WVII (Channel 7) and the Bangor Daily News reported on research being conducted collaboratively at the University of Maine and Eastern Maine Medical Center on drug-affected babies after Gov. Paul LePage put the spotlight on the growing problem during his radio address. Marie Hayes, a psychology professor at UMaine, and Dr. Mark Brown, chief of pediatrics and director of nurseries at EMMC, spoke to WVII about the problem of substance-exposed newborns in the state and the need for more research.
Archive for the ‘Research’ Category
The National Science Foundation’s website Research.gov published an article on research by a Maine Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (EPSCoR) Sustainability Solutions Initiative (SSI) team at the University of Maine. The team is developing tools to help Maine communities better understand and prepare for the potential local effects of climate change. NSF is funding the project.
The Associated Press, Renewable Energy News, Bangor Daily News and Mainebiz reported the University of Maine and its partner companies have released additional details about their offshore wind project proposal. Maine Aqua Ventus released information about plans to supply power directly to Monhegan Island. Jeffrey Thaler, assistant university counsel and a visiting professor of energy policy, law and ethics at UMaine, told the AP the project aims to provide power to the island where residents currently have high energy costs due to their reliance on generators. Jake Ward, UMaine’s vice president for innovation and economic development, said the proposal highlights the university and its partner companies’ strong approach that they believe gives them a good shot at winning a $46 million federal energy grant. The Boston Herald, Sun Journal, WLBZ (Channel 2), Tri-City Herald, Miami Herald, Recharge News, Portland Press Herald and Bloomberg Businessweek were among organizations to carry the AP report. The BDN also published an editorial on the project and Before it’s News mentioned the project in the article “Offshore wind experiences its best growth in 2013.”
Research by Dorothy Klimis-Zacas, a clinical nutritionist and professor at the University of Maine, was recently published in the journal Applied Physiology, Nutrition, and Metabolism. Klimis-Zacas’ found eating 2 cups of wild blueberries a day for two months can improve metabolism of fat, reduce chronic inflammation and lower LDL cholesterol. She also found a diet enriched with the fruit can normalize gene expression of inflammatory markers and those related to lipid and lipoprotein metabolism. NRC Research Press, Allvoices.com, Examiner.com, News Medical and Science Codex reported on the journal article and research findings.
The Bangor Daily News reported officials connected to the University of Maine’s offshore floating wind turbine will meet with residents of three coastal towns — Friendship, Bristol and Port Clyde — to outline early plans for a power transmission line that might pass through one of their communities in the future. Jake Ward, UMaine’s vice president for innovation and economic development, said UMaine representatives will present possible locations of where the line could come ashore and that research is continuing to determine a location. He added the line is a “fairly small transmission line, not too different from what you’d see on a utility pole.”
Habib Dagher, director of the University of Maine’s Advanced Structures and Composites Center and leader of the DeepCwind Consortium, was featured in an episode of 207 on WLBZ (Channel 2). Dagher spoke about the consortium’s mission to establish Maine as a national leader in deepwater offshore wind technology. In May, the Advanced Structures and Composites Center launched VolturnUS 1:8, the first grid-connected offshore wind turbine to be deployed off the coast of North America.
The Portland Daily Sun reported on a study by Richard Powell, an associate professor of political science at the University of Maine, that found opposition to same-sex marriage is greater on Election Day than indicated in pre-election polls. Powell’s study states the reason for the discrepancy is that people being surveyed tend to say they’ll vote the way they think is socially desirable, regardless of their real position on the issue.
Paul Mayewski, a professor and director of the University of Maine’s Climate Change Institute, and George Jacobson, state climatologist and professor emeritus of biology, ecology and climate change at UMaine, were quoted in a Morning Sentinel article about a climate change forum held at Kennebec Valley Community College. The pair spoke about the importance of climate change and the technical aspects of how climates have evolved in various parts of the world. The symposium was organized by the Mid-Maine Climate Adaptation Working Group and focused on the effects of climate disruption on our health, the economy, extreme weather events, the sea level and our water supply.
The research of Daria Bednarczyk, a Connecticut native and University of Maine senior studying marine science, was featured in a New Britain Herald article. Last year, Bednarczyk and another student spent three months on the island of South Caicos interviewing almost 50 fishermen, marine officers, business owners and residents about their fishing practices. In two weeks, the pair was able to put a total economic value on the fishing industry. Bednarczyk’s work abroad was also featured at the 26th annual International Congress for Conservation Biology this past July.
Two UMaine Researchers Team with UC Berkeley Professor to Study Effects of Turbulence on Cells’ Sinking Rate, Trajectory, DistributionTuesday, November 5th, 2013
Two University of Maine researchers are teaming up with a University of California-Berkeley professor to study the sinking rate and trajectories of phytoplankton in relation to particle shape and water turbulence. Phytoplankton provide the food supply at the base of the marine food web and help maintain the health of the atmosphere by absorbing and sequestering carbon dioxide and producing oxygen.
Lee Karp-Boss, a marine scientist and associate professor in the UMaine School of Marine Sciences, is a principal investigator of the project along with Evan Variano, a researcher in the Civil and Environmental Engineering Department at UC Berkeley. Pete Jumars, a UMaine professor of marine sciences and oceanography who is based at the Darling Marine Center (DMC), is a co-principal investigator of the study.
The National Science Foundation recently awarded $409,035 to the UMaine researchers and $315,869 to Variano for the three-year project that began in September 2013.
The purpose of the study, “Collaborative Research: Trajectories and spatial distributions of diatoms at dissipation scales of turbulence,” is to create a better understanding of how turbulence and particle shape affect the sinking velocity and paths of phytoplankton — specifically diatoms.
“Phytoplankton are microscopic organisms that are responsible for food production in the ocean and they account for about half of the oxygen that we breathe,” Karp-Boss says of the plant-like organisms.
Since phytoplankton are photosynthetic organisms and need light, they grow in the upper layer of the water column in oceans where turbulence caused by wind and waves prevails. Many phytoplankton types either can’t swim or have a limited swimming ability and are at the mercy of turbulence.
Turbulence mixes the cells, and if it’s strong and deep enough, transports them out of the illuminated upper layer of the ocean, or photic zone.
“That mixing affects the light fields they experience and that will ultimately determine rates of photosynthesis and production in the ocean,” Karp-Boss says.
Cell components have densities larger than seawater and therefore tend to sink. If phytoplankton sink too quickly, they exit the illuminated zone. Cells that settle away from the photic zone too deep serve as a food supply for organisms in the deep ocean. A fraction of these settling cells may get buried in sediments, effectively removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere into the interior of the ocean, which explains the interest in the rate phytoplankton sinks, Jumars and Karp-Boss say.
Simple turbulence operates in all directions, carrying phytoplankton up and down. Scientists originally assumed a cell would move up or down at the same average speed in turbulence as it would in still water, but results have shown otherwise. Whether they sink or rise, more intense turbulence makes them move quicker. However, the methods used in the last decade give little insight into the mechanisms behind this acceleration, according to the UMaine researchers.
Studies conducted by atmospheric scientists have found key components of turbulence are the small eddies or vortices whose friction with the surrounding fluid — air or water — drains away the kinetic energy in turbulence. These eddies spin small water droplets out and make them more likely to collide, Jumars says.
Those findings don’t tell the whole story for phytoplankton because it doesn’t explain how buoyant particles are accelerated upward by turbulence. Testing this requires the ability to track individual phytoplankton cells in three dimensions as they move through eddies.
That’s why Karp-Boss and Jumars teamed with Variano, the UC Berkeley researcher, who with colleagues has developed a system that allows scientists to look at the trajectories of thousands of individual particles as they move.
Variano has developed a borescope with a double iris and video camera that gives the instrument binocular vision and captures the 3-D position of the cell.
“If you capture many quick snapshots, you can put all the frames together and see how this particle is moving in the water. If you calculate the distance and you know the time between frames, you can get velocity. You can also see whether their trajectories are straight or curved and how they settle or rise in the water. It gives us more information than just looking at mean sinking speeds of a population,” Karp-Boss says.
Most of the particles researchers have studied are spherical, while particles in nature are a variety of other shapes.
“Diatoms exhibit a striking morphological diversity, and we argue the shape of the particles will determine the trajectory and how fast they settle,” Karp-Boss says.
Karp-Boss and Jumars hope the project will also teach researchers more about the effects of turbulence on the distribution of phytoplankton cells. Whether the cells are randomly distributed or group together to form patches carries important implications to foraging strategies of grazers that feed on the cells. Turbulence is likely to play a role, but the underlying mechanisms are not yet fully understood.
The researchers will work together at both institutions throughout the project. The tanks design and construction, as well as characterization of the turbulent flows, will be done at UC Berkeley, while the experiments and analysis will be completed at UMaine.
In addition to their research, the PIs plan to hold a workshop at UMaine’s DMC in Walpole, Maine to bring together students from various departments who have similar interests in the dynamics of particles in flows.
“These types of questions are of interest to many STEM fields including engineering, physics, atmospheric science and — of course — oceanography. Learning from each other’s approaches, models and measurements can greatly enhance understanding of how particles and flows interact,” Karp-Boss says.
Convening students from different fields who deal with particles in turbulent flows at earlier stages of their careers will hopefully give them an opportunity to form lifelong interactions and collaborations across fields. Karp-Boss and Jumars met Variano at a similar conference devoted to this range of topics.
Contact: Elyse Kahl, 207.581.3747