Archive for the ‘News Releases’ Category

UMaine Professors to Receive National Saltonstall-Kennedy Grants for Fisheries Research

Thursday, April 24th, 2014

Three University of Maine researchers have been chosen to receive funding from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Saltonstall-Kennedy (S-K) Grant Program to pursue research that will benefit the U.S. fishing industry.

Two of the 40 grants were recommended to be given to projects led by UMaine researchers and one to a collaborative effort between UMaine, the University of Maine at Machias and a Massachusetts laboratory. UMaine professors Heather Hamlin, an assistant professor of aquaculture, and Yong Chen, a professor of fisheries population, are the principal investigators of the two UMaine-led studies. Paul Rawson, an associate professor of marine science and a cooperating assistant professor of biological sciences at UMaine, will receive an S-K grant as a collaborator of a study led by Scott Lindell of the Marine Biological Laboratory (MBL) in Woods Hole, Mass.

Hamlin’s study, “The Effects of Regional Temperature Cycles on the Development and Disease Susceptibility of the American lobster (Homarus americanus),” will receive $249,516. The project seeks to determine if increasing ocean temperature is a causative agent in the population decline of lobsters in southern New England.

“The American lobster is an iconic species whose fishery is steeped in tradition in New England,” Hamlin says. “Understanding the effects of increasing ocean temperatures is extremely important to Maine and its economy.”

For more than a decade, lobsters have been experiencing a dramatic population decline in southern New England, according to the project proposal. If the decline spreads into the Gulf of Maine, it would threaten the livelihood and culture of fishing communities, as well as the multibillion-dollar industry they support, the proposal states. The project will examine the effects of increasing ocean temperatures on lobster growth, development and disease susceptibility as they relate to the crustaceans’ population decline in the region.

Co-principal investigators of the project are Deborah Bouchard, a laboratory manager and research coordinator with the UMaine Animal Health Laboratory (AHL) and Aquaculture Research Institute; Robert Bayer, a professor of animal and veterinary sciences and executive director of the Lobster Institute; Ian Bricknell, a professor of aquaculture biology; and Anne Lichtenwalner, an assistant professor of animal science, Extension veterinarian and AHL director.

Chen will receive $229,326 for the project, “Improving survivability of cusk and Atlantic cod bycatch discarded in the Gulf of Maine lobster trap fishery.”

Chen’s study seeks to identify the time and areas where cusk and cod are likely to be caught in lobster traps; identify factors in handling which may significantly influence the survival rates of discarded cusk and cod; evaluate the effectiveness of recompression and venting in improving the survivability of released cusk and cod discarded from lobster traps; develop a protocol to reduce the discard mortality; and conduct an outreach program to educate stakeholders on the discarded groundfish in lobster fisheries.

Rawson is collaborating on a project with Brian Beal, a professor of marine biology at the University of Maine at Machias, and researchers at the Marine Biological Laboratory (MBL) in Woods Hole, Mass. The researchers will receive $373,088 to use the experimental shellfish hatcheries at UMaine’s Darling Marine Center (DMC) in Walpole, Maine and the MBL to develop technology to cost-effectively produce mussel seed to meet the needs of the Northeastern United States mussel culture industry.

According to the group’s proposal, the Northeast’s mussel culture industry is poised for expansion. In past years, an inconsistent local supply of wild mussel seed has caused reliability problems for businesses both in the region and around the world. Moving toward hatchery-reared seed could improve the availability and volume of seed and help mussel farmers in the Northeast succeed.

“Our project is proactive in that we will develop cost-effective, steady and reliable hatchery-based seed production so the success of Maine’s blue mussel farms will not be hampered by problems associated with seed availability,” Rawson says.

The Saltonstall-Kennedy Grant Program is a competitive program administered by the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Department of Commerce. The program provides financial assistance for research and development projects to benefit the U.S. fishing industry, according to the program’s website.

Contact: Elyse Kahl, 581.3747

2014 Distinguished Maine Professor, Presidential Award Winners Named

Thursday, April 24th, 2014

The University of Maine’s top annual faculty awards for 2014 will be presented May 10 to four researchers in marine sciences, electrical and computer engineering, and computing and information science.

Mary Jane Perry, professor of oceanography and interim director of UMaine’s Darling Marine Center, is the 2014 Distinguished Maine Professor, an award presented by the University of Maine Alumni Association in recognition of outstanding achievement in the university’s mission of teaching, research and public service.

University of Maine President Paul Ferguson announced the three Presidential Awards: J. Malcolm Shick, professor of zoology and oceanography, is the recipient of the 2014 Presidential Outstanding Teaching Award; School of Computing and Information Science Professor M. Kate Beard-Tisdale is the 2014 Presidential Research and Creative Achievement Award; and the 2014 Presidential Public Service Achievement Award recipient it Bruce Segee, professor of electrical and computer engineering, and director of the University of Maine System Advanced Computing Group.

“This time of year with Commencement approaching, it’s particularly rewarding to celebrate the caliber and outstanding achievements of our faculty,” said President Ferguson. “Mary Jane, Kate, Malcolm and Bruce are all well known at UMaine for the difference they make in the lives of our students, and they are recognized and renowned far beyond campus for their engagement and achievements related to their fields. They represent UMaine’s flagship difference and we take pride in their contributions.”

The award recipients will be honored at the Faculty Appreciation and Recognition Luncheon, noon–1:30 p.m., May 10 at Wells Conference Center.

The following faculty descriptions are excerpted from the nomination packages submitted to the selection committees:

2014 Distinguished Maine Professor
Mary Jane Perry, professor of marine sciences and oceanography
Interim director of the Darling Marine Center

Mary Jane Perry is an internationally recognized researcher, gifted teacher and dedicated mentor to young scientists. She teaches — and reaches — students, from marine sciences majors to Ph.D. candidates, multidisciplinary ocean scientists and the lay audience. Perry is known for her ability to effectively provide students with the necessary knowledge for understanding, but also to instill the skills and curiosity that motivate them to teach themselves. In the School of Marine Sciences, she has been helped focus the successful undergraduate program on hands-on learning, interactivity and team learning. Perry is an active member of the school’s undergraduate curricula committee, and has served multiple times as the Oceanography Graduate Program coordinator. In the laboratory, Perry has spent her career passing on her interdisciplinary oceanographic vision, careful scientific approach and high academic standards on to her graduate students. One measure of her success is reflected in the careers of her former graduate students. They include a deputy director and program manager for the U.S. Navy’s Office of Naval Research, a program manager at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and department chairs at Bowdoin College and Princeton University. Perry and her students have a wide footprint on ocean science in the United States. One of the deepest influences Perry has had on students and oceanography is through the graduate-level ocean optics course she founded in 1985. The course, funded first by the U.S. Office of Naval Research, then the National Science Foundation (NSF) and now NASA, has maintained a subdiscipline of oceanography and created an international group of experts. A widely published researcher, Perry’s papers are often at the forefront of new developments and cut across disciplines, opening doors for future investigations. She is a research pioneer in the study of ocean optics and ocean biology, and the use of autonomous underwater gliders for remote ocean measurements. Since 2000, Perry’s research has brought more than $7 million to the University of Maine in sponsored funding. The diversity of funding agencies sponsoring her research and her service on advisory boards are testament to her expertise. Perry has been invited to sit on steering committees and advisory panels of such entities as NSF, the National Research Council, NASA and a number of European science programs. Perry received a Ph.D. in oceanography from the University of California San Diego. She joined the UMaine School of Marine Sciences faculty in 1999, and was named interim director of UMaine’s Darling Marine Center in 2013. Perry was elected an Oceanography Society Fellow in 2010. She received NSF’s Creativity Award in 2009 and 2003, and is one of three invited plenary speakers for the 2014 Ocean Sciences Meeting, the largest and most important gathering of aquatic scientists in the world.

2014 Presidential Outstanding Teaching Award
J. Malcolm Shick
Professor of Zoology and Oceanography

J. Malcolm Shick is a gifted educator who introduces students to “a passionate journey of scientific discovery.” In his rigorous classes, students appreciate his knowledge and enthusiasm for the subject matter, the attention to detail in his meticulously crafted multimedia lectures, and his interest in the quality of each student’s learning experience. In the classroom or the lab, Shick is a mentor to undergraduate and graduate students, and colleagues. Two decades ago, his passion for enhancing student learning in his introductory course led him to institute electronic-based practice exams, which he subsequently helped develop into interactive tools on course websites used today. Ten years ago, Shick helped to inaugurate the popular cornerstone Integrative Marine Science series — four modular core courses in the School of Marine Sciences. Similarly in 2012, he introduced a wide-ranging new graduate-level core class in marine biology for incoming graduate students. Shick’s well-known exploration of the representation of marine sciences in the visual and performing arts, and other humanities, is evident in all his classes, but especially in his course on the biology of marine organisms for first-year students. His other classes include undergraduate courses in ecology, comparative animal physiology, and an honors tutorial in “aesthetic marine biology,” and graduate seminars on such topics as photobiology, symbiosis, and physiological and ecological energetics. Shick’s teaching is informed by his research, largely funded by the National Science Foundation and the National Geographic Society, that takes him around the world. His eco-physiological research of the ocean’s creatures, especially corals, helps forecast how they will be affected by environmental change. He has been a visiting researcher and instructor at such prestigious institutions as the Australian Institute of Marine Science, the Plymouth (U.K.) Marine Laboratory, the Marine Biological Laboratory (Woods Hole), the Université de Nice-Sophia Antipolis, and the Centre Scientifique de Monaco. In 1974, Shick received his Ph.D. in biology from Texas A&M University and joined the University of Maine zoology faculty. He received UMaine’s 1992 Presidential Research and Creative Achievement Award and was elected an American Association for the Advancement of Science Fellow in 1984. Shick’s extensive publishing history includes more than 80 scientific articles and a book, A Functional Biology of Sea Anemones.

2014 Presidential Research and Creative Achievement Award
Kate Beard-Tisdale, professor, School of Computing and Information Science
Director of the National Center for Geographic Information and Analysis at the University of Maine

Kate Beard-Tisdale is an internationally recognized researcher in geographic information science. Through her research and research-based teaching at the University of Maine, she has applied GIS and spatial analysis in a wide range of applications — from the analysis of cancer incidence and mortality to emergency response services and precision agriculture. For more than two decades, her work has made significant contributions in the fields of visualization, spatial uncertainty, geo-ontologies, digital libraries, spatio-temporal modeling and event detection. Under the auspices of the National Center for Geographic Information and Analysis, Beard-Tisdale has led or co-led several major research initiatives. Her research has received more than $10 million in funding from sources that include the National Science Foundation (NSF), U.S. Department of Defense and U.S. Geological Survey. In the last five years alone, she has had more than 36 funded research grants totaling more than $5 million. Beard-Tisdale was a lead cooperator in the NSF-funded Alexandria Digital Library project based at the University of California Santa Barbara. Similarly, she was the principal investigator on projects to develop digital spatial libraries for the Gulf of Maine and Maine lakes. Beard-Tisdale’s multidisciplinary research makes her the model of a modern information scientist for her students. Her leadership across disciplines landed a NSF Integrative Graduate Education and Research Traineeship (IGERT) award for a novel doctoral research program in sensor science, engineering and informatics. Beard-Tisdale’s research collaborations included an NSF-funded project to investigate the application of spatial concepts to genome mapping. Working with colleagues at The Jackson Laboratory and Maine Institute for Human Genetics and Health, the research team studied spatio-temporal models for tracking exposure histories for epidemiological research. Beard-Tisdale’s extensive research publishing includes 50 journal publications, chapters in 11 scholarly books and professional presentations at more than 70 international, national and state conferences. Beard-Tisdale joined the University of Maine in 1987 after completing a Ph.D. at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

2014 Presidential Public Service Achievement Award
Bruce Segee
Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering
Director of the University of Maine System Advanced Computing Group

Bruce Segee has been actively engaged in public service since for more than two decades, assisting entrepreneurs and businesses large and small with cutting-edge instrumentation and automation systems. Since 2007, his work has focused on improving the cyberinfrastructure in Maine and the Northeast that is critical to the success of the University of Maine and the region. His interdisciplinary work ranges from development of production-ready infrastructure to the creation of new technologies for visualization, education and communication. His research and outreach efforts have improved the usefulness of laptops in K–12 education, supercomputing and cloud computing, networking and videoconferencing, and resource sharing. Segee helped spearhead the state’s Three Ring Binder project, which brought $25 million in funding, matched by $6 million in private investment, to form the Maine Fiber Company, providing unprecedented rural connectivity and job creation with the installation of more than 1,100 miles of fiber-optic cable. Three Ring Binder, completed in 2012, was followed the next year by Gigabit Mainestreet, a public-private partnership between UMaine and Great Works Internet to bring gigabit-speed connectivity to the Orono and Old Town communities and resulted in UMaine being cited as one of the top 10 universities for connectivity nationwide. Gigabit Mainestreet is part of a nationwide program named Gig.U, and Segee had a leadership role in bringing Gig.U to Maine. He has served as the director of the UMaine supercomputer, providing cost-effective, cutting-edge computational power for many significant research projects, classes and simulations for K–12 education. In addition, he directs the UMaine Cyberinfrastructure Investment for Development, Economic Growth and Research, and has been involved in the annual Maine Learning Technology Initiative of the state Department of Education. Segee holds the Henry R. and Grace V. Butler Professorship of Electrical and Computer Engineering. He received the College of Engineering’s 2008 Ashley S. Campbell Award, as well as Dean’s Awards of Excellence in 2004 and 2008, Outstanding Young Faculty Research Award in 1995 and Outstanding Young Faculty Teaching award in 1994. Segee received a bachelor’s and master’s degree in electrical engineering from the University of Maine in 1985 and 1989, respectively, and was awarded the College of Engineering Outstanding Graduate Student Award in 1988. In 1992, he received a Ph.D. in Engineering from the University of New Hampshire and joined the UMaine engineering faculty. His publishing has included co-writing a textbook, Microprogramming and Computer Architecture.

Contact: Margaret Nagle, 207.581.3745

UMaine Names 2014 Valedictorian and Salutatorian

Monday, April 21st, 2014

University of Maine President Paul Ferguson has announced the 2014 valedictorian, Sierra Ventura of Belfast, Maine, and salutatorian Jennifer Chalmers of Foxborough, Mass.

Both will receive their degrees at UMaine’s 212th Commencement ceremonies in Harold Alfond Sports Arena May 10.

“Sierra and Jenn personify the best of the University of Maine undergraduate experience in their academic excellence, community engagement, and dedication to research and scholarship,” says President Ferguson. “We are proud of their achievements and their leadership in the UMaine community.”

VenturaVentura will receive a bachelor’s degree in music education. Throughout her undergraduate career, she has been active in UMaine’s chapter of the National Association of Music Education, including two years as treasurer, and she is a member of Phi Beta Kappa. Her leadership roles on campus include serving as assistant conductor of the University of Maine Singers and of Euphony, the Orono-based chamber choir, both in 2013–14. The previous year, Ventura was the assistant accompanist of Collegiate Chorale.

Ventura also was a member of other musical ensembles in the UMaine School of Performing Arts, including Opera Workshop, Concert Band and Athena Consort, and she worked on the technical and events crews. Since 2009, she has had her own business, S.J. Ventura Music Instruction, teaching 35 students in piano, voice, flute, clarinet and saxophone. Ventura plans to pursue a graduate degree in music education at the University of Maine.

“UMaine has helped me shape my pursuits in the music education field,” Ventura says. “UMaine has also provided me the opportunity to connect with many veteran teachers and other professionals in my field throughout my undergraduate career, as well as give me tools to become a better private music teacher for my students. During my undergraduate career, I was also blessed to have met my fiancé during my time in University Singers.”

ChalmersChalmers will receive two bachelor’s degrees in English and in history. She has majored in English and history, with minors in education and Spanish, and received highest honors for her honors thesis, a historical and literary research project, entitled “Teaching Literature in America: Demonstrating Relevance in the Early Cold War (1945–1963).”

Chalmers is a member of multiple honor societies, including All Maine Women, Sophomore Eagles and Phi Beta Kappa. The UMaine Presidential Scholar Award recipient received Roger B. Hill Scholarships in both history and English, and the Ellis Prize in English. She also received a College of Liberal Arts and Sciences Undergraduate Research Fellowship.

While at UMaine, Chalmers had two internships that advanced her professional writing skills. She was a human resources intern with the Massachusetts State Police in Framingham, Mass., and an English editorial intern with Pearson Higher Education in Boston, Mass. She was a journalist for the Maine Journal and a tutor for UMaine’s Writing Center. In addition, Chalmers was a student supervisor for Black Bear Dining concessions and a clarinetist in the UMaine Symphonic and Pep bands. Her community service activities included volunteering, serving as a note taker for UMaine Disability Support Services, and being involved in Autism at UMaine and the History Club.

“Since the moment I first visited UMaine, I have always felt at home,” Chalmers says. “I’m particularly appreciative of the way my professors have been so willing to help me achieve my goals and have always been on the lookout for opportunities that might be beneficial for me. I also really appreciate the wealth of opportunities that UMaine has provided outside the classroom. I have had so many opportunities to join organizations that I genuinely care about, gain leadership experience and make lasting friendships. My coursework, jobs and activities at UMaine have provided me with the experience that I have needed to get scholarships, internships and jobs, both inside and outside UMaine. The people, the organizations, and the generally encouraging atmosphere at UMaine have been invaluable to my personal, professional and intellectual growth during college, and I know that taking advantage of the opportunities that UMaine has to offer has allowed and prepared me to achieve my goals.”

Chalmers has accepted a position with Teach for America. For the next two years, she will teach secondary special education English in southern New Jersey and then will pursue graduate school.

Contact: Margaret Nagle, 207.581.3745

UMaine on Princeton Review’s List of ‘Green Colleges’ for Fifth Consecutive Year

Friday, April 18th, 2014

For the fifth consecutive year, the University of Maine has been named a “green college” by Princeton Review for its exemplary commitment to sustainability in academics, campus infrastructure and programming.

The Princeton Review’s Guide to 332 Green Colleges: 2014 Edition profiles 330 schools in the United States and two in Canada that are the most environmentally responsible. Other universities that have made the guide for the past five years include Georgia Tech, the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign and the University of Oregon.

The annual guide is produced by Princeton Review in collaboration with the Center for Green Schools at the U.S. Green Building Council. Four-year colleges are surveyed to measure their commitment to the environment and sustainability. The free 216-page guide is online.

“The University of Maine’s sustainability focus is comprehensive and impactful,” says UMaine President Paul Ferguson, who this month was elected vice chair of the Steering Committee of the American College and University Presidents’ Climate Commitment (ACUPCC). “Maine’s flagship campus has a national leadership role in sustainability and a statewide stewardship responsibility in keeping with the university’s five-year Blue Sky strategic plan. At UMaine, sustainability helps define the institution.”

UMaine’s sustainability initiatives cited in the guide include the Blue Bike program and the Black Bear Orono Express shuttle, providing free transportation on and around campus in an effort to reduce vehicle traffic. One of the overarching goals of UMaine’s full-time Sustainability Coordinator and the President’s Council on Sustainability, made up of students, faculty and staff, is to achieve carbon neutrality on campus by 2040.

Initiatives in UMaine dining and housing programs are key to promoting green living on campus. They include the student-run UMaine Greens project, which supplies salad greens to the Bear’s Den dining facility. Compost for the salad greens project and landscaping campuswide comes from UMaine’s advanced composting facility, which has the potential to convert more than 1 ton of organic waste per day from campus dining facilities into a rich soil amendment.

Also noted was UMaine sustainability leadership in its student organizations, curricula and research. The university has five LEED-certified buildings, including three silver and one gold, and a comprehensive Zero-Sort recycling program. It also participates in STARS — the Sustainability Tracking, Assessment and Rating System.

Among UMaine’s other recent honors and distinctions recognizing its national leadership as a green campus:

  • In 2007, UMaine became a charter signatory of ACUPCC.

  • In 2009, UMaine developed an award-winning Campus Master Plan focused on sustainability.

  • In 2010, UMaine received a Special Recognition Award from the U.S. Green Building Council.

  • In 2011, UMaine received a Second Nature Climate Leadership Award representing doctoral institutions.

  • In 2012, UMaine was featured on the Princeton Review’s Green Honor Roll for the second consecutive year.

Contact: Margaret Nagle, 207.581.3745

Writers, Scholars to Discuss Cultural Identity During UMaine Humanities Initiative’s Spring Symposium

Tuesday, April 15th, 2014

The Franco-American Centre and Franco American Studies program at the University of Maine will host the spring symposium “In and Out of Place: Finding Home in Franco America” April 25–26.

The series of free events, sponsored by the UMaine Humanities Initiative and  le Ministère des Relations internationales, Francophonie et Commerce extérieur du Québec, will take place on the Orono campus from 1:30 p.m. Friday, April 25 until 6 p.m. Saturday, April 26.

“Questions of ‘home’ and of ‘place’ can walk a line between the public and private spaces that take shape for each of us as individuals and as community members,” says Jacob Albert, a research associate at the Franco-American Centre. “We’re really excited to offer a forum for some powerful writers and thinkers to address these kinds of universal questions that are especially important for thinking about cultural identity.”

Keynote speaker and Canadian author Clark Blaise will read from his work-in-progress, “The Kerouac Who Never Was,” from 5:15 to 6:30 p.m. Friday, April 25.

Blaise is a graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop at the University of Iowa where he was the director of the International Writing Program. He also is the founder of the post-graduate program in creative writing at Concordia University. He has written more than 20 books, including “I Had a Father: A Post-Modern Autobiography,” “The Meagre Tarmac” and the Pearson Prize-winning “Time Lord: Sir Sandford Fleming and the Creation of Standard Time.”

The symposium will feature readings from other acclaimed writers including Jane Martin, Ron Currie Jr., Rhea Côté Robbins and Steven Riel; panel discussions by scholars from New England and Canada on “Franco Elections, Activism and Public Opinion,” “Historical Reflections on Place and Identity,” and “Franco American Archives and Collections in New England;” and a screening of the film “Le grand Jack (Jack Kerouac’s Road: A Franco-American Odyssey)” directed by Herménégilde Chiasson.

For more information or to request a disability accommodation, contact Albert at jacob.albert@maine.edu or 207.581.3795. A full symposium program is available online.

This symposium features precisely the sorts of interdisciplinary perspectives on a topic of regional significance that the Humanities Initiative aims to promote,” says Justin Wolff, UMHI director and an associate professor of art history at UMaine.

The UMaine Humanities Initiative (UMHI), housed in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences and established in 2010, advances the teaching, research and community outreach of the arts and humanities to enrich the lives of all Maine residents.

More information about the UMHI is online.

Contact: Elyse Kahl, 207.581.3747

UMaine Researcher: Ocean Stratification Drove Disintegration of Scotland Ice Cap

Tuesday, April 15th, 2014

A University of Maine research team says stratification of the North Atlantic Ocean contributed to summer warming and glacial melting in Scotland during the period recognized for abrupt cooling 12,900 to 11,600 years ago in the Northern Hemisphere.

Prevailing scientific understanding has been that glaciers advanced in the Northern Hemisphere throughout most of the Younger Dryas Stadial (YDS) — a 1,300-year period of dramatic cooling.

But carbon-dated bog sediment indicates the 9,500-square-kilometer ice cap over Rannoch Moor in Scotland retreated at least 500 years before the end of the YDS, says Gordon Bromley, a postdoctoral associate with UMaine’s Climate Change Institute (CCI).

“Our new record, showing warming summers during what traditionally was believed to have been an intensely cold period, adds an exciting new layer of complexity to our understanding of abrupt events and highlights the fact that there is much yet to learn about how our climate can behave,” Bromley says.

“This is an issue that is becoming ever more pressing in the face of global warming, since we really need to know what Earth’s climate system is capable of. But first we have to understand the full nature of abrupt climate events, how they are manifest ‘on the ground.’ And so we were compelled to investigate the terrestrial record of the Younger Dryas, which really is the poster child for abrupt climate change.”

Glaciers, says Bromley, respond to sea surface temperatures and Scotland is immediately downwind of the North Atlantic Ocean.

“Scotland was the natural choice as it lies within the North Atlantic Ocean — widely believed to be a driver of climatic upheaval — and thus would give us a robust idea of what really transpired during that critical period,” he says.

What the team found was that amplified seasonality driven by greatly expanding sea ice resulted in severe winters and warm summers.

While sea ice formation prevented ocean to atmosphere heat transfer during winters, melting of sea ice during summers created a stratified warmer freshwater cap on the ocean surface, he says. The increased summer sea surface temperature and downwind air temperature melted the glaciers.

Bromley says this research highlights the still-incomplete understanding of abrupt climate changes throughout Earth’s history.

“Ever since the existence of abrupt climate change was first recognized in ice-core and marine records, we’ve been wrestling with the problem of why these tumultuous events occur, and how,” he says.

Kurt Rademaker, Brenda Hall, Sean Birkel and Harold W. Borns, all from UMaine’s Climate Change Institute and School of Earth and Climate Sciences, are part of the research team. So too is Aaron Putnam, previously from CCI and now with Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory at Columbia University/Earth Institute. Joerg Schaefer and Gisela Winckler are also with Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory and Thomas Lowell is with the University of Cincinnati.

The team’s research paper, Younger Dryas deglaciation of Scotland driven by warming summers, was published April 14 on the “Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences” website.

Contact: Beth Staples, 207.581.3777

Tess Gerritsen and David Mallett to Receive University of Maine Honorary Degrees, Speak at Commencement

Tuesday, April 15th, 2014

Two icons in literature and music in Maine — international best-selling author Tess Gerritsen and singer-songwriter David Mallett — will receive honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degrees and share remarks at the 212th Commencement May 10 at the University of Maine.

Mallett will address the 10 a.m. ceremony; Gerritsen will address the 2:30 p.m. ceremony, both in Harold Alfond Sports Arena.

“We are so pleased that Dave Mallett and Tess Gerritsen will join us for the 212th Commencement and share perspectives from their remarkable careers with the UMaine community,” says University of Maine President Paul Ferguson. “It is UMaine’s distinct privilege to present honorary degrees in recognition of the contributions of Tess and Dave to the arts and humanities.”

Tess GerritsenTess Gerritsen earned a medical degree at the University of California, San Francisco in 1979. It was while on maternity leave from her work as a physician that she began to write fiction.

In 1987, her first romantic suspense novel, Call After Midnight, was published. She then wrote eight more romantic thrillers and a screenplay, Adrift, which aired as a 1993 CBS Movie of the Week starring Kate Jackson. In 1996, Gerritsen debuted on the New York Times best-seller list with her first medical thriller, Harvest. She has since published the suspense novels: Life Support (1997), Bloodstream (1998), Gravity (1999), The Surgeon (2001), The Apprentice (2002), The Sinner (2003), Body Double (2004), Vanish (2005), The Mephisto Club (2006), The Bone Garden (2007), The Keepsake (2008; UK title: Keeping the Dead), Ice Cold (2010; UK title: The Killing Place), The Silent Girl (2011) and Last To Die (2012.) Her books have been published in 40 countries. More than 25 million copies have been sold around the world.

In addition, her books have been top-three best sellers in the United States and abroad. She has won both the Nero Wolfe Award (for Vanish) and the Rita Award (for The Surgeon). Critics around the world have praised her novels as “pulse-pounding fun” (Philadelphia Inquirer), “scary and brilliant” (Toronto Globe and Mail) and “polished, riveting prose” (Chicago Tribune). Publishers Weekly has dubbed her the “medical suspense queen.”

Her series of novels featuring homicide detective Jane Rizzoli and medical examiner Maura Isles inspired the TNT television series Rizzoli & Isles starring Angie Harmon and Sasha Alexander.

Now retired from medicine, Gerritsen writes full time from her home in Camden, Maine.

David MallettDavid Mallett of Sebec, Maine, has had a music career spanning four decades. His songs, which take place in or are written about experiences of Maine have been recorded by more than 150 artists, including Pete Seeger, Alison Krauss, John Denver, Emmylou Harris and even the Muppets. His Garden Song has become an American folk classic. He has performed in town halls and folk clubs across America and Europe, in addition to major venues, such as Barns of Wolf Trap, Newport Folk Festival and Prairie Home Companion.

The Bangor Daily News recognized him as one of the 58 most memorable Mainers of the 20th century, along with Marshall Dodge, Andrew Wyeth, E.B. White, Stephen King and Edna St. Vincent Millay. He has recorded 15 albums, including The Fable True (2007), based on Thoreau’s expeditions in the Maine Woods, a spoken word CD with accompanying music.

Mallett began his musical career in Bangor at age 11, performing in a country-folk duo with his older brother Neil. He began writing songs when he was a theater student at the University of Maine. After living in Nashville for many years, Mallett returned to Maine in 1995 and established his own label, North Road Records. He continues to travel and perform on the world stage. His sons, Luke and Will, founded the six-member alt-country/rock Mallett Brothers Band in Portland, Maine.

Contact: Margaret Nagle, 207.581.3745

President Ferguson Elected Vice Chair of ACUPCC Steering Committee

Monday, April 14th, 2014

University of Maine President Paul Ferguson has been elected vice chair of the Steering Committee of the American College & University Presidents’ Climate Commitment (ACUPCC), a network of over 680 colleges and universities addressing climate change and sustainability.

President Ferguson will be working with the new chair, Wim Wiewel, president of Portland State University.

ACUPCC was launched in early 2007. It is staffed and supported by Second Nature, a Boston-based national nonprofit organization that includes colleges and universities in all 50 states and the District of Columbia, representing nearly 6.5 million students — about one third of the U.S. higher education student population. The program is led by a Steering Committee of more than 20 presidents of colleges and universities from around the country and across the breadth of higher education. The committee is responsible for guidance, policy and direction of the ACUPCC.

ACUPCC is an intensive partnership among more than 680 colleges and universities to accelerate the education, research and community engagement to equip society to restabilize the earth’s climate, while setting an example by eliminating net greenhouse gas emissions from their own operations. (presidentsclimatecommitment.org). Second Nature works to create a healthy, just, and sustainable society beginning with the transformation of higher education. Second Nature is the support organization of the American College and University Presidents’ Climate Commitment. (secondnature.org).

The Steering Committee, chaired since 2010 by Timothy White, Chancellor of the California State University system, oversaw an ACUPCC network that not only grew in participation but, by 2014, had reduced greenhouse gases by over 25 percent cumulatively across the network.

“Chairing the steering committee of such an innovative, important, and successful effort has been a privilege and a true highlight for me,” indicated Chancellor White. “It’s now even more critical than when we started the ACUPCC seven years ago, that we continue to drive progress across higher education in developing and implementing effective climate responses. President Wiewel and President Ferguson are exactly the right people to further accelerate our efforts.”

UMaine is a national leader in sustainability. Since becoming president in 2011, Dr. Ferguson has maintained a long-held commitment to engagement, inclusivity and quality. Currently, UMaine is in the third year of the Blue Sky Project, a five-year strategic plan designed to elevate the University of Maine to new levels of excellence as the most distinctively student-centered and community-engaged of the American research universities.

Portland State University has received numerous awards for its sustainability programs. Led by President Wiewel since 2008, Portland State has developed a renewed focus on expanding civic partnerships in the region and achieving a new degree of excellence through investments, such as the $25 million James F. and Marion L. Miller Foundation challenge grant for sustainability.

Both universities became ACUPCC signatory schools in 2007 — its first year of existence.

“Stepping into these roles after such incredible progress and leadership that has already been demonstrated allows us to build on a foundation that, since 2007, has enjoyed the active commitment of not only a diverse and engaged Steering Committee but also the entire network,” said President Ferguson. “ACUPCC continues to play an enormous role in helping our students thrive in the 21st century, and we aim to continue to promote and grow this effort.”

“The 680 ACUPCC institutions employing a wide variety of solutions to make sustainability a bedrock principle of society are not only rebuilding our economy but are also helping to chart a future in which prosperity, security, and health coexist easily,” said David Hales, President of Second Nature. “At Second Nature, we are thrilled that Dr. Wiewel and Dr. Ferguson have agreed to head the Steering Committee and we look forward to continuing to support the ACUPCC network and their leadership.”

UMaine is in a “smart-growth” period of sustainability. Even with essential new construction and necessary upgrades to older infrastructure, multiple building renovations and energy-efficiency upgrades have contributed to an overall reduction in energy use and greenhouse gas emissions since 2005. And thus far, the university’s sustainability initiatives have earned it national recognition.

Continued sustainability at UMaine is important because it can produce reductions in operating costs that save money for the university, community and students; promote institutional leadership by setting models for other buildings in the state and country; and create community engagement through the use of local building or energy companies.

The university is now home to five LEED-certified buildings, including three silver and one gold. It has a comprehensive campus recycling program, which includes a new, advanced composting facility, and is a participant in STARS — the Sustainability Tracking, Assessment and Rating System. Among UMaine’s recent honors and distinctions recognizing its national leadership as a green campus:

  • In 2009, UMaine developed an award-winning Campus Master Plan focused on sustainability.
  • In 2010, UMaine received a Special Recognition Award from the U.S. Green Building Council.
  • Listed in Princeton Review’s Guide to Green Colleges from 2010–2013 and named to Princeton Review’s Green Honor Roll, a list of 16–20 U.S. colleges and universities, in 2011 and 2012.
  • Recipient of the 2011 Second Nature Climate Leadership Award recognizing outstanding climate leadership. UMaine received the award representing doctoral institutions.
  • UMaine is a charter signatory of the ACUPCC and has been a member in good standing for seven years.

Contact: Margaret Nagle, 207.581.3745

UMaine Bioengineering Students Collaborate With The Jackson Laboratory, IDEXX Laboratories on Capstone Projects

Wednesday, April 9th, 2014

Three University of Maine student research teams in bioengineering are collaborating with The Jackson Laboratory in Bar Harbor and IDEXX Laboratories Inc., in Westbrook on senior capstone projects.

Working under the supervision of Professor David Neivandt, director of UMaine’s Graduate School of Biomedical Science and Engineering, and coordinator of the undergraduate bioengineering program, the bioengineering seniors are involved in semester-long capstone projects in which they develop device concepts and methods to improve biological systems that benefit society.

“In the early stages of our classes, we have a lot of canned problems,” says Jeff Servetas, Hancock, Maine, of his bioengineering coursework. Now as seniors, the students are developing solutions to open-ended questions that have not been addressed before.

Two teams are working with IDEXX — one team will work to develop a device veterinarians could use to test for ear mites in dogs, while the other team’s focus is to design a method to provide precise, accurate and rapid quantification of spot density in the IDEXX SNAP® test for screening for diseases.

“I really feel like I’m making a difference,” says Servetas of the project. “If the work I do relieves pet owner of the burden, we’re making a difference.”

Tony DiMarco, vice president for research and development at IDEXX, says working with UMaine students in co-ops and on capstone projects is enjoyable. “The students are fantastic — they jump headlong into projects and thrive on working through complex design problems, using a systematic approach that reveals their intense training. It allows us to get a head start on new projects, or explore some new areas that we might not otherwise work on,” he says.

A third bioengineering team was asked by Jackson Laboratory to develop a device to keep mice warm during embryo transplant surgery, thereby improving the success rates.

The next project in the course will send the students to Dirigo Pines in Orono, where they will be working with the residents and staff to identify problems that can be addressed with engineering solutions.

Majoring in bioengineering at UMaine means majoring in problem-solving, says Coady Richardson of Madison, Maine. “I’ve always liked puzzles and solving problems. (Bioengineering) is the most challenging program on campus,” says Richardson, adding that working with Jackson Lab mentors has taught him how to effectively communicate about research.

Having a well-rounded “toolbox” of problem-solving and communication skills with which to address bioengineering challenges is a true boon, according to the students.

“We learn to be professionals,” says Haylea Ledoux of Bedford, N.H. While communicating in different “engineering languages” is important, being able to learn in different styles has made the most difference, she says.

“It’s a big test for us to prove to ourselves that we have the knowledge and are capable of doing this,” says Ledoux.

Contact: Margaret Nagle, 207.581.3745

Discovery Theme of Award-Winning Author’s Rezendes Lecture

Wednesday, April 9th, 2014

Award-winning author Mary Doria Russell will present the 2014 John M. Rezendes Visiting Scholar in Ethics Lecture at 4 p.m. Wednesday, April 16, in Hauck Auditorium at the University of Maine.

Russell has authored five books, including the 2005 historical fiction “A Thread of Grace,” which was nominated for the Pulitzer Prize. Her talk, titled “The Age of Discovery: From Spain to Space,” is free and open to the public.

The biological anthropologist also penned the science fiction novel “The Sparrow,” which was named one of the Ten Best Books of the Year by Entertainment Weekly and was the 2013 Honors Read for UMaine’s Honors College.

“Important novels leave deep cracks in our beliefs, our prejudices, and our blinders. ‘The Sparrow’ is one of them,” reads Entertainment Weekly’s review of the book that describes a Jesuit missionary’s voyage to the planet Rakhat and his interaction with extraterrestrial life there.

Before becoming an author, Russell taught human anatomy at Case Western Reserve University School of Dental Medicine. She lives near Cleveland with her husband, Don.

The John M. Rezendes Visiting Scholar in Ethics Lecture was established in 1999 to critically engage students, faculty and the community in ethical issues of national importance.

The lecture is part of the John M. Rezendes Ethics Initiative, a program established through a gift from Dennis and Beau Rezendes, which also includes the John M. Rezendes Ethics Essay Contest open to undergraduate students at the University of Maine.

The Rezendes Scholars in 2013 and 2012, respectively, were Arthur Serota ’66, co-founder of the United Movement to End Child Soldiering; and Robert Kenner, creator of the award-winning documentary “Food, Inc. The Ethics of How We Eat.”

Contact: Beth Staples, 207.581.3777