UMaine scientist leading Clean Air
The U.S. Environmental Protection
Agency has tapped a University of Maine scientist to lead a national
evaluation of the 1990 Clean Air Act.
Steve Kahl, director of the Senator George J. Mitchell Center for
Environmental and Watershed Research at UMaine, will work on the project
at an EPA research center in Corvallis, Ore.
According to John Stoddard, director of EPA's Environmental Monitoring
and Assessment Program, Surface Water Division, 1990 Clean Air Act
Amendments require the EPA to report to Congress in 2002 on the
effectiveness of the act's acid rain provisions.
Kahl will compile and analyze the latest information, including his own
research, to evaluate the trends in surface waters relevant to future
Clean Air Act legislation. Much of the regional EPA data has come from
Kahl's laboratory for the past decade.
For 20 years, Kahl has conducted research with scientists from UMaine
and other institutions on the environmental consequences of atmospheric
deposition on lakes, streams and soils. One of the signature programs of
the Mitchell Center is PEARL, a Web-based, searchable environmental
"Maine has some of the longest records and largest datasets for lake and
stream chemistry in the U.S., with the important advantage of the
samples being collected and analyzed by the same laboratory for the
entire period of the Clean Air Act," says Kahl.
The Mitchell Center is named for the senator from Maine who was the key
author of the Clean Air Act of 1990.
Since the early 1980s, the Mitchell Center has been awarded more than
$14 million for watershed research funded by the National Science
Foundation, EPA and U.S. Geological Survey. Most recently, Kahl and
Steve Norton, a UMaine geologist, received an $860,000 EPA grant to
continue studying chemical trends in lakes and streams from Maine to the
Adirondacks in New York.
Lobster College: A course complete
with melted butter on the side
Classes on Maine's premiere crustaceans are in session again this
summer. The second annual Lobster College, organized by the Lobster
Institute at The University of Maine, is Sept. 12-15.
Lobster College is an educational vacation on the Maine coast a chance
to learn about lobster biology and ecology, value-added products,
lobster cuisine, stock management and other areas of the lobster
industry. And of course, there's plenty of lobster to eat.
Fieldtrips take participants throughout the Schoodic Peninsula and
Frenchman Bay area, where hands-on learning is led by lobstermen and
lobster dealers, as well as several University of Maine faculty such as
Robert Bayer, executive director of the Lobster Institute.
"We'll be taking a trip on a real lobster boat and seeing how traps are
hauled, we'll visit a tidal lobster pound and a working lobster wharf,
and we'll provide lectures on a variety of lobster-related topics. We'll
even show how to bait a trap. Last year's Lobster College graduates had
such a great time, they started talking about a reunion before the
weekend was even over," Bayer says.
In addition to being an educational program, Lobster College is a
fund-raiser for the Lobster Institute's endowment fund. The Lobster
Institute is a research and outreach organization with a mission of
protecting, conserving and enhancing the vitality of the lobster, and
lobstering as an industry and a way of life. It was founded by members
of the lobster industry and UMaine faculty.
Lobsters come in many colors but, except for the white ones, they all
turn red when cooked.
The University of Maine was one of 12 universities from the United
States and seven other countries invited to the McGill International
Management Competition this spring in Montreal.
Canada's Concordia University won the competition.
UMaine's team of four undergraduate students three from Maine and one
from Bulgaria was advised by UMaine Professor of Management John
"The quality of our undergraduate program was a factor in our
selection," says Mahon, the John M. Murphy Chair of International
Business Policy and Strategy.
At the competition, the teams were given 24 hours to analyze a case and
prepare a 20-minute presentation for two panels of judges. The teams
were required to analyze the same case, in which a new start-up firm was
developing human resource-centered employee software.
Mahon took teams to similar competitions when he was on the faculty at
Boston University. He prepares the students to work hard and to perform
to their potential, rather than focusing on winning the competition.
"It's nerve-wracking, but exciting at the same time," says Erin Plourde,
a senior marketing and public relations major from Skowhegan, Maine.
"But we all wouldn't have chosen to be involved in business if we didn't
like the challenge."
What they did on their spring
More than 60 members of the University community spent a week of their
March vacation helping others in need by participating in UMaine's LET'S
Volunteer program Learning and Exploration Through Service.
This is the fifth year of the University's Alternative Spring Break,
which took volunteers to Washington, D.C., New York City, New Orleans,
Atlanta, Georgetown, S.C., and Eustis, Fla., to work with AIDS patients,
troubled teens, community organizers and chronically ill children.
Alternative Break programs immerse students in often vastly different
cultures, to heighten social awareness and to advocate lifelong social
The experiences of the volunteers in Washington, D.C., were the focus of
national stories, the first of which ran in the Washington Post.
Improvement in movement
Researcher Nellie Cyr keeps bringing deadly sensitive statistics to the
public table: Maine claims the most obese people in New England, and the
No. 4 spot nationally for lifestyle-related illnesses and disabilities.
People need to make better choices, says Cyr, a University of Maine
specialist in the effects of exercise, diet and smoking on disease
processes, and in employee health promotion programs.
"You can experience the benefits of appropriate activity at any age,"
says the assistant professor of kinesiology and physical education.
"It's a matter of looking for ways to expend calories, not for the
closest parking spot."
Cyr's research documents positive effects that a change in physical
activity can have on important health variables, such as weight, blood
pressure, cholesterol, strength and heart recovery rate.
For instance, a recent assessment of the 12-week "Move and Improve"
initiative at Eastern Maine Medical Center in Bangor found participants
had statistically significant positive differences in such areas as
systolic blood pressure, total cholesterol, ratio of total cholesterol
to high-density lipoproteins, and push-ups and sit-ups accomplished in
The greatest changes were evident in mean total cholesterol and recovery
The National Folk Festival
The National Folk Festival is coming to Bangor, Maine, Aug. 23-25, with
the help of the Maine Folklife Center at The University of Maine.
The three-day festival, to be held on the banks of the Penobscot River,
will feature demonstrations, exhibits, performances and activities
designed to showcase folk arts of our region.
The festival is produced by the National Council for the Traditional
Arts, Bangor Convention and Visitors Bureau, the City of Bangor, and
Eastern Maine Development Corp., in partnership with the Maine Folklife
"This will be an opportunity to highlight the importance of folk arts in
this region, and the research and public programming we do at the
University," says Pauleena MacDougall, the center's associate director.
The Maine Folklife Center holds the nation's leading collection of
folklore, oral history, traditional music and photographs of Maine and
eastern Canada. The center's staff, directed by James Moreira, is
lending its expertise to the material culture segments of the festival.
This year's festival will focus on traditions of the Maine woods,
including lumbering heritage, a specialty of the center, with canoe and
basket making, traditional woodcarving skills and storytelling, and
preparation of old-time foods like bean hole beans.
The Maine Folklife Center also will take advantage of the traditionally
large turnouts for the National Folk Festival to do interviews as part
of its ongoing Veterans Oral History Project. The project is conducted
in cooperation with the Veterans History Project of the American
Folklife Center in the Library of Congress.
Paper floats their boats
A wind surfing board made of paper helped a team of engineering students
from The University of Maine bring home a $5,000 third-place prize from
the national Energy Challenge.
The competition, held this year near Atlanta, is sponsored by the U.S.
Department of Energy and the Institute of Paper Science and Technology.
A team from the Georgia Institute of Technology took first, and Miami
University (Ohio) came in second, just 0.03 of a point above the UMaine
Last year, UMaine's paper sail for a sailboat took second; three years
ago, it was a paper kayak that brought first-place honors to the
The goal of the competition is to develop paper production techniques
that emphasize energy conservation.
The nature of tourism
Maine is famous for its hunting and fishing camps, as well as sea and
lakeshore vacation resorts. Finding out what makes them successful has
been the mission of Marc Edwards, a master's student in The University
of Maine's Parks, Recreation and Tourism Program.
With the information, Edwards hopes to help the state's nature-based
tourism industry grow and diversify.
Working with Will LaPage, an associate professor in the program, Edwards
interviewed owners and operators of 16 Maine businesses that offer a
variety of experiences from white-water rafting and retail outfitting
to boat cruises, dog sledding trips, mountain biking and wilderness
"Some of these companies are micro-enterprises," says Edwards. "The
owners do it because they love the lifestyle, and they are successful
because they focus on customer service. Some of them really make an
effort to provide life-changing experiences for their customers."
In a spring symposium, Edwards shared the results of his research with
representatives of these businesses in what he hopes is a first step
toward forming a professional association for nature-based tourism
enterprises. Such a group could offer assistance to fledgling businesses
and development opportunities to the industry.
Nature-based tourism represents a significant segment of the state's
industry. "Outdoor recreation and nature-based tourism account for more
than 20 percent of Maine's overnight marketable travel mix," says Nat
Bowditch, assistant director of the Maine Office of Tourism.
Timing could be everything
When it comes to understanding why shipworms have caused such a problem
along the Maine coast in recent years, Danielle Rioux, a University of
Maine junior in marine biology, says the problem may come down to
In the past two years, shipworms (Teredo navalis) have raised alarms in
Maine, where they have damaged pilings, docks and aquaculture
facilities. Last year, Rioux studied shipworm biology with Kevin
Eckelbarger, director of the UMaine Ira C. Darling Marine Center in
In the ocean, it is the larvae that start an attack by chewing pinholes
in wood and burrowing tunnels. As adults, they continue to eat, and the
tunnels grow larger.
Finding out when shipworms attack could lead researchers to understand
what triggers their voracious eating habits. Rioux, a native of
Falmouth, Mass., conducted experiments in Maine's Damariscotta and
Medomak rivers, where shipworm problems have been reported.
She and Eckelbarger also worked in the laboratory, where they confirmed
that temperature is a critical factor in shipworm infestation. Using the
Darling Center's flowing seawater lab, she varied the temperature to see
if she could coax the shipworms to release larvae.
She found that when the water temperature reached 70 degrees F, the
shipworms started releasing their larvae.
"We still don't know for sure why shipworms have become so much worse
these past two years in Maine. Some people have said it's cyclical and
that there was a previous infestation about 30 years ago," Rioux says.
Rioux finished her junior year at James Cook University in Australia.
She will return to complete her degree at UMaine before heading to
Talk from around the world
Shane Keady loves to talk about two of his favorite subjects
sustainable agriculture and Gaelic. The native of Ireland is one of 10
University of Maine students who serve as language tutors in UMaine's
Critical Languages Program.
For nearly a decade, the Department of Modern Languages and Classics has
offered courses in languages that are considered "critical" those less
commonly taught yet "critical to world affairs." They have included
Japanese, Bulgarian, Italian, Greek, Portuguese, Gaelic, Vietnamese,
Chinese, Dutch, Turkish, Arabic and Swedish.
Two-hour weekly classes feature as few as two students often people
working or visiting abroad, and others interested in pursuing a heritage
language of their ancestors. Their tutors are UMaine international
students or community members for whom the language is native. The
Critical Languages Program is directed by Professor of Spanish Kathleen
Eva Mφldre of Estonia, an international affairs major and member of the
UMaine women's basketball team, speaks six languages and has been a
Swedish language tutor.
"I like to see how students get better and better in the language over
time," she says. "I know how hard it is to learn a language, so I help
students find ways to make it easier."
Learning in the Critical Languages Program is a two-way street. For
Keady, who has lived in Boston since age 9, tutoring has helped him
learn how to communicate effectively whether with a language student
or a farmer in the field.