Archive for the ‘Pathway 1’ Category

UMaine forestry, Social Work Researchers Team Up to Help Maine Landowners Overcome Challenges

Monday, February 3rd, 2014

Finding more efficient ways to serve Maine landowners by incorporating social work strategies — including effective communication and resource- linking skills — into forest management is the goal of a collaborative project between researchers at two schools in the University of Maine College of Natural Sciences, Forestry, and Agriculture.

Jessica Leahy, an associate professor of human dimensions of natural resources in the UMaine School of Forest Resources, is leading the study that tests social work approaches to conservation in the Cumberland County town of Baldwin and surrounding communities. Researchers hope to determine if these strategies could lead to more effective outcomes to landowners’ challenges as opposed to using traditional forestry solutions, such as management plans and outreach materials.

“Social workers are good at listening to people — understanding their needs and connecting people to appropriate resources,” Leahy says. “That’s why we need social workers to help landowners; to listen to what they’d like to do with their land, and then connect and coordinate services from natural resource professionals.”

There are more than 85,000 families in Maine that own at least 10 acres of woods, Leahy says. Their needs can be addressed by UMaine, the Maine Forest Service and others if those organizations can provide services that work for landowners, she adds.

Many conservation problems are related to social and economic factors. While foresters and other natural resource professionals help landowners make decisions about land management, they may not be equipped to handle the challenges landowners face that involve family dynamics. A social work approach could be the answer to solving these conservation problems, Leahy says.

“Foresters specialize in land management and trees, but landowners are often dealing with human issues such as how to afford their taxes and how to talk to their family about what they’d like to happen with their land after they pass away,” she says. “Landowners also often don’t know what a forester can do for them nor do they know how to coordinate all the potential natural resource professionals that are there to help them.”

Leahy, the project’s forestry expert, hired Doug Robertson and Chris Young, students in the UMaine School of Social Work. Both Robertson, a senior in the bachelor’s of social work program from Benton, Maine, and Young, a first-year graduate student of social work from Bangor, Maine, grew up around Maine woodland owners. They’re interested in connecting with landowners through the project and learning more about the land that many families rely on and how community organizations can help.

Pam Wells, a licensed clinical social worker, is supervising the students and translating the social work aspect of the project. She is also a landowner who recognizes areas where social work and forestry intersect.

“Pam often talks about how challenging it is to find, understand and coordinate the various assistance programs that are out there for landowners like the Tree Growth Tax Law, Natural Resources Conservation Service cost-share programs and programs offered by the Maine Forest Service,” Leahy says.

Kevin Doran and Andy Shultz of the Maine Forest Service are also helping with the study.

The one-year project, which began in Sept. 2013 and runs through August 2014, received a $6,500 Maine Community Foundation grant. The project’s social work approach to conservation has been untested to date, Leahy says.

“It’s an innovative, highly experimental, never-been-done-before project that is bridging forestry and social work together in an effort to better engage and serve rural families who own forestland in southern Maine,” she says.

Part of the project will include the development of a forest-specific wraparound case management process that will be implemented with one landowning family. The wraparound process in social work recognizes that all aspects of someone’s life — social, economic and ecological — are related. This understanding is then used to help the individual by focusing on incremental progress, involving community support and using science-based interventions, according to Leahy.

The focus of the project will be on measuring and evaluating the outcomes of the approach to improve future efforts.

“Ultimately, we hope more landowners will be empowered to be stewards of their land, and that will lead to healthy forests, healthy rural economies and healthy families,” Leahy says.

Other aspects of the community project include assisting the Small Woodland Owners Association of Maine with succession planning efforts, offering peer-to-peer learning experiences such as suppers and forums, organizing workshops for natural resource professionals to increase their cultural competency and researching community interest in creating a low-income wood bank — similar to a food bank — for the Baldwin area.

Upcoming peer-to-peer learning events include the project’s second woods forum and community supper Feb. 7, a workshop on estate planning for landowners Feb. 27 and a Forester’s Institute brown bag lunch on cultural competency April 11.

Robertson and Young are looking for a family to work with on the project. Interested families must live in Sebago, Hiram, Cornish, Limington, Baldwin or Standish and own at least 10 acres. To participate or for more information on the project or scheduled workshops, call Robertson, 207.435.4798, or Young, 207.992.6182.

Kepware Donates $30,000 Worth of Software to UMaine Students

Friday, January 31st, 2014

Kepware Technologies, a software development company focused on communications for automation, announced it is donating $30,000 worth of software to the University of Maine’s Electrical Engineering Technology (EET) Program. Kepware will outfit each of the 12 computers in the programmable logic controller lab with licenses for its professional-grade suite. About 100 students in the EET program will use Kepware’s software for required classes, which the other 370 full-time students in the School of Engineering Technology can also take as electives. Kepware Technologies’ office is located in Portland, Maine. The full news release is available online.

UMaine Human Development Graduate Students Team with Tri-County Technical Center

Thursday, January 30th, 2014

University of Maine graduate students in the College of Education and Human Development teamed up with Tri-County Technical Center (TCTC) to develop and implement support for the pre-technical program.

TCTC offers 10 career and technical programs to high school students from six schools in Piscataquis and Penobscot counties. The pre-technical program serves students facing challenges in traditional educational settings, offering such fields as culinary arts, metal manufacturing and automotive technology.

In a study of TCTC’s pre-technical programming, UMaine Human Development graduate students enrolled in HUD 553: Program Planning and Evaluation identified understaffing and insufficient funding as the primary challenges to expanding the center’s sustainable agriculture efforts. In the UMaine course, taught by adjunct instructor and TCTC Student Services Coordinator Brian Welsh, the graduate students worked with TCTC staff and administration to develop a recruitment and selection process for field placements, resulting in two students interning with the pre-tech program, and helped secure $6,500 in funding through Lowe’s/Skills USA to build a greenhouse this spring to expand the sustainable energy program.

Innovate for Maine Internship Program Accepting Applications

Tuesday, January 28th, 2014

The University of Maine’s Foster Center for Student Innovation is seeking motivated, innovative Maine college students and Maine companies that want to make a difference for the state through the Blackstone Accelerates Growth (BxG) Innovate for Maine Fellows program, supported by the Blackstone Charitable Foundation.

The BxG Innovate for Maine Fellows program connects the best and brightest Maine college students with the state’s most exciting, growing companies as a way to grow and create jobs in Maine through innovation and entrepreneurship. The program, which is now accepting applications, offers paid internships that place students with companies to receive training in innovation and entrepreneurship, and real-world job experience. Other benefits include potential academic credit and networking opportunities with Maine businesses and other students.

Applications are also available for Maine companies looking for summer interns. Trained innovation experts guide and mentor both the student and the company for the duration of the project.

The application deadline for both fellows and companies is March 1, 2014. More information and applications for the Innovate for Maine program are online.

CUGR Research Fellows Announced

Thursday, January 16th, 2014

The Center for Undergraduate Research (CUGR) has launched the Research Fellows Program, a new Blue Sky initiative to support University of Maine faculty efforts in promoting undergraduate research opportunities. Emerging from 2011 stimulus funding of CUGR as one of six initiatives through the 2011 Presidential Request for Visions of University Excellence (PRE-VUE) Program, this CUGR Research Fellows Program is intended to improve undergraduate research and scholarship mentoring skills, expand curricula to include research and scholarship experiences, and develop proposals for further funding specifically involving undergraduate students.

Twenty-three faculty members who were nominated by their deans to be CUGR Research Fellows will participate in the two-year development program. Workshops will focus on topics such as mentoring undergraduate students, funding sources, responsible conduct of research and grant writing. Each CUGR Research Fellow receives a modest stipend and one undergraduate assistant.

The CUGR Research Fellows are:

Laura Artesani, Associate Professor of Music
Dan Bilodeau, Assistant Professor of Theatre
Tim Bowden, Assistant Professor of Aquaculture
Steven Elmer, Assistant Professor of Kinesiology and Physical Education
Nuri Emanetoglu, Assistant Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering
Nick Giudice, Associate Professor of Spatial Information Sciences
Rob Glover, CLAS-Honors Preceptor and Assistant Professor of Political Science
Will Gramlich, Assistant Professor of Organic Chemistry
Hamish Greig, Associate Professor of Stream Ecology
Mark Haggerty, Associate Rezendes Preceptor for Civil Engagement
Sarah Harlan-Haughey, Assistant Professor of English and Assistant Professor of Honors
Kim Huisman, Associate Professor of Sociology
Karl Kreutz, Professor of Geological Sciences and Climate Change Institute
Jordan LaBouff, CLAS-Honors Preceptor and Assistant Professor of  Psychology
Roberto Lopez-Anido, Professor of Civil Engineering
Benildo de los Reyes, Professor of Molecular Genetics
Shannon McCoy, Assistant Professor of Psychology
Reinhard Moratz, Associate Professor of Spatial Information Sciences
Balunkeswar Nayak, Assistant Professor of Food Processing
Brian Robinson, Associate Professor of Anthropology and Climate Change Institute
Mary Shea, Assistant Professor of Nursing
Ebru Ulusoy, Assistant Professor of Marketing
Faren Wolter, Lecturer

Contact: Margaret Nagle, 207.581.3745

Moxley, Evans to Speak at Acadia Senior College Event on Poetry

Tuesday, January 14th, 2014

Jennifer Moxley and Steve Evans, both associate professors of English at the University of Maine, are scheduled to take part in an Acadia Senior College lunch-and-learn event titled “Demystifying Contemporary Poetry.”

Evans, who also serves on the UMaine Humanities Initiative faculty advisory board, and Moxley will lead the conversation about the challenges and rewards of contemporary poetry. The event takes place Friday, Jan. 24 at Birch Bay Village Inn in Hulls Cove with lunch at 11:30 a.m. and the lecture from noon to 1 p.m.

“Demystifying Contemporary Poetry” is part of “Food for Thought,” a series of lunch-and-learn events offered by Acadia Senior College on the fourth Friday of the month. Acadia Senior College is an educational organization on Mount Desert Island that provides courses and community events for adults 50 and older.

Jim Acheson, a research professor of anthropology at UMaine and author of “The Lobster Gangs of Maine,” is scheduled to give a “Food for Thought” talk April 25.

The University of Maine Launches an Innovative Faculty Leadership Program

Thursday, January 9th, 2014

The University of Maine is launching an innovative leadership program that will prepare a group of faculty from across the campus to serve as ambassadors to Maine communities and constituents. The Blue Sky Faculty Fellows Program will help to strengthen UMaine’s contributions to the state by building a network of faculty leaders who can communicate the importance of UMaine, and build stronger bridges to people and organizations across the state.

The six-month program will provide training in media relationships, interpersonal communication, audience analysis and partnership building. As part of the program, the Faculty Fellows will participate in a state-of-the-art communication and engagement training in conjunction with representatives from Stony Brook University’s Alan Alda Center for Communicating Science. Combining theater improv techniques with communication training, the experience will help participants communicate about UMaine and their own work with passion and confidence.

Laura Lindenfeld, Associate Professor of Communication and Journalism and the Margaret Chase Smith Policy Center, proposed and designed the program in conjunction with Jake Ward, Vice President for Innovation and Economic Development, and Judy Ryan, Associate Vice President for Human Resources and Administration, in order to create better pathways for making UMaine’s work matter more to the state.

“The program is designed to get faculty members and researchers more connected with Maine communities,” Lindenfeld said. “The Blue Sky Faculty Fellows Program will help us bridge boundaries and create stronger connections between our university and the state. We already do so much for the state, but we can do more. Getting a creative, entrepreneurial group of professors together through this program is a remarkable opportunity to increase our ability to help businesses, industries, and citizens. I want this program to help us make a tangible difference, and that is so inspirational and exciting.”

From engineering to marine sciences to art history, the program includes 20 outstanding faculty members who will learn about contemporary issues in Maine. The program will prepare them to make their own research more engaged and relevant to the issues in Maine.

Kathleen Bell, Associate Professor of Economics, was selected to participate in the program. She hopes to gain knowledge, skills, and experiences that will help her advance as a leader, researcher, and community member.

“I adore living in Maine and working at UMaine,” Bell said. “This program really presents me with a unique opportunity to understand the shared histories of Maine and UMaine, and to participate actively in their shared future.”

Ali Abedi, Associate Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering, will also participate in the program and hopes that it can bring about new connections between the state and the university.

“The University of Maine has been playing a pivotal role in Maine’s economy and improving people’s lives for a long period of time, but it is often hard to clearly link the research activities and their impact to the State’s quality of life and show the importance of investing in educating the next generation of students,” Abedi said. “The Blue Sky Faculty Fellows Program is a great way for UMaine faculty to get trained in how to communicate their research with Maine’s stakeholders in a language that is clear, concise and to the point.”

Lindenfeld and the UMaine administration will be running monthly training sessions with faculty this spring semester and plan to make the program a cornerstone training initiative at the university. The program, funded in large part from the Office of President Paul Ferguson, clearly aligns with the vision and strategies of the University of Maine’s strategic plan, the Blue Sky Project.

“Part of our job as faculty members at a land and sea grant institution is to create a shared vision with the state and find ways to connect our efforts in research and teaching with the daily lives of Mainers,” Lindenfeld said. “This is a big responsibility that we bear, and my aspiration in designing this program was to help us increase our ability to address the needs of people right here at home. We hope this program is a big step in that direction and are so excited to have launched the Blue Sky Faculty Fellows.”

The Blue Sky Faculty Fellows Program will hold its first training session Jan. 14 at UMaine’s Foster Center for Student Innovation.

The Blue Sky Faculty Fellows

Ali Abedi
Associate Professor, Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering

Kathleen Bell
Associate Professor, School of Economics

Amy Blackstone
Associate Professor and Chair, Department of Sociology

Mark Brewer
Associate Professor, Department of Political Science

Nic Erhardt
Assistant Professor in Management, Maine Business School

Janet Fairman
Associate Research Professor, Center for Research and Education & Maine Education Policy Research Institute

Lee Karp-Boss
Research Assistant Professor, School of Marine Sciences

Jessica Leahy
Associate Professor of Human Dimensions of Natural Resources, School of Forest Resources

Rob Lilieholm
E.L. Giddings Associate Professor of Forest Policy, School of Forest Resources

Margo Lukens
Professor, Department of English
Director of Academic Programs, Innovation Engineering

David Neivandt
Professor, Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering
Director of the Graduate School of Biomedical Science and Engineering

Mauricio Pereira da Cunha
Professor, Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering

Rich Powell
Associate Professor, Department of Political Science

Jasmine Saros
Associate Director and Professor, Climate Change Institute, and School of Biology and Ecology

Denise Skonberg
Associate Professor, Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition

Shihfen Tu
Associate Professor, Department of Education and Human Development

Rick Wahle
Research Professor of Marine Sciences

Aaron Weiskittel
Associate Professor of Forest Biometrics and Modeling, and Irving Chair of Forest Ecosystem Management, School of Forest Resources

Justin Wolff
Associate Professor, Department of Art

Gayle Zydlewski
Associate Professor, School of Marine Sciences

Margaret Nagle, 207.581.3745

Dedication Ceremony for UMaine IMRC Center, Conference ‘Celebrating Creative Innovation’ Jan. 9

Wednesday, January 8th, 2014

The University of Maine will dedicate its new Innovative Media Research and Commercialization (IMRC) Center with a ribbon-cutting ceremony and an afternoon conference celebrating innovation and the state’s creative economy Jan. 9.

The 15,000-square-foot IMRC Center in the newly renovated Stewart Commons is home to UMaine’s Department of New Media and the MFA in Intermedia Program, and available to Maine entrepreneurs for creative exploration. It features intermedia graduate research labs, state-of-the-art technology classrooms, audio and video production studios, a 3-D and immersive visualization presentation environment, and facilities for prototyping, fabrication and computer numerical control (CNC) manufacturing.

The more than $10 million renovation of Stewart Commons, which also houses the Wyeth Family Studio Art Center, was funded in part by the state of Maine through a Maine Technology Asset Fund award from the Maine Technology Institute.

The IMRC Dedication Ceremony begins at 5 p.m., followed by a reception and facility tours. For more information or to request a disability accommodation, call 207.581.3582.

The conference, IMRC Maine: Celebrating Creative Innovation, from noon to 4:30 p.m., is held in partnership with the Camden-based Juice Conference and Midcoast Magnet, the Belfast Creative Coalition and Realize Maine Network.

Juice conferences connect leaders of the creative economy to foster growth and prosperity. Weaving the arts, technology and entrepreneurship, Juice inspires innovation by bringing talented people together from widely different backgrounds to learn, exchange ideas and share success stories.

The UMaine event will be a mini-Juice conference and the first outside the midcoast region.

The conference will feature a keynote by award-winning graphic designer John Bielenberg, co-founder of Future, and two seminars: “What’s Possible Tour,” featuring presentations by entrepreneurs who have used the IMRC prototyping and media development facilities, and “Diving Deeper: Prototyping Specifics,” featuring detailed presentations on 3-D printing and media production.

The full schedule of IMRC Maine is online. For more information, call 207.236.6545.

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

‘Literacy To Go’ Kits Feed Interactive Learning

Monday, January 6th, 2014

Parents in the Orono and Old Town areas will soon be able to feed their young children’s love of reading with “Literacy To Go” — informational text, a storybook and a storyboard all delivered in a themed pizza box kit.

The University of Maine Raymond H. Fogler Library is utilizing a $43,000 grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services to partner with UMaine’s College of Education and Human Development, Old Town Elementary School and Old Town Public Library to train librarians to promote early literacy with informational text.

Informational text is nonfiction that imparts information about the arts, sciences and social studies. The vocabulary is technical and realistic photographs and illustrations are generally included.

“The kits are really just the vehicle for this change in thinking about libraries as a source of support for family literacy,” says Susan Bennett-Armistead, the grant’s principal investigator and Correll Professor of Early Literacy in the College of Education and Human Development.

Fogler Library purchased books for its kits and the Correll Fund purchased books for kits at Old Town Elementary School and Old Town Public Library.

A variety of themes will be highlighted in each set of 20 kits, which will be distributed in January to Fogler Library on campus, as well as to the Old Town sites. Two books in each kit will be written for children birth-to-5 (most are for children 3–5 years of age); one is fiction and one is informational text. The third book is for parents to read. The books are intended to promote conversation between parents and children and the felt storyboard can be used to reinforce concepts.

It’s important for good-quality informational texts to be accessible to very young children, says Bennett-Armistead. “When you’re doing read-aloud with your little ones and when you’re playing with these materials, you’re actually building their vocabulary or you’re helping them build their world knowledge, which has a direct impact on their comprehension.”

Librarians will be taught how they can use the kits, how they can develop future kits and how they can work with the families around promoting early literacy concepts during a series of six training workshops that start in late January.

“The real change is the knowledge base of librarians,” says Bennett-Armistead. “Librarians are now going to be in the fold for really advocating for parents and their children to be interacting around text. We’re hopeful that we’ll be able to assist librarians in thinking about ramping up summertime programs, so that we don’t have as significant an educational loss in the summertime.”

Bennett-Armistead is thankful that the Institute of Museum and Library Services saw the potential in promoting early literacy in this way and of the opportunity to work with Fogler. “Whenever there’s an opportunity for collaboration, you have a richer outcome,” she says.

Cynthia Crosser, Fogler’s social science and humanities reference librarian, and Jason Charland, grants management coordinator for the College of Education and Human Development, wrote the grant proposal with Bennett-Armistead. They were awarded the grant in late September.

In January, they’ll apply for a grant renewal titled “Literacy To Go Farther” to expand the training program and kit concept.