Archive for 2006

Student Receives Fellowship for Work With Wood Adhesives

Monday, December 18th, 2006

Contact: Roberta Laverty (207) 581-2110; David Munson (207) 581-3777

ORONO, Maine – Xuelian Zhang has been named UMaine’s first recipient of the Wood Based Composites Fellowship, established in 2006 with a gift from the Virginia Tech Foundation. Zhang, a Ph.D. student working at the AEWC Center, has completed approximately 2 years of her studies and is currently completing her comprehensive examination.                                 

Zhang has received numerous awards for her groundbreaking work in the area of ultrasonic atomization of wood adhesives, including:  1st place for her poster, Ultrasonic atomization of resin-adhesives in oriented strand board production, in the University of Maine Student Research and Creative Achievement Week Poster Exhibition (2006) and 2nd place in the poster session of the Forest Products Society Annual Conference – Eastern Canada and the Northeast U.S. Section.

Zhang’s major professor is Douglas Gardner, Professor of Wood Science and Technology. With this fellowship, she will receive support for her research activities in the area of adhesive spreading and penetration into wood.

Aquatic Animal Health Lab Receives Major Grant for Equipment

Monday, December 18th, 2006

Contact: Cathy Billings (207) 581-2751; David Munson (207) 581-3777

ORONO, Maine — UMaine’s new Maine Aquatic Animal Health Laboratory (MAAHL) recently received a grant of $395,205 from the State of Maine’s Marine Research Fund, administered by the Maine Technology Institute.  The award will allow MAAHL to purchase equipment that will greatly increase the lab’s capabilities to serve as a resource to facilitate applied research in marine animal health assessments and investigations in a timely and exemplary manner. The Marine Research Fund grant will also facilitate the establishment of a state-of-the-art marine environmental samples repository. MAAHL is a collaborative service of the University’s Department of Animal & Veterinary Sciences, Cooperative Extension, and the Lobster Institute.

UMaine Professor elected to Chair the Council of Scientific Society Presidents

Monday, December 18th, 2006

Contact: Peter Jumars (207) 581-3321; David Munson (207) 581-3777

ORONO, Maine – The Council of Scientific Society Presidents (CSSP) elected UMaine School of Marine Sciences Professor Peter A. Jumars to be its Chair Elect for 2007 at its semi-annual meeting in December.

The CSSP ( is the nation’s leading center for development of science leadership and science policy.  It comprises the Presidents of about 60 scientific societies and represents well over 1.4 million scientists and science educators. 

Jumars is highly regarded for his work, which focuses on biological-physical interactions in the marine environment. A former president of the American Society of Limnology and Oceanography, Jumars will become CSSP Chair in 2008.

UMaine Recognized by IEEE

Monday, December 18th, 2006

Contact: Ali Abedi (207) 581-2231; David Munson (207) 581-3777

ORONO, Maine – UMaine has been selected as a recipient of the 2006 Supporting Friend of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) Regional Activities Award. Approved by the IEEE Regional Activities Board in November, the award was established to recognize those organizations that encourage and support IEEE activities and volunteerism.

IEEE recognized UMaine for its support in hosting the highly-successful 2006 IEEE Region One Student Conference and Micro Mouse Competition. More than 150 participants from across the Northeast participated in the event – the largest attendance ever for the competition. This is the first time in more than 50 years of IEEE membership that UMaine has hosted the event, which is typically held on larger campuses in New York and Massachusetts.

“We worked very hard to get the conference here this year. We have a great school, but people don’t really know about the excellent facilities that we have here,” said UMaine Electrical and Computer Engineering professor and IEEE Maine Communications/Computer Society Chair Ali Abedi.

The award consists of an engraved plaque. Among previous year’s winners are General Electric Company (2000), Oracle Corporation (2001), Lockheed Martin Aeronautics (2002), Memorial University of Newfoundland (2003), Boeing Corporation (2004) and Gennum Corporation (2005).

UMaine Community to Test Exercise Equipment

Thursday, December 14th, 2006

Contact: Joe Carr at (207) 581-3571

ORONO — Future users of the University’s of Maine’s Student Recreation Center, under construction and due to open next fall, will have the opportunity to try out some of the exercise equipment that might be available to them in the new facility.

UMaine campus recreation officials will bring top-of-the-line equipment to campus, beginning Monday Dec. 18, so that UMaine students, faculty members and staff members can try the new models and provide feedback. That community input will figure into final decisions on equipment purchases.

From Monday through Friday of next week, a Cybex Arc Trainer, provided by Maine Fitness in Bangor, will be set up in the Spirit Room on the second floor of Memorial Union. The other pieces will arrive in January, according to a schedule to be determined. Those machines — a Life Fitness 951TI treadmill with E-Z TV console, a Life Fitness Cable Motion Dual Adjustable Pulley Strength Trainer, and a Lemond Spinning Bike — will be set up in the Spirit Room and Latti Fitness Center during January.

The 89,000 square foot Student Recreation Center is located behind UMaine’s Hilltop Complex.

UMaine Engineers Excel in Bidding Competition

Wednesday, December 13th, 2006

Contact: Philip Dunn (207) 581-2326; David Munson (207) 581-3777

ORONO, Maine – Eighteen students from the Construction Management Technology and Civil and Environmental Engineering programs competed in the 17th Annual Associated Schools of Construction Region I Bidding Competition held in Fairfield, NJ on November 9-12, 2006. Facing tough competition from more than a dozen schools, UMaine teams finished second in both the Heavy Civil and Design –Build categories.

The ASC is a nationwide organization of schools that offer construction management programs to promote and teach the standards of the construction industry. The greater construction contracting community sponsors the event with major contributing sponsors serving as the coordinators of each of the competition categories. Major sponsors provide actual project information to students and act as the judges for student team entries within their respective competition. Student teams use that information to prepare a full construction bid, means and methods, and schedule to build the project that is presented to them.

The team advisor was Philip Dunn, Jr. PE, Assistant Professor of Construction Management Technology at UMaine. Other sponsors participated in a job fair that offers each student participant the opportunity to learn about potential jobs with the represented companies.

Students competing in the competition from UMaine included:

Heavy Civil:  Ben Winsor (Sr. in CIE), Brayden Sheive (Jr. in CMT), Zachary Davis (Jr. in CMT), Ryan Levesque (Jr. in CMT), Matt Morin (Jr. in CMT), Michael Morneau (So. in CMT)

Design-Build:  Kate Hurley (Sr. in CMT), Jeff Kelley (Sr. in CMT), Jesse Nash (Sr. in CIE), Brock Bessey (Jr. in CIE), Travis Hamel (Sr. in CIE), and Brandon Blake (Jr. in CIE)

Commercial Building:  David Manz (Sr. in CMT), Pat Skall (Sr. in CMT), Brandon Cummings (Jr. in CMT), Jason Jendrasko (Sr. in CMT), Kabe Mickon (Jr. in CMT), and Rob Sampson (So. in CMT)

Special assistance came from Mr. Tim Sommers and Mr. Garret Bertolini of Pizzagalli Construction, Mr. Brian Watson of Cianbro Corporation, and Assistant Professor Ann Joles of the Communications and Journalism Department.

Potato Pathogens and Biosecurity

Wednesday, December 13th, 2006

Contact: Laurie Connell (207) 581-2470; David Munson (207) 581-3777

ORONO, Maine — Potato wart, a highly contagious fungal disease of potatoes, can not only ruin a potato crop, it can destroy the agricultural value of the soil it infects for decades. So virulent that it has been listed as a threat to the nation’s biosecurity by the federal government, potato wart has had a devastating impact on European agriculture and can be found just beyond Maine’s borders in isolated areas of Newfoundland, Canada.                        

UMaine researchers Laurie Connell and Rosemary Smith are combining their expertise in molecular biology and sensor development to help combat the dangerous disease. Utilizing a four-year, $800,000 grant from the United States Department of Agriculture Biosecurity Program, Connell and Smith are working with Steven Woods of the Canadian Food Inspection Agency to create a fast and effective device for detecting potato wart in soil.

The mobile, hand-held sensor currently being developed will use groundbreaking techniques in nanotechnology to identify the RNA sequence specific to the potato wart pathogen, providing faster, more accurate results than the field identification techniques currently in use. The new sensor, which utilizes a bridge of gold nanoparticles that reacts to specific molecular configurations, could provide researchers with an important new tool for detecting a broad range of potential toxins and pathogens in the field.

Connell and Smith are currently developing the specialized surfaces and attachment methods required for the nanoparticles and streamlining the process for extracting the potato wart pathogen from the soil. The project promises to greatly improve the chances of early detection of the disease, which is critical to its control.

Northern Maine Project Turns Seed Crops into Fuel

Wednesday, December 13th, 2006

Contact: Peter Sexton (207) 764-3361; David Munson (207) 581-3777

ORONO, Maine – Working in collaboration with businesses in northern Maine, UMaine Cooperative Extension Crops Specialist Peter Sexton has completed a pilot project that successfully converted Maine-grown seed crops into 1000 gallons of the alternative fuel biodiesel. The project offers an exciting glimpse into Maine’s potential as a producer of oil seed for use as fuel.     

Utilizing of his expertise in field crop research, Sexton planted 30 acres in Aroostook County with oil-rich mustard and canola. The experimental plots yielded more than 25 tons of oilseed, which were pressed during the winter by CHB Proteins, an independent mill that is one of several small businesses participating in the project.

More than 2000 gallons of raw canola oil was extracted from the seeds harvested from Sexton’s test plots. A portion of the thick, amber oil was later blended with petroleum-based fuel to produce the state’s first 1000 gallons of homegrown biodiesel, an alternative fuel blend that can be used in the same way as traditional diesel fuel without any engine or burner modifications. While Sexton will keep a portion of the fuel for testing and demonstration purposes, more than half of the biodiesel is already being put to use — warming homes and fueling farm equipment in northern Maine. Already available at select sites across the state, biodiesel produced elsewhere is rapidly increasing in popularity as an alternative to all-fossil fuels that are produced largely overseas.

While oil from field crops will likely remain only a small piece of the nation’s energy puzzle, Maine has the potential to greatly increase its oil seed production, either as part of a potato rotation program or as its own cash crop

“Within the potato rotation in Maine, if we produce 10,000 to 15,000 acres of canola, then we could in theory produce approximately 800,000 to 1,200,000 gallons of biodiesel,” said Sexton. “Biodiesel has less toxic emissions, better lubricity for engines, and is more biodegradable than straight fossil fuels. It also contributes less to global warming because growing the plants and burning their oil just moves carbon dioxide through its natural cycle, rather than inputting new CO2 into the atmosphere like oil that is pumped out of the ground. At a societal level, biodiesel is just a small percentage of what we use, but it’s a step in the right direction.”

UMaine Researcher Recognized for Contributions to Spatial Science

Wednesday, December 13th, 2006

Contact: David Munson (207) 581-3777

ORONO, Maine – Professor Michael Worboys from the Department of Spatial Information Science and Engineering at the University of Maine was recently named one of 24 distinguished scientists in an international nomination, peer evaluation and selection process managed by the Association of Computing Machinery.

ACM is the world’s oldest and largest educational and scientific computing society and serves a membership of computing professionals in more than 100 countries in all areas of industry, academia, and government. Professor Worboys was cited for his early conceptual work on spatio-temporal information systems, research contributions related to object-oriented models of spatial data and uncertainty in spatial data and, more recently, event-oriented models of dynamic spatial information systems.

The core criterion for all recipients is that they must have made significant accomplishments or achieved a significant impact on the computing field as attested to in letters of nomination and support by well-respected peers in their disciplinary domain. In addition to the 24 distinguished scientists, seventeen distinguished engineers and eight distinguished members of ACM were recognized also in this first annual nomination and selection process.

Google, IBM, INTEL, Microsoft, Sun Microsystems, and Yahoo were among the corporations that had leading scientists or engineers recognized. In addition to Maine, other universities that had distinguished faculty recognized included Carnegie Mellon, Massachusetts, Maryland, Rutgers, Texas at Austin, Berkeley and Yale, among others.

Internet Ticket Purchases for “Charlotte’s Web” Movie to Support 4-H

Wednesday, December 13th, 2006

Contact: Mary Dinsmore, Pine Tree State 4-H Foundation, P (207) 581-3327, F (207) 581-1387

ORONO, Me. –Staff members of University of Maine Cooperative Extension’s 4-H youth development program were excited to learn that their program will receive proceeds from ticket sales for the new movie, “Charlotte’s Web.” Paramount Pictures and Walden Media have agreed to donate one dollar of every ticket sale to the purchaser’s state 4-H program, provided that the tickets are purchased through the national 4-H website at

“Charlotte’s Web,” based on the beloved children’s book by E.B. White, features a young 4-H member who lives on a Maine farm. The movie displays the 4-H clover several times, and embodies the 4-H values of dedication, friendship, and loyalty.

“We are very excited about this partnership,” says Fred Schlutt, executive director of the Pine Tree State 4-H Foundation and UMaine Extension’s resource development officer. “This is a great opportunity to see a classic tale brought to life on the movie screen while supporting a worthy program. It is also great advertising for 4-H, as Fern’s hard work and dedication to Wilbur shows exactly the type of qualities we promote in 4-H. Whether they are raising a pig, designing a website, or participating in community service, 4-H’ers always give their best effort.”

4-H is University of Maine Cooperative Extension’s youth development program. The Pine Tree State 4_H Foundation is a nonprofit 501c(3) organization that provides financial and organizational support to 4-H clubs throughout Maine. For more information visit