Archive for the ‘Cumberland County’ Category

Maine Development Foundation, UMaine Issue Report on Personal Income in Maine

Thursday, October 17th, 2013

On Oct. 17, the Maine Development Foundation and the University of Maine’s School of Economics and Margaret Chase Smith Policy Center released the second quarterly report analyzing critical economic indicators in Maine. The latest report looks at Maine’s relatively low per capita personal income. The first report, released in August, addressed Maine’s comparatively low level of worker productivity. Ann Acheson, a research associate at the Margaret Chase Smith Policy Center, wrote the new report that analyzes the relative contribution of the three sources of personal income — earned income, investment income and transfer payment income — in Maine and in comparison to the national average. The Maine Development Foundation news release and the full report are online.

 

‘Sustainable Maine’ Series to Air on MPBN

Wednesday, October 2nd, 2013

MPBN will air season three of the Maine EPSCoR produced “Sustainable Maine” series, highlighting the research of Maine’s Sustainability Solutions Initiative (SSI), based at UMaine’s Senator George J. Mitchell Center. SSI is helping communities solve interconnected economic problems while advancing sustainability science. Information about the MPBN documentary series is online.

The broadcast schedule is:

Return of a River – Wednesday, October 2, 2013 at 9 p.m.
(Repeating on Saturday, October 5, 2013 at 10 AM and Sunday, October 6, 2013 at 1 p.m.)

Tipple Bottom Line – Wednesday, October 2, 2013 at 9:30 p.m.
(Repeating on Sunday, October 6, 2013 at 1:30 p.m.)

Culvert Operations – Wednesday, October 9, 2013 at 9 p.m.
(Repeating on Saturday, October 12, 2013 at 10 AM and Sunday, October 13, 2013 at 1 p.m.)

Desperate Alewives – Wednesday, October 9, 2013 at 9:30 p.m.
(Repeating on Sunday, October 13, 2013 at 1:30 p.m.)

Preserving Paradise – Wednesday, October 16, 2013 at 9 p.m.
(Repeating on Saturday, October 19, 2013 at 10 AM and Sunday, October 20, 2013 at 1p.m.)

Saving Our Lakes – Wednesday, October 16, 2013 at 9:30 p.m.
(Repeating on Sunday, October 20, 2013 at 1:30 p.m.)

Basket Trees – Wednesday, October 23, 2013 at 9 p.m.
(Repeating on Sunday, October 27, 2013 at 1 p.m.)

Pools, Policy & People – Wednesday, October 23, 2013 at 9:30 p.m.
(Repeating on Sunday, October 27, 2013 at 1:30 p.m.)

Blackstone Accelerates Growth and UMaine Receive Champion Award from the Maine Development Foundation for the Innovate for Maine Fellows Program

Monday, September 23rd, 2013

Blackstone Accelerates Growth and its partner, the University of Maine Foster Center for Student Innovation today, were recognized for the Innovate for Maine Fellows program.

The program, designed to give Maine undergraduate and graduate students opportunities to work with innovative Maine companies, was launched in 2012.

It is a cornerstone of the Blackstone Accelerates Growth initiative in Maine, whose mission is to accelerate the next generation of innovators and entrepreneurs. The program, administered by the University of Maine, this year placed 30 Maine students with 33 companies and organizations across the state. A list of students who have participated in the program is online.

Since the program’s inception, students from 16 colleges and universities have been selected for the competitive one-year fellowship. The fellowship includes training, networking opportunities and an intensive summer or academic-year internship experience with some of Maine’s leading companies and organizations. The students are matched with companies and organizations that are themselves carefully chosen for the value of the opportunity they offer students. In preparation for their assignment, students undergo a rigorous boot camp designed to introduce them to Maine’s innovation landscape and ground them in the skills required to bring products to market through UMaine’s Innovation Engineering® program.

Tony Nuzzo, a 2013 graduate of the University of Maine with a degree in electrical engineering, worked with Pika Energy in Westbrook. During his assignment, Nuzzo learned to be “unstoppable” in pursuit of his project to help Pika develop and launch a new high-efficiency wind turbine. The internship was so successful, Pika hired Nuzzo as a full-time employee in May.

Renee Kelly, director of UMaine’s Foster Center for Student Innovation, indicated the program grew significantly in 2013 in terms of both students and companies participating. More students applied for the program this year, making the selection process even more competitive. Currently, Kelly is planning on placing 50 or more students in the program in 2014, with 60 or more companies and organizations.

The Blackstone Accelerates Growth program benefits early-stage entrepreneurial companies that need skilled people, but cannot afford them. The program pays a portion of the intern’s stipend. The companies get smart, energetic interns who get to work on significant projects with interesting and growing companies.

The Maine Development Foundation (MDF) is a private, nonpartisan membership organization created by state law in 1978 that drives sustainable, long-term economic growth for the State of Maine. The Champion Award was created to recognize organizations that provide outstanding opportunities for Maine’s young people to realize their professional and personal aspirations in Maine.

“Blackstone’s Innovate for Maine Fellows program provides students and recent graduates an excellent opportunity to work with exciting Maine companies, and to see that challenging and rewarding jobs are available for young professionals in Maine,” according to MDF Chief Executive Officer Ed Cervone.

Robert Martin, president of the Maine Technology Institute, a partner in the Blackstone Accelerates Growth initiative in Maine, said this program shows that Maine has a vibrant community of entrepreneurs and innovative businesses that thrive with smart, dedicated young professionals who help build successful new businesses.

Contact: Margaret Nagle, 207.581.3745

Falls Prevention Program Focus of $380,000 Grant

Thursday, August 1st, 2013

The National Institutes of Health has awarded $380,000 to researchers at the University of Maine Center on Aging, University of New England (UNE) and The Iris Network to study a falls prevention program for older citizens with vision impairment. Falls among older adults can lead to serious injury, loss of independence or death. The two-year project aims to inform community programs how to provide the best falls prevention information for older citizens.

The study will focus on the effectiveness of the UNECOM Balancing Act Program, a self-initiated falls prevention program that aims to improve balance and reduce falls. The program, designed at the University of New England College of Osteopathic Medicine Department of Geriatric Medicine, requires only one training session and can then be done at home with no equipment or further instruction.

“In Maine and throughout the country, aging services are shifting toward community and in-home interventions allowing older adults to age in their homes and communities,” Jennifer Crittenden, fiscal and administrative officer of the UMaine Center on Aging, says.

Among the 65 and older population, 30 to 40 percent experience a fall, with vision-impaired seniors nearly twice as likely to fall, according to information from The Iris Network, an organization that provides services statewide to Maine people living with blindness and visual impairment.

“Accidental falls are the leading cause of fatal and nonfatal injuries for those 65 years of age and older,” said U.S. Sen. Susan Collins, the ranking member on the Senate Special Committee on Aging. “This grant will contribute to the important work being done at UMaine’s Center on Aging and help raise awareness and prevent life-threatening falls in the older adult population.”

Through a randomized controlled trial, researchers will be able to test the effectiveness of the UNECOM Balancing Act curriculum among seniors with visual impairment. The study will also examine the program’s potential for adoption by community-based programs such as Maine Area Agencies on Aging as a convenient, home-based plan that is user-friendly and accessible to older adults living in rural areas.

“These funds are welcome news for medical researchers throughout the state as well as those suffering from vision impairment,” U.S. Sen. Angus King said. “The UNECOM Balancing Act Program has the potential to help our elderly population live more safely in their homes and communities. This is especially important in a rural state like Maine, where easy and immediate access to medical facilities and treatment is often dependent upon location.”

Co-principal investigators for the study are Lenard Kaye, director of the UMaine Center on Aging and professor in the UMaine School of Social Work, and Marilyn Gugliucci, director of geriatrics education and research at the UNE College of Osteopathic Medicine.

“The UNECOM Balancing Act Program was designed specifically for community dwelling older adults,” Gugliucci says. “Maine’s rurality makes it difficult for older adults to get to group programs, so having an opportunity to work on falls prevention in the home is quite important. To have the opportunity to adapt the Balancing Act Program for older adults with visual impairment will aid even more Mainers who want to maintain their independence.”

Subjects will be recruited from clientele of The Iris Network in York and Cumberland counties who are age 62 and older and who meet additional eligibility requirements. Participants will be randomized into control and treatment groups and will take part in a series of assessments that will help researchers understand the differences in outcomes between groups.

“Maine is often referred to as the oldest state in the nation. This grant will give us the opportunity to get out in front of a growing need in our elderly population, for whom a fall often signals the end to independent living,” Ruth Mlotek, director of vision rehabilitation services at The Iris Network, says.

The primary outcome measures of the study will be participant balance and frequency of falls. However, several other factors will also be measured, including pain, physical activity, fear of falling, perceived difficulty in performing the exercises, ability, motivation and predisposing factors for falls.

An additional aim of the study will be to determine if developing social networks will encourage participants to stick with the balancing exercises.

Research findings and the UNECOM Balancing Act Program will be disseminated among human service organizations through networks such as the National Association of Area Agencies on Aging, the Association for Education and Rehabilitation of the Blind and Visually Impaired, and the Maine Gerontological Society.

Contact: Elyse Kahl, 207.581.3747

Maine and New Hampshire EPSCoR Receive $6 Million to Address Health of Coastal Ecosystem

Monday, July 29th, 2013

Maine and New Hampshire’s coastal tourism and shellfish industries contribute millions of dollars annually to the regional economy. In Maine in 2010, coastal tourism and recreation added $1.1 billion to Maine’s gross domestic product, while shellfish landings in that same year generated revenues of $347 million. But these industries and the coastal environment they depend on are vulnerable to a variety of factors, including pollution, climate change and invasive species.

A team of researchers led by the University of Maine and the University of New Hampshire will conduct a three-year study of the many factors affecting the health of their shared coastal ecosystem. This collaboration, funded by a $6 million award from the National Science Foundation (NSF), aims to strengthen the scientific basis for decision making related to the management of recreational beaches and shellfish harvesting. This research is a direct outgrowth of Maine’s Sustainability Solutions Initiative, supported by the NSF EPSCoR program.

The project, titled the New England SusTainability Consortium (NEST), is managed by the EPSCoR programs at UMaine and UNH in partnership with College of the Atlantic, University of New England, University of Southern Maine, Great Bay Community College, Plymouth State University and Keene State College. In Maine, researchers will also collaborate with several state agencies and other stakeholders, including the Maine Department of Environmental Protection, Maine Department of Marine Resources, Maine State Department of Education and Maine Healthy Beaches.

“I am delighted that the National Science Foundation selected the New England SusTainability Consortium, for this Research Infrastructure Improvement grant,” said Sen. Susan Collins. “Through both tourism as well as commercial fishing, our state’s economy is highly dependent on the ecological well-being of the Gulf of Maine. This grant will help fund the vital research performed by faculty and students at the University of Maine as they seek to find ways to reduce pollution caused by coastal runoff and assist local governments in making informed decisions regarding the closure of beaches and shellfish beds.”

“This is good news for Maine, and indeed for all coastal areas,” said Sen. Angus King. “Our shellfish industry is facing many threats an climate change, warming oceans, acidifying waters, and an increase in green crabs, which are decimating clam flats. Our state simply can’t lose another fishery. I look forward to seeing the results of the good work that this grant will enable, like hopefully more targeted closures of flats. Our changing environment is a big problem, and while we work out broad solutions, we must also focus on mitigating the direct impacts on people and ecosystems.”

UMaine President Paul W. Ferguson affirmed the project’s importance, stating, “This NSF grant recognizes the leadership and contribution of University of Maine scholars who aim to support coastal ecosystems, economies, and communities by promoting sustainable policies and practices in Maine.”

The project combines scientific knowledge and local expertise to improve resource management decisions. There is widespread agreement among resource managers and scientists in both states that current beach and shellfish management decisions are challenging and can be improved by strengthening partnerships among scientists, managers and communities.

NEST uses a collaborative process where resource managers and other stakeholders participate in defining problems, identifying research needs, interpreting results and designing solutions. The team will select a number of study sites in each state to investigate how natural processes like water flow in rivers, and human activities like land development, in coastal watersheds influence bacterial dynamics. Project research will advance understanding of how environmental and climatic conditions affect the dynamics of bacterial pathogens. The project studies how human activities contribute to and are affected by these bacterial dynamics and related public resource management decisions. Coupling these distinct strands of research offers a more comprehensive view of beach and shellfish management. This innovative approach seeks to generate cost-effective strategies for reducing bacterial pollution. By identifying solutions that strategically avert risks to humans, while supporting economic development and ecosystem health, NEST will develop regional capacity between Maine and New Hampshire to advance sustainability solutions through science.

Maine’s Sustainability Solutions Initiative (SSI) is supported in large part by a $20 million, five-year investment through the National Science Foundation’s Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (NSF EPSCoR Program). SSI enhances Maine’s research capacity and promotes innovation and societal benefit through the field of sustainability science. This innovative initiative represents an extensive network of over 350 researchers and students and more than 200 community-based stakeholders working together to advance solutions across Maine.

Contact: Andrea Littlefield, 207.581.2289

Changing Ocean Conditions Threaten North American Atlantic Salmon

Monday, July 22nd, 2013

Warming waters and reduced food supply off the coasts of the United States and Canada are threatening the North American Atlantic salmon, according to a new study by scientists at the University of Maine and Gulf of Maine Research Institute (GMRI).

“During the last 30 years, salmon populations have declined in a similar manner across six regions of North America,” says the lead author, Katherine Mills, a research associate at UMaine and GMRI. “This pattern points to a broad shift in the ability of salmon to survive in the northwest Atlantic Ocean.”

North American Atlantic salmon spend as many as six years in the freshwater streams where they’re born. They then swim thousands of miles to winter in the Labrador Sea and feed off West Greenland.

In recent years, waters in the Labrador Sea have been getting warmer while salmon’s primary food source, small fish known as capelin, have been diminishing in both size and abundance. Mills’ findings, published in “Global Change Biology,” showed that declines in salmon populations mirrored changes in temperature and food availability.

“The link between salmon declines and ocean warming is troubling, given the rate of warming in the Labrador Sea and near Greenland,” Mills says. “It’s imperative that we learn how climate and other ecosystem factors are influencing the species, so that we can identify opportunities to aid in its recovery.”

Additional collaborators on this research include the Northeast Fisheries Science Center and the University of Arizona.

Contact: Beth Staples, University of Maine, 207.581.3777, beth.staples@maine.edu; Steven Profaizer, Gulf of Maine Research Institute, 207.228.1635; steven@gmri.org

UMaine Grad Student Developing More Affordable Option for State to Reinforce Aging Bridges

Tuesday, July 9th, 2013

Last month, Maine was ranked ninth in the nation for percentage of bridges classified as deficient in a report by the Washington-based Transportation for America. The report used Federal Highway Administration data to determine nearly 15 percent of Maine’s bridges require maintenance or replacement.

Replacing, and even rehabilitating, all of the bridges at once is a large financial burden for the Maine Department of Transportation.

Hannah Breton Loring, a University of Maine graduate student in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering from Greenville, Maine, hopes to ease that burden by offering the MaineDOT a more affordable bridge retrofitting system than the current commercial options.

Loring’s system, engineered and tested at UMaine’s Advanced Structures and Composites Center, is a fiber-reinforced polymer flexural retrofit system made of carbon composites and glass to reinforce and strengthen concrete flat-slab bridges, many of which are 50 or more years old.

“There are multiple reports and report cards on bridge infrastructure, and the U.S. is doing very poorly,” Loring says. “What we’re trying to do is give Maine a little bit of a stepladder. We’re giving them a low-cost alternative for the short term that would increase the strength and durability of the bridge, prevent it from having to be weight posted, and allow the bridge to remain safe.”

The 2007 collapse of the I-35 Mississippi River bridge in Minneapolis, Minn., that killed 13 people and injured 145 served as a wake-up call across the nation, urging transportation departments to look at the condition of their own bridges, according to Loring.

After the collapse, the MaineDOT formed a panel to review its bridge inspection and improvement programs. Engineers on the panel, from the MaineDOT, UMaine and private consulting and construction sectors, released the report “Keeping our Bridges Safe” in November 2007.

According to the report, the MaineDOT is responsible for 2,772, or 70 percent, of the known bridges in the state. Of those bridges, 205 are more than 80 years old, 244 were considered in poor condition and 213 were found to be structurally deficient. The report also estimated that 288 bridges were at risk of closure or weight restrictions from 2007–17.

“A lot of these bridges have to be replaced or extensively repaired, so that’s asking for a lot of money from the Maine department and we’re already struggling,” Loring says. “If we space the cost out over time, it’s almost like self-financing.”

Loring has been working with her adviser Bill Davids on the MaineDOT- and Federal Highway Administration-funded project since June 2011 after earning her bachelor’s degree in civil and environmental engineering in May 2011. Davids, the John C. Bridge Professor and chair of the Civil and Environmental Engineering Department, approached Loring with the research opportunity after working with former graduate student Timothy Poulin, who now works for global engineering firm T.Y. Lin International Group in Falmouth, Maine, to develop software that allows existing flat-slab concrete bridges to be analyzed more accurately.

Loring says calculations are used to determine the strength of a bridge and if it needs to be replaced, but current calculations can be overconservative, calling for more replacements than what might be necessary. The software Davids and Poulin developed was designed specifically to assess the load rating of flat-slab bridges to determine which bridges can be repaired instead of replaced.

For the bridges that can last a few more years with reinforcing instead of replacing, a retrofitting system such as the one Loring engineered, could be applied to increase the bridge’s strength and weight limits.

Loring’s retrofitting system includes composite strips of high-tensile-strength, lightweight carbon fibers sandwiched between glass fibers. The strips are about 4 inches wide and 0.20 inches thick and can be as long as the bridge allows.

“The strips have strength comparable to steel but are light enough to be handled by a single person, which is not something you could do with a piece of steel of the same dimensions,” Loring says.

The composite strips are applied to bridges by drilling holes in the bridge’s concrete and placing threaded rods into an epoxy adhesive, which Loring also tested for durability.

The concrete on the underside of a bridge is weak in tension and is not responsible for supporting the bridge, but rather holding the internal reinforcing steel in place. The reinforcing steel is strong in tension and is the main component in keeping a bridge sturdy. Bridges that are more deteriorated may not be able to withstand the drilling and would have to be replaced or use a more extensive rehabilitation system, Loring says.

While developing this technology, Loring tested four different composite material systems. She tested two all-glass systems, one with a core fiber orientation at plus or minus 45 degrees and one at 90 degrees, and two glass-carbon hybrid systems with the same orientations.

“The fiber-reinforced polymer composites are really strong in the direction of the fiber,” Loring says. “If you have fibers that run in one direction and you pull on the composite in that direction, it takes tens of thousands of pounds to break it. What we end up doing is kind of combining the fiber orientations in different directions, giving it different properties. We looked at different fiber orientations for the core fibers in order to ensure the threaded rods can develop sufficient capacity.”

Loring used glass and carbon because they are lighter than steel. Glass is usually cheaper than carbon, but tends to deteriorate in the environment faster. The hybrid system was chosen because it would be cheaper — due to the glass — and durable enough for short-term use — because of carbon’s superior durability properties.

After conducting durability studies on effects of saltwater, freezing and thawing, the four systems were whittled down to the two glass-carbon hybrid systems.

“The performance of the glass-carbon system was much more superior so we had that manufactured in large strips so we could apply them to reinforced concrete beams,” Loring says.

Working with Kenway Corp. of Augusta, the strips were manufactured and tested on beams designed to mimic flat-slab bridges.

“There has been a big constructability focus with everything we’ve done,” Loring says. “The ability to make the materials, the ability of the materials to perform properly, the ease of installing on a bridge. Everything we’ve done for testing, we’ve done overhead, because you can’t just pick a bridge up and roll it over.”

Loring found the glass-carbon systems performed the best.

“We were able to get about a 47 (percent) to 49 percent increase in the flexural capacity of the beam compared to an unreinforced beam,” she says.

Loring says the system looks promising, although some fine-tuning could increase efficiency. Another student is planning to perform fatigue testing after Loring graduates this summer. Fatigue testing is essential before any field application.

Although Loring doesn’t yet have an exact dollar figure on how much using her retrofitting system would cost, she’s confident it is cheaper than what is available and could save the department tens of thousands of dollars per bridge compared to other methods of strengthening.

“There are commercially available systems out there for the same type of product that I’ve engineered from the ground up, but they’re proprietary systems,” Loring says. “Basically what that means is you pay for the product from the company at whatever price they say it’s worth.”

Loring’s main goal for the project is to be able to give the MaineDOT an alternative option. She wants to present the department with a comprehensive report on a low-cost retrofitting system they could have manufactured instead of defaulting to a proprietary option.

“A lot of the time MaineDOT puts out to bid its work and sees what companies can do,” Loring says. “With this they would be able to present the design specifications to a composite manufacturer and say, ‘Here’s what we want. How much can you make it for?’”

For Loring, working in an environment that forced her to apply what she learned in college was overwhelming at first, but she credits her department, adviser and the Advanced Structures and Composites Center with making her feel comfortable and capable throughout the process.

“The department’s awesome, there’s always been a really close-knit community with the Civil and Environmental Engineering Department,” Loring says. “Professors go by their first names. It’s just friendly, it’s welcoming. I come from a big family so having a family environment at school has just been great.”

Loring chose to study civil and environmental engineering after developing a love of buildings at an early age. Growing up visiting worksites with her father who is a carpenter, Loring knew she wanted to have a hand in creating buildings. Following in the footsteps of her father and several siblings, she decided to come to UMaine to pursue her goal of becoming an engineer.

This is Loring’s first project working with bridges.

Contact: Elyse Kahl, 207.581.3747

Researchers Uncover Lessons for Fisheries Management in Changing Climate

Monday, July 1st, 2013

Last summer’s ocean heat wave has provided researchers from the University of Maine and Gulf of Maine Research Institute with unique insights into how fishery managers and policymakers might best sustain marine ecosystems in the face of climate change.

The study found the abnormal water temperatures, which were 3 degrees to 5 degrees above the long-term average, caused some species to move north and seek refuge in cooler waters, and others to migrate earlier than usual. These behavioral changes had substantial ramifications for commercial fishermen, affecting both the species variety and the selling price of their catch.

“Longfin squid, which are generally found off the shores of Rhode Island, New York and New Jersey, made their way to the Maine coast,” said Katherine Mills, one of the scientists who published the findings in the June issue of Oceanography. “Local fishermen quickly took advantage of the catch, and new local markets for the squid developed.”

The warmer temperatures also caused Gulf of Maine lobsters to molt about a month earlier than usual, bringing an early start to the summer harvest. While lobstermen proceeded to catch a record number of these crustaceans, the abundance flooded the market and caused the price of lobsters to plummet.

“In order to sustain marine ecosystems, scientists and fishery managers also need to be able to rapidly adjust in response to abrupt changes in climate,” Mills said. “In the paper, we outline a number of recommendations to help them prepare for and react to events like the 2012 ocean heat wave.”

The researchers advocate for development of climate-ecosystem models that link physical changes to biological outcomes and economic impacts. These models would help fishery managers identify and evaluate climate change adaptation strategies.

In addition, they assert that targeted predictive models that take into account multiple real-time data streams would be valuable for supporting fishery management decisions in the era of climate change.

They also state that fishery management processes may need greater flexibility to accommodate and adjust to future climate events. One such example is a responsive permitting structure for commercial fishermen that may be helpful in case one species leaves the area and another species moves in.

Additional collaborators on this research included SUNY Stony Brook and NOAA, as well as researchers from France and Taiwan.

Contact: Beth Staples, 207.581.3777