The University of Maine was mentioned in a WPBeginner article listing “40+ popular universities that are using WordPress.” WordPress is a free and open source blogging tool and content management system (CMS) that is gaining popularity among big brands, bloggers and many top universities around the world, the article states. WordPress in higher education is used as a learning, communication and collaboration tool, according to the post.
Brenda Mowdy, a 4-H community education assistant with University of Maine Cooperative Extension, and 4-H members were featured in a WVII (Channel 7) report on the group’s work at the Bangor State Fair. “In order to be a state fair, you have to have an agricultural emphasis, and we are it,” Mowdy said of the organization that teaches youth about agriculture.
The Portland Press Herald interviewed Julie Gosse, an assistant professor of molecular and biomedical sciences at the University of Maine, about her research on how a synthetic antimicrobial common in soaps and deodorants inhibits cells that sometimes fight cancer. Gosse told the Press Herald the chemical triclosan is added to many over-the-counter products advertised as antibacterial, such as soaps, toothpaste, body washes and facial cleansers. The chemical also is used in fabrics and plastics to help prevent mold growth, and has become so common that it’s now in the water supply. “This is not a chemical people need to have every day,” Gosse said. The National Institutes of Health awarded Gosse more than $420,000 for the three-year project. “We’re not going to be able to resolve the public health question, but we will be one piece of the puzzle,” she added.
WVII (Channel 7) reported on paddleboarding offered by the University of Maine’s Maine Bound on the Stillwater River. The activity is offered every Thursday evening during the summer for $5. Kaitlyn Fowle, Maine Bound coordinator, told WVII the activity isn’t just for students. “We definitely love having the community here,” Fowle said. “The past three or four weeks we’ve had tons of families with kids, and they’re just a blast.”
The University of Maine’s Climate Change Institute was mentioned in the Portland Press Herald article “Grow food in Maine winters? Four projects take aim.” The article stated the CCI is building a carbon-negative solar-powered structure called the Extreme Environment Education and Research Building to house its Arctic research equipment. Although food won’t be grown there, how the building generates its own power will provide data for future projects, and could potentially be a model for future solar-heated barns for livestock or warehouses for storing potatoes, according to the article.
The Huffington Post cited statistics from the Lobster Institute at the University of Maine for an article about a yellow crustacean that was spotted in a supermarket tank in Florida. According to the Lobster Institute, the odds of finding a yellow lobster are one in 30 million.
The University of Maine BioMediaLab is featured in a new promotional video for Wowza Media Systems, one of the lab’s software providers.
The School of Biology and Ecology lab is an advanced technology-centric science new media lab in Murray Hall that recently started using Wowza, a versatile media streaming server that efficiently allows students access to online course video, prompting Wowza Media Systems to film a video spotlighting the lab’s work.
A cutting-edge technology environment, the BioMediaLab’s main focus is Synapse, a content learning management system. UMaine science faculty use the system to create a collaborative learning environment. Media such as videos, audio, slide shows, PDFs and other course material can be added to its courses. Wowza and Synapse allow easier streaming of video to numerous devices, no matter the file format.
The video can be viewed on Wowza’s website.
University of Maine Board of Visitors member Richard Higgins of Santa Fe, New Mexico, passed away July 30. He was 64. Mr. Higgins was a member of the UMaine Class of 1979 and a member of the College of Engineering Dean’s Advisory Council. Mr. Higgins and his wife Jean established an endowment for the Boardman Hall materials testing laboratory that now bears their names. A reception is scheduled for Aug. 3 in Santa Fe. An In Memoriam notice is online.
Two recent University of Maine graduates have been named the 2014 Higher Education Student Art Educators of the Year by the Maine Art Education Association (MAEA).
Elizabeth Miller of Kittery and Hilary Kane of Concord, New Hampshire, both graduated in May 2014. Miller earned a bachelor’s degree in art education with minors in studio art and art history. Kane received a bachelor’s degree in art education, as well as studio art.
The award is given to MAEA members who have completed their art student teaching internship within the academic year and have demonstrated outstanding evidence of professional leadership in schools and the community, use of new technology, and innovative teaching performance and written curricula. An award ceremony will be held in September during the 2014 MAEA conference at Haystack Mountain School of Crafts in Deer Isle, Maine.
MAEA is the state chapter of the National Art Education Association, the leading professional membership organization for visual arts educators.
Miller, who is searching for a full-time teaching position, currently is an intern at the Piscataqua Fine Arts Gallery in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, and works at Art with a Splash, also in Portsmouth, teaching painting classes.
“This award is such an honor and I am very pleased to be able to represent the art education program at the university,” Miller said.
Kane plans to move to New Orleans in the fall where she will continue to focus on art education work and community arts.
Aram Calhoun, a professor of wetland ecology at the University of Maine, was quoted in a Portland Press Herald article about research being done by Bowdoin College biologist Nat Wheelwright, who says he has found evidence of a mass die-off of wood frog tadpoles. “The die-off is significant; however, in warm weather, we do see mass mortalities of wood frogs from ranavirus in some years,” Calhoun said. “We don’t know enough about the synergistic effects of all the stressors in a frog’s environment.” Calhoun told the Press Herald that UMaine is using a four-year National Science Foundation grant to study the effects of urbanizing landscapes on pool-breeding amphibians. Calhoun said she agrees with Wheelwright that researchers should encourage citizen scientists to monitor vernal pools. “However, these events happen quickly and in our experience, the carcasses are scavenged in less than 24 hours so people could easily miss die-off events,” she cautioned.
Robert Bayer, executive director of the Lobster Institute at the University of Maine, was quoted in a Portland Press Herald article about Cape Elizabeth native Luke Holden who owns 13 Luke’s Lobster restaurants, with locations in New York, Washington, D.C., and Philadelphia, as well as a processing plant in Saco. Last year, Holden became more involved in efforts to boost the Maine lobster industry and joined the board of the Lobster Institute, which works on conservation, outreach, research and education to sustain the lobster fishery, the article states. “Because he’s at the end of the food chain — serving lobster to the customer on an everyday basis — and he has his own processing facility he has more than knowledge. He has an understanding that’s helped us all,” said Bayer.
University of Maine political scientist Mark Brewer spoke with the Maine Public Broadcasting Network for a report titled, “In Maine political debates, which candidates will be no-shows?” According to the report, Republican Gov. Paul LePage has declined to participate in several debates, and Democratic challenger Mike Michaud says he will only participate in a debate if LePage does. Meanwhile, 2nd District GOP candidate Bruce Poliquin says he will not participate in any debate that includes independent challenger Blaine Richardson, the report states. Brewer said LePage likely turned down MPBN’s debate invitation because he would change few opinions among the station’s more progressive audience. He also said Michaud’s reasons for declining debates might also be strategic. “If I were advising Michaud, the last thing I would want to do is to recommend that he go to participate in a debate where the other major party candidate is not there and then that lends further legitimacy to [independent candidate] Eliot Cutler.”
In August, University of Maine Police Department officials will be photographing the exteriors of all campus buildings to update its photo inventory. The photography team will wear safety vests and helmets, and use a green John Deere Gator to travel around campus. Members of the UMaine community with questions can call UMaine Police Chief Roland LaCroix at 581.4053, or dispatch at 581.4040.
University of Maine Cooperative Extension’s free Dining with Diabetes Down East series starts Wednesday, Oct. 1 at HealthWays Regional Medical Center at Lubec. The series continues Oct. 8, 15 and 22. All sessions are from 10 a.m. to noon at the medical center, 43 South Lubec Road.
The community-based program is intended to complement medical care by teaching people with Type 2 diabetes and prediabetes, as well as their family members and caregivers, how to select and prepare foods that help control blood sugar, cholesterol and blood pressure. UMaine Extension registered dietitian and nutritionist Alan Majka will make presentations, lead discussion and prepare nutritious food.
To register, or to request a disability accommodation, call 207.255.3345, 800.287.1542 (in Maine) or complete a confidential online preregistration survey. When 10 preregistrations have been recorded, a series will be scheduled in the Columbia/Milbridge area. To express interest in the series being offered elsewhere in Washington County, and for more information, contact Majka at 255.3345 or email@example.com.
Students in a University of Maine communication class assigned to study how to effectively share information about and attract volunteers to support seasonal farmworker health also learned a great deal themselves.
Visiting assistant professor Karen Hutchins Bieluch says students participating in the service-learning project with Maine Migrant Health Program (MMHP) officials gleaned a deeper appreciation for seasonal farmworkers and the important role they play in the state’s economy.
They also learned a lot about MMHP — the state’s lone farmworker health organization that annually tends to 1,200 patients and offers mobile medical care at farmworker camps. MMHP providers who speak Spanish and Creole are among the professionals who travel around the state to intersect with workers harvesting everything from blueberries to boughs for wreaths.
Senior wildlife ecology major Matthew Owens McCullough says the project was educational, rewarding and humbling.
Bieluch says students in the small group communication class also discovered a thing or two about their individual interaction approaches and processes involved in small group decision-making, problem solving and negotiation.
“Working on the project helped them understand their communication styles, such as how they handle conflict,” says Bieluch. “Do they shy away from it or address it head-on?”
McCullough, from Gorham, Maine, says his communication style is straightforward.
And he recommends the approach for others. “Don’t keep any of your skills hidden, they can be very important during the process of developing project goals,” he says. “Some skill you don’t consider applicable may spark an idea for somebody else and end up being the driving factor in the success of the project.”
In addition, Bieluch says the project provided an opportunity to contribute to, and build a partnership with, a Maine-based community organization.
“While service-learning courses require significant amounts of preparation and coordination, they often provide students with a richer, applied learning experience, while also giving back to the citizens of Maine who support higher education in Maine,” she says.
Class members divided into three groups for the hands-on endeavor. One group evaluated MMHP’s website (mainemigrant.org), another focused on the organization’s PowerPoint presentation and another critiqued its brochure.
McCullough was part of the group that evaluated the MMHP website and recommended changes based on answers to an online survey. “The most-popular change requested by people was identifying the mission statement,” he says. MMHP’s mission is to “improve the health status of migrant and seasonal farmworkers and their families by providing culturally appropriate care and services.”
The website group also recommended rearranging some information and provided a flow chart for effective website design and presentation. Students said the website had a number of positives, including color scheme, photographs, testimonials and use of multiple languages.
In general, Bieluch says students recommended ways to increase Mainers’ awareness of MMHP and how citizens can become volunteers for MMHP.
Migrant workers, say MMHP officials, are sometimes an invisible population. While the fruits and vegetables they harvest contribute greatly to Mainers’ health and the economy, seasonal workers often live below the poverty line in substandard housing, do not have health insurance and due to isolation and language barriers, may not be familiar with available resources.
Linda Silka, director of UMaine’s Margaret Chase Smith Policy Center and a professor in the UMaine School of Economics, recommended the class intersect with MMHP for the CMJ 345 project. Silka, who specializes in building community-university research partnerships, is also on MMHP’s Board of Directors.
Bieluch says MMHP officials appreciated the students’ input. “They [students] felt listened to and that their work was valued,” she says. “And I think that increased the quality of their [students'] work and their learning experience.”
McCullough concurred. “They [MMHP officials] try very hard to provide for immigrant workers and were very appreciative of the analysis of their website we presented,” he says.
Taking apart a broken laptop, learning how to repair it and putting it back together is a typical exercise in one University of Maine English class. For students in the technical editing and document design course, learning how to diagnose and repair electronics is essential to writing about the process in the form of easy-to-use consumer guides.
Since 2011, students in Charlsye Diaz’s class have been required to create an e-manual for iFixit, a website that offers free step-by-step guides to help consumers repair devices to keep more electronics in use and out of landfills. During the fall 2014 semester, Diaz’s students will write manuals for toys.
“This experience is important because it is messy,” says Diaz, an associate professor of English and coordinator of UMaine’s professional and technical writing program. “When things ‘fall apart’ or the projects don’t go as well as I would like, I love it. Because they’ll face those obstacles on the job every day.”
Students work with iFixit’s technical writers to adhere to the company’s guidelines. They receive feedback from someone besides the professor while working in a supportive classroom setting.
IFixit was started in 2003 by two Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo students who struggled to fix an iBook without instructions. In 2009, the company started the iFixit Technical Writing Program as a way to engage students with a hands-on, repair-focused technical writing project. Students from 20 universities — including UMaine — have created 5,000 repair guides for electronics, which have helped more than nine million people fix their devices, according to the company’s website.
Diaz says the project also benefits potential employers by sending students into the workforce with real-world experience.
“It’s one thing to go to an interview and claim to be able to write instructions because you practiced during a class assignment. It’s another thing to say you took apart a scanner and wrote instructions for replacing the scanner lamp and then provide a link to a published guide that people use,” Diaz says.
KC Collins Cook, a 2013 UMaine graduate who earned a bachelor’s degree in English with a concentration in professional and technical writing, is now an information developer for IBM in North Carolina. She says every day she applies the knowledge she learned from Diaz’s classes.
“My core understanding of technical documentation began in her classrooms, and it gave me a foundation to build on and innovate with my fellow IBMers,” Cook says. “From grammar to design software to how people read; it’s all vital to my job. In fact, all of my textbooks are in my desk for reference when I need them.”
Although many of Diaz’s students find aspects of the iFixit project challenging — learning how to take apart small devices, take photos without shadows and follow iFixit’s criteria — most are proud of the end result, she says.
“Some students embrace the project and really thrive working with and writing about small electronics. Others dislike it because the project falls outside their comfort zone,” Diaz says. “Who needs a toolbox for a writing class?”
The positive feedback comes later, Diaz says. Students have told her they’ve talked about their experience during interviews and appreciate having a professional portfolio piece.
“During the project, I see their confidence skyrocket,” she says.
An education in professional and technical writing is important, Diaz says, because almost everyone has to write at work in the form of reports, memos or emails. Professional writers take these skills a step further and learn to design documents, write for the Internet and edit — skills Maine employers seek, she says.
Professional writing is offered as a minor to any UMaine student, and English majors can concentrate in professional and technical writing. Diaz says graduates work in several areas including technology, marketing, health care, research and development, government, law, magazines and museums. She says most students find work within six months of graduation, and most have jobs before they graduate.
Since Cook began her full-time job in September 2012, she has seen IBM hire two more professional and technical writing students from UMaine.
“If you go in with a thirst to work, your resume and experience will be soundly rewarded,” Cook says. “We leave campus with a competitive skill set that sets us apart from other new college graduates in our field.”
University of Maine scientists are partnering with multiple agencies to improve the accuracy of forecasts of hurricanes, superstorms, blizzards and floods that endanger people and animals and destroy property.
UMaine received $1.5 million of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s $5.5 million award to increase the precision of predictions of extreme weather events and coastal flooding in the northeastern United States.
“This project allows us to develop rapid response capability and deploy ocean observing assets before extreme weather events, and use these targeted observations to constrain ocean models and issue timely forecasts for coastal cities and towns in the Northeast United States,” says Fei Chai, professor and director of UMaine’s School of Marine Sciences, and one of four university co-investigators taking part.
The three other UMaine co-investigators are Neal Pettigrew, professor of oceanography; Mary Jane Perry, professor of oceanography and interim director of the University of Maine Darling Marine Center; and Huijie Xue, professor of oceanography. In addition, program manager Linda Magnum, research associate Ivona Cetinic, graduate student Mark Neary and postdoctoral researcher Saswati Deb, will take part in the project.
The UMaine faculty and researchers are among the 39 researchers engaged in the two-year study. The group will build, deploy, garner and analyze data from state-of the-art outfitted floats, gliders and moorings during two winter storms and two summer storms that hit the Gulf of Maine or the area from Cape Cod, Massachusetts to Cape Hatteras, North Carolina.
As a severe storm approaches, aircraft will deploy 15 miniature, expendable floats along the forecasted storm track and launch four reusable gliders in the middle of the shallow continental shelf. Researchers will also anchor 10 portable buoy moorings near estuary mouths where storm surge causes significant flooding and damage.
The floats, gliders and moorings are designed to collect three new levels of ocean observations. The new data will be integrated into computer models that predict currents, sea level and turbulent mixing of cold sub-surface water with the surface ocean.
Meteorologists will be provided with a more complete picture about sea surface temperature and upper-ocean heat content, which will result in better-informed storm forecasting, say the scientists.
In addition, more targeted ocean surface data (air pressure, air and sea temperature, ocean waves, sea-level, etc.) collected by the moorings, in conjunction with current coastal flooding models, should enhance forecasting of flooding, they say.
Pettigrew is taking part in the design and manufacturing of the moorings for atmosphere and surface ocean measurements and he and Perry are in charge of glider deployments and data analysis. Chai is heading up ocean ensemble modeling and Xue is specializing in coastal flood modeling.
“Integrated Rapid-Response Observations and Ocean Ensemble Optimization to Improve Storm Intensity Forecasts in the Northeast U.S.” is the name of the study, which is being led by Glen Gawarkiewicz, senior scientist in the Physical Oceanography Department at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution.
The Gulf of Maine Research Institute, Rutgers University and the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science are partners, and the Cooperative Institute for the North Atlantic Region (CINAR) is the cooperating institute.
Contact: Beth Staples, 207.581.3777
Julie Gosse, University of Maine assistant professor of molecular and biomedical sciences, is examining how a synthetic antimicrobial common in soaps and deodorants inhibits cells that sometimes fight cancer.
Triclosan (TCS) was once limited to use in hospitals. But in the 1990s, manufacturers began putting the chemical into antibacterial soaps, toothpaste, body washes, facial cleansers and a multitude of other over-the-counter hygiene products.
TCS also is used in fabrics, plastics and clothing — from yoga mats to kitchenware to socks — to slow or stop the growth of bacteria and mildew. Because of its pervasive presence in products, Gosse says it’s also now in waterways.
When TCS inhibits the function of mast cells in skin, allergic disease may be eased. But Gosse says mast cells are complex players and are involved in both pro- and anti-cancer roles, in fighting bacterial infections and in central nervous system disorders such as autism.
“The results of this study will fulfill an urgent need by providing insights into the impact of TCS on public health, as well as insights into the inner workings of this crucial cell type, and will point to either pharmacological uses for or toxic impacts of this ubiquitous chemical,” she says.
The National Institutes of Health awarded Gosse more than $420,000 for the three-year project that begins Aug. 1.
In 2012, she and several UMaine undergraduate and graduate students published a paper about TCS that concluded it “strongly inhibits several mammalian mast cell functions at lower concentrations than would be encountered by people using TCS-containing products such as hand soaps and toothpaste.”
This grant, she says, will allow continued exploration of the molecular mechanisms underlying the effects. She and her research team will use a variety of methods and tools — including the fluorescence photoactivation localization microscopy (FPALM) technique invented by UMaine physicist Sam Hess. The technique images individual molecules.
Hess is participating in the research, as are Lisa Weatherly and Juyoung Shim, graduate students in Gosse’s lab, and students from the Hess lab.
Contact: Beth Staples, 207.581.3777
The University of Maine School of Nursing has been awarded a federal grant to defray educational costs of family nurse practitioner (FNP) students who will provide primary health care for rural Mainers in medically underserved areas.
The Advanced Education Nursing Traineeship grant, totaling nearly $600,000 from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, will aid eligible, full-time FNP students in the School of Nursing master’s degree program in 2014 and 2015.
“Reducing the financial burden associated with graduate education is a tremendous benefit for the RNs enrolled in UMaine’s rigorous FNP program,” says Nancy Fishwick, director of UMaine’s School of Nursing.
Family nurse practitioners provide comprehensive primary health care services to people, from infancy through adulthood. Since the inception of UMaine’s FNP program in 1992, the majority of its graduates have lived and worked in medically underserved and rural areas in the state.
Maine is both the oldest and most rural state in the nation, according to the 2010 U.S. Census Bureau. More than 61 percent of Mainers — whose median age is nearly 43 years — live in areas with fewer than 2,500 people.
Mary Shea, UMaine assistant professor of nursing and graduate program coordinator, is directing the project titled “Ensuring Access to Primary Health Care for Rural Maine.” The project’s objectives align with federal health care workforce goals and initiatives that seek to improve access to quality health care for all.
Contact: Beth Staples, 207.581.3777
Members of the University of Maine student group Engineers Without Borders will travel to Ecuador for two weeks in August on an assessment trip they hope will open the door to a long-term project to improve water security in the region.
From Aug. 16–28, six UMaine students and two mentors will stay in La “Y” de La Laguna in the coastal rain forest of Ecuador. La “Y,” which means the “Y” or a fork in the road, is a 300-person community that is struggling with an insufficient supply of drinking water.
A long dry season and inadequate storage is responsible for the low water supply. Residents are now dependent on buying untreated river water from an improvised tanker truck, according to EWB-UMaine members. The group aims to improve water security by helping the community find an adequate source, appropriate treatment, and reliable distribution.
“This trip will help us assess the needs of the community and build relationships that are vital to project success,” says EWB-UMaine member Logan Good. “Thinking ahead, this trip is just the beginning of a great companionship with the people of La ‘Y’ and a fantastic chance to experience global engineering.”
EWB-UMaine is a student chapter of Engineers Without Borders-USA. It was founded in 2007 and is made up of students and professional mentors who introduce communities in developing countries to sustainable engineering projects that aim to improve residents’ quality of life. Students from any major can join the group.
Good, a mechanical engineering student from Presque Isle, Maine, is the team’s project leader, co-design leader and assistant health and safety officer. During the trip, he will be responsible for ensuring all scheduled tasks are accomplished and for providing a safe, educational and exciting experience for team members.
This is the second EWB-UMaine trip for Good, who traveled with the group to Honduras in March 2013.
“Engineers Without Borders provides many opportunities to enrich students’ global perspectives and create responsible leaders,” Good says.
During the summer assessment trip, EWB-UMaine members will meet with the community, collect water quality and health data, and discuss possible storage solutions.
Edwin Nagy, a civil and environmental engineering lecturer at UMaine, is the group’s interim adviser and will attend the trip as an engineering mentor. His focus will be on the students’ relation-building efforts as they try to understand the community’s needs and organizational structure. Robert Sypitkowski, an environmental engineer and UMaine alumnus, will provide the main technical guidance on the trip, Nagy says.
Sypitkowski traveled to La “Y” in December to meet community members. While there, he learned that five years ago, a water pump system was constructed, but the system immediately failed and there is no funding to fix it. After conducting water quality tests, he determined a new source and a storage system are needed, and the community agreed, according to Sypitkowski.
Involving the community is an important aspect of the project, according to Nagy. Community members also will be given cameras and encouraged to take photos to spark discussions with EWB-UMaine about future potential projects.
“Having the community involved from the beginning means that the people who benefit from the project are involved in keeping it alive, and it means that needs identified are needs that the people themselves believe they have,” Nagy says, adding the group’s short-term goal is to get to know the community well enough to assess and understand their needs while making friends.
“I am very interested to know their story, make new stories with them, and of course, play some futbol,” Good says of the local residents.
After the assessment trip, the students will work with the mentors to design a suitable water system. Over the next several years, the group will take a series of implementation and monitoring trips to assist La “Y” with at least water storage, if not water quality. Nagy expects the project will take three to five years to complete.
In between trips, the group will work on perfecting their design; raising funds; and analyzing data on water quality, health, satisfaction and political status collected from the community. The data will help the group determine what effect their work is having on the perceived quality of life in the region.
Educational programs will be provided to community members throughout the project term to keep residents informed and encourage sustainability. Programs will include discussion about coliforms and related health risks, as well as information about operation and maintenance of the water system the group implements.
“If all goes well, this will overlap with other projects within this community or neighboring communities and we can have a long-term relationship with the people in and around La ‘Y,’ slowly helping them get to a point where they have the infrastructure for long-term, self-directed growth,” Nagy says.
In 2013, EWB-UMaine completed a five-year effort to implement a community septic system for 28 homes in Dulce Vivir, Honduras. In 2012, the project earned a $25,000 grant from Newman’s Own Foundation and the EWB-USA “Premiere Project Award” — the only award of its kind given to a student chapter that year. The project taught students how to work with a community to develop and implement a sustainable project, such as the one they are now pursuing in Ecuador.
“I hope the students will gain an appreciation for the many alternative ways of living in the world, a more practical approach to engineering and an increased sense of the options available to them as engineers,” Nagy says.
In February, the group was awarded a $10,000 Projects for Peace grant for work to be completed in Ecuador during the summer. Projects for Peace grants are funded by the Davis Foundation and are awarded to efforts that address conflict resolution and reconciliation, foster understanding, provide opportunity and build community, according to the foundation.
UMaine chemistry student Bryer Sousa also won a Projects for Peace grant in 2013 to install biosand water filters in 50 households in an impoverished rural region of Honduras.
Contact: Elyse Kahl, 207.581.3747