The effects of repeated injury to marine worms will be the focus of
research funded by a nearly $382,000 grant from the National Science
Assistant Professor of Marine Sciences Sara Lindsay will study worms
that live on the ocean bottom — from intertidal mudflats to the deep sea
Marine worms play a vital role in the ecology of the ocean, influencing
the cycle of nutrients between the bottom sediments and the overlying
water column by processing and redistributing organic matter supplied
from the column. Sediment disturbance by worms, called bioturbation,
also influences competition among different species, and helps determine
where larvae settle.
For several years, Lindsay has been studying worm regeneration of body
parts following injury. In this study, she will investigate how injury
and subsequent regeneration affects the worms' activities, such as
reproduction and sediment mixing.
Her work could be particularly helpful to the fishing industry by
providing information about the resiliency of the worms dug for bait. It
also could aid researchers examining pollutants that end up in sediments
that may then be redistributed by the worms that mix that sediment.
An ongoing project to produce new varieties of potatoes that can stand
up to disease while giving growers in the East new marketing
opportunities recently was awarded a $200,000 U.S. Department of
The project to conduct potato breeding and variety selection work is a
collaborative effort involving scientists in Maine, New York,
Pennsylvania, Ohio, New Jersey, Virginia and North Carolina.
At the University of Maine, the study involves researchers in the
Department of Plant, Soil and Environmental Sciences, the Department of
Food Science and Human Nutrition, and the School of Biological Sciences.
The UMaine program focuses 50 percent of its effort on developing new
russet potato varieties for processing and fresh market use in the East,
but also looks at improving fresh market, specialty and chipping
varieties of the
A new component of the project is designed to develop molecular–based
tools to help select varieties with improved disease resistance, says
Gregory Porter, coordinator of UMaine's Potato Breeding and Variety
A collaborative effort to investigate student learning in physics and to
design curricula to make it easier for students to understand the
science was recently awarded a three-year, $337,000 grant from the
National Science Foundation.
Researchers from the University of Maine are collaborating with
colleagues at Arizona State University Polytechnic and California State
University–Fullerton to conduct the three-part study.
Cal State–Fullerton received an additional grant of more than $162,000,
bringing the project's total funding to just under $500,000.
The goal of the project is to produce a set of student-centered
curricular materials that can be used in courses to improve learning and
conceptual understanding, and to serve as a model for additional
research in the field of physics education.
"Our work could serve as a model for other disciplines to reform
teaching in their more advanced courses," says UMaine Associate
Professor of Physics John Thompson. "The interdisciplinary nature of
this work — we have links to chemistry, engineering and math — may lead
to more conversations between disciplines on how best to have students
learn the concepts and the applications across disciplines."
An increasing number of businesses don't just want to do well, they want
to do good. But wanting to be socially responsible and actually having a
strategy and management tools in place to implement and track such an
endeavor are two separate things.
Terry Porter, a professor in the Maine Business School, has found that
many businesses intend to adopt corporate social responsibility
policies; however, they vary in the degree to which these policies are
prioritized. Through her research, Porter has created a menu of possible
approaches for businesses to achieve CSR and sustainability goals.
"CSR represents the firm's strategic intent with regard to social and
environmental initiatives, where such actions exceed what is required by
law or regulation," Porter says.
The dominant approach to CSR research compares the effects of such
policies on the bottom line. However, Porter goes beyond financial
return by assessing the systems by which CSR goals are achieved. The
result is a practical approach for managers who wish to implement an
effective CSR strategy.
Porter's findings were published in a recent issue of the journal
Systems Research and Behavioral Science.
Experts on Topic: Economists
In light of recent uncertainty on Wall Street — and Main Street — the
economy has been on everyone's mind. But for students and professors in
the University of Maine's new School of Economics, it's always a hot
The school ranks among the top 37 in the world in the area of resource
and environmental economics. In addition, faculty members are active in
state and regional economic development efforts, and are creating a
virtual conference on the subject.
The School of Economics provides research to the Maine Department of
Agriculture, Food, and Rural Resources that is regularly used to set
prices for Maine's dairy industry. This research and state regulatory
work help preserve Maine's dairy industry, associated open space and
By the numbers: Plant a Row
Since 1999, University of Maine Cooperative Extension has coordinated
the state's Plant a Row for the Hungry project, through which home
gardeners and Master Gardeners donate harvest surpluses to help those in
need. The 2008 harvest season was bountiful for Maine's Plant a Row for
pounds of produce
pounds donated in
York County — the largest of the county donations
volunteers who donated their time and/or produce
dozen ears of corn donated
food pantries, shelters and soup kitchens statewide that received
produce, in addition to individual families in need
the vegetable donated most — potato
Geometry of cancer
A new form of image analysis is under development at the University of
Maine to improve early detection of breast cancer.
UMaine Assistant Professor of Mathematics Andre Khalil recently received
a grant of more than $73,000 from the Maine Cancer Foundation to build
on initial research done by his colleagues in France — Pierre Kestener
and Alain Arneodo — concerning use of wavelet-based image analysis to
The Two-Dimensional Wavelet-Transform Modulus Maxima method detects the
difference between dense and fatty breast tissue, and reveals
microcalcifications. The technology also may be able to discriminate
between benign and malignant breast tumors.
Khalil will use the wavelet technology to analyze more than 3,000 images
in the online Digital Database for Screening Mammography, maintained by
the University of South Florida.
Based on Kestener's research, Khalil hypothesizes that the software can
detect a benign tumor based on its geometry. It's believed that benign
tumors are fairly typical in shape — a circle or square. It's when the
tumor has a more complex fractal or branch-like structure that it is
more likely to become more invasive and, thus, malignant.
"The question is, can we detect the cancer with the machine before the
radiologist is able to detect it," Khalil says.
'Invisible' older men
Elderly men with chronic health conditions need more effective patient
education and outreach to overcome the stigma of asking for assistance,
according to researchers at the University of Maine Center on Aging.
That reluctance, which is often a pattern throughout their adult lives,
puts older men at risk, including leading them to disclose symptoms only
at later stages of disease. In response, healthcare and social service
practitioners need to address attitudes, behaviors, beliefs and cultural
barriers that stand in the way of seeking treatment or assistance.
The leading causes of death among older men — heart disease, cancer and
stroke — are preventable in some cases, given timely access to quality
healthcare, write Center on Aging researchers Lenard Kaye, Jennifer
Crittenden and Jason Charland in the journal Generations.
Practitioners need to use targeted questions with older men whenever
possible, creating the opportunity for them to disclose questions or
symptoms, according to the researchers. Providers also must not
underestimate the importance of any healthcare visit.
Among the intervention strategies, the researchers recommend setting
goals that will allow men to feel more involved in their healthcare and
to master any feelings of loss of control or helplessness associated
with asking for outside help or with health decline.
Public trust has implications on the quality and durability of natural
resource policy and management decisions, including those involving
water resources. A new study by two forest resources researchers
outlines five factors of trust that planners, managers, engineers,
policymakers and community stakeholders involved in natural resources
management should consider when seeking better ways of cooperating to
produce sustainable agency-community relations.
Jessica Leahy of the University of Maine and Dorothy Anderson of North
Carolina State University studied the interaction among the U.S. Army
Corps of Engineers and key communities in the Kaskaskia River Watershed
in Illinois. In this area, corps managers met with a mix of community
support and opposition when managing two reservoirs and one river
navigation channel involving flood control, recreation, wildlife
conservation and water quality.
The researchers found five factors of trust: general trust in the
government, social trust of people, trust in technical competence, trust
in the shared interests, and trust as a result of procedural justice
(fair decisionmaking). For each, the researchers suggested possible
planning/management action for improving relationships between
communities, agencies and managers. When government is involved,
increasing community familiarity with the local staff and agency can
bolster trust. Social trust can be enhanced by events that broadly build
a sense of community. Professional development and publicizing efforts
to improve technical skills can address questions of technical
competence. Education and outreach efforts focused on communicating an
array of community benefits provided by management can promote shared
interest and values.
UMaine Today Magazine
Department of University Relations
5761 Howard A. Keyo Public Affairs Building
Phone: (207) 581-3744 | Fax: (207) 581-3776