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UMaine Scientist Working to Find Cure for Common Bloodstream Infection

Contact: Robert Wheeler, (207) 581-2890; Aimee Dolloff, (207) 581-3777

ORONO, Maine — Bloodstream infections frequently occur and commonly cause death among critically ill patients. Scientists at the University of Maine may have unlocked the answer to treating one of these infections that kills more than 30 percent of the patients it infects.

“It’s an important clinical problem,” UMaine assistant professor of microbiology Robert Wheeler said.

For years, humans have lived with a fungus on our skin and in our gastrointestinal tracts that typically stays dormant.

It has developed a sort of camouflage that prevents the immune system from eliminating it, while at the same time the immune system is able to prevent the fungus from creating an infection.

It’s what Wheeler calls an “evolutionary give-take relationship.”

The fungus, Candida albicans, normally masks a special sugar in its protective coating that gives the cell rigidity but allows it to be attacked by the immune system.

The sugar is called

Leahy at Bangor Auditorium with Maine Center for the Arts Performance “A Celtic Christmas” on Dec. 18

Contact: Adele Adkins at (207) 581-1803; Joe Carr <a class=”darkblueones” href=” “> or at (207) 581-3571

Note: a photo is available upon request.

BANGOR, Me. — When Leahy last appeared on the Maine Center for the Arts stage in 2004, they brought down the house with their compelling fiddle-driven music, meticulous step dancing and captivatingv ocals.  This year, this spellbinding Canadian octet of brothers and sisters returns with a program that is sure to get audiences into the Christmas spirit.  Leahy performs A Celtic Christmas, a mix of Celtic medleys and traditional Christmas carols, as part of the Maine Centerfor the Arts season on the road at the Bangor Auditorium on Thursday, Dec. 18 at 7 p.m. With a style planted squarely in their Irish and Scottish roots, these talented siblings explore a broad range of musical genres and cultures with a formidable instrumental prowess. “Leahy makes Christmas a true family affair!,” the Calgary Herald said in reviewing the group’s performance.

The Leahys (Donnell, Siobheann, Frank, Denise, Doug, Erin, Angus and Maria) were raised on a farm near Lakefield, Ontario. Each of the Leahy children (11 total) learned to play the Celtic fiddle from their father, while their mother taught them to sing, dance and play the piano.  The siblings also learned a variety of instruments including guitar, banjo, mandolin, drums and bass, and during performances they often switch instruments, each demonstrating remarkable skills. The ensemble first gained attention as the subject of a documentary, The Leahys: Music Most of All, which won an Academy Award for “Best Student Foreign Film” in1985. In 1998, Leahy gained international attention when fellow Canadian ShaniaTwain invited the ensemble to open her debut world tour. Since then, Leahy has toured actively, introducing audiences across the globe to their high-energy, thrilling and spellbinding performances. Time Out New York raved that the group makes “Riverdance look like Lawrence Welk re-runs.” In addition, Leahy has released four acclaimed CDs, Leahy, Lakefield, In All Things and Live, which have sold more than half a million copies worldwide.

Embarking on their first-ever solo Christmas tour gives the members of Leahy the chance to share a bit of the magic of the Christmas season that began when they were children and continues today.T hese Christmas traditions included not only honoring the sacredness of the season, but also partaking of good food, the company of family and friends, and copious amounts of music. A Celtic Christmas will offer audiences a peek in the window of the Leahy home to experience a bit of this holiday cheer themselves.

Charge by phone at 207-990-4444 or visit

Page Farm & Home Museum Closing Over Holidays

Contact: Patty Henner, 581-4100

ORONO — The University of Maine’s Page Farm and Home Museum will close Wednesday, Dec. 24, at 3 p.m. for the holidays and will reopen Friday, Jan. 2 at its normal time, 9 a.m.

The farm and home museum’s normal hours for visits and educational programs is 9 a.m.-4 p.m., Tuesdays through Fridays, and 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., Saturdays and Sundays.

Call museum Director Patricia Henner at 581-4100 or visit the museum website at for further information.

UMaine Intermedia MFA Installation Students Host Freese Pop in Downtown Bangor

Contact: Vanessa Vobis, cell:408-605-5846

BANGOR — The Freese Pop art installation show, which features work by students in the University of Maine’s new Intermedia master of fine arts program, will open on Friday, Dec. 12, at the Freese’s building in downtown Bangor. An opening reception will take place from 5 to 7 p.m. Friday.  

“It’s a great public announcement for the Intermedia program,” says Owen Smith, director of the MFA program. “There’s something for everyone. Some pieces are funny; some pieces are provocative; some pieces are evocative. It will be an experience for the art-inclined and the non art-inclined.”

The show includes site-specific installations that explore themes relating to the building, its history and the artists’ relationship to the community.  The installations alter the space through a variety of media and materials including pancakes, old clothing, graffiti, wheat grass, and interactive digital technologies. The installations will be on view in the unoccupied first- and third-floor spaces of the former Freese’s department store, next to the Maine Discovery Museum in downtown Bangor.

Students in Vanessa Vobis’ installation art class have organized the show with her support. Vobis is a visiting art professor. Participating artists include John Bell, Richard Corey, Gabriella D’Italia, Bethany Engstrom, Julian Epps, William Giordano, Alexander Gross, Ryan Guerrero, Allison Melton and Abigail Stiers.

FreesePop will run Dec. 12-17. Open hours are as follows:

Friday, Dec. 12: reception 5-7p.m.

Saturday, Dec. 13: closed

Sunday, Dec. 14: open 3-7 p.m.

Monday, Dec. 15: open 3-6 p.m.

Tuesday, Dec. 16: open 3-6 p.m.

Wednesday, Dec. 17: open 3-6 p.m.

The Freese’s Building is located at 10 Water St., at the corner of Water and MainStreets, in downtown Bangor. For more information, visit

UMaine to Host Ceremony in Honor of Passamaquoddy Dictionary

Contact: Aimee Dolloff, (207) 581-3777; UMaine Wabanaki Center, (207) 581-1417

More than 30 years of hard work and dedication has culminated with the publication of the first-ever Passamaquoddy-Maliseet dictionary.

The book, published by the University of Maine Press, is authored by Passamaquoddy tribal elder David A. Francis; Robert M. Leavitt, former director of the Mi’kmaq-Maliseet Institute at the University of New Brunswick in Fredericton; and Margaret Apt, community research coordinator and Passamaquoddy language teacher at Eastport’s Shead Memorial High School.

An Honoring Ceremony for the release of the book will be held from 1:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 10, at the University of Maine’s Wells Conference Center. The event is hosted by The Passamaquoddy Tribe and UMaine’s Wabanaki Center.

“It’s everything a dictionary like this should be,” Michael Alpert, director of the University of Maine Press says. “I’m really glad that the university is part of this.”

“A Passamaquoddy-Maliseet Dictionary” contains 18,000 entries on more 1,200 pages and was a collaborative effort among native speakers, educators, and linguists.

The language is spoken in Maine and New Brunswick, Canada but never has been recorded in this form. For generations, American Indian culture and custom has been passed down primarily through oral tradition, but little has been formally documented.

Each dictionary entry includes sample sentences from both traditional and contemporary conversation and provides details of Passamaquoddy-Maliseet thought and culture, personal attitudes, humor, and linguistic ingenuity, according to information printed on the book’s jacket.

In the dictionary’s preface, written by Imelda and David Perley who have spent many years trying to preserve the Maliseet language, they refer to the dictionary as “a Sacred Bundle containing ancestral teachings, values, beliefs, and worldviews.”

“For nearly half a century many individuals, including myself, have been committed to making sure that the next generation has the tools and methodology essential to their own creativity in future endeavors,” Wayne A. Newell, Passamaquoddy elder and member of the University of Maine System Board of Trustees, writes in the Preface. “This dictionary stands as the centerpiece of our commitment.”

To attend Wednesday’s ceremony, RSVP by calling the Wabanaki Center at 581-1417.

UMaine Climate Change Institute Community Lecture at Bangor Public Library Wednesday

Contact: Gregory Zaro, 581-1857 or

ORONO — Stephen Norton, University of Maine professor emeritus of Earth sciences, will present the second lecture in the UMaine Climate Change Institute’s monthly series, “Climate Change on Planet Earth.”  The lecture is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 10, at the Bangor Public Library.

Norton, an internationally known geochemist, will discuss “Maine’s Air Pollution History: Distant Past to Near Future.” In this lecture, Norton will share how archival natural records help scientists reconstruct aspects of Maine’s chemical climate since deglaciation (about 14,000 years ago), and how direct measurements enable us to understand what has happened over the last few decades and what could happen in the future.

The lecture series is intended to make the science of climate change accessible to a broad audience. All lectures are free and open to the public.

UMaine Dressage Club Growing

Contact: Gina Edwards at <a class=”darkblueones” href=” “>

ORONO — Bolstered by seven new first-year students who joined up this fall, the University of Maine Dressage Club is the largest it has even been, with 12 students involved. For the first time, UMaine will field two teams for International Dressage Association (IDA) competitions. Tryouts for the spring season began earlier this week at Puckerbrush Farm in Newburgh.

Earlier this fall the dressage club hosted the season’s first IDA show with the help of coaches Bryn Walsh and Becky Reed, who own Puckerbrush Farm. Participants in the show, at Puckerbrush Farm, included Johnson and Wales, the University of New Hampshire and Bridgewater State. One of the highlights was Kristein Brown, a sophomore from Brewer, earning high point honors at a show at Johnson and Wales. That recognition goes to the rider with the day’s highest score.

In order to make these shows and other club activities possible, members have been working hard to raise funds to suppor the club.

For example, team members recently spent a day at Puckerbrush Farm cleaning bridles, saddles and other pieces of tack — for a fee — for horse owners who board their animals at the farm. Because the response was so favorable, it may become a monthly event.

Hope Elementary School Receives Sports Done Right Accreditation

Contact: Karen Hawkes at (207) 581-2443

ORONO, Maine — Union #69 (Hope Elementary School) is thel atest district to join the ranks of Sports Done Right accredited school communities in Maine. The Sports Done Right Board of Directors unanimously approved Hope Elementary School last month, noting impressive progress and implementation strategies. With this newest accreditation, Maine’s mid-coast continues to lead the state in sports reform efforts. To date, four school districts and one recreation department inthe mid-coast region have received Sports Done Right accreditation, while several others are actively engaged in the candidacy process.

“I am extremely impressed with the work being done in the Hope community,” says Karen Hawkes, director of the University of Maine’s Maine Center for Sport and Coaching, the headquarters for the Sports Done Right program. “The committee responsible for implementing Sports Done Right has done an outstanding job increasing opportunities for student-athletes while making clear connections between sports and learning. Hope Elementary wills erve as a respectable model for other elementary and middle schools in the state.”

The accreditation of Hope Elementary School will ensure continuity for students as they advance to Camden Hills Regional High School. Five Town CSD (Appleton, Camden, Hope, Lincolnville, Rockport) received Sports Done Right accreditation last fall. Other accredited school communities in the mid-coast region include MSAD 5 (Rockland, South Thomaston, Owls Head), MSAD 28 (Camden, Rockport) and Rockland Recreation.

Sports Done Right is a University of Maine initiative that serves as a guide for schools and youth sports organizations to assess and improve the overall athletic experience for young people. The program is designed to enhance community conversations, promote community partnerships, increase student involvement, increase athletic opportunities, and educate stakeholders on the value and importance of healthy and positive athletic participation.

More information about the Sports Done Right program isavailable by calling the MCSC at (207) 581-2443 or online at

UMaine to Host BioEnergy Forum

Contact: Aimee Dolloff, (207) 581-3777

ORONO, Maine — The University of Maine will host the Atlantica BioEnergy Task Force Research and Development Forum on Wednesday, Dec. 3, and Thursday, Dec. 4.

The task force is comprised of regional and federal government and industry organizations, and post secondary institutions seeking a better understanding of what opportunities may exist for the regions’ forestry sector.

The task force is supported by a team from PricewaterhouseCoopers that has been systematically examining opportunities in the area of wood-based BioProducts while considering sustainable use of resources, current regional operations, maturity of new technologies, the current regulatory environment and the economic impact.

This week’s event, coupled with a summit held last week in New Brunswick, is the culmination of a study completed by the task force and PricewaterhouseCoopers.

The R&D Summit is being hosted by regional post-secondary institutions to discuss the gaps that may exist between industrial needs and current R&D within the field. The forum being held at UMaine will explore how to take the opportunities identified in the report and turn them into tangible business opportunities in this region.

The forum will begin Wednesday at Hauck Auditorium with registration at 8:30 a.m. After lunch, the event will move to Wells Conference Center for the remainder of the forum.

UMaine Scientists Hope New Microscope System will Answer Important Biological Questions

Contact: Aimee Dolloff, (207) 581-3777; Samuel T. Hess, (207) 581-1022

Scientists at the University of Maine have developed a new way of looking at the molecular organization of cells by creating a microscope system they call FPALM (Fluorescence Photoactivation Localization Microscopy).

They already have used FPALM to image living cells with membranes that contain a protein that enables infection by the influenza virus. They also have used the system to image a variety of other biological and some non-biological systems.

“In principle, FPALM can be used to image any sample that can be labeled with an appropriate fluorescent marker,” UMaine physics graduate student Travis Gould said.

Influenza uses a protein, hemagglutinin (HA) to infect healthy cells. In the first step of infection, HA enables the virus to attach to the membrane of a healthy cell.

It is believed that how the individual HA molecules are arranged in the membranes is crucial for infection to occur. Unfortunately, due to the limited resolution of conventional microscopes, it hasn’t been possible to create images of such molecules on a small enough scale to test the biological models that predict how they may be organized.

“This problem was actually the motivation for inventing FPALM in the first place,” Gould said. “In our work on this question we were able to image living cells and disprove several of the existing models of membrane organization.”

The recent extension of FPALM to include three-dimensional imaging and provide information about the orientation of single molecules will greatly increase the ability of FPALM to address important biological questions.”

The system breaks a fundamental limit on the resolution of lens-based microscopes, known as the diffraction barrier, that has existed for more than 100 years.

UMaine graduate students Gould and Mudalige Gunewardene, research scientist Manasa Gudheti, and professors Julie Gosse and Samuel T. Hess of UMaine, along with colleagues at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York and the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development in Maryland, recently had their findings published in the “Nature Methods” science journal.

When detecting light through a lens-based imaging system, in this case a microscope, structures smaller than about half the wavelength of the detected light can’t be resolved because of diffraction. Diffraction is the phenomenon that occurs when a wave, such as light, encounters an obstacle, such as a lens.

A normal microscope looks at all of the molecules at once, which can make the individual molecules difficult to see. It’s like trying to pinpoint individual drops of water in a stream.

The FPALM system uses photoactivatable dyes to identify individual molecules and separate them.

“Surprisingly, it is relatively easy and inexpensive to adapt conventional, commercially available microscopes for FPALM imaging,” Travis Gould says. “In fact, in labs where conventional fluorescence imaging is already being performed, the only additional equipment required would be a camera sensitive enough to detect the light emitted by a single molecule and potentially an additional laser.”

While it does take longer to produce an image using FPALM, the system provides about 10 times better resolution. Its resolution capabilities exceed those of the most powerful confocal light microscopes currently available.


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