It’s Showtime for Paul Mayewski. Check out the preview of the season finale of Years of Living Dangerously that airs at 8 p.m. Monday, June 9. The episode also features President Obama, Thomas Friedman and Michael C. Hall.
University of Maine professor Paul Mayewski is featured in the Showtime series Years of Living Dangerously starring Harrison Ford, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Matt Damon.
It’s a thriller with an ending that hasn’t been written yet.
Executive producer James Cameron, who has also directed the blockbusters Avatar, The Terminator and Aliens, describes Years of Living Dangerously as the biggest survival story of this time.
The documentary, developed by David Gelber and Joel Bach of 60 Minutes, depicts real-life events and comes with an “adult content, viewer discretion advised” disclaimer.
The nine-part series that premiered April 13 shares life-and-death stories about impacts of climate change on people and the planet.
Correspondents, including actors Ford and Damon, as well as journalists Lesley Stahl and Thomas Friedman and scientist M. Sanjayan, travel the Earth to cover the chaos.
They examine death and devastation caused by Superstorm Sandy; drought and lost jobs in Plainview, Texas; worsening wildfires in the U.S.; and civil unrest heightened by water shortage in the Middle East. The correspondents also interview politicians, some of whom refute the science or are reluctant to enact legislation.
And they speak with scientists who go to great lengths, and heights, to do climate research. Mayewski, director of UMaine’s Climate Change Institute (CCI), is one of those scientists. He is scheduled to appear in the series finale at 8 p.m. Monday, June 9.
Climate change, he says, is causing and will continue to cause destruction. And he says how scientists and media inform people about the subject is important.
“There are going to be some scary things that happen but they won’t be everywhere and it won’t be all at the same time,” he says. “You want people to think about it but not to terrify them so they turn it off completely. You want them to understand that with understanding comes opportunity.”
In February 2013, Sanjayan and a film crew joined Mayewski and his team of CCI graduate students for the nearly 20,000-foot ascent of a glacier on Tupungato, an active Andean volcano in Chile, to collect ice cores.
Sanjayan calls Mayewski “the Indiana Jones of climate research” for his penchant to go to the extremes of the Earth under challenging conditions to retrieve ice cores to study past climate in order to better predict future climate.
Sanjayan, a senior scientist with Conservation International, wrote in a recent blog on the Conservation International website that while people may distrust data, they believe people they like.
He thought it would be beneficial to show the scientific process at work and to introduce the scientists’ personalities to viewers. “He’s the sort of guy you’d want to call up on a Wednesday afternoon to leave work early for a beer on an outdoor patio,” Sanjayan writes of Mayewski.
So for the documentary, Mayewski was filmed in the field — gathering ice cores at an oxygen-deprived altitude of 20,000 feet atop a glacier with sulfur spewing from nearby volcanic ponds. “It’s a strange place to work,” Mayewski says, “but it’s where we can find amazing, productive data.”
He was also interviewed at home, where he enjoys his family, dogs and sailing.
Mayewski likes the series’ story-telling approach. Scientists, he says, need to explain material in a way that is relatable, relevant and empowering.
Take for instance Joseph Romm’s baseball analogy. Romm, a Fellow at American Progress and founding editor of Climate Progress, earned his doctorate in physics from MIT.
On the Years of Living Dangerously website, Romm writes, “Like a baseball player on steroids, our climate system is breaking records at an unnatural pace. And like a baseball player on steroids, it’s the wrong question to ask whether a given home run is ‘caused’ by steroids. Home runs become longer and more common. Similarly climate change makes a variety of extreme weather events more intense and more likely.”
Mayewski says it’s also imperative to provide tools that enable people to take action to mitigate climate change as well as adapt to it.
“When we have a crystal ball, even if the future is bad, we can create a better situation,” he says. “We have no choice but to adapt.”
Maine is in a good position to take action, he says, especially with regard to developing offshore wind technology. “Who wouldn’t want a cleaner world, to spend less money on energy and have better jobs? We will run out of oil at some point but the wind won’t stop,” he says.
Wind is up Mayewski’s research alley. He has recently been studying ice cores from the melting glacier that serves as the drinking water supply for 4 million residents of Santiago. Temperature in the region is rising, greenhouse gases are increasing and winds from the west that have traditionally brought moisture to the glacier have shifted, he says.
And the glacier is losing ice.
“Our biggest contribution is understanding how quickly wind can change,” Mayewski says. “Wind transports heat, moisture, pollutants and other dusts.”
By understanding trends, Mayewski says it’s possible to better predict where climate events will occur so plans can be made. Those plans, he says, could include determining where it’s best for crops to be planted and where seawalls and sewer systems should be built.
Harold Wanless, chair of the University of Miami geological sciences department, says sea levels have been forecast to be as much as 3 to 6 feet higher by the end of this century. On the Years of Living Dangerously website he says, “I cannot envision southeastern Florida having many people at the end of this century.”
In Maine, Mayewski says climate change is evidenced by the powerful 2013–2014 winter, the lengthening of summers, increased lobster catches and northward spread of ticks.
While climate change has become a political topic, Mayewski says it’s a scientific and security issue. He says it’s notable that previous civilizations have collapsed in the face of abrupt, extreme changes. And climate change, he says, is far from linear in the way it evolves.
For decades, Mayewski has been interested in exploring and making discoveries in remote regions of the planet. “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.”
To watch clips from previous episodes of Years of Living Dangerously, as well as the entire first episode, visit yearsoflivingdangerously.com.
Contact: Beth Staples, 207.581.3777
When Ryu Mitsuhashi was a toddler, her grandfather advocated that music be part of her life.
Her grandfather, an elementary school teacher and Japanese prisoner of war in Russia during World War II, believed music had the power to bring people together in harmony and peace.
Mitsuhashi’s parents heeded the advice. When Mitsuhashi was 3, she and her mother learned — via the Suzuki Method — to play violin in her hometown of Tokyo.
Mitsuhashi, a 2013 University of Maine graduate, was a fast learner. When she was 9, her family moved to Westchester, New York and at age 10 she was accepted into The Juilliard Pre-College Division — “a program for students of elementary through high school age who exhibit the talent, potential, and accomplishment to pursue a career in music” — in New York City.
When Mitsuhashi and her family returned to Japan a couple of years later, she toured Europe with the Tokyo Junior Philharmonic.
For much of her 23 years of life, Mitsuhashi has been spreading goodwill through her music. She has shared her talents in concerts broadcast on network TV as well as on stages around the world, at UMaine, with the Bangor Symphony Orchestra and in area retirement homes.
Mitsuhashi, who has played solo violin concertos with the University of Maine Orchestra, recently returned from a tour of Croatia and Slovenia with a professional orchestra — Orkester Camerata Austriaca — from Linz, Austria. On the tour, she performed a solo of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s Violin Concerto No. 4 in D Major.
She credits Anatole Wieck, who teaches violin and viola and conducts the University of Maine Chamber Orchestra, with helping her relax on stage.
While she worries she might forget the music or that a violin string could break, she says Wieck encourages her “to enjoy what she’s doing and to give pleasure to other people by enjoying to play.”
And she says she’s thrilled and energized when concertgoers tell her that they have been entertained by her performance.
While she’s used to living in New York and Tokyo, with populations of 8 and 13 million respectively, Mitsuhashi says she has not been homesick in Orono.
Initially, though, she was “light sick.” Mitsuhashi says in Tokyo she was used to 24-7 bright lights and big-city action. Here, “everything closed at 9 p.m. and it was dark.”
Soon, she’ll again be amid the lights and action as she’s returning this summer to Japan for a monthlong visit. In addition to spending time with family and friends, she’ll play in two concerts.
Since graduating from UMaine with a bachelor of music degree in performance in 2013, Mitsuhashi has been taking part in Optional Practical Training — working in her field of study, which includes teaching music at Bangor Montessori and providing private music lessons.
This fall, Mitsuhashi plans to begin pursuing a master of music degree in performance at UMaine.
Careerwise, she dreams of being a musician with Cirque du Soleil. The Montreal-based company’s shows are celebrated for their “dramatic mix of circus arts and street entertainment.”
Mitsuhashi says that recently she also has been considering following in her father’s footsteps and becoming a surgeon.
WABI (Channel 5) and the Bangor Daily News reported on a conference co-hosted by the University of Maine School of Policy and International Affairs (SPIA) and the Maine Army National Guard that brought together military, political, economic and academic leaders to discuss challenges and opportunities presented by the diminishment of sea ice in the Arctic. George Markowsky, a professor of computer science and cooperating professor for SPIA, spoke with WABI about the possibility of opening new trade routes between Maine, Greenland and Europe. “One of the things that might happen is the shipping routes through the North Pole would start opening up and Maine would be kind of the last stop on the East Coast in the United States for any ships that want to use this polar route,” Markowsky said.
The Working Waterfront carried an article about two University of Maine-based research projects involving lobster shells.
The article featured UMaine food science graduate Beth Fulton and associate professor of food science Denise Skonberg who determined that pigment from lobster shells rich in carotenoid can be extracted and used for coloring in food for farm-raised salmon. The lobster shell pigment could be a natural alternative to synthetic carotenoids. While Fulton’s grant money is depleted, the article reported that she hopes another researcher will advance the project.
The article also included an update on a project first covered in 2011 when UMaine graduate Carin Poeschel Orr hit on the idea of a golf ball made of lobster shells that could legally be hit from cruise ship decks. Orr shared the idea with Robert Bayer, executive director of the University of Maine Lobster Institute, and Bayer consulted with others, including David Neivandt, director of UMaine’s Graduate School of Biomedical Science and Engineering. The article reported that Neivandt said the biodegradable lobster shell golf ball is patented and ready to be marketed.
The Associated Press previewed a conference co-hosted by the University of Maine School of Policy and International Affairs and the Maine Army National Guard that aims to explore challenges and emerging opportunities in the Arctic. “Leadership in the High North: A Political, Military, Economic and Environmental Symposium of the Arctic Opening,” will be held May 20–21 at the Maine Army National Guard Regional Training Institute in Bangor. Paul Mayewski, a UMaine professor and director of the Climate Change Institute, is one of several scheduled speakers that will address global, national and Maine issues related to the environment, trade, politics and policy. The Portland Press Herald, WABI (Channel 5) and WLBZ (Channel 2) carried the AP report.
The Bangor Daily News advanced a May 20–21 conference co-hosted by the University of Maine School of Policy and International Affairs and the Maine Army National Guard to explore challenges and emerging opportunities in the Arctic. The free conference, titled “Leadership in the High North: A Political, Military, Economic and Environmental Symposium of the Arctic Opening,” will be held at the Maine Army National Guard Regional Training Institute in Bangor. Speakers, including UMaine professor and Climate Change Institute director Paul Mayewski, will address global, national and state issues and implications related to diminished sea ice in the Arctic, including the changing environment, trade, geopolitics and policy.
Bridie McGreavy, a post doctoral sustainability science researcher for the University of Maine’s Sustainability Solutions Initiative and graduate student in the Communication and Journalism Department, was quoted in a Down East magazine article about the spring migration of Maine frogs and salamanders when they travel from the woodlands where they hibernate to the vernal pools where the breed. To help the amphibians safely cross the road during migration, the Lakes Environmental Association (LEA) in Bridgton gathers “crossing guards” on the first warm, rainy spring night, for a ritual known as Big Night. McGreavy was head of the LEA’s environmental education program a decade ago when she first read about amphibian breeding habits and led LEA’s first organized Big Night. According to the article, UMaine graduate students also attend Big Night to gather specimens and put radio transmitters on salamanders and frogs for tracking.
These stellar seniors — hailing from rural Maine to Canada and China — share their UMaine experiences. Learn about their research, community service and world travels, and their plans for a very promising future.
Contact: Margaret Nagle, 207.581.3745
|Jinlun Bai||Finn Bondeson||Ariel Bothen|
|Meaghan Bradica||Jennifer Chalmers||Dilasha Dixit|
|Kayla Jones||Theresa McMannus||Janelle Tinkler|
|Chi Truong||Sierra Ventura|
Image Description: Jinlun Bai
Image Description: Finn Bonderson
Image Description: Ariel Bothen
Image Description: Meaghan Bradica
Image Description: Jennifer Chalmers
Image Description: Dilasha Dixit
Image Description: Kayla Jones
Image Description: Theresa McMannus
Image Description: Janelle Tinkler
Image Description: Chi Truong
Image Description: Sierra Ventura
The University of Maine’s 212th Commencement will be held May 10 in Harold Alfond Sports Arena on campus.
Held in two ceremonies at 10 a.m. and 2:30 p.m., the university’s Commencement is one of Maine’s largest graduation events. An estimated 1,660 students — undergraduates, master’s and doctoral — are expected to participate in the event.
Both ceremonies are ticketed events. All students marching were offered up to five guest tickets. Live streaming of the ceremonies will be available online for friends and family worldwide. In addition, live streaming of both ceremonies can be viewed on a big screen in the Bear’s Den in the Memorial Union on campus.
For the second consecutive year, in keeping with UMaine’s leadership as a nationally recognized “Green campus,” each graduating student attending one of the ceremonies will receive a digital Commencement program on a commemorative 2GB USB flash drive. The full program will contain the names of all degree-earning undergraduate and graduate students, as well as a welcome message from the University of Maine Alumni Association.
At the ceremonies, an abbreviated print version of the program will be available for audience members. The Commencement website that day will feature the full program with the names of all graduating students.
The 10 a.m., ceremony is for graduating students in two colleges: Liberal Arts and Sciences; and Education and Human Development. Joining them will be students graduating from the Maine Business School and the Division of Lifelong Learning.
The 2:30 p.m., ceremony is for graduates in the College of Engineering and the College of Natural Sciences, Forestry and Agriculture.
The honorary degree recipients and Commencement speakers will be two icons in literature and music in Maine — international best-selling author Tess Gerritsen of Camden and singer-songwriter David Mallett of Sebec. Mallett will address the 10 a.m. ceremony; Gerritsen will address the 2:30 p.m. ceremony.
This year’s valedictorian and salutatorian are Sierra Ventura of Belfast, Maine, and Jennifer Chalmers of Foxborough, Mass., respectively. Ventura will receive a bachelor’s degree in music education. Chalmers will receive two bachelor’s degrees in English and in history. She has majored in English and history, with minors in education and Spanish, and received highest honors for her thesis.
Also being honored at Commencement and at a Faculty Appreciation and Recognition Luncheon that day are four faculty members in marine sciences, electrical and computer engineering, and computing and information science.
Mary Jane Perry, professor of oceanography and interim director of UMaine’s Darling Marine Center, is the 2014 Distinguished Maine Professor, an award presented by the University of Maine Alumni Association in recognition of outstanding achievement in the university’s mission of teaching, research and public service.
J. Malcolm Shick, professor of zoology and oceanography, is the recipient of the 2014 Presidential Outstanding Teaching Award; School of Computing and Information Science Professor M. Kate Beard-Tisdale is the 2014 Presidential Research and Creative Achievement Award; and the 2014 Presidential Public Service Achievement Award recipient it Bruce Segee, professor of electrical and computer engineering, and director of the University of Maine System Advanced Computing Group.
Contact: Margaret Nagle, 207.581.3745
The National Science Foundation (NSF) has selected University of Maine student Anne Marie Lausier as a 2014 Graduate Research Fellow.
Lausier, a graduate student in civil engineering, says her research will focus on the inclusion of stakeholder equity considerations in water management and that her goal is to “help facilitate the movement of water policy closer to sustainability in a changing environment.”
“National Science Foundation graduate fellowships are the most prestigious major program in the country for graduate students,” says Dan Sandweiss, dean and associate provost for graduate studies. “Students choosing to take this fellowship here is a great indicator of the quality of our graduate faculty and programs.”
Before attending UMaine for graduate school, Lausier double majored in geography and environmental studies at The George Washington University, in Washington, D.C. There, she conducted research assessing the evolution of municipal green building legislation, with a focus on Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design (LEED)-certified public buildings.
“Anne has a stellar track record,” says Shaleen Jain, her adviser and an associate professor of civil and environmental engineering. “This is a highly competitive and coveted award, and a prestigious honor for Anne, as well as a point of pride for UMaine and the College of Engineering.”
Fellowships are awarded to “individuals selected early in the graduate careers based on their demonstrated potential for significant achievements in science and engineering,” according to the NSF. The fellowship provides three years of financial support within a five-year fellowship period for research that leads to a master’s or doctoral degree.
“UMaine has been pivotal in establishing my interest in research,” Lausier says. “This NSF fellowship is valuable in providing me support to continue.”
Lausier is no stranger to water or research at UMaine. During her senior year at Bangor High School she interned in UMaine’s Department of Chemistry as part of the Maine Space Grant Consortium MERITS program. Her research project titled “Detection of Pharmaceuticals in 3 Maine Lakes by Synchronous-Scan Fluorescence Spectroscopy” was the 2009 Stockholm Junior Water Prize state champion and placed among the top eight at the national competition. It was subsequently published in the competition’s journal.
“Anne Marie was a star the minute she walked through the doors in honors chemistry at Bangor High School,” says Cary James, science department head at Bangor High School. “She is one of a long list of water researchers that have gone on to do great things.”