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University of Maine
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    The Maine question podcast logo

    The latest episode of the University of Maine podcast “The Maine Question” asks why the state’s reuse economy is so robust.

    In the third episode of the first season, host Ron Lisnet speaks with Cindy Isenhour, a professor of anthropology and climate change and faculty associate in the Senator George J. Mitchell Center for Sustainability Solutions. 

    For several years, Isenhour has researched the economic, environmental and social benefits of fixing, selling and buying used goods. She has found Maine’s secondhand economy, which includes everything from yard sales to bike repair, to be exceptionally vibrant compared to other states. 

    In the episode, Isenhour describes Maine’s reuse economy and discusses where she sees the trend going. 

    Find the podcast on iTunes, Google Play, SoundCloud, Stitcher, Spotify and The Maine Question website. New episodes will be added every Thursday. For more information or to suggest topics of interest, email mainequestion@maine.edu.

    The post ‘The Maine Question’ podcast explores the state’s vibrant reuse economy  appeared first on UMaine News.

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    Seaweed research in a lab

    Seaweed, which is gaining popularity as a superfood in the United States, has several health benefits, but whether they are retained in products that have been processed in different ways remains unclear. 

    Research by an international team including the University of Maine aims to develop and optimize processing and preservation techniques for seaweed to retain the bioactive compounds and improve their bioavailability in the human body.

    Balunkeswar (Balu) Nayak, associate professor of food processing at UMaine, is collaborating with researchers from the National Food Institute, Technical University of Denmark (DTU Food) and Chalmers University of Technology in Sweden on the 1.5-year project. 

    The project was recently awarded around $140,000 from Ekhagastiftelsen, a Swedish foundation that aims to increase product stability and promote human health by supporting the development of better food, natural medicines and healing practices, and to support research for a healthier way of life. 

    Seaweed is high in bioactive antioxidants and minerals; however, contaminants such as heavy metals can be accumulated if waters are polluted. Understanding the fate of these compounds is extremely important for a sustainable human consumption of seaweed, according to the researchers. 

    The team will study the health-benefiting bioactive compounds in seaweed from Maine, Sweden and Denmark. They will follow the compounds during commonly used industrial processing steps as well as in the gastrointestinal tract after consumption. This will be evaluated in a risk-benefit analysis considering the legislation and nutritional recommendations.

    The researchers aim to make the results available for consumers and national food authorities in Scandinavia and the United States.

    Contact: Elyse Catalina, 207.581.3747, elyse.catalina@maine.edu

    The post Nayak part of international team investigating health benefits of processed seaweed appeared first on UMaine News.

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    Jarred Haynes

    Jarred Haynes of Westbrook, Maine had the experience of a lifetime this summer studying abroad in Kerambitan, Bali, in Indonesia. 

    The sophomore anthropology major studied through the School for International Training (SIT) Biodiversity and Conservation Studies program, which focused on biodiversity, resource-use patterns, and conservation initiatives in the surrounding community. 

    Haynes, who also has an environmental science minor and is in the Honors College, has always enjoyed learning about human behavior and history, especially culture and different traditions. 

    “I have always cared about the environment and nature,” he says. “One of my favorite things to learn about is the role of nature, religion and magic in other cultures.”

    Studying abroad “posed a lot of challenges, mostly based on working with such a small group of people in close quarters and stressful situations,” says Haynes. “It was extremely educational and I learned a lot of the language (Bahasa Indonesia) and about conservation in Indonesia.”

    Haynes, who loves hiking, says the most memorable experience abroad was getting up at midnight and driving four hours away to climb Mount Ijen, a six-hour hike that was “one of the steepest climbs I’ve ever made.”

    He also enjoys archery, reading, writing, researching topics that interest him, and gardening, using the herbs he grows to make natural remedies. Recently he also has started making candles, sprays and other natural items and selling them at farmer’s markets. 

    “I love the diversity at UMaine. The amount of individuality and acceptance is really comforting,” says Haynes. “The clubs and activities make the campus a vibrant and enjoyable place.” 

    And Haynes says studying abroad is one of the best things a student can do in college. 

    “It opens you up to so many scenarios and learning experiences,” he says. “In my Honors sequence last year, we read some of the writing in Da Vinci’s notebooks and he wrote, ‘Wisdom is the daughter of experience.’ That quote has never been more applicable in my life.” 

    Contact: Cleo Barker, 207.581.3729

    The post Jarred Haynes: Anthropology student studies biodiversity, conservation in Bali appeared first on UMaine News.

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    The University of Maine invites community members and interested collaborators to attend the celebratory launch event of UMaine Arctic on Thursday, Nov. 14 at the Buchanan Alumni House.

    The reception will feature a poster session, exhibiting activities by faculty and regional partners in the Arctic and in Arctic-impacted regions, to present UMaine activity in the high latitudes and open opportunities for collaboration. Presenters will be available to explain their topics of interest and ideas for future projects.

    UMaine Arctic aims to facilitate interdisciplinary collaborations in New England with a diverse expertise network of regional academic faculty and staff involved in research, education and outreach related to the Arctic. 

    UMaine has a history of engagement in the Arctic and, more broadly, the high north, from Greenland to Canada to Alaska and beyond. Faculty and students engage in the region to study and share information about native populations, climate, oceanography, transportation and government policy. They perform fieldwork, train, lead educational opportunities, model physical processes and economic impact, and consult. 

    Benefits of joining the UMaine Arctic network include:

    • Participating in research in the Arctic for its regional and global effect.
    • Discovering how New England can best prepare for changes in the Arctic.
    • Facilitating exchanges among students, researchers and policymakers.
    • Providing more efficient communication about educational opportunities and Arctic affairs.

    The UMaine Arctic launch will run 4–6 p.m. in the McIntire Room with brief oral remarks at 4:45 p.m. The event is free and open to the public.

    More information about UMaine Arctic is available online or by emailing Kristin Schild, kristin.schild@maine.edu.

    The post Celebratory launch of UMaine Arctic to be held Nov. 14 appeared first on UMaine News.

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    The Bangor Daily News interviewed Sean Birkel, state climatologist and  research assistant professor at the University of Maine Climate Change Institute, for an article about how climate change is causing more extreme storms in the state. Since 2017, there have been three extreme storms in Maine, all resulting in hours of rainfall, high wind speeds, fallen trees and power outages, according to the article. Birkel said these storms are the result of climate change, and based on climate projections, Maine might experience more frequent and extreme storms in the future. The loss of Arctic sea ice and warming ocean temperatures is fueling extreme storms in Maine, the article states. “There’s nearly 50 percent less sea ice cover in the Arctic basin now than there was 20 years ago,” Birkel said. “The loss of Arctic sea ice has changed the circulation pattern of large-scale winds.” The warming oceans in the Northeast also mean there’s more available moisture. As a result of these two factors, Maine has seen warmer fall temperatures and a tendency for more storms, the BDN reported. “Changing large-scale circulation [of wind] and warmer ocean water provides more fuel for an intense storm,” Birkel said. “The changes that have taken place support the hypothesis that intense storms could be increasing in frequency in fall.” Birkel and his team are working on detailed statistical analyses of storms to determine if and how the frequency has changed. 


    The post Birkel speaks with BDN about climate change, extreme storms appeared first on UMaine News.

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    The Bangor Daily News reported on research at the University of Maine that aims to make invasive green crabs more palatable. Denise Skonberg, associate professor of food science at UMaine, has been working with green crabs for more than 15 years, the BDN reported. “There’s tons of money [in selling] softshell green crab, but only a tiny percentage of the green crab that you harvest [is] soft shell,” Skonberg said. “What do you do with all the rest?” You have to do something that’s value added in order to make it worthwhile.” Skonberg and other researchers have so far piloted a fish sauce, empanadas and dog treats. In April 2019, Angela Myracle, assistant professor of human nutrition, developed dog treats made of processed green crabs, the BDN reported. “A dog is not as particular,” Myracle said. “If you grind it up, it’s not like you’re crunching on shell. It’s a healthy and nutritious treat. You’re getting the benefit from the calcium and fiber in addition to the protein that’s in the meat of the crab.”

    The post BDN reports on research to make invasive green crabs palatable  appeared first on UMaine News.

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    Several University of Maine initiatives aimed at boosting the state’s forest economy were featured in a New Hampshire Public Radio piece looking at what’s next for New Hampshire timber. The article mentioned several UMaine School of Forest Resources projects that aim to develop new products using wood and wood scraps. The products include new kinds of building materials, like particle board held together with an adhesive that itself is made from wood; and mass timber, thick, strong wood panels made out of layers of lumber and sometimes wood chips. UMaine researchers also are working with the military to make blast-resistant shelters and portable bridges out of wood, combining wood with plastic to make more durable docks and decking, crafting wind turbine blades out of balsa wood from overseas, and even developing and scaling up a chemical process to turn wood scraps into crude oil, distillable into jet fuel, diesel and more, the article states. UMaine also is working with nanocellulose, a wood pulp so fine that researchers say its uses are almost endless and it’s a potential alternative to plastic. “We like to emphasize that it is nature-made,” said Colleen Walker, director of the UMaine Process Development Center. “It’s always been there, but we just learned to extract it and really manipulate it. Because there wasn’t really the tool set available in the scientific community to look at the nanoscale before.”

    The post UMaine wood tech featured in NHPR report on what’s next for timber appeared first on UMaine News.

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    Viruses and bacteria will be the topic of a Maine Science Festival “Science on Tap” event 7:30–9 p.m. Nov. 14 at Bear Bones Beer in Lewiston. 

    Melissa Maginnis, assistant professor of microbiology at the University of Maine, and Meghan May, associate professor of microbiology at the University of New England, will discuss viruses and bacteria and answer flu season-related questions.  

    This event is free and open to the public (ages 21-plus), and is the first in a year-round series that will travel the state, taking science and research across Maine to engage with the public. The series is intended to bring scientists and researchers closer to the public in a casual setting, and to encourage discussion around a topic of interest.

    UMaine and the Maine Science Festival are partnering to host the series; UMaine WiSTEMM also is a sponsor of the Nov. 14 event. The next “Science on Tap” event will take place in December.

    The post Viruses, bacteria topic of Maine Science Festival ‘Science on Tap’ event Nov. 14 appeared first on UMaine News.

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    Boothbay Register published a University of Maine Darling Marine Center news release about the collaboration between the Walpole-based center and Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences in East Boothbay. Leaders of the scientific institutions regularly look for opportunities to strengthen the longstanding partnership, such as through Maine eDNA, a new $20 million research and education collaboration. The project, funded by the National Science Foundation, takes advantage of new breakthroughs in DNA technologies that allow researchers to identify organisms based on how their DNA is distributed in the water. The ultimate goal of this “forensics for the ocean” is to better track the health of Maine’s fisheries and coastal ecosystems, the article states.

    The post Boothbay Register reports on partnership between DMC, Bigelow Lab appeared first on UMaine News.

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    The Lincoln County News reported students at Lincoln Academy in Newcastle exchanged ideas with students from the University of Maine’s Darling Marine Center at the first Project Share Day. “It’s a show-and-tell, an exchange of ‘this is what we’ve done this semester at the college level and the high school level.’ So it’s a very casual way of cross-pollinating,” said Lu-Shien Tan, director of admissions at Lincoln Academy. Six Lincoln Academy students participated in the event, which was open to the public, with a variety of hands-on, independent projects on display. Seven students currently enrolled in the Semester By the Sea at the DMC attended the event to share their research projects, according to the article. Among the collegiate projects were studies of plankton communities in the Damariscotta River estuary, tropical reef ecosystems, bee decision-making and ecology, the correlation between body measurements of sharks and overfishing, shellfish aquaculture, shark attacks, and culling the invasive lionfish in tropical Curacao, the article states.

    The post Lincoln County News covers Project Share Day with DMC students appeared first on UMaine News.

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