Archive for 2003

UMaine Bookstore, Printing Services, ROTC Team up to Send Support

Thursday, November 6th, 2003

Contact: Media contact: Joe Carr at (207) 581-3571

ORONO — Beginning on Monday, Nov. 10, the University of Maine Bookstore, University of Maine Printing Services and the UMaine Army and Navy ROTC will collaborate on a project intended to boost she spirits of Maine service men and women who are not at home during the upcoming holiday season.

One-thousand UMaine postcards will be made available at various campus locations.  Members of the UMaine community and visitors will be encouraged to write a message on the postcard and the bookstore will cover the cost of mailing it to a Mainer serving in either the national guard or the reserves.  Cards may also be sent to active duty military personnel if an exact address is provided. Printing services has donated the printing of the cards and ROTC is helping to facilitate the process.

“Beginning just before Veteran’s Day and extending well into the holiday season, this program will provide the opportunity for many of us to send words of encouragement and support to people who could really use it,” says Bill Hockensmith, the manager of the UMaine bookstore.  “For the most part, troops serving overseas don’t get much mail.  When they do hear from home, it means a lot to them.”

Among the places the cards will be available are the bookstore, Printing Services and the UMaine Dept. of Public Safety desk in Memorial Union.  Hockensmith is also planning to set up tables in various dining halls at mealtimes and to develop other ways to take the program to UMaine students.

UMaine Students to Perform Comedy by Canadian Playwright Walker

Tuesday, November 4th, 2003

Contact: Media contact: Joe Carr at (207) 581-3571

ORONO — A cast of ten University of Maine students is hard at work preparing to stage George F. Walker’s dark comedy “Escape from Happiness” in seven performances beginning Friday, Nov. 14 at UMaine’s Hauck Auditorium. UMaine Prof. Tom Mikotowicz directs the play, which is the third in Walker’s East End Trilogy.  This is the first time the UMaine School of Performing Arts has staged a play by Walker, a renowned Canadian playwright known for his bizarre sense of humor and straightforward characterizations.

“Walker has such a strange perspective on people and situations that you laugh all the way through one of his plays at the apparent illogic, but in the end you realize that much of it really rings true,” says Mikotowicz, who notes that Walker’s works are growing in popularity.  “It has been fun for all of us involved to explore all of the structure in this play.  We make a new discovery every night of rehearsal.”

“Escape from Happiness,” typical of Walker’s plays, is set against an urban landscape.  It explores a variety of contemporary and political issues through the story of a family that faces a series of challenges, including the invasion of their home by both criminals and the police.

“Despite all the family goes through, it ends up being a heartwarming story,” Mikotowicz says.  “The audience quickly grows to understand and appreciate the characters because of Walker’s words.  There is little subtext, and the characters say exactly what they feel; they are very visceral and lifelike in exploring the existential elements of their relationships.”

The design team for the play includes Chez Cherry for sets, Prof. Jane Snider for costumes, Devon Medeiros for sound, and guest lighting designer Matt Guminski for lighting.

The cast, which Mikotowicz calls “very talented,” includes several newcomers to UMaine productions.  Its members include Joy Van Meter, Lacey Martin, Kristy Lageroos, Kara Szczepanski, David Baril, Patrick Gleason, Janice Duy, Dustin Sleight, Josh Leigh and Michael Thayer.  The stage manger is Coral Ash; the assistant stage managers are Natalie Beiser and Chris Franklin.

“Each role is very challenging, and the characters evolve significantly during the play. Learning and staging this play is an outstanding educational experience for our students, and it will be very enjoyable for our audiences, as well.” he says.

Performances are set for Nov. 14-Nov. 23, according to the following schedule:

Friday, Nov. 14 at 7:30 p.m.
Saturday, Nov. 15 at 7:30 p.m.
Sunday, Nov. 16 at 2 p.m.
Thursday, Nov. 20 at noon
Friday, Nov. 21 at 7:30 p.m.
Saturday, Nov. 22 at 7:30 p.m.
Sunday, Nov. 23 at 2 p.m.

For ticket information call 581-1755.

$150,000 Gift to Benefit the Arts at UMaine

Tuesday, November 4th, 2003

Contact: Media contact: Joe Carr at (207) 581-3571

ORONO –  The legacy of Richard Paquette. who attended the University of Maine for one year in 1922, will benefit generations to come thanks to a $150,000 gift from his estate.

“This is one of those stories that could only be better if Mr. Paquette, who died earlier this year, had been with us to help celebrate his generosity” says Jeffery N. Mills, UMaine’s vice president for advancement and president of the UMaine Alumni Association.

Perhaps the next best thing happened on Oct. 16 evening when Paquette’s nephew, Tom Cavanaugh, joined by his wife Cynthia and daughter Catharine, presented the gift to UMaine Executive Vice President and Provost Robert Kennedy.  The presentation came during a reception attended by some 20 students, faculty members and administrators. 

“We are honored to have the opportunity to present this gift and know that it will go toward areas that Uncle Richard would have seen as important,” Cavanaugh says.

The gift was evenly divided between three areas: the University of Maine Museum of Art Campaign, the Visual Arts Building Project Campaign and the School of Performing Arts Music Department. 

“It was a great experience to discuss the numerous university priorities with the Cavanaughs and to find those that they felt matched their uncle’s interests,” says Chris Cox, UMaine’s director of major gifts, “Mr. Paquette’s name will become an important legacy to these three areas of the university.”

“The university has numerous priorities, but it is always great when such a significant gift can affect three areas at one time,” Mills says. “Mr. Paquette’s gift will help to complete the art museum’s campaign, move the art department’s building campaign forward and help to purchase a world class concert piano for the music department.”

Annual Children’s Book Drive Gearing Up

Monday, November 3rd, 2003

Contact: Media contact: Kay Hyatt at (207) 581-2761

ORONO– The University of Maine College of Education and Human Development, in partnership with the Old Town-Orono Kiwanis Club, has launched the 26th annual drive to collect books for needy youngsters. The public is invited to join in the tradition by donating new books suitable for toddlers to teens.

Established by College Dean Robert Cobb, the community and campus project has made thousands of books available to deserving area children.  The College takes the lead in collecting the books, and Club members distribute them at the service organization’s annual holiday party for area children.

Books, gift wrapped if possible and marked for a particular age level, may be brought to Cobb’s office, 151 Shibles Hall, through noon Friday, Dec. 5.

The UMaine Book Store in Memorial Union is again joining the College to boost the number of books collected and children served. During National Children’s Book Week, Nov. 17-22, the Book Store will match each book purchased for the book drive with one of comparable value. Books purchased elsewhere may also be dropped off at the Book Store, which will deliver them to the College.

Wild Blueberries May Help to Protect Arteries, Reduce Risks from Cardiovascular Disease

Friday, October 31st, 2003

Contact: Media contact: Dorothy Klimis-Zacas, Dept. of Food Science and Human Nutrition, 207-581-3124; Nick Houtman, Dept. of Public Affairs, 207-581-3777

ORONO– A University of Maine nutritionist has found evidence that consumption of wild blueberries can help arteries relax and reduce risks associated with cardiovascular disease. The project is the first using rats fed blueberry diets to demonstrate a relationship between consumption of whole wild blueberries and processes that can lead to high blood pressure.

The study was published earlier this year in the FASEB Journal, published by the American Societies for Experimental Biology.

Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death in the United States. Previous studies with cell cultures have shown that antioxidants such as anthocyanines contained in wild blueberries may help protect cells. Wild blueberry consumption in laboratory rats has also been linked to improvements in memory and motor skills.

At UMaine, Dorothy Klimis-Zacas, professor in the Dept. of Food Science and Human Nutrition, led a team of graduate and undergraduate students in a two-year research project that was supported by the Maine Agriculture and Forestry Experiment Station, the Maine Wild Blueberry Commission, the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture and the Wild Blueberry Association of North America. “Our experiments focused on the effect of whole wild blueberries on the biomechanical properties of arteries as related to cardiovascular disease,” says Klimis-Zacas. “This is the first in-vivo study to examine this relationship.”

Students working on the project included Cynthia Norton and Anastasia Kalea, master’s and Ph.D. candidates respectively in the department.

Researchers found that arteries of Sprague-Dawley laboratory rats fed a diet enriched with wild blueberries generated less force in response to phenylephrine, a stress hormone, than did arteries in rats fed the same diet without blueberries. “Those arteries (in rats fed the blueberry enriched diet) were more relaxed. When they were challenged with the stress hormone, they didn’t develop as much force. We know now that blueberries affect the contractile machinery of the artery,” says Klimis-Zacas.

The finding is important because the force with which an artery responds to stress can directly affect blood pressure. Norton and Klimis-Zacas presented the results of the study at the 2003 annual conference of the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology in San Diego, California and to the Wild Blueberry Association of North America in Bar Harbor, Maine.

The apparent benefit of the blueberry enriched diet carried over to older rats which received blueberries later in the study. The implication is that the addition of wild blueberries to the diet later in life may still have a protective effect on arteries.

The study has not been replicated in humans, and the researchers did not identify the compounds in wild blueberries that affect arteries. However, it is likely that high concentrations of antioxidants and trace minerals such as manganese which are high in blueberries could explain the beneficial effect, says Klimis-Zacas.

During the project, three groups of rats containing ten animals per group were fed the same diets with the exception of ground, whole wild blueberries. One group received the blueberry addition for the entire time, while another group had the same diet without blueberries. To test the addition of blueberries to the diet later in life, the third group received a diet without blueberries for 14 weeks followed by a blueberry enriched diet for eight weeks.

The amount of blueberries given to the rats per day corresponds to between one and two cups of blueberries per day for humans.

Researchers then surgically removed the aortas from each rat. They cut four ring sections from each aorta and tested the force generated by each section in response to the presence of hormones that stimulate arteries to relax or contract. During the tests, the arterial ring sections were hung in a tissue bath under conditions that mimicked the body’s internal chemical environment.

In a second round of experiments, researchers wanted to find out what layers in the artery are affected by blueberries. They focused on the inside surface of the artery, a layer of cells known as the endothelium.

“Increasing vascular resistance may lead to an elevation of blood pressure which may in turn damage the delicate endothelial layer,” says Klimis-Zacas. “This layer is affected by many things in the blood. By removing the endothelium, we are left with the smooth muscle layer of the artery, and we can localize the effect of wild blueberries in response to stress hormones. “

In these tests, researchers purposely damaged a portion of the endothelium and then exposed the arteries to the hormones. “We found that when we remove the endothelium, the artery cannot relax. And the contractile force it exerts in response to the stress hormone is about three times what it was with the intact arterial rings,” says Klimis-Zacas.

The endothelial layer is known to be an important source of nitric oxide that helps to relax the arteries. “You can imagine what happens with atherosclerosis. Your endothelium gets damaged. There are many different relaxation factors in the endothelium, but nitric oxide is a major one. We think that blueberries may function by preserving the bioavailability of nitric oxide,” says Klimis-Zacas.

“We know that nitric oxide concentration decreases at the onset of cardiovascular disease. By preserving nitric oxide bioavailabilty, blueberries may aid in maintaining arterial relaxation and thus prevent elevation of blood pressure that damages the endothelium and contributes to cardiovascular disease,” says Klimis-Zacas.

Future research is planned with rats that have high blood pressure, she says, to see if blueberries will lower blood pressure. A key will be the role of antioxidants in endothelium function.

Student Paper on Burial Location Wins First Place Award

Friday, October 31st, 2003

Contact: Media contact: Nick Houtman, Dept. of Public Affairs, 207-581-3777; John Nelson, Dept. of Earth Sciences, 207-846-3103

ORONO– John Nelson takes pictures of the ground beneath our feet. To the untrained eye, his images are little more than abstract art, but the patterns and lines that emerge from his work have been instrumental in finding places with cultural significance, such as old burial sites.

In December, 2002, he found the location of a 19th century cemetery located, of all places, under a house in Falmouth, Maine. In September, his presentation on locating that long forgotten burial site received a Best Paper Award in the Division of Environmental Geosciences at the Eastern Section American Association of Petroleum Geologists annual meeting.

Nelson, a Ph.D. candidate in the University of Maine Department of Earth Sciences, lives in Yarmouth, Maine. His research focuses on evidence of the last Ice Age in southern Maine, and he uses technology known as electrical resistivity measurement (ERM) to gather information about layers of rock and soil underground.

In 2002, Nelson read a Portland Press Herald newspaper article about a search for the burial site of the Revolutionary War and War of 1812 veteran, Capt. William Crabtree. Crabtree’s descendents thought they knew where the captain was buried, but they didn’t know for sure. The problem was that a house stood where they thought the old cemetery was located.

“I thought I could help them,” says Nelson, who had successfully tested the use of ERM at a modern cemetery and knew the technology could identify grave sites.

ERM consists of a computer and a system of electrical cables and spikes powered by a car battery. It injects an electric current into the ground and then detects the signals that are reflected back to the surface by soil and bedrock. The data can be analyzed to generate an image showing the location of the water table, impervious soil layers and bedrock. Because disturbed soil often contains small air pockets and electricity does not flow easily through air, areas previously dug up by people show up clearly in the images.

Nelson’s data from the house in Falmouth showed that a disturbed pit existed near the front steps of the structure. “I told the owners that depending on how serious they were about finding the grave, they should move the steps and dig there,” he says. The result was the discovery of a skull, vertebrae and an arm bone. Historical records confirm that the Crabtree-Hobbs cemetery at the site contained seven graves. Most of the gravestones are missing.

“The best thing about this technique is that’s entirely non-invasive. I don’t have to dig up anything to generate information about what’s underground,” says Nelson, who has established a company, Maine Non-Invasive, to provide the service to the public.

ERM, he adds, is typically used for geology research, resource studies and drilled-well characterization. While some archaeologists have employed the technique, the project in Falmouth may represent a new application to historical burial grounds.

Luanne Lawrence Appointed to UMaine Post

Friday, October 31st, 2003

Contact: Media contact: Joe Carr at (207) 581-3571

ORONO — Luanne Lawrence, a higher education professional with 12 years of experience in public relations, marketing, community relations and related areas, has been appointed Executive Director of Public Affairs and Marketing at the University of Maine.  She assumed her new duties on Sept. 2.

“Luanne brings a great deal of experience and a record of proven success in the areas of public affairs and marketing, which are crucial to our efforts to advance the University of Maine,” says Jeffery Mills, UMaine’s vice president for advancement and president of the University of Maine Alumni Association.  “We have already seen the benefits of her influence on these areas of our operation and we look forward to her continued leadership.”

Lawrence oversees a staff of 16 employees.  She has overall responsibility for a variety of functions, including media relations, university communications, creative services, licensing, advertising and UMaine’s website.

She comes to UMaine from the University of Baltimore, where she served as executive director of university relations for five years.  Prior to that, Lawrence was director of public relations at Lock Haven University of Pennsylvania and acting director of community relations at The Pennsylvania State University at Harrisburg.  She earned a bachelor’s degree from Millersville University and a master’s in Training and Development from Penn State Harrisburg.

Lawrence is a member of the Council for the Advancement and Support of Education, the Public Relations Society of America and the American Marketing Association.           

Art Museum Hours Change

Monday, October 27th, 2003

Contact: Media contact: Joe Carr at (207) 581-3571

ORONO — Effective immediately, there is a slight change in the hours the University of Maine Museum of Art is open to the public.  The museum will now close at 5 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday.  Open hours are as follows:

Tue. – Sat. 9 a.m. – 5 p.m.,  Sun. 11 a.m. – 5 p.m.

Admission is $3 per person.  No charge for UMaine students with ID and museum members.  Currently on exhibit at the museum are “John Marin’s Maine ,” “Hollywood Icons, Local Demons Ghanaian Popular Paintings” by Mark Anthony and “Jonathan Bailey: Seeing Bangor.” For additional information, please call 561-3350.

UMaine Graduate Student Wins Scholarship to Track Winter Trends at Acadia National Park

Monday, October 27th, 2003

Contact: Media contact: Nick Houtman, Dept. of Public Affairs, 207-581-3777; Sarah Nelson, Mitchell Institute, 207-581-3454

ORONO– A University of Maine graduate student has received one of eight 2003 Canon National Park Science Scholarships awarded in September to students studying at national parks in North and South America. Sarah Nelson, a researcher at UMaine’s Senator George J. Mitchell Center for Environmental and Watershed Research, will use the $78,000 three-year scholarship to analyze winter trends in watershed chemistry at Acadia National Park.

Nelson earned her UMaine master’s degree in 2002 and is working toward a Ph.D. in UMaine’s Ecology and Environmental Sciences Program. For two years, she was part of a team working at Acadia to understand how mercury and nitrogen in streams and precipitation relate to the natural features and history of the landscape. These are national issues of concern to the National Park Service, for which Acadia has provided a natural laboratory for many years. The research effort is ongoing and focuses on the Cadillac Brook watershed on Cadillac Mountain and on the Hadlock Brook watershed near the town of Northeast Harbor.

In her role, Nelson carried plastic tubing, bottles and other research equipment up mountains and along stream banks. She analyzed water samples and produced a thesis on the influence of water percolating through the tree canopy on water chemistry in streams. Trees can scavenge the toxic metal mercury and acid rain components from the atmosphere, she and her colleagues found, and play an important role in watershed processes that result in mercury accumulation in fish.

Since all of that research was done during the growing season, she says, the resulting picture is incomplete. Now Nelson will focus on how mercury and other chemicals accumulate on Acadia’s landscape during the winter. She will collect information about the chemistry of winter precipitation as well as mercury in streams to develop a more complete understanding of watershed processes.

“A lot of winter storms blow in off the ocean, as opposed to the rest of the year when they tend to come across inland areas. We may be missing the effect of winter storms on watersheds,” says Nelson. Mercury in the atmosphere can come from natural sources in the ocean as well as human activities on land.

Nelson’s proposal for studying winter deposition of mercury was chosen from 140 applications and is the only 2003 project to be conducted in the United States. Other 2003 Canon scholars will be working in Canada, Argentina, Brazil, Peru and Mexico.

“The goal of the program is to train the next generation of conservation scientists,” says Gary Machlis, University of Idaho professor and program coordinator for the Canon National Parks Science Scholars Program. “We see these students as future leaders in conservation science.

Nelson grew up in Berlin, Massachusetts and, after briefly studying science and civil engineering, received her bachelor’s degree in art history from Columbia University in New York City. She became interested in environmental science, she says, after working as a volunteer to monitor water quality in the Assabet River which flows through Berlin. A desire to learn more about water quality and forests led Nelson to UMaine where, as a student technician in the environmental chemistry laboratory, she participated in ongoing research at Acadia.

“Sarah has both a natural curiosity and the drive to find ways to get things done,” says her major advisor Steve Kahl, director of the Mitchell Center. “Her entrepreneurial spirit is a key part of the success of the Center.”

Past research at UMaine and elsewhere, she says, has focused on mercury in fish and other organisms. “At this point, scientists are trying to figure out where the fish are getting the mercury,” she says. To get at that question, Nelson will sample winter precipitation for chloride, sodium and sulfate mercury to gauge the impact of winter weather on Acadia’s watersheds.

“Different amounts of all of these chemicals come from the land and the ocean, and it will be interesting to see which ones spike up during the winter, compared to the rest of the year, and which ones don’t,” Nelson adds.

Nelson will continue to collaborate with other scientists from UMaine and the Institute of Ecosystem Studies in Millbrook, New York, which has also conducted environmental studies in the park. Their eventual goal is to create a scientific model of atmospheric deposition that can be used to predict stream water quality on the basis of weather, vegetation and other factors.

Nelson and Kahl are co-editing an upcoming special issue of the journal Environment Monitoring and Assessment on watershed research at Acadia.

The Canon National Park Science Scholars Program is supported by Canon USA, Inc., the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the National Park Service. Established in 1997, it provides financial support to students who have conducted research in more than 50 national parks and produced over 75 articles and presentations.

Johnson, Lick Presidential Portraits to be Unveiled

Monday, October 27th, 2003

Contact: Media contact: Joe Carr at (207) 581-3571

ORONO — The official portraits honoring former University of Maine presidents Arthur Johnson and Dale Lick will be unveiled in separate ceremonies at UMaine’s Fogler Library during the next three weeks.

Johnson, the 14th UMaine president, served in that role from July 1984-Aug. 1986.  He was succeeded by Lick, who was UMaine’s president until June 30, 1991. 

The portrait of Lick will be unveiled at 4 p.m. on Thursday Oct. 30; Johnson’s will be unveiled on Friday Nov. 14 at 4 p.m.  UMaine President Peter Hoff will preside over the ceremonies, to be held in the library’s Hall of Presidents.  Lick and Johnson each plan be present when their portraits are unveiled.

Lick, who left UMaine to become president of Florida State University, is a faculty member at that institution.  Johnson, who is retired, lives in Southport, Me.