Archive for the ‘News Releases Home Page’ Category

UMaine Doctoral Graduate Receives International Prize for Studying First Human Settlement in Peruvian Andes

Tuesday, January 7th, 2014

A University of Maine alumnus and faculty associate in the Department of Anthropology recently won an international prize for his ice age research related to the first human settlement in the high Peruvian Andes.

Kurt Rademaker, who is also an associate graduate faculty member at UMaine’s Climate Change Institute, won the Tübingen Research Prize in Early Prehistory and Quaternary Ecology. The award is open to recent doctoral recipients around the world in a variety of areas including archaeology, ecology and human evolution.

The goal of Rademaker’s research is to better understand the timing, environmental setting and adaptations related to the early settlement.

“Human colonization of the Americas was the most rapid and extensive geographic expansion in our species’ history, in which hunter-gatherers successfully settled some of the most challenging environments on Earth,” he says.

Rademaker and his team discovered humans lived at 14,700 feet elevation in southern Peru about 12,000–12,500 years ago, making the Andes settlements the highest known ice-age archaeological sites in the world.

“The fact that hunter-gatherers were physiologically capable of living in high-altitude mountains at the end of an ice age is an example of how amazingly adaptable our species is. My team and I are trying to learn more about how people managed this initial settlement and how Andean environments, ecology and culture have changed since then,” he says.

Rademaker collaborates with researchers from throughout the United States, Canada, Peru, Chile and Germany.

“Many different skill sets are needed to do interdisciplinary work, and archaeology is labor-intensive, so this means building teams of people with varied specializations,” he says.

Rademaker considers his work somewhat nontraditional because he uses an interdisciplinary systems approach that combines archaeology and other earth science techniques to investigate the long-term evolution of landscapes in which people play an important role.

Rademaker and his team can sometimes estimate the age of settlements by tools found at sites. Other times the researchers excavate areas in rockshelter sites used as camps and retrieve organic material such as animal bones that people discarded then radiocarbon date the bones to determine their approximate age.

Research conducted by Rademaker and his team suggests that the first people in the Peruvian Andes settlements hunted Andean camelids — ancestors of today’s alpacas and llamas — and Andean deer. The people may have also eaten plants, but a complete picture of their diet awaits further study, Rademaker says.

“One interesting finding is that there are stone tools in the shelter that do not come from the highlands but from lower-elevation canyons,” Rademaker says. “So these people may have been moving between low and high elevations, perhaps seasonally.”

The Tübingen Research Prize is administered by the Department of Early Prehistory and Quaternary Ecology housed in the Institute for Pre- and Protohistory and Archaeology of the Middle Ages at the Eberhard Karls University in Tübingen, Germany. The prize, in its 16th year, was created to promote innovative research among scholars studying ice age archaeology, Quaternary ecology and human evolution.

“It is such a great honor to win this award,” Rademaker says. “Tübingen has one of the premier archaeological departments in the world. The Department of Early Prehistory and Quaternary Ecology is renowned for its archaeological sciences expertise and groundbreaking work on human prehistory and evolution throughout Africa, Asia and Europe.”

In accepting the award, Rademaker is slated to deliver the prize lecture Feb. 6 at the Fürstenzimmer of Schloss Hohentübingen, where he will receive 5,000 Euros ($6,800). As the winner, he is also expected to contribute a research paper summarizing the major aspects of his research for the journal Mitteilungen der Gesellschaft für Urgeschichte.

“I have lots of ideas for future research, so I hope to have the opportunity to continue in academic archaeology,” Rademaker says.

Rademaker has been researching early human settlements in the high Peruvian Andes for about 10 years and has made 13 trips to Peru to complete his master’s and Ph.D. research.

“In total, I have spent about a year of my life camping in the high Andes while doing fieldwork,” he says.

Rademaker, who has been interested in the settlement of the Americas since he began his career in archaeology in 1996, became involved in Peruvian archaeology and climate change through the Climate Change Institute when he came to UMaine in 2003.

“I had the good fortune to have Dan Sandweiss as my graduate adviser,” Rademaker says. “Dan invited me on his field project in Peru in 2004, and I have been hooked on the Andes ever since.”

In 2008, Rademaker won the Society for American Archaeology’s Douglas C. Kellogg Geoarchaeology Award and the Geological Society of America’s Claude C. Albritton Archaeological Geology Award for research by a graduate student. Rademaker is the second person to win both awards and the only person to win them in the same year, according to his former adviser Sandweiss, the dean and associate provost for graduate studies and a professor of anthropology and quaternary and climate studies.

Rademaker earned a doctoral degree in Quaternary archaeology from UMaine in 2012 and a master’s degree in Quaternary and climate studies in 2006. He also holds a bachelor’s degree in anthropology from the University of Kentucky. He is expected to teach archaeology courses at UMaine during the spring semester.

“In addition to being a unique source of information about our own species’ development, archaeology also is a tremendous source of information about past climate and environmental change,” Rademaker says. “Future environmental change is the most serious challenge our civilization faces. Archaeology can help us understand the development of Earth’s landscapes and our current situation.”

Contact: Elyse Kahl, 207.581.3747

Grad Student Developing Pigment Extract From Lobster Shells to Color Fish

Tuesday, January 7th, 2014

A University of Maine graduate student is researching ways to use lobster shell waste to create a pigment extract as a green alternative to synthetic versions found in fish food.

Beth Fulton, a Ph.D. student in food science, is working with other researchers on the project that aims to use environmentally friendly solvents and methods to develop a carotenoid pigment extract from lobster shell waste generated by processing facilities. The extract would be used in food for farmed salmonid fish, such as salmon and trout.

“I feel this project could lead to a really simple answer to a lot of problems that we have in Maine at the same time,” Fulton says, noting that decreasing waste and disposal costs by recycling secondary processing resources could have a positive effect on the fishing industry and communities.

Lobster shells are rich in carotenoid pigments — yellow to red pigments found in plants and animals — that can’t be synthesized in salmonid fish but can be used as a natural colorant in food. Farmed salmonid fish get their color from their diet, which contains commercial pigments that may include synthetic carotenoids from petroleum products, dried copepods, whole yeast and algae, or oil extracts from krill. Fulton says 15 percent of salmon feed cost comes from the commercial pigment alone.

“This pigment can potentially replace artificial color in common food products like farmed salmon feeds, and increase the value of whole lobsters,” Fulton says.

Fulton of Lee, N.H., has been working on the project since 2011, primarily with her faculty adviser Denise Skonberg, an associate professor of food science at UMaine. After citing Skonberg’s research in her master’s thesis at the University of New Hampshire, Fulton decided she wanted to attend UMaine to earn her Ph.D. under Skonberg’s guidance. Fulton also has a bachelor’s degree in food science from Cornell University.

When Fulton first came to UMaine, Skonberg suggested she look at what seafood byproducts are getting thrown away in the state and determine usable and efficient food uses for them.

“When we process lobsters — which are 70 percent of this state’s fishing income — we throw away almost 80 percent of the animal, including shell and organs,” Fulton says.

Fulton took Skonberg’s advice and related it to what she had learned while completing her master’s work on green crabs. During that research, she was fascinated by the adult crabs’ ability to change color from orange to green-blue every year.

“That color change is not very well understood, but has been attributed to interactions between proteins and carotenoids in the shell,” Fulton says. “So I started reading a lot about the pigments in lobster shell because they are similar to the ones seen in green crabs.”

In lobster shell, the main pigment is a red-colored carotenoid called astaxanthin, which when bound to a protein called crustacyanin is a blue-green color, she says.

“I started reading a lot about astaxanthin and found there is a very large market for this pigment, and most of the stuff we use in our salmon food is made artificially from petroleum products that are not extracted from natural sources. Consumers are becoming aware of that and are demanding natural colors,” Fulton says.

Fulton is currently examining different methods of removing minerals from lobster shells. She studies a variety of factors, such as how fine the shell needs to be ground, what type of food-grade chemicals should be used, how the shell should be exposed to the chemicals and what type of agitation should be used to maximize the removal of minerals.

She plans to determine the best treatment for pressurized liquid extraction and then look at the effect removing the minerals has on both cooked and high-pressure shucked waste.

Once the extract is developed, it will be assessed for total carotenoid content, carotenoid profile and antioxidant activity. The researchers also propose the extract will then be added to food for rainbow trout, and the effectiveness of the extract in coloring the fish will be studied in comparison to a conventional synthetic pigment.

After Fulton graduates in 2016, she plans to work in the seafood industry.

The project has received a $4,800 Maine Agricultural Center grant, and Fulton has received a $3,000 graduate student award from the Northeast Section of the Institute of Food Technologists for related research. The group recently applied for a grant to fund the project titled “Green production methods for a high-value product from lobster shell waste.” The proposed study would last two years starting in June 2014.

Contact: Elyse Kahl, 207.581.3747

Provost Jeff Hecker Focuses on Goals for Faculty and Student Success

Monday, January 6th, 2014

Dr. Jeff Hecker, University of Maine Executive Vice President of Academic Affairs and Provost, is enthusiastic about his role in facilitating implementation of the Blue Sky Plan — the university’s blueprint to become a nationwide leader among America’s research universities in student success, achievement and community engagement.

UMaine President Paul Ferguson named Hecker to this position in July. He replaces Susan Hunter, who was named Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs for the University of Maine System.

Provost Hecker, the former Dean of the UMaine College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, says his challenge is to manage the day-to-day operations of the Academic Affairs division while keeping an eye on the big picture — communicating long-range, mission-driven goals, and moving Blue Sky Plan initiatives forward in collaboration with faculty, other Cabinet members and the broader UMaine community.

Hecker describes the Blue Sky Plan unveiled in October 2011 as unified, ambitious, focused and inclusive. He is primarily focused on those initiatives that relate to the academic affairs agenda that are integral to each of the five major Blue Sky Pathways.

“The heart of UMaine’s mission is undergraduate education. As we pursue our research, community engagement and graduate education goals, we can’t lose sight of that core mission,” he says. “The beauty of the Blue Sky Plan is that it is at once aspirational and pragmatic. We are committed to growth as Maine’s land grant research university and equally committed to pursue excellence in our core mission.”

Provost Hecker and Associate Provost for Academic Affairs Jeff St. John are leading the campus in addressing a number of the Blue Sky Strategic Initiatives related to academic affairs. The newly reconstituted University Teaching Council and several Blue Sky Advisory Teams are assisting them in addressing a number of priority issues.

Faculty Development is at the top of the list. Those initiatives include promotion of best practices in the classroom, labs and studios, creating faculty development opportunities for the more than 100 adjunct faculty UMaine employs every year, enhancing online teaching quality, and launching the new Blue Sky Faculty Fellows Program to develop the next generation of faculty leaders and university spokespeople.

Due to significant enrollment increases, particularly in engineering and sciences, Provost Hecker is also exploring a new initiative to bring postdoctoral fellows to UMaine as Visiting Assistant Professors.

During their two- to-three-year fixed-length appointments, the visiting faculty will hone their teaching and research skills to prepare themselves for careers in academia. At the same time, they will help address the need for high-quality instruction in high-demand areas, such as mathematics, English and laboratory sciences.

The idea, Hecker says, is to create opportunities that benefit both the postdoctoral faculty member and UMaine. “These positions could be an important piece of the puzzle,” Hecker says. “We are exploring cost-effective ways of meeting our students’ needs for quality, innovative instruction.”

A second Blue Sky emphasis for Provost Hecker is student success. He is leading a multipronged approach to improve the four- and six-year graduation rates by 10 percent by 2017. “Relative to our peers, we do well,” he says, adding that UMaine’s four-year graduation rate is about 40 percent and its six-year rate is about 60 percent. “But we can do better.”

An advisory group is gathering data about factors that impact whether students remain enrolled, including affordability; timely access to courses they need; and quality of their campus experience.

Dr. St. John, says Provost Hecker, is also working on the UMaine Blue Sky Plan Pathway 2 initiative to improve annual student retention by 5 percent by 2017. From 2011–12, UMaine succeeded in that effort — 81 percent of the 2012 cohort of first-time, full-time students stayed in school, which was a 5 percent improvement from the 2011 cohort, according to the University of Maine Office of Institutional Research. The challenge is to maintain that improvement.

Lastly, Provost Hecker and Faculty Senate President Harlan Onsrud are working collaboratively to create a process of inventorying UMaine’s academic programs to better define UMaine’s strengths and opportunities. By jointly hosting Academic Affairs Faculty Forums in which faculty members discuss academic initiatives and how to best advance strategic goals, the university is engaging in an open process that will help to guide investments central to future success.

“It’s fantastic having an opportunity like this,” Hecker says. “This is my 28th year of employment here and I am thrilled to be in a leadership role, helping UMaine achieve its goals.”

Contact: Beth Staples, 207.581.3777

UMaine Senior to Direct a Benefit Production Featuring 90 Musicians and Vocalists

Friday, January 3rd, 2014

Nearly 90 musicians and vocalists will take the stage Friday, Jan. 17 when the University of Maine School of Performing Arts presents the student-directed production, “An Evening of Rodgers and Hammerstein Classics.”

The 7:30 p.m. event in Hauck Auditorium, directed by UMaine music education senior Ben McNaboe of Yarmouth, will showcase a full symphony orchestra of nearly 50 musicians and 40 vocalists, all of whom are UMaine students, faculty and alumni.

“The program is made up of music from all of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s biggest shows,” says McNaboe. “I think a lot of people have this initial reaction of it being old or out-of-date music, but to me, and I think to a lot of people in the musical theater community, it’s timeless.”

The program will feature 22 selections from such award-winning American musicals as “The Sound of Music,” “The King and I,” “South Pacific,” “Oklahoma!,” “State Fair” and “Carousel.” The event will also feature vocal performances by the university’s premier a cappella ensembles — Maine Steiners and Renaissance. The groups will perform “There is Nothing Like a Dame” and “Do-Re-Mi,” respectively.

UMaine music faculty members flutist Liz Downing and pianist Laura Artesani will perform in the symphony orchestra. The experienced orchestra had its first rehearsal Dec. 8, while the vocalists began rehearsing in November.

UMaine business management junior Morgan Cates of Camden, Maine, will host the event.

Tickets are $22 and available from the Collins Center box office. Ticket information is available at 207.581.1755 or tickets.collinscenterforthearts.org. For more information about the performance or to request a disability accommodation, call 207.581.1781. The event’s snow date is Sunday, Jan. 19 at 2 p.m.

All proceeds will benefit the UMaine’s School of Performing Arts (SPA) to enhance funding for musical and theater tours, instrument repairs and equipment purchases.

“The initial idea to do the project wasn’t as much about raising money,” says McNaboe, who began planning the event a year ago. “It came from this place of identifying that we really don’t collaborate across mediums as much as we should. This is a chance to get a large number of SPA students together in a situation where all of us are working together, between the orchestra and the vocalists on stage, to make this project happen.”

To view the event on Facebook, visit facebook.com/events/1401074010132734.

Contact: Maria NeCastro, 207.581.3743 or Monique Hashey, 207.581.4721

Steneck: Understanding Species Interactions Key to Fisheries Management

Friday, January 3rd, 2014

University of Maine marine scientist Bob Steneck participated in a Florida State University-led study that recommends a paradigm shift for fisheries science and management.

The study spearheaded by FSU biology professor Joe Travis advocates that fisheries experts and managers consider how overfishing and environmental changes disrupt species interactions and alter ecosystems, including pushing some ecosystems past their tipping points.

“In order to succeed, fisheries management must focus on species interactions,” says Steneck, a professor based at UMaine’s Darling Marine Center in Walpole.

Historically, Steneck says, fisheries science has focused on population dynamics, sustainable yields and influences of biological and oceanographic processes on fisheries.

“By incorporating a more ecological approach, we argue that managers can better understand the dynamics of a fishery, and which species interactions, if affected, can push the ecosystems that house a fishery past its tipping point,” he says.

The loss of one major species from an ecosystem can have severe and unintended consequences because of the connections between that species and others in the system. These changes often occur rapidly and unexpectedly and are difficult to reverse, say the researchers.

“You don’t realize how interdependent species are until it all unravels,” says study co-author Felicia Coleman, director of Florida State University Coastal and Marine Laboratory.

One case study looks at the collapse of sardine and anchovy stocks — partially as a result of overfishing — in the 1970s in the Northern Benguela ecosystem off Namibia. Subsequently, the far less calorie-rich bearded goby and jellyfish flourished. African penguins and gannets that had preyed on energy-rich sardines and anchovies, have suffered, say the researchers. African penguins and gannets have declined by 77 percent and 94 percent, respectively.

In addition, Cape hake and deep-water hake production plummeted from 725,000 metric tons in 1972 to 110,000 metric tons in 1990, say the researchers, and the population of Cape fur seals has dramatically fluctuated.

In Europe, Steneck points to the Atlantic cod stock’s seeming inability to rebound from overfishing. Currently, the cod’s former prey, a small fish called sprat, has become hyperabundant to the point that it preys on larval cod.

Closer to home, the decimation of cod and other large predatory species also resulted in a proliferation of sea urchins. In the late 1980s, a sea urchin fishery subsequently developed and boomed, but by the mid- to late-1990s, overfishing had decimated that industry.

With sea urchin stocks depleted, the macroalgae eaten by sea urchins increased substantially. This, in turn, created an ideal habitat for crabs, which are major predators of sea urchins.

In the same ecosystem, Steneck says declines in soft-shell clams are due to an explosion of non-native green crabs. “All of these examples result from strong ecological interactions that are not captured in most fisheries management models,” he says.

While it’s easy to write off one such case study, Travis says taken all together, the paper is a compelling case that “tipping points are real, we’ve crossed them in many ecosystems, and we’ll cross more of them unless we can get this problem under control.”

Steneck agrees. “Our paper provides case studies from all over the world illustrating how a chain of events taken with an appreciation for species interactions can contribute to complex problems in fisheries management,” he says.

The study, titled “Integrating the invisible fabric of nature into fisheries management,” was published in the Dec. 23, 2013 issue of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Travis and Coleman say they hope the research accelerates changes in how fisheries scientists approach ecosystem problems and how fisheries managers integrate system issues into their efforts.

The researchers recommend that more effort be devoted to understanding links between species that set up tipping points in ecosystems and they advised managers be cognizant of data that indicates when a system could be approaching its tipping point.

“It’s a lot easier to back up to avoid a tipping point before you get to it than it is to find a way to return once you’ve crossed it,” Travis says.

Fishing experts generally understand how overfishing affects other species and the ecosystem as a whole but it “needs to be a bigger part of the conversation and turned into action,” Coleman says.

Seven other scientists from the University of Connecticut, University of California-Berkeley, University of California-Santa Cruz, University of Chicago, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and the Centre de Recherche Halieutique Méditerranéenne et Tropicale in France participated in the study.

Contact: Beth Staples, 207.581.3777

Karlton Creech Named University of Maine Director of Athletics

Thursday, January 2nd, 2014

University of Maine President Paul Ferguson has named Karlton Creech director of athletics, effective Feb. 10.

Creech, 41, currently senior associate director of athletics at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill (UNC), will bring 10 years of senior athletics administration experience to UMaine. Creech was one of three finalists invited to interview on campus by the search committee out of a national pool of 68 applicants. The committee, led by Dr. Robert Strong, professor of finance and NCAA faculty representative, consisted of faculty, staff and community partners.

Since 2012, Creech has been UNC senior associate director of athletics, serving as chief of staff and overseeing the department’s capital projects, human resources and facilities. From 2004–12, he was associate executive director for UNC’s Educational Foundation Inc., where he managed capital projects (including coordination of the $88 million football stadium expansion), the Annual Fund, marketing, fundraising and ticket sales programs, as well as donor stewardship and development. He also worked for the Student-Aid Association at North Carolina State University from 2001–04, coordinating ticket sales and fundraising.

“I am so pleased that Karlton will be joining the UMaine leadership team,” said President Ferguson. “He brings to us a remarkable record of athletics leadership and management at the University of North Carolina, one of our nation’s great public research universities. His level of professionalism, coupled to his strong experience in fundraising and management, will no doubt move Black Bear Athletics to new levels of excellence and community engagement.

“I look forward to welcoming Karlton and his wife, Staci, to campus this spring,” President Ferguson added. “I want to especially thank Seth Woodcock for his superb service as interim AD, as well as the entire Athletics Department for their dedicated work during this interim period. I am enthusiastic about their partnership with Karlton.”

Creech, a native of Chapel Hill, received a bachelor of arts degree in political science from North Carolina State University and will complete a master of arts degree in management and leadership from Liberty University in Lynchburg, Va., in 2014. His wife, Staci, a Pennsylvania native who attended UNC on a golf scholarship, received a bachelor of arts in elementary education and currently teaches at the elementary level.

“I am thrilled to be named the next director of athletics at the University of Maine,” Creech said.  “It will truly be a privilege to serve the student-athletes, coaches and staff of UMaine Athletics.

“I would like to thank President Ferguson for entrusting me with the responsibility to lead UMaine Athletics. President Ferguson’s Blue Sky thinking is inspiring, and I look forward to partnering in the achievement of his vision for the University of Maine to become the most distinctively student-centered and community-engaged of the American Research Universities.

“Staci and I are proud to be the newest members of the UMaine family, and we are eager to build strong relationships throughout the community.”

Contact: Margaret Nagle, 207.581.3745

Ethos: 2014 Senior Capstone Art Exhibition Runs Through Jan. 31

Friday, December 20th, 2013

The 2014 senior capstone art exhibition runs through Jan. 31.

Contact: Margaret Nagle, 207.581.3745

 

 

 

Lord Hall Gallery through Jan. 31, 2014
Lord Hall Gallery through Jan. 31, 2014

Ethos 2014 Senior Capstone Art Exhibition

Cultured, Fashioned Eyes #3, 2013
Cultured, Fashioned Eyes #3, 2013

Katy Hein: 3 plate copper intaglio

The Blue Vase, 2012
The Blue Vase, 2012

Monique Boutin: Acrylic/ Canvas Board

Interstice I, II and III, 2013
Interstice I, II and III, 2013

Courtney Schaff: Acrylic/ Canvas

Facial hair Suite: Why Make The Choice?, 2013
Facial hair Suite: Why Make The Choice?, 2013

Ellen Juskewitch

Caine and Abel, 2013
Caine and Abel, 2013

Blake Eden: Acrylics on Lego

Self Portrait, 2013
Self Portrait, 2013

Dory Whynot: Oil on Canvas

Lipstick
Lipstick

Elizabeth Connolly: Charcoal on Paper

Monument for Kintsugi, 2013
Monument for Kintsugi, 2013

Randima Rukshan Rodrigo: Corumba Gray Granite/gold leafing, base bronze, basalt

Colored Vase, 2013
Colored Vase, 2013

Kylee Locke

Maidens: Lilith
Maidens: Lilith

Jessica Lee-Ann Hamilton: Flumo ceramic casting slip, Acrylic paint, kanekalon synthetic hair fibers

Pattern of all Patience, 2013
Pattern of all Patience, 2013

Mara J Bonsaint: Hand-woven, hand dyed and hand spun BFL, Merino wools, bamboo, cashmere, cotton, human hair, mohair, silk

My One Love Suite 1–6
My One Love Suite 1–6

Emily Puleio: Screen Print

Ryan Talbot
Ryan Talbot
Raw Beginning, 2013
Raw Beginning, 2013

Seth Politi: Woodblock Print

Saint John, 2013
Saint John, 2013

Payden Maddocks-Wilbur: Relief Print on Paper

Tirza Clark
Tirza Clark
A Warrior’s Way, 2012
A Warrior’s Way, 2012

Mariah Mills: Photoshop and Intvos 3 Tablet

Untitled #1, 2013
Untitled #1, 2013

Hilary Kane: Wood and Tar

Memory Sparks, 2013
Memory Sparks, 2013

Sarah Frick, Digital Photography

UMaine Reports Record Student Retention Rate Related to the Blue Sky Plan

Friday, December 13th, 2013

Active, interested University of Maine students stay in school, says Robert Dana, UMaine’s dean of students.

Fostering student engagement is therefore important for Dana, who knows a thing or two about longevity and stability. The vice president for student life has been at the state’s flagship university for nearly three decades.

“UMaine truly is a world-class institution and student success is at the top of the priority list,” he says, adding that it’s empowering to help lead the charge for a UMaine Blue Sky Plan Pathway 2 initiative to improve annual student retention by 5 percent by fiscal year 2017.

From 2011–12, UMaine did just that. Eighty-one percent of the 2012 cohort of first-time, full-time students stayed in school. It was a 5-percent improvement from the 2011 cohort, according to the University of Maine Office of Institutional Research.

The national first- to second-year retention rate for four-year public institutions is 72.2 percent, according to ACT (2013) and the national retention rate for selective public institutions is 77.6 percent, according to Consortium for Student Retention Data Exchange (2013).

Dana says that UMaine President Paul Ferguson has energized this community specifically through the Blue Sky Plan and his total commitment to student success and his emphasis on our obligation to support students so they can achieve a college education. According to Dana, this orientation creates all sorts of opportunities.

Opportunities, for instance, to create “super-enriched” interconnected academic, cultural and social environments that serve as effective, durable, connected student support structures. It helps, Dana says, that all faculty and staff are “pulling in the same direction.”

He points to several recent developments intended to bolster student academic engagement and success, including the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences Advising Center, the College of Education and Human Development Advising Center and the Unum Black Bear Leaders program.

Advisers, he says, provide academic guidance, personal support and resources and seek to forge authentic supportive relationships with students. The advisers understand that students are complete and complex human beings, and not just an education or engineering major, Dana says.

The Unum Black Bear Leaders program provides selected first-year students with a trained one-on-one coach, team-building activities, as well as yearlong mentoring, seminars, social events and experiences.

The retention rate of the 113 first-year students who participated in the 2011–12 Unum Black Bear Leaders program was 87 percent; 73 percent surveyed said they had gained leadership skills, life skills and knowledge by participating in the program.

Of the students who completed the program, 13 percent withdrew after the first year, compared to 31 percent of first-year students with similar characteristics who chose not to participate.

Jeffrey Hecker, executive vice president for academic affairs and provost, says it’s key that the multipronged approach to improving both retention and four- and six-year graduation rates is informed by data.

Retention is affected by a number of factors, says Hecker, including affordability, quality of instruction, access to required classes and quality of residential life.

There are more than 200 campus organizations in which students can become socially and culturally engaged and connected, says Dana, whether they’re from Maine, another state or country, are a veteran and/or a nontraditional student.

Dana listed a myriad of ways that students can be a contributor and leader on campus, including through research, volunteering, Greek Life, athletics, theater, music, GLBT advocacy, recreation, the campus newspaper and student government.

“Engagement matters,” he says. “Community matters. Being truly engaged in the world around us provides us with the opportunity to realize leadership. We admit people capable of greatness. It’s true you can do anything you want…teacher, doctor, lawyer, scientist…”

Contact: Beth Staples, 207.581.3777

New Director of UMaine’s Aquaculture Research Institute Named

Friday, December 13th, 2013

Vice President for Research Carol Kim recently appointed Paul Anderson as the new director of the Aquaculture Research Institute (ARI) at the University of Maine. ARI is a statewide resource for research, faculty expertise and facilities dedicated to informing the development of sustainable aquaculture.

In Maine, marine aquaculture includes salmon, oysters, mussels and seaweeds with a growing interest in other species of both finfish and shellfish. There is also a small amount of freshwater aquaculture used to raise bait fish and other species.

Since 2001, Anderson has directed the Maine Sea Grant College Program, another one of UMaine’s research centers overseen by Kim. He will continue in that capacity. “Paul has tremendous leadership skills,” said Kim, explaining that the ARI is an important asset to the developing aquaculture industry in Maine, “I expect successful results as he takes the helm.”

During this two-year appointment as ARI director, which began December 1, 2013, Anderson will oversee a strategic planning effort, an external review of the institute, and will work to align the faculty, student and facilities that are involved in aquaculture-related research towards common goals. “This is an important time in the evolution of aquaculture in the world and strong science is needed to help ensure that aquaculture is integrated in the working waterfront and into the food systems in an ecologically sustainable manner,” Anderson said.

A UMaine alumnus, Anderson served as the extension leader at Maine Sea Grant before becoming its director. From 1989–1999, he worked for the Maine Department of Marine Resources where he directed the Public Health Division overseeing all aspects of seafood safety. In 2003, he chaired the Governor’s Task Force on the Planning and Development of Marine Aquaculture in Maine.

UMaine has aquaculture research facilities at three locations in the state: the Center for Cooperative Aquaculture Research in Franklin; the research laboratory at the Darling Marine Center in Walpole, and the Aquaculture Research Center in Orono.

UMaine to Host Maine Green Crab Summit

Tuesday, December 3rd, 2013

Learning more about the invasive European green crab and its effects on Maine’s coastal and marine resources will be the focus of a Dec. 16 conference at the University of Maine.

Maine Sea Grant, Maine Department of Marine Resources (DMR), Maine Coastal Program and the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) will hold the Maine Green Crab Summit from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Wells Conference Center on the Orono campus.

The public is welcome to attend the free event that aims to offer an opportunity for researchers, fishermen and coastal community members to share information about green crabs, as well as discuss different approaches for green crab control, future management and research.

“Although these invaders have been here for decades, in recent years they have proliferated to a level that is causing severe impacts on the clam fishery and is having other impacts on coastal ecosystems,” says Paul Anderson, Maine Sea Grant director and marine extension program leader.

During the conference, DMR officials plan to release data from a coast-wide survey the organization conducted in August to gain a better understanding of how severe the European green crab invasion in Maine is.

Researchers from UMaine, DMR, University of Maine at Machias, USGS and the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry’s Maine Coastal Program are among those scheduled to present.

Online
registration is required by Dec. 9, and limited funding is available to commercial fishermen to help with travel costs. Lunch will be provided. The summit will also be streamed live online and recorded for those unable to attend.

More information about the summit, including the event’s agenda and details for accessing the webcast, can be found on Maine Sea Grant’s website. A snow date of Dec. 18 has been set.

The Maine Sea Grant college program at UMaine is one of 33 National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) programs throughout the coastal and Great Lakes states and is focused on improving Maine’s coastal communities.