Many Mainers earn their livelihoods from harvesting bounty — including blueberries and lobsters — from the land and sea.
And Samuel Belknap and Kourtney Collum, the first students to enroll in the University of Maine’s new anthropology and environmental policy doctoral program, want to preserve those storied traditions, as well as the state’s natural resources.
Belknap and Collum say the doctorate program, which focuses on “understanding human society and culture in cross-cultural perspective and their pivotal role in implementing successful environmental policy,” is an ideal fit for their interests.
“It is so applicable and has an interdisciplinary framework,” says Collum. “I can look at issues holistically.”
Collum favors a multifaceted approach. She double-majored in anthropology and environmental studies at Western Michigan University, and earned her master’s in forest resources at UMaine.
Belknap agrees. He earned his undergraduate degree in anthropology and a master’s in Quaternary and climate studies, both from UMaine. “No problem is one-dimensional and no one person can solve everything,” he says.
His doctoral thesis, “Abrupt Climate Change and Maine’s Lobster Industry,” proposes collaboration between lobstermen and policymakers to better protect the state’s iconic industry, especially in the wake of abrupt environmental changes.
Experienced lobstermen possess valuable information, says Belknap. They have knowledge of the industry, concerns about both climate change and fishing regulations, and about how they’ve adapted their behavior in response to both.
Policymakers will be better informed and better positioned to craft policies customized for various situations if they routinely involve lobstermen in the regulatory process, Belknap says.
Belknap, who grew up in Damariscotta, Maine, knows his way around a lobster buoy. He learned to haul traps from his grandfather, a retired physician.
“I grew up lobstering,” Belknap says. “My wife jokes that I’m clumsy because I learned to walk on a boat, not land.”
Belknap worked as dock manager at his family’s lobster pound prior to starting his doctorate and respects lobstering as a way of life.
Abrupt climate change could threaten that way of life for the roughly 5,000 lobstermen in the state, as well as coastal communities in Maine and around the planet, he says.
Last summer, warmer water temperature in the Gulf of Maine contributed to lobsters molting a month or more earlier than usual, which resulted in a glut of crustaceans on the market. And then the price per pound plummeted.
“It’s humbling,” Belknap says of how quickly a temperature fluctuation of 1.5 to 2 degrees caused the drastic ripple effect. Another sudden change in temperature might have the opposite effect on the lobster population, he says.
Belknap doesn’t have to look far in space or time to see examples of that.
In September 1999, huge numbers of lobsters died within a few days in Long Island Sound. It devastated the local industry, which languished for more than a decade. Scientific reports have indicated warmer ocean water was — and remains — a culprit.
And last summer, lobsters in water off New York, Rhode Island and Connecticut were afflicted with a shell disease, with warming ocean water was again cited as a factor.
How policymakers and Maine lobstermen work together to deal with abrupt climate changes could be a model for other fisheries regionally, nationally and globally, says Belknap.
Practical application of knowledge is also important for Collum, whose doctoral dissertation will explore the impact of the declining bee population on wild blueberry growers and the growers’ ability to conserve wild pollinators.
Because many crops rely on insect pollination to produce fruits and vegetables, the global decline of bees – due to pesticides, habitat loss and disease — threatens food security and the livelihood of farmers who produce food.
The lowbush blueberries that grow in Maine are completely dependent on insect — mostly bee — pollination to produce fruit. Without bees, there are no blueberries for Sal — or anyone else.
Commercial honeybees are crucial for the intensive agriculture practiced in the U.S, says Collum. But research suggests, through conservation efforts, native bees can provide a significant amount of pollination without the cost associated with renting commercial hives, she says.
Last year, Maine blueberry growers imported 70,000 commercial honeybees to pollinate about 60,000 acres of wild blueberries, she says. The busy bees trucked to Maine generally start their trek in California, where they pollinate almonds, and make multiple work stops en route.
The cost to blueberry producers to pay for pollination has risen significantly, says Collum, bringing into question whether the practice is financially sustainable.
She’ll therefore explore the ability of farmers to integrate the use of both wild and commercial bees to pollinate crops and increase the yields.
Because Maine has more than 240 bee species — at least 40 of which pollinate blueberries, Collum says it’s a good place for farmers and researchers to collaboratively figure out the best practices to protect, promote and utilize wild, native bees to pollinate crops.
Collum will explore obstacles that growers in Maine and Canada have to increasing their use of wild bees to pollinate lowbush blueberries. She’ll also study what influence government policies and programs have on the way growers manage pollination of crops and how growers can adapt to changing ecological conditions.
Growers of other crops that want to transition to utilizing wild bees, where applicable, could apply the findings, she says.
Collum, who grew up in Monroe, Mich., near the border of Ohio, is used to working in the field and on the trails.
She fell in love with Maine when she was a college intern working on a trail crew at Baxter State Park in Millinocket. As a field coordinator for Rocky Mountain Youth Corps in Colorado, Collum battled the pine beetle infestation. And she worked on an ecotourism project in New Zealand, building trails, battling invasive gorse and planting native trees.
Collum urges people to know where their food comes from, to build relationships with local farmers and to support those doing their best to reduce chemical inputs. She also encourages people do what they can to protect bees, including not using pesticides around their homes and planting bee-friendly gardens.
Collum and Belknap both want to make a positive difference in the state they love and ensure that ensuing generations of lobstermen, farmers and foresters have the opportunity to make livings from the land and sea.
Contact: Beth Staples, 207.581.3777
VolturnUS 1:8, a 65-foot-tall offshore wind turbine prototype, will be connected to the Central Maine Power Company on June 13, making it the first grid-connected offshore wind turbine in North America.
The turbine is 1:8th the scale of a 6-megawatt (MW), 423-foot rotor diameter design. It is sited off the coast of Castine, Maine.
“Today will constitute a historic moment for offshore wind in the Americas,” says Habib Dagher, director of the Advanced Structure and Composites Center at the University of Maine and leader of the DeepCwind Consortium. Dagher was joined at the event by Peter Vigue, president and CEO of Cianbro Corp.; Jake Ward, UMaine vice president for innovation and economic development; and William Brennan, president of Maine Maritime Academy.
The VolturnUS technology is the culmination of more than five years of collaborative research and development conducted by the University of Maine-led DeepCwind Consortium. The DeepCwind research program is a unique public-private partnership funded by the Department of Energy, the National Science Foundation-Partners for Innovation, Maine Technology Institute, the state of Maine, the University of Maine and more than 30 industry partners.
Jose Zayas, director of the U.S. Department of Energy’s Wind and Water Power Technologies Office who was in Brewer, Maine for the turbine’s May 31 launch, says the Castine offshore wind project represents “a critical investment ensure America leads in this fast-growing industry, to bring tremendous untapped energy resources to market and create new jobs across the country.”
Data acquired during the 2013 deployments off Castine will be used to optimize the design of UMaine’s patent-pending VolturnUS system. The program goal is to reduce the cost of offshore wind to compete with other forms of electricity generation without subsidies.
The UMaine Advanced Structures and Composites Center has partnered with industry leaders to invest in a 12-MW, $96-million pilot farm. The deployments this summer will de-risk UMaine’s VolturnUS technology in preparation for connecting the first full-scale unit to the grid in 2016.
Maine has 156 gigawatts (GW) of offshore wind capacity within 50 miles of its shores and a plan to deploy 5 GW of offshore wind by 2030. The 5 GW plan could potentially attract $20 billion of private investment to the state, creating thousands of jobs.
Contact: Elizabeth Viselli, 207.581.2831
Anyone who uses Maine’s beaches — from surfers to business owners — is invited to attend the 2013 Maine Beaches Conference to share information with other stakeholders.
The latest on erosion, weather and water quality at Maine’s beaches, as well as the importance of tourism and property rights, will be discussed Friday, July 12 at Southern Maine Community College in South Portland.
The conference aims to share data from the state’s beach monitoring programs, as well as provide a forum for communication among beach stakeholders, such as property owners, recreational users and managers.
The 7:30 a.m.–5 p.m. event will include multimedia sessions and exhibits, presentations and a walking tour during lunch.
Session topics will include the effects of Superstorm Sandy, erosion control, tourism promotion, water quality, pollution, ecological values and property rights.
Representatives from several organizations including the Maine Geological Survey, National Weather Service, Maine Department of Environmental Protection, Maine Office of Tourism and Maine Beaches Association will present during the sessions.
The conference is coordinated by Maine Sea Grant and a steering committee of public and private partners.
Steering committee members representing conference stakeholder groups are responsible for designing and implementing the event, according to conference coordinator Kristen Grant, a marine extension associate with Maine Sea Grant and University of Maine Cooperative Extension based at the Wells National Estuarine Research Reserve.
The first Maine Beaches Conference was held in 2000 and emerged from Sea Grant-funded research by UMaine faculty Joseph Kelley and Daniel Belknap who developed a volunteer beach erosion monitoring program in response to recommendations of the Southern Maine Beach Stakeholder Group, according to Catherine Schmitt, Maine Sea Grant communications coordinator.
“Even in that first year, it was clear the interest in that information extended far beyond the monitoring volunteers,” Grant says. “Because beach stakeholders in Maine represent a diverse range of interests, the conference has always sought to provide continuing opportunities for communication and exchange of the most current information among these stakeholders.”
Grant says participants continue to return to the conference because they say it provides up-to-date information and many opportunities to learn and network.
“They also appreciate the chance to meet resource people face-to-face, the sharing of diverse perspectives and new ideas, and the action-orientation of the conference,” Grant says.
For more information or to request disability accommodations, call Grant at 207.646.1555, ext. 115.
Registration information, program details, speaker biographies and session and exhibit descriptions are available online.
Contact: Elyse Kahl, 207.581.3747
Two professors and two graduate students from the School of Marine Sciences at the University of Maine will participate in the Tara Oceans Polar Circle Expedition 2013, an international research collaboration that will study Arctic planktonic ecosystems in the context of climate change.
Married marine science professors Emmanuel Boss and Lee Karp-Boss, who have both participated in Tara missions before, will embark on their first Arctic expedition this summer. Oceanography graduate students Alison Chase and Thomas Leeuw will step onto the 118-foot schooner for their first monthlong research experience on a French sailing vessel.
Tara left Lorient, France on May 19 to circumnavigate the Arctic Ocean via the northeast and northwest passages, making it the third sailing vessel to do so. By December, the boat will have covered 15,500 miles sampling surface waters continuously and at stations along the route, according to the Tara Expeditions website.
About 40 scientists from more than five countries and representing 11 nationalities will take turns boarding Tara and sampling plankton and other environmental parameters throughout the seven-month journey.
The expedition is run by the Tara Foundation, a French nonprofit organization that initiates international research missions for scientists to study and understand the world’s oceans and the effects of climate change. The foundation was established in 2003 by French designer Agnes B. and her company director Etienne Bourgois.
The polar expedition is a collaborative effort between countries bordering the Arctic Ocean and in association with the Prince Albert II de Monaco Foundation, according to the organization’s website.
Tara is not new to the Arctic. In 2006 the schooner was anchored in the packed ice and drifted with it for approximately two years. During the drift, oceanic and atmospheric data were collected as part of the DAMOCLES (Developing Arctic Modeling and Observing Capabilities for Long-term Environmental Studies) international Arctic program, Karp-Boss says.
In 2009, Tara began a global-scale study sampling planktonic ecosystems across the world’s oceans. The Arctic was the only ocean not sampled during the 2009–2012 Tara Oceans mission and the present expedition will expand these sampling efforts.
The expedition will focus on plankton biodiversity in the Arctic but will also address other issues related to climate change and pollutants such as plastic and mercury.
Researchers are funded individually, but data collection and planning are done in collaboration. All the data will be made public, Boss says.
The UMaine researchers, who were awarded $149,714 from NASA, will study composition and pigmentation of surface plankton and other particles with relation to optical properties, such as light absorption, attenuation, fluorescence and backscattering.
“We’re measuring optical properties at high resolution and linking them to specific phytoplankton groups,” Boss says. “These measurements will ultimately help us link what is observed from satellites to what’s happening in the ocean.”
Being able to relate satellite ocean color to pigmentation is one way satellite images could provide more information about plankton ecology.
“NASA is very interested in making satellite technology more useful,” Boss says.
Beyond the work for NASA and in the general context of the expedition, the information on phytoplankton composition and optical properties collected by the UMaine team will supplement the efforts of collaborators who will study other trophic levels of the ecosystem such as zooplankton, bacteria and viruses, Karp-Boss says.
Putting together a comprehensive data set that integrates state-of-the-art optical, imaging and genomics approaches, providing an “end-to-end” view of planktonic ecosystems — from viruses to fish larvae — is what makes Tara’s sampling efforts unique.
Often, direct comparison between oceanic provinces is difficult to make because studies usually focus on a few components of the ecosystem or use different sampling and analysis tools. Tara’s methodologies and protocols have been consistent across all oceans, and the same protocols will be used in the Arctic Ocean, Karp-Boss says.
To provide the environmental context, Boss says scientists will conduct general hydrographic sampling, recording conditions such as temperature, salinity nutrients and pH.
Boss says the Tara trips differ from most research expeditions because the scientists are working together as a team, collecting data as part of one project, not focusing on individual goals.
Among the seven scientists and seven crew members aboard Tara for its initial four-week leg from Lorient, France to Tromso, Norway is graduate student Chase of Jamaica Plain, Mass.
Chase is currently working on her master’s degree in oceanography, which she expects to earn in the spring of 2014, and got involved with the expedition through Boss, her adviser.
Chase has never been on an expedition such as Tara’s and is looking forward to conducting fieldwork with researchers from a variety of backgrounds.
“It will be an exciting adventure,” Chase says. “I will be working below deck in the dry lab where I will operate several instruments that analyze different properties of the water and its contents using optics.”
Leeuw of Lincoln, Vt., who is also working on a master’s degree in oceanography, will board Tara in August as it sails through the Russian Arctic.
As an undergraduate, Leeuw worked with Boss analyzing data collected during the Tara Oceans expedition, which circled the globe from 2009 to 2012. As a graduate, he has helped Boss plan, prepare and execute the next expedition.
“The great success of the previous expedition and the unparalleled data set it generated got me very excited,” Leeuw says.
He says the Arctic is an area that is being strongly affected by climate change and data collected on the expedition will provide a baseline that can be compared with future measurements, helping scientists understand the region’s ecosystem.
Tara Expeditions also educates the public and encourages policymakers to take action toward preserving the environment. Boss says at every port schoolchildren and politicians visit the ship.
“Tara Expeditions has two objectives, the first is to provide a platform for scientists to do science they believe is important, the second is to promote public awareness of ocean-related issues and stewardship,” Karp-Boss says.
Karp-Boss says the organization’s outreach program is inspiring and provides an added value and excitement to research efforts.
“Given Tara’s small size, they have a huge impact,” Boss adds. “Academics in general are not very good at doing outreach. Tara is very good at doing that link between science and society.”
Karp-Boss, who participated in Tara Oceans expeditions from Valparaiso, Chile to Easter Island in 2011 and from New York to Bermuda in 2012, will join the Arctic mission in late June. Boss, who took part in an expedition from Panama City to Savannah, Ga., in December 2011 to January 2012, will board Tara in September.
An independent journalist will be onboard during every leg of the journey, documenting the social and scientific aspects through interviews, videos and photos. The journalist is considered part of the crew and everyone is expected to do chores, Boss says, making it a different experience than on research vessels in the United States.
“Scientists never do dishes or clean toilets [on U.S. research vessels], they do research while others are responsible for such chores,” Boss says.
“On Tara, we are like a family and everyone participates in ‘household’ chores.”
Karp-Boss says there’s no typical day on Tara, but there is always work to do either at stations or in transit.
A research station can last between 24 to 36 hours and involves continuous sampling, Karp-Boss says. When Tara is not at a station, researchers prepare for the next stop by calibrating instruments, checking previously collected data and doing chores.
Despite the abundance of work, the team always makes time to eat lunch and dinner together, swap tales of expeditions and rest.
“The French hold meals sacred,” Boss says. “No matter what happens, usually everyone sits together and has a meal together. The meals are respected, as well as night. When you’re not holding watches at night, you sleep.”
The couple enjoys the social aspect of the excursion almost as much as the scientific.
“It’s a very interesting human experience,” Karp-Boss says. “When you first come onboard you find yourself with 13 other people that you have never met before but you quickly get to know them as you have to live and work together in a confined space for a month or longer.”
The diverse background, experiences and ages — from 20 years to older than 60 — of the team members create an interesting mix of people, adds Boss.
The couple recently took their children to Paris to spend a night on the boat so they could see where their parents will be staying, Boss says.
The pair, who wrote a proposal to NASA in the spring of 2012, have been preparing for the journey since their funding was approved last fall. They trained the UMaine team on instruments they will be using, wrote protocols and took turns installing equipment on Tara in the spring.
“Preparation for the trip involved countless hours of testing and characterizing instruments,” Leeuw says. “Many of the instruments we have onboard Tara were recently developed. In many cases we met directly with the scientists and engineers who built the instruments.”
Leeuw, who is most looking forward to icebergs, 24-hour daylight and spending time on a French research vessel, says even though the expedition has officially started, preparation for those waiting for their turn is an ongoing process.
“Staying in contact with the scientists on the legs ahead of mine is helping me to prepare,” he says. “They will let me know if they are having problems with any instruments or if I need to bring materials to the ship with me.”
Every corner and cubby of the Tara is packed with scientific tools, food or everyday essentials for the seven-month journey.
“As big as the Tara is, it’s not that big. It’s extremely cozy,” Boss says, adding that it’s not unusual to sleep in a bunk on top of a bag of flour.
“The cook will always ask, can I lift your bed? And grab things under the bed,” Karp-Boss says.
Temperatures are expected to be between 14 and 41 F when Tara sails beyond the Arctic Circle from July to October, according to Tara’s website. Although Boss and his wife have never been on an Arctic expedition, he is confident in Tara and the crew.
“It’s going to be cold, it’s going to be rough,” Boss says. “But it’s a boat that rides well. It’s a very seaworthy boat, and it was designed to go in the Arctic, so I’m not worried. And some of the people on the crew have already done an Arctic mission with the Tara.”
Another aspect of Tara that distinguishes it from more traditional vessels is that it is cheaper to operate and consumes less fuel.
“During the Tara Oceans, half the time we were with sails up,” Boss says. “An American ocean-going research vessel costs $35,000 a day just to operate the boat. For the Tara, it’s about $5,000 a day.”
Despite the unique experience, the data remains the most important aspect, the researchers say.
“It’s a once-in-a-lifetime experience,” Karp-Boss says. “And it’s an amazing opportunity to sample the Arctic Ocean at a time that we witness such rapid and drastic changes.”
Boss says they will record a new data set that can be used for studies globally.
Having fun while contributing to society is a bonus.
“Being onboard is awesome,” Boss says. “It’s the most fun I’ve ever had doing scientific research.”
The expedition can be followed online.
Contact: Elyse Kahl, 207.581.3747
University of Maine research fellows have been assisting the Maine Governor’s STEM Council create a comprehensive strategy to promote science, technology, engineering and mathematics initiatives through an effort funded by UMaine’s Office of the Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost.
Laura Millay, a student in the master of science in teaching program through the Maine Center for Research in STEM Education, or RiSE Center, and Johanna Barrett, a research fellow at the Margaret Chase Smith Policy Center and student in the master of arts program in economics and international environmental policy, are providing information and resources to the council on how to create a strategic plan and data dashboard.
Daniel Laverty, a science teacher at Mattanawcook Junior High School in Lincoln who is also a master of science in teaching student through the RiSE Center, assisted in the initial gathering and presentation of data.
The STEM Council was signed into law and formed in 2011 when members were appointed by Gov. Paul LePage, according to Millay.
The council is composed of volunteer representatives from organizations, departments and businesses across the state, all with differing STEM perceptions. Without a clear mandate or any funding, members have created subcommittees to determine their role and find direction, Millay says.
One of the subcommittees is tasked with looking at successful STEM councils and programs in other states. UMaine’s Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost Susan Hunter, a subcommittee member, decided to recruit UMaine research fellows and provide funding for their efforts, according to Millay.
In the summer of 2012, Millay, Barrett and Laverty researched STEM initiatives and strategies used to promote them in states that are comparable to Maine.
“There are lots of STEM initiatives going on all over the place, but the idea of a council is to pull all of those together and coordinate efforts and clarify a strategy for STEM,” Millay says.
Millay believes STEM education is necessary in advancing energy, developing technology and supporting economic growth while protecting the environment.
“You can see the importance of STEM all around us,” Millay says. She believes many societal problems could benefit from STEM innovations by allowing for development without pollution and waste. Millay also says STEM education is necessary for economic growth in Maine by expanding industries and providing well-paid jobs for qualified workers.
“Because STEM education is about learning by doing and exposure at an early age to people already engaged in those fields, it can foster the necessary creativity, curiosity, drive and discipline required to be successful,” Barrett says.
As a prospective high school science teacher, Millay’s interest in the project is based in education.
“I’m inspired because I always had an interest in science and had what felt like a really unfulfilling experience with science in college, and it seemed like what I learned in grade school and high school was a poor match with what I expected to do in college,” Millay says.
Barrett, who says she is “not an academic at heart,” is more interested in identifying the cultural norms related to education initiatives and likes the intersection between culture and economics.
“From an economic standpoint, STEM education is the path by which future workforce needs are met,” Barrett says. “Students who have a solid background in science, technology, engineering and math are better equipped to meet the needs of the technology-intensive labor industry.”
Millay, Barrett and Laverty presented last summer’s findings to the STEM Council during a daylong workshop. Currently, the state does not have a comprehensive strategy for STEM initiatives. Millay and Barrett hope the information they provide can help the council create a road map for where they are headed.
The researchers also helped the council write a request for funding that went to the governor and legislature. That request is still being processed.
Millay and Barrett are working on a mock-up of a data dashboard they plan to present to the council this summer. Creating a dashboard connects to the concept of data-driven decision making, or using data to inform policy, Millay says.
A data dashboard would be an interactive website available to policymakers, researchers and the general public that would organize STEM education information in one place. Data on the website could be categorized to answer questions based on topics such as location or school, and linked to objectives to offer success indicators or benchmarks on reaching goals.
Making this information readily available would also help educate the public on the data’s importance, Millay says.
“Data becomes powerful and reliable when it is consistent and thorough,” Barrett says. “This goes back to the cultural component — consistent, reliable data requires that people are willing to participate and give information.”
Data collection is also needed to monitor the council’s progress. The longitudinal data can display trends and identify successful efforts in STEM education.
The Maine Department of Education currently has an online Data Warehouse where some STEM statistics are available, but doesn’t offer a lot of useful data for crafting STEM policy or illustrating which initiatives work over time, according to Millay.
The website includes facts on student achievement in math and science as well as where students go after high school and what careers they choose. Information missing from the database includes public perceptions, success indicators and instruction quality, the researchers say.
Millay and Barrett are researching data on students, workforce, achievement, interest and teaching practices. They intend to learn what information is and isn’t available and what would be useful in crafting policy. By looking at other states, they also plan to determine the best way to use, present and make publicly available the findings.
An example of new information that could be compiled would be the percentage of high school teachers in STEM subjects who have a degree in their field.
“Having that kind of data collected could really help show if there is an issue that needs to be addressed,” Millay says. “And we’d be able to tell if some of the things we are trying are working or not. Without the data it’s kind of impossible to say.”
Barrett says she is proud of the research the team has completed so far.
“I like research that produces tangible outcomes rather than a paper on a shelf,” Barrett says. “I feel we succeeded in giving the Maine STEM Council a solid understanding of where Maine stands in the national STEM landscape, and we are providing policymakers and business leaders with real and feasible recommendations about what kinds of initiatives are working here and what factors ought to be considered when implementing and measuring success.”
Contact: Elyse Kahl, 207.581.3747
Pete Jumars is following the flow.
Specifically, how nonturbulent flow enters pipes, from engineered pipes to clam siphons.
And if the flow progresses how the University of Maine marine scientist thinks it will, a lot of introductory hydraulics textbooks are going to need editing.
Jumars, professor of marine sciences and oceanography in the School of Marine Sciences and at the Darling Marine Center, believes he has uncovered an erroneous scientific calculation regarding flow velocity into a pipe from a larger source of water.
He recently published results of a numerical model that he thinks gives a much more accurate answer by avoiding what he calls an unrealistic assumption in the standard engineering model.
Jumars will have an opportunity to further investigate during a 36-month $585,000 National Science Foundation-funded, UMaine-led project titled “Collaborative Research: A framework to characterize inhalant siphon flow of aquatic benthos.”
Jumars will receive $293,000 and John Crimaldi of the University of Colorado’s Department of Civil, Environmental and Architectural Engineering will get nearly $292,000 over three years to study the engineering dilemma.
Their first task is to test the predictions of Jumars’ new model under carefully controlled laboratory conditions with inanimate model systems.
“The motivation is largely that the textbook solution used up until now is clearly wrong, and we are sure that we can do better,” Jumars says.
“The clincher for me was a look at the bad fit of published experimental results to the predictions under this assumption. The assumption made no physical sense to me, and nobody could generate uniform flow across the pipe mouth (the standard assumption) in the laboratory. The experimental results look much more like my model results.”
Scientists, says Jumars, generally don’t dispose of a model until a better one is proposed. “The old ones just get patched up until somebody comes up with a better idea that explains more old results and predicts more new results,” he says.
While new ideas can meet resistance, Jumars says he doesn’t think that will be the case here even though the new model departs substantially from textbook results.
This is, in part, because of Crimaldi’s reputation as an engineer, says Jumars, and, in part, because the scientists who made the original assumption in the late 1800s and early 1900s are dead. “Reputations of living engineers are not at stake,” he says.
Using an accurate numerical model should result in a better understanding of mechanical costs of suspension feeding and the energy budgets of suspension feeders like clams overall, says Jumars.
Seawater is a very dilute food resource, and suspension feeders typically need to process a million times their body volumes of seawater each day just to make ends meet, he says.
The approaches that have been used thus far to estimate pumping costs of benthic organisms — those living on or in the bottom of a sea or lake — have been based on the flawed equation, he says.
Once the basics of the model are verified or modified in Crimaldi’s laboratory, Jumars and UMaine doctoral student Kevin du Clos will study siphon flow of benthic organisms — including thalassinid shrimp, sea squirts, soft-shelled clams, parchment worms and U-tube dwelling amphipods — as well as the oceanographic processes they drive at the DMC in Walpole, Maine. These target organisms were carefully selected to represent a range of flow speeds and animal sizes.
Jumars is betting the pumping system has evolved designs and operating procedures that limit mechanical costs and bias the system to draw water from food-rich locations above the seabed. The research project seeks to identify those designs and operating procedures for animal pumps.
To find out, they’ll explore siphon tip shape, wall thickness, height and spacing, and unsteady flow behavior and interactions with exhalent and ambient flows.
Where the water comes from that goes into the siphon is important for two reasons, Jumars says. It’s the source of food and oxygen and it’s the source of chemosensory information. What volume is the clam sensing, and whether it control where the water it sniffs comes from are questions he intends to answer.
The findings will also apply to any water-sampling device that uses a pressure difference to draw in water, Jumars says. Particles bigger than about 10 micrometers (0.0004 inches) in diameter do not faithfully follow streamlines, he says, and such particles constitute the food of suspension feeders.
Reliable sampling of suspended matter for environmental applications requires an understanding of the biases of the sampling device, Jumars says. Just as animals benefit from biases that bring them more particles, scientists benefit from eliminating biases to obtain representative samples.
Jumars says this project will improve understanding of these particle-sampling biases and how to control them.
As part of the project, staff at the Center for Ocean Sciences Education Excellence-Ocean Systems will produce webinars about siphon flows. Jumars says it’s important for the approach of the project — which combines fluid physics, mathematics and biology — to be broadly shared with high school teachers, university instructors and researchers from various backgrounds as a model of interdisciplinary research in which each discipline enhances all the others.
Contact: Beth Staples, 207.581.3777
VolturnUS 1:8, the first grid-connected offshore wind turbine to be deployed off the coast of North America, was launched in Brewer May 31 by the University of Maine’s Advanced Structures and Composites Center and its partners.
The event was hosted by Cianbro in Brewer, Maine. Among the dignitaries on hand for the ceremony were Sen. Susan Collins, Sen. Angus King, Rep. Michael Michaud, Jose Zayas of the U.S. Department of Energy, University of Maine System Chancellor James Page, UMaine Executive Vice President and Provost Susan Hunter, Cianbro CEO Peter Vigue and Habib Dagher, director of UMaine’s Advanced Structures and Composites Center.
A news release issued by the Energy Department is online.
A news release issued by UMaine’s Advanced Structures and Composites Center also is online.
Contact: Elizabeth Viselli, 207.581.2831
A University of Maine economist advises Mainers seeking to make shrewd investments with their tax dollars to put them toward high-quality early childhood education.
In his report “Path to a Better Future: The Fiscal Payoff of Investment in Early Childhood Development in Maine,” UMaine economic professor Philip Trostel says providing a first-rate preschool education for one low-income child saves taxpayers an average of $99,200 during the course of that child’s life in Maine.
“It is ironic that the typical argument against devoting more resources to early childhood development is its costs, since it would actually reduce total government spending,” Trostel says.
Nonprofit and businesses leaders who funded the report, which was delivered last week to the Legislature, will hold a news conference Wednesday, May 29 at 9 a.m. in the Welcome Center of the Statehouse to request financial support for early learning.
Trostel says the report’s findings are bipartisan.
“It is bipartisan because investment in early childhood education makes sense in multiple dimensions,” he says. “If all one cares about is providing the best possible future for our children and grandchildren, investment in early childhood education makes sense. If one is concerned about reducing social injustice and creating greater equality, investment in early care and education makes sense. If one wants a safer world, investment in early childhood education makes sense. If one wishes to promote economic prosperity through greater education attainment and innovation, investment in early childhood development makes sense. Even if one only wants to reduce the size of government and taxes, investment in early childhood education makes sense.”
Considerable research has shown the years before children start kindergarten are the most crucial in terms of brain development and habits. Youth with access to premium early education are more likely to graduate on time, be employed, earn higher wages and avoid criminal behavior, says Trostel.
Thus, he says, providing high-quality developmental experiences for the youngest children in the state is an effective approach for guaranteeing long-term economic success.
Numerous fiscal benefits would result from providing low-income children from birth to age 4 with year-round, full-time high-quality services, Trostel says. More parents would be able to work and pay taxes; fewer interventions would be needed in the K-12 years, thus cutting taxpayer funding by $25,700 per child; and special education and juvenile corrections spending would also drop.
It’s more expensive to continue the current education funding model in Maine. Inadequate early childhood education spending results in costly and often times failed remedial efforts, says Trostel.
“Although some children who start behind catch up, and some who start down a promising path veer off, to a large extent life outcomes are determined by the trajectories created before children start school,” he says.
The report was funded by Eleanor Baker and Thomas Saturley, Bangor Savings Bank, The Betterment Fund, The Bingham Program, Jim and Jennifer Clair, Sam L. Cohen Foundation, Jeffrey and Marjorie Geiger, Gorham Savings Bank, The John T. Gorman Foundation, Hancock Lumber, The Maine Community Foundation, MMG Insurance, Susan and Jackson Parker, John and Sandy Peters, Paul Silsby, Meredith Strang Burgess, University of Maine, Unum, and WBRC Architects/Engineers.
Trostel’s report and a summary are available at melig.org.
Contact: Beth Staples, 207.581.3777
The University of Maine’s Advanced Structures and Composites Center’s latest technology, a buoy-based floating LIDAR system, to collect deepwater offshore hub-height wind and other metocean measurements in the Gulf of Maine.
Last October, UMaine’s Composites Center, NRG Systems Inc., AWS Truepower LLC, UMaine’s Physical Oceanography Group (PhOG) and Leosphere SAS established a research and development partnership to gather deepwater metocean data in the gulf. UMaine has designed a floating system to house a modified WINDCUBE® v2 Offshore LIDAR Remote Sensor, which has been adapted to a dynamic marine environment.
The floating system, which incorporates a proven LIDAR system that detects wind conditions using laser technology up to 200 meters above the ocean surface, is based on buoy technology developed and tested by UMaine’s Physical Oceanography Group over the past decade in the Gulf of Maine and abroad. AWS Truepower will conduct a campaign to validate the data collected by the floating system.
The buoy is scheduled for deployment alongside UMaine’s VolturnUS 1:8 floating offshore wind turbine, the first grid-connected offshore wind turbine in the U.S., on June 1 off the coast of Castine, Maine.
“This partnership between UMaine and our private industry leaders will advance resource assessment technology and will help propel the U.S. forward in deepwater offshore wind technology development,” says Habib Dagher, director of UMaine’s Composites Center. “Floating LIDAR technology, once fully validated, will provide us with a cost-effective method to assess the wind resource in areas traditionally off-limits to offshore wind developers.”
With funding from the Maine Technology Institute and the U.S. Department of Energy, UMaine’s Composites Center is leading this effort to enable cost-effective measurements hub-height winds in deepwater where fixed-based towers are not feasible. UMaine’s Composites Center is actively developing and testing innovative floating wind turbines for deployment in deep water.
UMaine’s Physical Oceanography Group develops and operates real-time ocean observing systems. It operates the Gulf of Maine Observatory as part of the Northeast Regional Association of Coastal and Ocean Observing Systems and the real-time buoy array of the Caribbean Integrated Ocean Observing System.
NRG Systems is an independently owned company that has served the global renewable energy industry for 30 years. Its measurement equipment, turbine health monitoring systems, and LIDAR remote sensors can be found in 150 countries on every continent, serving electric utilities, renewable energy developers, turbine manufacturers, consultants and research institutes.
AWS Truepower is one of the world’s leading providers of renewable energy solutions to developers, investors, utilities and governments.
Contact: Elizabeth Viselli, 207.581.2831
The Portland Public Schools system is upgrading its centralized kitchen with the help of University of Maine Cooperative Extension food safety specialist Jason Bolton.
The system’s food processing center, currently housed in the Reed School building at 28 Homestead Ave., where it has been since 1987, expects to be in a newer, updated facility by this fall.
In 2010, Ron Adams, Portland Public Schools food service director, contacted Bolton for assistance with the design, layout, equipment and regulatory aspects of a new facility after architects and contractors determined the current building was beyond repair. Bolton says he has helped set up similar facilities, but never a building used for cafeteria-style food preparation.
Adams says he contacted Bolton, an assistant extension professor, because he wanted someone with food processing facility experience to help the kitchen with the transition.
Bolton toured the current facility, which he described as compartmentalized with a terrible flow, and spoke to Adams about what he was looking for in a new building. Adams and Bolton considered several sites before securing a 15-year-old building last year.
The building, located about three miles from the current facility, used to house a seafood processing plant and requires renovations before the commissary can move in. The plans for the facility were finalized in the spring and construction is under way.
The city of Portland approved a $3 million bond to pay for the facility, real estate and equipment, according to Adams.
Bolton assisted with the kitchen design by offering suggestions for the layout of equipment and floor drains and recommendations of what type of wall materials, floor coatings and sanitation systems should be used.
“It’s all about preventing contamination issues,” Bolton says.
The 16 workers at the commissary are responsible for making and shipping around 5,000 meals a day to K–12 students attending public schools in Portland, according to Adams.
The meals are fully cooked at the commissary and are shipped out to school cafeterias to be served to students.
“They had done a lot of Band-Aid fixes on things because that’s what they had the money to do so they had to do it,” Bolton says of the current facility. “Nothing that was necessarily unsafe, just not all that efficient.”
Bolton says a lot of the outdated equipment made tasks more difficult for workers, and the new facility will improve conditions with additions such as more pumps to avoid heavy lifting, a preparation area for workers to get ready and more office space.
The new space will also be easier to clean and will provide space and necessary equipment that will allow the commissary to expand its market, Bolton says. The food center wants to turn part of the building into a shared-use facility they could either rent to other processing companies or use to co-pack, meaning they would use their workforce when they’re not making school meals to prepare and process food for other companies, according to Bolton.
“Food safety and quality control will greatly improve with the new facility,” Bolton says, citing floor drains, sanitation systems, new equipment and wall and floor materials as important upgrades. “They will also decrease their risk of food-borne illness.”
Bolton also expects efficiency will improve with new equipment, loading docks and the overall flow of the building by reducing electricity and cook time.
The commissary is also working to increase use of food from local farmers.
“They’re starting to get into processing local produce, so they needed a facility where they could also do that and their old facility was kind of rough,” Bolton says.
Bolton says the new building has enough space, storage and loading capabilities to handle processing and freezing more local produce.
“We purchase a large portion of our food from local sources given our urban location,” Adams says, estimating about 20 percent of the food used at the facility is local dairy and 10–12 percent is local fruits, vegetables, bakery and proteins.
Bolton plans to continue his relationship with Adams and the commissary through training. He says he believes members of Adams’ management team will attend some of his summer courses on commercial-food sanitation to prepare for possible expansions with food processors.
Contact: Elyse Kahl, 207.581.3747