Archive for the ‘Natural Sciences, Forestry, and Agriculture’ Category

McConnon Talks to WVII About Increase in Women Business Owners

Thursday, April 24th, 2014

James McConnon, a University of Maine economics professor and a business and economics specialist with the University of Maine Cooperative Extension, spoke with WVII (Channel 7) for a report about an increase in the number of women who own businesses. According to the report, the number of women-owned businesses in Maine has grown by 34 percent since 1997, but that number is about half of the national trend, with Maine ranking 47th in the country. However, the number of people employed by women-owned firms has grown by 6 percent, and trends are encouraging. “Women business owners have continued to grow at a rate faster than male business owners in Maine and nationally. I think that’s good to see,” said McConnon.

Improving U.S. Fishing Industry

Thursday, April 24th, 2014

Three University of Maine researchers have been chosen to receive funding from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Saltonstall-Kennedy (S-K) Grant Program to pursue research that will benefit the U.S. fishing industry.

Two of the 40 grants were recommended to be given to projects led by UMaine researchers and one to a collaborative effort between UMaine, the University of Maine at Machias and a Massachusetts laboratory. UMaine professors Heather Hamlin, an assistant professor of aquaculture, and Yong Chen, a professor of fisheries population, are the principal investigators of the two UMaine-led studies. Paul Rawson, an associate professor of marine science and a cooperating assistant professor of biological sciences at UMaine, will receive an S-K grant as a collaborator of a study led by Scott Lindell of the Marine Biological Laboratory (MBL) in Woods Hole, Mass.

Hamlin’s study, “The Effects of Regional Temperature Cycles on the Development and Disease Susceptibility of the American lobster (Homarus americanus),” will receive $249,516. The project seeks to determine if increasing ocean temperature is a causative agent in the population decline of lobsters in southern New England.

“The American lobster is an iconic species whose fishery is steeped in tradition in New England,” Hamlin says. “Understanding the effects of increasing ocean temperatures is extremely important to Maine and its economy.”

For more than a decade, lobsters have been experiencing a dramatic population decline in southern New England, according to the project proposal. If the decline spreads into the Gulf of Maine, it would threaten the livelihood and culture of fishing communities, as well as the multibillion-dollar industry they support, the proposal states. The project will examine the effects of increasing ocean temperatures on lobster growth, development and disease susceptibility as they relate to the crustaceans’ population decline in the region.

Co-principal investigators of the project are Deborah Bouchard, a laboratory manager and research coordinator with the UMaine Animal Health Laboratory (AHL) and Aquaculture Research Institute; Robert Bayer, a professor of animal and veterinary sciences and executive director of the Lobster Institute; Ian Bricknell, a professor of aquaculture biology; and Anne Lichtenwalner, an assistant professor of animal science, Extension veterinarian and AHL director.

Chen will receive $229,326 for the project, “Improving survivability of cusk and Atlantic cod bycatch discarded in the Gulf of Maine lobster trap fishery.”

Chen’s study seeks to identify the time and areas where cusk and cod are likely to be caught in lobster traps; identify factors in handling which may significantly influence the survival rates of discarded cusk and cod; evaluate the effectiveness of recompression and venting in improving the survivability of released cusk and cod discarded from lobster traps; develop a protocol to reduce the discard mortality; and conduct an outreach program to educate stakeholders on the discarded groundfish in lobster fisheries.

Rawson is collaborating on a project with Brian Beal, a professor of marine biology at the University of Maine at Machias, and researchers at the Marine Biological Laboratory (MBL) in Woods Hole, Mass. The researchers will receive $373,088 to use the experimental shellfish hatcheries at UMaine’s Darling Marine Center (DMC) in Walpole, Maine and the MBL to develop technology to cost-effectively produce mussel seed to meet the needs of the Northeastern United States mussel culture industry.

According to the group’s proposal, the Northeast’s mussel culture industry is poised for expansion. In past years, an inconsistent local supply of wild mussel seed has caused reliability problems for businesses both in the region and around the world. Moving toward hatchery-reared seed could improve the availability and volume of seed and help mussel farmers in the Northeast succeed.

“Our project is proactive in that we will develop cost-effective, steady and reliable hatchery-based seed production so the success of Maine’s blue mussel farms will not be hampered by problems associated with seed availability,” Rawson says.

The Saltonstall-Kennedy Grant Program is a competitive program administered by the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Department of Commerce. The program provides financial assistance for research and development projects to benefit the U.S. fishing industry, according to the program’s website.

Contact: Elyse Kahl, 581.3747

Top Faculty Awards

Thursday, April 24th, 2014

The University of Maine’s top annual faculty awards for 2014 will be presented May 10 to four researchers in marine sciences, electrical and computer engineering, and computing and information science.

Mary Jane Perry, professor of oceanography and interim director of UMaine’s Darling Marine Center, is the 2014 Distinguished Maine Professor, an award presented by the University of Maine Alumni Association in recognition of outstanding achievement in the university’s mission of teaching, research and public service.

University of Maine President Paul Ferguson announced the three Presidential Awards: J. Malcolm Shick, professor of zoology and oceanography, is the recipient of the 2014 Presidential Outstanding Teaching Award; School of Computing and Information Science Professor M. Kate Beard-Tisdale is the 2014 Presidential Research and Creative Achievement Award; and the 2014 Presidential Public Service Achievement Award recipient it Bruce Segee, professor of electrical and computer engineering, and director of the University of Maine System Advanced Computing Group.

“This time of year with Commencement approaching, it’s particularly rewarding to celebrate the caliber and outstanding achievements of our faculty,” said President Ferguson. “Mary Jane, Kate, Malcolm and Bruce are all well known at UMaine for the difference they make in the lives of our students, and they are recognized and renowned far beyond campus for their engagement and achievements related to their fields. They represent UMaine’s flagship difference and we take pride in their contributions.”

The award recipients will be honored at the Faculty Appreciation and Recognition Luncheon, noon–1:30 p.m., May 10 at Wells Conference Center.

The following faculty descriptions are excerpted from the nomination packages submitted to the selection committees:

2014 Distinguished Maine Professor
Mary Jane Perry, professor of marine sciences and oceanography
Interim director of the Darling Marine Center

Mary Jane Perry is an internationally recognized researcher, gifted teacher and dedicated mentor to young scientists. She teaches — and reaches — students, from marine sciences majors to Ph.D. candidates, multidisciplinary ocean scientists and the lay audience. Perry is known for her ability to effectively provide students with the necessary knowledge for understanding, but also to instill the skills and curiosity that motivate them to teach themselves. In the School of Marine Sciences, she has been helped focus the successful undergraduate program on hands-on learning, interactivity and team learning. Perry is an active member of the school’s undergraduate curricula committee, and has served multiple times as the Oceanography Graduate Program coordinator. In the laboratory, Perry has spent her career passing on her interdisciplinary oceanographic vision, careful scientific approach and high academic standards on to her graduate students. One measure of her success is reflected in the careers of her former graduate students. They include a deputy director and program manager for the U.S. Navy’s Office of Naval Research, a program manager at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and department chairs at Bowdoin College and Princeton University. Perry and her students have a wide footprint on ocean science in the United States. One of the deepest influences Perry has had on students and oceanography is through the graduate-level ocean optics course she founded in 1985. The course, funded first by the U.S. Office of Naval Research, then the National Science Foundation (NSF) and now NASA, has maintained a subdiscipline of oceanography and created an international group of experts. A widely published researcher, Perry’s papers are often at the forefront of new developments and cut across disciplines, opening doors for future investigations. She is a research pioneer in the study of ocean optics and ocean biology, and the use of autonomous underwater gliders for remote ocean measurements. Since 2000, Perry’s research has brought more than $7 million to the University of Maine in sponsored funding. The diversity of funding agencies sponsoring her research and her service on advisory boards are testament to her expertise. Perry has been invited to sit on steering committees and advisory panels of such entities as NSF, the National Research Council, NASA and a number of European science programs. Perry received a Ph.D. in oceanography from the University of California San Diego. She joined the UMaine School of Marine Sciences faculty in 1999, and was named interim director of UMaine’s Darling Marine Center in 2013. Perry was elected an Oceanography Society Fellow in 2010. She received NSF’s Creativity Award in 2009 and 2003, and is one of three invited plenary speakers for the 2014 Ocean Sciences Meeting, the largest and most important gathering of aquatic scientists in the world.

2014 Presidential Outstanding Teaching Award
J. Malcolm Shick
Professor of Zoology and Oceanography

J. Malcolm Shick is a gifted educator who introduces students to “a passionate journey of scientific discovery.” In his rigorous classes, students appreciate his knowledge and enthusiasm for the subject matter, the attention to detail in his meticulously crafted multimedia lectures, and his interest in the quality of each student’s learning experience. In the classroom or the lab, Shick is a mentor to undergraduate and graduate students, and colleagues. Two decades ago, his passion for enhancing student learning in his introductory course led him to institute electronic-based practice exams, which he subsequently helped develop into interactive tools on course websites used today. Ten years ago, Shick helped to inaugurate the popular cornerstone Integrative Marine Science series — four modular core courses in the School of Marine Sciences. Similarly in 2012, he introduced a wide-ranging new graduate-level core class in marine biology for incoming graduate students. Shick’s well-known exploration of the representation of marine sciences in the visual and performing arts, and other humanities, is evident in all his classes, but especially in his course on the biology of marine organisms for first-year students. His other classes include undergraduate courses in ecology, comparative animal physiology, and an honors tutorial in “aesthetic marine biology,” and graduate seminars on such topics as photobiology, symbiosis, and physiological and ecological energetics. Shick’s teaching is informed by his research, largely funded by the National Science Foundation and the National Geographic Society, that takes him around the world. His eco-physiological research of the ocean’s creatures, especially corals, helps forecast how they will be affected by environmental change. He has been a visiting researcher and instructor at such prestigious institutions as the Australian Institute of Marine Science, the Plymouth (U.K.) Marine Laboratory, the Marine Biological Laboratory (Woods Hole), the Université de Nice-Sophia Antipolis, and the Centre Scientifique de Monaco. In 1974, Shick received his Ph.D. in biology from Texas A&M University and joined the University of Maine zoology faculty. He received UMaine’s 1992 Presidential Research and Creative Achievement Award and was elected an American Association for the Advancement of Science Fellow in 1984. Shick’s extensive publishing history includes more than 80 scientific articles and a book, A Functional Biology of Sea Anemones.

2014 Presidential Research and Creative Achievement Award
Kate Beard-Tisdale, professor, School of Computing and Information Science
Director of the National Center for Geographic Information and Analysis at the University of Maine

Kate Beard-Tisdale is an internationally recognized researcher in geographic information science. Through her research and research-based teaching at the University of Maine, she has applied GIS and spatial analysis in a wide range of applications — from the analysis of cancer incidence and mortality to emergency response services and precision agriculture. For more than two decades, her work has made significant contributions in the fields of visualization, spatial uncertainty, geo-ontologies, digital libraries, spatio-temporal modeling and event detection. Under the auspices of the National Center for Geographic Information and Analysis, Beard-Tisdale has led or co-led several major research initiatives. Her research has received more than $10 million in funding from sources that include the National Science Foundation (NSF), U.S. Department of Defense and U.S. Geological Survey. In the last five years alone, she has had more than 36 funded research grants totaling more than $5 million. Beard-Tisdale was a lead cooperator in the NSF-funded Alexandria Digital Library project based at the University of California Santa Barbara. Similarly, she was the principal investigator on projects to develop digital spatial libraries for the Gulf of Maine and Maine lakes. Beard-Tisdale’s multidisciplinary research makes her the model of a modern information scientist for her students. Her leadership across disciplines landed a NSF Integrative Graduate Education and Research Traineeship (IGERT) award for a novel doctoral research program in sensor science, engineering and informatics. Beard-Tisdale’s research collaborations included an NSF-funded project to investigate the application of spatial concepts to genome mapping. Working with colleagues at The Jackson Laboratory and Maine Institute for Human Genetics and Health, the research team studied spatio-temporal models for tracking exposure histories for epidemiological research. Beard-Tisdale’s extensive research publishing includes 50 journal publications, chapters in 11 scholarly books and professional presentations at more than 70 international, national and state conferences. Beard-Tisdale joined the University of Maine in 1987 after completing a Ph.D. at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

2014 Presidential Public Service Achievement Award
Bruce Segee
Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering
Director of the University of Maine System Advanced Computing Group

Bruce Segee has been actively engaged in public service since for more than two decades, assisting entrepreneurs and businesses large and small with cutting-edge instrumentation and automation systems. Since 2007, his work has focused on improving the cyberinfrastructure in Maine and the Northeast that is critical to the success of the University of Maine and the region. His interdisciplinary work ranges from development of production-ready infrastructure to the creation of new technologies for visualization, education and communication. His research and outreach efforts have improved the usefulness of laptops in K–12 education, supercomputing and cloud computing, networking and videoconferencing, and resource sharing. Segee helped spearhead the state’s Three Ring Binder project, which brought $25 million in funding, matched by $6 million in private investment, to form the Maine Fiber Company, providing unprecedented rural connectivity and job creation with the installation of more than 1,100 miles of fiber-optic cable. Three Ring Binder, completed in 2012, was followed the next year by Gigabit Mainestreet, a public-private partnership between UMaine and Great Works Internet to bring gigabit-speed connectivity to the Orono and Old Town communities and resulted in UMaine being cited as one of the top 10 universities for connectivity nationwide. Gigabit Mainestreet is part of a nationwide program named Gig.U, and Segee had a leadership role in bringing Gig.U to Maine. He has served as the director of the UMaine supercomputer, providing cost-effective, cutting-edge computational power for many significant research projects, classes and simulations for K–12 education. In addition, he directs the UMaine Cyberinfrastructure Investment for Development, Economic Growth and Research, and has been involved in the annual Maine Learning Technology Initiative of the state Department of Education. Segee holds the Henry R. and Grace V. Butler Professorship of Electrical and Computer Engineering. He received the College of Engineering’s 2008 Ashley S. Campbell Award, as well as Dean’s Awards of Excellence in 2004 and 2008, Outstanding Young Faculty Research Award in 1995 and Outstanding Young Faculty Teaching award in 1994. Segee received a bachelor’s and master’s degree in electrical engineering from the University of Maine in 1985 and 1989, respectively, and was awarded the College of Engineering Outstanding Graduate Student Award in 1988. In 1992, he received a Ph.D. in Engineering from the University of New Hampshire and joined the UMaine engineering faculty. His publishing has included co-writing a textbook, Microprogramming and Computer Architecture.

Contact: Margaret Nagle, 207.581.3745

AP Interviews Wahle for Article on Lobster Decline

Wednesday, April 23rd, 2014

The Associated Press spoke with Rick Wahle, a University of Maine research professor at the Darling Marine Center, and cited UMaine research for a report about the steady decline in the number of baby lobsters settling off the coast of Maine and how the decrease could put an end to recent record catches. The article cited a UMaine survey of 11 Gulf of Maine locations that found young lobsters have declined by more than half of their 2007 levels. UMaine divers have been tracking the settlement rates of Maine lobsters since the late 1980s, according to the article. Wahle said the lobsters could be thinning out for many reasons, including rising ocean temperature. He added the lobster decline is “telling a story of gradually — and more recently rapidly — declining settlement in the Gulf of Maine on a widespread basis,” which is raising concern. ABC News, Yahoo News, NBC News, Portland Press Herald, Morning Sentinel and WABI (Channel 5) carried the AP report.

DMC Hosts Natural Science Illustration Workshop

Wednesday, April 23rd, 2014

The University of Maine Darling Marine Center is offering a Natural Science Illustration Workshop from July 28 through Aug. 1 in Walpole.

David Wheeler of the Pratt Institute’s Center Extension Campus at Munson-Williams-Proctor Arts Institute will lead the workshop, which focuses on using pencils, pens, paints and computers to capture the natural world on paper. No prior art training is required. Wheeler has created life-sized dinosaur models for the American Museum of Natural History in New York and Osaka Museum of Natural History in Japan. His artwork is in permanent collections of museums, universities and marine centers.

Cost of the workshop is $370. Lodging and food are available at DMC for an additional fee. More information, including how to register by June 1, is online.

Camire Quoted in CTW Features Article on Healthy Snacking

Tuesday, April 22nd, 2014

Mary Ellen Camire, professor of food science and human nutrition at the University of Maine, was quoted in the CTW Features article “Avoid the snack traps.” Camire said to get the most nutritional benefits from snacks, people should look at their eating habits and decide what types of foods are lacking and make up for them with snacks. She gives the example of snacking on yogurt in the morning and string cheese in the afternoon if dairy intake is a concern. She also suggested keeping snacks at 200 calories or less. Philly.com and Quad Cities Online carried the report.

Emerald Ash Borer Research, Symposium Mentioned in Morning Sentinel Article

Tuesday, April 22nd, 2014

Research and outreach efforts being done at the University of Maine to learn more about the devastating effects of the emerald ash borer were mentioned in a Morning Sentinel article about how the Asian beetles are threatening the livelihood of Maine’s American Indian basket makers by destroying ash trees, which are needed to create the traditional baskets. The basket makers are part of an anti-borer coalition that includes university researchers, entomologists and forestry officials. For the last several years, the faculty at  UMaine’s Senator George J. Mitchell Center and Maine’s Sustainability Solutions Initiative have hosted an annual symposium about the invasive pests. Last year, the event drew 65 people from a variety of state and federal agencies, entomologists and Wabanakis. The article also stated UMaine researchers have begun mapping existing ash and collecting and preserving ash seeds that could be replanted after a potential wave of devastation.

UMaine Spruce Budworm Research Referenced in MPBN Report

Tuesday, April 22nd, 2014

Research being conducted at the University of Maine was cited in the Maine Public Broadcasting Network report “Maine bracing for another spruce budworm outbreak.” The spruce budworm, one of the most damaging native insects of spruce and fir trees, is currently attacking trees in Quebec, and Maine forestry officials fear the insect could start destroying state forests in the next two to four years. The last outbreak in Maine began around 1970 and ended in 1985, killing more than 20 percent of the state’s fir trees, according to the Maine Forest Products Council. Patrick Strauch of the Maine Forest Products Council, told MPBN this time landowners hope to stay ahead of the bug and do targeted, presalvage cutting. Researchers at the University of Maine are helping with the preventative effort by conducting modeling to help landowners plan ahead.

Gabe’s Forest Industry Study Cited in Mainebiz Article

Tuesday, April 22nd, 2014

A 2013 study by University of Maine economist Todd Gabe was cited in the Mainebiz article, “Farm Credit East merger seen as beneficial to Maine farmers, loggers, commercial fishermen.” According to Gabe’s study, the forest industry in Maine has a total economic impact of $8 billion and direct employment of 17,075 workers.

Billings Book Signing May 1

Monday, April 21st, 2014

Cathy Billings of the University of Maine’s Lobster Institute will offer a book signing for her first volume, The Maine Lobster Industry: A History of Culture, Conservation and Commerce, 11 a.m.–noon, May 1, at the Martin Luther King Plaza outside the Memorial Union. In case of rain, the event will be moved to Rogers Hall, second floor conference room. The book, published by The History Press, reveals the hardworking history beyond the trap. Since the first recorded lobster catch in 1605, the Maine lobster fishery has grown into a multibillion dollar force. Billings’ book embarks on a journey from trap to plate, introducing readers to lobstermen, boat builders, bait dealers, marine suppliers and the expansive industry that revolves around the fishery. Strides in sustainability have been a hallmark of the Maine fishery throughout the centuries, from the time lobstermen themselves introduced conservation measures in the mid-1800s. Today, Maine’s lobster fishery is a model of a co-managed, sustainable fishery and the people who work Maine’s lobster fishery have developed a coastal economy with an international influence and deep history.