Recycling Pickup Lines
University of Maine engineers will work
with Saltwater Marketing LLC, an affiliate of the Lobster Institute at
UMaine, to develop recycling options for used lobster traplines. The
project comes at a time when Maine lobstermen are considering replacing
the commonly used ground lines that string traps together in an effort
to protect endangered right whales.
The lines are designed to float and thus reduce the chances of snagging
on rocks and other obstacles on the sea floor. However, as they hover
over the ocean bottom, such lines can present a threat to right whales.
Lobstermen are now looking at the possibility of using heavier rope that
stays on the sea floor and, therefore, has a lower chance of entangling
The National Marine Fisheries Service estimates that 5 million pounds of
float rope is currently used in Maine as ground line in the lobster
Saltwater Marketing received a $20,000 grant from the National Fish and
National Whale Conservation Fund to support its Lobster Ground Line
Recycling (ME) Project. The Lobster Institute, UMaine's Advanced
Wood Composites Center (AEWC) and the National Marine Fisheries Service,
Protected Resource Division, will assist.
Saltwater Marketing has contracted with AEWC to develop processing
techniques for reusing the rope. Researchers will explore techniques to
clean and process the rope into a usable form, and will determine the
workability of the material in conventional plastic processing
The UMaine College of Liberal Arts and Sciences has launched a series of
"great conversations" in the community in an effort to share the timely
and timeless expertise of its faculty.
Great Conversations kicked off last fall at Homecoming, giving alumni an
opportunity to engage in small, roundtable discussions with the
college's faculty on the subjects that they teach and research.
Since then, more Great Conversations have been held with members of the
Penobscot Valley Senior College and residents at Dirigo Pines retirement
Topics range from "Will my grandchild's best friend be a robot?" to "Why
the criminal justice system can't work." Other roundtables focus on the
creative economy, the tools of Maine's first occupants, Franco-American
culture, term limits and the history of conservation. Discussion leaders
come from the disciplines of computer science, English, sociology,
history, anthropology, new media and Franco American studies.
"Great Conversations is a wonderful opportunity for people to tap into
the intellectual energy of the college," says College of Liberal Arts
and Sciences Dean Ann Leffler. "These informal conversations under- line
in an entertaining way the centrality of the liberal arts in our lives."
Improving treatment for children at risk for developing severe social
anxiety as adults is the goal of University of Maine psychology
researchers studying shyness in youngsters.
Psychology Professor Marie Hayes and Ph.D. student Bethany Sallinen are
expanding the study of youngsters ages 8–12 that they began last year.
They are partnering with three Maine hospitals in Bangor, Waterville and
The research could break new ground in identifying how to treat
extremely shy children. By examining the details of parent-child
interactions that may promote social anxiety, researchers hope to
provide insight into parenting strategies that could improve success
rates in families working to overcome shyness issues.
Studies show that about 15 percent of children are shy; about 5 percent
are extremely so. A National Comorbidity Survey revealed a lifetime
prevalence of social phobia of 13.3 percent, making it the third most
prevalent psychiatric disorder. Extreme shyness can have severe effects
on an individual's social life and professional development, according
to the UMaine researchers.
Children who are extremely shy or "socially anxious" have difficulty in
school: speaking in class, participating in gym and making friends,
Sallinen says. "They're less likely to achieve if they are untreated."
Later in life, they look for jobs where they can avoid speaking or
expressing themselves, she says. Over time, a lack of achievement and
self-confidence can lead to depression because of loneliness and low
self-esteem. Early recognition and counseling can turn a child's life
Future research will examine the genetic basis of personality traits
like social anxiety, which may be present in the parents of shy
A new microwave acoustics patent may lead to a sensor for detecting
pathogens in liquids. The patent focuses on crystal orientations that
enhance sensor sensitivity in a liquid environment.
A biosensor that detects the presence of proteins and other biomolecules
such as DNA could have applications in medicine and public safety, says
Mauricio Pereira da Cunha, assistant professor of electrical and
computer engineering. Pereira da Cunha and Paul Millard, assistant
professor of chemical engineering, lead research teams working together
on biosensors. Key to the new sensor technology is the langasite family
of crystals that are more sensitive in liquids and are more stable at
high temperatures than other sensing platforms, like quartz crystals.
Last fall, master's student Eric Berkenpas achieved the first
demonstration of a langasite sensor that detects proteins in liquid.
Pereira da Cunha's team has shown successful and reliable operation of
langasite-based devices up to 750 degrees Celsius for high-temperature
gas sensing. Master's student Jeremy Thiele and Pereira da Cunha earned
an Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers award for their
work on a langasite-based sensor that can detect hydrogen gas and
operate at 250 degrees Celsius. Detecting hydrogen is important to the
efficient operation of fuel cells, jet engines and power plants.
AMC's New Home
The College of Engineering's Advanced Manufacturing Center (AMC) has a
new home in a 30,000-square-foot facility made possible by economic
development bond funds approved by Maine voters in 2002. Directed by
Professor of Engineering Technology Scott Dunning, AMC is an engineering
support and service center dedicated to promoting economic development
in Maine. With guidance from engineering faculty members and
technicians, students design and build devices that meet manufacturers'
new product specifications. In addition to prototyping, AMC engineers
use their "design-build" approach to solve manufacturing problems and
support research programs in the state.
Insight Lite: Summer in the Maine
University of Maine Forestry and wildlife students and faculty spend
countless hours in the field each summer, taking classes and conducting
research on subjects ranging from fungi and insects to white pine and
pine marten. As a result, they have a unique perspective on the Maine
woods that not all residents and tourists experience. According to
UMaine forestry and wildlife experts, you know you've had a true Maine
woods experience if:
you have smoked a cigar through a
head net to keep the blackflies away.
blackflies and mosquitoes make up a
majority of your daily protein between the months of May and August.
you have developed webbed feet.
you have buried a truck up to its
floorboards during mud season.
you describe "deep" soil as anything
over 6 inches.
your truck has 100,000 miles on
gravel roads and 10,000 on paved.
you use bug spray and bug nets, and
you learn to appreciate all
wildlife, including biting insects, by forsaking repellent.
Two University of Maine graduate students — one researching a new method
for analyzing mercury in sediments, another studying the cultivation and
use of the seaweed Porphyra — have received fellowships from the U.S.
Environmental Protection Agency to support their research.
Karen Merritt, a Ph.D. candidate in civil and environmental engineering,
will receive $105,000 over three years; Nicolas Blouin, a master's
candidate in marine biology, $70,000 over two years.
Merritt works with engineer Aria Amirbahman on a mercury analysis system
using a thin membrane made of chitosan, a material that comes from
lobster and crab shells. Merritt's goals are to determine the best way
to adsorb or hold mercury-bearing compounds. If successful for mercury
detection, the chitosan system could improve the accuracy of mercury
Blouin is working with marine biologist Susan Brawley to understand the
reproductive mechanisms and potential uses of the common seaweed
Porphyra, also known as nori and laver. At Schoodic Point, Blouin
collects Porphyra samples and studies its distribution and abundance. At
UMaine's Center for Cooperative Aquaculture Research in Franklin, Blouin
is studying techniques for growing Porphyra in tanks, as well as its
potential to grow alongside finfish aquaculture pens.
Last fall, Brawley and Blouin went to China to study Porphyra growing
Weighing in on Soft Drinks
Limiting access to soft drinks in schools should be part of a
comprehensive approach to reducing obesity among children in the United
States, according to a study by three nutritionists, published in the
Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior.
University of Maine Associate Professor of Food Science and Human
Nutrition Adrienne White and her colleagues — Susan Nitzke of the
University of Wisconsin-Madison and Karen Peterson of the Harvard School
of Public Health — also emphasize that both exercise and nutrition must
be part of obesity reduction efforts. While they note that no single
food or beverage leads to obesity, they call on soft drink manufacturers
to acknowledge the role that their products play in child health.
"Added sugars in foods commonly consumed by youth should be reduced" in
order to lower calorie intake, according to the researchers. Water, milk
and other nutritious beverages should be more accessible to students
than sugared soft drinks.
For more than 20 years, White has studied child and young adult
nutrition, focusing on food choices, behavior change and, most recently,
Building a Better Catapult
University of Maine engineering students' understanding of composite
material design and construction is launching them into international
competition this summer.
They are participating in the Composite Catapult Competition, sponsored
by the European Pultrusion Technology Association, July 6–8 in The
Netherlands. The event requires them to study the characteristics of
pultruded composite materials, and to design and build a machine that
can catapult a 13-pound ball. In addition to demonstrating their device
in tests of accuracy and distance, they must present their
computer-aided design models to a panel of judges.
Pultrusion is an automated manufacturing process for the production of
fiber-reinforced polymer composite materials known in industry as
profiles. Pultrusion profiles are used for commercial products, such as
lightweight, corrosion-free structures, electrical non-conductive
systems, offshore platforms, road and railway trucks, and many other
innovative new products.
The challenge is to go from a conceptual design to a system that can
perform well under precise requirements, says Roberto Lopez-Anido,
associate professor in the Department of Civil and Environmental
Engineering, and the team's adviser. The team proposed a catapult design
of the trebuchet type, which has a beam that swings a sling carrying the
Last year's winning team from the University of Helsinki launched the
ball almost 656 feet. Other participating teams herald from universities
in The Netherlands, England, Germany and the U.S.