2023 Research Report

Global Impact Local Relevance

Maine’s research university at work

Portrait of Vice President Varahramyan
Portrait of President Ferrini-Mundy

We are happy to present the 2023 Research Report for the University of Maine. This has been another remarkable year for research and scholarly achievements at Maine’s land, sea, and space grant university. As a Carnegie R1 institution with very high research activity, UMaine’s research and development efforts have been of global impact and local relevance, addressing the workforce and economic development needs of Maine and beyond. These efforts have taken place as the university’s research enterprise for the fourth consecutive year has realized all-time high record levels in growth and impact, as measured by multiple indicators, including research and development funding received and expended.

Specifically, in 2023, the total research and development funding received from external sources reached $189.7 million, as compared to $147.8 million for 2022, resulting in a 28% increase over the previous year and 108% increase over five years; and the total research and development expenditures reached $245.7 million, as compared to $225.1 million for 2022, resulting in a 9.2% increase over the previous year and 78% increase over five years.

This annual report underscores the commitment of our university community to advancing the creation of new knowledge, driving innovation, and making an impact on the social and economic advancement of Maine and beyond. As part of this, the report provides insight into UMaine’s comprehensive and cutting-edge research and development talent and capabilities, and major university-wide programs and initiatives in diverse areas ranging from artificial intelligence, space exploration, climate change and environment, to arts and humanities, life sciences, health, and medicine.

As highlighted in the report, in 2023 we celebrate the 100-year anniversary of the formation of our Graduate School, while the University of Maine has been conferring graduate degrees since 1881. Today with over 150 graduate program offerings, including 91 master’s and 31 doctoral programs, the University of Maine provides the most extensive set of graduate degree programs in Maine, attracting students from all over the world.

We hope that you will enjoy reviewing the report. Moreover, to obtain additional information about the impactful research and scholarly achievements realized at the University of Maine, we invite you to visit the UMaine Research website, or contact us at research@maine.edu.

Joan Ferrini-Mundy
President, University of Maine and University of Maine at Machias
Vice Chancellor for Research and Innovation, University of Maine System

Kody Varahramyan
Vice President for Research and Dean of the Graduate School, University of Maine

Total research and development funding
Increase in federal funding over 5 years
Increase in awards greater than $1M over 5 years
of all university research in Maine
Students gather on the mall to join clubs and other group activities at the Student Organization Fair.

Celebrating a century of impact and leadership

The Graduate School at the University of Maine celebrated its 100th anniversary in 2023. This milestone marks a rich history of advancing graduate education and enhancing student experiences through collaborative efforts. True to its mission, UMaine’s Graduate School has supported more than 150 degree programs, financial aid, and diverse academic guidance.

Bioengineering professor Caitlin Howell working students in a lab in Ferland Hall

R1 drives undergraduate research opportunities

Since 2017, undergraduate support from sponsored research projects rose by 118%, with almost half of that growth following the R1 designation in 2022. As UMaine attracts more and larger grants, additional support is available for undergraduate research opportunities. UMaine students who participate in these experiences report a greater sense of belonging, higher morale and more confidence in their abilities.

New frontiers in partnership and innovation

UMaine SPACE Initiative

Groundbreaking insights in AI legislation

UMaine AI Initiative

Predicting PFAS absorption in microplastics

UMaine PFAS+ Initiative

E. James and Eileen P. Ferland Engineering Education and Design Center at the University of Maine

A new era in engineering and computing

The Maine College of Engineering and Computing, officially launched on April 1, 2023, marked a significant stride in the region’s workforce development, research and economic growth. The college’s E. James and Eileen P. Ferland Engineering Education and Design Center (Ferland EEDC) and interdisciplinary focus embody UMaine’s commitment to fostering learning environments that propel engineering advancements.

A crane lifts a bridge girder into place over a river.

Innovating the roads of tomorrow

The Maine College of Engineering and The Transportation Infrastructure Durability Center (TIDC) at the University of Maine is committed to developing innovative, transformative, and implementable infrastructure solutions that extend the life and improve the durability of transportation assets. With more than 70 faculty and 200 student researchers, the TIDC has advanced more than 75 transportation research projects since 2018. 

2023 NSF Career Award recipients

In 2023, the University of Maine secured three National Science Foundation (NSF) CAREER Awards for faculty members Seth Campbell, Sepideh Ghanavati and Evan Wujcik. These prestigious awards recognize their potential as academic role models in their fields.

A portrait of Seth Campbell

Seth Campbell

Associate Professor, School of Earth and Climate Sciences and the Climate Change Institute

Seth Campbell was awarded $623,881 for his groundbreaking project, “Improving estimates of changing firn meltwater storage and flux in temperate glacier systems.” Campell’s work tackles the pressing issue of climate change by examining the storage and movement of meltwater in glaciers. This research is vital for understanding how climate change affects water storage in glacier systems, particularly in rapid melting regions like Alaska and Canada. The project also includes an interactive video game to engage a wider audience.

A portrait of Sepideh Ghanavati

Sepideh Ghanavati

Assistant Professor, School of Computing and Information Science

Sepideh Ghanavati was awarded $674,804 for her project “A holistic developer-centered approach to enhance privacy for data-driven applications.” Ghanavati’s project addresses the increasingly critical issue of privacy in the modern digital age. Her research focuses on embedding privacy protections in software development, a proactive approach to mitigating privacy breaches. The work involves collaborations with industry and legal experts, and demonstrates a forward-thinking stance to tackling modern technological challenges.

A portrait of Evan Wujcik

Evan Wujcik

Assistant Professor, Department of Chemical and Biomedical Engineering and the Advanced Structures and Composites Center

Evan Wujcik, was awarded $523,438 for his project “Autonomous, rapid self-healing and ultra-stretchable electronic polymer research and education for outreach and student success in STEM.” Wujcik’s project, rooted in polymer science, is redefining the potential of electronic materials with its focus on stretchable, self-healing polymers. This research has significant implications for healthcare, robotics, and entertainment, where flexibility and durability are crucial.

Three people aboard a boat in the Darmariscotta River.

Developing Maine’s aquaculture industry

The Aquaculture Research Institute (ARI) at the University of Maine is charting the future of aquaculture through research and development, extension programs and workforce training. By fostering innovation and nurturing talent, ARI reinforces UMaine’s reputation as a national hub for sustainable aquaculture.

Young salmon peer through a clear tank wall.

Exploring the life cycle of North America’s last Atlantic salmon population

Maine’s Atlantic salmon population has experienced significant decline due to stressors including dams, overfishing and pollution. The Atlantic salmon teeters on the brink of extinction in the Gulf of Maine, and comprise the wild populations of their species in the United States. New research at the University of Maine at Machias may offer new insights and hope for Maine’s endangered Atlantic salmon population.

$11.M for biomedical research

The National Institutes of Health COBRE award will drive research about cell behavior.

Institute of Medicine awards nine graduate fellowships

Read about these outstanding scholars of medical research and education.

$1.96M to expanded programming for aspiring family nurse practitioners

HRSA’s Advanced Nursing Education Workforce Program

$650K to help protect Maine’s wild blueberries

USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture

A researcher holds up a test tube as another researcher look on.

Microbes and social equity

There is a world of microscopic organisms living in and on our bodies that make up our microbiome. The balance of these complex ecosystems are governed by our diets and the environments we inhabit. They influence our health in many ways, some of which are little understood. The Microbes and Social Equity Working Group explores how microbes can inform broader conversations about social equity and human health.

NSF Research Traineeship Award recipients

Explore the cutting-edge environmental and ecological research programs at UMaine, funded by the National Science Foundation’s Research Traineeship (NRT).

Sandra De Urioste-Stone

Associate Professor of Nature-Based Tourism, Assistant Vice President for Research

A portrait of Sandra De Urioste-Stone

De Urioste-Stone studies the factors that affect rural health and wellbeing, community resilience, and natural resource stewardship. The NRT award she leads supports a new graduate education model at UMaine that integrates social and biophysical sciences. It prepares 25 M.S. and Ph.D. students to tackle conservation challenges through an interdisciplinary curriculum. The program includes active learning, professional development, and collaborative research, focusing on socio-ecological resilience and science communication.

Jasmine Saros

Professor of Paleolimnology and Lake Ecology, Climate Change Institute Associate Director

A portrait of Jasmine Saros

Saros uses diatom fossil records in lake sediments to reconstruct environmental change over time and pose testable hypotheses about mechanisms driving observed changes. She also studies how modern lake ecosystems respond to climate change. The NRT award she leads will train 57 graduate students in Arctic systems science. Trainees will develop skills across environmental, social and knowledge systems essential to understanding and adapting to the the Arctic—the most rapidly changing environment in the world—and enhance broader STEM workforce training.

Joshua Stoll

Associate Professor of Marine Policy

A portrait of Josh Stoll holding a lobster

Stoll studies how the design and maintenance of formal and informal institutions support sustainable fisheries and the communities that depend on them. The NRT award he leads aims to train a new wave of scientists, managers and policymakers in ecosystem-based management and climate resilience. At least 45 M.S. and Ph.D students will learn to address rapid ocean changes in the Gulf of Maine through transdisciplinary knowledge.

Mario Teisl

Professor, School of Economics Director

A portrait of Mario Teisl

Teisl’s research aims to identify opportunities to solve urgent sustainability challenges by improving collaboration between academic institutions and community leaders, policymakers and citizens. The NRT award he leads supports training in the One Health approach, which studies disease dynamics across human, animal, plant, and environmental health. The program anticipates training 71 graduate students as they conduct interdisciplinary research that prepares them to address challenges in environmental health.

A map depicting the locations of ghettos enclosed by barbed wire.

Digital humanities research reveals new understanding of the Holocaust

Mapping Holocaust sites and understanding how the nature of places influenced victims’ experiences are central concerns in her research. University of Maine McBride Professor of History Anne Kelly Knowles’ current digital humanities project, a public website, will share data on more than 2,200 camps and ghettos along with personal accounts of nearly one thousand Holocaust survivors.

A photo of an art installation featuring beige fabric scraps hanging from the ceiling of a black room. A beam of light illuminates some of the fabric.

Where science and the arts meet

Art students in UMaine’s Social Practice class worked with engineering students throughout the semester in both the studio and lab. Students formed groups to develop collaborative projects focused on PFAS nanotechnology. The semester’s work was displayed at the Innovative Media Research and Commercialization Center and as Associate Professor Susan Smith explained, brought a diverse group of community members together around the work.

Publication Spotlight

A sample of works by UMaine faculty

Cover of the book Becoming Modern: The University of Maine, 1965-2015

Becoming Modern: The University of Maine,

Segal, Howard; Acheson, Ann; Rogers, Deborah
University of Maine Press

Cover of the book Reimagining Christendom: Writing Iceland’s Bishops into the Roman Church, 1200–1350.

Reimagining Christendom: Writing Iceland’s Bishops into the Roman Church, 1200–1350.
Anderson, Joel D.
University of Pennsylvania Press/Gigi Lamm

Cover of the book These Trees Tell a Story: The Art of Reading Landscapes

These Trees Tell a Story: The Art of Reading Landscapes
Charney, Noah
Yale University Press

Cover of the book Celebrating and critiquing WAC at 50

Adapting the past to reimagine possible futures: Celebrating and critiquing WAC at 50
Falconer, Heather
The WAC Clearinghouse

Cover of the book Great Ports of the Mercantile Era

Great Ports of the
Mercantile Era
Hornsby, Stephen
University of Maine Press

Cover of the book Embedded Systems with ARM Cortex-M Microcontrollers in Assembly Language and C

Embedded Systems with ARM Cortex-M Microcontrollers in Assembly Language and C
Zhu, Yifeng
E-Man Press LLC

Subscribe to IMPACT UMaine Research's monthly newsletter