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R&D for Maine

The College of Natural Sciences, Forestry, and Agriculture strives to meet Maine’s needs for new knowledge in a rapidly changing world and to translate discoveries into new applications for agriculture, aquaculture, biological and biomedical sciences, nursing, food product development, healthy diets, forestry, marine-based industries, earth and environmental sciences, resource economics and policy, fisheries and wildlife conservation, recreation and tourism programs, and more.

By the Numbers

  • More than 200 current research projects.
  • Total of $95.9 million in funding raised from external sources to support R&D over the last 5 years–a record $24.9 million in the 2010 fiscal year.
  • An average of 350 research publications and 550 public presentations annually.
  • Directly collaborated on R&D with 50 businesses and other organizations last year.
  • Six off-campus research centers along with our on-campus laboratories place research programs in all corners of the state.

Research that fuels business innovation and economic growth

College scientists are developing new products and production systems—new seafood products, new wood composites and bioproducts, new crop varieties, aquaculture systems, advanced forest practices, and more—in support of new and more competitive Maine businesses. Read more.

Wood utilizationExploring the potential of cellulose for application in green materials.
Cellulose has great potential for use in “green” building and manufacturing materials. Cellulose—the major component of plants–is abundant and renewable and offers many advantages for designing new materials. Current research by College of Natural Sciences, Forestry, and Agriculture scientists focuses on use of cellulose nanofibrils in thermoplastic composites. Read more.

Using an invasive crab species in new food productsEuropean green crab
The shellfish industry is concerned about the explosive growth of invasive European green crab populations in Maine. Although the species is often used as bait, there is presently no commercial fishery for green crab. Food science faculty in the College of Natural Sciences, Forestry, and Agriculture have been working to develop methods to mechanically remove the meat from the shell and to gather data on the nutritional characteristics, texture, color, and flavor of the extracted crab meat.Read more.

Research that informs decisions on today’s issues

College scientists provide research-based information that enables state leaders to make wise policy choices on pressing issues for Maine. Read more.

Studying the effects of dam removals on fishes in the Penobscot River watershed.
Steve CoghlanThe Penobscot River Restoration Project is an ambitious effort to open hundreds of miles of historic spawning habitat to sea-run fishes and restore natural aquatic communities and habitats. Fisheries science faculty in the college and research faculty in the Maine Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit are working to ensure that future decision-making on river management and fish restoration programs will be supported by the most current scientific information on fish communities in the river and their responses to dam removals. Read more.

Bear Brook MountainThe Bear Brook Watershed in Maine – An ecological observatory in a climate of change. 
The Bear Brook Watershed project is in its third decade of research on topics of enormous consequence for Maine and the nation. The project’s initial emphasis on studying effects of acid rain on forest, soils, and streams has expanded to include research on a wide range of current environmental issues such as climate change, air-quality regulation, surface water quality, and forest sustainability. Read more.

Research engine for Maine state government

Maine state agencies and the legislature rely on College faculty to address priority research needs. Read more.

dairy cowsUndertaking an intensive analysis of the dairy industry to help state government set levels of support for milk producers.
Low milk prices put incredible financial stress on Maine’s dairy farms and farm families. Over the last two decades, milk prices have fluctuated dramatically in response to national and international policies and economics. Read more.

cruise shipWorking with state and local organizations to help coastal merchants and communities strengthen marketing efforts aimed at the growing number of cruise ship tourists visiting Maine.
Ongoing research by faculty in the college’s School of Economics, in collaboration with UMaine Cooperative Extension has helped community leaders and merchants in Bar Harbor and Portland to better understand the economic impacts and spending patterns of cruise ship passengers visiting their cities. Read more.

Research to ensure a sustainable future

College research on climate change, lake and river health, wetlands, endangered species, fisheries, sustainable forestry, coastal issues, bioenergy, and urban growth promotes a productive economy while protecting Maine’s signature natural environment. Read more.<

vernal poosProtecting Maine’s vernal pools.
Protecting and regulating small wetlands, most notably vernal pools, is of great public interest in Maine.Faculty and graduate students in the College of Natural Sciences, Forestry, and Agriculture have been studying vernal pool ecology for more than a decade and have worked closely with federal and state regulatory agencies, town governments, and a wide range of other stakeholders to help to guide conservation strategies. Read more.

harborImproving our understanding the human dynamics of Maine’s fisheries systems.
A key to managing marine fisheries is understanding the factors that influence the behavior of individual fishermen since they often determine the success of regulations and management programs. Read more.

Research to improve health and quality of life

Research in nutrition and obesity, food safety, biomedical sciences, nursing, and public recreation provides new knowledge to improve the lives and lifestyles of Maine citizens. Read more.

Nutrition graduate studentsDeveloping an intervention for college students that promotes healthful eating, exercise, and stress management.
Human nutrition faculty in the College of Natural Sciences, Forestry, and Agriculture are part of a research team from 11 state universities working to develop a program for promoting healthful eating and improving the quality of life of young adults. The researchers are using a community-based participatory approach that involves researchers, students, and community partners in each state. Read more.

Educating the next generation: strengthening education programs with research experience

A vibrant research institution provides a rich learning environment for university students and prepares them for leadership roles in the high tech workforce of tomorrow. Read more.

Using zebrafish as an animal model to investigate the mechanisms underlying amelioration of muscle damage.
Michelle Goody, a Ph.D. student in biomedical sciences, is studying a group of muscle diseases, collectively called myopathies, which exhibit progressive muscle degeneration. Myopathies can result from mutations in the basement membrane where muscle fibers adhere. Read more.

David MallettStudying the ecology of the Canada lynx in Maine’s northern forests.
David Mallett, a master of science student in wildlife ecology, is focused on understanding how lynx populations respond to periodic declines in their primary prey, the snowshoe hare. Read more.