Archive for 2014

UMaine Named to 2014 Top Campuses Worth Traveling For List

Tuesday, August 19th, 2014

The University of Maine was named one of the 2014 Top Campuses Worth Traveling For by FlipKey.com, the vacation rental company of travel site TripAdvisor.

The company used industry research and traveler feedback to compile the list of the country’s 50 must-see colleges and universities known for attractions, architecture, history and beautiful campuses.

UMaine was included on the list, specifically for the campus plan that was designed by landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted, who also designed the grounds of New York City’s Central Park and the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C.

Other universities that made the list include Notre Dame, John Hopkins University, MIT, Princeton University, Dartmouth College, Duke University and Cornell University.

Maine AgrAbility Featured in WABI Report

Tuesday, August 19th, 2014

WABI (Channel 5) reported on Maine AgrAbility, a USDA grant-funded state program that helps farmers with chronic health conditions and disabilities gain more control of their lives, continue to farm successfully and live independently. The program is a nonprofit collaboration of University of Maine Cooperative Extension, Goodwill Industries of Northern New England and Alpha One. The report focused on a farmer in Winterport who was helped by the program. Richard Brzozowski, project director of Maine AgrAbility and a small ruminant and poultry specialist with UMaine Extension, told WABI “You don’t look at the disability part. You think of what they can do; the ability part.”

BDN Publishes Op-Ed on Proposed Argyle Township Landfill by Coghlan

Tuesday, August 19th, 2014

Steve Coghlan, an associate professor of freshwater fisheries ecology at the University of Maine and an Argyle Township resident, wrote the opinion piece, “Plan for a landfill in Argyle Township is the result of ‘tyranny of the majority’” for the Bangor Daily News.

Pulse Morning Show Interviews Davids about HIAD

Tuesday, August 19th, 2014

Bill Davids, chair of the University of Maine Civil and Environmental Engineering Department and the John C. Bridge Professor, was a Tuesday morning guest of host Don Cookson on The Pulse Morning Show on AM 620. Davids talked about how UMaine engineers and students are helping NASA test Hypersonic Inflatable Aerodynamic Decelerator (HIAD) technology. HIAD — a spacecraft nose-mounted “giant cone of inner tubes” stacked like a ring toy — slows a spacecraft as it enters a planet’s atmosphere. The technology may make it possible for a spaceship large enough to carry astronauts and heavy loads of scientific equipment to explore Mars — 34,092,627 miles from Earth — and beyond. Davids said the minimum three-year project is a wonderful opportunity for the university, as well as the two full-time doctoral candidates and six undergraduate students taking part in the testing.

Press Herald, AP Report on Increased Out-of-State Enrollment at UMaine

Tuesday, August 19th, 2014

The Portland Press Herald reported the number of out-of-state students enrolled in the University of Maine System is on the rise. As of Aug. 10 commitments from out-of-state students — who pay nearly three times the in-state tuition — were up 12 percent over the same time last year, according to the report. The University of Maine attracted about 16 percent more out-of-state students this year, with 941 expected to start this fall, the article states. The Associated Press and WLBZ (Channel 2) cited the Press Herald article. The Maine Public Broadcasting Network, SFGate and WABI (Channel 5) carried the AP report.

Reuters Quotes Brewer in Article on Sen. King’s Endorsement of Cutler

Tuesday, August 19th, 2014

Mark Brewer, a political science professor at the University of Maine, was quoted in a Reuters article about Sen. Angus King officially endorsing independent gubernatorial candidate Eliot Cutler. The article referenced the 2010 Maine governor’s race when Cutler posted a late-season surge following a similar endorsement from King. According to the article, many observers say Gov. Paul LePage and Democratic candidate Mike Michaud may be less susceptible to pressure from a third-party candidate this year. “People have been informed by the 2010 race and are very wary of splitting the non-LePage vote,” Brewer said. Yahoo News and Business Insider carried the Reuters report.

UMaine Extension Mentioned in Press Herald Article on Organic Hops

Tuesday, August 19th, 2014

The University of Maine Cooperative Extension was mentioned in a Portland Press Herald article about changes in U.S. Department of Agriculture standards that require organic beer to be brewed with organic hops and how those changes are inspiring more Maine brewers to grow hops. According to the article, UMaine Extension is testing several organic hop varieties to see which thrive and can make tasty brews in Maine.

Documentary Series Featuring Mayewski Wins Emmy Award

Tuesday, August 19th, 2014

A documentary about climate change that features a University of Maine explorer has won an Emmy Award.

Paul Mayewski, director of UMaine’s Climate Change Institute, appeared in the ninth and final episode of Years of Living Dangerously, which aired weekly from April to June on Showtime.

Developed by David Gelber and Joel Bach of 60 Minutes, Years of Living Dangerously won Outstanding Documentary or Nonfiction Series at the Creative Arts Emmy Awards held Saturday, Aug. 16, at the Nokia Theatre L.A. LIVE in Los Angeles; it is scheduled to be broadcast at 8 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 24, on FXM.

Years of Living Dangerously offers a critical view of climate change and its impacts that drive right to the heart of the issue: ‘How does climate change impact one’s life today,’” says Mayewski. “We clearly need many more such views of critical issues.”

Actors Matt Damon, Harrison Ford and Arnold Schwarzenegger, as well as journalists Lesley Stahl and Thomas Friedman and scientist M. Sanjayan, were among the documentary’s correspondents. They traveled the planet to examine stories about impacts of climate change. In addition to detailing devastation in New Jersey wreaked by Superstorm Sandy, they explored drought and lost jobs in Plainview, Texas, worsening wildfires in the U.S. and civil unrest heightened by water shortage in the Middle East. Sanjayan and a film crew joined Mayewski and his team of CCI graduate students in 2013 for the nearly 20,000-foot ascent of a glacier on Tupungato, an active Andean volcano in Chile.

Mayewski’s team was in Chile to collect ice cores from the melting glacier that serves as the drinking water supply for Santiago’s 4 million residents. Temperature there is rising, greenhouse gases are increasing and winds from the west that have traditionally brought moisture to the glacier have shifted, Mayewski says. By understanding trends, he says it’s possible to better predict where climate events will occur so plans can be made.

For decades, Mayewski has made discoveries in Earth’s remote regions. “When you go all over the world, you get a global view,” he says. “By nature, I’m an optimist. That is tempered with this problem. I do believe there will be a groundswell of people, or governments, or some combination so that there will be a better future in store.”

Years of Living Dangerously also was nominated for Outstanding Writing for Nonfiction Programming. More information is on the show’s website and included in a full news release.

Past, Present Hemlock Declines Focus of UMaine Research Project

Monday, August 18th, 2014

The impact that hemlock tree die-offs have had — and continue to have — on freshwater forest ecosystems is the focus of a research project at the University of Maine.

Hamish Greig, a UMaine assistant professor of stream ecology, and Jacquelyn Gill, an assistant professor of terrestrial paleoecology at the Climate Change Institute (CCI) and the School of Biology and Ecology, are leading a research team that is studying past and present declines of the conifers known for their dense shade. The resulting biomass the dying trees introduce into the watershed, as well as the other tree species that take their place on the forest floor, affect freshwater systems, including streams and lakes.

Understanding those implications is particularly important in Maine, where hemlocks are now being threatened by the same exotic pest that, in recent years, has decimated the tree species in the southeastern United States.

“People in Maine have a huge affinity to their rivers and lakes. It’s huge economically; it’s huge socially, and through recreational activities,” says Greig, who is joined on the research team by research assistant professor Krista Caps, postdoctoral scientist Robert Northington, as well as several graduate, undergraduate and high school students.

About 5,500 years ago, the hemlocks of eastern North America sustained a massive die-off that lasted about 1,000 years, brought on by severe drought and the hemlock looper, a native pest, Gill says. Today, the tree species has been nearly decimated in the southeastern United States by the hemlock woolly adelgid, an exotic insect from Asia.

Maine’s cold winters typically protect against exotic pests. However, warmer temperatures have allowed exotic pests to thrive and move north. Since 2004, the hemlock woolly adelgid has been in southwestern Maine. This year, it has made it as far north as Owls Head, according to the researchers.

“As the climate warms, there won’t be anything preventing the woolly adelgid from hitting our hemlocks in Maine as hard as they’ve been hit elsewhere,” Gill says.

As part of their study, the research team has set up 36 livestock water tanks as experimental freshwater mesocosms, or isolated experimental environments. Hemlock needles, along with rhododendron and maple leaves, have been added to the ecosystems to observe what happens when a hemlock dies.

The mesocosms allow the scientists to study these isolated environments as they develop over time — in this case, into the fall.

“You can’t really control something in a natural lake,” Greig says. “And if you do experiments in the lab, you’re really simplifying things down to two or three species of invertebrates. By having this happy medium, we can have natural complexity with the controlled replication of a true experiment.”

Next, Gill and Northington will study radiocarbon-dated records from the bottom of lakes and bogs in southeastern, coastal and central Maine regions to help understand how aquatic systems were affected by hemlock die-off in the past. By linking the paleo record with a modern experiment, the team hopes to will new light on hemlock’s role in changing ecosystems.

Nelson Quoted in BDN Article on Acid Rain Effects

Monday, August 18th, 2014

Sarah Nelson, an assistant research professor with the Senator George J. Mitchell Center and cooperating assistant research professor in Watershed Biogeochemistry in the UMaine School of Forest Resources, was interviewed for a Bangor Daily News article about her research with Steve Kahl, a sustainability professor at Unity College, on acid rain. After a decades-long study, the researchers found the negative effects of acid rain have been reversed much faster than expected. Nelson said the study shows the value of long-term monitoring. “Because these lakes have been sampled for so long, they’re really sentinels of what’s been going on in the Northeast,” she said. “It’s really an amazing resource.”