The Maine Edge published a report about University of Maine scientists working with agencies to improve the accuracy of forecasts of hurricanes, superstorms, blizzards and floods that endanger people and animals and destroy property. UMaine received $1.5 million of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s $5.5 million award to increase the precision of predictions of extreme weather events and coastal flooding in the northeastern United States. “This project allows us to develop rapid response capability and deploy ocean observing assets before extreme weather events, and use these targeted observations to constrain ocean models and issue timely forecasts for coastal cities and towns in the Northeast United States,” said Fei Chai, professor and director of UMaine’s School of Marine Sciences, and one of four university co-investigators taking part.
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Sen. Susan Collins joined leaders from colleges and research institutions across Maine as well as dozens of Maine college students at the MDI Biological Laboratory in Bar Harbor on Aug. 4 to celebrate the receipt of an $18.4 million grant from the National Institutes of Health.
The five-year award aims to strengthen biomedical research and hands-on workforce training in Maine through the continuation of the Maine IDeA Network of Biomedical Research Excellence (INBRE), a collaborative network of 13 Maine research institutions, universities and colleges led by the MDI Biological Laboratory. The University of Maine and UMaine’s Honors College are part of the network.
“The INBRE program is a powerful instrument for bringing educational institutions from Fort Kent to South Portland together to build on their collective strengths and help our state be more competitive nationally,” Collins said at the event. “Since it began in 2001, INBRE has brought more than $100 million in federal funds into Maine. It has strengthened our state’s research infrastructure and trained more than 2,000 Maine students in biomedical research techniques.”
The full MDI Biological Laboratory news release is online.
Robert Bayer, executive director of the Lobster Institute at the University of Maine, was interviewed for a National Geographic article about a rare calico lobster that was caught in Maine. Even though the chance of finding a calico lobster is estimated to be between 1 in 30 million and 1 in 50 million, according to the article, Bayer said he thinks calicos may be more common than people think. “I’ve seen quite a few of them,” said Bayer. “I’ve seen more calicos than any other color variant.” Bayer said how a calico lobster gets its spotted shell is poorly understood, but he thinks the cause may be more environmental than genetic.
WLBZ (Channel 2) reported on the first meeting of the Maine Ocean Acidification Committee, which was held at the University of Maine Darling Marine Center in Walpole. The committee is studying the effects of ocean acidification on the state’s environment and economy. Rep. Mick Devin, a UMaine marine biologist who sponsored the legislation creating the panel, said researchers are looking at potential localized remedies, including planting more eel grass or kelp near shellfish beds, so the plants will absorb more of the carbon dioxide. More widespread solutions, he added, will require major global changes to reduce carbon emissions. Boothbay Register also reported on the meeting.
The Associated Press cited University of Maine research in an article about marine scientists and lobster harvesters saying some fishermen may be abandoning a key conservation method, called v-notching, which requires lobstermen to mark the tail of any egg-bearing lobster they catch and let it go. State officials say about 66 percent of egg-bearing females surveyed in 2013 were v-notched, down from nearly 80 percent in 2008. The article states that according to an annual UMaine survey of young lobsters in 11 locations in the Gulf of Maine, the number of young lobsters found in 2013 was less than half what was found in 2007. Yahoo News and the Daily Reporter carried the AP report.
The Portland Press Herald and the Bangor Daily News interviewed Julie Gosse, an assistant professor of molecular and biomedical sciences at the University of Maine, about her research on how a synthetic antimicrobial common in soaps and deodorants inhibits cells that sometimes fight cancer. Gosse told the Press Herald the chemical triclosan is added to many over-the-counter products advertised as antibacterial, such as soaps, toothpaste, body washes and facial cleansers. The chemical also is used in fabrics and plastics to help prevent mold growth, and has become so common that it’s now in the water supply. “This is not a chemical people need to have every day,” Gosse said. The National Institutes of Health awarded Gosse more than $420,000 for the three-year project. “We’re not going to be able to resolve the public health question, but we will be one piece of the puzzle,” she added. The Maine Edge also published an article on Gosse and her research.
The University of Maine’s Climate Change Institute was mentioned in the Portland Press Herald article “Grow food in Maine winters? Four projects take aim.” The article stated the CCI is building a carbon-negative solar-powered structure called the Extreme Environment Education and Research Building to house its Arctic research equipment. Although food won’t be grown there, how the building generates its own power will provide data for future projects, and could potentially be a model for future solar-heated barns for livestock or warehouses for storing potatoes, according to the article.
The Huffington Post cited statistics from the Lobster Institute at the University of Maine for an article about a yellow crustacean that was spotted in a supermarket tank in Florida. According to the Lobster Institute, the odds of finding a yellow lobster are one in 30 million.
The University of Maine BioMediaLab is featured in a new promotional video for Wowza Media Systems, one of the lab’s software providers.
The School of Biology and Ecology lab is an advanced technology-centric science new media lab in Murray Hall that recently started using Wowza, a versatile media streaming server that efficiently allows students access to online course video, prompting Wowza Media Systems to film a video spotlighting the lab’s work.
A cutting-edge technology environment, the BioMediaLab’s main focus is Synapse, a content learning management system. UMaine science faculty use the system to create a collaborative learning environment. Media such as videos, audio, slide shows, PDFs and other course material can be added to its courses. Wowza and Synapse allow easier streaming of video to numerous devices, no matter the file format.
The video can be viewed on Wowza’s website.
Aram Calhoun, a professor of wetland ecology at the University of Maine, was quoted in a Portland Press Herald article about research being done by Bowdoin College biologist Nat Wheelwright, who says he has found evidence of a mass die-off of wood frog tadpoles. “The die-off is significant; however, in warm weather, we do see mass mortalities of wood frogs from ranavirus in some years,” Calhoun said. “We don’t know enough about the synergistic effects of all the stressors in a frog’s environment.” Calhoun told the Press Herald that UMaine is using a four-year National Science Foundation grant to study the effects of urbanizing landscapes on pool-breeding amphibians. Calhoun said she agrees with Wheelwright that researchers should encourage citizen scientists to monitor vernal pools. “However, these events happen quickly and in our experience, the carcasses are scavenged in less than 24 hours so people could easily miss die-off events,” she cautioned.