In September, University of Maine Professor Stephen Butterfield helped train students at China’s Beijing Sport University (BSU) how to test motor proficiency of children with intellectual disabilities.
Despite being 6,500 miles from Orono, Maine, Butterfield says the experience was much like being in an American classroom; the 30 undergraduate, graduate and doctoral students he taught each had an American name (as well as a Chinese name), spoke some English and wore Western-style clothing.
The BSU students are taking part in the Chinese government-funded study to develop a national database, says Butterfield, professor and chair of UMaine’s Department of Exercise Science and STEM Education. The data they gather about motor proficiency of youth with intellectual disabilities will likely be used to generate policy and provide direction for instruction and research, he says.
“I was honored to be invited to participate in this project,” Butterfield says. “It’s a pretty big study and will reach all parts of China. Eventually this project should result in Chinese children with disabilities receiving better physical education and opportunities to participate in sports. Data can speak very powerfully. Dr. Glenn Roswal, a world leader in APE (Adapted Physical Education), contacted me about a year ago. In terms of travel, the timing wasn’t great — second week of classes — but Dean (Dee) Nichols was very supportive.”
Butterfield conducted the training with Roswal from Jacksonville State University in Alabama and Mike Loovis of Cleveland State University in Ohio.
BSU has more than 14,000 students who study various fields within exercise science and sports, including coaching, sport science, management, journalism and rehabilitation. Butterfield says its facilities are impressive; the 1,400-acre campus has 25 gymnasiums and 62 outdoor sport fields. In the previous four Olympics, BSU staff and students have won 30 gold medals, 16 silver medals and nine bronze medals, according to the school’s website.
Butterfield says the students he trained were professional, smart, attentive, inquisitive and respectful of the youth with whom they worked. While a return trip to China is possible, Butterfield says additional consulting will likely be done electronically.
The weeklong all-expense-paid trip, Butterfield’s first to China, was gratifying. He visited Tiananmen Square and the Great Wall of China, dined at a country club adjacent to a golf course and was asked by a number of Chinese citizens to pose for pictures. Youth gave him artwork.
“The Chinese were wonderful hosts,” Butterfield says. “The subway system was clean and efficient and the traffic was unbelievable — it flows like a river. The air quality was variable and a lot of people wore masks.”
While Butterfield is widely recognized as a leader in adapted physical education, the specialty wasn’t part of his early career plan. In the early 1970s, after completing his bachelor’s at Springfield College focusing on curriculum and instruction in physical education, he was offered a job teaching physical education and coaching boys basketball at Austine School for the Deaf in Brattleboro, Vt.
“I wasn’t really interested at first, but my wife was expecting and I had no job so I took it,” he says.
Butterfield learned sign language and found the job to be tremendously gratifying. “No one appreciates you more than kids with disabilities and their parents,” he says. “It’s a pretty big reward.”
When youth with multiple disabilities began attending the school, Butterfield decided he needed additional training to remain an effective educator. When he returned to school — The Ohio State University — he earned his Ph.D. with a focus on adapted physical education.
At UMaine, one of Butterfield’s courses is Adapted Physical Education, a required class for kinesiology and physical education majors in which students are paired with children and adults with disabilities. Butterfield has been teaching the course for nearly three decades.
Contact: Beth Staples, 207.581.3777
Registration is underway for the 2013 Maine Food Summit, a daylong conference Friday, Dec. 6 at the University of Maine. The event, sponsored by University of Maine Cooperative Extension, will be held from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. in Wells Conference Center on the Orono campus.
The summit is an opportunity for food producers, business owners and anyone involved with and interested in Maine’s dynamic food system to share ideas about growing Maine’s agriculture and fishery, supporting the state’s economy and improving food security.
Tim Griffin, associate professor and director of the Agriculture, Food and Environment Program of the Friedman School of Nutrition Science & Policy at Tufts University, and Patrick Keliher, commissioner of the Maine Department of Marine Resources, are keynote presenters. In addition, there will be panel discussions, workshops and opportunities to meet others interested in food systems.
Cost is $30 ($20 students) for those who register by Nov. 22 and $40 ($30 students) for those who register from Nov. 23 until the Nov. 27 deadline. Lunch is included. To register, or to request a disability accommodation, call Meghan Dill at 207.581.3878. For more information, contact John Jemison at 207.581.3241 or visit umaine.edu/agriculture/maine-food-summit.
Contact: Meghan Dill, 207.581.3878
Undergraduate enrollment in the Maine Business School (MBS) at the University of Maine is at an all-time high of 947 students, an increase of nearly 21 percent from a year ago. And, at the same time the SAT scores of the incoming classes have consistently improved since 2009.
MBS Dean Ivan Manev says the 162-student increase reflects the quality of the school’s education and is the result of institutional recruitment and marketing efforts by MBS Associate Dean Stephanie Welcomer, student ambassadors and faculty.
The school’s enrollment jump aligns with Pathway 2 of UMaine President Paul Ferguson’s Blue Sky Project, which targets ensuring the university’s financial sustainability by attracting more students, particularly to signature programs, Manev says.
One big draw for the MBS includes the recently acquired Bloomberg Terminal, which affords students the ability to observe and analyze real-time financial market data and electronic trading. Students can learn important skills, including how to access global economic and security price information, as well as energy prices, interest rates, currency rates and supply chain analysis — advantageous skills for those seeking to land jobs in banking and marketing research.
Students also can glean valuable experience managing the Student Portfolio Investment Fund (SPIFFY), which is a part of the University of Maine Foundation’s endowment. More than 70 students actively participate in this group led by faculty adviser Professor Robert Strong. In October 2013, SPIFFY surpassed $2 million for the first time, says Manev.
And, through the IRS-sponsored Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program, business student volunteers gain hands-on skills preparing tax returns while simultaneously providing a community service for students and low-income taxpayers.
This year, U.S. News & World Report cited the Maine Business School as one of the nation’s top 150 business undergraduate programs. The MBS offers a four-year undergraduate degree in business administration with majors in accounting, finance, management and marketing, and concentrations in entrepreneurship, international business, and management information systems. It also offers an MBA. The school’s mission is to prepare students for successful careers by challenging them to discover their potential, develop business skills, and act responsibly.
Contact: Beth Staples, 207.581.3777
Two University of Maine researchers are teaming up with a University of California-Berkeley professor to study the sinking rate and trajectories of phytoplankton in relation to particle shape and water turbulence. Phytoplankton provide the food supply at the base of the marine food web and help maintain the health of the atmosphere by absorbing and sequestering carbon dioxide and producing oxygen.
Lee Karp-Boss, a marine scientist and associate professor in the UMaine School of Marine Sciences, is a principal investigator of the project along with Evan Variano, a researcher in the Civil and Environmental Engineering Department at UC Berkeley. Pete Jumars, a UMaine professor of marine sciences and oceanography who is based at the Darling Marine Center (DMC), is a co-principal investigator of the study.
The National Science Foundation recently awarded $409,035 to the UMaine researchers and $315,869 to Variano for the three-year project that began in September 2013.
The purpose of the study, “Collaborative Research: Trajectories and spatial distributions of diatoms at dissipation scales of turbulence,” is to create a better understanding of how turbulence and particle shape affect the sinking velocity and paths of phytoplankton — specifically diatoms.
“Phytoplankton are microscopic organisms that are responsible for food production in the ocean and they account for about half of the oxygen that we breathe,” Karp-Boss says of the plant-like organisms.
Since phytoplankton are photosynthetic organisms and need light, they grow in the upper layer of the water column in oceans where turbulence caused by wind and waves prevails. Many phytoplankton types either can’t swim or have a limited swimming ability and are at the mercy of turbulence.
Turbulence mixes the cells, and if it’s strong and deep enough, transports them out of the illuminated upper layer of the ocean, or photic zone.
“That mixing affects the light fields they experience and that will ultimately determine rates of photosynthesis and production in the ocean,” Karp-Boss says.
Cell components have densities larger than seawater and therefore tend to sink. If phytoplankton sink too quickly, they exit the illuminated zone. Cells that settle away from the photic zone too deep serve as a food supply for organisms in the deep ocean. A fraction of these settling cells may get buried in sediments, effectively removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere into the interior of the ocean, which explains the interest in the rate phytoplankton sinks, Jumars and Karp-Boss say.
Simple turbulence operates in all directions, carrying phytoplankton up and down. Scientists originally assumed a cell would move up or down at the same average speed in turbulence as it would in still water, but results have shown otherwise. Whether they sink or rise, more intense turbulence makes them move quicker. However, the methods used in the last decade give little insight into the mechanisms behind this acceleration, according to the UMaine researchers.
Studies conducted by atmospheric scientists have found key components of turbulence are the small eddies or vortices whose friction with the surrounding fluid — air or water — drains away the kinetic energy in turbulence. These eddies spin small water droplets out and make them more likely to collide, Jumars says.
Those findings don’t tell the whole story for phytoplankton because it doesn’t explain how buoyant particles are accelerated upward by turbulence. Testing this requires the ability to track individual phytoplankton cells in three dimensions as they move through eddies.
That’s why Karp-Boss and Jumars teamed with Variano, the UC Berkeley researcher, who with colleagues has developed a system that allows scientists to look at the trajectories of thousands of individual particles as they move.
Variano has developed a borescope with a double iris and video camera that gives the instrument binocular vision and captures the 3-D position of the cell.
“If you capture many quick snapshots, you can put all the frames together and see how this particle is moving in the water. If you calculate the distance and you know the time between frames, you can get velocity. You can also see whether their trajectories are straight or curved and how they settle or rise in the water. It gives us more information than just looking at mean sinking speeds of a population,” Karp-Boss says.
Most of the particles researchers have studied are spherical, while particles in nature are a variety of other shapes.
“Diatoms exhibit a striking morphological diversity, and we argue the shape of the particles will determine the trajectory and how fast they settle,” Karp-Boss says.
Karp-Boss and Jumars hope the project will also teach researchers more about the effects of turbulence on the distribution of phytoplankton cells. Whether the cells are randomly distributed or group together to form patches carries important implications to foraging strategies of grazers that feed on the cells. Turbulence is likely to play a role, but the underlying mechanisms are not yet fully understood.
The researchers will work together at both institutions throughout the project. The tanks design and construction, as well as characterization of the turbulent flows, will be done at UC Berkeley, while the experiments and analysis will be completed at UMaine.
In addition to their research, the PIs plan to hold a workshop at UMaine’s DMC in Walpole, Maine to bring together students from various departments who have similar interests in the dynamics of particles in flows.
“These types of questions are of interest to many STEM fields including engineering, physics, atmospheric science and — of course — oceanography. Learning from each other’s approaches, models and measurements can greatly enhance understanding of how particles and flows interact,” Karp-Boss says.
Convening students from different fields who deal with particles in turbulent flows at earlier stages of their careers will hopefully give them an opportunity to form lifelong interactions and collaborations across fields. Karp-Boss and Jumars met Variano at a similar conference devoted to this range of topics.
Contact: Elyse Kahl, 207.581.3747
The National Science Foundation has awarded University of Maine researchers $574,617 to study the effects of ocean acidification on the marine ecosystem of the Aleutian Islands.
UMaine professor Bob Steneck and postdoctoral research associate Doug Rasher, both based at the Darling Marine Center in Walpole, Maine, will work with Jim Estes of the University of California, Santa Cruz to determine whether ocean acidification, ocean warming and food web changes are reshaping species’ interactions in nature and threatening Clathromorphum nereostratum, a slow-growing coralline alga in the subarctic North Pacific Ocean.
During C. nereostratum’s 2,000-year lifetime it accretes massive bioherms, or mound-like reef structures, that form the foundation of the archipelago benthos upon which kelp forests grow. Preliminary research suggests the calcium carbonate skeleton of the coralline alga is weakening due to increased ocean acidification. With the recent ecological extinction of sea otters, the number of sea urchins has increased and, in places, they have grazed the kelp forest, leaving behind barren ancient coralline reefs.
During past cycles of sea otter/urchin/kelp booms and busts when ocean acidity was steady, C. nereostratum fared better. Now in a weakened state, it’s falling prey to urchins, crumbling away through bioerosion.
The three-year study will include a 2104 summer-long research expedition to the western portion of the Aleutians, from Adak Island to Attu Island. Researchers will survey kelp forests and urchin barrens, measure ocean acidity and collect samples of the ancient coralline bioherms.
Subsequent laboratory-based research will include urchin feeding experiments at past and present levels of ocean temperature and acidity to confirm processes driving patterns observed in the field. Additional studies will focus on the bands of calcium carbonate (similar to tree rings) in the coralline samples.
Contact: Linda Healy, 207.563.8220 or Beth Staples, 207.581.3777
A team of University of Maine researchers studying diatom algae populations and their effects on climate change in Greenland was featured in a report by The National Science Foundation’s Science Nation.
The researchers gathered samples of diatoms — a type of algae that respond rapidly to environmental change — to study how climate change is affecting the Arctic ecosystem.
The story and video focus on Jasmine Saros’ recent NSF-funded research. Saros is the associate director of UMaine’s Climate Change Institute and is a professor in the School of Biology and Ecology. Her research team included graduate student Ben Burpee, who was partially supported by a Dan and Betty Churchill Exploration Grant through the Climate Change Institute to do related research.
Dr. Rajendra Singh, a University of Maine graduate and leader in wireless telecommunications, will deliver the 2013 University of Maine Distinguished Presidential Lecture on Oct. 30 at 2 p.m. in Arthur St. John Hill Auditorium in the Engineering Science Research Building.
The Distinguished Presidential Lecture Series, which is free and open to the public, provides a forum for highly accomplished individuals with UMaine ties to share personal stories and perspectives on important societal issues of interest to the UMaine community. “My Journey” is the title of Singh’s lecture. He grew up in a rural village in India with no telephones or electricity; today he is internationally recognized as an entrepreneur and venture capitalist.
Singh is the chief executive officer and principal owner of Telecom Ventures, a private investment firm in Florida that has launched wireless service providers around the world. He and his wife, Neera, who have two children, have co-chaired the business since 1994. Dr. Singh and Neera Singh were instrumental in founding or starting Appex, Inc. (a billing services firm which was sold to EDS system in 1990), Portatel (a cellular operator in Mexico), BPL (a cellular operator in India), Wireless Ventures of Brazil, Avantel (a specialized mobile radio operator in Brazil and Colombia), Infonet (a GSM operator in Venezuela), Teligent (a competitive local exchange carrier), LCC International (a consulting services company), and Mobile Satellite Ventures (a communication services provider in North America). Dr. Singh continues to play a leading role in the development and deployment of emerging wireless technologies.
Singh also serves on the board of trustees at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, the board of overseers of the University of Pennsylvania School of Engineering and Applied Sciences and the board of directors of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.
In 2012, he received the National Ethnic Coalition of Organizations’ Ellis Island Medal of Honor and was inducted into the Wireless Hall of Fame.
In 2006, the Singhs received UMaine’s Stillwater Presidential Award for Achievement. Dr. Singh has also received the Edward Bryand Distinguished Engineering Award from UMaine’s College of Engineering and has been inducted into the Francis Crowe Society Hall of Fame. In 2004, Singh established the Rajendra & Neera Singh Engineering Scholarship Fund at the University of Maine Foundation to provide financial assistance to deserving students in the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department.
The avid runner and skier earned an undergraduate degree at Indian Institute of Technology in Kanpur, his master’s in electrical engineering at UMaine in 1977, and a doctorate from Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas.
For more information, or to request a disability accommodation, contact Sarah Penley at 207.581.1159 or DevelopmentOfficeRSVP@maine.edu.
Contact: Beth Staples, 207.581.3777
An effort by the state to save a Popham Beach bathhouse with a temporary seawall of fallen trees and beach scraping is an example of an appropriate engineering endeavor to save beach-front property without harming the landscape, according to research by a University of Maine professor.
Joseph Kelley, professor of marine geology in the University of Maine’s Department of Earth Sciences and cooperating professor at the Climate Change Institute, studied a 2009 action by the Maine Division of Parks and Public Lands to save public property from beach erosion by mimicking natural processes.
“This paper points out that in special circumstances, engineering efforts, which typically destroy the dynamic of beaches and dunes, can prove beneficial,” Kelley says. “We hope these approaches work, but erosion on other parts of the beach is continuing.”
Previous approaches used to slow beach and property erosion in Maine are no longer allowed or economically feasible.
In Maine, seawalls were banned in 1983. Replacement of storm-damaged buildings is also not allowed, and a precedent case on Popham Beach in the 1980s ruled an owner had to remove an unpermitted building from a site where an earlier structure was damaged, the study states.
So when erosion threatened the newly built bathhouse on the parking lot at Popham Beach in 2009, the the remaining options for the state were moving the building back from the ocean — a costly choice — or applying temporary measures.
Because the inlet channel causing the erosion would eventually change course, the state decided to create a temporary seawall with fallen trees at the site. In December 2009, the Maine Bureau of Parks and Lands roped together fallen pine trees and secured them to standing trees on the top of the dune. The treewall was legal as a temporary structure and lessened wave and current energy in an attempt to reduce erosion. The creation of the treewall was also used to assure the public that action was being taken, according to the study.
Once the inlet channel changed course, beach scraping was used. Sand was scraped from the lower to the upper beach — without adding new material — to deflect the current away from the bathhouse.
The use of temporary solutions of beach scraping and biological barriers successfully saved the building without having to create a permanent structure or resort to expensive replenishment, Kelley writes.
“Popham Beach, Maine: An example of engineering activity that saved beach property without harming the beach” was published in the peer-reviewed science journal Geomorphology.
Contact: Elyse Kahl, 207.581.3747
A University of Maine researcher is participating in five projects aimed at improving nationwide science instruction and assessments.
Michelle Smith, assistant professor in UMaine’s School of Biology and Ecology, is the principal investigator on four projects and co-principal investigator on another granted $6.8 million in total funding from the National Science Foundation (NSF); UMaine’s portion is $1,012,269.
The projects, three of which are collaborative with other universities, involve UMaine administrators, faculty, postdoctoral and graduate students, undergraduates and area K-12 teachers. “All of these stakeholders … will contribute to national initiatives to improve science education,” says Smith, a member of the Maine Center for Research in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) Education (Maine RiSE Center).
In August, Smith was returning from a reunion with family members when she learned about the possible funding. “We stopped for lunch and I looked down at my phone and realized my inbox was full of messages from the NSF requesting that I provide them with more information on four different grants within 48 hours,” she says. “I told my family they had to eat ‘right now’ because we had to get home.”
Susan McKay, UMaine professor of physics and director of the Maine RiSE Center, as well as Smith and several other colleagues, will receive $299,998 to transform K-12 STEM education by restructuring teaching methods courses to align with national standards. They’ll also work to attract and retain STEM majors in college as educators and form partnerships with area school districts.
Researchers say the project could make a difference in Maine, where more than 50 percent of students in more than half the school districts are eligible for free or reduced lunch and the resource-based economy could benefit from more technology jobs.
Smith and colleagues MacKenzie Stetzer, Susan McKay and Jeff St. John will receive $249,851 to establish a UMaine program to broaden use of evidence-based teaching and learner-centered practices in STEM courses. UMaine faculty and area K-12 teachers will observe and document instruction in university STEM courses. Their data will be used to develop workshops targeting faculty members’ needs and implement innovative teaching practices.
Smith will receive $219,966 of a $528,459 collaborative project to develop assessments called Bio-MAPS (Biology-Measuring Achievement and Progression in Science) that gauge whether undergraduate college biology students understand core concepts. The University of Washington and University of Colorado-Boulder are partners in the endeavor “to articulate common learning goals and monitor longitudinal student learning in biology.”
The assessments will identify areas in biology in which students struggle. They’ll also help two-year community colleges evaluate how effectively they’re preparing students to transfer to four-year institutions. Assessment data will inform faculty about where changes need to be made in the biology curriculum.
Smith will also receive $187,968 to expand a national network for open-ended assessments called Automated Assessment of Constructed Response (AACR) in which computer software programs analyze answers of students in large-enrollment science courses. The assessments provide more insight into student thinking on common conceptual difficulties than multiple-choice questions.
Michigan State, the University of Colorado-Boulder, the University of Georgia, and Stony Brook University, are also participating in the $5 million project, in which researchers will create a community Web portal to improve alliances among STEM education researchers and promote nationwide implementation of innovative instruction materials.
Smith will receive $54,486 of a $718,000 collaborative award with four other universities to build a national network of Faculty Learning Communities (FLCs) that provide professional development opportunities so more faculty can use constructed response assessments to reform teaching in biology. UMaine faculty members Seanna Annis, Farahad Dastoor and Brian Olsen will work with Smith to develop the UMaine FLC.
The project seeks to provide insight into factors that facilitate or hamper faculty using modified teaching materials and practices. It also lays the foundation for a national network of FLCs and subject-based virtual communities with access to real-time automated analysis of AACR assessment items, faculty-developed teaching resources and support.
Smith, who says she chose a faculty position at UMaine in order to work with fantastic researchers and supportive peers, appreciates that her colleagues helped her think about research questions and mentored her during the grant-writing process.
She’s also grateful for the contributions of K-12 teachers. “The pilot data the K-12 teachers collected about university-level STEM instruction was featured in the grant to broaden use of evidence-based teaching and learner-centered practices in STEM courses,” Smith says. “That grant earned the highest scores of any I submitted. My colleagues and I are incredibly lucky to work with such a talented group of teachers who are also excellent researchers.”
Contact: Beth Staples, 207.581.3777
“The State of Our Nation: Hardball vs. Civility” will be the focus of the William S. Cohen Lecture at the University of Maine on Nov. 7 featuring former Wyoming Sen. Alan Simpson, co-chair of the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform.
Simpson will be joined by former Secretary of Defense William Cohen in the discussion, moderated by alumnus Mark Woodward, former Bangor Daily News executive editor.
The 3 p.m. event in the Collins Center for the Arts is free and open to the public. Tickets are available on a first-come, first-served basis by calling the Collins Center for the Arts box office, 581.1755 or 1-800-MCA-TIXX. Box office hours are Monday-Friday, 9 a.m.-4 p.m.
The moderated discussion on hardball versus civility in Washington is the second time a question-and-answer-style discussion format has been featured in UMaine’s William S. Cohen Lecture Series, which began in 1998. Cohen, the Bangor native who represented Maine in Congress for 24 years before joining President Clinton’s cabinet, established the series when he donated a collection of papers chronicling his Congressional career to the university’s Fogler Library.
Taking the stage this year with Cohen will be Simpson, a U.S. senator from 1979-97. From 1985-95, he was assistant Republican leader. In his Congressional career, Simpson sponsored legislation that dealt with the establishment of federal standards for clean air and water, toxic waste cleanup, and nuclear regulation. He was active on issues regarding veterans, aging, the environment and immigration laws.
In 2006, Simpson was named to the 10-member Iraq Study Group, a Congressionally appointed panel co-chaired by Lee Hamilton and James Baker, charged with assessing the Iraq War and offering policy recommendations. In 2010, President Barack Obama appointed Simpson and Erskine Bowles to co-chair the 18-member National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform, commonly referred to as the Deficit Commission or Debt Panel.
Simpson will be the ninth Cohen Lecturer since the start of the series, established to bring to UMaine a distinguished speaker with informed perspectives on matters related to international policy and commerce. Cohen delivered the first lecture in the series in March 1998; Madeleine Albright, then Secretary of State, followed in 1999; retired U.S. Senator and former astronaut John Glenn, 2001, former Canadian Prime Minister Brian Mulroney, 2003; former CBS News correspondent Dan Rather, 2005; Washington Post journalist and author Bob Woodward, 2007; Attorney General Eric Holder, 2009; retired U.S. Marine Gen. James Jones, 2011.
The 2013 Cohen Lecture is a function of UMaine’s William S. Cohen Center for International Policy and Commerce, established in 1997. Cohen, who is a former UMaine business faculty member, donated his collection of papers to UMaine’s Fogler Library when the center was established. In January 2001, Cohen gave the papers from his tenure as Secretary of Defense to the university.
Contact: Margaret Nagle, 207.581.3745