Archive for the ‘Graduate School’ Category

The Grower Reports on UMaine Student’s Colored Vegetable Study

Tuesday, January 28th, 2014

The Grower reported on a study being conducted by Kelly Koss, a University of Maine student pursuing a master’s degree in food science and human nutrition. Koss is seeking 100 children to take part in her research that will test whether they are more apt to eat a vegetable that is a novel, bright color, such as purple potatoes or orange cauliflower.

Grad Student to Conduct Vegetable Study

Friday, January 24th, 2014

Is a purple potato more appealing than a white one?

Kelly Koss, a University of Maine student pursuing a master’s degree in food science and human nutrition, plans to find out.

Since many children in the United States do not eat the recommended daily amount of vegetables, Koss has decided to test whether they are more apt to eat a veggie that has a novel, bright color. Koss is seeking 100 children from 8 to 10 years of age to take part in a 50-minute study during February vacation. Participating children will be asked to sample two cooked potatoes (one purple, one white), as well as raw cauliflower (orange and white) and raw carrots (yellow and orange), then answer several questions.

The study will be conducted in the Consumer Testing Center in Hitchner Hall on the UMaine campus. Volunteers who complete the study will earn $10. Mary Ellen Camire, professor of food science and human nutrition in the School of Food and Agriculture, is Koss’ adviser.

All of the vegetables are grown naturally and are not artificially colored, Koss says. Children who are allergic to cooked potatoes, raw cauliflower, raw carrots, dairy, eggs or ranch dressing are not permitted to participate. If interested, and for more information, contact Koss at 207.581.1733 or

Al-Suwaidi Awarded United Arab Emirates Head of State Merit Award

Thursday, January 16th, 2014

Jamal Sanad Al-Suwaidi was recently awarded the United Arab Emirates Head of State Merit Award in recognition of his patriotism and achievements. United Arab Emirates president H.H. Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan presented Al-Suwaidi with the award in December 2013. Al-Suwaidi is the director general of the Emirates Center for Strategic Studies and Research (ECSSR) in Abu Dhabi and a professor of political science at the United Arab Emirates University in Al-Ain. He has been a University of Maine School of Policy and International Affairs board member since 2007 and has served as director general at two conferences in Abu Dhabi co-hosted by the school and paid for by the ECSSR. Al-Suwaidi said winning the award is an honor that fills him with pride for his home country. More information on the award and the UMaine School of Policy and International Affairs is available online.

WVII Interviews Grad Student About Lobster Shell Research

Monday, January 13th, 2014

WVII (Channel 7) interviewed University of Maine graduate student Beth Fulton about her research on using lobster shell waste to create a pigment extract as a green alternative to synthetic versions found in fish food. Fulton decided to find more uses for discarded lobster shells because it is “a large-volume material that has no value, aside from composting which is done on a minimal scale.” She said the project is still in the early stages, but she has laid the groundwork for the study to continue.

Grad Student Developing Pigment Extract From Lobster Shells to Color Fish

Tuesday, January 7th, 2014

A University of Maine graduate student is researching ways to use lobster shell waste to create a pigment extract as a green alternative to synthetic versions found in fish food.

Beth Fulton, a Ph.D. student in food science, is working with other researchers on the project that aims to use environmentally friendly solvents and methods to develop a carotenoid pigment extract from lobster shell waste generated by processing facilities. The extract would be used in food for farmed salmonid fish, such as salmon and trout.

“I feel this project could lead to a really simple answer to a lot of problems that we have in Maine at the same time,” Fulton says, noting that decreasing waste and disposal costs by recycling secondary processing resources could have a positive effect on the fishing industry and communities.

Lobster shells are rich in carotenoid pigments — yellow to red pigments found in plants and animals — that can’t be synthesized in salmonid fish but can be used as a natural colorant in food. Farmed salmonid fish get their color from their diet, which contains commercial pigments that may include synthetic carotenoids from petroleum products, dried copepods, whole yeast and algae, or oil extracts from krill. Fulton says 15 percent of salmon feed cost comes from the commercial pigment alone.

“This pigment can potentially replace artificial color in common food products like farmed salmon feeds, and increase the value of whole lobsters,” Fulton says.

Fulton of Lee, N.H., has been working on the project since 2011, primarily with her faculty adviser Denise Skonberg, an associate professor of food science at UMaine. After citing Skonberg’s research in her master’s thesis at the University of New Hampshire, Fulton decided she wanted to attend UMaine to earn her Ph.D. under Skonberg’s guidance. Fulton also has a bachelor’s degree in food science from Cornell University.

When Fulton first came to UMaine, Skonberg suggested she look at what seafood byproducts are getting thrown away in the state and determine usable and efficient food uses for them.

“When we process lobsters — which are 70 percent of this state’s fishing income — we throw away almost 80 percent of the animal, including shell and organs,” Fulton says.

Fulton took Skonberg’s advice and related it to what she had learned while completing her master’s work on green crabs. During that research, she was fascinated by the adult crabs’ ability to change color from orange to green-blue every year.

“That color change is not very well understood, but has been attributed to interactions between proteins and carotenoids in the shell,” Fulton says. “So I started reading a lot about the pigments in lobster shell because they are similar to the ones seen in green crabs.”

In lobster shell, the main pigment is a red-colored carotenoid called astaxanthin, which when bound to a protein called crustacyanin is a blue-green color, she says.

“I started reading a lot about astaxanthin and found there is a very large market for this pigment, and most of the stuff we use in our salmon food is made artificially from petroleum products that are not extracted from natural sources. Consumers are becoming aware of that and are demanding natural colors,” Fulton says.

Fulton is currently examining different methods of removing minerals from lobster shells. She studies a variety of factors, such as how fine the shell needs to be ground, what type of food-grade chemicals should be used, how the shell should be exposed to the chemicals and what type of agitation should be used to maximize the removal of minerals.

She plans to determine the best treatment for pressurized liquid extraction and then look at the effect removing the minerals has on both cooked and high-pressure shucked waste.

Once the extract is developed, it will be assessed for total carotenoid content, carotenoid profile and antioxidant activity. The researchers also propose the extract will then be added to food for rainbow trout, and the effectiveness of the extract in coloring the fish will be studied in comparison to a conventional synthetic pigment.

After Fulton graduates in 2016, she plans to work in the seafood industry.

The project has received a $4,800 Maine Agricultural Center grant, and Fulton has received a $3,000 graduate student award from the Northeast Section of the Institute of Food Technologists for related research. The group recently applied for a grant to fund the project titled “Green production methods for a high-value product from lobster shell waste.” The proposed study would last two years starting in June 2014.

Contact: Elyse Kahl, 207.581.3747

Hillas Writes Op-Ed on Mandela’s Legacy for BDN

Tuesday, December 10th, 2013

Kenneth Hillas, a retired senior foreign service officer who teaches a graduate seminar in global politics at the University of Maine, wrote an opinion piece published in the Bangor Daily News titled “As we remember Mandela, don’t simplify his history, legacy.

UMaine Moth Research Effort Cited in WGME Report

Tuesday, December 10th, 2013

WGME (Channel 13) reported University of Maine researchers are working with the Maine Forest Service to track destructive winter moths that are returning to Maine. So far the moths have been found in Harpswell and Cape Elizabeth. The moths can be harmful to plants and crops, such as apples and blueberries.

Press Herald Cites UMaine Grad Student in Destructive Moth Article

Monday, December 9th, 2013

The Portland Press Herald spoke with Kaitlyn O’Donnell, a graduate student in entomology at the University of Maine, for an article on destructive winter moths returning to Maine. O’Donnell, who has been working in Harpswell for the last 18 months, said research there has revealed the moths prefer apples and oaks, and they haven’t been spreading very far or fast. She added they have stripped oaks almost completely and their effect on apple trees could eventually concern commercial growers if the insects extend their range.

BDN Publishes Op-Ed by UMaine Grad Student

Monday, December 9th, 2013

Charles Hastings, a graduate student in the University of Maine’s School of Policy and International Affairs, wrote an opinion piece for the Bangor Daily News titled “Public-private partnership or corporate welfare? However you view it, Maine’s prosperity depends on it.”

UMaine Student, Big Gig Winner Featured in BDN Column

Monday, December 2nd, 2013

Sarah Newcomb, a doctoral student in behavioral economics at the University of Maine and research assistant at UMaine’s Sustainability Solutions Initiative, was featured in a Bangor Daily News column about a shopper-friendly phone app she developed. Newcomb won the first Big Gig networking and pitch-off event in October with her proposed app, “Who’s Your Daddy?,” that allows shoppers to scan products to learn more about the product’s parent company and its practices. The Big Gig was organized by the University of Maine, Husson University and the towns of Old Town and Orono to bring together innovators and entrepreneurs.