Archive for the ‘News Releases’ Category

UMaine’s CCAR Assists in Development of Recirculating Aquaculture Technology

Monday, February 3rd, 2014

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

Monday, February 3rd, 2014

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.

UMaine Sophomore on Track With 4K for Cancer

Thursday, January 23rd, 2014

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

Thursday, January 9th, 2014

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

Wednesday, January 8th, 2014

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

Tuesday, January 7th, 2014

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

Grad Student Developing Pigment Extract From Lobster Shells to Color Fish

Tuesday, January 7th, 2014

A University of Maine graduate student is researching ways to use lobster shell waste to create a pigment extract as a green alternative to synthetic versions found in fish food.

Beth Fulton, a Ph.D. student in food science, is working with other researchers on the project that aims to use environmentally friendly solvents and methods to develop a carotenoid pigment extract from lobster shell waste generated by processing facilities. The extract would be used in food for farmed salmonid fish, such as salmon and trout.

“I feel this project could lead to a really simple answer to a lot of problems that we have in Maine at the same time,” Fulton says, noting that decreasing waste and disposal costs by recycling secondary processing resources could have a positive effect on the fishing industry and communities.

Lobster shells are rich in carotenoid pigments — yellow to red pigments found in plants and animals — that can’t be synthesized in salmonid fish but can be used as a natural colorant in food. Farmed salmonid fish get their color from their diet, which contains commercial pigments that may include synthetic carotenoids from petroleum products, dried copepods, whole yeast and algae, or oil extracts from krill. Fulton says 15 percent of salmon feed cost comes from the commercial pigment alone.

“This pigment can potentially replace artificial color in common food products like farmed salmon feeds, and increase the value of whole lobsters,” Fulton says.

Fulton of Lee, N.H., has been working on the project since 2011, primarily with her faculty adviser Denise Skonberg, an associate professor of food science at UMaine. After citing Skonberg’s research in her master’s thesis at the University of New Hampshire, Fulton decided she wanted to attend UMaine to earn her Ph.D. under Skonberg’s guidance. Fulton also has a bachelor’s degree in food science from Cornell University.

When Fulton first came to UMaine, Skonberg suggested she look at what seafood byproducts are getting thrown away in the state and determine usable and efficient food uses for them.

“When we process lobsters — which are 70 percent of this state’s fishing income — we throw away almost 80 percent of the animal, including shell and organs,” Fulton says.

Fulton took Skonberg’s advice and related it to what she had learned while completing her master’s work on green crabs. During that research, she was fascinated by the adult crabs’ ability to change color from orange to green-blue every year.

“That color change is not very well understood, but has been attributed to interactions between proteins and carotenoids in the shell,” Fulton says. “So I started reading a lot about the pigments in lobster shell because they are similar to the ones seen in green crabs.”

In lobster shell, the main pigment is a red-colored carotenoid called astaxanthin, which when bound to a protein called crustacyanin is a blue-green color, she says.

“I started reading a lot about astaxanthin and found there is a very large market for this pigment, and most of the stuff we use in our salmon food is made artificially from petroleum products that are not extracted from natural sources. Consumers are becoming aware of that and are demanding natural colors,” Fulton says.

Fulton is currently examining different methods of removing minerals from lobster shells. She studies a variety of factors, such as how fine the shell needs to be ground, what type of food-grade chemicals should be used, how the shell should be exposed to the chemicals and what type of agitation should be used to maximize the removal of minerals.

She plans to determine the best treatment for pressurized liquid extraction and then look at the effect removing the minerals has on both cooked and high-pressure shucked waste.

Once the extract is developed, it will be assessed for total carotenoid content, carotenoid profile and antioxidant activity. The researchers also propose the extract will then be added to food for rainbow trout, and the effectiveness of the extract in coloring the fish will be studied in comparison to a conventional synthetic pigment.

After Fulton graduates in 2016, she plans to work in the seafood industry.

The project has received a $4,800 Maine Agricultural Center grant, and Fulton has received a $3,000 graduate student award from the Northeast Section of the Institute of Food Technologists for related research. The group recently applied for a grant to fund the project titled “Green production methods for a high-value product from lobster shell waste.” The proposed study would last two years starting in June 2014.

Contact: Elyse Kahl, 207.581.3747

Provost Jeff Hecker Focuses on Goals for Faculty and Student Success

Monday, January 6th, 2014

Dr. Jeff Hecker, University of Maine Executive Vice President of Academic Affairs and Provost, is enthusiastic about his role in facilitating implementation of the Blue Sky Plan — the university’s blueprint to become a nationwide leader among America’s research universities in student success, achievement and community engagement.

UMaine President Paul Ferguson named Hecker to this position in July. He replaces Susan Hunter, who was named Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs for the University of Maine System.

Provost Hecker, the former Dean of the UMaine College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, says his challenge is to manage the day-to-day operations of the Academic Affairs division while keeping an eye on the big picture — communicating long-range, mission-driven goals, and moving Blue Sky Plan initiatives forward in collaboration with faculty, other Cabinet members and the broader UMaine community.

Hecker describes the Blue Sky Plan unveiled in October 2011 as unified, ambitious, focused and inclusive. He is primarily focused on those initiatives that relate to the academic affairs agenda that are integral to each of the five major Blue Sky Pathways.

“The heart of UMaine’s mission is undergraduate education. As we pursue our research, community engagement and graduate education goals, we can’t lose sight of that core mission,” he says. “The beauty of the Blue Sky Plan is that it is at once aspirational and pragmatic. We are committed to growth as Maine’s land grant research university and equally committed to pursue excellence in our core mission.”

Provost Hecker and Associate Provost for Academic Affairs Jeff St. John are leading the campus in addressing a number of the Blue Sky Strategic Initiatives related to academic affairs. The newly reconstituted University Teaching Council and several Blue Sky Advisory Teams are assisting them in addressing a number of priority issues.

Faculty Development is at the top of the list. Those initiatives include promotion of best practices in the classroom, labs and studios, creating faculty development opportunities for the more than 100 adjunct faculty UMaine employs every year, enhancing online teaching quality, and launching the new Blue Sky Faculty Fellows Program to develop the next generation of faculty leaders and university spokespeople.

Due to significant enrollment increases, particularly in engineering and sciences, Provost Hecker is also exploring a new initiative to bring postdoctoral fellows to UMaine as Visiting Assistant Professors.

During their two- to-three-year fixed-length appointments, the visiting faculty will hone their teaching and research skills to prepare themselves for careers in academia. At the same time, they will help address the need for high-quality instruction in high-demand areas, such as mathematics, English and laboratory sciences.

The idea, Hecker says, is to create opportunities that benefit both the postdoctoral faculty member and UMaine. “These positions could be an important piece of the puzzle,” Hecker says. “We are exploring cost-effective ways of meeting our students’ needs for quality, innovative instruction.”

A second Blue Sky emphasis for Provost Hecker is student success. He is leading a multipronged approach to improve the four- and six-year graduation rates by 10 percent by 2017. “Relative to our peers, we do well,” he says, adding that UMaine’s four-year graduation rate is about 40 percent and its six-year rate is about 60 percent. “But we can do better.”

An advisory group is gathering data about factors that impact whether students remain enrolled, including affordability; timely access to courses they need; and quality of their campus experience.

Dr. St. John, says Provost Hecker, is also working on the UMaine Blue Sky Plan Pathway 2 initiative to improve annual student retention by 5 percent by 2017. From 2011–12, UMaine succeeded in that effort — 81 percent of the 2012 cohort of first-time, full-time students stayed in school, which was a 5 percent improvement from the 2011 cohort, according to the University of Maine Office of Institutional Research. The challenge is to maintain that improvement.

Lastly, Provost Hecker and Faculty Senate President Harlan Onsrud are working collaboratively to create a process of inventorying UMaine’s academic programs to better define UMaine’s strengths and opportunities. By jointly hosting Academic Affairs Faculty Forums in which faculty members discuss academic initiatives and how to best advance strategic goals, the university is engaging in an open process that will help to guide investments central to future success.

“It’s fantastic having an opportunity like this,” Hecker says. “This is my 28th year of employment here and I am thrilled to be in a leadership role, helping UMaine achieve its goals.”

Contact: Beth Staples, 207.581.3777

UMaine Senior to Direct a Benefit Production Featuring 90 Musicians and Vocalists

Friday, January 3rd, 2014

Nearly 90 musicians and vocalists will take the stage Friday, Jan. 17 when the University of Maine School of Performing Arts presents the student-directed production, “An Evening of Rodgers and Hammerstein Classics.”

The 7:30 p.m. event in Hauck Auditorium, directed by UMaine music education senior Ben McNaboe of Yarmouth, will showcase a full symphony orchestra of nearly 50 musicians and 40 vocalists, all of whom are UMaine students, faculty and alumni.

“The program is made up of music from all of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s biggest shows,” says McNaboe. “I think a lot of people have this initial reaction of it being old or out-of-date music, but to me, and I think to a lot of people in the musical theater community, it’s timeless.”

The program will feature 22 selections from such award-winning American musicals as “The Sound of Music,” “The King and I,” “South Pacific,” “Oklahoma!,” “State Fair” and “Carousel.” The event will also feature vocal performances by the university’s premier a cappella ensembles — Maine Steiners and Renaissance. The groups will perform “There is Nothing Like a Dame” and “Do-Re-Mi,” respectively.

UMaine music faculty members flutist Liz Downing and pianist Laura Artesani will perform in the symphony orchestra. The experienced orchestra had its first rehearsal Dec. 8, while the vocalists began rehearsing in November.

UMaine business management junior Morgan Cates of Camden, Maine, will host the event.

Tickets are $22 and available from the Collins Center box office. Ticket information is available at 207.581.1755 or tickets.collinscenterforthearts.org. For more information about the performance or to request a disability accommodation, call 207.581.1781. The event’s snow date is Sunday, Jan. 19 at 2 p.m.

All proceeds will benefit the UMaine’s School of Performing Arts (SPA) to enhance funding for musical and theater tours, instrument repairs and equipment purchases.

“The initial idea to do the project wasn’t as much about raising money,” says McNaboe, who began planning the event a year ago. “It came from this place of identifying that we really don’t collaborate across mediums as much as we should. This is a chance to get a large number of SPA students together in a situation where all of us are working together, between the orchestra and the vocalists on stage, to make this project happen.”

To view the event on Facebook, visit facebook.com/events/1401074010132734.

Contact: Maria NeCastro, 207.581.3743 or Monique Hashey, 207.581.4721

Steneck: Understanding Species Interactions Key to Fisheries Management

Friday, January 3rd, 2014

University of Maine marine scientist Bob Steneck participated in a Florida State University-led study that recommends a paradigm shift for fisheries science and management.

The study spearheaded by FSU biology professor Joe Travis advocates that fisheries experts and managers consider how overfishing and environmental changes disrupt species interactions and alter ecosystems, including pushing some ecosystems past their tipping points.

“In order to succeed, fisheries management must focus on species interactions,” says Steneck, a professor based at UMaine’s Darling Marine Center in Walpole.

Historically, Steneck says, fisheries science has focused on population dynamics, sustainable yields and influences of biological and oceanographic processes on fisheries.

“By incorporating a more ecological approach, we argue that managers can better understand the dynamics of a fishery, and which species interactions, if affected, can push the ecosystems that house a fishery past its tipping point,” he says.

The loss of one major species from an ecosystem can have severe and unintended consequences because of the connections between that species and others in the system. These changes often occur rapidly and unexpectedly and are difficult to reverse, say the researchers.

“You don’t realize how interdependent species are until it all unravels,” says study co-author Felicia Coleman, director of Florida State University Coastal and Marine Laboratory.

One case study looks at the collapse of sardine and anchovy stocks — partially as a result of overfishing — in the 1970s in the Northern Benguela ecosystem off Namibia. Subsequently, the far less calorie-rich bearded goby and jellyfish flourished. African penguins and gannets that had preyed on energy-rich sardines and anchovies, have suffered, say the researchers. African penguins and gannets have declined by 77 percent and 94 percent, respectively.

In addition, Cape hake and deep-water hake production plummeted from 725,000 metric tons in 1972 to 110,000 metric tons in 1990, say the researchers, and the population of Cape fur seals has dramatically fluctuated.

In Europe, Steneck points to the Atlantic cod stock’s seeming inability to rebound from overfishing. Currently, the cod’s former prey, a small fish called sprat, has become hyperabundant to the point that it preys on larval cod.

Closer to home, the decimation of cod and other large predatory species also resulted in a proliferation of sea urchins. In the late 1980s, a sea urchin fishery subsequently developed and boomed, but by the mid- to late-1990s, overfishing had decimated that industry.

With sea urchin stocks depleted, the macroalgae eaten by sea urchins increased substantially. This, in turn, created an ideal habitat for crabs, which are major predators of sea urchins.

In the same ecosystem, Steneck says declines in soft-shell clams are due to an explosion of non-native green crabs. “All of these examples result from strong ecological interactions that are not captured in most fisheries management models,” he says.

While it’s easy to write off one such case study, Travis says taken all together, the paper is a compelling case that “tipping points are real, we’ve crossed them in many ecosystems, and we’ll cross more of them unless we can get this problem under control.”

Steneck agrees. “Our paper provides case studies from all over the world illustrating how a chain of events taken with an appreciation for species interactions can contribute to complex problems in fisheries management,” he says.

The study, titled “Integrating the invisible fabric of nature into fisheries management,” was published in the Dec. 23, 2013 issue of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Travis and Coleman say they hope the research accelerates changes in how fisheries scientists approach ecosystem problems and how fisheries managers integrate system issues into their efforts.

The researchers recommend that more effort be devoted to understanding links between species that set up tipping points in ecosystems and they advised managers be cognizant of data that indicates when a system could be approaching its tipping point.

“It’s a lot easier to back up to avoid a tipping point before you get to it than it is to find a way to return once you’ve crossed it,” Travis says.

Fishing experts generally understand how overfishing affects other species and the ecosystem as a whole but it “needs to be a bigger part of the conversation and turned into action,” Coleman says.

Seven other scientists from the University of Connecticut, University of California-Berkeley, University of California-Santa Cruz, University of Chicago, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and the Centre de Recherche Halieutique Méditerranéenne et Tropicale in France participated in the study.

Contact: Beth Staples, 207.581.3777