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Hudson Museum Artifact May Have Been Motivation for Seattle Seahawks Logo

The University of Maine’s Hudson Museum is home to an artifact that may have inspired the logo design of the Super Bowl champion Seattle Seahawks: a carved Northwest Coast transformation mask.

The wooden mask, which depicts a bird of prey when closed and reveals a painted depiction of a human face when opened, is part of the William P. Palmer III collection on display at the museum.

The brightly colored mask, which has mirrors for eyes, is 2 feet long when closed and 3 feet long open. Hudson Museum Director Gretchen Faulkner says it likely was carved from cedar in the late 19th or early 20th century.

Faulkner says Richard Emerick, the late UMaine anthropologist and founder of the Hudson Museum, told her years ago that the wooden mask was the inspiration for the Seahawks logo that was unveiled in 1975. But there was no corroborating information in the mask’s collection file linking it to the Seahawks.

Now, though, a possible link exists.

Robin K. Wright, curator of Native American art and director of the Bill Holm Center at Burke Museum at the University of Washington, attributes the mask to the Kwakwaka‘wakw (kwock-KWOCKY-wowk) — Indigenous people of the Pacific Northwest Coast.

A few days before Super Bowl XLVIII, Wright posted a blog “Searching for what inspired the Seattle Seahawks logo.”

The mask that Wright pictures in her blog as the likely motivation for the Seahawks design appeared in Robert Bruce Inverarity’s 1950 book, “Art of the Northwest Coast Indians.”

It’s believed to be the same mask displayed at the Hudson Museum, catalogue number HM5521.

In 1982, avid baseball fan William Palmer of Falmouth Foreside, Maine, bequeathed the mask, as well as other Northwest Coast art and an extraordinary collection of Pre-Colombian artifacts, to UMaine.

After the Seahawks Super Bowl win over the Denver Broncos on Sunday, Feb. 2, Faulkner told museum board member Isla Baldwin what Emerick had shared with her years ago about the mask being the inspiration for the Seattle football team’s original logo.

Baldwin discovered Wright’s blog while doing online research.

Contacted earlier this week, Wright says she’s thrilled to learn where the mask is housed. In a televised interview just prior to the Super Bowl, Wright said she expressed hope that the blog and TV interview might help unearth the location of the mask.

Masks are worn in Kwakwaka’wakw ceremonies that include singing, dancing and giving of gifts, Wright says, and often memorialize a deceased chief.

When the logo was unveiled in 1975, John Thompson, then-general manager of the Seahawks, was quoted saying that the logo designers referenced books about Northwest Coast art for inspiration. A call to the Seahawks was not returned by Friday morning.

Faulkner invites fans of art and athletics to visit the museum to see the piece; the museum is open Monday through Friday, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., and Saturday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Contact: Beth Staples, 207.581.3777

The Value of Good Corporate Citizenship

Companies considered to be good social performers are more likely to limit the levels of pay for their executives than similar firms within their industries, according to University of Maine researchers.

However, the top executives at the large firms examined in the study are not being penalized. The average compensation package in the sample was about $8 million, and additional pay above this level is not likely to generate additional motivation, say Maine Business School faculty members Patti Miles and Grant Miles, who conducted the study.

In their findings, published in Social Responsibility Journal, the researchers suggest that executives for the good social performers may be willing to “sacrifice at least a piece of financial compensation for the intangible rewards of being seen as good corporate citizens.”

A review by the journal publisher congratulated the researchers for their study findings that relate to “wider debates that have gone on around corporate ethics.”

Their findings were based on an examination of data from a sample of 57 firms identified as possessing “good corporate social responsibility,” which were compared to 57 firms of similar size and in the same industries. All of the firms included in the study were drawn from the Fortune 1000 list, and most rank within the Fortune 500.

The companies were selected as good social performers based on criteria such as inclusion in Fortune’s list of most admired and most accountable companies, or by filing reports with the Global Reporting Initiative and United Nations Global Compact. Overall, 33 industry segments were represented, with the greatest number coming from pharmaceuticals and petroleum refining.

Executive compensation data were drawn from public reports from 2005–07. The researchers examined both CEO pay and average compensation for the company’s top management team. In both cases, there was a significant correlation between corporate social responsibility and lower levels of executive pay.

Contact: Margaret Nagle, 207.581.3745

Hale Named Founding Project Leader of Maine Career Connect

Michelle Hale of Bangor has been named project leader of Maine Career Connect, a Bangor-based nonprofit program of the University of Maine Rising Tide Center.

Maine Career Connect, funded by a $284,093 grant from the National Science Foundation, will work to network a consortium of employers in central and eastern Maine with newly relocated professional families, with an emphasis on spousal employment.

Hale has a decade of experience in nonprofit work, most recently with United Way of Eastern Maine, where she coordinated local community initiatives. She has a bachelor’s degree in social work and is completing a graduate certificate in business at the University of Maine. Hale also is a participant in the 2014 Bangor Region Leadership Institute.

Maine Career Connect will work with newly relocating professionals and employers of the region to ensure successful integration into the community. Dual career spouses will have access to high-level professional networking with employers that align with their professions in an effort to accelerate their job search process.

Professionals will receive networking assistance, both in seeking employment and also building social connections. Customized portfolios of vetted local resources will be offered to help families meet their particular needs outside the workplace.

The program, based on an innovative model adopted by Tech Valley Connect in Troy, N.Y., will benefit the region by helping to attract and retain talented professionals in a variety of fields.

For more information on Maine Career Connect, call 949.0098.

Contact: Michelle Hale, 207.949.0098; Margaret Nagle, 207.581.3745

UMaine’s CCAR Assists in Development of Recirculating Aquaculture Technology

Chefs often go to the docks to select fresh catch to prepare their evening seafood dinners.

In the near future, area chefs and the public may routinely be getting fresh, sustainable fish from a Maine-based indoor fish farm.

A number of locals are working toward that future, including middle-school students, educators, marine scientists, businesspeople, funders, and a fisherman who helps run a cooperative. Participants involved in this cutting-edge indoor fish farming technology project will gather at Herring Gut Learning Center in Port Clyde on Thursday, Feb. 6.

Following are snapshots of the participating organizations:

School of Roots at the Herring Gut Learning Center, Port Clyde, Maine

The School of Roots, a student-run aquaponics business established in 2010, is managed by middle-school youth in RSU 13’s Alternative Education Program at the Herring Gut Learning Center. The students learn academic concepts while developing, marketing and selling products to grocers, restaurants and community members. They previously test-marketed and sold black sea bass produced by Acadia Harvest and are now premarketing Acadia Harvest’s California yellowtail. Feb. 6, the students will help harvest the fish; they plan to have them all sold within 48 hours of harvest.

For more information on the School of Roots, visit herringgut.org/schoolofroots.html?id=1.

For more information on Herring Gut Learning Center, visit herringgut.org.

Acadia Harvest Inc., Brunswick, Maine

Acadia Harvest was formed in early 2011 as RAS Corporation. Acadia Harvest (AHI) is working at the University of Maine’s Center for Cooperative Aquaculture Research in Franklin, Maine, to develop new technologies in land-based, indoor sustainable fish farming, known as recirculating aquaculture systems. Principals Chris Heinig (CEO), Tap Pryor (chief scientist) and Ed Robinson (chairman) have been growing and test marketing high-quality, nutritious, affordable fish, both California yellowtail and black sea bass. By 2016, they anticipate having their first commercial-scale production facility in Maine to initially produce 250 to 450 metric tons of fish annually. With a SBIR Phase I grant from the National Science Foundation, the company has experimented with marine worms and various forms of algae in the recirculating aquaculture system to achieve an environmentally friendly “zero-waste” facility. AHI has a purchase option on a parcel of land in Gouldsboro, on the site of a former naval facility at Corea. The construction of a first-phase production facility would involve a multi-million dollar investment and the creation of 10–15 new jobs for the area.

University of Maine’s Center for Cooperative Aquaculture Research, Franklin, Maine

UMaine’s Center for Cooperative Aquaculture Research, directed by Nick Brown, is a business incubation facility and a center for applied aquaculture research, development and demonstration. CCAR is assisting Acadia Harvest in its development of recirculating aquaculture technology by providing sophisticated aquaculture business incubation facilities, recirculation technology and marine research expertise. CCAR also will provide juvenile fish from its state-of-the-art hatchery for Acadia Harvest.

For more information about UMaine’s CCAR, visit www.ccar.um.maine.edu/index.html.

Port Clyde Fresh Catch: A Maine Fishermen’s Cooperative, Port Clyde, Maine

Port Clyde Fresh Catch is the country’s first community-supported fishery. It’s part of a movement seeking to do for small-scale local fishermen what community-supported agriculture does for farmers. On Feb. 6, Glen Libby and the Port Clyde team will process the California yellowtail grown by Acadia Harvest.

For more information about Port Clyde Fresh Catch, visit portclydefreshcatch.com.

Both Maine Technology Institute and Coastal Enterprises, Inc. have provided funding that has been instrumental in Acadia Harvest’s development of indoor fish farming technology.

Maine Technology Institute (MTI), Brunswick, Maine

The Maine Technology Institute is a private nonprofit organization chartered by the state to “invest in innovation” in seven key sectors. MTI funds entrepreneurs, growing businesses and research institutions engaged in research and development of innovative technologies in Aquaculture & Marine, Agriculture & Forestry, Biotechnology, Precision Manufacturing, Advanced Composites, Information Technology and Environmental Technology. In addition to a competitive grant and loan program, MTI also makes equity investments in promising technologies. Since its founding in 1999, MTI has invested more than $178 million in the Maine economy, bringing in more than $250 million of additional investment to Maine, and creating high-quality jobs and long-term value for the state.

For more information about MTI, visit mainetechnology.org.

Coastal Enterprises, Inc. (CEI), Wiscasset, Maine

CEI, a 501(c)(3) private, nonprofit Community Development Corporation (CDC) and Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI), is among the leading rural finance entities in the Northeast. Founded in 1977, and headquartered in Maine, CEI has provided $1.05 billion in loans and investments, and business and housing counseling services to more than 43,082 people, helping to create economically and environmentally healthy communities in New England, upstate New York, and throughout rural America.

For more information about CEI, visit ceimaine.org.

Contact: Beth Staples, 207.581.3777

UMaine forestry, Social Work Researchers Team Up to Help Maine Landowners Overcome Challenges

Finding more efficient ways to serve Maine landowners by incorporating social work strategies — including effective communication and resource- linking skills — into forest management is the goal of a collaborative project between researchers at two schools in the University of Maine College of Natural Sciences, Forestry, and Agriculture.

Jessica Leahy, an associate professor of human dimensions of natural resources in the UMaine School of Forest Resources, is leading the study that tests social work approaches to conservation in the Cumberland County town of Baldwin and surrounding communities. Researchers hope to determine if these strategies could lead to more effective outcomes to landowners’ challenges as opposed to using traditional forestry solutions, such as management plans and outreach materials.

“Social workers are good at listening to people — understanding their needs and connecting people to appropriate resources,” Leahy says. “That’s why we need social workers to help landowners; to listen to what they’d like to do with their land, and then connect and coordinate services from natural resource professionals.”

There are more than 85,000 families in Maine that own at least 10 acres of woods, Leahy says. Their needs can be addressed by UMaine, the Maine Forest Service and others if those organizations can provide services that work for landowners, she adds.

Many conservation problems are related to social and economic factors. While foresters and other natural resource professionals help landowners make decisions about land management, they may not be equipped to handle the challenges landowners face that involve family dynamics. A social work approach could be the answer to solving these conservation problems, Leahy says.

“Foresters specialize in land management and trees, but landowners are often dealing with human issues such as how to afford their taxes and how to talk to their family about what they’d like to happen with their land after they pass away,” she says. “Landowners also often don’t know what a forester can do for them nor do they know how to coordinate all the potential natural resource professionals that are there to help them.”

Leahy, the project’s forestry expert, hired Doug Robertson and Chris Young, students in the UMaine School of Social Work. Both Robertson, a senior in the bachelor’s of social work program from Benton, Maine, and Young, a first-year graduate student of social work from Bangor, Maine, grew up around Maine woodland owners. They’re interested in connecting with landowners through the project and learning more about the land that many families rely on and how community organizations can help.

Pam Wells, a licensed clinical social worker, is supervising the students and translating the social work aspect of the project. She is also a landowner who recognizes areas where social work and forestry intersect.

“Pam often talks about how challenging it is to find, understand and coordinate the various assistance programs that are out there for landowners like the Tree Growth Tax Law, Natural Resources Conservation Service cost-share programs and programs offered by the Maine Forest Service,” Leahy says.

Kevin Doran and Andy Shultz of the Maine Forest Service are also helping with the study.

The one-year project, which began in Sept. 2013 and runs through August 2014, received a $6,500 Maine Community Foundation grant. The project’s social work approach to conservation has been untested to date, Leahy says.

“It’s an innovative, highly experimental, never-been-done-before project that is bridging forestry and social work together in an effort to better engage and serve rural families who own forestland in southern Maine,” she says.

Part of the project will include the development of a forest-specific wraparound case management process that will be implemented with one landowning family. The wraparound process in social work recognizes that all aspects of someone’s life — social, economic and ecological — are related. This understanding is then used to help the individual by focusing on incremental progress, involving community support and using science-based interventions, according to Leahy.

The focus of the project will be on measuring and evaluating the outcomes of the approach to improve future efforts.

“Ultimately, we hope more landowners will be empowered to be stewards of their land, and that will lead to healthy forests, healthy rural economies and healthy families,” Leahy says.

Other aspects of the community project include assisting the Small Woodland Owners Association of Maine with succession planning efforts, offering peer-to-peer learning experiences such as suppers and forums, organizing workshops for natural resource professionals to increase their cultural competency and researching community interest in creating a low-income wood bank — similar to a food bank — for the Baldwin area.

Upcoming peer-to-peer learning events include the project’s second woods forum and community supper Feb. 7, a workshop on estate planning for landowners Feb. 27 and a Forester’s Institute brown bag lunch on cultural competency April 11.

Robertson and Young are looking for a family to work with on the project. Interested families must live in Sebago, Hiram, Cornish, Limington, Baldwin or Standish and own at least 10 acres. To participate or for more information on the project or scheduled workshops, call Robertson, 207.435.4798, or Young, 207.992.6182.

Blackstone’s Research Doesn’t Kid Around

American family formations have evolved over the years: from multiple generations under one roof; to a unit with father, mother and 2.5 children; to blended stepfamilies; to a single parent and child.

University of Maine sociologist Amy Blackstone says childfree couples are also part of the mix.

“When we talk about families, be it in politics, in the workplace, or in our popular culture, the childfree often get left out of the conversation,” Blackstone says.

“Yet the reality is that the childfree do form families just as those with children do. Recognizing that the childfree form families — and how they do so — is an important step toward destigmatizing the choice not to have kids.”

And more people are making that choice.

In 1976, 10 percent of women ages 40–44 in the United States had never had a child, says the UMaine associate professor and chair of the Sociology Department. By 2006, the rate had doubled to 20 percent.

Childfree couples fulfill nearly all the same functions as families with children, Blackstone says, and research on them is needed to reflect evolving realities of American family life.

In her January 2014 article in Sociology Compass titled “Doing Family without Having Kids,” Blackstone says childfree couples provide the same functions of emotional and sexual companionship, economic support, home life, and social reproduction as families with children do.

In studies, adult childfree couples cite a desire to nurture emotional closeness and a desire to maintain a satisfying sex life as reasons not to have children, Blackstone says. And, research shows that among married couples, childfree couples generally report higher levels of marital satisfaction than couples with children.

Pets also play an important role in childfree families, she says. Adults form strong emotional bonds with pets and often refer to them as family members.

Research indicates that both members of childfree couples generally contribute economically to the household. Childfree women are more likely to have careers outside the home than women with children, she says. In addition, earned incomes of childfree women are likely to be higher than earned incomes of women with children.

With regard to maintaining a home, Blackstone suggests research could be done on whether childfree couples more equitably divide household labor than couples with children.

And while childfree couples do not biologically reproduce, Blackstone says they regularly participate in social reproduction — helping youth become participating and contributing members of society — as relatives, teachers, counselors and role models.

Contact: Beth Staples, 207.581.3777

UMaine Sophomore on Track With 4K for Cancer

Matthew Dexter was 13 when his mother, Christine died of stomach cancer. Running, he says, eventually helped him get his life back on track.

The University of Maine sophomore is now planning to run to help others. This summer, for 42 days, Dexter will jog from sea to shining sea to spread awareness about cancer and raise money for research and for young cancer survivors.

Dexter and 33 other college students from around the country will team up to log 4,000 miles in the second annual Ulman Cancer Foundation’s 4K for Cancer, a running relay from San Francisco, Calif. to Baltimore, Md.

The psychology major from Acton, Mass. will begin the trek June 15 near the Golden Gate Bridge. Each member of the relay team will run six to 10 miles a day, and finish the fund-raising journey July 26 on Federal Hill in the Charm City.

Dexter is about $1,000 shy of raising his goal of $5,000. Last year, runners and bikers taking part in the annual event contributed almost $775,000 to the Ulman Cancer Foundation’s 4K for Cancer fund.

The motto for the relay is “Change Lives” and that’s what Dexter has his sights set on doing. “I want to change at least one person’s life,” he says.

On the 42-day journey, he’ll have a number of opportunities to do so; he says he’s eager to visit patients, hand out chemo packs (comfort items for patients undergoing chemotherapy) and deliver college scholarships to young adults fighting cancer.

Dexter plans to blog and post photos throughout the trek so friends and family can vicariously experience highlights along the way.

4K for Cancer is a program of the Ulman Cancer Fund for Young Adults that Doug Ulman started in 1997. Ulman was 19 and about to begin his sophomore year at Brown University when he was first diagnosed with cancer. He formed the nonprofit organization to enhance “lives by supporting, educating and connecting young adults, and their loved ones, affected by cancer.”

Ulman, a former soccer player for the Division I Brown Bears, is now a three-time cancer survivor and is president and CEO of LIVESTRONG Foundation.

Striving to make a positive difference runs in Dexter’s family as well. His father, Jim participates in the Pan-Mass Challenge, a bike-a-thon in Massachusetts that raises money for cancer research and treatment at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. Dexter, who completed an ultra marathon this past fall in New Hampshire, was considering how he could contribute when he spied an ad for 4K for Cancer on Facebook.

To learn more, to contribute and to read his blog during the trek, visit 4kforcancer.org/profiles/matt-dexter.

Contact: Beth Staples, 207.581.3777

The University of Maine Launches an Innovative Faculty Leadership Program

The University of Maine is launching an innovative leadership program that will prepare a group of faculty from across the campus to serve as ambassadors to Maine communities and constituents. The Blue Sky Faculty Fellows Program will help to strengthen UMaine’s contributions to the state by building a network of faculty leaders who can communicate the importance of UMaine, and build stronger bridges to people and organizations across the state.

The six-month program will provide training in media relationships, interpersonal communication, audience analysis and partnership building. As part of the program, the Faculty Fellows will participate in a state-of-the-art communication and engagement training in conjunction with representatives from Stony Brook University’s Alan Alda Center for Communicating Science. Combining theater improv techniques with communication training, the experience will help participants communicate about UMaine and their own work with passion and confidence.

Laura Lindenfeld, Associate Professor of Communication and Journalism and the Margaret Chase Smith Policy Center, proposed and designed the program in conjunction with Jake Ward, Vice President for Innovation and Economic Development, and Judy Ryan, Associate Vice President for Human Resources and Administration, in order to create better pathways for making UMaine’s work matter more to the state.

“The program is designed to get faculty members and researchers more connected with Maine communities,” Lindenfeld said. “The Blue Sky Faculty Fellows Program will help us bridge boundaries and create stronger connections between our university and the state. We already do so much for the state, but we can do more. Getting a creative, entrepreneurial group of professors together through this program is a remarkable opportunity to increase our ability to help businesses, industries, and citizens. I want this program to help us make a tangible difference, and that is so inspirational and exciting.”

From engineering to marine sciences to art history, the program includes 20 outstanding faculty members who will learn about contemporary issues in Maine. The program will prepare them to make their own research more engaged and relevant to the issues in Maine.

Kathleen Bell, Associate Professor of Economics, was selected to participate in the program. She hopes to gain knowledge, skills, and experiences that will help her advance as a leader, researcher, and community member.

“I adore living in Maine and working at UMaine,” Bell said. “This program really presents me with a unique opportunity to understand the shared histories of Maine and UMaine, and to participate actively in their shared future.”

Ali Abedi, Associate Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering, will also participate in the program and hopes that it can bring about new connections between the state and the university.

“The University of Maine has been playing a pivotal role in Maine’s economy and improving people’s lives for a long period of time, but it is often hard to clearly link the research activities and their impact to the State’s quality of life and show the importance of investing in educating the next generation of students,” Abedi said. “The Blue Sky Faculty Fellows Program is a great way for UMaine faculty to get trained in how to communicate their research with Maine’s stakeholders in a language that is clear, concise and to the point.”

Lindenfeld and the UMaine administration will be running monthly training sessions with faculty this spring semester and plan to make the program a cornerstone training initiative at the university. The program, funded in large part from the Office of President Paul Ferguson, clearly aligns with the vision and strategies of the University of Maine’s strategic plan, the Blue Sky Project.

“Part of our job as faculty members at a land and sea grant institution is to create a shared vision with the state and find ways to connect our efforts in research and teaching with the daily lives of Mainers,” Lindenfeld said. “This is a big responsibility that we bear, and my aspiration in designing this program was to help us increase our ability to address the needs of people right here at home. We hope this program is a big step in that direction and are so excited to have launched the Blue Sky Faculty Fellows.”

The Blue Sky Faculty Fellows Program will hold its first training session Jan. 14 at UMaine’s Foster Center for Student Innovation.

The Blue Sky Faculty Fellows

Ali Abedi
Associate Professor, Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering

Kathleen Bell
Associate Professor, School of Economics

Amy Blackstone
Associate Professor and Chair, Department of Sociology

Mark Brewer
Associate Professor, Department of Political Science

Nic Erhardt
Assistant Professor in Management, Maine Business School

Janet Fairman
Associate Research Professor, Center for Research and Education & Maine Education Policy Research Institute

Lee Karp-Boss
Research Assistant Professor, School of Marine Sciences

Jessica Leahy
Associate Professor of Human Dimensions of Natural Resources, School of Forest Resources

Rob Lilieholm
E.L. Giddings Associate Professor of Forest Policy, School of Forest Resources

Margo Lukens
Professor, Department of English
Director of Academic Programs, Innovation Engineering

David Neivandt
Professor, Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering
Director of the Graduate School of Biomedical Science and Engineering

Mauricio Pereira da Cunha
Professor, Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering

Rich Powell
Associate Professor, Department of Political Science

Jasmine Saros
Associate Director and Professor, Climate Change Institute, and School of Biology and Ecology

Denise Skonberg
Associate Professor, Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition

Shihfen Tu
Associate Professor, Department of Education and Human Development

Rick Wahle
Research Professor of Marine Sciences

Aaron Weiskittel
Associate Professor of Forest Biometrics and Modeling, and Irving Chair of Forest Ecosystem Management, School of Forest Resources

Justin Wolff
Associate Professor, Department of Art

Gayle Zydlewski
Associate Professor, School of Marine Sciences

Margaret Nagle, 207.581.3745

Sexual Selection May Result in Bigger-Billed Male Birds, says UMaine Researcher

To female coastal plain swamp sparrows, male bill size matters.

When looking for a mate outside of their pair bond, female coastal plain swamp sparrows (Melospiza georgiana nigrescens) choose males with large bills, according to a University of Maine-led study conducted along Delaware Bay.

Small-billed males are more at risk of being cheated on by their mates. Males with larger bills than their avian neighbors, on the other hand, sire a greater percentage of young birds in their territory, says Brian Olsen, assistant professor in UMaine’s School of Biology and Ecology and Climate Change Institute.

Thus, Olsen says, sexual selection may explain why males have larger bills than females along the Delaware coast.

“Conventionally, bird bills have been considered one of the premier examples of how diet shapes morphology: the right tool for the right job,” he says.

For the past 40 years, researchers have explained differences between the shapes of male and female bills by differences in diet. But Olsen and his colleagues say their research suggests that female mating preferences alone could do it.

“It really makes me wonder how much of bill shape, or the shape of any other structure for that matter, is due to mating preferences instead of better survival,” Olsen says.

Olsen and his fellow researchers also found that bill size increases with age. So, by selecting males with larger bills, females are picking a mate that has the right stuff to survive and successfully defend a territory over multiple years.

“In other words,” says Olsen, “the genes of older males have been tested and proven worthy, and females who prefer to mate with the largest-billed males can then pass these good survivor genes on to their offspring.”

Since the difference in large and small bills is only a few millimeters, Olsen says he doesn’t know how female swamp sparrows make the distinction. He suspects song may play a role, since male bill shape can greatly influence singing.

Russell Greenberg of the Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center at the National Zoological Park; Jeffrey Walters of Virginia Tech’s Department of Biological Sciences; and Robert Fleischer of the Center for Conservation and Evolutionary Genetics at the National Zoological Park also participated in the study.

The team’s research article, “Sexual dimorphism in a feeding apparatus is driven by mate choice and not niche partitioning,” was published in the November 2013 issue of Behavioral Ecology.

Contact: Beth Staples, 207.581.3777

UMaine Doctoral Graduate Receives International Prize for Studying First Human Settlement in Peruvian Andes

A University of Maine alumnus and faculty associate in the Department of Anthropology recently won an international prize for his ice age research related to the first human settlement in the high Peruvian Andes.

Kurt Rademaker, who is also an associate graduate faculty member at UMaine’s Climate Change Institute, won the Tübingen Research Prize in Early Prehistory and Quaternary Ecology. The award is open to recent doctoral recipients around the world in a variety of areas including archaeology, ecology and human evolution.

The goal of Rademaker’s research is to better understand the timing, environmental setting and adaptations related to the early settlement.

“Human colonization of the Americas was the most rapid and extensive geographic expansion in our species’ history, in which hunter-gatherers successfully settled some of the most challenging environments on Earth,” he says.

Rademaker and his team discovered humans lived at 14,700 feet elevation in southern Peru about 12,000–12,500 years ago, making the Andes settlements the highest known ice-age archaeological sites in the world.

“The fact that hunter-gatherers were physiologically capable of living in high-altitude mountains at the end of an ice age is an example of how amazingly adaptable our species is. My team and I are trying to learn more about how people managed this initial settlement and how Andean environments, ecology and culture have changed since then,” he says.

Rademaker collaborates with researchers from throughout the United States, Canada, Peru, Chile and Germany.

“Many different skill sets are needed to do interdisciplinary work, and archaeology is labor-intensive, so this means building teams of people with varied specializations,” he says.

Rademaker considers his work somewhat nontraditional because he uses an interdisciplinary systems approach that combines archaeology and other earth science techniques to investigate the long-term evolution of landscapes in which people play an important role.

Rademaker and his team can sometimes estimate the age of settlements by tools found at sites. Other times the researchers excavate areas in rockshelter sites used as camps and retrieve organic material such as animal bones that people discarded then radiocarbon date the bones to determine their approximate age.

Research conducted by Rademaker and his team suggests that the first people in the Peruvian Andes settlements hunted Andean camelids — ancestors of today’s alpacas and llamas — and Andean deer. The people may have also eaten plants, but a complete picture of their diet awaits further study, Rademaker says.

“One interesting finding is that there are stone tools in the shelter that do not come from the highlands but from lower-elevation canyons,” Rademaker says. “So these people may have been moving between low and high elevations, perhaps seasonally.”

The Tübingen Research Prize is administered by the Department of Early Prehistory and Quaternary Ecology housed in the Institute for Pre- and Protohistory and Archaeology of the Middle Ages at the Eberhard Karls University in Tübingen, Germany. The prize, in its 16th year, was created to promote innovative research among scholars studying ice age archaeology, Quaternary ecology and human evolution.

“It is such a great honor to win this award,” Rademaker says. “Tübingen has one of the premier archaeological departments in the world. The Department of Early Prehistory and Quaternary Ecology is renowned for its archaeological sciences expertise and groundbreaking work on human prehistory and evolution throughout Africa, Asia and Europe.”

In accepting the award, Rademaker is slated to deliver the prize lecture Feb. 6 at the Fürstenzimmer of Schloss Hohentübingen, where he will receive 5,000 Euros ($6,800). As the winner, he is also expected to contribute a research paper summarizing the major aspects of his research for the journal Mitteilungen der Gesellschaft für Urgeschichte.

“I have lots of ideas for future research, so I hope to have the opportunity to continue in academic archaeology,” Rademaker says.

Rademaker has been researching early human settlements in the high Peruvian Andes for about 10 years and has made 13 trips to Peru to complete his master’s and Ph.D. research.

“In total, I have spent about a year of my life camping in the high Andes while doing fieldwork,” he says.

Rademaker, who has been interested in the settlement of the Americas since he began his career in archaeology in 1996, became involved in Peruvian archaeology and climate change through the Climate Change Institute when he came to UMaine in 2003.

“I had the good fortune to have Dan Sandweiss as my graduate adviser,” Rademaker says. “Dan invited me on his field project in Peru in 2004, and I have been hooked on the Andes ever since.”

In 2008, Rademaker won the Society for American Archaeology’s Douglas C. Kellogg Geoarchaeology Award and the Geological Society of America’s Claude C. Albritton Archaeological Geology Award for research by a graduate student. Rademaker is the second person to win both awards and the only person to win them in the same year, according to his former adviser Sandweiss, the dean and associate provost for graduate studies and a professor of anthropology and quaternary and climate studies.

Rademaker earned a doctoral degree in Quaternary archaeology from UMaine in 2012 and a master’s degree in Quaternary and climate studies in 2006. He also holds a bachelor’s degree in anthropology from the University of Kentucky. He is expected to teach archaeology courses at UMaine during the spring semester.

“In addition to being a unique source of information about our own species’ development, archaeology also is a tremendous source of information about past climate and environmental change,” Rademaker says. “Future environmental change is the most serious challenge our civilization faces. Archaeology can help us understand the development of Earth’s landscapes and our current situation.”

Contact: Elyse Kahl, 207.581.3747


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