Archive for the ‘Outreach’ Category

Learn to Cook for Crowds

Wednesday, August 6th, 2014

University of Maine Cooperative Extension will offer a Cooking for Crowds food safety training workshop in Augusta and Skowhegan twice during September.

The Augusta workshops will be offered 1–5 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 11 and Tuesday, Sept. 23 on the third floor of the UMaine Extension Kennebec County office, 125 State St. The Skowhegan workshops will be held 1–5 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 16 and Tuesday, Sept. 30 at the UMaine Extension Somerset County office, 7 County Drive (off Norridgewock Avenue), in Skowhegan.

Crystal Hamilton, nutrition and food systems professional, will instruct volunteer quantity cooks on methods for safely preparing, handling and serving food for large groups of people, including at soup kitchens, church functions, food pantries and community fundraisers. The workshop meets the Good Shepherd Food Bank food safety training requirements. Guideline topics include planning and purchasing, storing food supplies, preparing food, transporting, storing and serving cooked foods, and handling leftovers.

Cost is $15 per person; scholarships are available. Register online or call 207.622.7546 (for Augusta) or 207.474.9622 (for Skowhegan). For more information, or to request a disability accommodation, call Diana Hartley at 207.622.7546 or 800.287.1481 (in Maine) for the Augusta workshops, and Tammy Bodge-Terry at 207.474.9622 or 800.287.1495 (in Maine) for the Skowhegan course.

UMaine Researchers Studying Availability of Iron in Ocean, Primary Production

Wednesday, August 6th, 2014

Understanding why phytoplankton — the base of the food web — are not able to use all the iron in seawater is the focus of a three-year study by University of Maine researchers.

Mark Wells, a marine science professor at UMaine, is leading the project that will look at how the chemistry of iron in seawater is controlled by tiny particles, where the particles are most important, and how the chemistry of the particles affects the ability of phytoplankton to grow on iron in seawater.

Oceans contribute about 50 percent of the world’s photosynthesis, with the majority coming from marine phytoplankton, Wells says. The growth of the single-celled organisms in many ocean regions is limited by the availability of micronutrient iron.

The researchers will meld chemistry, physics and biology to learn more about dissolved iron in the ocean that is tied up in colloidal particles, which are too small for gravity to control, and therefore don’t sink in seawater.

“The question is whether the marine colloids are releasing iron, or gathering it up, and this pattern almost certainly will change for different waters,” Wells says. “It is like a Tic Tac container. The Tic Tacs are there but you have to wait for the container to release them before you can eat them.”

Bioavailable iron is an essential nutrient for shaping the distribution and composition of marine phytoplankton production, as well as the magnitude of ocean carbon export, the researchers say. Iron exists in many phases in the ocean and colloidal, or nonsoluble, phases account for a significant portion of dissolved iron.

The colloidal phase of iron may serve as a biological source of stored iron, according to the researchers, but the physical and chemical characteristics of these phases are presently poorly understood.

“We know the particles are there, but we haven’t had the techniques to really see them in a technical way, and that’s what makes this project unique,” Wells says.

To better understand this key part of iron cycling, researchers will use new analytical chemistry methods to quantitatively separate the colloidal iron sizes present in a sample and measure the composition of the colloidal portions in shelf and oceanic waters.They will use flow field-flow fractionation (flow FFF) with multi-angle laser light scattering to make measurements of the uniformity or uniqueness of the colloidal size spectrum, as well as the physical and chemical characteristics of the phases. Flow FFF, according to Wells, uses flow in thin streams along a membrane to separate small particles by size.

“Researchers in the past have just used filters, but filters aren’t a very efficient way to separate size,” Wells says.

Using this method will allow the researchers to learn more about the shape, size range and chemical composition of the particles.

“A mixture of particle sizes go in one end of the channel but particles come out the other in order of their size. We can use the method to determine what particle sizes have the most iron in them,” Wells says.

The findings will aid future studies to better link the source and fate of iron in the marine environment, according to the researchers, who also expect the project will have broad implications in the fields of marine ecology and biogeochemistry and to modeling studies of ocean-atmospheric coupling and climate change.

“This study will help us understand where iron will be more available and less available in the oceans, which will help us understand why ocean productivity is lower in some areas than others,” Wells says.

The project, “Assessment of the colloidal iron size spectrum in coastal and oceanic waters” recently received a $269,334 grant from the National Science Foundation.

A former UMaine postdoctoral researcher, who is now a Texas A&M University professor, will serve as a principal investigator on the project that also will support the education and research training of one undergraduate student each year. The researchers plan to conduct outreach activities to K–12 students and teachers.

Contact: Elyse Kahl, 207.581.3747

Media Report on $18M Grant Awarded to Network for Biomedical Research, Workforce Training

Tuesday, August 5th, 2014

The Associated Press, Maine Public Broadcasting Network, WLBZ (Channel 2), WABI (Channel 5) and WVII (Channel 7) reported on an event held at the MDI Biological Laboratory in Bar Harbor on Aug. 4 where Sen. Susan Collins joined leaders from colleges and research institutions across Maine as well as dozens of Maine college students to celebrate the receipt of an $18.4 million grant from the National Institutes of Health. The five-year award aims to strengthen biomedical research and hands-on workforce training in Maine through the continuation of the Maine IDeA Network of Biomedical Research Excellence (INBRE), a collaborative network of 13 Maine research institutions, universities and colleges led by the MDI Biological Laboratory. The University of Maine and UMaine’s Honors College are part of the network. Anne Campbell, who graduated from UMaine in 2012 with degrees in chemistry and biochemistry, spoke with MPBN about her experience with the program. As a member of UMaine’s Honors College, she took a weeklong course at MDI Bio Lab on functional genomics, which was paid for by Maine INBRE. Campbell said during that course she met her thesis adviser, and was able to develop a thesis project. The Portland Press Herald carried the AP report.

Sen. Collins, Researchers Celebrate $18M Grant for Biomedical Research, Workforce Training

Monday, August 4th, 2014

Sen. Susan Collins joined leaders from colleges and research institutions across Maine as well as dozens of Maine college students at the MDI Biological Laboratory in Bar Harbor on Aug. 4 to celebrate the receipt of an $18.4 million grant from the National Institutes of Health.

The five-year award aims to strengthen biomedical research and hands-on workforce training in Maine through the continuation of the Maine IDeA Network of Biomedical Research Excellence (INBRE), a collaborative network of 13 Maine research institutions, universities and colleges led by the MDI Biological Laboratory. The University of Maine and UMaine’s Honors College are part of the network.

“The INBRE program is a powerful instrument for bringing educational institutions from Fort Kent to South Portland together to build on their collective strengths and help our state be more competitive nationally,” Collins said at the event. “Since it began in 2001, INBRE has brought more than $100 million in federal funds into Maine. It has strengthened our state’s research infrastructure and trained more than 2,000 Maine students in biomedical research techniques.”

The full MDI Biological Laboratory news release is online.

WVII Interviews Mowdy, 4-H Members at Bangor State Fair

Monday, August 4th, 2014

Brenda Mowdy, a 4-H community education assistant with University of Maine Cooperative Extension, and 4-H members were featured in a WVII (Channel 7) report on the group’s work at the Bangor State Fair. “In order to be a state fair, you have to have an agricultural emphasis, and we are it,” Mowdy said of the organization that teaches youth about agriculture.

Master Gardener Volunteer Training to be Held in Machias

Monday, August 4th, 2014

University of Maine Cooperative Extension’s Master Gardener Volunteer training begins from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 2, at the Washington County UMaine Extension office, 28 Center St., Machias.

The 40-hour course provides intensive instruction on growing fruits and vegetables. In exchange for the training, participants volunteer their time and expertise in gardening-related community projects.

Cost is $220; limited scholarships are available. Monday, Aug. 25 is the application deadline. For more information, or to request an application or disability accommodation, call 800.287.1542 or email tara.a.wood@maine.edu.

Meet the Black Bears Free Football Clinic Aug. 20

Monday, August 4th, 2014

The University of Maine football team will host its annual Meet the Black Bears free football clinic at 6 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 20 at Alfond Stadium.

All ages are welcome. Participants will have the opportunity to meet players and coaches, get posters and autographs, and enjoy pizza provided by Dominos.

Register by calling John Diamond at 207.581.1086 or emailing john.diamond@maine.edu. A video of last year’s event is online

Black Bear Football season tickets are on sale starting at $40. The Family Pack, which includes two adult tickets and three youth tickets, is $165. Call 581.BEAR or visit the Go Black Bears website to order.

WVII Covers UMaine Paddleboarding on Stillwater River

Friday, August 1st, 2014

WVII (Channel 7) reported on paddleboarding offered by the University of Maine’s Maine Bound on the Stillwater River. The activity is offered every Thursday evening during the summer for $5. Kaitlyn Fowle, Maine Bound coordinator, told WVII the activity isn’t just for students. “We definitely love having the community here,” Fowle said. “The past three or four weeks we’ve had tons of families with kids, and they’re just a blast.”

UMaine Extension Serves up ‘Dining with Diabetes Down East’

Thursday, July 31st, 2014

University of Maine Cooperative Extension’s free Dining with Diabetes Down East series starts Wednesday, Oct. 1 at HealthWays Regional Medical Center at Lubec. The series continues Oct. 8, 15 and 22. All sessions are from 10 a.m. to noon at the medical center, 43 South Lubec Road.

The community-based program is intended to complement medical care by teaching people with Type 2 diabetes and prediabetes, as well as their family members and caregivers, how to select and prepare foods that help control blood sugar, cholesterol and blood pressure. UMaine Extension registered dietitian and nutritionist Alan Majka will make presentations, lead discussion and prepare nutritious food.

To register, or to request a disability accommodation, call 207.255.3345, 800.287.1542 (in Maine) or complete a confidential online preregistration survey. When 10 preregistrations have been recorded, a series will be scheduled in the Columbia/Milbridge area. To express interest in the series being offered elsewhere in Washington County, and for more information, contact Majka at 255.3345 or alan.majka@maine.edu.

Writer’s Toolbox

Wednesday, July 30th, 2014

Taking apart a broken laptop, learning how to repair it and putting it back together is a typical exercise in one University of Maine English class. For students in the technical editing and document design course, learning how to diagnose and repair electronics is essential to writing about the process in the form of easy-to-use consumer guides.

Since 2011, students in Charlsye Diaz’s class have been required to create an e-manual for iFixit, a website that offers free step-by-step guides to help consumers repair devices to keep more electronics in use and out of landfills. During the fall 2014 semester, Diaz’s students will write manuals for toys.

“This experience is important because it is messy,” says Diaz, an associate professor of English and coordinator of UMaine’s professional and technical writing program. “When things ‘fall apart’ or the projects don’t go as well as I would like, I love it. Because they’ll face those obstacles on the job every day.”

Students work with iFixit’s technical writers to adhere to the company’s guidelines. They receive feedback from someone besides the professor while working in a supportive classroom setting.

IFixit was started in 2003 by two Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo students who struggled to fix an iBook without instructions. In 2009, the company started the iFixit Technical Writing Program as a way to engage students with a hands-on, repair-focused technical writing project. Students from 20 universities — including UMaine — have created 5,000 repair guides for electronics, which have helped more than nine million people fix their devices, according to the company’s website.

Diaz says the project also benefits potential employers by sending students into the workforce with real-world experience.

“It’s one thing to go to an interview and claim to be able to write instructions because you practiced during a class assignment. It’s another thing to say you took apart a scanner and wrote instructions for replacing the scanner lamp and then provide a link to a published guide that people use,” Diaz says.

KC Collins Cook, a 2013 UMaine graduate who earned a bachelor’s degree in English with a concentration in professional and technical writing, is now an information developer for IBM in North Carolina. She says every day she applies the knowledge she learned from Diaz’s classes.

“My core understanding of technical documentation began in her classrooms, and it gave me a foundation to build on and innovate with my fellow IBMers,” Cook says. “From grammar to design software to how people read; it’s all vital to my job. In fact, all of my textbooks are in my desk for reference when I need them.”

Although many of Diaz’s students find aspects of the iFixit project challenging — learning how to take apart small devices, take photos without shadows and follow iFixit’s criteria — most are proud of the end result, she says.

“Some students embrace the project and really thrive working with and writing about small electronics. Others dislike it because the project falls outside their comfort zone,” Diaz says. “Who needs a toolbox for a writing class?”

The positive feedback comes later, Diaz says. Students have told her they’ve talked about their experience during interviews and appreciate having a professional portfolio piece.

“During the project, I see their confidence skyrocket,” she says.

An education in professional and technical writing is important, Diaz says, because almost everyone has to write at work in the form of reports, memos or emails. Professional writers take these skills a step further and learn to design documents, write for the Internet and edit — skills Maine employers seek, she says.

Professional writing is offered as a minor to any UMaine student, and English majors can concentrate in professional and technical writing. Diaz says graduates work in several areas including technology, marketing, health care, research and development, government, law, magazines and museums. She says most students find work within six months of graduation, and most have jobs before they graduate.

Since Cook began her full-time job in September 2012, she has seen IBM hire two more professional and technical writing students from UMaine.

“If you go in with a thirst to work, your resume and experience will be soundly rewarded,” Cook says. “We leave campus with a competitive skill set that sets us apart from other new college graduates in our field.”

More information about iFixit and the iFixit Technical Writing Program is online.