UMaine graduate researcher uses ultrasonic technology to detect
defective membranes used in industry and medicine.
Remember that kid in fifth grade who took apart his dad's new
watch just to see how it worked? Deconstruction is great in theory, but
it won't buy a new timepiece.
The idea of destroying something just to see if it is working properly
goes against the grain, yet for many manufacturing processes, the
destruction of filtration membranes for testing purposes is an
unavoidable part of quality control. University of Maine doctoral
candidate Lin Lin is working to change all that, applying ultrasonic
technology in ways that can locate the defect without the destruction.
"By using ultrasonic techniques, we can conduct tests in real time
without removing the membrane from the manufacturing process," says Lin,
whose work has captured the attention of Millipore Corp., and
Exxon-Mobil, among other companies. "Traditional testing methods
required that a sample of the membrane be removed and sent to the lab,
which interrupts the process and never directly answers the question
regarding the quality of the membranes as they are used."
Under the guidance of UMaine mechanical engineering professor Michael
Peterson, Lin is quickly becoming the leading expert in the use of
ultrasonic waves for the study of membranes, and is working to develop
important new tools for both research and industrial applications.
With such applications as the filtering of active viruses from vaccines
and the removal of impurities from water, membranes are a critical part
of thousands of manufacturing processes. Making sure they are operating
at maximum efficiency can save time, money and even lives. Lin's
master's work at UMaine focused on developing ultrasound testing
techniques that could be easily conducted outside the lab — techniques
that Millipore hopes to apply to quality control in manufacturing. The
testing method allows large area defect detection without interrupting
the pharmaceutical manufacturing process.
Lin's doctoral research focuses on the basic science behind the action
of membranes. By comparing the behavior of reflected sound waves at the
interface of sample membranes and the fluids in which they are immersed,
her work is helping scientists better understand how pore size and other
factors affect membrane function. Industry collaborators have helped
support Lin's work and have shown a strong interest in the potential it
has for improving manufacturing processes.
"Membranes are incredibly important in our lives, but there is so much
of the basic science that we still don't know," says Lin. "Oil
companies, pharmaceutical companies, the Navy; many applications depend
on an understanding of how fluids and porous materials interact. This is
a really big market, and there are a lot of questions that we need to
Geriatric mental health essential for sustaining quality of life.
For the past five years, Jason Charland has been a direct care
provider in a group home for adults with mental illness, assisting
residents with daily living tasks and recreational activities,
supporting social skill development and administering medications. The
experience prompted him to pursue a master's degree in social work at
the University of Maine.
"What I really understood is the impact you can have on an individual's
quality of life," he says. "Providing interaction and support is very
In the Master of Social Work (MSW) Program, Charland has worked as a
field student, then as a graduate research assistant in UMaine's Center
on Aging. He has been involved in varied Center on Aging projects,
including researching the transportation needs of elders with chronic
illness, elder abuse screening and education in the primary care
setting, and prescription drug conference planning.
Charland's full-time job as a direct care provider also gave him a
unique perspective on a research project designed to improve services
for the elderly with mental health issues in the state. He developed a
training program on geriatric mental health for direct care providers
and compiled information on elder suicide prevention for the Maine Joint
Advisory Committee on Select Services for Older Persons, and the Maine
Department of Health and Human Services.
The joint advisory committee and the department were charged by the
legislature with addressing issues in a law passed in 2005 to improve
access and delivery of mental health services to older adults.
Charland developed a five-hour training curriculum for direct care
service providers working with Maine's older adults in long-term care,
residential and home care settings. The educational program covers aging
myths and keys to healthy aging, late-life depression and elder suicide
risk, Alzheimer's disease and dementia, other mental illnesses,
management of difficult behaviors and substance abuse.
"All older adults have unique needs," Charland says. "Becoming aware of
those needs when it comes to mental health will help the quality of
services direct care workers provide."
The effects of chronic illness, multiple medications and isolation
complicate mental health issues in elders. In some settings, the social
network for the elderly is reduced to other residents and the facility's
"That's why it's so important for the staff to be supportive and
understand symptoms and behaviors presented as the result of mental
illness, offering a safe and caring environment in which to keep the
person's dignity and respect intact," he says. "Support can offer some
In long-term care facilities, there is a prevalence of mental health
problems in elders, as well as a high turnover rate and shortage of
direct care workers, Charland says. It is estimated that more than 60
percent of persons in nursing facilities and 53 percent in residential
care have mental health diagnoses. Charland cautions that a small
percentage of the elderly population is in institutional care, and these
numbers do not reflect mental health issues of the general population of
adults age 65 and older.
Training staff in how to deal with mental health problems has been shown
to improve patient outcomes, including fewer depressive symptoms and
better management of aggressive behaviors. Staff members have greater
job satisfaction and better job performance.
"Understanding the best ways to interact with presenting behaviors can
impact the older adult's quality of life," says Charland. "This is a
proactive approach to increase preventative skills of workers to
anticipate and redirect disruptive behaviors."
Charland also compiled research on best practices for addressing elder
suicide. He found only two states, Oregon and Pennsylvania, have formal
elder suicide prevention plans in place.
"Most state suicide prevention programs are targeted to youth, but now
Maine is starting to take a lifespan approach inclusive of all age
In Maine, more than 18 percent of all suicides — approximately 30 a year
— occur after age 65, which mirrors the national average. Nationally,
the rate of suicide among white men age 85 and older is 4.6 times
greater than the rate for all ages.
Among the risk factors for elder suicide: loss of spouse, living alone,
access to lethal means, and physical and mental illness.
Charland's three major recommendations involve more frequent depression
screenings for elders in primary care settings, coordination of elder
suicide prevention efforts with the existing Maine Youth Suicide
Prevention Program, and training for "gatekeepers," like volunteers who
deliver meals, in order to identify at-risk older adults and refer them
"The most compelling finding was that screenings for depression by
primary care physicians have the most promising effect," Charland says.
"Older adults trust their doctors and are willing to talk to them about
mental health issues when they may not want to go to a psychologist or
Above all, when caring for elders with mental health issues, it's
important to see the people, not their disease or challenging behaviors,
says Charland, who completes his graduate work in May.
"It's been a great opportunity to work on these two projects knowing the
end products will be used in one way or another to positively impact the
lives of older Mainers."
UMaine first-year student and Iraq war veteran spreads his artistic
When Jacob Cayouette auditioned for a role in his first college musical,
he didn't know the play about a lonely, pointy-eared, sharp-toothed boy
discovered living in a cave. As a first-semester theater student at the
University of Maine, all Cayouette hoped for was a bit part that would
give him a few minutes in the footlights.
But Cayouette's acting and singing talents landed him the title role in
UMaine's spring production of Bat Boy: The Musical. And while the
casting call stunned Cayouette, it was no surprise to those who know him
and his lifelong love of the stage.
"I've been acting — or acting out — in front of my family since I was
3," admits the Rockport, Maine, native. "I was the middle child trying
to grab attention. I've always been in love with theater."
His parents, a Christian singing duo known as the Cayouettes, regularly
toured the Northeast. When Cayouette and his two siblings were old
enough, they joined their parents on stage. Cayouette performed with
them until he was 10.
"My dad has a powerful voice. He's a real people person who likes to
tell stories. My mom has great tone. She's quiet and musically diverse,
playing piano, guitar and trumpet. She was the one who started my love
for every type of music.
"I'm a tenor with a pretty high voice and decent falsetto range. I like
to think I got a little of both my mom and dad's voices."
At Camden Hills Regional High School, Cayouette's first taste of theater
came as a member of the chorus in a production of Guys and Dolls. It was
the first of nine high school plays, including every musical, in which
he took the stage and an increasing share of the spotlight. But to
pursue his passion for theater and music, Cayouette made the tough
decision as a sophomore to give up athletics, which he excelled in all
"I loved sports," he says, "but music and theater were more fun."
Two months after graduating high school in 2002, Cayouette was in the
Army. He enlisted, he says, because of Sept. 11, just as his brother had
done a year earlier, and because a military career would give him two
opportunities: money for college to major in theater, and world travel.
Cayouette turned 18 in basic training. That January, he and the rest of
the 17th Signal Battalion headed to Iraq for a six-month stint.
"The military shows your breaking points," he says. "You get to know
fear — and yourself — well."
When he was back in Germany where his unit was stationed, Cayouette
submitted an audition tape for the U.S. Army Soldier Show, an annual
touring company of amateur artists selected from active duty soldiers to
spend nearly seven months performing a live musical review. He was
selected to be one of 18 performers for the 2004 tour, which involved
110 shows in 57 locations worldwide before audiences of up to 10,000.
It was his first professional performance gig. And it went by all too
quickly. By January 2005, Cayouette was back in Iraq, this time for a
"I never wanted to go back after the first time," he says. "I heard
halfway through the show that we had to return and I was upset — and
scared. Everybody's scared. Then comes the point that you just do it.
It's like winning a bad lottery."
Cayouette is proud of his military service, and the maturity and life
experiences he gained. "I don't necessarily agree with the war, but I
have a lot of respect for the soldiers who go and do it without
question," he says.
"I'm glad I joined the military. I grew up a lot in four years. I got in
great shape and got some discipline. Traveled a lot, met my girlfriend
in Germany and performed in a professional production. The experience
also gave me a lot to work with on stage."
Last July, Cayouette was discharged from the Army. A month later, he
enrolled as a theater major at the University of Maine. Not long after
that, he was tapped for what he says is unequivocally his all-time
favorite theatrical role.
"Everyone who's not been accepted or misunderstood can identify with Bat
Boy. I've been misunderstood plenty of times in my life," Cayouette
"For me, one line in the play says it all: I know I'm strange, so help
me change. Because I see myself in Bat Boy, this is my favorite role."