The Scotsman Reports on Biodiversity Research Findings by McGill, Others

April 18th, 2014 11:38 AM

The Scotsman reported on the recently published findings of a biodiversity research project led by the University of St. Andrews in collaboration with researchers from around the world, including Brian McGill, an associate professor of ecological modeling at the University of Maine. The researchers found that despite fears of a global biodiversity crisis, there has been no consistent drop in the number of species seen locally around the world. The research into 100 communities and a total of 35,000 species found that while there were major changes in species found in any one place, the total number of plants and animals did not significantly change. The findings were published in the journal Science.

WLBZ Interviews Rice About Cate Street Capital’s Thermogen Project

April 18th, 2014 11:37 AM

WLBZ (Channel 2) spoke with Robert Rice, a professor of wood science and technology at the University of Maine, for a report on the scrutiny surrounding a proposed $25 million Finance Authority of Maine (FAME) loan that would support Cate Street Capital’s Thermogen Project that aims to build a pellet mill in Millinocket that uses new, steam-based technology. Rice, a consultant to FAME on the project, says the new method is a radical change, but is an improvement in technology. He warned Thermogen will need about three times as much biomass to make pellets using steam, which has to be taken into account.

Lawmakers Support Bond for UMaine Cooperative Extension Lab, AP Reports

April 18th, 2014 11:37 AM

The Associated Press reported Maine’s Legislature approved roughly $50 million in bond proposals as it wrapped up for the session. One of the six approved bond proposals includes borrowing $8 million to renovate and improve a University of Maine Cooperative Extension lab that assists farmers and foresters and identifies pests, as well as plant and animal diseases. WABI (Channel 5) and seattlepi.com also carried the AP report.

Research by McGill, Others Challenge Understanding of Biodiversity Crisis

April 18th, 2014 11:36 AM

The University of St. Andrews in Scotland reported on the findings of a biodiversity research project that were recently published in the journal Science.

The project, which was led by the University of St. Andrews in collaboration with researchers from around the world — including the University of Maine’s Brian McGill — found that despite fears of a global biodiversity crisis, there has been no consistent drop in the number of species found locally around the world.

The research into 100 communities and a total of 35,000 species — from trees to starfish — found that while there were major changes in species found in any one place, the total number of plants and animals did not significantly change, according to the release.

The researchers, who were surprised by the findings, say the study should not detract from the threat many of the world’s species are under, but that policymakers should focus on changes in biodiversity composition, as well as loss, the release states.

“Conservation scientists will need to shift from just talking about how many species are found in a place to talking about which species are found in a place,” said McGill, an associate professor of ecological modeling. “Put simply, species composition changed more often than species number, and these kinds of changes should be a focus for future study.”

The full news release is online.

2014 Maine Studies Research and Creativity Award Winners Announced

April 18th, 2014 11:35 AM

The Maine Studies Program at the University of Maine has announced the winners of the 10th annual Maine Studies Research and Creativity Awards.

Each year the award is given to an undergraduate and graduate student — or group of students — to highlight exemplary student research related to the study of Maine. All UMaine research papers or projects related to Maine and created within the last year are eligible for the award.

This year’s undergraduate winner is a group of students: Benjamin Algeo, Shannon Brenner, Alexandria Jesiolowski, Joshua Morse, Victoria Schuyler and Braden Sinclair. Their interdisciplinary research project, “Building a Better Orono Together: Cultivating Organic Community Connection with University and Orono Stakeholders,” examined the relations between UMaine and Orono and exposed the students to the valuable practice of engaged research under the guidance of Robert Glover, an assistant professor of political science.

Hollie Smith is this year’s graduate winner. Her research paper, “Science and Policy in Maine: Opportunities for Engagement with the Maine State Legislature,” examines ways graduate students at UMaine might contribute more effectively to Maine’s policymaking process. Laura Lindenfeld, an associate professor of mass communication and media studies and public policy, supervised the project.

For the past 10 years, the University of Maine Foundation has provided financial support for the awards.

Applications Being Accepted for 2014 Summer FLAS Awards

April 18th, 2014 11:34 AM

The Canadian-American Center at the University of Maine announced it is accepting applications for the 2014 Summer Foreign Language and Areas Studies (FLAS) Award.

The award is federally funded and is offered to students during the academic year and summer to support the bilingual research (English and French) of master’s and doctoral candidates whose studies focus on Canada.

Summer FLAS Awards are specifically aimed at developing language skills. The awards are open on a competitive basis to U.S. citizens and permanent residents who seek to improve their proficiency in French as a tool for graduate research.

Candidates must be willing to commit to six weeks of intensive French study. Programs covered by the award are offered in the U.S. for students with novice level of proficiency, and in Canada for students with higher levels of proficiency. The federal grant covers up to $4,000 in tuition and offers a living allowance stipend.

The Canadian-American Center is designated by the U.S. Department of Education as a National Resource Center on Canada and provides the award as part of its mission.

More information, including how to apply, is available online.

Cited for Sustainability

April 18th, 2014 11:04 AM

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

Study to Focus on What the Public Wants in Outdoor Recreation

April 18th, 2014 8:46 AM

Sandra De Urioste-Stone, assistant professor of nature-based tourism, and John Daigle, associate professor of forest recreation management, have received a $34,499 grant from the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry for the study: “How Well Are We Serving the Outdoor Recreation Public?” The purpose of this study is to investigate perspectives on outdoor recreation preferences and priorities, and perceptions on tourism development to help the Maine Bureau of Parks and Lands and other outdoor recreation managers to better understand current demand and improve decision-making. An online survey will be used to test conventional wisdom and open up new thinking regarding what the public wants and how they can best be served. In addition, study participants will be asked questions about their attitudes and beliefs about developing sustainable tourism in their communities. Data collected will be used to develop the 2015–20 Maine State Comprehensive Outdoor Recreation Plan (SCORP). The plan requires that an analysis of outdoor recreation demand, supply, trends, and ultimately priorities be documented.

Research Objectives:

  • Generate new baseline data to inform the Maine Bureau of Parks and Lands about what the recreation preferences and needs are for people who live in or visit Maine including basic background demographic data.
  • Identify the factors that influence outdoor recreation participation behavior, including identification of needs, opportunities, and constraints associated with outdoor recreation in Maine.
  • Determine how Maine State Parks are used and what can be done to improve the experiences and services they provide.
  • Determine the differences between perceptions from people who participate in outdoor recreation activities in Maine and a general population of Maine residents.
  • Measure Maine residents’ attitudes toward sustainable tourism and development.

The survey population for this study seeks to entice responses from both the general residents of Maine as well as nonresidents who have recreated in Maine and have paid some type of recreation fee for fishing, hunting, camping reservations, etc.

While the data collected on recreational preferences and behaviors will benefit the Maine Bureau of Parks and Lands, the questions related to sustainable tourism will have new scientific significance. Questions on sustainable tourism will utilize an attempt to revalidate the Sustainable Tourism Attitude Scale, a published psychometric instrument that has not yet been implemented on a statewide scale.

Morin Receives Governor’s Award for Excellence in Volunteer Administration

April 17th, 2014 1:38 PM

Lisa Morin, coordinator of the Bodwell Center for Service and Volunteerism at the University of Maine, received the Excellence in Volunteer Administration Award at the 28th annual presentation of the Governor’s Awards for Service and Volunteerism, presided over by first lady Ann LePage.

Morin has helped launch several successful programs at UMaine, including Welcome Weekend Day of Service, GobbleFest and Black Bear Leaders.

“These multifaceted programs take on challenges presented by the community and incorporate thoughtful reflections to help students understand how their service impacts themselves as well as the community,” the award announcement reads.

According to a media release from the Governor’s Office, “the winners are selected because their efforts and leadership have made a significant difference in the quality of life for Maine residents.”

Three other individuals and two organizations were also honored at the ceremony, held annually during National Volunteer Week in April.

More information is available online.

‘Making it in Maine’ Business Conference, Networking Event April 25

April 17th, 2014 12:37 PM

The University of Maine Alumni Association invites UMaine students, faculty, staff and alumni to the Black Bear Business Conference “Making it in Maine: Entrepreneurship, Innovation and Technology in the 21st Century” on Friday, April 25 at the Buchanan Alumni House on the UMaine campus.

A half-day, intensive conference from 1 to 5:30 p.m. is designed to bring Maine’s small-business owners and entrepreneurs together with UMaine faculty, economic development staff, business students and successful Maine business leaders to share ideas, strategies and techniques that promote growth. The day’s program includes presentations; tours; exhibits; and panel discussions on topics such as marketing, financing, technology and innovation engineering.

The conference will be followed by a networking event and reception from 5:30 to 7 p.m. The reception will feature a showcase of innovators and entrepreneurs who are helping to build Maine’s economic future, such as keynote speaker, Desmond Fitzgerald, entrepreneur in residence for the Maine Venture Fund.

Registration is required and student attendance is limited on a first-come, first-served basis. Students, faculty and staff can attend for free, and alumni registration is $25. The deadline for online registration is 5 p.m. Tuesday, April 22. To register after April 22, participants can call 800.934.2586, ext. 11146. More information, including a complete schedule and registration forms, is available online.