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SBE Students Presenting at Undergraduate Research & Academic Showcase

Join us as SBE students present at the 5th annual Undergraduate Research and Academic Showcase Tuesday, April 1 at 8 a.m.-5 p.m in the Wells Conference Center

Jinlun Bai, forth year biology student, will be giving an oral presentation in room 3 from 9:15-10:30.  His topic is titled “Mutations in Ca2+ Regulatory Proteins on Cardiac Frequency and Rhythmicity in Drosophila melanogaster.

Audrey Maddox will be giving an oral presentation from 1:15-2:30 in room 3.  Her research topic is titled “Pollinators of Cucurbit Crops in Maine: Composition, Biology, and Conservation.”

Six SBE students will give a poster presentation between the hours of 9 a.m. and 5 p.m.

Elijah Davis–”Anthropod Availability Predicts Prescence of the Bay=Breasted Warbler During Breeding Season Without Spruce Budworm Outbreak.”

Adam Hawkes–”Determination of Optimal Leaf to Amphipod Ratio for Leaf Decomposition Experiments Using The Leaf Shredder Hyallela Azteca and Leaves from the Red Maple Tree Acer rub rum.”

 Mattie Paradise– “Effects of Microbial Communities of Sparrow Eggs in a Temperate Maine Salt Marsh.”

 Darlene Turcotte–”Territorial Aggression in Song Sparrows: is consistent by migration strategy and across landscapes.”

 Ani Varjabedian–”Functional Morphology of the Prey-Capture Mechanism in Prorhynchus Stagnalis (Platyhelminthes).”

Stephanie Wood – “Dhoa Regulates Directed Cellular Migration.”

The Center for Undergraduate Research, CUGR, primary goal is to facilitate and enhance research and creative achievement for undergraduate students at UMaine.

For more information click here.

SBE Master’s Student Sean Rune Receives Research Grant Award!

Congratulations to Sean Rune, SBE master’s student, on his research grant award!  His proposal  titled “Using Automated VHF Telemetry to Study Shorebird Migratory Behavior and Habitat Use in Eastern Maine Estuaries” is funded by Eastern Maine Conservation Initiative, for a total of 3,000 dollars. The grant will cover equipment costs which will allow him to gather the data he needs to address his research question.

Eastern Maine Conservation Initiative, EMCI, is a non-profit organization designed to foster conservation coverage of eastern Maine, and to support projects on conservation education, historical research, and cultural heritage.

Rune received his undergraduate degree from the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire and is currently in the first year of his Masters program at UMaine.  He is studying individual conditions and migratory behaviors of shore birds in down-east Maine and is being advised by Dr. Rebecca Holberton, Professor of Biology.

Best of Luck to Sean Rune on his research, and congratulations on his research grant award.

Dr. Mary Tyler Selected for Advance Career Recognition Award!

Congratulations to Dr. Mary Tyler, School of Biology & Ecology professor, for being selected for the  Advance Career Recognition Award! The advance Rising Tide Center will be hosting a lunch during which Dr. Tyler will be presenting a talk on her efforts on implementing inquiry based learning on Thursday, March 27  from 12:00-1:00 pm in the Coe Room, Memorial Union.  The title of her talk is Students are scientists: Implementing inquiry-based learning.

Dr. Tyler will describe the transition to inquiry-based learning in one of UMaine’s largest introductory laboratory science courses, Biology 100.  She believes that fostering individual creativity in large classes is not only possible, but serves as an effective and motivational teaching-learning strategy.

Buffet lunch will be provided – Registration Required RSVP to the Rising Tide Center: 581.3439 or

There will also be a reception, panel discussion, and presentation of the awards by the Provost on April 16 from 2:00 P.M. -4:00 P.M. in the Wells Conference Center, Room 1.  The panel discussion will feature ADVANCE Career Recognition Awardees: Challenges and Opportunities for Women in Science.  Award Ceremony & Public Reception will be immediately followed by the panel discussion.



SBE Students Give Back to the Community: Spring Break 2014

School of Biology and Ecology students Stephanie Faranda and Gabriella Sanchez spent the first week of their spring break volunteering in Virginia at Liberty Hall Farm Animal Sanctuary as a part of UMaine’s Alternative Breaks program.  Alternative Breaks is a non-profit, volunteer, student lead organization that promotes community involvement.

“It was cool to broaden my horizons and get involved, and it was great to be with people in my major,” said Sanchez, a third year biology student with a concentration in pre-medical studies. “I’ve been trying to get involved since freshmen year and I finally did and it was so much fun.”

The group of eleven stayed at a local church, spending their days helping around the farm.  Some services they provided were collecting eggs, cleaning up around the farm store, constructing chicken coops, cleaning stalls, feeding the animals, spreading gravel, unloading and stacking hay, and most importantly, playing with the animals!  The last day of their trip was spent exploring Washington D.C.

“I heard about Alternative Breaks through my sorority sister, she would always talk about how fun her experiences were on her trip, so I thought I would try it out!” said Faranda, third year Zoology student with a minor in animal science.

For this particular trip, the participants held various fundraising events, and all money raised went towards their trip. Some fundraising included a tootsie roll drive outside a local grocery store, a Yankee Candle and Castine Candle drive, two Mac’s Kettle Corn fundraisers, and a silent auction.

Both students were extremely happy to spend part of their spring break getting involved and giving back to their community.  “We could really see how much we positively impacted both the people and the animals at the farm by just doing simple, everyday chores that wouldn’t have gotten done without the help from our group and other AB groups,” said Stephanie.

Graduate Student Jenny Shrum in the Spotlight

School of Biology and Ecology graduate student Jenny Shrum is trying to understand the relationship between weather and the flow of maple sap, and she is not the only one interested in this topic.  Her research has stirred up a variety of media coverage’s including features on WABI-TV, Portland Press Herald, Penobscot Times,, and UMaine News.

By understanding the relationship between weather and sap flow, Shrum hopes to help the maple syrup industry in Maine anticipate how climate may affect syrup production across the state.

“The number of valuable contacts I have made as a result of the TV station reports reaches nearly a dozen.  In fact I am now considering adding some additional facets that will likely make my research far more rich and meaningful,” said Shrum.

Shrum is a Ph.D. candidate in the Ecology and Environmental Sciences graduate program and is working under SBE professor Brian McGill.

A National Science Foundation and EPSCoR grant, funding UMaine’s Sustainability Solutions Initiative, supports her research as part of the Effects of Climate Change on Organisms research project.

We wish Jenny the best of luck with her research project!

For more information click here.

A Meaningful Spring Break: SBE Students Volunteer at Camp Sunshine

SBE students Stacie Poulin and Courtney Horton spent four days of their Spring Break at Camp Sunshine, a free camp for kids with life threatening illnesses as well as their families.  The session the two attended was for children of infancy to teenagers with an oncology, hematology, or a mixed diagnosis.  This camp is a retreat from reality, where children can be in a positive environment during a difficult time in their lives, while having fun with others going through similar situations.  The camp is located on the beautiful coast of Casco, Maine and is staffed almost entirely by volunteers, many of whom attend every year.

Over 2,500 volunteers donate their time each year, approximately 70,000 hours of volunteer work, along with fundraising and donations which allows the camp to be free for the children and families.

Poulin is a biology student with a minor in neuroscience and a concentration in pre-medical studies.  During her stay at Camp Sunshine, she was assigned to be a 1 on 1 assistant to a 7-year-old boy.  “It is an all-day affair and you were definitely tired at the end, but it was so worth it,” said Poulin.

Every hour of the day is packed with activities for the children and their families.  Since it was a winter session, they did a lot of indoor activities but also enjoyed sledding and ice-skating.  Recreational hours allowed the children to relax and enjoy themselves, while giving parents quiet moments to enjoy themselves as well.  After dinner, the children enjoyed recreation and entertainment including music, jugglers, and dancing.

“All the families and children eat together, and it was great seeing all the kids running around just being like normal kids…it’s great seeing them so happy.  It’s like a big family atmosphere,” said Horton, UMaine biology student with a minor in chemistry and a concentration in pre-medical studies. Horton has been accepted to the Tufts School of Medicine through the Early Assurance Maine Track program.

Poulin became interested in the camp because of her love for being around children.  She is from a family of eight kids, and participates in the program UMaine Black Bear Mentor Program.  She is interested in neuropathology, diseases of the nervous system affecting the brain.

Both students enjoyed the experience so much they plan on volunteering in August.

For more information on Camp Sunshine click here.


Scholarship Opportunity for UMaine Students!

Scholarship opportunity from the Penobscot Valley Chapter of Maine Audubon!

The Penobscot Valley Chapter of Maine Audubon (PVC) invites enrolled University of Maine students to apply for the 2014 Inez Boyd Environmental Research Award.  The award is named in honor of the late Inez Boyd, one of the chapter’s original founders, a lifelong environmentalist, and an inspirational leader who worked tirelessly to make her community a better place for all living creatures.

PVC will award up to $1000 in April 2014 to support undergraduate or graduate academic research relevant to its mission: conserving wildlife and wildlife habitat by connecting people to our regional natural heritage, through enjoyable and meaningful activities that educate and promote greater environmental awareness.  Special consideration will be given to research projects that strengthen ties between the University of Maine, Fields Pond Audubon Center, and the Penobscot Valley Chapter of Maine Audubon.

Deadline for submission is March 28, 2014.

For eligibility guidelines and a downloadable application click here.

Smith COPUS Research Highlighted in Science

A paper published by Dr. Michelle Smith in the December 2013 issue of CBE–Life Sciences Education was recently highlighted in the Editors’ Choice section of Science. The  publication introduces a protocol for documenting student and instructor behavior in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) courses.  The Classroom Observation Protocol for Undergraduate STEM (COPUS) can be used to examine interactions occurring in the classroom and inform decisions about how to create a more academically engaging environment.

The original publication can be viewed in its entirety here:

Smith, M.K., F.H.M. Jones, S.L. Gilbert, and C.E. Weiman. The Classroom Observation Protocol for Undergraduate STEM (COPUS): A New Instrument to Characterize University STEM Classroom Practices. CBE–Life Sciences Education 12: 618-627.