Archive for the ‘Blue Sky News’ Category

UMaine, O’Brien Medical Collaboration Results in Patented Device

Thursday, April 17th, 2014

O’Brien Medical announced it has been granted a patent by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office for its Electronic Tuning Fork, or ETF. The device offers a significant improvement over current methods used by doctors to detect diabetic peripheral neuropathy (DPN), a common precursor to diabetic limb loss.

The development of the ETF was made possible through a collaboration with Dr. Todd O’Brien, president and founder of O’Brien Medical, and the University of Maine.

More than five years ago, O’Brien approached UMaine’s Advanced Manufacturing Center for help developing a proof-of-concept ETF, and then worked with Bruce Segee of UMaine’s Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering to develop the beta and commercial versions of the device.

Segee calls the project a perfect example of how the university can help grow the Maine economy.

A Maine electronics manufacturer has been selected to produce the ETF, and O’Brien expects the device will be available for purchase in late 2014.

The full news release is available online.

New Balance Field House and Memorial Gym Project Update

Wednesday, April 16th, 2014

New Balance Field House will be closed May 12 for approximately 16 weeks to complete the exterior improvements as part of the $15 million renovation project that includes Memorial Gym.

The facility’s exterior renovations include replacing approximately 22,000 square feet of insulated wall system and installing 5,200 square feet of windows. The 8-foot windows at the top of the facility’s high walls are key to filling the interior with ambient light, comparable to the original design of the field house when it was constructed in 1924. The windows were replaced by insulation in the late 1970s.

The exterior renovations were deferred until summer to accommodate the indoor track season, and will not deter the annual Special Olympics on campus or UMaine’s many youth sports camps.

The Pit in Memorial Gym closed for five weeks beginning April 7 for the installation of a sprinkler system. During that time, work will also begin for new and renovated men’s and women’s sports locker rooms.

All renovations and construction are scheduled be completed as early as September. The project is one of UMaine’s major initiatives under Pathway 5, Stewardship of Place: Restoring the Dream, of the Blue Sky Plan.

Finding Home in Franco America

Tuesday, April 15th, 2014

The Franco-American Centre and Franco American Studies program at the University of Maine will host the spring symposium “In and Out of Place: Finding Home in Franco America” April 25–26.

The series of free events, sponsored by the UMaine Humanities Initiative and  le Ministère des Relations internationales, Francophonie et Commerce extérieur du Québec, will take place on the Orono campus from 1:30 p.m. Friday, April 25 until 6 p.m. Saturday, April 26.

“Questions of ‘home’ and of ‘place’ can walk a line between the public and private spaces that take shape for each of us as individuals and as community members,” says Jacob Albert, a research associate at the Franco-American Centre. “We’re really excited to offer a forum for some powerful writers and thinkers to address these kinds of universal questions that are especially important for thinking about cultural identity.”

Keynote speaker and Canadian author Clark Blaise will read from his work-in-progress, “The Kerouac Who Never Was,” from 5:15 to 6:30 p.m. Friday, April 25.

Blaise is a graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop at the University of Iowa where he was the director of the International Writing Program. He also is the founder of the post-graduate program in creative writing at Concordia University. He has written more than 20 books, including “I Had a Father: A Post-Modern Autobiography,” “The Meagre Tarmac” and the Pearson Prize-winning “Time Lord: Sir Sandford Fleming and the Creation of Standard Time.”

The symposium will feature readings from other acclaimed writers including Jane Martin, Ron Currie Jr., Rhea Côté Robbins and Steven Riel; panel discussions by scholars from New England and Canada on “Franco Elections, Activism and Public Opinion,” “Historical Reflections on Place and Identity,” and “Franco American Archives and Collections in New England;” and a screening of the film “Le grand Jack (Jack Kerouac’s Road: A Franco-American Odyssey)” directed by Herménégilde Chiasson.

For more information or to request a disability accommodation, contact Albert at jacob.albert@maine.edu or 207.581.3795. A full symposium program is available online.

This symposium features precisely the sorts of interdisciplinary perspectives on a topic of regional significance that the Humanities Initiative aims to promote,” says Justin Wolff, UMHI director and an associate professor of art history at UMaine.

The UMaine Humanities Initiative (UMHI), housed in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences and established in 2010, advances the teaching, research and community outreach of the arts and humanities to enrich the lives of all Maine residents.

More information about the UMHI is online.

Contact: Elyse Kahl, 207.581.3747

Black Bear Food Guild Offering CSA Shares

Tuesday, April 15th, 2014

The Black Bear Food Guild, a community-supported agriculture (CSA) program that is organized and managed by students in the University of Maine’s Sustainable Agriculture program, is offering CSA shares for the season.

In an effort to increase accessibility to fresh, seasonal produce for all members of the community, the Black Bear Food Guild is offering full, half and quarter shares. The 2014 season marks the first time the guild will be offering quarter shares, which are recommended for one person and an ideal choice for students. Quarter shares cost $175. Full shares are $475 and will feed four people, and half shares are $300 and will feed two people.

Shareholders can pick up produce each week at the university’s Rogers Farm. The guild’s season runs from mid-June through early October.

A limited number of shares are available on a first-come, first-served basis. Those interested in purchasing a share for the 2014 season should email the Black Bear Food Guild at blackbearcsa@gmail.com.

Since 1994, students have farmed two acres of MOFGA-certified organic vegetables and cut flowers on Rogers Farm. The farmers for the 2014 Black Bear Food Guild are Laura Goldshein, Lindy Morgan and Abby Buckland.

Melting During Cooling Period

Tuesday, April 15th, 2014

A University of Maine research team says stratification of the North Atlantic Ocean contributed to summer warming and glacial melting in Scotland during the period recognized for abrupt cooling 12,900 to 11,600 years ago in the Northern Hemisphere.

Prevailing scientific understanding has been that glaciers advanced in the Northern Hemisphere throughout most of the Younger Dryas Stadial (YDS) — a 1,300-year period of dramatic cooling.

But carbon-dated bog sediment indicates the 9,500-square-kilometer ice cap over Rannoch Moor in Scotland retreated at least 500 years before the end of the YDS, says Gordon Bromley, a postdoctoral associate with UMaine’s Climate Change Institute (CCI).

“Our new record, showing warming summers during what traditionally was believed to have been an intensely cold period, adds an exciting new layer of complexity to our understanding of abrupt events and highlights the fact that there is much yet to learn about how our climate can behave,” Bromley says.

“This is an issue that is becoming ever more pressing in the face of global warming, since we really need to know what Earth’s climate system is capable of. But first we have to understand the full nature of abrupt climate events, how they are manifest ‘on the ground.’ And so we were compelled to investigate the terrestrial record of the Younger Dryas, which really is the poster child for abrupt climate change.”

Glaciers, says Bromley, respond to sea surface temperatures and Scotland is immediately downwind of the North Atlantic Ocean.

“Scotland was the natural choice as it lies within the North Atlantic Ocean — widely believed to be a driver of climatic upheaval — and thus would give us a robust idea of what really transpired during that critical period,” he says.

What the team found was that amplified seasonality driven by greatly expanding sea ice resulted in severe winters and warm summers.

While sea ice formation prevented ocean to atmosphere heat transfer during winters, melting of sea ice during summers created a stratified warmer freshwater cap on the ocean surface, he says. The increased summer sea surface temperature and downwind air temperature melted the glaciers.

Bromley says this research highlights the still-incomplete understanding of abrupt climate changes throughout Earth’s history.

“Ever since the existence of abrupt climate change was first recognized in ice-core and marine records, we’ve been wrestling with the problem of why these tumultuous events occur, and how,” he says.

Kurt Rademaker, Brenda Hall, Sean Birkel and Harold W. Borns, all from UMaine’s Climate Change Institute and School of Earth and Climate Sciences, are part of the research team. So too is Aaron Putnam, previously from CCI and now with Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory at Columbia University/Earth Institute. Joerg Schaefer and Gisela Winckler are also with Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory and Thomas Lowell is with the University of Cincinnati.

The team’s research paper, Younger Dryas deglaciation of Scotland driven by warming summers, was published April 14 on the “Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences” website.

Contact: Beth Staples, 207.581.3777

UMaine, Ward to be Featured in ‘State of the State’ TV Program

Monday, April 14th, 2014

Jake Ward, the University of Maine’s vice president for innovation and economic development, will be featured on an upcoming episode of the Maine Center for Economic Policy’s television show, “State of the State.” The weekly talk show focuses on Maine issues and is hosted by MECEP staff. The new episode will focus on research and development and will look at the university’s role in the growth of two Maine companies — Acadia Harvest and Kenway Corp. The episode will air on Time Warner Cable’s Channel 9 at 10 a.m., 2 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. Thursday, April 17 and Thursday, April 24. A podcast of the full program also will be available on MECEP’s website. More information about the upcoming show can be found on the MECEP blog.

EMMC Announces Inaugural Chair of UMaine External Advisory Board

Monday, April 14th, 2014

Ian Dickey, MD, FRCSC, lead physician of Eastern Maine Medical Center’s orthopedic surgical specialists, has been invited to serve as the first chair of the University of Maine Graduate School of Biomedical Science and Engineering’s new external advisory board, EMMC announced.

UMaine established the school in 2006 as a collaborative effort between the university, The Jackson Laboratory, Mount Desert Island Biological Laboratory, Maine Medical Center Research Institute, University of Southern Maine and University of New England. About 40 Ph.D. students and 100 faculty members are currently involved with the school, researching molecular and cellular biology, neuroscience, biomedical engineering, toxicology and functional genomics.

“To move to the next stage, the program needs the advice of a high-powered, knowledgeable external advisory board,” said David Neivandt, director of the UMaine Graduate School of Biomedical Science and Engineering. “This board, with Dr. Dickey’s leadership, will provide external counsel and perspective regarding scientific direction and curricula, assist in identifying and securing external funding, aid in networking for students and faculty, and serve as an advocacy role both internal and external to the university.”

The full EMMC news release is online.

National Leadership

Monday, April 14th, 2014

University of Maine President Paul Ferguson has been elected vice chair of the Steering Committee of the American College & University Presidents’ Climate Commitment (ACUPCC), a network of over 680 colleges and universities addressing climate change and sustainability.

President Ferguson will be working with the new chair, Wim Wiewel, president of Portland State University.

ACUPCC was launched in early 2007. It is staffed and supported by Second Nature, a Boston-based national nonprofit organization that includes colleges and universities in all 50 states and the District of Columbia, representing nearly 6.5 million students — about one third of the U.S. higher education student population. The program is led by a Steering Committee of more than 20 presidents of colleges and universities from around the country and across the breadth of higher education. The committee is responsible for guidance, policy and direction of the ACUPCC.

ACUPCC is an intensive partnership among more than 680 colleges and universities to accelerate the education, research and community engagement to equip society to restabilize the earth’s climate, while setting an example by eliminating net greenhouse gas emissions from their own operations. (presidentsclimatecommitment.org). Second Nature works to create a healthy, just, and sustainable society beginning with the transformation of higher education. Second Nature is the support organization of the American College and University Presidents’ Climate Commitment. (secondnature.org).

The Steering Committee, chaired since 2010 by Timothy White, Chancellor of the California State University system, oversaw an ACUPCC network that not only grew in participation but, by 2014, had reduced greenhouse gases by over 25 percent cumulatively across the network.

“Chairing the steering committee of such an innovative, important, and successful effort has been a privilege and a true highlight for me,” indicated Chancellor White. “It’s now even more critical than when we started the ACUPCC seven years ago, that we continue to drive progress across higher education in developing and implementing effective climate responses. President Wiewel and President Ferguson are exactly the right people to further accelerate our efforts.”

UMaine is a national leader in sustainability. Since becoming president in 2011, Dr. Ferguson has maintained a long-held commitment to engagement, inclusivity and quality. Currently, UMaine is in the third year of the Blue Sky Project, a five-year strategic plan designed to elevate the University of Maine to new levels of excellence as the most distinctively student-centered and community-engaged of the American research universities.

Portland State University has received numerous awards for its sustainability programs. Led by President Wiewel since 2008, Portland State has developed a renewed focus on expanding civic partnerships in the region and achieving a new degree of excellence through investments, such as the $25 million James F. and Marion L. Miller Foundation challenge grant for sustainability.

Both universities became ACUPCC signatory schools in 2007 — its first year of existence.

“Stepping into these roles after such incredible progress and leadership that has already been demonstrated allows us to build on a foundation that, since 2007, has enjoyed the active commitment of not only a diverse and engaged Steering Committee but also the entire network,” said President Ferguson. “ACUPCC continues to play an enormous role in helping our students thrive in the 21st century, and we aim to continue to promote and grow this effort.”

“The 680 ACUPCC institutions employing a wide variety of solutions to make sustainability a bedrock principle of society are not only rebuilding our economy but are also helping to chart a future in which prosperity, security, and health coexist easily,” said David Hales, President of Second Nature. “At Second Nature, we are thrilled that Dr. Wiewel and Dr. Ferguson have agreed to head the Steering Committee and we look forward to continuing to support the ACUPCC network and their leadership.”

UMaine is in a “smart-growth” period of sustainability. Even with essential new construction and necessary upgrades to older infrastructure, multiple building renovations and energy-efficiency upgrades have contributed to an overall reduction in energy use and greenhouse gas emissions since 2005. And thus far, the university’s sustainability initiatives have earned it national recognition.

Continued sustainability at UMaine is important because it can produce reductions in operating costs that save money for the university, community and students; promote institutional leadership by setting models for other buildings in the state and country; and create community engagement through the use of local building or energy companies.

The university is now home to five LEED-certified buildings, including three silver and one gold. It has a comprehensive campus recycling program, which includes a new, advanced composting facility, and is a participant in STARS — the Sustainability Tracking, Assessment and Rating System. Among UMaine’s recent honors and distinctions recognizing its national leadership as a green campus:

  • In 2009, UMaine developed an award-winning Campus Master Plan focused on sustainability.
  • In 2010, UMaine received a Special Recognition Award from the U.S. Green Building Council.
  • Listed in Princeton Review’s Guide to Green Colleges from 2010–2013 and named to Princeton Review’s Green Honor Roll, a list of 16–20 U.S. colleges and universities, in 2011 and 2012.
  • Recipient of the 2011 Second Nature Climate Leadership Award recognizing outstanding climate leadership. UMaine received the award representing doctoral institutions.
  • UMaine is a charter signatory of the ACUPCC and has been a member in good standing for seven years.

Contact: Margaret Nagle, 207.581.3745

UMaine to Host IFTSA Regional Meeting, April 11-12

Thursday, April 10th, 2014

About 75 students from the University of Maine, University of Massachusetts, Penn State, Rutgers and Cornell are expected to gather at the UMaine campus April 11–12 for the Institute of Food Technologists Student Association’s (IFTSA) North Atlantic Area Meeting.

The event brings together students from food science departments in the North Atlantic area, and provides them with updates and information from the Institute of Food Technologists (IFT) and its student association.

The meeting also serves as a food science trivia contest among the five universities. The winning institution of the North Atlantic Area College Bowl Competition will advance to the finals at the IFT Annual Meeting in New Orleans, La. in June.

Mary Ellen Camire, president-elect of IFT and professor of food science and human nutrition at UMaine, will speak at the regional meeting’s welcome dinner on April 11.

For more information or to request a disability accommodation, contact UMaine student Kaitlyn Feeney on FirstClass.

UMaine Bioengineering Students Collaborate With The Jackson Laboratory, IDEXX Laboratories on Capstone Projects

Wednesday, April 9th, 2014

Three University of Maine student research teams in bioengineering are collaborating with The Jackson Laboratory in Bar Harbor and IDEXX Laboratories Inc., in Westbrook on senior capstone projects.

Working under the supervision of Professor David Neivandt, director of UMaine’s Graduate School of Biomedical Science and Engineering, and coordinator of the undergraduate bioengineering program, the bioengineering seniors are involved in semester-long capstone projects in which they develop device concepts and methods to improve biological systems that benefit society.

“In the early stages of our classes, we have a lot of canned problems,” says Jeff Servetas, Hancock, Maine, of his bioengineering coursework. Now as seniors, the students are developing solutions to open-ended questions that have not been addressed before.

Two teams are working with IDEXX — one team will work to develop a device veterinarians could use to test for ear mites in dogs, while the other team’s focus is to design a method to provide precise, accurate and rapid quantification of spot density in the IDEXX SNAP® test for screening for diseases.

“I really feel like I’m making a difference,” says Servetas of the project. “If the work I do relieves pet owner of the burden, we’re making a difference.”

Tony DiMarco, vice president for research and development at IDEXX, says working with UMaine students in co-ops and on capstone projects is enjoyable. “The students are fantastic — they jump headlong into projects and thrive on working through complex design problems, using a systematic approach that reveals their intense training. It allows us to get a head start on new projects, or explore some new areas that we might not otherwise work on,” he says.

A third bioengineering team was asked by Jackson Laboratory to develop a device to keep mice warm during embryo transplant surgery, thereby improving the success rates.

The next project in the course will send the students to Dirigo Pines in Orono, where they will be working with the residents and staff to identify problems that can be addressed with engineering solutions.

Majoring in bioengineering at UMaine means majoring in problem-solving, says Coady Richardson of Madison, Maine. “I’ve always liked puzzles and solving problems. (Bioengineering) is the most challenging program on campus,” says Richardson, adding that working with Jackson Lab mentors has taught him how to effectively communicate about research.

Having a well-rounded “toolbox” of problem-solving and communication skills with which to address bioengineering challenges is a true boon, according to the students.

“We learn to be professionals,” says Haylea Ledoux of Bedford, N.H. While communicating in different “engineering languages” is important, being able to learn in different styles has made the most difference, she says.

“It’s a big test for us to prove to ourselves that we have the knowledge and are capable of doing this,” says Ledoux.

Contact: Margaret Nagle, 207.581.3745