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UMaine Museum of Art Extends its Lease in Downtown Bangor

The University of Maine Museum of Art has begun a new 17-year lease with Eastern Maine Development Corporation, maintaining the downtown Bangor location it has occupied in historic Norumbega Hall for more than a decade.

“On behalf of the people of Bangor, I just want to say how excited we are to have the University of Maine Art Museum right in the heart of Bangor for another 17 years,” says Bangor City Council Chairman Ben Sprague, who also is a member of the Museum of Art Advisory Council. ”The museum has been a cornerstone of the revitalization of downtown Bangor, and has brought the arts into the heart of our community for people of all ages and backgrounds to enjoy.”

In May, the University of Maine System Board of Trustees approved the new long-term lease, July 1, 2014–June 30, 2031, and expansion of museum space on the third floor of the building for much-needed fine art storage.

In a letter of support, the Bangor City Council expressed its interest in having the museum remain in downtown Bangor “as a cornerstone of the arts for years to come.”

“The museum is now one of our primary cultural assets and an important aspect of the quality of life for Bangor citizens and those of the surrounding communities,” the council said. “Perhaps most importantly, locating the museum in downtown Bangor has served to strengthen the bonds between the university community and the city of Bangor.”

The museum relocated in December 2002 to take on a new role as a regional fine arts center. The city of Bangor invested $400,000 toward the $955,000 renovation of the first-floor museum space in Norumbega Hall, built in the early 1900s. The additional 1,955 square feet of storage space that will soon be renovated on the third floor of the building will be used for the museum’s growing collection.

The University of Maine Museum of Art collection includes more than 3,600 original works created since 1900, with an emphasis on contemporary art on paper (1945–present). Since 2008, more than 280 works have been added to the permanent collection, most through donation to the museum.

“Over the years, the Museum of Art has contributed to the cultural life of Bangor and to the region,” says George Kinghorn, executive director and curator of the UMaine Museum of Art. “UMMA’s downtown location continues to advance the university’s land-grant mission of outreach and service to Maine citizens by providing quality visual art experiences. It has been most rewarding to play a key role in the revitalization and recent growth of downtown Bangor.”

Contact: Margaret Nagle, 207.581.3745

UMaine Researchers Focus on Improving Urchin Roe Production

Enhancing green sea urchin egg production to aid Maine’s depressed urchin market is the research focus of a University of Maine marine bioresources graduate student.

Ung Wei Kenn, a second-year master’s student from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, hopes to increase the egg or roe yield of farm-raised green sea urchins through high-quality feed, a process known as bulking. His research is part of a two-year, more than $215,000 research project funded by the National Sea Grant National Strategic Initiative and led by director Nick Brown and biologist Steve Eddy of UMaine’s Center for Cooperative Aquaculture Research (CCAR) in Franklin, Maine.

“I was always interested in the vertical integration of aquaculture and seafood processing,” says Ung, who completed his undergraduate work at the University of Tasmania, Australia. “I am also passionate about seafood that is popular in Asia. This topic is a blend of all that.”

Ung came to UMaine because he was attracted to the project, but he praises CCAR, where he conducts his research, as a key part in his decision to work at UMaine.

“I always felt that aquaculture is not just a science; it is a business as well,” says Ung. “CCAR is special in that it is specifically set up to assist aquaculture businesses by providing scientific and technical know-how. I would not have this luxury at most other places.”

Ung’s research potentially could have significant economic benefit for the state. Maine exports roe to Japan, where it is considered a delicacy. Since the late 1990s, Maine has suffered a dramatic sea urchin industry decline, dropping to a 2.6 million-pound yearly harvest after 1993’s 42-million-pound high, according to information on the Maine Sea Grant website.

“(Using bulking), we can produce out-of-season urchins, enabling the industry to get the best prices, such as when there is a festival in Japan,” Ung says.

Ung places wild green sea urchins, which are harvested from Hancock County’s Frenchman Bay, in a recirculating aquaculture system, where they are fed fresh and dried kelp and a commercial diet that fosters higher-quality eggs. Harvested sea urchins are usually 57 mm in diameter.

Ung hopes his research will lead to increased roe yield and improved roe quality. After four months of urchin dieting, Ung analyzes roe yield, texture and color data at the Food Science and Human Nutrition Department’s physical properties lab. Taste testing is completed at the UMaine Consumer Testing Center. Roe pre- and post-experimentation aspects are compared to determine if quality has been enhanced.

High-quality roe is sweet, smooth and yellow, gold or orange in color, while poor-quality roe has a watery appearance or bitter taste.

“There is a commercial component where we want to demonstrate that the urchins can be enhanced at a commercial scale,” Ung says. “A higher-quality roe yield would mean better selling prices.”

Contact: Margaret Nagle, 207.581.3745

Nutrients of Peppers Promoted with the Development of a Less Pungent Variety

A new pepper variety has been developed with a high capsinoid content to make it less pungent while maintaining all the natural health benefits of the fruit, according to researchers with the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the University of Maine.

The researchers — Robert Jarret from the USDA/Agricultural Research Service in Griffin, Georgia, and Jason Bolton and L. Brian Perkins from the University of Maine School of Food and Agriculture — developed the new small-fruited Capsicum annuum L. pepper through traditional breeding methods in an effort to make the health benefits of hot peppers available to more consumers.

In hot peppers, capsaicinoids are the compounds associated both with their signature heat and health benefits, which include being a source of antioxidants. But that pungency can limit their use in foods and pharmaceuticals.

Capsinoids, closely related compounds of capsaicinoids, provide the same benefits without the pungency.

Starting in 2006 with a USDA seed grant, Perkins, a UMaine assistant research professor and director of the Food Chemical Safety Laboratory, and Bolton, then a food science graduate student, screened about 500 subspecies of Capsicum annuum. They forwarded their data to Jarret, who selected those with the highest concentrations of capsinoids.

Jarret then began to classically breed the selected varieties at the USDA facility in Georgia. Perkins screened the results and they repeated the process, selecting the best capsinoid producers from each generation.

The culmination of their work is germplasm 509-45-1. The peppers are very small, with each plant producing up to 1,000 peppers. According to Perkins, there will likely be additional selection to prepare the plants for marketability, both as a food product and for medical experiments.

Currently, small quantities of seed are available from the USDA for research purposes.

Contact: Margaret Nagle, 207.581.3745

Provost Names Signature and Emerging Areas of Excellence in Research and Education

Signature and Emerging Areas of excellence in research and education at the University of Maine have been announced by UMaine Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost Jeffrey Hecker.

The designations, which resulted from months of campus dialogue and faculty forums led by the provost, will inform strategic and focused planning and resource allocation to preserve UMaine’s national stature and impact in Maine. The initiative to define UMaine’s Signature and Emerging Areas is a significant component of Blue Sky Pathway 1 — Serving Our State: Catalyzing Maine’s Revitalization in the five-year strategic plan. It will be followed this fall by campus-wide dialogue about foundational areas of research and education for a 21st-century land grant university.

“In this time of rapid change in higher education, it is more important than ever that institutions think strategically about their programs,” Hecker says. “In the Signature Areas UMaine has achieved national and international distinction, and these areas will be key in our planning for the future, including our fundraising and development efforts. The Emerging Areas are those with the great potential to reach that next level of excellence. Together, they make a compelling statement about the distinctiveness of UMaine among America’s research universities.”

The Signature Areas, identified by their strengths in research and education: Forestry and the Environment, Marine Sciences, College of Engineering, Advanced Materials for Infrastructure and Energy, Climate Change, STEM Education, and Honors College. These interdisciplinary Signature Areas are world-class and will feature prominently in UMaine planning for the future.

Emerging Areas represent those programs that may have not yet achieved critical mass or reputation, but have begun to capitalize on interdisciplinary collaboration; have a track record of success with external support from a variety of sources; and involve integration of the research, teaching and service missions. They are: the Graduate School of Biomedical Science and Engineering; Northeastern Americas: Humanities Research and Education; Data Science and Engineering; Sustainability Solutions and Technologies; Aging Research; and Finance Education.

Provost Hecker convened the first of three Academic Affairs Faculty Forums on Dec. 3, 2013 to discuss and gather feedback on the Signature and Emerging Areas initiative. In early January, the Advisory Committee for Signature and Emerging Areas drafted the selection criteria, which included: demonstration of a strong “fit to place” meeting Maine’s cultural, workforce and economic needs; international and national reputation; high level of productivity; proven record of sustainability; ability to leverage existing resources; interdisciplinary and/or multidisciplinary; integration of research, teaching and service missions.

A call for concept papers was issued to the campus community, resulting in 58 submissions. These concept papers were reviewed by a team comprised of UMaine faculty and administrators, a member of UMaine’s Board of Visitors, and external reviewers from the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the American Association of the Advancement of Science. Twenty submissions were selected for participation in the full proposal phase of the review.

Public forums were held May 21 and May 22 that included brief presentations on the proposed Signature Areas. Ongoing community feedback was essential in helping the Provost’s team determine the final list of Signature Areas.

Brief descriptions of the Signature Areas:

Forestry and the Environment, focusing on sustainable forests and the forest-based economy, and education in forests, wildlife and the environment. UMaine is nationally and internationally recognized in its advanced wood composites, wood processing, biofuels, wood chemistry and forest resources research. A signature strength for teaching is UMaine’s location, providing unique opportunities for hands-on educational experiences in Maine’s forest and aquatic resources, and in communities statewide. Lead faculty: Hemant Pendse, Forest Bioproducts Research Institute; Robert Wagner, Center for Research on Sustainable Forests; Stephen Shaler, Forest Resources; Doug Bousfield, Paper Surface Science Program; Mike Bilodeau, Process Development Center; Amy Luce, Technology Research Center; Dan Harrison, Wildlife Ecology, Aram Calhoun, Ecology and Environmental Sciences

Marine Sciences, including a multidisciplinary Marine Research Solutions initiative to improve understanding of the physical, biological and socioeconomic processes that shape the ocean; to be a reliable, deeply engaged partner with policy makers, fisheries stakeholders, marine industries and coastal communities, helping to develop solutions for the broad array of issues associated with Maine’s marine resources; and to provide high-quality, interdisciplinary undergraduate and graduate education, outreach and research for the Gulf of Maine. Lead faculty: Fei Chai, Pete Jumars, Mary Jane Perry, Rebecca Van Beneden, William Ellis, Sara Lindsay, Rhian Waller, Marine Sciences; Paul Anderson, Aquaculture Research Institute; Mario Teisl, Economics; Krish Thiagarajan, Mechanical Engineering

STEM Education, including research that investigates the complex intersection of individual content knowledge, social learning environments, pedagogical knowledge of our teachers, and development and use of materials for the classroom. Understanding this complex system requires deep knowledge of disciplinary content and of models of teaching and learning. This area supports expanded and improved teaching and learning of STEM from pre-school through graduate school.  Lead faculty: Michael Wittmann and John Thompson, Physics; Jonathan Shemwell, Education; Harlan Onsrud, Computing and Information Science; Susan McKay, RiSE Center; Mohamad Musavi, Engineering

Climate Change, including internationally recognized research, and highly integrated undergraduate and graduate educational opportunities, as well as an emerging academic focus on changing ecosystems and climate — impact on animal and human health. The Climate Change Institute has evolved beyond a singular focus on research to be a leader and a vehicle for broad integration of climate change strengths across campus and statewide. Lead faculty: Paul Mayewski, Jasmine Saros, Ivan Fernandez, Gregory Zaro, Climate Change Institute; Eleanor Groden, School of Biology and Ecology; Mario Teisl, School of Economics; Susan Erich, Anne Lichtenwalner, School of Food and Agriculture

Advanced Materials for Infrastructure and Energy, developing the use of advanced materials in civil infrastructure, energy, aerospace and defense applications. As an interdisciplinary research center, the Advanced Structures and Composites Center focuses on development of novel advanced composite materials and technologies that capitalize on Maine’s manufacturing strengths and natural resources, while creating new industries and job opportunities, and educating students. Lead faculty: Habib Dagher, Stephen Shaler, Larry Parent, Douglas Gardner, William Davids, Eric Landis, Krish Thiagarajan, Advanced Structures and Composites Center

College of Engineering, focusing on the role of the state’s only comprehensive engineering program that features a high level of synergy between teaching, research and public service. Engineering leads the campus with respect to the quality of students it attracts, retention and graduation rates, as well as job placement. Lead faculty: Eric Landis, William Davids, Donald Hummels, Hemant Pendse, Scott Dunning, Engineering; David Batuski, Physics

Honors College, increasing the recruitment and retention of students in preprofessional programs, involving faculty campuswide in the honors education enhancing study abroad and off-campus partnerships that expand and strengthen community-engaged research, and involving students in the creation of new knowledge. Lead faculty, Francois Amar, Honors

Brief descriptions of the Emerging Areas:

Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences and Engineering (GSBSE), leveraging Maine’s academic and nonprofit biomedical research institutions, specifically UMaine, University of Southern Maine, University of New England, The Jackson Laboratory, Mount Desert Island Biological Laboratory and Maine Medical Center Research Institute through a unique educational model. GSBSE student research focuses on issues prevalent in the state of Maine, such as cancer- and aging-related illness. Lead faculty: David Neivandt, Chemical Engineering and the Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences and Engineering

Northeastern Americas: Humanities Research and Education, focusing on scholarship of New England, Quebec and Atlantic Canada. The area is distinctive in its international scope, its multicultural depth and its array of campuswide programs, including the Canadian-American Center, Margaret Chase Smith Policy Center, Maine Folklife Center, Franco American Programs, Native American Programs and Humanities Initiative, as well as the departments of History, English, Art and Modern Languages. Interdisciplinary, regional research contributes to understanding Maine’s cross-border economy, and it provides interpretative resources for the state’s “creative economy” and its heritage-based tourist industry. Lead faculty: Richard Judd, History; Pauleena MacDougall, Folklife Center; Darren Ranco, Anthropology and Native American Programs

Data Science and Engineering, leveraging UMaine strengths in data science and engineering, and data-sensitive science areas by applying data-centric methods to issues relevant to Maine’s interests and natural and economic sustainability. DSE brings together computer scientists, mathematicians, statisticians and engineers with domain scientists to address critical challenges of capturing, storing, managing, sharing, and analyzing massive data sets for new scientific discoveries and insights. Lead faculty: Kate Beard-Tisdale, School of Computing and Information Science; Ali Abedi, Yifeng Zhu, Electrical and Computer Engineering

Sustainability Solutions and Technologies, using the field of sustainability science and other interdisciplinary approaches to address the intersecting environmental, sociocultural and economic dimensions of diverse societal challenges, including renewable energy, urbanization, forest resources, water resources, marine fisheries, agriculture and climate change. Faculty conduct sustainability research in collaboration with stakeholder organizations representing government, business and industry, and nongovernmental organizations. Lead faculty: David Hart, Senator George J. Mitchell Center and School of Biology and Ecology; Jonathan Rubin, Margaret Chase Smith Policy Center and School of Economics; Aram Calhoun, Wildlife Ecology and Ecology and Environmental Science; Shaleen Jain, Civil and Environmental Engineering; Hemant Pendse, Chemical and Biological Engineering; Darren Ranco, Anthropology and Native American Programs; Mario Teisl, School of Economics; Robert Wagner, School of Forest Resources

Aging Research, advancing successful aging in Maine and the nation as it addresses: maximizing individual productivity; minimizing institutionalization and the need for costly long-term care; preventing and mitigating the impact of illness and injury; and promoting community integration, social engagement, full accessibility, personal independence, vitality, mobility, elder friendly communities and citizen safety. Utilizing a research incubator model, this area will maintain productive partnerships with the business and nonprofit sectors. Lead faculty: Len Kaye, Center on Aging and Social Work; David Neivandt, Chemical Engineering and the Graduate School of Biomedical Science and Engineering; Laura Lindenfeld, Communication and Journalism

Finance Education, addressing the critical need of the state of Maine to educate business professionals who can carry out economic development and improve job opportunities for the people of Maine. Student learning is enhanced through state of the art technologies and information science, opportunities to invest and manage funds, and engagement with businesses in Maine and nationally. Lead faculty: Ivan Manev, Maine Business School

Contact: Margaret Nagle, 207.581.3745

Studies Lead to Improved Fish Advisory for Pregnant Women

Editor’s note: This version has been updated

Two studies by researchers at the University of Maine’s Sustainability Solutions Initiative (SSI) uncovered compelling data on women’s knowledge of both the dangers and health benefits of eating fish while pregnant. The first study found that Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s (MeCDC) advisory led women to decrease their consumption of fish, while a follow-up study found a newly-designed advisory led to a healthier, more balanced approach to fish consumption.

Mario Teisl, professor in the School of Economics, will present and discuss results of the studies, which were published in two peer-reviewed journals, as a featured speaker at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) 2014 National Forum on Contaminants in Fish. Both journal papers are among the first to examine how information about methylmercury in fish is conveyed to pregnant women in specific states and how that information is used, which is information the EPA has indicated it needs.

Teisl has been part of two research teams from SSI’s Knowledge to Action Collaborative that have closely examined MeCDC’s methylmercury advisories sent to pregnant women. He will lay out how the successive sets of data tracked an evolution in the way information is conveyed to and interpreted by pregnant women in Maine.

“MeCDC suspected that the original advisory was not working as best as it could for this audience and our initial study confirmed the state could do better,” Teisl said.

In the first study, published in 2011 in the journal Science of the Total Environment, Teisl and colleagues found that the advisory was changing pregnant women’s eating habits, but not always in the intended manner. Instead of limiting high-mercury fish and switching to a careful diet of low-mercury fish, many pregnant women were dramatically decreasing their overall consumption of all fish, thus missing many of the benefits of eating fish. The misinformation seemed to stem from the fact that the advisory was aimed at sports fishermen and mainly focused on the risks of eating sport-caught fish.

“The old pamphlet was targeted more toward anglers. On the cover, there was a photo of a family fishing. The problem is that very few women eat sport-caught fish. Most eat fish from the grocery store. A lot of pregnant women didn’t understand how the information pertained to them,” Teisl said.

In 2006, the MeCDC redesigned its advisory, adding specific information about fresh, frozen and canned fish. Sue Stableford, a health literacy expert at the University of New England, worked closely with the MeCDC on both advisories, providing extensive assistance with research, focus group testing, and use of ‘easy-to-read’ techniques.

The new literature contains recipes, meal plans and colorful charts, informing women of fish to avoid, fish to limit and fish that are low enough in mercury to eat twice a week while pregnant. The pamphlet emphasizes the importance of fish in the diet, including the fetal/maternal health benefits of Omega 3 fatty acids and protein. In the second study, published in 2013 in the journal Environmental Science, Teisl and colleagues found women who read the updated advisory were knowledgeable about healthy fish consumption in pregnancy. People who did not read the advisory generally lacked essential knowledge about healthy fish diets.

“Our evaluation of the Maine CDC’s updated fish consumption advisory suggests that it successfully improved women’s specific knowledge of both the benefits and risks of consuming fish while pregnant. This improved knowledge has the potential to minimize methylmercury health impacts and maintain, if not increase, overall low-mercury fish consumption,” said Haley Engelberth, who received a master’s of science in Ecology and Environmental Science from UMaine in 2012. Engelberth was on both SSI methylmercury research teams and the lead author of the 2013 paper.

Other researchers on the teams included: Kathleen P. Bell, associate professor, UMaine’s School of Economics; Eric Frohmberg, (then) toxicologist, state of Maine; Karyn Butts, research associate, University of Southern Maine; Sue Stableford, director of the Health Literacy Institute at University of New England; Andrew E. Smith, director, Environmental and Occupational Health Programs, Maine CDC; Kevin J. Boyle, (then) professor of ecology and environmental sciences, UMaine.

Teisl will make his presentation at the Sept. 22–24 conference in Alexandria, Virginia.

Funding for this research was provided by National Science Foundation award EPS-0904155 to Maine EPSCoR at the University of Maine and by the Maine Center for Disease Control & Prevention through the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention National Public Health Tracking Grant and U.S. EPA Cooperative Agreement #CR82628301-0.

Contact: Margaret Nagle, 207.581.3745

Local Foods a Priority for Mainers

Mainers prefer to buy local food from in-state farmers, fishermen and businesses, according to a new survey.

The findings are indicative of a sea change happening in the food industry, says Sustainability Solutions Initiative (SSI)/Mitchell Center researcher Timothy Waring, who was part of a multi-institution team that prepared the report.

And Maine is on the leading edge.

In total, 80 percent of those surveyed said they purchase at least some produce, meat and fish from local sources, according to a report by Maine Food Strategy. Two-thirds of respondents said they did so out of a desire to support local food providers.

“Maine is a national leader in supporting the local foods industry,” said Waring, University of Maine assistant professor of social-ecological systems modeling and a member of the SSI.

“People have altruistic motives when it comes to local foods, sometimes at a monetary cost to themselves. They want to support the community. That’s not the reason people normally go to a grocery store.”

Local food is one of Waring’s areas of expertise. He recently received a five-year $500,000 grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to explore the role of cooperation in the local food industry.

He stressed the importance of Maine Food Strategy’s mission to create a strong local foods network in the state. Though local foods still make up a small percentage of total food purchased in Maine, Waring said the report indicates the potential for a broader local shift.

“This is about more than a market drive. It’s about socialization and community,” Waring said. “It’s not as depersonalized as the grocery store. People feel more responsible and indebted to those who provide local food. They may know the farmer or the fisherman. They are willing to go out of their way to buy the food.”

Here are some of the report’s findings from the survey of 600 homes all over the state executed by the University of Southern Maine:

Food Strategy members will meet with industry and community leaders across the state in a series of briefings, to review the survey findings, identify common resources and seek ways to strengthen stakeholder relationships. These meetings will be open to the public. Details are posted on the Maine Food Strategy website.

Contact: Margaret Nagle, 207.581.3745

Susan Hunter Named UMaine’s First Woman President

University of Maine System Chancellor James H. Page announced today that he has selected Susan J. Hunter as the next President of the University of Maine (UMaine) in Orono. The Executive Committee of the University System’s Board of Trustees unanimously supported the selection and will officially vote at a committee meeting on June 25. Hunter will be UMaine’s first woman president and will serve a two-year appointment commencing July 7.

“Dr. Hunter’s depth and breadth of experience at our flagship campus is unsurpassed,” Chancellor Page stated. “She is, moreover, already extremely well-known throughout the state as a tireless advocate for public higher education. She is the clear choice to advance the University of Maine.”

Established in 1865, the University of Maine will mark its sesquicentennial celebration in 2015. The University of Maine was originally established as the Maine College of Agriculture and the Mechanic Arts under the provisions of the Morrill Act, which was approved by President Abraham Lincoln in 1862. In 1897 the original name changed to the University of Maine.

“The Board of Visitors is extremely pleased that Susan has agreed to assume the presidency during this transition period,” said Anne Lucey, Chair of the University of Maine Board of Visitors. “She has excellent relationships with alumni, donors, faculty and University supporters. Given her many years of service, she is able to assume a leadership role and provide the continuity the campus needs at this juncture.”

Since September 1, 2013, Hunter has served on the Chancellor’s cabinet as Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs for all seven of Maine’s public universities. Other than her time at the System, Hunter spent all of her career at UMaine, most recently as Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost from 2008 to 2013.

“Susan is an outstanding leader and will bring continuity to the University of Maine’s Blue Sky Plan,” said Samuel Collins, Chair of the University of Maine System Board of Trustees. “She has established extensive and good relationships and developed a wealth of knowledge during her many years of service in a number of leadership roles at the University of Maine.”

Hunter began her career at UMaine as an adjunct professor in 1987, became a full-time faculty member in 1991, and has since served in various academic and administrative capacities including Associate Provost and Dean for Undergraduate Education; Assistant Director in the College of Natural Sciences, Forestry and Agriculture; and chair of the Department of Biological Sciences where she was a faculty member and cell biologist whose research focused on structural and functional aspects of bone cell biology.

“There is no greater honor than being named to lead the institution where I have spent essentially my whole career,” Hunter said. “I am delighted to be returning to campus to work with very talented and dedicated faculty, staff and students. My efforts will focus on further development and implementation of the Blue Sky Plan, fund raising activities in preparation for a comprehensive campaign, and external engagement to further the goals of the University of Maine System and higher education.”

For six years Hunter served as a co-principal investigator of an award winning $3.0 million NSF GK-12 grant that placed graduate teaching fellows in K–12 schools as science demonstrators. She was also the principal investigator on a five-year $3.3 million National Science Foundation ADVANCE grant helping to fund UMaine’s Rising Tide Center, an initiative that aims to transform the university through enhanced opportunities for women faculty members in science, technology, engineering, mathematics, and social-behavioral sciences.

She received a B.S. degree in biology from James Madison University, a Ph.D. in physiology from Pennsylvania State University and did post-doctoral work at Case Western Reserve University and the Pennsylvania State University.

Hunter served on the Board of Directors of the Maine School for Science and Mathematics and currently serves on the Maine Mathematics and Science Alliance Board of Directors, as well as the University of Maine System representative to the Governor’s STEM Council, the Board of Directors of the Bangor Symphony Orchestra, member of the Stillwater Society, a member of the Pi class of Leadership Maine, and most recently, participated in a planning initiative for the Maine Arts Commission Steering Committee in preparation for a Cultural Strategic Plan for the State of Maine.

Hunter lives in Orono with her husband, David Lambert, a plant pathologist who also spent his career at UMaine as a faculty member in the School of Food and Agriculture. They have two adult children.

More information is available online.

UMaine Professor, Graduate Conduct Research in Support of the Oceans

University of Maine professor of oceanography Emmanuel Boss advises students to pursue their passion.

And he leads by example.

This summer, Boss and UMaine master’s graduate Thomas Leeuw will board Tara — a sailboat for the planet — to collect data and conduct research in the Mediterranean Sea.

They’ll study the ocean color, composition and pigments of surface particles.

And in addition to collaborating with international scientists, they’ll talk with schoolchildren about the ocean, swim in warm aqua water and eat delicious meals with backdrops of beautiful Mediterranean vistas.

“It’s a wonderful career,” Boss says. “You should do something you’re passionate about,” he says. “You can be serious about science and have fun in the process.”

Boss finds the work and play aboard Tara so valuable and fun, he’s gearing up for his third voyage. In August, he’ll be one of the scientists aboard during the 10-day leg from Israel to Malta. Boss, who participated in water sports growing up in Israel, says he’s most comfortable in the water and knew from an early age he wanted to pursue a career in oceanography.

Tara is three months into its seven-month, nearly 10,000-mile 2014 international expedition that includes stops in 11 countries, including France, Greece, Israel, Italy and Spain. Tara departed in May from Lorient, a seaport in northwestern France, and is scheduled to return in December.

During the trek, a host of other scientists are exploring the impact of plastic on the Mediterranean ecosystem and the degree to which microplastics in the ocean are part of the food chain. Researchers also seek to raise awareness about the Mediterranean’s environmental issues and encourage policymakers in the region — where approximately 450 million people live  — to develop better waste management plans.

At each stopover, the team that generally includes five sailors, two scientists, a reporter and an artist — invite the public to tour the 118-foot-long, 33-foot-wide, 120-ton research vessel. And they take part in outreach projects. May 31 on No Tobacco Day, for instance, crewmembers of Tara removed 53 gallons of trash, including cigarette butts, from a beach.

French designer Agnes B. founded the nonprofit Tara Expeditions in 2003 to “understand the impact of climate change and the ecological crisis facing the world’s oceans,” according to its website.

Boss says the mission, outreach, interdisciplinary science, sharing of chores, stunning scenery and immersion in various cultures make for a valuable and inspiring venture. 

And he’s eager to have students experience it as well. Last summer, then-graduate students Leeuw and Alison Chase participated in the 2013 Tara Oceans Polar Circle expedition, as did the husband-and-wife Boss pair — Emmanuel and Lee Karp-Boss, associate professor in UMaine’s School of Marine Sciences.

They utilized a $149,714 grant from NASA to gather biogeochemical information from the Arctic Ocean — information that NASA uses to verify data that its satellites glean daily from the same water.

This summer, Boss and Leeuw, who this spring earned his master’s degree in oceanography, will utilize an additional NASA award of $27,000 to continue collecting data in the Mediterranean.

Boss says he was persistent in his efforts to get NASA to provide the follow-up funding. “If you want to make something happen, put all of your weight and belief behind it to make it happen,” he says. “You only live once; go for it. Don’t give up on your dream.”

He gives similar advice to students.

Leeuw says his interest in oceanography emerged when he took an undergraduate course with Boss. Leeuw, a marine science major, subsequently became a research assistant in the University of Maine In-situ Sound and Color Lab.

Multiple opportunities subsequently became available, he says.

Leeuw and Boss analyzed data collected from 2009 to 2012 during the Tara Oceans expedition. This past year, the two developed an iPhone app that measures water quality.

And after this summer’s monthlong Mediterranean trek, the Lincoln, Vermont, native will drive cross country to Washington state, where he has accepted a job developing environmental sensors at Sequoia Scientific, Inc.

The lesson: “Don’t be afraid to make friends with faculty; some of the best learning and research opportunities can happen outside the classroom,” Leeuw says.

Leeuw says last summer’s Arctic trip was unlike anything he had ever experienced.

“It was empowering to work as a scientist,” he says. “It prepared me for this upcoming situation. I’m more confident.”

He monitored a suite of optical instruments and as water was pumped into the vessel’s flow-through system, he recorded its temperature, salinity profile and fluorescence.

Leeuw calls the data that UMaine collected last summer — which is free and accessible to the public — unparalleled.

“We drifted up to an ice pack and took a bunch of samples,” he says. “The water was below freezing but there were massive plankton blooms. Just amazing.”

A UMaine student is currently working to identify the types of species, he says.

During that trek, Tara was blocked by ice in the Vilkitsky Strait for about a week. When Tara was able to forge ahead, she arrived late at the next destination — Pevek, Russia. The scientists departing the vessel after that leg of the trek, including Leeuw, had missed that week’s one flight out of the northern port.

This summer’s adventure begins for Leeuw on June 26, a couple of weeks after World Oceans Day. He’ll board Tara in Nice, France, work for just over a month and debark in Cyclades — a dazzling Greek island group in the Aegean Sea.

Results of the voyage are expected to provide scientific insight into “what is in the ocean — where species are and why they are there,” Leeuw says, all of which advance researchers’ understanding of the ocean and the mission of Tara Expeditions.

Etienne Bourgois, president of Tara Foundation, says Tara’s quest is to understand what is happening with the climate and to explain it simply.

“This exceptional ship must pursue her mission as ambassador of the world’s citizens, must remain a catalyser of energy and desire to tackle without glitter the main question that arises for each one of us: What future are we preparing for our children?” he says on the website.

To learn more, visit oceans.taraexpeditions.org.

Contact: Beth Staples, 207.581.3777

UMaine’s Cullenberg Earns Top America East Honor

A University of Maine 2014 graduate has been named the first America East Man of the Year.

Kelton Cullenberg, a kinesiology/exercise science major from Chesterville, Maine, edged out finalists Jeff Turner of the University of New Hampshire and Luke Apfeld of the University of Vermont to claim the prestigious award that recognizes the male senior student-athlete at his respective school who best exemplifies a commitment to service, leadership, athletics and academics during his collegiate career.

“It is an incredible honor,” says Cullenberg, who graduated from Mt. Blue High School in Farmington, Maine. “The other competitors represent the best their school has to offer. I never would have dreamed of getting this award.”

To qualify for the award, student-athletes had to maintain a 2.5 cumulative grade-point average, receive their undergraduate degree prior to the summer 2014 term and complete intercollegiate eligibility in their primary sport by the end of the 2014 spring season.

A cross country/track and field athlete, Cullenberg achieved a 3.92 GPA. The senior distance runner captained three teams, earned all-conference honors six times and won the 2014 M Club Dean Smith Award.

He earned distinction by earning spots on the America East All-Academic Team, the Commissioner’s Honors Roll and Dean’s List. He also was a Presidential Scholar and garnered a 4.0 GPA four times during his undergraduate career.

In 2013, Cullenberg received the College of Education Dean’s Award and was inducted into the Phi Kappa Phi Honor Society. At the 2014 Scholar-Athlete Award recognition, he was presented a gold medallion as a three-time scholar-athlete.

Cullenberg was named University of Maine Athlete of the Week and America East Athlete of the Week multiple times during his career. He was also selected to All-Conference teams in cross country, indoor and outdoor track and field.

He placed second at the 2013 America East Cross Country Championships. At the 2013 Northeast Region meet, he was selected to the All-Region team and qualified for the NCAA Championships.

Cullenberg was the first UMaine male runner since 1979 to compete in the NCAA Cross Country Championship. His personal best in the 3,000-meters is 8:24 and he is second on the university’s all-time list, running the 5,000-meters in 14:25. He finished second at the 2014 America East Indoor Track and Field Championships in the 5,000-meter run.

Originally an engineering major, Cullenberg decided to attend UMaine because it offered a Division I sports program and it was close to home.

“A lot of my friends were leaning me toward engineering, but after the first few weeks I realized it wasn’t what I wanted to do,” he says. “The kinesiology classes were much more geared toward my interests.”

A runner since youth, Cullenberg cites his parents as major motivators in his academic and extracurricular pursuits.

“My parents influenced me because they were runners, too. They were also teachers at my high school, so academics were always a big deal,” he says. “They didn’t push [running] on me, it was just something I grew to love.”

Cullenberg was not present at the awards ceremony at Bretton Woods in Carroll, New Hampshire. Instead, he was traveling to the Hypo2 High Performance Sport Center in Flagstaff, Arizona, to start an eight-week internship working and training with a variety of athletes.

“It [the award] is a nice icing on the cake,” Cullenberg says. “It is all a very humbling experience.”

A business administration minor, Cullenberg hopes to operate his own performance center that offers physical therapy and exercise training. He says this long-time dream was cultivated during his time at UMaine.

“UMaine was a good fit for me,” he says. “I was taking a couple business classes, then figured I might as well turn it into a minor. [Academically], the school was at a level where I knew I could do well, not only in sports, but in the classroom.”

Contact: Margaret Nagle, 207.581.374

UMaine Art Exhibit Features Work of Josef Albers, His Students

The University of Maine Department of Art will present the work of artist, educator and color theorist Josef Albers and two of his students, globally recognized artists Neil Welliver and Jane Davis Doggett, in an exhibit that will run June 16 to July 18 in the Lord Hall Gallery on campus.

The “Albers & Heirs” exhibit will offer an in-depth look at the importance of Albers’ contribution as an art educator and the work of his students — Welliver and Doggett — who mastered his discipline of color interaction and made it an essential aspect of their work.

The public is invited to an opening reception and gallery tour 5–7 p.m. Monday, June 16. During the event, exhibit curator Osvaldo Monzon will give a gallery talk, titled “To Make Eyes Open,” and Doggett will speak about her time at Yale where she worked with and was influenced by art faculty members Albers and Welliver.

Welliver, who died in 2005, is known for large-scale paintings of the Maine woods that featured bold colors with an illusion of depth.

Doggett of Corea, Maine, is an internationally acclaimed graphic designer and artist who pioneered the field of environmental design. She has created more than 40 projects for international airports — more than any other designer, her website states.

“Whereas Albers comes to color to explore, and Welliver to conquer, Doggett uses color as an open invitation,” her official biography reads.

Albers (1888–1976) attended and then taught at the Bauhaus, the art school in Germany that transformed modern design and emphasized the connection between artists, architects and craftspeople. He came to the United States in 1933 to teach at the innovative Black Mountain College in North Carolina, and was chairman of the Department of Design at the Yale University School of Art from 1950 to 1958, according to the Joesf & Anni Albers Foundation.

“The exhibit marks a significant occasion for the university in underscoring the importance of the Bauhaus school via Black Mountain College to current arts education here at UMaine and across North America,” says Michael Grillo, chair of the UMaine Department of Art.

The exhibit will include participation by artist Jane Lincoln of Cape Cod, Massachusetts, and is sponsored by Clement and Linda McGillicuddy. The opening reception is sponsored by Whitney and Tony Oppersdorf; Taylor Mudge; Shelia Geoffrion and Robert Lawson; and Wickham Skinner.

Lord Hall Gallery is open 9 a.m.–4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. For more information or to request a disability accommodation, contact Grillo at 581.3246 or michael.grillo@umit.maine.edu.

Contact: Elyse Kahl, 207.581.3747


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