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Finding Home in Franco America

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

Melting During Cooling Period

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’s 2014 Honorary Degrees

Two icons in literature and music in Maine — international best-selling author Tess Gerritsen and singer-songwriter David Mallett — will receive honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degrees and share remarks at the 212th Commencement May 10 at the University of Maine.

Mallett will address the 10 a.m. ceremony; Gerritsen will address the 2:30 p.m. ceremony, both in Harold Alfond Sports Arena.

“We are so pleased that Dave Mallett and Tess Gerritsen will join us for the 212th Commencement and share perspectives from their remarkable careers with the UMaine community,” says University of Maine President Paul Ferguson. “It is UMaine’s distinct privilege to present honorary degrees in recognition of the contributions of Tess and Dave to the arts and humanities.”

Tess Gerritsen earned a medical degree at the University of California, San Francisco in 1979. It was while on maternity leave from her work as a physician that she began to write fiction.

In 1987, her first romantic suspense novel, Call After Midnight, was published. She then wrote eight more romantic thrillers and a screenplay, Adrift, which aired as a 1993 CBS Movie of the Week starring Kate Jackson. In 1996, Gerritsen debuted on the New York Times best-seller list with her first medical thriller, Harvest. She has since published the suspense novels: Life Support (1997), Bloodstream (1998), Gravity (1999), The Surgeon (2001), The Apprentice (2002), The Sinner (2003), Body Double (2004), Vanish (2005), The Mephisto Club (2006), The Bone Garden (2007), The Keepsake (2008; UK title: Keeping the Dead), Ice Cold (2010; UK title: The Killing Place), The Silent Girl (2011) and Last To Die (2012.) Her books have been published in 40 countries. More than 25 million copies have been sold around the world.

In addition, her books have been top-three best sellers in the United States and abroad. She has won both the Nero Wolfe Award (for Vanish) and the Rita Award (for The Surgeon). Critics around the world have praised her novels as “pulse-pounding fun” (Philadelphia Inquirer), “scary and brilliant” (Toronto Globe and Mail) and “polished, riveting prose” (Chicago Tribune). Publishers Weekly has dubbed her the “medical suspense queen.”

Her series of novels featuring homicide detective Jane Rizzoli and medical examiner Maura Isles inspired the TNT television series Rizzoli & Isles starring Angie Harmon and Sasha Alexander.

Now retired from medicine, Gerritsen writes full time from her home in Camden, Maine.

David Mallett of Sebec, Maine, has had a music career spanning four decades. His songs, which take place in or are written about experiences of Maine have been recorded by more than 150 artists, including Pete Seeger, Alison Krauss, John Denver, Emmylou Harris and even the Muppets. His Garden Song has become an American folk classic. He has performed in town halls and folk clubs across America and Europe, in addition to major venues, such as Barns of Wolf Trap, Newport Folk Festival and Prairie Home Companion.

The Bangor Daily News recognized him as one of the 58 most memorable Mainers of the 20th century, along with Marshall Dodge, Andrew Wyeth, E.B. White, Stephen King and Edna St. Vincent Millay. He has recorded 15 albums, including The Fable True (2007), based on Thoreau’s expeditions in the Maine Woods, a spoken word CD with accompanying music.

Mallett began his musical career in Bangor at age 11, performing in a country-folk duo with his older brother Neil. He began writing songs when he was a theater student at the University of Maine. After living in Nashville for many years, Mallett returned to Maine in 1995 and established his own label, North Road Records. He continues to travel and perform on the world stage. His sons, Luke and Will, founded the six-member alt-country/rock Mallett Brothers Band in Portland, Maine.

Contact: Margaret Nagle, 207.581.3745

National Leadership

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:

Contact: Margaret Nagle, 207.581.3745

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

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

Discovery Theme of Award-Winning Author’s Rezendes Lecture

Award-winning author Mary Doria Russell will present the 2014 John M. Rezendes Visiting Scholar in Ethics Lecture at 4 p.m. Wednesday, April 16, in Hauck Auditorium at the University of Maine.

Russell has authored five books, including the 2005 historical fiction “A Thread of Grace,” which was nominated for the Pulitzer Prize. Her talk, titled “The Age of Discovery: From Spain to Space,” is free and open to the public.

The biological anthropologist also penned the science fiction novel “The Sparrow,” which was named one of the Ten Best Books of the Year by Entertainment Weekly and was the 2013 Honors Read for UMaine’s Honors College.

“Important novels leave deep cracks in our beliefs, our prejudices, and our blinders. ‘The Sparrow’ is one of them,” reads Entertainment Weekly’s review of the book that describes a Jesuit missionary’s voyage to the planet Rakhat and his interaction with extraterrestrial life there.

Before becoming an author, Russell taught human anatomy at Case Western Reserve University School of Dental Medicine. She lives near Cleveland with her husband, Don.

The John M. Rezendes Visiting Scholar in Ethics Lecture was established in 1999 to critically engage students, faculty and the community in ethical issues of national importance.

The lecture is part of the John M. Rezendes Ethics Initiative, a program established through a gift from Dennis and Beau Rezendes, which also includes the John M. Rezendes Ethics Essay Contest open to undergraduate students at the University of Maine.

The Rezendes Scholars in 2013 and 2012, respectively, were Arthur Serota ’66, co-founder of the United Movement to End Child Soldiering; and Robert Kenner, creator of the award-winning documentary “Food, Inc. The Ethics of How We Eat.”

Contact: Beth Staples, 207.581.3777

UMaine’s Oldest A Capella Group Becomes the First Student Performing Arts Organization to Endow a Scholarship With the University of Maine Foundation

With an initial $2,500 donation, The Maine Steiners, the University of Maine’s oldest a cappella group, became the first performing arts student organization to establish an endowed scholarship fund with the University of Maine Foundation.

The Maine Steiners Vocal Music Scholarship Fund will promote ensemble singing at the University of Maine, according to the group’s business manager Morgan Cates.

“We wanted to find a way to support involvement with the School of Performing Arts for years to come. It is our goal that this scholarship will give students the opportunity to get involved with the arts who otherwise may not have had that opportunity,” Cates says.

The $2,500 gift along with an $8,000 pledge met the $10,000 goal established for new endowed funds with the addition of matching funds from the University of Maine Foundation’s 80th anniversary matching gift program. The gift included $500 for immediate distribution of the first scholarship in fall 2015.

“We are very appreciative of the Maine Steiners for their commitment to this much needed scholarship support and their vision for the future of the performing arts at UMaine,” says Foundation President Jeff Mills. “This fund represents a significant contribution for a student group.”

Ongoing fundraising for the scholarship fund will occur with the creation of limited edition engraved steins in a “Fill the Steins!” campaign. Steins are currently in production at UMaine’s Innovative Media Research and Commercialization (IMRC) Center in partnership with the Intermedia MFA Program.

The campaign will offer a different stein design annually for the next four years. The first stein will be unveiled in the coming weeks, with subsequent designs offered every January. Each of the 25 annual steins cost $100.

In addition, the Steiners’ next album “Thank You for the Sing!” will be out this month. It is the Steiners’ first album since 2010. The group has spent more than 60 hours in the IMRC Center’s studio, recording tracks in collaboration with audio engineer Duane Shimmel.

“Thank You for the Sing!” will include arrangements of classics such as “Live Like We’re Dying” and “A Little Less Conversation.” A launch party for the album will be held at the IMRC Center April 25. All seven current Steiners perform on the album.

Gateway Mastering, owned by Grammy award-winning mastering engineer Bob Ludwig, will master the tracks. Shimmel and Cates are the producers.

These efforts are in addition to the Steiners’ preparation for their annual spring tour, which will happen in May and take the group across the state and as far as New York.

In addition to Cates, who is from Camden, Maine, the other Steiners are: five other members from Maine — Cain Landry and Forrest Tripp of Saco, Avery Topel of Windham, Derek Willette of Hampden and Mike Knowles of Charlotte; and Rob Laraway of Tilton, N.H.

Anyone interested in the spring tour performance locations or in supporting the fund by purchasing an album or stein can contact steiners@umit.maine.edu or go online (mainesteiners.com). Albums are $10 and will be available at Bull Moose Music and the University Bookstore, and at all Maine Steiners live performances.

Contact: Margaret Nagle, 207.581.3745;

More than 100 Pieces are on Display at the UMaine Department of Art’s Annual Judged Exhibition

The University of Maine’s 2014 annual Student Art Exhibition opens with a reception 5:30-7:30 p.m. Friday, April 4 in Lord Hall Art Gallery. Titled “Be, Do, Make,” the exhibition features 116 pieces from 62 artists.

The exhibition features work in a variety of media, including painting, drawing, photography, sculpture, ceramics, printmaking, graphic design and mixed media. More than 400 pieces by 125 student artists were considered for entry.

An award ceremony will begin at 6:15 p.m. in the Lecture Room, 100 Lord Hall. Andres Verzosa, director of Portland’s Aucocisco Galleries and a UMaine alumnus, juried the exhibition. Awards will include Best in Show, three Juror’s Awards and three Honorable Mentions. In addition, the Department of Art will present more than 50 awards recognizing excellence in studio art, art education studies and art history, according to UMaine art professor James Linehan. The majority of awards will include scholarships totaling nearly $25,000, Linehan says.

Most of the featured artists are students in the Department of Art, with majors in either studio art or art history. However, entries from all majors are accepted and featured in the exhibition.

The Student Art Exhibition has been an annual spring event for more than 50 years. Admission is free and open to the public. The exhibition runs until May 2.

Untitled – Dory Whynot: Oil on paper (Best in Show)
Untitled – Dory Whynot: Oil on paper (Best in Show)

 

An Introvert Exposed – Lucy Ericson: Acrylic (UMMA Award)
An Introvert Exposed – Lucy Ericson: Acrylic (UMMA Award)
Study: Roots – Monique Boutin: Acrylic on paper (Juror’s Award)
Study: Roots – Monique Boutin: Acrylic on paper (Juror’s Award)
Ceramic Teapot – Randima Rodrigo: Ceramic (Juror’s Award)
Ceramic Teapot – Randima Rodrigo: Ceramic (Juror’s Award)
Keystone – Mara Bonsaint: Knitted wool (Juror’s Award)
Keystone – Mara Bonsaint: Knitted wool (Juror’s Award)
Beauty in the Dark – David G. Patrick: Digital photograph (Honorable Mention)
Beauty in the Dark – David G. Patrick: Digital photograph (Honorable Mention)
A Closer Look: Dredging, A Closer Look: Underneath – Hannah Berta: Woodblock print (Honorable Mention)
A Closer Look: Dredging, A Closer Look: Underneath – Hannah Berta: Woodblock print (Honorable Mention)
Kap Sap – Seth Politi: Charcoal (Honorable Mention)
Kap Sap – Seth Politi: Charcoal (Honorable Mention)

Contact: Elyse Kahl, 207.581.3747

UMaine Cooperative Extension Takes on State’s Identification Program with New Tick ID Lab

The University of Maine Cooperative Extension is the new home of the state’s tick identification program. Portland’s Maine Medical Center, which handled the program for 25 years, eliminated the service last December due to funding deficits.

UMaine Extension’s Insect and Plant Disease Diagnostic Lab, which identifies 3,000 plant, pest and insect species each year, will expand its services to compensate for Maine Medical Center’s cut by creating the Tick ID Lab. The lab is expected to receive up to 1,300 additional tick specimens this year.

“It’s going to give the people a much better awareness of ticks and how to avoid ticks in the first place. That’s the big thing this portion of our lab will do,” says Jim Dill, pest management specialist at Cooperative Extension.

Last year, Maine had 1,349 confirmed cases of Lyme disease — a statistic that Dill says is increasing every year. By opening the Tick ID Lab to citizens as well as the usual doctors and veterinarians, Dill believes the lab can help provide peace of mind to Maine citizens.

The Tick ID Lab can help clients determine if they need to seek help from doctors. There are 14 tick species in Maine, not all of which carry disease. Dill adds the Tick ID Lab can help determine if the submitted tick is one of the disease-free species helping “ease your mind or the mind of your doctor.”

Tick identifications cost $10 — to cover supply costs — and can be submitted in person, by mail or through photos on the lab’s new website. The site also provides information on preventative protection from ticks, tick biology, tick removal and more.

Contact: Elyse Kahl, 207.581.3747

Undergraduate Research and Academic Showcase April 1

University of Maine undergraduate research will be highlighted during the 5th annual Undergraduate Research and Academic Showcase, 8 a.m.–5 p.m., Tuesday, April 1 at Wells Conference Center.

The event is sponsored by UMaine’s Center for Undergraduate Research and is open to any undergraduate at the university. Presentations from 149 students in the form of 77 posters, 21 oral presentations or performances, and nine exhibits will be featured. Several presentations include multiple students.

Students presenting projects that receive the highest scores from judges in each format will receive awards ranging from $100 to $200 in various categories, according to Ali Abedi, director of the Center for Undergraduate Research (CUGR).

Vice President for Research Carol Kim will deliver opening remarks at 8:30 a.m. Students are encouraged to pose questions for Kim via Twitter using #CUGR2014.

UMaine President Paul Ferguson is expected to give closing remarks during the awards presentation starting at 4:30 p.m., followed by the announcement of the Summer Research and Creative Academic Achievements Fellowship winners by Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost Jeff Hecker. Ten students will each be awarded a $3,000 fellowship for their research.

The UMaine community and general public are welcome to attend the free event. For more information or to request disability accommodations, call CUGR, 207.581.3583. More information on the showcase is available online.

Contact: Elyse Kahl, 207.581.3747


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