Daniel Williams of Orono has been appointed to serve a two-year term as interim executive director of the Collins Center for the Arts (CCA) at the University of Maine.
Williams replaces John Patches, the longtime director of the Collins Center, who retired Jan. 31.
The Collins Center for the Arts, home to the Hutchins Concert Hall and the Hudson Museum, opened in 1986. Today, it is one of the focal points of community engagement under the Blue Sky Plan, UMaine’s five-year strategic plan.
“Senior Vice President Janet Waldron and I are very pleased that Danny Williams has agreed to assume leadership of the Collins Center for the Arts,” says University of Maine President Paul Ferguson. “Danny has demonstrated remarkable leadership in diverse opportunities at UMaine and consistently brings excellent results. At this time, his leadership and experience are particularly important to the Collins Center for the Arts. Consistent with the Blue Sky Plan, the CCA is poised under his leadership to achieve its full potential, engaging Maine citizens and providing high-quality entertainment and education.”
Since 1986, Williams has been a member of the UMaine community, where he has served in leadership roles in marketing, fundraising, community outreach and the performing arts. Most recently, Williams was associate director of planned giving with the University of Maine Foundation. He is a faculty member in the School of Performing Arts and has served on the Collins Center for the Arts advisory board since 1993, chairing both the Special Events and Gala Committee, and the Community Relations and Outreach Committee.
The Bangor High School graduate received a bachelor’s degree in music and a master’s degree in higher education administration from UMaine in 1991 and 1994, respectively.
In addition, Williams served as president and director of development for the Eastern Maine Community College Foundation, director of annual and reunion giving for the University of Maine Alumni Association, and assistant to the dean for UMaine Enrollment Management. In 1998, he served one term as Maine state representative for District 122.
His honors include the UMaine Patrons of the Arts Vincent A. Hartgen Award in 2005.
“The arts are thriving at UMaine and in the Bangor region, and the Collins Center has an essential and exciting role to play, bringing together the campus, the community and world-class performers.” says Williams. “My commitment is to excellence at the CCA, and to seeing the center continue to expand its educational and cultural impact throughout the region and the state.”
Williams lives in Orono with his wife, State Sen. Emily Cain.
Five hundred middle school girls from across Maine are expected to participate in the 27th Expanding Your Horizons conference at the University of Maine on March 13.
The conference features workshops for students and teachers focused on introducing youth to careers in the science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields. It is coordinated by the UMaine Women’s Resource Center and involves more than 100 volunteers, including university faculty, staff and upward of 40 UMaine students, as well as community professionals.
The activities for students begin at 9 a.m. in Hauck Auditorium with an introductory scientific presentation on traps and vernal pools. Throughout the day, groups of 20 girls will be guided by UMaine students and staff through three workshops. Two of the workshops are STEM-related, while the third focuses on gender equity and the importance of strong friendships.
Topics of the STEM-related workshops range from physics and chemistry to aquaculture and submarines. Throughout the day, girls will have opportunities to meet and hear stories from successful women working in science and math fields.
The gender equity workshop, led by UMaine student volunteers, is a discussion focused on gender dynamics and, this year, will be linked to the issue of cyberbullying.
Girls also will have the opportunity to explore the university campus. “A lot of times, these girls are just so excited to be on a college campus,” says Sharon Barker, director of the Women’s Resource Center. “Many of them may have never been here before, so one of the things we try to do is demystify and try to make them feel comfortable here.”
Teachers attending the conference will participate in a forum featuring a series of professional and educational development discussions in collaboration with the Maine Girls Collaborative Project. This forum, from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. in the Wells Conference Center, is open to the public. Registration fee is $20.
Teachers who attend this event will learn about model programs, available grant funds and how to obtain them, and resources available to them in Maine. Erika Allison of the Maine Center for Research in STEM Education will offer a workshop with strategies for extending the impact of one-time events into successive learning experiences. Kay Stephens, co-author of the book “Cyberslammed,” will present on how to understand, prevent, combat, and transform the most common cyberbullying tactics.
To register for the teachers’ forum or request a disability accommodation, contact Sharon Barker at 207.581.1501.
More information about Expanding Your Horizons is online or available by contacting Sharon Barker, email@example.com; 207.581.1501.
|Schools EYH 2014|
|Brewer Community School, Brewer|
|Caravel Middle School, Carmel|
|Caribou Middle & Limestone Community Schools, Caribou and Limestone|
|Central Aroostook Jr/Sr High School, Mars Hill|
|Dedham Middle School, Dedham|
|Ella Lewis-Pennisula, Prospect Harbor|
|Fort Fairfield Middle School, Fort Fairfield|
|Fort Kent Middle School, Fort Kent|
|Fort O’Brien, Machiasport|
|Greely Middle School, Cumberland Center|
|Helen S. Dunn School, Greenbush|
|Hermon Middle School, Hermon|
|Hichborn Middle School, Howland|
|Houlton High School, Houlton|
|Jonesboro Elementary School, Jonesboro|
|Lyman Moore Middle School, Portland|
|Mountain View School, Sullivan|
|Old Town Middle School, Old Town|
|Orono Middle School, Orono|
|Penquis Valley School, Milo|
|Presque Isle Middle School, Presque Isle|
|Rose Gaffney Elementary School, Machias|
|Seabasticook Valley, Newport|
|Surry Elementary, Surry|
|Trenton Elementary, Trenton|
Seventeen University of Maine nursing students and one faculty member will travel to Belize on March 1 to help administer medical aid to villages throughout the province of San Ignacio during spring break.
On their medical mission trip, the students of the UMaine group Nursing International will bring 250 pounds of medical supplies, most of which was donated by the Partners for World Health.
After fundraising $2,000, the group purchased over-the-counter medications such as vitamins and ibuprofen to donate as part of their weeklong stay. Fundraising also helped pay for the extra luggage costs and gift bags the students plan to give children in the rural areas they will visit near the Guatemala border.
In Belize, the group will work with the local health ministries and International Service Learning. The students plan to blog about their experience.
This is the third year UMaine Nursing International students have traveled abroad on medical missions. The trip is open to all nursing majors. For three senior nursing students, this will be the second time they’ve visited Belize.
“I have freshmen through seniors doing the trip,” said Susan Wheaton, a School of Nursing lecturer and the faculty adviser traveling with the students to Belize. “It has required lots of team building. We need to have freshmen working with the seniors because they have not had the nursing training and assessment so early in their nursing academic career.”
Future missions for UMaine Nursing International are expected to include Cuba and Haiti. The group’s motto is “Healing is an International Language.”
A University of Maine professor helped develop an observation protocol that can document college instruction and student learning of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).
Michelle Smith, assistant professor in UMaine’s School of Biology and Ecology and a member of the Maine Center for Research in STEM Education, designed the classroom observation protocol with three researchers from the University of British Columbia.
Over a two-year period, Smith and her colleagues developed, tested and validated the Classroom Observation Protocol for Undergraduate STEM (COPUS) by which observers document instructor and student behaviors in two-minute intervals during the class period.
“Many observation protocols ask observers to rate instructor quality, but the COPUS focuses on how students and instructors are spending the time,” says Smith.
The resulting data, which can be put into pie chart form, informs professors of their behaviors and the behaviors of students during class. The information is valuable in light of research that indicates undergraduate college students learn more in courses with active-engagement instruction.
A total of 13 student behaviors are documented, including listening to instructor/taking notes, working in groups, answering a question with the rest of the class listening, and engaging in whole class discussion.
A total of 12 instructor behaviors are codified, include lecturing, asking a clicker question, listening to and answering student questions with class listening, guiding ongoing student work during active learning task, and one-on-one extended discussion with one or a few individuals.
Educators can use the information to better understand how they utilize classroom time, as well as identify possible professional development needs. Observation data can also be used to supplement faculty tenure/promotion documentation, Smith says.
Several Maine middle and high school teachers helped Smith and her colleagues test and modify the protocol. “The local teachers were enormously helpful,” says Smith. “They are very dedicated to partnering with UMaine to enhance the STEM education experience for all students.”
The researchers’ article, “The Classroom Observation Protocol for Undergraduate STEM (COPUS): A New Instrument to Characterize University STEM Classroom Practices,” was published in the Winter 2013 edition of CBE-Life Sciences Education. The article was highlighted as an Editor’s Choice in the Feb. 7, 2014 edition of Science magazine.
Contact: Beth Staples, 207.581.3777
During March, the University of Maine Singers will perform five free public concerts in Maine, New Hampshire and Massachusetts.
Dennis Cox, UMaine director of choral activities, will lead the 70-member select choir on its annual spring trip, which will also include daytime performances at elementary, middle and high schools.
The public portion of the tour debuts at 7 p.m. Monday, March 10, at First Baptist Church of Bar Harbor, Maine. Several Singers will be performing in and near their hometowns throughout the tour, including Katherine Parsons of Bar Harbor and Sarah Stanley of Southwest Harbor on opening night.
At 7 p.m. Tuesday, March 11, the Singers perform at the Owls Head Transportation Museum in Owls Head, Maine. Eleven Singers hail from the vicinity — Sierra Ventura and Sarah Bowen of Belfast, Rosaleen Erwin of Brunswick, Morgan Cates of Camden, Dana Douglass of Phippsburg, Kristen Alberts of South China, Alecia Griffin of Randolph, Greg Kritzman of Topsham, Paige Courtney of Somerville and Sara Phillips of Thorndike.
The concert at 7 p.m. Wednesday, March 12, is at the First Parish Church of Christ in Saco, Maine, which is the hometown of Singers Olivia Bean, Philip Kolmar, Cain Landry, Forrest Tripp and Katherine Lees and close to Allen Prout’s hometown of Biddeford.
At 7 p.m. Thursday, March 13, the Singers perform at Winnisquam Regional High School in Tilton, N.H., hometown of member Robert Laraway and adjacent to Northfield, hometown of Victoria Eaton. The tour concludes with a concert at 7 p.m. Friday, March 14, at Lasell College in Newton, Mass. Singers who hail from nearby communities are Hope Milne of Hamilton, Rebecca Bylaska-Davies of Worcester and Stephanie Beatrice of Ashburnham.
Every four years, the Singers perform abroad; in 2012, the group sang in Switzerland, Italy and Austria. Auditions are held each fall for the Singers, nearly half of who pursue majors outside of music.
Contact: Beth Staples, 207.581.3777
University of Maine students in an advanced art education course are facilitating an art-making and fundraising project to aid the purchase of musical instruments for a Bangor organization that works with youth who are homeless or are at risk of becoming homeless.
Students in Constant Albertson’s Topics in Art Education class are teaching teen Shaw House residents how to use art in a beneficial way. UMaine students are helping the youth make ceramic pins that will be sold for $5 at The Rock and Art Shop and Metropolitan Soul in downtown Bangor. All proceeds will go to the Shaw House to buy instruments for the many residents who take music lessons from the staff and volunteers.
The UMaine students involved in the art service learning project are Charlotte Gaylord, Julie Roach and Lowansa Sprague Thompson. The goal of the future art teachers is to work collaboratively in the community to spread knowledge while inspiring creative, positive action.
Last year, students in the class created and sold ceramic mugs to support educational programs for children at Hirundo Wildlife Refuge in Alton, Maine.
A new Maine Space Grant from NASA will put three 12-inch-square, remote-control quadcopters in the air on the University of Maine campus and in open fields in the area beginning this spring.
The $15,000, one-year grant awarded to UMaine professors Charles Hess and Sam Hess will involve undergraduate students. The goal of the grant is to increase student involvement in technology, providing hands-on experience in developing heat sensors and other innovations for environmental monitoring, including temperature gradation.
The students also will learn to fly the lightweight quadcopters, which have four small rotors, can carry payloads of up to 300 grams and remain airborne for up to 20 minutes.
University of Maine researchers are studying the most efficient way to commercially thin regenerating clearcuts from the spruce budworm outbreak of the 1980s that are starting to reach profitable size throughout northern Maine. With no consensus among foresters and those in the logging industry about how best to thin stands, the researchers are investigating commercial thinning treatments that are silviculturally effective.
Jeffrey Benjamin, associate professor of forest operations, and Robert Seymour, the Curtis Hutchins Professor of Forest Resources, teamed with Emily Meacham, now with American Forest Management, and Jeremy Wilson, executive director of the Harris Center for Conservation Education, to compare thinning methods.
In the team’s recent study, they compared two whole-tree and two cut-to-length systems in terms of residual stem damage, retention of downed woody material, product utilization and production cost. While initial results were mixed in terms of residual stand damage, more than four times more biomass was produced from the whole-tree operations. The study also found commercially available equipment can conduct these treatments with skilled operators, but at a high production cost. The best system silviculturally was also the most expensive.
The researchers say efforts to develop cost-efficient harvesting machines to treat the stands should continue. No matter what technological advances are made, logging contractors carry the biggest responsibility for success because they need to balance residual stem damage and crop tree selection with production costs, according to the researchers.
Details of the study were published in the December 2013 issue of the Society of American Foresters’ Northern Journal of Applied Forestry.
UMaine researchers seek to improve the teaching of thermodynamics and electronics in physics and engineering.
Researchers at the University of Maine hope to improve the teaching and learning of two central topics in physics and engineering that are critical to undergraduate programs through a three-year project.
John Thompson, an associate professor of physics and cooperating associate professor of STEM education, and MacKenzie Stetzer, assistant professor of physics and cooperating assistant professor of STEM education, have received $599,999 from the National Science Foundation to investigate student learning of thermodynamics and electronics — including electric circuits — in both disciplines.
“Only in the last 10 years or so have researchers really targeted student learning beyond the introductory level, including in laboratory settings. Interdisciplinary research that focuses on specific physics and engineering content is also relatively novel,” says Thompson of the project.
Both of the targeted areas are aligned with a recent National Research Council report on the status and future directions of discipline-based education research, Stetzer adds.
Undergraduate programs in physics and engineering often include parallel courses that teach the same topics, so the researchers want to determine the important differences between what students do and don’t learn in courses that cover the same material.
Thompson and Stetzer have previously conducted research on learning in STEM fields. Their research — along with studies conducted by many other researchers — confirm that if a student can correctly solve textbook problems, it doesn’t always mean they understand the underlying concepts.
The researchers plan to look at content in parallel courses across disciplines for similarities and differences; study student conceptual understanding across disciplines before and after instruction through written questions, interviews and classroom observations; and use research results to guide the modification and testing of existing instructional materials as well as the development of new materials for use across disciplines to help students learn difficult material in physics and engineering courses.
“Figuring out what works across disciplines and leveraging the strengths of effective instructional strategies employed in both disciplines are ways to increase the efficiency of these typically rather time-consuming research-based curriculum development efforts,” Stetzer says.
Physics Ph.D. students Jessica Clark and Kevin Van De Bogart are leading the work in thermodynamics and electronics, respectively; the research will be the focus of their dissertations. Donald Mountcastle, associate professor of physics and cooperating associate professor of biochemistry, and Wilhelm Alexander Friess, associate professor of mechanical engineering and director of UMaine’s Brunswick Engineering Program are the project’s senior personnel. The research is taking place in courses in mechanical, chemical, and electrical engineering, as well as in physics.
The majority of the project’s research staff are members of UMaine’s Physics Education Research Laboratory (PERL) and the Maine Center for Research in STEM Education (RiSE Center). The PERL consists of about 15 faculty, postdoctoral and graduate students in physics and science education. The RiSE Center includes faculty from several STEM departments and houses programs for a master of science in teaching and a Ph.D. in STEM education.
The researchers say due to the project’s interdisciplinary nature, it has the potential to improve the teaching and learning of physics and engineering at not only UMaine, but beyond, including internationally.
“The development of effective instructional materials based on research is particularly challenging. While many individual faculty develop their own materials and strategies, they usually don’t have time to thoroughly research how well that all works and iteratively refine the materials,” says Thompson, who is also co-director of the PERL.
The modified materials created from the project will be designed to be easily integrated into existing courses and won’t require instructors to implement an entirely new curriculum.
“Coming from a physics perspective, we’ve already begun to see reasoning approaches in engineering classes that we hadn’t observed when working with physics students,” Stetzer says. “We expect to see a similar phenomenon as we collaborate more fully with our engineering colleagues in the project and begin to ask engineering-based questions in physics courses.”
The findings are expected to positively affect all disciplines engaged in teaching thermodynamics and electronics, and could lead to the development of a more coherent educational experience, especially for undergraduates in physics and engineering, the project proposal states. The documentation of differences in instructional approaches and learning outcomes could become a valuable resource for instructors, textbook authors, curriculum developers, education researchers and governing bodies in both disciplines.
“Our findings on student difficulties and the effectiveness of different instructional approaches should inform more nuanced studies within each discipline. This will in turn produce new results that can improve the learning and teaching of these topics more broadly,” Thompson says.
Contact: Elyse Kahl, 207.581.3747
University of Maine researchers have designed a handheld device that can quickly detect disease-causing and toxin-producing pathogens, including algal species that can cause paralytic shellfish poisoning.
The device — a colorimeter — could be instrumental in monitoring coastal water in real-time, thereby preventing human deaths and beach closures, says lead researcher Janice Duy, a recent graduate of UMaine’s Graduate School of Biomedical Science and Engineering. Duy is now conducting postdoctoral research at Fort Detrick in Maryland.
The research team, which includes UMaine professors Rosemary Smith, Scott Collins and Laurie Connell, built a prototype two-wavelength colorimeter using primarily off-the-shelf commercial parts. The water-resistant apparatus produces results comparable to those obtained with an expensive bench-top spectrophotometer that requires technical expertise to operate, says the research team.
The instrument’s ease of use, low cost and portability are significant, say the researchers. The prototype cost researchers about $200 to build; a top-shelf spectrophotometer can cost about $10,000.
A touch screen prompts users at each step of the protocol. Researchers say an Android app is being developed to enable future smartphone integration of the measurement system.
Duy says the device almost instantaneously identifies pathogenic organisms by capturing target RNA with synthetic probe molecules called peptide nucleic acids (PNAs). A cyanine dye is added to visualize the presence of probe-target complexes, which show up as a purple solution; solutions without the target RNA are blue.
The versatile instrument can also be adapted to detect other organisms. The researchers say, in theory, any organism that contains nucleic acids could be detected with the simple colorimetric test. They have verified the system works with RNA from a soil-borne fungus that infects potatoes.
The research team’s teaching and expertise spans several UMaine schools and departments, including Electrical and Computer Engineering Department, the Laboratory for Surface Science and Technology, the Graduate School of Biomedical Science and Engineering, the Department of Chemistry, the School of Marine Sciences and the Department of Molecular and Biomedical Sciences. The Center for Sponsored Coastal Ocean Research at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration provided funding for the project.
The instrument is being incorporated into fresh and marine water testing in the Republic of Korea and the researchers say they’ll give several devices to state officials to test and use in the field in Maine.
The researchers published their findings in the journal Biosensors and Bioelectronics.
Contact: Beth Staples, 207.581.3777