Maggie Keeley, a University of Maine freshman studying nutrition, was interviewed for the Maine Public Broadcasting Network’s report titled “Paying for college — study now, pay later idea sparks interest in Maine.” Keeley, from Manchester, Maine, said her parents always told her that if she went to UMaine they would pay her tuition and if she went anywhere else, she would be responsible for paying the difference. Keeley said her parents have kept their end of the bargain, but she worries that with rising tuition costs, they won’t be able to offer the same deal to her younger sisters.
Archive for the ‘Kennebec County’ Category
A Morning Sentinel article on immigrants relocating to Maine and a recent influx of Iraqi families moving to Augusta cited research by Kim Huisman, an associate professor of sociology at the University of Maine. According to a 2009 study by Huisman, 95 percent of the Somali population in Maine can be classified as secondary immigrants, or refugees who come to Maine after initially settling in other parts of the country.
Six students from the University of Maine’s College of Engineering have been awarded Center for Undergraduate Research Fellowships for 2012-13.
The fellowships were developed to enhance and increase undergraduate student involvement in faculty-supervised research, and are supported through a PRE-VUE grant awarded by the University of Maine’s President’s Office. Each fellowship provides a $1,000 award for the student, and up to $1,000 in more funding, if needed, to cover costs associated with the project.
The students’ research areas involve a variety of engineering topics — from studying extreme rainfall and climate change to optimizing power conversion for wave energy converter systems.
Graphene potential: A sophomore in engineering physics with a concentration in electrical and computer engineering, Beauchemin is researching a graphene-based electrochemical sensor. Her research focuses on graphene’s electrical characterization and its potential for use in single-molecule sensors. Graphene is a single-layer graphite — a hexagonal lattice of carbon atoms — and has properties of high conductivity and strength that give it potential in the area of electronics. Beauchemin has produced graphene, and hopes to identify it optically and electrically. She plans to test its possibility as a sensor for nanopore DNA encoding research by her adviser, electrical and computer engineering professor Rosemary Smith.
Building skills: Beauchemin says the fellowship has given her the opportunity to work in a lab with faculty she admires, and has helped strengthen her research and laboratory skills. “I work in the Laboratory for Surface Science and Technology (LASST) in Barrows, and there is a lot of intimidating equipment there, but Dr. Smith has been there to answer all my questions and assist me when needed,” Beauchemin says. “There are times at which I feel less experienced than the graduate students I work with, but I feel lucky to begin building my skills as an undergrad, so when I go to grad school, I will be well-prepared for research.”
Engineering Expo: Beauchemin, from Saco, Maine, cites UMaine’s annual Engineering Expo in Gorham and Orono as the springboards for deciding to study engineering at UMaine. “It is a great display of the diversity of programs at the school and is a great way to get children interested in science and engineering,” she says. “I have always loved math and science, and engineering is a great way to apply my interests.”
Future plans: Graduate school for electrical engineering is in sight for Beauchemin, who is interested in solid state physics and semiconductors. She hopes to work in the field of semiconductors.
Extreme rainfall: A sophomore in civil and environmental engineering, Dandy is working on climate change adaptation for his research project, “Extreme Rainfall in a Changing Climate: Developing New Methodologies to Inform Infrastructure Design.” He is analyzing past extreme precipitation and hurricane data for the East Coast, and is writing computer programs to help predict future extreme flood events to inform better infrastructure design. ~
Challenging himself: The Los Angeles, Calif., native chose engineering because he has always excelled at math and likes a challenge. “I enjoy challenging myself with course material that interests me,” says Dandy, noting that he chose UMaine for its reputation as an engineering school.
Pursuing research: Dandy says the fellowship gives him the opportunity to pursue research in the field that he finds most interesting. “It is very interesting to observe the entire process involved, and see everyone’s input toward a project,” says Dandy, who works with civil and environmental engineering professor Shaleen Jain. Dandy has presented his research at the National Council for Undergraduate Research Conference in LaCrosse, Wis., and published a research article.
Graduate school: Dandy plans to study water resource engineering or hydrology in graduate school.
Genetic sequencing: A sophomore in electrical and computer engineering and a student in the Honors College, Nolan has been working on a nanopore gene sequencing project in the Microinstruments and Systems Laboratory. “Our objective is to translocate single-stranded DNA through a nanopore and electrically identify individual nucleotides as they pass through,” Nolan says. “If we could fine-tune the process well enough, it has potential to replace traditional methods of genetic sequencing, as it is a faster and cheaper alternative to current commercial approaches.” Nolan says the bulk of his research has been in “optimizing the recipe we use to make the carbon nanoelectrodes for our electrical measurements.”
Invaluable asset: Nolan, from Camden, Maine, says he did not imagine that he would have this kind of opportunity to do research as an undergraduate. “I was excited to earn a lab position here at the university, pleased with the cutting-edge facilities and meaningful projects, and thrilled to subsequently receive a research fellowship,” he says. “It has been an invaluable asset to my research, and I greatly appreciate the opportunity.” He says research has been “an enjoyable, meaningful way to work during the summer and supplement coursework during the academic year.”
Combining strengths: When deciding where to attend college, Nolan knew he wanted a school with a solid curriculum and scholarship opportunities. “With UMaine’s renowned engineering program, merit scholarships and research positions, it offers a great balance between quality education, professional opportunity and affordability,” Nolan says. He views engineering as a chance to learn interesting, dynamic material while combining his strengths. “It is a discipline where I can combine my natural creativity with my knack for science and mathematics, and the way engineering continues to be shaped by — and to evolve with — the modern world, ensures that it stays relevant and integral to our society,” he says.
Role models: Nolan says his research would not have been possible without the guidance of Institute for Molecular Biophysics research engineer Justin Millis and Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering Rosemary Smith. “Justin has shown me the ropes in the clean room and consistently provided great project advice,” Nolan says. “Rosemary always manages to find the time and the patience, despite her busy schedule, to sit down with me and explain the answers to all of my questions.”
Continuing education: Nolan says he plans to attend graduate school after completing his undergraduate studies. “I strive to become the best engineer I can be, and after graduate school will probably look to move into industry,” he says. Nolan says he is interested by both the electrical and computer aspects of his major, but sees himself leaning toward computer engineering.
Power conversion: A senior in electrical engineering, Nuzzo is working on optimizing power conversion for wave energy converter (WEC) systems. He has been designing printed circuit boards that will be used with a mechanical prototype WEC designed by the Mechanical Engineering Department. Nuzzo’s work, which involves converting DC power to AC power using an inverter he designed, will help convert power produced by WEC, as well as control it to optimize system performance. The research is an example of multiple departments at UMaine working together to find new methods for harnessing renewable energy resources, Nuzzo says.
Practical experience: The fellowship has helped Nuzzo gain practical experience in the power electronics field. The Litchfield, Maine, native says, through the fellowship, he has developed significant skills in printed circuit board design that are essential for his engineering work.
Early fascination: Nuzzo says he chose to study engineering because he has always been interested in building. “I’ve known since I was young that I wanted to study electrical engineering because it would allow me to understand how all my toys — that I took apart — worked,” Nuzzo says. He has since become interested in renewable energy and he sees electrical engineering as a key to innovation in that area. He chose to study at UMaine because of its “well-regarded engineering program and its financial benefits for Maine residents.”
Difficult but rewarding: Nuzzo, who has been working with electrical and computer engineering professor Nathan Weise, says research as an undergraduate is a fun, different type of work than what you do in the classroom. “Working on research between classes can be difficult but also rewarding,” Nuzzo says. “I enjoyed working closely with my professor and learning the tricks of the trade rather than working problems from a book.”
Working in the field: After graduation, Nuzzo says he will be working full time at Pika Energy, a start-up company in Gorham, Maine, where he interned last summer and learned about inverter design.
Improving usability: Osti, a junior in computer engineering from Kathmandu, Nepal, is researching alternative ways to interact with visualizations walls. Visualization walls are made up of many monitors that act as a single monitor and are usually used to display scientific data. Osti’s research mainly involves using Microsoft’s Kinect to find alternative input devices in place of a mouse or keyboard. “Since the total screen size of visualization walls is big, using a keyboard or mouse would mean that the user would have to stay close to the screen and would not be able to see much because of the size of the wall,” Osti says. “This creates a need for a different kind of input device that allows users to easily navigate the huge screen as would a mouse in a single-monitor screen.” Osti says the plan is to build a wireless device for users to navigate the walls.
Solving problems: Osti says he has long been interested in computer programming and creating things to solve problems. He transferred to UMaine from a Tennessee school during his first year because of the College of Engineering’s well-known academic programs. “I felt that I would get more opportunities and greater exposure here,” Osti says.
Valuable experience: Osti, who has been working with electrical and computer engineering professor Bruce Segee, says the fellowship has allowed him to learn a lot beyond the classroom through research as an undergraduate.
Implementing knowledge: Osti is undecided about his plans after graduation. “I would love to work on something interdisciplinary that requires implementing my knowledge of engineering in a different field like medicine or chemistry,” he says.
Detecting explosives: A junior in electrical engineering from Nashua, N.H., Pugliano is researching the optimization of a lateral field excited (LFE) sensor that she hopes will be able to detect peroxide-based explosives. “An LFE sensor is basically a wafer of AT-cut quartz crystal with electrodes deposited on one side, leaving the other side of the crystal bare,” she says. “The electrodes excite the crystal’s transverse shear mode with an electric field. Using equipment like a network analyzer, the crystal’s response can be measured. The response can be affected by the environment, such as gases and liquids that come in contact with the bare surface. This indicates that the LFE device may be sensitive enough to detect the gases emitted by dangerous chemicals.” Pugliano also is working to find a new method for measuring the LFE device’s response.
Strength to persevere: “The fellowship means that other people believe in me and my research, which is encouraging,” she says. “While research can be exciting, it can also be frustrating. When I am frustrated, I remember that there are other people who have faith in me, and it gives me strength to persevere.”
No place like UMaine: The Electrical and Computer Engineering Department is what drew Pugliano. “I visited several places and none of them really compared to UMaine,” she says. “UMaine has a lot of great opportunities, a beautiful campus and an impressive College of Engineering.”
Real-world applications: Pugliano chose engineering because it’s a challenging yet rewarding field that gives her the opportunity to solve real problems and improve the lives of others. “Also, I can’t say no to those big engineering paychecks,” she says, adding that undergraduate research “isn’t just about getting paid, it’s about applying knowledge from the classroom to real-world problems.”
Helping hand: Pugliano has been working closely with her adviser, electrical and computer engineering professor John Vetelino. “I started doing research for him in summer 2012 in the National Science Foundation Research Experiences for Undergraduates (NSF-REU) program,” she says. “Dr. Vetelino has been a wonderful adviser and has given me many opportunities.”
Teaching others: After graduation, Pugliano plans to gain experience by working with companies before returning to school to obtain her doctorate in electrical engineering. Her long-term goal is to become a professor.
The Free Press reported the University of Maine and the University of Maine Cooperative Extension will be two of 18 exhibitors at Bug Maine-ia at the Maine State Museum in Augusta on Sept. 11. The exhibitors will provide hands-on displays and demonstrations for visitors of all ages at the free event.
Every morning, Frank Booker, 75, of Bangor wakes up and reads the Bangor Daily News. He scours the pages for stories that speak to him, his beloved city and his community.
“You look at the front page of the paper and sometimes there’s nothing about Bangor,” he says. “I think there’s a real need for citizen journalism to focus on local levels.”
Booker — with a background in theater, dance, English, real estate and computer sales — has always had an interest in writing. He’s passionate about providing more local news while promoting the city and all it has to offer.
Booker took his first journalism class at the University of Maine two years ago and wrote a column for the campus-based student newspaper before enrolling in the Boomer Reporting Corps, a program offered by the UMaine Center on Aging and Maine Community Foundation.
The program, designed to create a group of older adults who can actively report on local issues to benefit their communities, began in September 2012 as an extension of the UMaine Center on Aging’s Encore Leadership Corps. ENCorps is a statewide program that provides skill-building workshops, educational resources and networking opportunities to adults who are at least 50 years old and volunteer in their communities, according to Jennifer Crittenden, fiscal and administrative officer of the UMaine Center on Aging.
“Learning the tactics and technologies of journalism and multimedia takes a lot of time and dedication,” Crittenden says.
The UMaine New Media Department is also a project partner, and UMaine Senior Lecturer in New Media Bill Kuykendall is the program’s lead faculty member.
Now 14 members strong, the Boomer Reporting Corps members have participated in a series of six five-hour educational workshops and prepared multimedia projects ranging from a feature on a Tai Chi instructor with a rough past to histories of their hometowns.
The idea for the Boomer Reporting Corps sprung from conversations Kuykendall had with Len Kaye, UMaine Center on Aging director, on ways UMaine students could use media skills to explore the world of older Mainers, Kuykendall says.
After Kuykendall presented on citizen media at a few Encore Leadership Corps Summits, some of the members asked if the center could offer a more extensive program.
With funding from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, Maine Community Foundation and The Atlantic Philanthropies, the workshop series was established, culminating with the ENCorps summit in June where participants presented their work.
“Boomer Reporting Corps members are prime examples of today’s active and highly talented older citizens who care deeply about the communities in which they live and who want to stay in the game and make a difference,” Kaye says.
The workshops in Augusta, Orono and Belfast focused on reporting and storytelling, technology, photography and social media.
Kuykendall led the workshops, while several community members volunteered as guest lecturers. Contributors included Tony Ronzio, current director of news and new media at the Bangor Daily News and formerly with the Sun Journal of Lewiston; Mike Lange, a semi-retired journalist with more than 25 years of experience; Pattie Reaves, user experience and audience manager at the BDN and formerly with the Sun Journal; Jennifer Smith-Mayo, a professional photographer and UMaine new media graduate; Duane Shimmel, a UMaine new media student and Apple representative; and Cynthia Merrill, a recent UMaine new media graduate who recorded the workshops and edited the tutorials for the group’s Web page.
“We had a real nice group of people coming from the profession and the university,” Kuykendall says. “That gave the boomers a wonderful exposure to where this all may be going and to help them envision a role for themselves in the media.”
Booker said he enjoyed learning from a new media veteran such as Kuykendall and from the experienced guest lecturers.
“Our goal was not to create a cohort of citizen journalists who would be working in opposition to the local media, but rather a cohort that could work with the local media,” Kuykendall says. “It would give boomer reporters an outlet for their work and would give the local media more high-quality content.”
Kuykendall says another aim of the program is to preserve the health of traditional news reporting.
“It’s getting harder and harder to cover the news. There aren’t as many reporters at newspapers. The younger reporters who are there may not have the experience to cover a complex issue,” Kuykendall says.
One of the Boomer Reporting Corps members, Donna Wiegle of Swan’s Island, creates a monthly newsletter for her community and has been published in the Working Waterfront, a Maine Island Institute publication.
Wiegle’s latest addition to the Working Waterfront was a video she created while in the program. The video, “The good life on Swan’s Island,” featured 95-year-old Earl Lowell, Swan’s Island’s oldest resident.
“Donna is a great example of someone who is working in this area and has reached the stage where she is sort of self-sustaining,” Kuykendall says.
Sandy Olson, a library media technician at Unity College who created a piece on her Tai Chi instructor, joined the Boomer Reporting Corps to fulfill a longtime goal of using her photography and artistic skills to tell multimedia stories about her community and the environment.
“I want this to be my retirement career,” Olson says. “I want to be engaged in sharing stories that will help design what comes next. I believe in local economy, historic connections, environmental vitality, and I want to help if I can. I’m 67. I am ready for the next third of my life to be the best.”
Olson, who has created several websites in the past including one for the Sebasticook Regional Land Trust and her own hometown news blog, recently created a new website, watershednarratives.com, incorporating skills she learned from the workshops.
“I learned from listening to professional journalists that I had to find a way to present more focused, better-branded narratives,” Olson says. “I want this site to engage people through images, audio and text. I am practicing but I hope to get better.”
This summer, Olson expects to work on projects about local farmers, land trust preserves, and alewives and dams. She plans to create stories from these projects for her websites, as well as Troy Maine Local News.
The ENCorps program selects people with a high level of social commitment who have a motivation and enthusiasm to learn, according to Kuykendall.
“These are people who want to make a difference in their community,” he says. “They’re older folks so they’ve had life experiences, they’ve raised families, they’ve operated businesses, they’ve learned how to live in the world, and they have a high level of interest in and commitment to their communities.”
Booker is currently working on video interviews with Bangor residents who love the city and are working to make a difference, such as Ben Sprague, Bangor City Councilor, and Meg Shorette, marketing director for the Maine Discovery Museum and KahBang arts executive director.
“From being in the BRC, I’ve learned that I’m just beginning to understand the power of multimedia storytelling. There’s a great deal of power in it,” Booker says.
Kuykendall says he believes many of the members have gained confidence in their ability to create something meaningful for themselves and others and hopes they continue reporting.
“They have been able to take what may have been a loose set of goals and turn that wish list into a to-do or have-done list,” he says. “We knew they came in with this motivation to be a positive force in their community. They want their homes to be better, they want to sustain the economic and cultural life of their communities. Hopefully they learned ways they can do that.”
Ken Hamilton, a retired surgeon, joined the program to help promote his nonprofit organization Healing of Persons Exceptional, or HOPE. His South Paris-based organization provides support for people facing life challenges, such as serious illness.
“From the workshops, I learned how to use contemporary media technologies to communicate effectively in today’s North American world,” Hamilton says.
He used those skills to compile a series of interviews with people who have benefited from HOPE that he will use on his organization’s website.
There are no future workshops scheduled at this time, but there has been interest from participants to continue the program, Kuykendall says. He would like the program to offer an immersion experience with more hands-on exercises as opposed to workshops, if funds allowed.
Booker says he would like to see the Boomer Reporting Corps continue and have its members produce more in-depth projects that could be published or aired, and would like Bangor to develop an online citizen journalism platform where anyone could post their stories, photos and videos. He is also planning to take another journalism course in the fall and might take up his Maine Campus column again.
“It’s fun, that’s all,” Booker says about his newfound love of journalism. “I’m enjoying it and I’m passionate about it.”
Anyone interested in becoming a member of ENCorps can apply online or contact Mia Noyes, firstname.lastname@example.org; 207.262.7931. Application process and membership are free. Tutorials of the Boomer Reporting Corps workshops can be found online.
Contact: Elyse Kahl, 207.581.3747
Five-State, Five-Year, $2.5 Million Study to Explore Cooking and Family Meals as Ways to Prevent Childhood ObesityMonday, July 1st, 2013
Researchers at the University of Maine are leading a five-state, five-year, $2.5 million USDA study to combat childhood obesity, and they are using an unlikely tool to do so — cooking.
The project, called iCook, is focused on improving culinary skills, promoting family meals and increasing physical activity.
The study, which is being conducted at the five land grant universities in Maine, Nebraska, South Dakota, Tennessee and West Virginia, is designed to test the effect of a two-year intervention on body mass index (BMI) of youth.
In Maine, a team of researchers, students and University of Maine Cooperative Extension faculty members are being led by Adrienne White, human nutrition professor, and Kate Yerxa, statewide educator for nutrition and physical activity.
“The long-range goals are for obesity prevention,” White says. “Maintaining weight within the normal percentile curves is what would be desired, as well as increasing culinary skills and eating together as a family.”
The American Medical Association recently announced it has adopted a new policy classifying obesity as a disease. Obesity affects 30 percent of American adults and has more than doubled in children and tripled in adolescents in the past 30 years, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
“Obese” and “overweight” are labels for ranges of weight greater than what is considered healthy for a given height and is determined by a person’s BMI, which correlates to their amount of body fat, the CDC says.
Recruitment for iCook participants is under way for children ages 9 and 10, and the adult responsible for preparing the majority of the children’s meals. Participants need to be free from food allergies, be willing to eat from all food groups, and have computer and Internet access at home. Each pair will be compensated $80 over the study period.
The goal of recruiters is to have 100 pairs participate in each state. The Maine researchers are offering the opportunity for pairs to participate in areas around Orono and Ellsworth through UMaine Extension youth programs.
Once participants are recruited, they will randomly be assigned to a control or treatment group. Half the participants will be in the treatment group and will attend six two-hour-long classes every other week for the first 12 weeks of the project and have access to the iCook website, a place to share and track progress, throughout the two-year period.
“All states are doing the same thing,” White says. “At the very same time; the very same measurements and the very same structure.”
Assessments are scheduled to begin July 29 and classes will start during the third week of August. The classes will include topics such as proper food handling and preparation, nutrition groups and structured mealtimes. Cooking and exercises will be done during classes. Extension nutrition staff, 4-H leaders and UMaine students will teach the Maine lessons.
The inspiration for iCook came from a similar project led by White called Maker of Meals that focused on adults who prepared meals for children in Washington County.
White, community partners led by Colin Windhorst and students, including Douglas Mathews, a human nutrition doctoral student from Sanford, Maine, conducted the pilot study that laid the groundwork for the USDA project.
Mathews, who is using iCook as the focus of his Ph.D. project on program evaluation, was part of the grant-writing process and now helps manage iCook across all five states. Mathews also worked with Rainstorm Consulting of Orono to create the iCook website which he describes as a “mashup of some of the more popular social media sites,” with sharing features similar to those on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Flickr.
The website is designed to create an online community connecting participants from the five states through blogging, chatting and sharing media. Researchers will monitor the children’s growth, development and health habits through website activity, online surveys and physical measurements.
Carolyn Stocker, a third-year food science and human nutrition major and member of the Honors College from Westfield, Mass., is one of the seven undergraduate students assisting White and Mathews as a student researcher on the study and is helping to recruit participants this summer.
“I hope this project accomplishes what it has set out to do, which is prevent childhood obesity,” Stocker says. “This project approaches it directly while emphasizing the importance of cooking, eating and exercising as a family.”
Stocker, who is looking forward to gaining field experience, says she believes iCook will also allow children and adults to feel more comfortable working with food and in the kitchen, and she hopes it will become a bonding experience for the families, strengthening relationships.
All participants — those in the control and treatment groups — will complete surveys and have physical measurements taken four times throughout the study. Measurements for the children include height, weight and waist circumference. Children and adults will have their blood pressure taken during the four screenings.
Meaghan Brown, a graduate student studying human nutrition from Vassalboro, Maine, is coordinating the study in Maine. Brown is responsible for managing the collection of data. She is also writing her master’s thesis on topics related to the project, such as family dynamics and quality of life.
Brown, who hopes to build relationships with her fellow researchers and program participants, would like iCook to leave a lasting impression on participants.
“I hope they continue what they learn outside the study,” Brown says. “It is important for parents and children to be physically active, eat well and spend time together.”
Study results will also be used in curriculum development that will be integrated into UMaine Extension youth programming. During the fourth year of the study, iCook will be tested for sustainability by its practicality in a nonresearch setting, White says.
“Ultimately we want this curriculum to not sit on a shelf,” White says, adding the community-participatory approach to the study should help increase the sustainability of the team’s work.
White wants participants to be able to go to the grocery store together, know how to make healthful selections and look forward to cooking and eating together. She believes these positive life changes could lead to healthier and happier lives.
“We hope people begin to cook more and eat together more and be more aware of their food,” White says. “We just want people to get back to loving food, understanding food and being able to work with food.”
White says culinary skills and eating together as a family are considered important aspects of following a nutritious diet. She says researchers have shown adolescents are less likely to engage in deviant behavior or to have eating disorders when their families eat together.
Contact: Elyse Kahl, 207.581.3747