Revisit 2019 faculty, student discoveries

University of Maine faculty members and students conducted fascinating and impactful research important to Maine and the world in 2019. This roundup of stories from July to December covers 3D printing, eDNA, obesity, lobster resilience, and sustainable aquaculture. And here’s a link to research and news highlights from January to June. All UMaine news stories are online.


UMaine tapped as one of three nationwide to participate in BadgedToHire
A badge demonstrates that an employment candidate clearly has those skills.

Bilingual signage — English and Penobscot — now at UMaine
Signs for Memorial Gym and New Balance Student Recreation Center note the names in Penobscot — αttali-milahəyαwələtimək — translates as “place where you play a variety of games.” At Fogler Library, awihkhikaní-wikəwαm means “book house”; at Wells Conference Center, mαwikamikʷ translates as “community meeting house”; and at Cutler Health Center, sαkəlamálsəwαkan mαwte translates as “get your health together.”

UMaine School of Nursing part of reestablished residency program to improve rural health care in Maine
The residency program will improve the first-year experience for new nurse practitioner providers to reduce burnout and turnover, and ensure patients in the region continue to receive the highest-quality health care.


UMaine partners with EDC, Mount Washington Observatory and others on NSF-funded project to promote data science education
Students will learn how to analyze and develop scientific prediction models using meteorological data of an extreme weather event on the summit of Mt. Washington. They’ll also study and model an extreme weather event in their rural vicinity.

NSF grant awarded to develop framework to harness forest ecosystem integrity, resilience data
The region’s forests are dynamic and diverse due to changing environmental conditions, varying management objectives related to mixed land ownership, and natural disturbances, including a pending spruce budworm outbreak.

Researchers to reconstruct Holocene climate change in Southern Hemisphere
To better understand industrial-age glacier recession and climate warming in New Zealand, Aaron Putnam’s team will document the past 10,000 years of natural variations by analyzing the moraines of retreating glaciers and rings of temperature-sensitive trees in the Southern Hemisphere. 

$20M grant awarded for Maine Environmental DNA initiative to support coastal ecosystems 
eDNA is like a genetic fingerprint of a marine ecosystem. Organisms leave traces of DNA, the universal code for life, wherever they go — in the water, air or soil. Data can show where, when and how species and groups of organisms have interacted with each other and their coastal habitats and answer ever-evolving questions about how coastal systems work — and what makes them resilient or susceptible to change.

NASA grant funds UMaine remote sensing research for large-scale forest health assessment
Researchers will develop comprehensive models with detailed, accurate, higher resolution and near-real-time data on forest tree species identification, and forest tree decline detection and damage assessment.


Isenhour part of multidisciplinary $1.3M NSF project to address waste through circular economy
The team will seek to change the global consumption model of “take, make, waste.” 

UMaine awarded $3M to train grad students to develop innovative solutions to serious health challenges
Globally and locally, environmental changes, an aging human population, and the increasing prevalence of infectious diseases of animals, plants and people highlight the need for training professionals in an interdisciplinary approach.

UMaine awarded nearly $1.4M for transformational floating offshore wind energy technology
Habib Dagher says funds will help further stabilize floating wind turbine hull technology in extreme storms as well as lighten the hull and decrease the already low electricity costs.

NOAA Sea Grant National Aquaculture Initiative awards $1.6M to advance sustainable aquaculture in Maine 
The U.S. imports 85% of its seafood, resulting in a $14 billion trade deficit. And as seafood consumption continues to rise, and wild-caught fisheries will not meet demands, new opportunities are opening in aquaculture. 

Donors celebrating 55th UMaine Class Reunion to name engineering building
The E. James and Eileen P. Ferland Engineering Education and Design Center will house the Biomedical Engineering Program and Department of Mechanical Engineering, as well as teaching laboratories for mechanical engineering technology, and provide space for engineering majors to complete their senior capstone projects.

Maine Sea Grant, UMaine advance $2M initiative aimed at increasing resilience in the lobster fishery
The initiative could clarify the American lobster’s link to the ocean food web. Today’s estimated landed value of the American lobster (Homarus americanus) fishery is more than $666 million.

Study discovers loss of innervation in fat related to obesity, diabetes, aging
Obesity is one of the most difficult diseases to treat because there are many counter-regulatory things in people’s physiology that prevent them from losing weight. “The key for us isn’t weight loss, but healthy metabolism no matter what your body weight is,” says Kristy Townsend.



UMaine receives $1M pledge from Pratt & Whitney for engineering center
Groundbreaking for the center — which is expected to cost $75 million to $77 million, is planned for spring 2020. The Machine Tool Suite will feature open workspace, computer-controlled milling machines and lathes, tool crib, an applied research lab, and a computer-aided drafting/computer-aided manufacturing classroom.

AMC awarded $2.5M to upgrade equipment, accelerate additive metal manufacturing
Learning on the latest technology is important for students and industry workforce development. Helping companies adopt the latest technology without risk will be a win for the state.

UMaine Composites Center receives three Guinness World Records related to largest 3D printer
The world records are for the world’s largest prototype polymer 3D printer, largest solid 3D-printed object, and largest 3D-printed boat. The 3D printer is designed to print objects as long as 100 feet by 22 feet wide by 10 feet high, and can print at 500 pounds per hour. 

NOAA awards $1.6M to study the life histories of highly migratory species in the Atlantic Ocean and Gulf of Mexico
Research will fill information gaps in to reduce uncertainty in stock assessment models and population status, and inform appropriate quotas to promote sustainability. 

$350K NSF grant to UMaine to support statewide research, outreach with new high-performance computational instrument
The instrument will speed up computing processes and enable new projects that require a level of computing power that previously would have been unachievable in a reasonable amount of time with existing resources. This new computing capacity will facilitate research statewide. 

UMaine receives new DOE funding to advance VolturnUS floating offshore platform
The goal is ongoing floating hull research and development that utilizes the most advanced electric power generating turbines, that will continue to increase efficiency and electricity output while reducing footprint and overall electricity cost.

UMaine to offer MBA discount for Maine employers
The University of Maine Graduate School of Business will offer 12% tuition discounts toward the MaineMBA beginning January 2020. The Workforce Partners Program, which is available to active members of any Maine chamber of commerce, improves access and affordability toward completion of the MaineMBA. 



Nayak part of international team investigating health benefits of processed seaweed
Scientists want to develop and optimize seaweed processing and preservation techniques to retain bioactive compounds and improve their absorption and use in the human body.



James W. Sewall Co. donates approximately 1M aerial images to Raymond H. Fogler Library
History professor Anne Knowles says the images provide data about the growth and decline of the pulp and paper industry, urban development, transportation, forestry practices, tourism, the impact of the ash borer and other environmental issues and that the historical and visual record will support interdisciplinary research for decades. 

McGill named one of the most cited researchers in the world
Since 2003, Brian McGill had 106 publications cited 7,991 times. He studies biodiversity at large scales — areas of space, periods of time and across species — that are critical to address conservation and management questions.

Maine Harvest for Hunger reaches 3M pounds of produce donated for those in need
In 2019, the program donated more than 193,000 pounds of fresh produce — worth more than $327,000 — from more than 120 farms to 207 distribution sites. Eight corporate partners and 365 volunteers logged more than 6,000 hours.

Scientists rank world’s most important, most threatened mountain water towers 
Paul Mayewski helped rank 78 mountain glacier-based water systems in importance to adjacent communities and vulnerability to environmental and socioeconomic changes. They supply water resources to 1.9 billion people — about one-quarter of the planet’s population.

Contact: Beth Staples, 207,581.3777;