Archive for the ‘Graduate School’ Category

Clark Professor to Discuss Role of Women in War

Tuesday, September 2nd, 2014

An award-winning scholar specializing in feminism, politics and global affairs will talk about the role of women in war at 6 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 16, in Minsky Recital Hall at the University of Maine.

Clark University political scientist Cynthia Enloe will discuss “Where are Women in Violent Conflicts? Finding out will Make us Smarter!” She plans to address situations in Syria, Ukraine, Gaza and Israel during the free, public lecture.

“I think it’s important to learn where the women are in war and where the men are in war,” she says. “They are quite different experiences.”

In 2011 in Syria, women were active in open pro-democracy protests against the Assad regime, Enloe says. Today, she says, women are absent from media coverage in Syria except in photographs of displaced people.

Enloe also will talk with students, staff and community members during a meet-and-greet reception 2–3:30 p.m. Sept. 16, in the FFA Room in Memorial Union.

Her interest in global affairs was cultivated by reading the New York Herald Tribune and The New York Times delivered to her parents’ doorstep in Long Island, New York.

“I think that really had an effect on me — both in the sense of keeping up with what is going on in the world and wanting to become part of the world,” Enloe says.

She has done both. Her career has included Fulbrights in Malaysia and Guyana; guest professorships in Japan, Britain and Canada; and lectures in Sweden, Norway, Iceland, Germany, Korea and Turkey. She also has authored more than a dozen books.

Enloe says she was drawn to books about foreign policy when she worked at a publishing company in New York after earning an undergraduate degree at Connecticut College for Women. At the University of California, Berkeley, where she earned her master’s and doctorate degrees, Enloe says a seminar on Southeast Asia further piqued her interest.

“I was off and running,” she says.

Stefano Tijerina, Libra Professor of International Relations at UMaine, invited Enloe to share her expertise with UMaine and the surrounding community.

He credits her with opening his eyes and mind to comparative politics and to issues of social justice during his undergraduate classes at Clark, where Enloe has three times received the Outstanding Teacher Award.

Tijerina, who grew up in Colombia and Texas, says Enloe promotes examining topics from a variety of angles and perspectives — including culture, race, gender and class — to gain deeper appreciation and understanding.

Enloe’s honors include the International Studies Association’s Susan Strange Award, the Susan B. Northcutt Award and the Peace and Justice Studies Association’s Howard Zinn Lifetime Achievement Award.

Lecture sponsors are the Maine Center for Research in STEM Education; Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies Program; School of Policy and International Affairs; and UMaine’s History and Political Science departments.

Contact: Beth Staples, 207.581.3777

Fantastic Migrants

Tuesday, September 2nd, 2014

Saturday, Sept. 6 is World Shorebirds’ Day — a time to celebrate “fantastic migrants.” For biologists Rebecca Holberton and Lindsay Tudor, nearly every day is World Shorebirds’ Day.

They’re in the midst of a two-year study of one of those fantastic migrants — the semipalmated sandpipers (Calidris pusilla). Named for the short webs between their toes, the small sandpipers scurry synchronously on black stilt-like legs, “cherking” and searching for food on the shore.

This year, like last, Holberton, a professor at the University of Maine, and Tudor, a wildlife biologist with the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife (MDIF&W), are conducting health assessments and placing “nano tags” — or very small VHF radio transmitters — on sandpipers.

By monitoring the semipalmated sandpipers’ movements, the scientists learn more about the birds’ stay on the Maine coast during their migration from the Arctic to South America.

In 2013, the first year of the study, Holberton, Tudor and UMaine graduate student Sean Rune learned that during the sandpipers’ stopover in Down East, Maine, they moved between feeding sites along upper Pleasant River, upper Harrington River and Flat Bay during low tide and roosted on offshore ledges at high tide.

Hatching-year birds ate and rested an average of 17.5 days in Maine and adults stayed an average of 12.4 days. Adult semipalmated sandpipers weighed, on average, 5 grams more than hatching-year birds on their first migration.

The young sandpipers, on their first migration and new to this area, may have needed more time to gain enough weight for the energy reserves they needed to fly nonstop to their wintering grounds, Holberton says.

Tudor says it’s easy to be a fan of the little balls of fluff that nearly double their body weight to a hefty 1.4 ounces while resting and refueling during their two- to three-week time in Maine.

When the peeps have packed on sufficient weight, they soar 10,000 to 15,000 feet above the Maine coastline to head out over the ocean and catch a good tail wind. If all goes well, they’ll arrive in South America two to four days later.

One of the species’ many talents — in addition to making their way back to their exact same wintering site each season — is the ability to break down lipids in their fat-filled fuel tank under the skin to power their nonstop 3,000-mile journey over the Atlantic Ocean.

Sandpipers don’t put down in the ocean as they can’t tolerate the cold water, says Tudor, which makes their stay on the Maine coast critical to a successful final leg of their uninterrupted migratory flight to South America.

“When in Maine, they’re our (the public) responsibility, our birds,” Tudor says.” We want to know if the habitat (in Maine) is meeting the birds’ needs.”

Studies indicate that since the 1970s the number of these feathered vertebrates has plummeted 80 percent in North America, Tudor says.

The population decline isn’t exclusive to semipalmated sandpipers. Globally, one in eight, or more than 1,300 bird species, are threatened with extinction, according to BirdLife International as reported in National Geographic.

This project increases the researchers’ knowledge about reasons for the nosedive in numbers of semipalmated sandpipers and points to which of its life stages are most perilous.

Semipalmated sandpipers face a variety of challenges, Holberton and Tudor say, including climate change in the Arctic where they breed, loss of coastal habitat along their migration route, and being the target of hunters on the coast of South America where they winter.

The 5-to-6-inch-tall birds are opportunists that feed on intertidal invertebrates at the interface of land and sea. Thus, they’re an indicator species for the health of mudflats as well as sentinels for the natural world in general, Holberton says.

“The Gulf of Maine ecosystem is really facing challenges,” Holberton says. “We share resources and if birds are in trouble then so are we. This is another piece of the puzzle.”

The research, funded by Maine Outdoor Heritage Fund, Eastern Maine Conservation Initiative, Maine Agricultural and Forest Experiment Station, and U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, utilizes 50 automated VHF telemetry receiver towers that range from the Bay of Fundy to Cape Cod.

The nano tags and towers enable the scientists to track the birds when they arrive in Maine and when they leave. Data is fed into a repository coordinated by Phil Taylor at Acadia University.

Tudor and Holberton are pleased the semipalmated sandpipers’ project has expanded; this summer, the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service is conducting similar research at the Rachel Carson National Wildlife Refuge in Wells. Comparing the data from Down East with data from southern Maine will be interesting and insightful, says Tudor.

The MDIF&W reviews permits for shoreland development and makes recommendations for conservation management plans for high-value habitats. Tudor says it’s important to know if the initiatives are working and whether birds’ needs are being met.

Using binoculars to watch migrating sandpipers and other shorebirds is a great way to celebrate World Shorebirds’ Day, say the scientists; it’s important for people, and dogs, to give them space so they can eat and rest for their upcoming journey.

Tudor and Holberton encourage bird enthusiasts to participate in bird counts and to contact their local Audubon Society for suggestions on ways to assist birds. Holberton invites bird watchers to like the Gulf of Maine Birdwatch page on Facebook.

Contact: Beth Staples: 207.581.3777

Appointments Announced in Reorganization of UMaine Research and Graduate Studies

Tuesday, September 2nd, 2014

University of Maine executive vice president for academic affairs and provost Jeffrey Hecker has announced new appointments in the Office of the Vice President for Research and Graduate School that have resulted from a reorganization of research and graduate studies at the University of Maine.

Effective, July 1, 2014, vice president for research Carol Kim has assumed the responsibilities of dean of the Graduate School, and will provide senior leadership to both the university’s research and graduate missions. Kim has been serving as vice president since her appointment for a two-year term Sept. 1, 2013. She is a professor of molecular and biomedical sciences, and the former director of UMaine’s Graduate School of Biomedical Science and Engineering. Kim joined the UMaine faculty in 1998 as an assistant professor in the Department of Biochemistry, Microbiology and Molecular Biology. In her extensively published research Kim uses the zebrafish as a model organism to study the innate immune response to pathogens. The goal is to identify factors that influence the regulation of innate immunity and the role of environmental toxicants in modulating the immune response to pathogens. Kim has successfully obtained funding from a number of sources including the National Science Foundation, the United States Department of Agriculture, the National Institutes of Health, and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration.

David Neivandt has been named associate vice president for research and graduate studies. Since September 2013, Neivandt has served as director of the Graduate School of Biomedical Science and Engineering. He is a professor of chemical engineering and bioengineering who came to UMaine in 2001. Neivandt has been a member of the GSBSE faculty since it was created in 2006, and is the inaugural chair of the steering committee and chair of the admission committee. In his research, Neivandt uses conventional and novel spectroscopic and microscopic techniques to study the surfaces of materials. His work focuses on the determination of the interfacial orientation and conformation of protein and lipid species, including the study of protein transport across cell membranes, and studies the gelation, dispersion and phase separation of natural and synthetic polymeric species. Neivandt’s pulp and paper-related research has included the creation of biodegradable grease-resistant coatings, carbon nanofibers from lignin, and retention-aid systems. associate vice president Neivandt will provide leadership in research areas that enhance graduate education, particularly in interdisciplinary areas. Neivandt will remain the director of the Graduate School of Biomedical Science and Engineering.

Scott Delcourt has been named assistant vice president for graduate studies and senior associate dean of the Graduate School and will coordinate the daily administration of the Graduate School office. Delcourt has held leadership positions in the Graduate School since 1996, most recently as associate dean. He serves on the Executive Board of the Northeastern Association of Graduate Schools and as the university’s lead member in the Northeastern Alliance for Graduate Education and the Professoriate. Delcourt has been a member of the UMaine community since 1985 and holds cooperating appointments in both the Department of Molecular and Biomedical Sciences and in the College of Education and Human Development.

Jason Charland has been named director of grant development. The newly established Grant Development Division is designed to increase faculty grant-seeking capacity, grant submissions and funded grant proposals at UMaine by identifying targeted funding opportunities and assisting faculty with proposal development. As director, Charland will be responsible for leading and facilitating the development, preparation and submission of large-scale, interdisciplinary funding proposals to advance Signature and Emerging Areas of research. Prior to joining the Office of the Vice President for Research, Charland was the grants management coordinator for the College of Education and Human Development, a position he held since October 2012. Faculty needing assistance identifying funding opportunities, developing proposals, interpreting review panel feedback or linking to other researchers on campus can contact Charland in the Grant Development Division.

Investment in UMaine

Tuesday, September 2nd, 2014

Young men and women discuss investment strategies as they scrutinize real-time electronic trading and commodities data scrolling across numerous screens. In a scene right out of Wall Street, students examine global, up-to-the-second energy prices, stocks and bonds, interest rates and supply chain analysis, honing skills they’ll be able to employ in financial firms in New York City and around the world.

That’s what Gerard S. Cassidy intended when he created the Capital Markets Training Laboratory in the Maine Business School at the University of Maine.

Cassidy, who graduated from UMaine in 1980 with a dual degree in accounting and finance, knows the world of capital markets well.

He’s managing director of equity research at the Portland, Maine-based RBC Capital Markets. At the investment bank with offices in 15 countries he provides banking and regional economic research to clients. He’s also president of BancAnalysts Association of Boston, Inc. and he created Texas Ratio, a formula investors use to determine the financial health of banks.

The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, Forbes, CNBC, CNN, BNN and National Public Radio utilize him as an expert source about banking, stocks and economic issues.

Cassidy wants other UMaine graduates to be able to have similar opportunities, so he donated a gift to make the state-of-the-art financial education lab possible. Thursday, Sept. 18, the Gerard S. Cassidy ’80 Capital Markets Training Laboratory will be dedicated in his honor.

“I was fortunate to get a solid foundation in accounting and finance here at UMaine,” says Cassidy, who lettered in football for the Black Bears. UMaine is also where he met education major Elaine Conley ’78. The two married and live in Cumberland Foreside, Maine.

“I hope that this new laboratory will bring a Wall Street environment to UMaine students and that they might benefit from exposure to a part of the business world they might not otherwise experience.”

The lab provides a variety of business educational experiences for the 950 undergraduate and graduate students and 26 faculty members in the Maine Business School (MBS) as well as for numerous other students and staff members in other disciplines.

It’s also an ideal facility to conduct portfolio management for the University of Maine Foundation, construct business models for commercializing UMaine products and analyze energy pricing for the University of Maine System.

“We are so grateful to Gerard for his generosity,” says Ivan Manev, dean of the Maine Business School.

“The new lab will be an important resource for our students and the whole university. It will help us teach business at a truly world-class level and demonstrates our commitment to revitalizing the state, which is Pathway 1 of the University of Maine’’s strategic plan.”

The lab, which measures 26 feet by 20 feet, includes two 70-inch monitors for Bloomberg data — “real-time global financial and market data, pricing, trading, news and communications tools.”

Nine leased Bloomberg data feeds supply an instructor’s workstation and eight dual-monitor stations that can be utilized simultaneously by as many as 16 students.

“Upon graduation, many of our students will accept a position where being Bloomberg-savvy on day one is a real plus and is likely to give them an advantage over their contemporaries who have not previously had this experience,” says Robert Strong, University Foundation Professor of Investment Education, professor of finance and SPIFFY (Student Portfolio Investment Fund) adviser.

One wall-mounted monitor is designated for the SPIFFY portfolio. In the early 1990s, the University of Maine Foundation contributed $200,000 to start a fund so students could apply financial knowledge they gleaned in the classroom to real-world investing.

Today, Strong advises the group of about 70 SPIFFY students who, after weekly presentations and research, make trades through a broker. The SPIFFY fund now totals $2.3 million in value.

Contact: Beth Staples, 207.581.3777

Evelyn Fairman: At the Nano Scale

Tuesday, August 26th, 2014

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Evelyn Fairman of Bangor graduated from the University of Maine in May with a bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering, and minors in renewable energy engineering and mathematics. This fall, she has begun graduate work in energy science, technology and policy, with a disciplinary concentration in chemical engineering at Carnegie Mellon University. Upon graduation in May 2015, she plans to work with alternative liquid fuels in an industrial setting.

For two years while at UMaine, Fairman was involved in nanocellulose research. Her work, which applied cetyltrimethylammonium bromide (CTAB) in order to dry and rehydrate nanocellulose for easier transport, was recognized with a 2013 UMaine Center for Undergraduate Research Fellowship. This spring, her work was featured in the Maine Journal, and Fairman was recognized by UMaine with the Edith M. Patch Award. Most recently, the poster from her Honors thesis, “Avoiding Aggregation During the Drying and Rehydration Phases of Nanocellulose Production,” was a finalist in the Society of Women Engineers Collegiate Technical Poster Competition.

Earlier this year, Fairman presented her research findings at the 2014 National Collegiate Research Conference at Harvard University. This summer, she also spoke at the 2014 TAPPI International Conference on Nanotechnology for Renewable Materials in Vancouver, B.C.

In her research, Fairman was mentored by engineering faculty members David Neivandt, James Beaupre and Karen Horton; Honors College Dean Francois Amar; and forest operations professor Douglas Gardner.

Why did you decide to major in chemical engineering?
I chose to major in chemical engineering because I wanted to change the way energy is manufactured and distributed. I felt obligated as an educated citizen to reverse the effects of climate change by reducing our nation’s dependence on fossil fuels. As a junior in high school, I hoped to one day design an alternative liquid fuel for the transportation sector. I was especially interested in the potential of fuel cells. I knew I wanted to major in engineering, but it was the University of Maine’s Consider Engineering summer program that convinced me to choose chemical.

How did you get involved in undergraduate research?
I contacted David Neivandt after I graduated high school. I had met him at the Consider Engineering program the previous summer, so I felt comfortable reaching out to him via email. He knew I was an incoming first-year chemical engineering major, and he was more than happy to assign me a student research assistantship under the guidance of one of his Ph.D, students, James Beaupre. The three of us continued to work on various research projects throughout my undergraduate career at the University of Maine.

What difference did the research make in your overall academic experience?
My classroom experience was richer because I was able to reinforce academic topics with hands-on experimental testing. I always loved math and science in high school, but I chose engineering because it was an applied field. It’s not often that an undergraduate has the opportunity to collect and analyze data for an independent research project, while getting paid. I was extremely lucky to have Dave and James as mentors. The research experience gave me the confidence to speak up in class, to ask questions if I didn’t understand the material, to present my results in weekly meetings, and to never hesitate to use upperclassmen and graduate students as resources. Indeed, my research experience convinced me by the end of the summer before my freshman year at UMaine that chemical engineering was the right field for me.

How do you describe your research to lay people?
That is a very good question. It is very important for scientists to be able to translate their research to layman’s terms, not just to fuel curiosity in those who work outside the field, but also for funding purposes. Here is what I usually say: The state of Maine has a strong pulp and paper industry. I am sure you know that we use trees to make paper. Well, trees — and all plant matter — are composed of cellulose. Cellulose is a useful material, but if you break it down into smaller pieces until it reaches nano-scale dimensions, we call that nanocellulose. Nanocellulose has very unique properties that allow it to be applied in a wide variety of fields. There is, however, a problem with the way nanocellulose is being produced industrially. Currently, nanocellulose is produced in an aqueous slurry. The water in this slurry eventually needs to be removed. However, when we remove the water, the nanocellulose clumps together and loses its nanoscale dimensions. Thus, its desirable properties are lost and it is no longer nanocellulose. My research project has a patented solution to this problem: We use the chemical additive CTAB to effectively dry and rehydrate nanocellulose.

Which faculty mentor did you work with most and what did you learn most from him or her?
I worked most closely with James Beaupre. James encouraged me to think outside the box and to consider all possibilities before drawing a conclusion. His guidance taught me to pay close attention to detail both during experiments and during data analysis. Outside the laboratory, his positive attitude reminded me not to forget the big picture.

Why did you choose UMaine?
I chose UMaine for the strong engineering program. Employers all over the U.S. recognize UMaine graduates as hardworking, genuine people. Having worked as an R&D intern for a chemical distribution company based in Delaware, I can say with confidence that UMaine engineers have a very good reputation outside of the state.

What is the most interesting, engaging or helpful class you took at UMaine?
I really enjoyed being in the Honors College. I know that’s not a specific class, but it allowed me to think about problems from alternative perspectives and to interact with students with different majors than my own. Also, my research project ultimately served as my undergraduate thesis for the Honors College. I cannot reflect on my academic experience at UMaine without thinking of the Honors College.

What was your favorite place on campus?
My favorite place on campus was the studio in 1944 Hall because I was actually really involved in the dance department at UMaine.

What advice do you have for incoming students?
Learn to manage your time and to study effectively. Never hesitate to reach out to upperclassmen in your major or faculty in your department. Once you’ve mastered the classroom environment, get involved in extracurricular activities, student clubs and/or Greek life. Join a professional organization (SWE, AIChE, etc.). Make a five-year plan. You’ll be surprised at graduation when you’ve achieved your original collegiate goals. Always push yourself outside of your comfort zone. Take a summer internship or study abroad if your program allows. Attend a hockey game and learn the Stein Song.

Have you had an experience at UMaine that has shaped the way you see the world?
I was a member of Sophomore Eagles, one of the four traditions groups on campus. The Sophomore Eagles is composed of 12 second-year female undergraduate students who exemplify five personality traits: scholarship, leadership, friendship, dignity and character. I cannot speak more highly of the other 11 young women who were Eagles along with me.

Ten years from now, what do you hope to be doing?
I would love to use my engineering background to eventually move into a policymaking role, perhaps at the EPA or at the state level. If that doesn’t happen, then I can see myself working as an investment banker in the energy sector.

Casting a Long Shadow

Tuesday, August 26th, 2014

Ask University of Maine School of Policy and International Affairs students what they did in class and the reply could be “helped save the world.”

SPIA graduate students have assisted refugees in South Africa, worked to ensure free and fair elections in the Middle East, compiled security briefings for the FBI, tracked threats directed at the Olympic Games in London and helped reforest Katmandu.

“We tell them, ‘Dream big. Think big.’ It’s there for the taking,” says director Jim Settele with the assuredness that comes from nearly three decades serving on active duty in the U.S. Navy.

Capt. Settele, who logged more than 3,000 flight hours and more than 600 carrier-arrested landings, was military assistant to the Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld at the Pentagon during operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom.

Now he helps SPIA students’ dreams take flight.

Settele asks the 25 SPIA students with a multitude of interests where they want to be two years after graduation. “And we figure out how to get them there,” he says.

When they get there, they’ll be armed with a Master of Arts in Global Policy and a concentration in international environmental policy, international trade and commerce, or international security and foreign policy and they’ll have experience and connections from internships and conferences around the globe.

Like Kate Kirby, an Orono, Maine, native who earned her degree in 2013. SPIA afforded her “space to dream big and the resources to achieve her ambitions,” she says.

“I was provided with unprecedented access to experts in the field on a regular basis,” says Kirby, who concentrated in sustainable community development in the International Environmental Policy track.

She participated in a Mercy Corps’ Fishing for Change pilot project that sought to increase income and protein consumption through improved fishing and agricultural productivity in Timor-Leste. Kirby assessed potential impacts of inland aquaculture development on protein intake by managing a questionnaire administered to fish farmers.

She conducted field visits and interviews with farmers as well as with nongovernmental organizations, international nongovernmental organizations, officials with the Timorese government and United Nations agencies.

“I learned that I could make a lasting impact on people’s lives working in the NGO sector, and that I really enjoy the daily challenges,” Kirby says. “That said, I concluded that with my particular skill set, I could potentially make a larger-scale impact in my short time on Earth.”

So Kirby set out to make her impact by exploring policymaking and enacting positive change through documentary filmmaking. During her final semester at UMaine, Kirby flew to Bolivia to film the daily lives of a quinoa-farming couple.

She sought to learn how the global rise in demand for Andean quinoa — a superfood trendy with health-conscious and gluten-free consumers — was impacting the couple and other growers in Bolivia. Since then, Kirby founded Kindred Planet Productions “to capture the interconnectedness of a 21st-century world, raise awareness around social justice issues and inspire action.”

The SPIA experience, she says, provided her with a “better understanding of the challenges and complexities we face as a global community, and possible solutions for solving these problems.”

Benjamin Levelius agreed. He’s on track to graduate in spring 2014 with a concentration in international security and foreign policy.

The 26 year old says SPIA helps people who want to make a difference in the world access the knowledge, people and positions that will enable them to do so. “Don’t give up on idealistic intentions just because they seem far-fetched,” he says.

Or far-ranging.

Levelius, from Stratford, Wisconsin, has attended conferences in the United Arab Emirates, Maine and Washington, D.C. He’s worked in India and Nicaragua and visited Bangladesh to observe work performed by NGOs in an urban setting. His internship was in Kerala, India, with Yearoutindia, an NGO that concentrates on water, sanitation and hygiene initiatives in tribal communities. He met with the new king of the Mannan Tribe and helped open a new base of operations with the Mudhuvan Tribe.

“As India emerges as a worldwide economic powerhouse, the cost of construction materials, food and transportation has risen faster than the wages of the people in this region, which has hindered the influx of volunteers and slowed the speed of development,” says Levelius, who researched alternative cost-saving toilet construction methods that suited the rainforest climate.

Classes were valuable, as well, Levelius says, including one in which the professor and students tracked developing situations, such as in the Ukraine in spring 2014, and one in which he learned to write grants. “Whether through the connections you can make through faculty and administrators, class work, conferences or internships, it will act as a catalyst to help you get to where you need to go,” Levelius says.

The United Nations is where SPIA student Hamdane Bordji wants to be. And that’s where he is.

In spring 2014, Bordji, who calls Algeria home, interned at the UN in New York City. In an April blog on the SPIA website about his internship he wrote, “The nature of my work … can be summed up in the following: Think differently and act as one … I have realized that it is with no doubt that I want to be a member of the UN community, to be surrounded with this type of people at my workplace, and to be in the midst of world affairs.”

In March, Bordji, who is on track to graduate in December 2014 with a concentration in international security and foreign policy, was in the midst of the International Women’s Day events at the UN. He shook hands with Ban Ki-moon, the eighth Secretary-General of the United Nations and saw former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who during her address to the UN, said gender equality is the “unfinished business of the 21st century.”

Bordji blogged that he has applied much of what he learned with SPIA to his internship, “but there are so many things to learn outside of the classroom.”

“This experience did throw me into the profound workings of the United Nations — in a pool of deals and ideas made by contributions from a diversified group of prominent intellectuals, practitioners and policymakers of our times,” he wrote.

First-year SPIA student Shelby Saucier heard firsthand a speech delivered by one of the most prominent spiritual leaders of the time, the Dalai Lama. The Cumberland, Maine, native attended the January 2014 conference “Bounds of Ethics in a Globalised World” at Christ University in Bangalore, India, where the Dalai Lama delivered the keynote.

“The global economy has made our world one,” reads an excerpt from the speech he delivered. “We need a corresponding sense of the oneness of humanity. If we are realistic, truthful and honest, we can communicate with anyone and everyone.”

Saucier, who is concentrating in International Security and Foreign Policy with a special interest in development, plans to promote education advocacy and family planning education in East Africa. “SPIA is composed of dreamers,” she says, “… and the program nurtures the dreams and facilitates them.”

Settele says SPIA’s accomplished board of advisers helps students achieve dreams by forging connections. And primary benefactor Penny Wolfe’s funding enables students to travel to, and participate in, conferences and internships around the planet.

One member of the SPIA Advisory Board, His Excellency, Dr. Jamal Al-Suwaidi of Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, is director general of the Emirates Center for Strategic Studies and Research (ECSSR). The ECSSR has funded two trips for graduate students to Abu Dhabi, Settele says.

“I have high expectations,” Settele says of SPIA, which admitted its first class in fall 2010. “We (SPIA) have a small footprint but cast a big shadow.”

Students aim to be a significant positive influence, as well.

“If you can point to a person in the world who is doing exactly what you want to do, you can do it too, and SPIA will try to move mountains to get you to where you want to go, but you gotta be down there, pushing with them,” says Levelius.

Reuters Interviews Hayes About JAMA Commentary

Tuesday, August 26th, 2014

Marie Hayes, a University of Maine professor of psychology, spoke with Reuters about an invited commentary she co-wrote with Dr. Mark Brown, chief of pediatrics and director of nurseries at Eastern Maine Medical Center, for the Aug. 25 Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA). The commentary, “Legalization of Medical Marijuana and Incidence of Opioid Mortality,” references a study in the same JAMA issue examining the link between medical marijuana laws and unintentional overdose mortality from opioid analgesics. “Because opioid mortality is such a tremendously significant health crisis now, we have to do something and figure out what’s going on,” Hayes told Reuters, adding efforts that states are making to combat deaths, such as prescription monitoring programs, have been relatively ineffective. “Everything we’re doing is having no effect, except for in the states that have implemented medical marijuana laws,” she said. Fox News and the Bangor Daily News carried the Reuters report. Live Science, Boston.com, Los Angeles Times, Science Codex and The Washington Post also reported on the JAMA articles. The Portland Press Herald carried the LA Times article.

JAMA Taps UMaine Psychology Researcher for Commentary on Potential for Medical Marijuana to Save Lives

Tuesday, August 26th, 2014

The potential for medical marijuana to curb the growing incidence of opioid analgesic-associated deaths is the focus of an invited commentary in the Aug. 25 Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), co-authored by a University of Maine psychology researcher and a physician at Eastern Maine Medical Center.

The invited commentary, “Legalization of Medical Marijuana and Incidence of Opioid Mortality,” by Marie Hayes, a UMaine professor of psychology, and Dr. Mark Brown, chief of pediatrics and director of nurseries at EMMC, references a study in the same JAMA issue examining the link between medical marijuana laws and unintentional overdose mortality from opioid analgesics.

This is the second time in the past two years that Hayes has been tapped for commentary by JAMA as a result of her research on substance-exposed newborns. And in 2013, she also was the co-author on a JAMA research paper.

“The striking implication is that medical marijuana laws, when implemented, may represent a promising approach for stemming runaway rates of nonintentional opioid analgesic-related deaths,” write Hayes and Brown.

Use of medical marijuana to lessen the drive to use opiates at lethal levels in individuals with psychiatric, nonpain-related conditions is particularly promising, the Maine researchers write. That’s critically important for states like Maine, where the rates of opioid analgesic overdose deaths are high, and addiction and related psychiatric disorders represent an estimated 50 percent of opioid analgesic-related deaths.

The question that needs more study, says Hayes, is whether marijuana provides improved pain control that decreases opioid dosing to safer levels.

Since 2009, research led by Hayes and Brown has included the collection of genetic data as part of a longitudinal study of mothers and their substance-exposed newborns. In 2011, Hayes and Brown began collaborating with Drs. Jonathan Davis and Elisha Wachman at Tufts Medical Center to determine which genes would be most helpful in predicting severity of withdrawal symptoms and, ultimately, most effective treatments and lengths of hospital stays.

Their research is part of a $3 million, multi-institution National Institutes of Health (NIH) study led by Davis at Tufts Medical Center and Barry Lester at Brown Medical School. Hayes is a member of the steering committee on the associated clinical trial, providing expertise on genetic polymorphisms and developmental outcomes in neonatal abstinence syndrome (NAS) infants.

The first findings of the collaborative research with Wachman and Davis at Tufts Medical Center, and Hayes on the genetics of neonatal abstinence syndrome were reported in JAMA in 2013. The research team also included Jonathan Paul, a former UMaine doctoral researcher under Hayes who helped develop the genetic model and who is now an NIH postdoc at the University of Texas Medical Branch.

A year ago, JAMA featured an editorial by Hayes and Brown, “The Epidemic of Prescription Opiate Abuse and Neonatal Abstinence,” detailing the challenges of caring for this vulnerable population, cautioning against defunding maternal treatment programs, and calling for stepped-up research into effective medications and other protocols.

Contact: Margaret Nagle, 207.581.3745

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.

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.