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Smith Featured in UMaine Today

School of Biology and Ecology professor, Michelle Smith, is featured in the Spring/Summer 2015 issue of UMaine Today. Smith’s work on active learning in large enrollment courses is at the forefront of current science education research.

Read the full article here.

Jacquelyn Gill Featured on PBS Program

School of Biology and Ecology professor, Jacquelyn Gill, is featured on the PBS series, First Peoples. The series premieres June 24th at 9pm.

More information can be found here.

SBE Team Working to Increase Bee Habitat

Alison Dibble, Lois Stack, Megan Leech, and Frank Drummond are featured in a UMaine News story about their efforts to plant pollinator demonstration gardens that will be used for educating farmers and the communities.

Read the full story here.

A Look Back: Edith Patch, UMaine’s First Female Entomologist

Edith Patch, head of the University of Maine entomology in the early 1900s, was profiled recently by the UMaine News. Jennifer Lund, a recipient of the School of Biology and Ecology 2015 Edith Patch Award, was interviewed for the article.

“I am so very honored to win an award that is named after such a phenomenal female entomologist and scientist,” said Lund.  “I often think about how my research here has been influenced by all the entomologists that have come before me but especially Edith Patch who paved the way for female entomologists at the University of Maine so early in the university’s history.”

Read the full story here.

Gill Digging in Wind Cave National Park

School of Biology and Ecology professor Jacquelyn Gill led a team from the University of Maine on a hunt for fossils in Wind Cave National Park. See the full story here.

Frank Drummond Receives UMaine Cooperative Extension Faculty Research Award

Congratulations to Dr. Frank Drummond, professor of Insect Ecology and Insect Pest Management, on receiving the UMaine Cooperative Extension Faculty Research Award.

Drummond is recognized for over 25 years of applied research in agriculture and natural resource management and 15 years with a Cooperative Extension appointment.  His integration of teaching, service and research has created opportunities for colleagues and over 30 graduate students, and brought in over $16,000,000 in grant funding. He has published over 100 peer-reviewed articles, six book chapters and numerous presentations to scientific and stakeholder audiences.

He is also recognized for his diverse work, including creating modeling tools for Maine’s DEP to help guide the U.S. EPA standards for stream quality, working on novel methods for natural parasite controls of greenhouse pests, and innovative work on alternative pollinators.  The long-term impact of these studies has contributed to organic blueberry production increases, a reduction in conventional pesticide use for fruit growers, and contributed to the region’s readiness to deal with emerging pathogens, such as the spotted-wing drosophila.

“It is the stories behind Frank’s accomplishments that reveal his passion for learning and teaching,” said Lois Stack in his nomination application. “In his words, ‘ever since I was 8 or 9 years old I have loved insects. For me, my job at the University of Maine is a dream come true … I enjoy studying insects both in the lab and outside in the field and I also have great fun teaching undergraduate students, the general public, and farmers and beekeepers about insect biology, ecology, and management.’ ”


Visiting Scholar from India, Amandeep Kaur, aims to improve rice bran quality

Amandeep Kaur, a visiting scholar from India, is currently performing research in Dr. Benildo de los Reyos’ functional genomics lab.  Kaur is pursuing her Ph.D. in plant breeding and genetics.  She arrived at the University of Maine on Dec. 15 and will be performing research for one year.

Her research, titled “Allele mining for phospholipase D locus and transfer through MAS into elite breeding lines,” looks at genomic approaches to improve rice bran quality.

Kaurs’ research is funded by The Monsanto Beachell-Borlaug International Scholars Program, a competitive one-year scholarship program launched in 2009 that offers fellowships for highly motivated individuals seeking a Ph.D. in rice or wheat plant breeding.

“International research allows developing countries to be exposed to new research,” said Kaur. “I can bring back the new technology and research topics to my laboratory in India and I can teach my colleagues what I learned while in the U.S.”

Rice and wheat are two staple food crops critical to the food security of more than 3 billion people around the world—which feeds more than half the world’s population.  Productivity in these two crops has remained relatively static for decades due in part to limited research investment. Kaur hopes to change that.

Coming to the United States, Kaur is excited to experience every season.  Upon her arrival, she experienced her first snow. “I loved the snow, and since I will be here for a year I will be able to experience all the seasons. I’m excited.”

Dr. de los Reyos’ was very pleased to be selected as Kaur’s mentor.  “Amandeep’s research was a good fit for my lab because I work on both comparative and functional genomics in rice, with a particular emphasis on analysis of sequence variations and its implication on reconfiguration of regulatory networks.”







2015 SBE Graduate Research Exposition Winners

Graduate students from all disciplines presented their work and competed for thousands of dollars at the 2015 Grad-Expo on April 2nd & 3rd in the University of Maine’s Innovative Media Research and Commercialization Center (IMRC).Many graduate students from The School of Biology & Ecology participated in the event and emerged as winners.

Maureen Correll, a PhD candidate studying Ecology and Environmental Sciences, was presented with two awards following her presentations at the Graduate Exposition. She won first place in the Natural Sciences Oral Presentation competition for her delivery and explanation on one of the chapters from her dissertation work entitled, “Specialist Avifaunal Collapse of Northeastern Tidal Marshes.” For this particular research, Correll explored trends in tidal marsh bird populations and collected historical databases on the marshes between Maine and Virginia. Additionally, Correll took second place in the Pecha kucha competition after speaking about an internship she completed with the Arctic Landscape Conservation Cooperative in Kaktovik, AK. In order to accumulate the information for her presentation entitled, “A Summer in Kaktovik; Lessons Learned by a Natural Scientist in Search of Stakeholder Feedback in a Rapidly Changing Coastal Arctic,” she interviewed Alaska Native residents in Kaktovik and inquired about the impacts of abrupt climate change on subsistence living.

Kourtney Collum, a Ph.D. candidate in the Anthropology and Environmental Policy program, is currently studying farmers’ pollination management practices while focusing primarily on their conservation of wild bees in the lowbush blueberry industries of Maine and Prince Edward Island, Canada. Collum presented preliminary findings from her dissertation research in a talk entitled: “On-farm bee conservation: Agricultural Policy and Farmers’ Participation in Conservation Agriculture.” Following the presentation, she received the second place award in the Social Science Oral Competition. The purpose of Collum’s research, in her own words, is to “determine ways to improve pollination security for fruit and vegetable growers,” due to the availability of commercial honeybee hives declining as the price simultaneously rises.

Deciding to try something new after giving various formal presentations lately, Kaitlyn O’Donnell submitted and displayed some of her own artwork at the Grad Expo. O’Donnell is an Entomology student who focuses on forest and agricultural ecology, and besides physically studying insects in the natural world to fulfill her passion, she also thoroughly enjoys drawing and painting them. For the expo, O’Donnell submitted a few drawings and paintings of a weevil, a leaf cutter ant, a praying mantis, a lacewing, and a bee using different mediums (pastels, colored pencils, and water colors). By submitting her artwork, O’Donnell was able to explore her talents and gain insight on what has been going on in other programs within the university.

Additionally, Jennifer Lund was awarded second place in the Natural Sciences Oral Competition for her presentation entitled: “Prey Utilization and Nest Structure of Cerceris fumipennis,” through her continuation of research in entomology.

Megan Leach, who is pursuing her Master’s Degree in Ecology and Environmental Science, submitted a photo to the expo that earned her first place in the Graduate Dean’s Photo Contest.