Archive for the ‘At a Glance’ Category

Visiting Professor to Explore Passive House Research at UMaine Composites Center

Friday, May 22nd, 2015

Juana Domenech Subiran from La Rioja, Spain has joined the University of Maine’s Advanced Structures and Composites Center for summer 2015.

Subiran holds a Ph.D. in industrial engineering from Universidad del Pais Vasco (University of the Basque Country). Her current research interest is centered around passive houses. The passive house building standards aim to reduce energy consumption by 60–80 percent through improved materials and modified construction methods, according to the U.S. Passive House Institute.

Subiran will work with UMaine’s Roberto Lopez-Anido, a professor of civil engineering. The UMaine Composites Center is supporting Subiran’s research with aspects aligned with the center’s core expertise including the use of engineered wood products, thermoplastic composites, fiber reinforcement, hybrid materials, material durability, joining methods and test methods.

The research aims to increase building construction efficiency and reduce overall energy costs for homeowners.

More information about passive house practices is on the U.S. Passive House Institute’s website.

UMaine Humanities Center Awards Summer Research Grants

Wednesday, May 13th, 2015

The University of Maine Humanities Center has awarded summer research grants to two UMaine students.

Taylor Cunningham, an English major and Honors student with a minor in folklore studies, was awarded the Sandy and Bobby Ives Research Award. Elisa Sance, a doctoral candidate in history, was awarded the center’s graduate student research award. Each award is worth $500.

Cunningham of Massachusetts 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 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.

“As a student research assistant on the Maine Hermit project, I study the historical hermits of Maine — who they were and what they can tell us about the communities that remember them,” Cunningham says, adding she spends a lot of time researching old newspapers and the archives in the Maine Folklife Center, as well as conducting fieldwork around the state.

She says fieldwork is essential to a project that relies on oral history, and has visited historical societies and museums in Patten, Oxford Hills and Monhegan Island. She plans to travel more this summer, and the grant will help with related costs.

While a graduate teaching assistant at UMaine, Sance taught French in the Department of Modern Languages and Classics. For her doctorate, she is focusing on language policies in the 1960s and 1970s in New Brunswick and their effect on people in northern Maine.

This summer, Sance will study the role of the family unit in the transmission of the French language in U.S. and Canadian communities in the Madawaska region.

“The French-speaking population in the Madawaska region was divided by the establishment of the official border between Maine and New Brunswick in 1842. This population shares a common past but has evolved within different legal and political frameworks,” Sance says.

Sance also plans to collect data on the structure and evolution of the family unit as they relate to the establishment of public school systems in New Brunswick and Maine. She is specifically seeking information on the level of education, occupation(s), religious orientation, and size and composition of families.

Sance plans to conduct research at the Blake Library at the University of Maine Fort Kent and the Acadian Archives, which are housed in the same building. The facilities offer several useful documents that are not available anywhere else, Sance says. She also plans to use resources at the University of Moncton at Edmundston, New Brunswick.

She intends to present the paper at a conference organized by the Association of Canadian Studies in the United States in October, and at an on-campus event in March 2016, part of a monthlong series of programs to celebrate the French-speaking world.

The Sandy and Bobby Ives Research Award is funded by David Taylor and LeeEllen Friedland, and the graduate student award comes from other University of Maine Humanities Center (UMHC) funds.

For more information about UMHC, email director Liam Riordan at or visit the center’s website.

Maine Autism Institute Gets Additional Funds from Department of Education

Tuesday, May 12th, 2015

The Maine Autism Institute for Research and Education at the University of Maine will receive more than $150,000 from the Maine Department of Education to continue its work as the state’s first autism institute, according to a Maine DOE news release.

The funds are in addition to the $209,802 the department and UMaine’s College of Education and Human Development contributed to open the institute in 2014.

Autism is a developmental disability with varying degrees of severity that affects a person’s ability to communicate, to reason and to interact with others. An estimated 1 in 68 children is now being diagnosed with autism. The new funding will further the institute’s initial efforts to build statewide capacity to improve outcomes for young Mainers with autism, the release states.

Much of the funding will be used to expand training in evidence-based practices for teams from Maine school districts to help increase the academic and social success for autistic students.

The full Maine DOE release is online.

UMaine Awarded a Nearly $498,000 Advanced Manufacturing Technology Planning Grant

Friday, May 8th, 2015

The University of Maine’s Advanced Structures and Composites Center has received a $497,965 award from the National Institutes of Standards and Technology for mapping technical manufacturing challenges in structural thermoplastic materials.

UMaine’s Advanced Structures and Composites Center, in collaboration with Celanese Corporation, Eastman Chemical Company, Polystrand and Royal TenCate, will launch CMIST — the Consortium for Manufacturing Innovation in Structural Thermoplastics. Working groups of material scientists, product developers, manufacturers and potential end users will identify, characterize and map technical challenges to the adoption of thermoplastic composite materials as substitutions in primary structural applications, allowing U.S. manufacturers to bring solutions to market first.

Low in cost and weight, recyclable and corrosion resistant, thermoplastic composite materials are strong enough to be used as a substitute in many primary structural applications, including ones in which aluminum once replaced steel in aircraft and automobiles. Such substitution has the potential to transform manufacturing. Global manufacturing competitiveness, historically dictated by raw-material costs and labor, can instead be dictated by efficiency, knowledge and smart manufacturing. U.S. manufacturers intending to benefit from such a transformation face two challenges: technical issues and competitive market threats. Technical issues include: realizing faster manufacturing cycle times; developing fast and reliable thermoplastic joining methods; and characterizing thermoplastic composites for desired performance and economical manufacturing. The vision and applied research that results from this planning mission will help U.S. manufacturers bring their products to market faster and in advance of global competition.

UMaine’s award is part of the $7.8 million in NIST Advanced Manufacturing Technology Planning Grants. More about the NIST Awards is online.

UMaine to Receive $25,000 Grant for Traveling Maine Fiber Folk Arts Exhibit

Thursday, May 7th, 2015

The University of Maine has been awarded a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts for a traveling exhibit on fiber folk arts in Maine.

The project, which is led by Maine Folklife Center Director Pauleena MacDougall, will receive $25,000 from the NEA.

Maine Fiber Folk Arts will consist of four free-standing panels with photographs and text describing a traditional fiber art from the state. The content will come from fieldwork and the Northeast Archives of Folklore and Oral History. The panels will travel around the state through the interlibrary loan system.

“The exhibit will give the public an opportunity to learn about the state’s traditions and to interact with local people who practice those arts,” MacDougall says.

Accompanying the panels will be an online handbook that will give suggestions for putting together a public event relating to the panels and a list of fiber folk artists from around the state. The panels also will be accompanied by an audio CD, which will provide information about the exhibit to seeing-impaired members of the public.

Maine Folklife Center staff plan to visit a few libraries around the state to conduct public events to promote the exhibit when it arrives. The events likely will include a hands-on workshop and panel discussion with fiber artists from the library’s region.

NEA funds will be used to support a graduate student who will assist in conducting research and writing the narrative for the panels.

Through its grant-making to thousands of nonprofits each year, the NEA promotes opportunities for people in communities across America to experience the arts and exercise their creativity.

UMaine’s grant is among 1,023 NEA awards totaling $74.3 million nationwide in the second major grant announcement of the fiscal year.

More information on projects included in the NEA grant announcement is online.

Two Innovate for Maine Fellows Part of Bitzy Baby Success

Tuesday, May 5th, 2015

Bitzy Baby, a juvenile safety product company in Brunswick, Maine, has been selected as a finalist in the U.S. Small Business Administration InnovateHER Business Challenge, a nationwide competition for entrepreneurs to develop products and services to enhance the lives of women and their families. Bitzy Baby has been involved in the Innovate for Maine Fellows program, supported by Blackstone Accelerates Growth and managed by the University of Maine’s Foster Center for Student Innovation.Through the program, the company received marketing and social media assistance from two Innovate for Maine Fellows — UMaine students Jim Barry, a food science and human nutrition major, and Courtney Norman, who is majoring in marine sciences.

More about the InnovateHER Business Challenge is online.

UMaine Grads Headed to Veterinary Schools in U.S., Scotland and Canada

Tuesday, May 5th, 2015

The School of Food and Agriculture’s Animal and Veterinary Sciences Program traditionally has a high acceptance rate of student applicants for veterinary schools. This year, that acceptance rate is nearly 90 percent, with seven students graduating and heading to veterinary schools nationwide, and in Scotland and Canada:

  • Brian Blanchard, Thorndike, Maine, Atlantic Veterinary College, Prince Edward Island, Canada
  • Rachel Chase, Warren, Maine, Ohio State University
  • Elena Doucette, Cumberland, Maine, University of Glasgow, Scotland
  • Amy Fish, Mountville, Pennsylvania, University of Edinburgh, Scotland
  • Taryn Haller, Mystic, Connecticut, University of California, Davis
  • Jeffery Vigue Jr., Whitefield, Maine, Virginia-Maryland Regional Veterinary College
  • Ariana Wadsworth, Thomaston, Maine, Oregon State University

Two other Animal and Veterinary Sciences Program students from the Class of 2014 applied this year for veterinary school and were accepted. Kristyn Souliere of Saco, Maine, is headed to Lincoln Memorial University College of Veterinary Medicine, and Bethany van Gorder of West Tremont, Maine, is going to the University of Glasgow.

Brian Blanchard grew up on a small dairy farm in Thorndike, Maine that converted to standardbred racehorses in 2001. He currently drives and trains horses competitively in Maine, and will continue that work in Prince Edward Island while earning his veterinary degree.

Elena Doucette, who grew up in Cumberland, Maine, embarked on a four-month mission trip with Heifer International after high school, gaining experience with livestock husbandry that inspired her to pursue a career in veterinary medicine.

Rachel Chase is an honors student from Warren, Maine. Her family raised dairy goats, and broilers and laying hens, and she owns a horse.

Amy Fish, Taryn Haller and Ariana Wadsworth also are honors students. Honors student Jeff Vigue grew up on a beef farm in Whitefield, Maine, and worked at several local dairies.

Accounting Major Awarded International Scholarship to Study Abroad

Monday, May 4th, 2015

Felicia Cowger, a third-year accounting major from Weston, Maine, has been awarded the Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship to study in Alicante, Spain this summer.

Cowger is one of more than 1,000 American undergraduate students from 332 colleges and universities across the U.S. selected to receive the scholarship that allows them to study or intern abroad during the summer 2015 academic term.

Cowger was awarded $3,000 to study in Spain. She has also received a University Studies Abroad Consortium (USAC) scholarship.

In Spain, Cowger plans to study Spanish composition, Spanish culture and civilization (taught in Spanish) and sailing, as well as conduct a Madrid field tour study.

The Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship program is sponsored by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs and administered by the Institute of International Education.

More information about the program is online.

New Media Students Develop Fall Detection Device for Older Adults

Friday, May 1st, 2015

University of Maine seniors in the New Media Department are developing a fall detection device for older adults to use outside their homes.

Benjamin Herold-­Porter of Biddeford, Maine, and Heather Anderson of Jonesboro, Maine, have created a prototype that can detect when the person wearing the device has fallen and automatically text a programmed cell phone number without requiring user action.

The students, who were enrolled in a new media wearable device class before starting their capstone, were inspired to create a device that would be of use and benefit to their relatives.

Both Herold-­Porter and Anderson have fairly active grandmothers in their 80s who have fallen while alone outside their homes. With current devices, Herold-­Porter worries his grandmother would forget to press a button when she falls. Anderson says her grandmother, who lives in a big house and carries her own firewood, would need a device that allows mobility and provides extra peace of mind.

Current fall detection devices on the market require the user to initiative service by pressing a button or calling, the students say. In addition, the most popular models consist of a central hub that is placed in the home and limits the device to a 150-foot radius. The students’ prototype relies on mobile networks and can be used anywhere.

The device consists of three major parts: an accelerometer or gyroscope that detects movement; a mini cellphone module that provides access to mobile networks; and a microcontroller or minicomputer that interprets the data from the sensor and tells the cellphone to send a text message. The pieces are wired together and stored in a plastic case made by a UMaine mechanical engineering student that can be worn on a lanyard around the neck.

One out of three adults aged 65 or older falls each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control, and among older adults, falls are the leading cause of both fatal and nonfatal injuries. At 80 years, over half of seniors fall annually and 45 percent of falls by older adults occur outside the home, the students say, citing statistics from the online fall prevention course Learn Not to Fall.

To test their project, the students asked anonymous users at the Alfond Arena’s public free skate to wear the device while ice skating. The device detected all falls, but also some false positives based on movements such as spins, which the students have since worked to improve.

The students, who worked under the supervision of new media professor Mike Scott, received an initial grant to cover the cost of the prototype and are applying for a grant through the Maine Technology Institute to make improvements.

The students say future possibilities for the device include using smaller parts, adding GPS and more functions such as a walk counter, vitals detector or the ability to make phone calls.

Boss Selected to IOCCG Committee

Tuesday, April 28th, 2015

Oceanographer Emmanuel Boss became a member of the International Ocean-Colour Coordinating Group Committee at its 20th annual meeting March 3–5 in France.

Boss is a professor in the University of Maine School of Marine Sciences. Other members hail from South Korea, South Africa, Ghana, Italy, India, Germany, Japan, France, Australia, People’s Republic of China, Canada, Brazil, Scotland and the United States.

IOCCG Committee members include representatives from space agencies and scientists. Objectives include developing consensus and synthesis in satellite ocean colour radiometry at the world scale. Specialized groups investigate aspects of ocean-colour technology and its applications.