Archive for September, 2011

Camire Comments in Newspaper Potato Editorial

Friday, September 30th, 2011

A Bangor Daily News editorial on the debate over potatoes in the nation’s school lunch programs included comments from UMaine food science and human nutrition professor Mary Ellen Camire. She says potatoes are a good source of nutrition and that small new potatoes available at the beginning of the season contain a particular starch that is harder to break down into sugar. Colored potatoes also bring antioxidants to the table, she says.

Cruise Ship Tourism Research Noted in Press Herald

Friday, September 30th, 2011

A 2010 UMaine economic impact study of the effect of cruise ship tourism was mentioned in a Portland Press Herald brief about cruise ships due to visit Portland this weekend. The study found that in 2008, more than 47,000 passengers from 31 cruise ships pumped between $5.8 million and $8 million into the regional economy.

UMaine Marine Education Scientist Shares First NASA Images

Tuesday, September 27th, 2011

NASA’s new Aquarius instrument has produced its first global map of the salinity of the ocean surface, according to an announcement from NASA last week, and the map has provided an early glimpse of the mission’s anticipated discoveries.

UMaine Senior Marine Education Scientist Annette deCharon was particularly excited to see the first image, which was released Thursday, Sept. 22. In addition to her work with UMaine, deCharon is the education and public outreach manager for NASA on the Aquarius project.

“We are thrilled to see this first image from Aquarius,” said deCharon, whose education and outreach work targets the public, students and science communicators. “Even at this early stage, it is clear that global salinity maps have great potential to help all of us better understand changes in the ocean, water cycle and climate.”

deCharon, who is based at UMaine School of Marine Science’s Darling Marine Center in Walpole, Maine, directs one of the national Centers for Ocean Science Education Excellence (COSEE), known as COSEE-Ocean Systems, which is also based at UMaine.

In order to increase awareness and understanding of salinity, deCharon and her team have developed a website with information, including an interactive quiz, online data tools and suggested activities for students from elementary to high school. The Aquarius project website, including the new map, can be viewed at http://aquarius.nasa.gov/.

Aquarius, which is aboard the SAC-D (Satélite de Aplicaciones Científicas) observatory, is making NASA’s first space observations of ocean surface salinity variations – a key component of Earth’s climate, according to a NASA news release. Salinity changes are linked to the cycling of freshwater around the planet and influence ocean circulation.

“Measurements of the salt content of the upper ocean provide key data for understanding upper ocean circulation,” said Mary Jane Perry, UMaine professor of marine sciences. “We are lucky at UMaine to have a close link to the project through Annette.”

The new map, which shows a tapestry of salinity patterns, demonstrates Aquarius’ ability to detect large-scale salinity distribution features clearly and with sharp contrast. The map is a composite of the data since Aquarius became operational on Aug. 25. The mission was launched June 10 from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California.

SAC-D is collaboration between NASA and Argentina’s space agency, Comisión Nacional de Actividades Espaciales (CONAE).

The map shows several well-known ocean salinity features such as higher salinity in the subtropics; higher average salinity in the Atlantic Ocean compared to the Pacific and Indian oceans; and lower salinity in rainy belts near the equator, in the northernmost Pacific Ocean and elsewhere. These features are related to large-scale patterns of rainfall and evaporation over the ocean, river outflow and ocean circulation. Aquarius will monitor how these features change and study their link to climate and weather variations.

Before arriving at UMaine, deCharon worked as a mission planner for the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., and in public outreach on NASA’s TOPEX/Poseidon mission, the satellite that measured sea surface height during the 1997–98 El Niño event.

Contact: Annette deCharon, (207) 563-3146 ext. 298 or annette.decharon@maine.edu; Jessica Bloch, (207) 581-3777 or jessica.bloch@umit.maine.edu

Food Safety Study Noted on Website

Tuesday, September 27th, 2011

The website Food Safety News has a story about a new UMaine-U.S. Food and Drug Administration study in the Journal of Food Protection. The study, which included contributions by UMaine economists Mario Teisl and Caroline Noblet, found a possible correlation in the past 20 years between media coverage of food safety issues and safe food handling and consumption.

Contact: Jessica Bloch, 207-581-3777

Allen Designated National Speech Pathologist of the Year

Tuesday, September 13th, 2011

Marybeth Allen of the UMaine Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders recently was named the Speech-Language Pathologist of the Year by the National Stuttering Association (NSA).

The association recognized Allen during its annual meeting in Fort Worth, Texas for her outreach and organization efforts on a national level on behalf of youths who stutter.

“She dedicated much of her time to ensuring our Family Program chapters were successful and was always available to assist and guide chapter leaders when needed,” the association says in its online newsletter.

Allen has coordinated several youth days across the country, served on the NSA board of directors for six years and is currently the chapter leader of the Eastern Maine Chapter of the NSA. She is the clinical supervisor and associate faculty member in the Speech-Language Pathology laboratory at the University of Maine.

Contact: Marybeth Allen, (207) 581-2304

Graduate Student’s Research Included in Greenland Project

Tuesday, September 13th, 2011

University of Maine Ph.D. candidate Aaron Putnam is a member of an international team of scientists who have produced a prediction of what climate records from Greenland might look like over the last 800,000 years and investigation into the possible causes of abrupt climate change.

Putnam, a glacial geologist in UMaine’s Department of Earth Sciences and Climate Change Institute, contributed research to a paper posted Sept. 8 on the website of the journal Science. The paper will be published in an upcoming issue of Science.

Stephen Barker of Cardiff University in Wales, U.K., led the research team.

An announcement from Cardiff University about the publication said the research demonstrates that abrupt climate change has been a systemic feature of Earth’s climate for hundreds of thousands of years and may play an active role in longer-term climate variability through its influence on ice age terminations.

The Greenland conditions – temperature records of which go back only approximately 100,000 years – were reconstructed by utilizing ice core temperature records retrieved from Antarctica. The researchers used a mathematical formulation to extend the Greenland record. The new predictions provide an extended testing bed for climate models that are used to predict future climate variability.

The research was funded by the Leverhulme Trust and Natural Environment Research Council in the U.K., and the National Science Foundation in the U.S.

Putnam is a Chapman native who has a master’s degree from UMaine.

Contact: Aaron Putnam, aaron.putnam@umit.maine.edu; Jessica Bloch, (207) 581-3777 or jessica.bloch@umit.maine.edu

Researchers awarded grant to develop cellulose nanocomposite materials

Thursday, September 8th, 2011

The field of nanoscience has shown that the smallest of particles are sometimes the strongest. Research into these infinitesimal objects – whose dimensions range from a few nanometers to less than 100 nanometers; by comparison, a sheet of paper has a thickness of 100,000 nanometers – has also shown these particles are well-suited for use in materials that must by necessity be lightweight and flexible.

Doug Gardner, a University of Maine professor of wood science and technology, has been awarded a $150,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture Forest Products Laboratory for his research into developing to produce powders made from nanoscale cellulosic particles, known as cellulose nanofibrils or CNF.

“Cellulose derived from wood – Maine’s most abundant natural resource – is a promising source for low-cost, renewable nano-structured materials,” Gardner said.
The composite materials produced with CNF will eventually be used in building materials, automobile parts, wind energy components and other green materials. The particles are recognized as having superior mechanical properties and can be produced at a lower cost than other nanofiller materials.

The USDA grant will kick off a five-year research project that aims to address some of the barriers to producing commercially viable CNFs, including the breaking down of biomass to components below the fiber level while preserving favorable nano properties.

Research into cellulose nanofibrils is a priority for the Department of Agriculture, which is seeking to develop efficient processing methods to create novel materials for use in advanced composites, high-end additives and fillers for high-end construction and manufacturing systems.

Yoosoo Han, UMaine biocomposite specialist in the AEWC Advanced Structures and Composites Center and graduate faculty in forest resources, is also involved in the CNF research.

Gardner, who is affiliated with UMaine’s School of Forest Resources, the Advanced Structures and Composites Center, and the Forest Bioproducts Research Institute, is a UMaine graduate.

Contact: Doug Gardner, (207) 581-2846 or douglas.gardner@umit.maine.edu; Jessica Bloch, (207) 581-3777 or jessica.bloch@umit.maine.edu

Highmoor Farm featured on news report

Thursday, September 8th, 2011

Bangor television station WABI covered Maine Commissioner of Agriculture Walter Whitcomb’s recent trip to Highmoor Farm, a Maine Agricultural & Forest Experiment  Station Extension facility that performs practical research studies for the apple industry. Renae Moran, UMaine Extension tree fruit specialist, was interviewed for the story and said the size of the crop this year will be above average, which means the fruit size will be smaller.

Contact: Jessica Bloch, 207-581-3777

UMaine Nursing School offers new nurse educator certificate program

Thursday, September 8th, 2011

The University of Maine School of Nursing this fall launched a new Nurse Educator’s Certificate Program, which is expected to help ease the shortage of nurses by producing more nursing clinical instructors in Maine.

The school also has received a Maine Department of Labor Health Care Sector grant of nearly $80,000 to offset tuition and other expenses for the first 10 nurses enrolled in the program.

The students are registered nurses with either a Bachelor of Science in Nursing or a Master of Science in Nursing who are interested in becoming nursing instructors, according to Ursula Pritham, recently retired assistant professor and former graduate program coordinator in the school.

The funding is part of the Department of Labor’s initiative to increase the supply of nursing clinical instructors, and to help eliminate the waiting lists for admissible nursing students in the tri-county area of Penobscot, Hancock and Piscataquis counties. The first cohort will complete the certificate program by Feb. 1, 2013.

The new program will increase the pool of qualified nursing clinical educators to serve the growing enrollments in baccalaureate nursing programs at UMaine and Husson University in Bangor and the associate degree program at Eastern Maine Community College.

The grant reimburses students accepted into the program for tuition, fees and mileage reimbursement for clinical and practical experiences in areas hospitals, in addition to faculty compensation.

The UMaine nursing school has previously and will continue offering a Master of Science in Nursing with a focus on nursing education. The curriculum for the nurse educator’s certificate program will be built upon two established courses, NUR 512 Curriculum and Course Development and NUR 514 Field Experience in Nursing Education. A new course, NUR 513 Measurement and Assessment in Nursing Education, will augment the program. The new certificate program focuses on the principles of teaching and learning, curriculum design and assessment of learning outcomes.

Nancy Fishwick, director of the UMaine School of Nursing, praised associate professor of nursing Ann Sossong for her role in developing the program and recruiting 10 nurses who will benefit from the DOL grant.

Contact: Ann Sossong, (207) 581-3427

Researchers mentioned in Discovery News shipwreck story

Thursday, September 8th, 2011

Two UMaine researchers affiliated with the Darling Marine Center in Walpole were mentioned in a Discovery News report about an 18th century sailing vessel found during excavations at the World Trade Center site. The story mentioned marine biologist and Darling Center Director Kevin Eckelbarger had identified the shell morphology in the bored-out timbers of the wood planks, and had extensive comments from marine archaeologist Warren Riess, who discussed how most vessels of the time were built and offered theories about the vessel’s purpose. For more information about Riess’ research into the vessel, see a UMaine Today story.

Contact: Jessica Bloch, 207-581-3777