Archive for October, 2011

News report on bee study

Monday, October 24th, 2011

WLBZ television broadcast a Friday story about a multi-state research project looking at why U.S. bee populations are declining. UMaine Prof. Frank Drummond, who was interviewed for the story, is one of the researchers leading the project, funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.  The other states involved are Massachusetts, Connecticut, New York and Tennessee.

UMaine to Host Public Forum on Wind Energy Resources

Friday, October 21st, 2011

Wind power energy experts in transmission, air quality and economics will share their views and answer commonly asked questions at a free public forum on the subject being held Wednesday, Oct. 26 from 6-8 p.m. at the University of Maine’s Wells Conference Center.

The forum is sponsored by the statewide nonprofit Energy and Environmental Technology Council of Maine (E2Tech) to discuss Maine’s wind power industry and regional energy goals for the future. A panel consisting of UMaine professor of economics Gary Hunt, Charles Colgan from the Muskie School of Public Service at the University of Southern Maine, Colin High from Resource Systems Group in Vermont, and Brian Conroy, director of electric system engineering for Central Maine Power, will engage in a discussion about benefits and consequences of generating electricity from Maine wind resources. Chris Facchini of Channel 2 (WLBZ) in Bangor will moderate the discussion, which will be shared by teleconference with a location at USM.

The event is one of a series of public forums E2Tech is organizing in a town hall meeting structure to provide accurate information and facilitate public discourse on key energy and related economic issues. E2Tech anticipates other forum topics to include: onshore wind energy development, offshore wind energy development, and ocean energy potential for Maine – tides and wind.

Issues to be discussed Oct. 26 include wind power jobs and economic impacts, wind power subsidies, wind power consistency and the electrical grid, and effect on air quality and carbon emissions.

E2Tech promotes environmental and energy technology — clean tech — in the belief that the sector is critical to economic development and environmental sustainability in Maine. The council says it serves as a catalyst to stimulate growth in Maine’s clean tech sector by facilitating networking among professionals and serving as a clearinghouse of information through events and forums, conducting special projects, and engaging in general sector support.

Organizers request that people wishing to attend the forum register through the E2Tech website.

Harry Brown, E2Tech executive director, can be contacted at (207) 650-7778 for further details.

Report on Tidal Power Project

Friday, October 21st, 2011

A tidal power project in Washington County in which UMaine researchers participated was the subject of a Bangor Daily News story. The story said Ocean Renewable Power Co., which worked with UMaine engineers and marine scientists to research areas such as turbine design, assessing the energy sources, and the impacts on both marine life and human communities, has retired its turbine in Cobscook Bay to be replaced by a different turbine in March 2012. The BDN story also mentioned Ryan Beaumont, a UMaine graduate who is the mechanical engineer for the project. For more information about UMaine’s role in the research, see the current cover story of UMaine Today magazine.

Study on Racino Economics Mentioned in BDN Report

Monday, October 17th, 2011

In a report on a push to locate a racino in Washington County, the Bangor Daily News mentioned a 2007 study by UMaine economist Todd Gabe who found a racino in the county could generate $12-$13 million a year in slot revenue alone, mostly from out-of-state or Canadian visitors.

Contact: Jessica Bloch, 207-581-3777

Bayer comments in lobster processing story

Monday, October 17th, 2011

Prof. Bob Bayer, executive director of the Lobster Institute at UMaine was quoted in a Fishermen’s Voice news story challenging the assertions published in a recent Boston Globe report on the business of processing Maine lobster.  The Fishermen’s Voice report provides perspectives from Bayer and others in the lobstering industry describing the business relationships between Maine processors and those based in Canada.

Bee Research Noted in Globe

Monday, October 17th, 2011

The Boston Globe has an Associated Press report on a $3.3 million federal grant given to researchers in five eastern states, including researchers at UMaine, to study the decline in native bee populations. The grant will be used to examine how the bees’ diversity is affected by factors such as landscapes, farm size and pesticide use. They will also study whether the bees are vulnerable to certain pathogens and parasites.

Contact: Jessica Bloch, 207-581-3777

Darling Marine Center to Host International Diving Symposium

Friday, October 7th, 2011

Contact: Chris Rigaud, (207) 563-3146 ext. 232 or crigaud@maine.edu

The University of Maine’s Scientific Diving Program will host the 2011 American Academy of Underwater Sciences Symposium, a gathering of international underwater scientists and diving professionals, Oct. 10-15 at UMaine’s Darling Marine Center in Walpole, Maine, and also at locations in the Portland area.

The AAUS symposium is held to share information and exchange ideas about scientific diving.

“Hosting the AAUS symposium is quite an honor for a university in a state that is not generally known as a scuba diving destination,” said Chris Rigaud, who is the diving safety officer at the Darling Center.

During the Oct. 13-15 pre-symposium sessions, attendees will have the opportunity to dive on Monhegan Island, in coastal locations near the Darling Center, and at Kettle Cove in South Portland. UMaine Professor Robert Steneck and Research Associate Professor Richard Wahle will lead workshops on diver-based suction sampling for collecting newly settled lobsters and quantitative observation of the adult American lobster. Diving industry professionals and members of the AAUS will conduct other instructional courses and equipment demonstrations.

During Oct. 10-13 pre-symposium sessions, attendees will have the opportunity to dive on at the Darling Center, which is located on the shores of the Damariscotta River, and also at Kettle Cove in South Portland; take instruction classes and watch equipment demos; learn about diver-based suction sampling, which is a monitoring tool for newly settled lobsters; and do a quantitative observation of the adult American lobster.

The scientific seminar portion of the program will be held Oct 14-15. UMaine Research Professor Rhian Waller, and graduate students Pamelia Fraungruber, Phoebe Jekielek and Thomas Leeuw will present seminars during the science symposium.

Rigaud is also the lead instructor for UMaine’s Scientific Diving Program, which helps UMaine scientists and students safely and effectively conduct underwater research. Based at the Darling Marine Center, the program has been helping UMaine researchers increase understanding and improve management of the marine and aquatic environment for more than 40 years.

AAUS is dedicated to the development of safe and productive scientific divers through education, research, advocacy, and the advancement of standards for scientific diving practices. Currently, the AAUS community consists of more than 120 international member organizations.

The symposium is not open to the public.

UMaine Experts Available for Foliage Assessment

Monday, October 3rd, 2011

With fall foliage turning red, orange, yellow and brown in the northern parts of Maine, University of Maine experts are available to discuss the state of developing fall foliage, how it bolsters Maine’s tourism and ideas on how thoughtful landscaping can create more colorful backyards as seasons change.

UMaine professor of forest resources Bill Livingston and professor of tree physiology Mike Day, both in the UMaine School of Forestry, are available to discuss the state of fall foliage and what environmental conditions influence color.

“It has the potential to be a very good season, because of the amount of precipitation we’ve had,” says Livingston. “Cold nights, which we’re not getting, also help with foliage.”

In addition, Lois Berg Stack, a UMaine Cooperative Extension professor and ornamental horticulturist, says residents can choose perennials that flower at different times during the spring, summer and fall to provide ever-changing backyard coloration.

Fall also is a good time to take notes on which native trees provide great fall colors, then consider planting some in the back yard in the spring.

“Here are a few native trees people might view this fall: trees with red fall foliage, consider red maple or red oak; trees with yellow fall foliage, think green ash, larch, birch or white oak; white ash, American hornbeam and sweetgum are trees with great color mixes,” she says. “For shrub fall color, nothing beats the blueberry barrens, or the red fruits of winterberry.”

Fall foliage in Maine is more than picturesque, according to Maine Business School marketing professor Harold Daniel, who assisted in founding the university Center for Tourism Research and Outreach. Fall foliage extends the summer tourist season into fall, shortening the “shoulder” season. Daniel suspects the economic impact of this seasonal bridge is likely to be greater in this concentrated time than at any time in the summer.

Livingston can be reached at (207) 581-2990 or williaml@maine.edu. Day can be reached at (207) 581-2889 or daym@maine.edu. Stack can be reached at (207) 581-2890 or lstack@maine.edu. Daniel can be reached at (207) 581-1933 or hdaniel@maine.edu.

Contact: George Manlove, (207) 581-3756

Marine Researchers Awarded Grant to Explore Fish Body Size and Resiliency

Monday, October 3rd, 2011

Are bigger fish better?

That question is at the root of a collaborative research effort by scientists at the University of Maine and the Gulf of Maine Research Institute (GMRI). The project will look at how changes in the sizes of fish in a given population influence overall health and ability to resist external pressures such as fishing and climate change.

Andrew Pershing, a UMaine associate professor and ecosystem modeler at GMRI, will lead this groundbreaking study, which has received a three-year, $215,000 grant from the Lenfest Ocean Program. Pershing will be joined on the project by GMRI fishery ecologist Graham Sherwood and UMaine researcher Walt Golet. The team will build a series of computer models to examine the consequences of what is known as “fishing down the size spectrum.”

“As an animal gets bigger,” says Pershing, “its metabolism becomes more efficient, meaning that it requires less food to support each gram of tissue in its body. Consequently, removing a large fish may have a larger impact on the population than removing the same weight of smaller fish.”

The researchers will tailor their models to Atlantic cod and northern bluefin tuna,  which are species that have been heavily exploited and are the target of national and international management efforts. The team will generate computer models of feeding, growth and activity costs. The project will look as a whole at the role of body size in fish communities, with an emphasis on understanding the impact of size-selected fishing on their resiliency. The goal is to generate recommendations for increasing the resiliency of the species through fishing quotas, spatial management or gear design that is targeted at shifting efforts away from specific sizes.

The Lenfest Ocean Program (www.lenfestocean.org) funds scientific research on policy-relevant topics concerning the world’s oceans.

GMRI, which is based in Portland, is a nonprofit marine science center that works to find solutions to the complex challenges of ocean stewardship and economic growth in the Gulf of Maine bioregion. For more information, go to www.gmri.org.

Contacts: Andrew Pershing, andrew.pershing@maine.edu; Jessica Bloch, (207) 581-3777 or jessica.bloch@umit.maine.edu; Blaine Grimes, (207) 228-1655 or bgrimes@gmri.org

Study to Explore Cancer Treatment, Patient Functionality, Expectations

Monday, October 3rd, 2011

For the nearly 9,000 Maine residents and more than a million nationwide undergoing cancer treatment, the resulting fatigue and exhaustion forces lifestyle changes, and choices, that can affect family and friends, in addition to patients themselves. Patients in treatment cannot continue doing what they are used to doing, or would like to do, and must depend upon others for help.

Researchers at the University of Maine School of Nursing are beginning a study this month that aims to explore cancer patients’ preferences, values and needs while undergoing chemotherapy or radiation therapy, so they can explore what community support services might be desirable to help keep life as normal as possible.

Patricia Poirier, assistant professor of nursing, says a major focus of nurses caring for patients undergoing treatment for cancer is maintaining and supporting quality of life, particularly “functional status.” Functional status — the ability to carry out one’s usual activities — has been shown to decline during both radiation therapy and chemotherapy, she says.

“The one thing we know is radiation makes people tired,” says Poirier, who is co-principal investigator in the study with associate professor of nursing Ann Sossong. “We don’t really know why it makes people tired or what to do about it.”

Daily radiation treatments for four to eight weeks, or months of chemotherapy, not only financially strains people without adequate sick leave at work, but it’s time consuming and exhausting. Patients with families may have to choose, say, between cooking and taking kids to an after-school ball game, or grocery shopping.

“Once we find out what people want to do and can’t, we could look at getting more support in place,” Poirier says. A former radiation oncology nurse for 25 years before going into teaching, Poirier has researched and published on cancer patient fatigue, beginning with her doctoral dissertation.

Poirier and Sossong are actively seeking volunteers. They are talking with cancer centers in Brewer and Augusta to secure permission to interview as many as 200 cancer patients with a newly developed questionnaire, the Comprehensive Inventory of Functioning-Cancer (CIF-CA), a unique instrument that measures both actual and desired functional status. Inability to perform desired activities may have a detrimental effect on individual’s relationships with family and co-workers, Poirier says.

Findings from the project, made possible by a modest grant from the American Nurses Foundation, will help provide a valid and reliable instrument that oncology nurses can use to identify what activities patients most wish to maintain during cancer treatment. The results will help oncology nurses in all settings develop patient-centered, evidence-based models of nursing care, says Poirier.

“Previous studies have all measured actual functional status, that is, what activities patients actually engage in or are able to engage in. Research has not shown what activities patients desire to engage in or what activities are most valuable to them,” she explains. The CIF-CA questionnaire “asks people both ‘what can you do during treatments and what would you like to be doing during treatment?’ so we can help people with choices they may have to make.”

Poirier, originally from Western Maine, says she and Sossong want to interview patients from rural areas — as opposed to Southern Maine — where transportation or a lack of community services could intensify the conflict between everyday obligations and cancer treatments.

Poirier and Sossong will personally do interviews with the questionnaires. They expect the project to end by June 2012, when they’ll submit their findings for publications in one or two of several professional nursing journals.

For additional information about the study, Poirier can be reached on the Orono campus at (207) 581-3009; Sossong can be reached at (207) 581-3427.