-sea ecosystems will be the focus of a two-year research project by a University of Maine marine scientist.

Feb. 1, Nathan Briggs begins a two-year postdoctoral fellowship research project in France that’s funded, in part, by a $194,000 grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF). He will collaborate with Hervé Claustre, a senior scientist at Laboratoire d’Oceanographie de Villefranche (LOV) on the Mediterranean Sea.

Climate change may alter patterns of carbon movement in the mesopelagic ocean layer (depths ranging from about 300 feet to 3,000 feet), Briggs says. And the change in patterns could result in climate feedbacks (magnification or lessening of the change) and/or threaten deep ecosystems.

The mesopelagic layer, sometimes called the twilight zone because the light that penetrates to this depth is so faint, plays an important role in the long-term storage of atmospheric carbon dioxide, he says.

Carbon dioxide that reaches the bottom of this zone remains trapped in the ocean for hundreds to thousands of years.

Briggs’ research will focus on “marine snow” — clumps of organic matter that form in the surface ocean and drift through the twilight zone like falling snowflakes, taking carbon with them.

The 10-day or so journey through the twilight zone is a dangerous one for a marine snow particles, Briggs says. They are a major food source for giant squid and other creatures, — some of which are bioluminescent — in the twilight zone, which is too dark to produce its own food.

The amount of marine snow that makes it through and the amount of carbon dioxide trapped in the deep ocean depend on the sinking speed of marine snow, as well as its “palatability,” and the population of consumers waiting for a meal to sink from above, he says.

Briggs became interested in marine snow during a 2008 research cruise south of Iceland led by his UMaine graduate adviser, Mary Jane Perry.

Researchers deployed low-power underwater robots to explore the twilight zone. The robots carried particle sensors designed to detect concentrations of microscopic plankton.

The researchers observed a large bloom of microscopic algae at the surface and suddenly the particle sensors in the twilight zone appeared to go haywire, periodically jumping to abnormally high readings, then immediately returning to normal, Briggs says.

While some scientists initially thought the instruments were malfunctioning, Briggs says Perry suspected the abnormal readings were caused by marine snow particles, which are hundreds of times larger than the microscopic particles that the sensors were designed to measure.

Perry tasked Briggs with further investigation. In 2010, he was awarded a fellowship from NASA and later he received a UMaine doctoral research fellowship to develop and test methods for using underwater robots to measure marine snow.

The work paid off. With Perry and other collaborators at UMaine and the University of Washington, Briggs demonstrated the high particle readings in 2008 were indeed caused by marine snow. And he used the readings to estimate how much carbon the marine snow carried to the deep ocean.

In his new position, Briggs will use the techniques he developed at UMaine to track marine snow on a much larger scale.

Briggs, whom the NSF refers to as a promising scientist, will conduct the two-year research project with Claustre, who operates a fleet of more than 50 underwater robots deployed across the North Atlantic Ocean (one is 800 miles off the Maine coast), the Mediterranean Sea and the Southern Ocean that circles Antarctica.

Briggs says the robots are producing the richest dataset in the world for scaling up his robotic analysis of marine snow, and he’s thrilled to be joining Claustre’s team.

The feeling is mutual. Claustre says Briggs, “will bring valuable experience in analyzing large, bio-optical datasets acquired by autonomous platforms, including the specific, innovative methods he has developed…” to the French team.

Information gleaned from Briggs’ research will inform future sampling strategies. As the robotic fleets of Claustre and others expand to form a permanent, global network, this research will be the start of a global, on-site record of marine snow in the underexplored twilight zone.

The research project, titled “Tracking mesopelagic carbon flux and particle size on a multi-ocean scale using a fleet of bio-optical profiling floats,” was submitted to the Ocean Sciences Postdoctoral Research Fellowship program.

Funding from the Office of International and Integrative Activities also supports the award.

Contact: Beth Staples: 207.581.3777

Rhian Waller to Examine As-of-yet-unexplored Remote Fjords in Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve

Thursday, October 9th, 2014

When planning a trip, travelers often consider their destinations’ peak tourist seasons and weather.

Rhian Waller schedules her voyages around whale migration, glacial melting and ocean clarity.

This spring, the associate research professor in the University of Maine School of Marine Sciences will be chief scientist on an expedition to explore, map and survey underwater habitats and ecosystems of Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve (GBNP) in Alaska.

Waller has been awarded $897,504 for the collaborative project with the U.S. National Park Service, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), University of Connecticut (UConn), University of Hawaii and Rutgers University.

Waller, a Fellow in the international Explorers Club that encourages scientific discovery while exploring land, sea and space, will examine deep ecosystems in some of the as-of-yet-unexplored remote fjords facing the outer Gulf of Alaska within the GBNP park boundaries.

The park’s unique fjord region has complex geological formations that provide a diverse array of marine habitats, says Waller. And what the divers and ROV learn will inform the National Park Service’s marine resource management decisions.

Cold-water corals are ecosystem engineers — they form important habitats and create sanctuaries to support diverse wildlife, she says. Cold-water corals were discovered in the park at scuba-diving depths just a few years ago, but Waller says the biology at the bottom of the deep fjords is virtually unknown.

GBNP’s fjords have been protected since 1925 when the park was created. In 1999, Congress mandated commercial fisheries closures, thereby creating a network of protected areas within the 3.3 million-acre park.

“What is exciting about this research is the potential to find ‘unharmed’ cold-water corals. Almost everywhere we go we see some human influence on the cold-water coral ecosystems we discover, yet here the communities have had 90 years of protection,” Waller says.

“The other exciting part is the applicability to the National Park Service, and its mission of educating the public about the world around us. I’m really looking forward to this large collaboration.”

The researchers will utilize a remotely operated vehicle (ROV) and will scuba dive to collect data and samples.

Waller has pressed the limits of diving during more than 40 expeditions around the planet. In a submersible, she once plunged to a depth of 3,600 meters for corals on the New England Seamount chain in 2005.

She frequently scuba dives in temperatures of 35 degrees Fahrenheit and below in the name of science. The celebrated ice water diver was featured in National Geographic Magazine in 2013 as a 21st-century risk taker in the “New Age of Exploration.” So diving in Alaska in March shouldn’t be a problem.

This past summer, she took part in an illuminating 15-day, 21-dive deep-sea coral cruise in the Gulf of Maine aboard the 76-foot research vessel Connecticut.

The $413,562 research project was a collaboration between UMaine, UConn and NOAA. Researchers used the ROV Kraken 2 to explore the Jordan Basin, Schoodic Ridges, northern Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary and western Wilkinson Basin.

In the Schoodic Ridges region, scientists were thrilled and amazed to see 40-foot-tall, dense hanging gardens of Primnoa coral at a depth of 656 feet.

“The coral gardens were spectacular,” Waller says. “We knew corals were in these areas from a cruise last year, but to see them in such high densities, covering 30-foot-high walls, was an unexpected and thrilling find.”

During the dive, the researchers collected 134 samples of corals as well as sponges, fishes and other marine life for analysis.

The Schoodic Ridges coral ecosystem, Waller says, likely attracts pollock and herring, which then attract larger prey fish.

For about a century, Waller says fishermen have captured corals along with fish in their gear in the Gulf of Maine. This research, she says, illustrates how much more there is to learn about the ecosystem, which can lead to better conservation and management of its natural resources.

For two years, Waller and UMaine graduate student Steven Auscavitch have worked in the Gulf of Maine as part of a larger deep-sea coral research program funded by NOAA’s Deep-Sea Coral Research and Technology Program.

Contact: Beth Staples: 207.581.3777

Students Mobilize to Halt Food Insecurity in Maine

Thursday, October 9th, 2014

Students and faculty are taking part in a two-day conference at the University of Maine to mobilize the power of higher education to end hunger in the state.

During the Maine Hunger Dialogue on Oct. 16–17 at Wells Conference Center, participants will pack 10,000 meals to be donated to campus-based food pantries statewide.

They’ll also hear from people involved with successful programs to eradicate hunger and alleviate poverty, including Bangor native Alexander Moore, chief development officer of DC Central Kitchen and The Campus Kitchens Project.

As America’s leader in reducing hunger with recycled food, training unemployed adults for culinary careers, serving healthy school meals, and rebuilding urban food systems through social enterprise, DC Central Kitchen is at the forefront of the conversations around food waste, sustainability and workforce development.

The Campus Kitchens project takes this model to a national scale through partnerships with high schools, colleges and universities to share on-campus kitchen space, recover food from cafeterias and engage students as volunteers who prepare and deliver meals to the community.

Together, these sister nonprofits are fighting poverty through food and community empowerment. Moore, who just released his first book, “The Food Fighters: DC Central Kitchen’s First 25 Years on the Front Lines of Hunger and Poverty,” holds a master’s degree in security studies from Georgetown University.

Participants at the Maine Hunger Dialogue with their own creative ideas about ending hunger are encouraged to apply for $1,000 in startup funds to implement those plans.

Attendees will hear how a little help from friends made a significant difference in Dennis Willette’s life.

Several years ago, Willette was homeless and hungry. Then a farm manager at a local organic homestead enrolled Willette in the University of Maine Cooperative Extension’s Master Gardener Volunteers Program. “I liked being outside, but the only thing I had ever grown were tomatoes in a white bucket,” says Willette.

During the 40-hour Master Gardener Program, he fell in love with horticulture, was inspired by people he met and was motivated by the ability to help feed himself and others. He learned to can fresh vegetables and he built a root cellar.

“It was life-changing for me,” he says.

Now a Master Gardener Volunteer, Willette has a place to call home, is enrolled at York County Community College and gives back to the community.

University of Maine Cooperative Extension educator Barbara Murphy says a goal of the conference is for participants to become motivated, prepared and sufficiently connected to make a similar positive difference for some of the other estimated 200,000 Mainers, 49 million Americans and 892 million hungry people on the planet.

In 2000, UMaine Extension initiated Maine Harvest for Hunger to address food insecurity by encouraging farmers and gardeners to donate fresh fruits and vegetables to soup kitchens, food pantries and people in need.

In the last 13 Harvest for Hunger growing seasons, UMaine Extension and participating gardeners, farmers, civic organizations, schools, businesses and volunteers have donated more than 600 tons of fresh produce.

This inaugural Maine Hunger Dialogue, says Murphy, grew out of a desire to do more.

“Participants of the Hunger Dialogue will be given the rare opportunity to both learn and take action on hunger. The Maine Hunger Dialogue is featuring fascinating people who are working in innovative ways to reduce hunger both locally and globally, from putting an iron fish in cooking pots to redirecting food surplus from campus kitchens,” Murphy says.

“In addition to being inspired, attendees will be given the time and expertise needed to create hunger related projects that can be implemented on their campuses or in their communities. It promises to be an event that captures both hearts and minds.”

Sponsors are Cooperative Extension, Maine Campus Compact,Sodexo, Bangor Savings Bank, Aetna Insurance, AARP Foundation, Allagash Brewing Company, Black Bear Inn, University Inn, CignaandUMaine Auxiliary Services.

For more information, including the conference agenda, and to register, visit

Contact: Beth Staples, 207.581.3777

University of Maine Foundation Presents Awards to Six Alumni at 80th Anniversary Celebration

Friday, October 3rd, 2014

As part of the celebration of its “Ensuring the Future” 80th anniversary, the University of Maine Foundation presented one graduate from each of UMaine’s colleges with the President Abram W. Harris Award.

The award was established in 2003 by President Harris’ grandson Abram ”Pete” W. Harris III ’50 and his friend, Marion Waterman Meyer ’51.

Each awardee was a scholarship recipient as a UMaine student, and evidences exemplary and extraordinary leadership, contributions to his or her community and/or service to UMaine — the essence of Harris’ efforts as the president of the University of Maine from 1893 to 1901.

“These six outstanding UMaine alumni represent the results of scholarship support,” said Foundation President/CEO Jeffery N. Mills. “This year, scholarship support from the Foundation to the University of Maine was at a record high of over $4.1 million. In a few years, we expect some of those who received that support to be back to accept their Harris awards.”

The recipients:

Dr. Debra A. Gervais, who graduated in 1986 with a bachelor’s degree in Honors and chemistry, is Division Chief of Abdominal Imaging at Massachusetts General Hospital and Associate Professor of Radiology, Harvard Medical School.

Originally from Madawaska, Gervais attended Tufts Medical School, where she was named to the Alpha Omega Alpha honor society. She completed an internship year in internal medicine at Maine Medical Center in Portland. Gervais did her residency training in diagnostic radiology at Massachusetts General Hospital, where she served one year as Chief Resident in Radiology and pursued sub-specialty fellowship training in abdominal imaging and intervention. Prior to her return to Massachusetts General Hospital, Gervais was a private practice radiologist and an attending radiologist at Boston Children’s Hospital.

Christopher P. Keating, an Investment Management Executive in the Boston area, received a bachelor’s degree in business administration in 1979.

After graduating from the University of Maine, Keating played for seven years in the National Football League, spending six years in Buffalo and one in Washington. He became registered as a stockbroker and worked during his last three off-seasons from football. Upon retirement, Keating earned his law degree from Suffolk University Law School in 1991.

John K. Veroneau graduated in 1983 with a bachelor’s degree in English.

He practices international trade law at Covington & Burling LLP, a Washington, D.C.-based global law firm, where he co-chairs the International Trade and Investment practice group. He has served in U.S. Senate-confirmed positions in Republican and Democratic administrations. Under President Bush, he was Deputy United States Trade Representative (USTR) and USTR General Counsel. Under President Clinton, he served as Assistant Secretary of Defense for Legislative Affairs. Veroneau was Legislative Director to former U.S. Sen. Bill Cohen, Legislative Director to former U.S. Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist and Chief of Staff to U.S. Sen. Susan Collins.

Calen B. Colby, P.E., graduated with a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering in 1985 and a master’s degree in civil engineering in 1991.

Colby spent the first part of his career overhauling nuclear attack submarines. For 15 years, he worked for a national contractor designing and constructing power plants, then became a project manager in the paper industry in the United States and Europe. Following this, Colby worked in the A/E consulting engineering field. Among many notable projects in his career, Calen worked with international artist Michael Singer, on structural and mechanical systems for a sculpture at the U.S. embassy in Athens, Greece. He is a registered professional engineer in 27 states and five Canadian provinces. In 2008, Colby and his wife Sarah Emily founded Colby Company Engineering, a Portland, Maine-based firm with 26 employees.

C. Ann Merrifield graduated with a bachelor’s degree in zoology in 1973 and a master’s in education in 1975.

She works with a number of small technology businesses as an independent board member, adviser or investor. From 2012 to July 2014, she held the role of President and Chief Executive Officer of PathoGenetix, Inc., a commercial stage developer of an automated system for rapid identification and typing of pathogenic bacterial strains. Prior to her role at PathoGenetix, Merrifield spent 18 years at Genzyme Corporation, a diversified global biotechnology company. Earlier in her career, Merrifield was a partner at Bain and Company, a global strategy consulting firm in Boston, and she was an Investment Officer at Aetna Life & Casualty in Hartford, Connecticut.

Mark “Rookie” A. Letendre graduated in 1978 with a bachelor’s degree in physical education. He is Director of Umpire Medical Service in the Office of the Commissioner for Major League Baseball.

In 2000, he was selected by the Major League Baseball Commissioner’s Office to develop and oversee a first-ever comprehensive athletic health care program for the 74 umpires in MLB. He served as a Major League Baseball Head Athletic Trainer for 14 years with the San Francisco Giants and eight years as a Minor League and Assistant Athletic Trainer with the New York Yankees. Letendre was honored to serve as National League athletic trainer at the 1987 and 1994 MLB All-Star Games. He has been recognized with many awards and serves on several civic-related committees.

Along with the Harris award, and to honor their legacy as successful scholarship recipients, the Foundation also presented each awardee with a $1,000 scholarship named in his or her honor. The scholarships will be awarded during the next academic year by the UMaine Student Financial Aid Office.

The Harris Awards were presented by the college deans. Foundation Board President Austin presented the scholarships. Almost 300 people attended the celebration and annual meeting.

The University of Maine Foundation was established in 1934 to encourage gifts and bequests to promote academic achievement, research and intellectual pursuit at the University of Maine. Currently, the Foundation manages more than 1,500 endowed funds that benefit UMaine.

Contact: Monique Hashey, 207.581.5104, 207.974.9899 or