Sensor research gets IGERT boost
Building on existing research strength
and state-of-the-art infrastructure, the University of Maine will use a
new five-year, $3.16 million research award to establish an
interdisciplinary graduate education program in sensor science,
engineering and informatics.
Funding comes from the National Science Foundation's Integrative
Graduate Education and Research Traineeship (IGERT) program, designed to
train Ph.D. scientists through interdisciplinary programs that address
pressing global needs.
According to the NSF Web site, UMaine is one of only 32 institutions to
receive more than one IGERT grant. UMaine's first launched the
Functional Genomics program.
The IGERT program will involve UMaine's Laboratory for Surface Science
and Technology (LASST), and the National Center for Geographic
Information and Analysis (NCGIA), working in cooperation with scientists
in Germany, Italy, Australia and Ireland.
Over the course of five years, the program will train 20 Ph.D. students
as IGERT fellows in sensor systems, including the creation of new
materials and methods for the interpretation of sensor data.
Kate Beard-Tisdale from the Department of Spatial Information Science
and Engineering and NCGIA is the program director and grant's principal
investigator. Nineteen faculty from several science and engineering
departments will be involved in the program.
More ideological conflict exists today between the Republican and
Democratic parties when it comes to racial, cultural and economic issues
than at any other time in the 20th century, according to University of
Maine political scientist Mark Brewer.
In the past decade, politicians the political elites have become
more ideological and partisan in their rhetoric, policy proposals and
voting behavior, to the point that party members have become more
similar in their views.
The electorate has mirrored that heightened partisanship, according to
Brewer. Mass partisanship, long linked to positions on issues relating
to economic equality, is increasingly evident in racial and cultural
Using the American National Election Study (NES) Cumulative Datafile,
Brewer found that the electorate recognizes that the parties differ
widely in their stances on issues related to economic equality (i.e.
government involvement in health insurance), racial issues (i.e. federal
aid to minorities) and cultural issues (i.e. the role of women in
society). His analysis also demonstrates the increased relevance of
partisan conflict when voters consider the issues.
The highly polarized American political climate today, with Democrats
more liberal and Republicans more conservative than ever, feeds on
itself, forming a closed circuit or loop, Brewer says. "Elites polarize
on issues, causing increased polarization among the mass on these same
issues, which, in turn, fuels further elite polarization as politicians
react to the views and demands of constituents and voters," he says, in
a paper published in Political Research Quarterly.
"Unless something develops that serves as a circuit breaker, we are
likely to witness these high levels of polarization in American politics
for at least the near future."
In the months leading up to the war in Iraq, the Bush administration
addressed the United Nations and the American people repeatedly to make
the case for a preemptive strike against a nation alleged to be
harboring weapons of mass destruction.
The way the administration couched the run-up to war in the context of
terrorism was echoed in the news coverage by Time and Newsweek,
affecting public judgment of events and policies, according to a recent
analysis by University of Maine political scientist Amy Fried.
"During this period, news magazines frequently juxtaposed terrorism and
Iraq, and used graphics which linked Iraq to terrorism and terrorists,"
says Fried, who published her study in a recent issue of the Harvard
International Journal of Press-Politics. Some graphics gave the false
impression not only that there were weapons of mass destruction in Iraq,
but also that their location was known.
Fried examined how the two news magazines covered Iraq and issues of
terrorism in the pre-war period. In particular, she analyzed the news
content in 34 issues published in September 2002 the month President
Bush gave a speech to the United Nations citing "the dangers, in their
most lethal and aggressive forms" posed by Iraq and in January March
2003, the final run-up to war.
Terrorism and Americans' fears about it were part of the news coverage
in the months leading up to the war in Iraq. Some terrorism stories
focused explicitly on evidence and arguments regarding whether Iraq
posed a threat of terrorism to the United States, while other terrorism
stories emphasized the ways Americans could cope with increased threats.
"This coverage reflected the confluence of events, but also officials'
decisions to bring various events together in time and space," says
In December 1899, Great Britain sustained three substantial military
defeats in the opening phase of the Second Anglo-Boer War in South
Africa. The events of "Black Week" ended Britain's complacency
concerning its military prowess and sparked a spontaneous outburst of
It's that patriotism, a powerful force that shaped late-Victorian
Britain, to which thousands of able-bodied men responded when the War
Office made the decision to allow civilian volunteers to serve overseas,
according to University of Maine historian Stephen Miller, in a paper
recently published in the Journal of Military History.
The call to champion the "imperial mission" was fueled by decades of
"manufactured patriotism" found in daily papers, school lessons and even
music hall entertainment. Much of the nationalism first revealed itself
in the period of heightened fear of invasion in the 1850s. It only grew
in the decades to come, shaping British attitudes toward the European
continent, its formal Empire, and its informal interests in Africa, Asia
and Latin America.
Although a variety of economic and social factors determined each
volunteer's course of action at the turn of the century, the most
widespread reason for enlistment in the Volunteer Service Companies and
Imperial Yeomanry was "the need for psychological fulfillment in the
expression of patriotism," says Miller, who examined volunteerism in the
South African War, 18891902.
Reading the memoirs, diaries and letters of Militia, Volunteers and
Imperial Yeomen, it's clear that recruits desired to experience
something new, says Miller. For late-Victorian society, ambition and
love of adventure were inherently linked to patriotism.
The response to the government's call for volunteers was greater than
anyone expected. More than 130,000 British men chose to fight in the
South African War as auxiliary troops. In addition, there were close to
350,000 Volunteers at home.
Insight Lite: Here Comes the Sun
High gasoline prices and the country's dependence on foreign oil are
prompting more people to take another look at alternative energy sources
like solar. We asked University of Maine students on the Solar Vehicle
Team for the best reasons to look to the sun.
Solar power is "green" renewable,
sustainable and clean.
Solar energy is free and readily
available, even on the grayest of Maine days.
Solar panels installed in a home
work even during power outages.
Advances in battery technology now
make it easier and more efficient than ever to store solar energy.
Maine allows utility customers who
generate their own electricity using alternative energy to sell the
excess back to their power companies.
The Solar Black Bear, an '87 pickup
converted to a solar-electric, zero-emissions vehicle, gets 3,000
miles "free" from the sun every year. The Solar Black Bear has been
UMaine's entry in the Tour de Sol annually since 1999.
Older adults and alcohol abuse
The Center on Aging at the University of Maine has begun a two-year
study to determine the prevalence of binge and chronic drinking in
people older than 65. It will explore what lifestyle or cultural factors
contribute to it, and what can be done to influence those factors.
The study is funded by a $30,000 grant from the Maine Department of
Health and Human Services' Office of Substance Abuse.
The project will investigate a very severe and neglected problem
alcohol abuse among older adults, says center Director Lenard Kaye.
The study will be statewide, but will focus especially on Hancock
County, which has a disproportionately high percentage of older alcohol
abusers compared to other regions of the state, according to a 2002
Health Planning Report for the Hancock region, performed by Eastern
Heavy drinking, particularly when mixed with a multitude of prescription
drugs many elders take for wellness, can lead to mental and physical
health complications that may otherwise be avoidable.
Statistically, Maine has the largest percentage of older people of any
state in the nation; it also ranks 14th in sales of spirits. Studies
show that alcohol-related costs in Maine are approximately $1 billion a
year, according to Kaye, as reflected in the cost of treatment, traffic
accidents, associated health problems and lost work time.
A new instructional DVD created at the University of Maine featuring
Elliott Carter's Eight Pieces for Four Timpani will officially be
released at the international convention of the Percussive Arts Society
(PASIC) in November.
The interactive DVD tutorial developed by UMaine percussionist Stuart
Marrs is expected to be the first in a series focusing on important
repertoire for classical instruments. It is only the second recording of
the complete set of Carter's eight timpani pieces on the market, and the
first interactive timpani DVD, according to Marrs, who chairs the Music
Division of the UMaine School of Performing Arts.
To complete the project, Marrs collaborated with new media faculty and
staff, and with UMaine's Office of Research and Economic Development.
The project was filmed and recorded at the Maine Center for the Arts
with four digital cameras.
Designed for music instructors and for students of timpani, or kettle
drums, viewers can choose a camera angle and optional narrative in
English, French or Spanish, in which Marrs discusses his playing
technique, the music and how he achieves the complex rhythmic patterns
and pitch changes in the music.
This fall, an interdisciplinary course designed around the Pop!Tech 2005
conference in Camden, Maine, is exploring technology and society, and
how they affect our ever-evolving cultures.
The online course, offered through the University of Maine Division of
Lifelong Learning, is taught by a team of six faculty members. In
October, it included a campus-based video link to the five-day
Pop!Tech annually assembles some of the world's leading digital age
thinkers, inventors, innovators and entertainers to wrestle with
societal issues. For the past eight years, UMaine has been creating a
companion course to the conference.
"As we shape technology, it, in turn, becomes a major force in shaping
us, our societies and civilization itself," says Associate Professor of
Public Administration Ken Nichols, one of the faculty members
co-teaching the course. "How does technology help us deal with and
also generate unavoidable challenges in our futures? That's what this
eccentric course is about."
The course is designed to consider the sea change happening around us
and to explore its implications for our personal, professional, and
A survey of more than 1,700 European business managers and employees
found that while top management leadership strongly influences product
and organizational innovation, its ultimate effectiveness is affected by
the company's cultural sensitivity or lack thereof.
The study reveals the importance of integrating leadership,
sociocultural context and strategic innovation, according to Detelin
Elenkov of the Stokely Management Center at the University of Tennessee
and Ivan Manev of the Business School at the University of Maine, who
published their survey results in the Journal of Management.
Elenkov and Manev compiled data from middle managers and their
supervisors, and those employees involved in innovation processes. They
represented 270 businesses in 12 European countries. The survey, in
English, was translated into seven other languages.
"Leadership behaviors (for management) may be effective or ineffective
depending on the fit with the prevailing cultural values of the hosting
society," write the researchers. "Our results provide guidance to
managers about the general fit of leadership behaviors with
sociocultural contexts, as well as the appropriate leadership behaviors
for influencing organizational innovation in different cultures."
Elenkov and Manev suggest exploring effective leadership within a
culture, rather than trying to identify universally effective or
accepted attributes. They note that research on leadership, strategic
innovation and social culture "has the potential to reveal many new ways
to improve business practice in the 21st century."