UMaine Announces Top Annual Faculty Awards

ORONO — Four highly accomplished University of Maine professors, each with long and distinguished records of service to the university and its students, were announced this afternoon as the winners of UMaine’s annual top faculty awards. The awards are part of the annual Academic Honors Convocation, traditionally held the day before commencement. Today’s event was at the Collins Center for the Arts.

Paul Mayewski, director of UMaine’s Climate Change Institute, is the 2010 University of Maine Alumni Association Distinguished Maine Professor. A UMaine faculty member since 2000, Mayewski is recognized as one of the foremost experts in his field. He regularly provides commentary on climate change in the scientific and popular media, including two appearances on the CBS News program “60 Minutes.”  A true explorer, Mayewski is believed to had traversed more of Antarctica than any other person and he is the only person to have led two over-snow expeditions to the South Pole.  Since 1968, he has led more than 45 scientific expeditions to some of the world’s most remote regions, for the purpose of observing climate change in the natural environment.  Mayewski has taken more than 300 students, including undergraduates, on these expeditions, providing them with invaluable educational and life experiences.  He is a prolific scholar, having written more than 300 peer-reviewed publications and the acclaimed book, “The Ice Chronicles: The Quest to Understand Global Climate Change.”  He received the first Medal for Excellence in Antarctic Research from the Scientific Committee for Antarctic Research, he is a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) and of the American Geophysical Union, and he received the Lowell Thomas Medal from the Explorers’ Club, among numerous honors and distinctions.

Judith Pearse, a professor in the School of Engineering Technology, is the winner of the 2010 Presidential Outstanding Teaching Award. Pearse, who consistently receives high marks from student evaluations is also recognized by students as a helpful and trusted adviser.  Since 2003, she has served as academic adviser for the school’s Engineering Entrepreneurial Minor, helping students develop their interests in starting businesses or becoming involved in startup enterprises. Pearse is active in efforts, both at UMaine and on a larger scale, to encourage the study of engineering among women and members of minority populations. A UMaine graduate and licensed professional engineer, Pearse has been on the UMaine faculty since 2001.

Paul “Jim” Roscoe, a professor of anthropology and cooperating professor in the Climate Change Institute , is the recipient of the Presidential Research and Creative Achievement Award.   A 25-year UMaine professor, Roscoe’s scholarship focuses on warfare, climate change, environmental policy, the evolution of states, incest taboos and gender roles.  His 37 peer-reviewed journal articles include several in the four publications considered to be the leading international cultural anthropology journals, creating a publication record that rivals the top anthropologists in the field.  He is also the author of 35 book chapters, and two edited volumes, and he is working on a new book on “The Origins of Warfare.”

Thomas Christiensen of the UMaine School Engineering Technology is winner of the Presidential Public Service Achievement Award. Christiensen was cited for his extensive public service record that involves lending his technical expertise to community service activities, incuding the construction of a 300-foot wood bridge at a Winthrop church camp to help make that facility accessible to people with disabilities.  But the primary activity cited in the nomination was Christiensen’s extraordinary efforts over many years to build and provide handmade toys to children at Maine hospitals and shelters. Christiensen annually makes and donates more than 7,500 such toys, using excess wood from area manufacturing companies.  He is a UMaine graduate and professional engineer who joined the UMaine faculty in 1976.

These professors will all be recognized at UMaine’s Saturday commencement.