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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.

2015 SBE Awards Ceremony

The School of Biology & Ecology recognized distinguished undergraduate and graduate students at the Seventh Annual Recognition Ceremony on April 22 in Murray Hall.  Congratulations to all award winners!

 

School of Biology & Ecology

Student Awards, Prizes, and Scholarships

2015

 

SBE Academic Awards

Highest GPA in a major within the School

First Year

Juliana S. Bilodeau

Jackson R. Foley

Taylor R. Ouellette

Callie Greco

Sophomore

Haley K. Netherton

Cordell R. Beaton

Junior

Elizabeth E. Wood

Victoria L. Gagnon

Senior

Eric M. Veitch

 

School of Biology & Ecology

Academic Achievement Award

Awarded to the graduating senior having the highest GPA

James M. Poulin

Richard C. Wadsworth Annual Memorial Prize

Awarded to the highest-ranking junior or senior enrolled in the MLS program

Kaitlyn T. Smith

Dahl-Chase Pathology Associates Medical Technology Scholarship

Awarded to an outstanding MLS student who attended a Maine High School

Shotaro Takahashi

Frank H. Lathrop Scholarship

Awarded to high-achieving juniors and continuing seniors
who are Maine residents majoring in Biological Sciences

Sadie A. Wight

Kerry A. Cummings

Helen E. Call

 

Wayland A. Shands Scholarship Fund

Awarded to a student of Entomology with high academic standing

Molly J. Picillo

 

Auburn E. and Lurana C. Brower Scholarship

Awarded to an outstanding junior with an interest in Entomology

Zachary S. Beaudry

 

Fay Hyland-Hilborn Prize in Plant Biology 

Lee Beers

 

Graduate Prize in Animal Biology 

Tricia Van Kirk

 

Edith M. Patch – Frank H. Lathrop

Prize in Entomology

Eric Venturini

Kaitlyn O’Donnell

 

Outstanding Teaching Assistant Award

Eric Doucette

 

SBE Graduate Student Travel Award

Adrienne Leppold

Erika Lyon

 

College of Natural Sciences,

Forestry, and Agriculture

Awards

Wallace C. and Janet C. Dunham Prize

Awarded to an undergraduate student who has overcome adversity
to achieve personal growth and academic success

 Stephanie L. Wood

Norris Charles Clements Graduate Student Award

Kaitlyn O’Donnell

NSFA 2015 Graduate Student Research Awards Competition

The public recently gathered in Stodder Hall to attend the Graduate Student Research Awards Competition, where selected graduate students from different majors at the University of Maine in the School of Natural Sciences, Forestry, and Agriculture presented their own research on topics varying from the role of zooplankton in the biological carbon pump to eco-friendly thermal insulation composite foam boards.

Three students, Kaitlyn O’Donnell, Jennifer Lund, and Corianne Tatariw, represented the School of Biology and Ecology with their presentations on extensive research and exploration of Entomology, Ecology, and Environmental Sciences.

Lund, an entomology student who is hoping to graduate in August and continue her work in entomological research, studies the biology and development of Cerceris fumipennis, a predatory wasp that is used to monitor the invasive beetle species. This species, the emerald ash borer, is a beetle native to Asia and is highly destructive to ash trees in the United States.

O’Donnell, who conducts her research on the survival and development of the winter moth on seven different host plants, focuses the majority of her work on forest and agricultural ecology. O’Donnell, who is also an entomology student, mentioned the increase in available funding for her work due to the recent outbreak of winter moths in Maine. This outbreak has led to severe defoliation and mortality of a very wide range of hosts, thus affecting entire ecosystems. O’Donnell plans on graduating in the upcoming months and is searching for a job that will allow her to work in conservation while conducting research and public outreach.

Planning to graduate from her Ecology and Environmental Sciences program in May and hoping to establish a research institute in the future, Tatariw focuses her work on determining the impact of long-term atmospheric nitrogen deposition on soil microbes. By relating the subsequent change in the communities to the activity of an enzyme, she is able to determine how that particular enzyme is important for decomposition. Through this research she has come to several conclusions concerning the soil conditions and microbial communities in the natural world. These conclusions include the determination that, in her words, “long term nitrogen deposition changes the microbial community by reducing fungal biomass,” while also affecting enzyme activity through those changes in the microbial community.

The purpose of the yearly research competition is to provide NSFA graduate students with the opportunity to present their research on complex environmental problems while informing the community about the relevance and impact of their work. Faculty, staff, graduate, and undergraduate students enjoy attending the event so that they may gain perspective and acquire knowledge that can continue to be shared.

 

 

 

 

NSFA 2015 Faculty Award Winners

Seanna Annis, associate professor of mycology, has been awarded the 2015 Outstanding Public Service Award from the College of Natural Sciences, Forestry, and Agriculture.

Her research laboratory examines the genetic diversity, physiology and molecular biology of various fungal pathogens and applied aspects of control of fungi that attack low-bush blueberry plants.

Annis maintains a network of 15 weather stations placed in blueberry fields around Maine.  These stations are used to provide disease forecast for mummy berry disease and Botrytis blight, which are widespread ailments to low-bush blueberries.  The stations are also used to report frost conditions and gather data comparing weather to disease severity in order to understand effects of weather on disease. Other projects include research-involving identification of fungal contaminants found in maple syrup.

 

Brian Olsen, assistant professor of biology and ecology, has been awarded the 2015 Outstanding Teaching Award by the College of Natural Sciences, Forestry, and Agriculture.

Olsen is currently teaching Bio 200- Biology of Organisms, Bio 434- Avian Biology and Ecology and EES 590- a graduate student discussion group on ecology and evolution.

His current research focuses on the evolution and ecology of tidal marsh birds. Specifically, he is measuring the effects Hurricane Sandy had on tidal marsh bird communities in order to predict what kinds of communities are likely to be impacted by storms in the future.  “Dr. Olsen is a gifted and committed teacher, whose contributions embody the quality and spectrum of learning outcomes that distinguish the UMaine experience,” said Michael Kinnison, SBE professor of evolutionary applications. “Consistent with his talent and approach in the classroom, Dr. Olsen does a great job presenting his teaching philosophy, approaches and successes in a clear, insightful, and even entertaining fashion.”

 

The awards will distributed at the NSFA faculty banquet on April 22 in 100 Nutting Hall.

SBE Faculty Members Receive Promotions

Congratulations to  School of Biology and Ecology faculty members that have been approved by the University of Maine System Board of Trustees for promotion and/or tenure.  The faculty were nominated by President Susan J. Hunter based on a peer and administrative review of their teaching, research and public service.

 

Brian J. McGill has been promoted to professor of biological sciences, previously an associative professor. McGill teaches Bio 205- Maine Natural History and two graduate courses: community ecology and advanced biometry.  His research focuses on large-scale ecology and global change.

 

 

Brian Olsen was promoted to associate professor with tenure of biology and ecology, previously an assistant professor.  Olsen currently teaches Bio 200- Biology of Organisms, Bio 434- Avian Biology and Ecology and EES 590- a graduate student discussion course on ecology and evolution.  His current research focuses on the evolution and ecology of tidal marsh birds.

2015 Brain Awareness Week

The University of Maine Neuroscience community celebrated Brain Awareness Week this Thursday, an international celebration of brain research, by tabling in the student union distributing educational pamphlets, stickers, pencils and other materials to anyone who wished to learn more about the brain.

Brain Awareness Week is a global campaign, which aims to increase public awareness of the progress and benefits of brain research. This year marks the 20th anniversary of Brain Awareness Week. The event was co-sponsored by the Society of Neuroscience and The Dana Foundation.

“We do hope that this will become an annual celebration on campus, with additional events added each year, including community outreach,” said Kristy Townsend, UMaine assistant professor of neuroscience and primary organizer of this year’s celebration.

In the future, organizers at UMaine hope to offer greater outreach programs during Brain Awareness Week to educate middle and high school students about the brain and how researchers study it.

The School of Biology & Ecology offers a minor in neuroscience, which is designed for students who would like to develop an understanding of modern neuroscience.

Interested in neuro-related courses offered at UMaine? Check out these courses!

  • Bio 307: Introduction to Neuroscience
  • Bio 474: Neurobiology
  • PSY 350: Cognition
  • PSY 361: Sensation and Perception
  • PSY 365: Biopsychology and Behavioral Neuroscience
  • PSY 401: Health Psychology
  • PSY 422: Infancy- Neurobehavioral Development
  • PSY 465: Hormones, Brain, and Behavior
  • PSY 466: Cognitive Neuroscience
  • CHF 331: Cognitive Development

For more information about Brain Awareness Week, visit www.dana.org.