The University of Maine’s Maynard F. Jordan Planetarium in Wingate Hall will hold its final show April 27, WABI (Channel 5) and WVII (Channel 7) reported. The planetarium, which has been open to students and the public since 1954, will close its doors as the university prepares to open the new Emera Astronomy Center in the fall. Alan Davenport, the planetarium’s director, said the old projection system has served the community well, teaching thousands of children and other visitors about astronomy, but the new technology at the Emera Astronomy Center will allow visitors to experience more than ever before.
WABI (Channel 5) reported on a new scholarship fund started by the Maine Steiners, the University of Maine’s oldest a cappella group. With the establishment of the Maine Steiners Vocal Music Scholarship Fund, the group became the first performing arts student organization to establish an endowed scholarship fund with the University of Maine Foundation. “We decided we just wanted to give back to the school’s performing arts and the university which has given us so much,” said Morgan Cates, the group’s business manager, who also spoke about the group’s diverse members and vocal influences. WABI also interviewed Robert Laraway, the Steiners’ music director, who spoke about the high standards the group holds when taking on new members and their drive to always be better musicians.
The University of Maine’s top annual faculty awards for 2014 will be presented May 10 to four researchers 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.
University of Maine President Paul Ferguson announced the three Presidential Awards: 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.
“This time of year with Commencement approaching, it’s particularly rewarding to celebrate the caliber and outstanding achievements of our faculty,” said President Ferguson. “Mary Jane, Kate, Malcolm and Bruce are all well known at UMaine for the difference they make in the lives of our students, and they are recognized and renowned far beyond campus for their engagement and achievements related to their fields. They represent UMaine’s flagship difference and we take pride in their contributions.”
The award recipients will be honored at the Faculty Appreciation and Recognition Luncheon, noon–1:30 p.m., May 10 at Wells Conference Center.
The following faculty descriptions are excerpted from the nomination packages submitted to the selection committees:
2014 Distinguished Maine Professor
Mary Jane Perry, professor of marine sciences and oceanography
Interim director of the Darling Marine Center
Mary Jane Perry is an internationally recognized researcher, gifted teacher and dedicated mentor to young scientists. She teaches — and reaches — students, from marine sciences majors to Ph.D. candidates, multidisciplinary ocean scientists and the lay audience. Perry is known for her ability to effectively provide students with the necessary knowledge for understanding, but also to instill the skills and curiosity that motivate them to teach themselves. In the School of Marine Sciences, she has been helped focus the successful undergraduate program on hands-on learning, interactivity and team learning. Perry is an active member of the school’s undergraduate curricula committee, and has served multiple times as the Oceanography Graduate Program coordinator. In the laboratory, Perry has spent her career passing on her interdisciplinary oceanographic vision, careful scientific approach and high academic standards on to her graduate students. One measure of her success is reflected in the careers of her former graduate students. They include a deputy director and program manager for the U.S. Navy’s Office of Naval Research, a program manager at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and department chairs at Bowdoin College and Princeton University. Perry and her students have a wide footprint on ocean science in the United States. One of the deepest influences Perry has had on students and oceanography is through the graduate-level ocean optics course she founded in 1985. The course, funded first by the U.S. Office of Naval Research, then the National Science Foundation (NSF) and now NASA, has maintained a subdiscipline of oceanography and created an international group of experts. A widely published researcher, Perry’s papers are often at the forefront of new developments and cut across disciplines, opening doors for future investigations. She is a research pioneer in the study of ocean optics and ocean biology, and the use of autonomous underwater gliders for remote ocean measurements. Since 2000, Perry’s research has brought more than $7 million to the University of Maine in sponsored funding. The diversity of funding agencies sponsoring her research and her service on advisory boards are testament to her expertise. Perry has been invited to sit on steering committees and advisory panels of such entities as NSF, the National Research Council, NASA and a number of European science programs. Perry received a Ph.D. in oceanography from the University of California San Diego. She joined the UMaine School of Marine Sciences faculty in 1999, and was named interim director of UMaine’s Darling Marine Center in 2013. Perry was elected an Oceanography Society Fellow in 2010. She received NSF’s Creativity Award in 2009 and 2003, and is one of three invited plenary speakers for the 2014 Ocean Sciences Meeting, the largest and most important gathering of aquatic scientists in the world.
2014 Presidential Outstanding Teaching Award
J. Malcolm Shick
Professor of Zoology and Oceanography
J. Malcolm Shick is a gifted educator who introduces students to “a passionate journey of scientific discovery.” In his rigorous classes, students appreciate his knowledge and enthusiasm for the subject matter, the attention to detail in his meticulously crafted multimedia lectures, and his interest in the quality of each student’s learning experience. In the classroom or the lab, Shick is a mentor to undergraduate and graduate students, and colleagues. Two decades ago, his passion for enhancing student learning in his introductory course led him to institute electronic-based practice exams, which he subsequently helped develop into interactive tools on course websites used today. Ten years ago, Shick helped to inaugurate the popular cornerstone Integrative Marine Science series — four modular core courses in the School of Marine Sciences. Similarly in 2012, he introduced a wide-ranging new graduate-level core class in marine biology for incoming graduate students. Shick’s well-known exploration of the representation of marine sciences in the visual and performing arts, and other humanities, is evident in all his classes, but especially in his course on the biology of marine organisms for first-year students. His other classes include undergraduate courses in ecology, comparative animal physiology, and an honors tutorial in “aesthetic marine biology,” and graduate seminars on such topics as photobiology, symbiosis, and physiological and ecological energetics. Shick’s teaching is informed by his research, largely funded by the National Science Foundation and the National Geographic Society, that takes him around the world. His eco-physiological research of the ocean’s creatures, especially corals, helps forecast how they will be affected by environmental change. He has been a visiting researcher and instructor at such prestigious institutions as the Australian Institute of Marine Science, the Plymouth (U.K.) Marine Laboratory, the Marine Biological Laboratory (Woods Hole), the Université de Nice-Sophia Antipolis, and the Centre Scientifique de Monaco. In 1974, Shick received his Ph.D. in biology from Texas A&M University and joined the University of Maine zoology faculty. He received UMaine’s 1992 Presidential Research and Creative Achievement Award and was elected an American Association for the Advancement of Science Fellow in 1984. Shick’s extensive publishing history includes more than 80 scientific articles and a book, A Functional Biology of Sea Anemones.
2014 Presidential Research and Creative Achievement Award
Kate Beard-Tisdale, professor, School of Computing and Information Science
Director of the National Center for Geographic Information and Analysis at the University of Maine
Kate Beard-Tisdale is an internationally recognized researcher in geographic information science. Through her research and research-based teaching at the University of Maine, she has applied GIS and spatial analysis in a wide range of applications — from the analysis of cancer incidence and mortality to emergency response services and precision agriculture. For more than two decades, her work has made significant contributions in the fields of visualization, spatial uncertainty, geo-ontologies, digital libraries, spatio-temporal modeling and event detection. Under the auspices of the National Center for Geographic Information and Analysis, Beard-Tisdale has led or co-led several major research initiatives. Her research has received more than $10 million in funding from sources that include the National Science Foundation (NSF), U.S. Department of Defense and U.S. Geological Survey. In the last five years alone, she has had more than 36 funded research grants totaling more than $5 million. Beard-Tisdale was a lead cooperator in the NSF-funded Alexandria Digital Library project based at the University of California Santa Barbara. Similarly, she was the principal investigator on projects to develop digital spatial libraries for the Gulf of Maine and Maine lakes. Beard-Tisdale’s multidisciplinary research makes her the model of a modern information scientist for her students. Her leadership across disciplines landed a NSF Integrative Graduate Education and Research Traineeship (IGERT) award for a novel doctoral research program in sensor science, engineering and informatics. Beard-Tisdale’s research collaborations included an NSF-funded project to investigate the application of spatial concepts to genome mapping. Working with colleagues at The Jackson Laboratory and Maine Institute for Human Genetics and Health, the research team studied spatio-temporal models for tracking exposure histories for epidemiological research. Beard-Tisdale’s extensive research publishing includes 50 journal publications, chapters in 11 scholarly books and professional presentations at more than 70 international, national and state conferences. Beard-Tisdale joined the University of Maine in 1987 after completing a Ph.D. at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
2014 Presidential Public Service Achievement Award
Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering
Director of the University of Maine System Advanced Computing Group
Bruce Segee has been actively engaged in public service since for more than two decades, assisting entrepreneurs and businesses large and small with cutting-edge instrumentation and automation systems. Since 2007, his work has focused on improving the cyberinfrastructure in Maine and the Northeast that is critical to the success of the University of Maine and the region. His interdisciplinary work ranges from development of production-ready infrastructure to the creation of new technologies for visualization, education and communication. His research and outreach efforts have improved the usefulness of laptops in K–12 education, supercomputing and cloud computing, networking and videoconferencing, and resource sharing. Segee helped spearhead the state’s Three Ring Binder project, which brought $25 million in funding, matched by $6 million in private investment, to form the Maine Fiber Company, providing unprecedented rural connectivity and job creation with the installation of more than 1,100 miles of fiber-optic cable. Three Ring Binder, completed in 2012, was followed the next year by Gigabit Mainestreet, a public-private partnership between UMaine and Great Works Internet to bring gigabit-speed connectivity to the Orono and Old Town communities and resulted in UMaine being cited as one of the top 10 universities for connectivity nationwide. Gigabit Mainestreet is part of a nationwide program named Gig.U, and Segee had a leadership role in bringing Gig.U to Maine. He has served as the director of the UMaine supercomputer, providing cost-effective, cutting-edge computational power for many significant research projects, classes and simulations for K–12 education. In addition, he directs the UMaine Cyberinfrastructure Investment for Development, Economic Growth and Research, and has been involved in the annual Maine Learning Technology Initiative of the state Department of Education. Segee holds the Henry R. and Grace V. Butler Professorship of Electrical and Computer Engineering. He received the College of Engineering’s 2008 Ashley S. Campbell Award, as well as Dean’s Awards of Excellence in 2004 and 2008, Outstanding Young Faculty Research Award in 1995 and Outstanding Young Faculty Teaching award in 1994. Segee received a bachelor’s and master’s degree in electrical engineering from the University of Maine in 1985 and 1989, respectively, and was awarded the College of Engineering Outstanding Graduate Student Award in 1988. In 1992, he received a Ph.D. in Engineering from the University of New Hampshire and joined the UMaine engineering faculty. His publishing has included co-writing a textbook, Microprogramming and Computer Architecture.
Contact: Margaret Nagle, 207.581.3745
The latest post on the Portland Press Herald blog, “The Franco-American blog: News and notes from Maine’s French culture,” focused on the upcoming University of Maine spring symposium, “In and Out of Place: Finding Home in Franco America.” UMaine’s Franco-American Centre and Franco American Studies program will host the series of free events April 25–26 on the Orono campus. The symposium is sponsored by the UMaine Humanities Initiative and le Ministère des Relations internationales, Francophonie et Commerce extérieur du Québec, and will feature readings from acclaimed writers, panel discussions by scholars from New England and Canada, and a screening of the film “Le grand Jack (Jack Kerouac’s Road: A Franco-American Odyssey)” directed by Herménégilde Chiasson.
University of Maine President Paul Ferguson has announced the 2014 valedictorian, Sierra Ventura of Belfast, Maine, and salutatorian Jennifer Chalmers of Foxborough, Mass.
Both will receive their degrees at UMaine’s 212th Commencement ceremonies in Harold Alfond Sports Arena May 10.
“Sierra and Jenn personify the best of the University of Maine undergraduate experience in their academic excellence, community engagement, and dedication to research and scholarship,” says President Ferguson. “We are proud of their achievements and their leadership in the UMaine community.”
Ventura will receive a bachelor’s degree in music education. Throughout her undergraduate career, she has been active in UMaine’s chapter of the National Association of Music Education, including two years as treasurer, and she is a member of Phi Beta Kappa. Her leadership roles on campus include serving as assistant conductor of the University of Maine Singers and of Euphony, the Orono-based chamber choir, both in 2013–14. The previous year, Ventura was the assistant accompanist of Collegiate Chorale.
Ventura also was a member of other musical ensembles in the UMaine School of Performing Arts, including Opera Workshop, Concert Band and Athena Consort, and she worked on the technical and events crews. Since 2009, she has had her own business, S.J. Ventura Music Instruction, teaching 35 students in piano, voice, flute, clarinet and saxophone. Ventura plans to pursue a graduate degree in music education at the University of Maine.
“UMaine has helped me shape my pursuits in the music education field,” Ventura says. “UMaine has also provided me the opportunity to connect with many veteran teachers and other professionals in my field throughout my undergraduate career, as well as give me tools to become a better private music teacher for my students. During my undergraduate career, I was also blessed to have met my fiancé during my time in University Singers.”
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 honors thesis, a historical and literary research project, entitled “Teaching Literature in America: Demonstrating Relevance in the Early Cold War (1945–1963).”
Chalmers is a member of multiple honor societies, including All Maine Women, Sophomore Eagles and Phi Beta Kappa. The UMaine Presidential Scholar Award recipient received Roger B. Hill Scholarships in both history and English, and the Ellis Prize in English. She also received a College of Liberal Arts and Sciences Undergraduate Research Fellowship.
While at UMaine, Chalmers had two internships that advanced her professional writing skills. She was a human resources intern with the Massachusetts State Police in Framingham, Mass., and an English editorial intern with Pearson Higher Education in Boston, Mass. She was a journalist for the Maine Journal and a tutor for UMaine’s Writing Center. In addition, Chalmers was a student supervisor for Black Bear Dining concessions and a clarinetist in the UMaine Symphonic and Pep bands. Her community service activities included volunteering, serving as a note taker for UMaine Disability Support Services, and being involved in Autism at UMaine and the History Club.
“Since the moment I first visited UMaine, I have always felt at home,” Chalmers says. “I’m particularly appreciative of the way my professors have been so willing to help me achieve my goals and have always been on the lookout for opportunities that might be beneficial for me. I also really appreciate the wealth of opportunities that UMaine has provided outside the classroom. I have had so many opportunities to join organizations that I genuinely care about, gain leadership experience and make lasting friendships. My coursework, jobs and activities at UMaine have provided me with the experience that I have needed to get scholarships, internships and jobs, both inside and outside UMaine. The people, the organizations, and the generally encouraging atmosphere at UMaine have been invaluable to my personal, professional and intellectual growth during college, and I know that taking advantage of the opportunities that UMaine has to offer has allowed and prepared me to achieve my goals.”
Chalmers has accepted a position with Teach for America. For the next two years, she will teach secondary special education English in southern New Jersey and then will pursue graduate school.
Contact: Margaret Nagle, 207.581.3745
Image Description: Ventura
Image Description: Chalmers
The Maine Studies Program at the University of Maine has announced the winners of the 10th annual Maine Studies Research and Creativity Awards.
Each year the award is given to an undergraduate and graduate student — or group of students — to highlight exemplary student research related to the study of Maine. All UMaine research papers or projects related to Maine and created within the last year are eligible for the award.
This year’s undergraduate winner is a group of students: Benjamin Algeo, Shannon Brenner, Alexandria Jesiolowski, Joshua Morse, Victoria Schuyler and Braden Sinclair. Their interdisciplinary research project, “Building a Better Orono Together: Cultivating Organic Community Connection with University and Orono Stakeholders,” examined the relations between UMaine and Orono and exposed the students to the valuable practice of engaged research under the guidance of Robert Glover, an assistant professor of political science.
Hollie Smith is this year’s graduate winner. Her research paper, “Science and Policy in Maine: Opportunities for Engagement with the Maine State Legislature,” examines ways graduate students at UMaine might contribute more effectively to Maine’s policymaking process. Laura Lindenfeld, an associate professor of mass communication and media studies and public policy, supervised the project.
For the past 10 years, the University of Maine Foundation has provided financial support for the awards.
The Canadian-American Center at the University of Maine announced it is accepting applications for the 2014 Summer Foreign Language and Areas Studies (FLAS) Award.
The award is federally funded and is offered to students during the academic year and summer to support the bilingual research (English and French) of master’s and doctoral candidates whose studies focus on Canada.
Summer FLAS Awards are specifically aimed at developing language skills. The awards are open on a competitive basis to U.S. citizens and permanent residents who seek to improve their proficiency in French as a tool for graduate research.
Candidates must be willing to commit to six weeks of intensive French study. Programs covered by the award are offered in the U.S. for students with novice level of proficiency, and in Canada for students with higher levels of proficiency. The federal grant covers up to $4,000 in tuition and offers a living allowance stipend.
The Canadian-American Center is designated by the U.S. Department of Education as a National Resource Center on Canada and provides the award as part of its mission.
More information, including how to apply, is available online.
Mark Brewer, a political science professor at the University of Maine, spoke with the Maine Public Broadcasting Network for a report titled, “New poll shows LePage with slim lead in Maine governor’s race.” Brewer said undecided voters and supporters of Eliot Cutler and Mike Michaud are the people who will decide the outcome of the election.
The series of free events, sponsored by the UMaine Humanities Initiative and le Ministère des Relations internationales, Francophonie et Commerce extérieur du Québec, will take place on the Orono campus from 1:30 p.m. Friday, April 25 until 6 p.m. Saturday, April 26.
“Questions of ‘home’ and of ‘place’ can walk a line between the public and private spaces that take shape for each of us as individuals and as community members,” says Jacob Albert, a research associate at the Franco-American Centre. “We’re really excited to offer a forum for some powerful writers and thinkers to address these kinds of universal questions that are especially important for thinking about cultural identity.”
Keynote speaker and Canadian author Clark Blaise will read from his work-in-progress, “The Kerouac Who Never Was,” from 5:15 to 6:30 p.m. Friday, April 25.
Blaise is a graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop at the University of Iowa where he was the director of the International Writing Program. He also is the founder of the post-graduate program in creative writing at Concordia University. He has written more than 20 books, including “I Had a Father: A Post-Modern Autobiography,” “The Meagre Tarmac” and the Pearson Prize-winning “Time Lord: Sir Sandford Fleming and the Creation of Standard Time.”
The symposium will feature readings from other acclaimed writers including Jane Martin, Ron Currie Jr., Rhea Côté Robbins and Steven Riel; panel discussions by scholars from New England and Canada on “Franco Elections, Activism and Public Opinion,” “Historical Reflections on Place and Identity,” and “Franco American Archives and Collections in New England;” and a screening of the film “Le grand Jack (Jack Kerouac’s Road: A Franco-American Odyssey)” directed by Herménégilde Chiasson.
This symposium features precisely the sorts of interdisciplinary perspectives on a topic of regional significance that the Humanities Initiative aims to promote,” says Justin Wolff, UMHI director and an associate professor of art history at UMaine.
The UMaine Humanities Initiative (UMHI), housed in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences and established in 2010, advances the teaching, research and community outreach of the arts and humanities to enrich the lives of all Maine residents.
More information about the UMHI is online.
Contact: Elyse Kahl, 207.581.3747
WABI (Channel 5) and WVII (Channel 7) reported on the University of Maine’s celebration of World Languages Day. More than 100 area high school students attended the event that highlighted French and Spanish with traditional dance lessons, a campuswide scavenger hunt and a culture bowl competition. Danielle Beaupre, a lecturer in UMaine’s Department of Modern Languages and Classics, said the best way to learn a language is through immersion. “Getting to spend a whole day in the target language that they’re studying has been a great experience for them,” Beaupre said of the students. The UMaine Department of Modern Languages and Classics, The Canadian-American Center and the Foreign Language Association of Maine (FLAME) sponsored the event.