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UMaine Today Magazine


Lobster-flavored dog biscuits are one of the newest ways to pamper your pooch.

Lobster Bisque-its

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The Lobster Bisque-its, sold by Blue Seal Feeds Inc., were developed by the Lobster Institute at the University of Maine and its commercialization partner Saltwater Marketing LLC. The all-natural dog treats are baked with lobster meal, a source of natural flavor and protein.

Saltwater Marketing, a Portland, Maine-based company, has been working with the Lobster Institute for the past two years to develop a nutritious, flavorful lobster-based pet treat. The institute's product development work is geared to creating a more efficient and profitable use of the lobster resource, says Executive Director Bob Bayer.

"Working with Saltwater Marketing and now Blue Seal Feeds, we were able to get this product out of the lab and into the commercial market," Bayer says. "It's yet another example of the collaboration between business and the university that is such a critical part of economic development for Maine and New England."

Managing a Campuswide Arboretum

For their senior capstone project, University of Maine landscape horticulture students have written a how-to guide of best management practices for use in one of the state's largest arboretums the campus of their alma mater.

The capstone project mirrors similar management plans drawn up by previous landscape horticulture seniors for such high-profile sites as the grounds of the Maine governor's mansion and the Yew Dell Gardens in Kentucky.

In 2004, UMaine President Robert Kennedy announced the desire to establish the campus as an arboretum.

Students conducted research and heard from nationally recognized experts on how to manage large landscapes from an environmentally friendly perspective. Their strategies included guides for proper plant care and "putting the right plant in the right place" as part of an integrated pest management approach.

Last semester, three student teams each developed how-to manuals that were presented to the university's Campus Arboretum and Beautification Committee. This spring, the students' best recommendations have been compiled into a Web-based UMaine landscape management plan with a public education component.

The students call it a plan for the campus' future, with a concentration on large, diverse plantings to enhance the outdoor experience.

"The hope is to take care of the campus more as a botanical garden, not just landscape to maintain," says senior Merideth Torrey.

The values of organ donation

Across this country, more than 90,000 people are on waiting lists for organ donations, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. While an estimated 74 people each day receive an organ transplant, another 18 die because of the shortage of donated organs.

In the face of this social dilemma, researchers are attempting to identify people's values that influence their behavior when it comes to signing up to donate their organs posthumously. With these values identified, it would then be possible to tailor health communication messages to more effectively encourage donation, according to University of Maine psychologists Richard Ryckman and Joel Gold, working with Bart van den Borne of the University of Maastricht in the Netherlands and Bill Thornton of the University of Southern Maine.

In their study, the researchers surveyed 180 Maine college students using a factual test of their knowledge of organ donation, an examination of their drivers' licenses as a measure of their intent to donate, and a personality inventory indicating their values.

The researchers found that young adults whose values reflect benevolence, universalism, achievement and risk taking are more likely to have registered to donate their organs posthumously. In a college-age population, students in certain majors most often hold those values.

For decades, psychologists have known that people in particular occupations, including students in various majors, tend to strongly endorse certain values and be less concerned with others. For example, business and economics students particularly value achievement, and social science students strongly endorse benevolence and universalism.

The scientists now are conducting a parallel study with Dutch adolescents.

New Thinking

A new hand-held sensing device designed to detect hazardous materials has the potential to be a real boon to firefighters and other first responders on the scene of an emergency. University of Maine Professor of Chemistry Carl Tripp from the Laboratory for Surface Science and Technology, and engineers from Orono Spectral Solutions, have nearly completed a prototype, with business assistance from Bret Golann of the Maine Business School. A product survey of fire chiefs yields enthusiasm for the new invention. Then one of the fire chiefs asks: What happens if it's accidentally dropped from a building?

"You have to reengineer to respond to that," says Golann, assistant professor of entrepreneurship and technology commercialization. "That's why you can't just function in a lab (when doing new product development)."

Golann and other UMaine professors teach entrepreneurship courses as part of the undergraduate business curriculum at UMaine. He also offers a new course in technology commercialization that builds on the entrepreneurship courses by helping seniors and graduate students in any field learn how to launch and grow technology-based businesses.

"Whether they join an entrepreneurial company or go out on their own, I want them to be able to take even the most poorly defined ideas and figure out if they can be viable and grown into sustainable businesses, not flashes in the pan," says Golann.

Adding Student Innovation to the Team

Sports Done Right, the University of Maine program designed to guide the improvement of interscholastic and youth sports in Maine and across the country, has teamed with the campus-based Student Innovation Center to develop a national marketing campaign.

Last summer, two students conducted market research to determine the most effective informational product for customers schools, coaches, parents, community groups and student-athletes. Now four students with graphic design, multimedia and marketing skills are working with Karen Brown, director of the Maine Center for Sport and Coaching in UMaine's College of Education and Human Development, which initiated Sports Done Right. Together, they are developing a kit, complete with informational and survey material and a DVD, to assist schools and communities with the implementation of Sports Done Right. The implementation tool kit also will include a self-assessment instrument, which is required when applying for Sports Done Right accreditation.

Sports Done Right's five-year accreditation, through the Maine Center for Sport and Coaching, means that a school or community "signs on" to the core principles and practices as outlined in the report, Sports Done Right: A Call to Action on Behalf of Maine's Student-Athletes. As such, they pledge at all levels from the student-athlete to the coach, from the school and the school district to the entire community to provide opportunities for young people to experience the very best of interscholastic athletics in a setting where sports are "done right."

The tool kits are expected to be ready for distribution to a nationwide waiting list by early summer.

Insight Light: Ocean Bowl

In February, 17 teams of high school students from Maine, Vermont and New Hampshire were at the University of Maine competing in the annual Nor'Easter Ocean Sciences Bowl, designed to introduce high school students to marine sciences. This year's northern New England championship team from Contoocook Valley Regional High School in Peterborough, N.H., is headed in May to the National Ocean Sciences Bowl in California. Among the possible questions teams faced in the regional competition:

On North America's Atlantic coast, identify the four major intertidal zones and organisms found in each.
Answer: Upper intertidal lichens, encrusting algae; middle intertidal barnacles, mussels, rockweed; lower intertidal Irish moss; extreme lower intertidal seaweeds.

Why does coral bleaching occur?
Answer: Zooxanthellae, a type of algae, gives coral color. Changes in salinity or an increase in temperature, UV exposure or pollution results in the expulsion of zooxanthellae.

Globally, which regions tend to have the greatest and the least species diversity?
Answer: Regions of high species diversity tend to be located near the equator. Regions of low species diversity tend to be in the North Atlantic. Within geologically recent times, these areas were glaciated, with only a relatively short period of evolutionary time for species to recolonize.

Forests for Maine's Future

Representatives from four key forestry groups in the state the Maine Forest Service, the University of Maine's Forestry Programs, the Small Woodland Owners Association of Maine and the Maine Tree Foundation have joined forces to help promote greater public awareness of Maine's forests and their importance to the state's economic, social and environmental health.

The group will work to draw attention to all aspects of Maine's forests from jobs, clean water, vibrant rural economies and unique habitats to industry, recreational opportunities and sustainable energy products.

"Our forest products, outdoor recreation and tourism industries depend on a healthy, vibrant forest in order to thrive," said Gov. John Baldacci. "The work of Forests for Maine's Future will give all Maine citizens a new perspective on Maine's forests in the 21st century."

Evergreen Aquaculture

Worldwide, governments use site leasing as a means of regulating the aquaculture industry. But with the end of the lease comes the uncertainty of whether it will be renewed or cancelled.

Evergreen operating contracts, like those used for forestry leases in New Zealand and Canada, and for grazing rights in Australia, provide a more efficient and effective alternative. Under an evergreen contract, the lessee and the government renegotiate terms midway through the agreement. The advantages, say a University of Maine economist and an Australian scientist, are greater continuity and predictability, which help avoid undesirable incentives to pursue shortsighted gains as the lease expires.

"Evergreen contracts can often find common ground on issues that would be more difficult in either a regulatory context or a fixed-period lease," according to Ralph Townsend, chair of UMaine's Department of Economics, and Michael Young of the Australian Commonwealth Science and Industry Research Organisation, in the journal Marine Resource Economics.

The option to renew a lease half way through the current agreement dramatically affects the ability of the lessee and the government to plan, say the researchers. An evergreen contract encourages longer-term vision, and recognizes that the relationship must evolve as new information emerges.

The Silica Solution

University of Maine Associate Professor of Chemical Engineering William DeSisto is conducting research on a new class of modified mesoporous silica membranes with the help of a prestigious award to young scientists, the National Science Foundation Faculty Early Career Development Award.

DeSisto is the sixth UMaine faculty member to receive the award since 2001.

With $400,000 in the next five years, DeSisto will study silica membranes as an alternative to traditional energy-intensive separation processes, like distillation. The membranes could have applications in refining petrochemicals and building better batteries for everyday consumer use.

In order for silica membranes to be used on a large scale, fundamental research is needed on how to control their performance. DeSisto plans to control the size of the silica membrane's tiny pores and, ultimately, their surface chemistry through new chemical reaction approaches.

Hybrid composite membranes of inorganic, nanoscale millionth of a millimeter pores filled with organic material could be molecularly tailored to specific separations, like light gases and vapors, and larger molecules, like proteins.


UMaine Today Magazine
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