Frank Drummond, professor of insect ecology, explains how bees play a major role in the Maine blueberry industry. According to Drummond, Colony Collapse Disorder plays a large role in the decreasing number of bees in Maine. Because of this, thousands of hives are trucked to the state each year to increase bee population and fruit pollination. Drummond is currently studying Maine native bee population at 16 blueberry growing operations.
To view the article featured in Bangor Daily news click here.
Helen Call, a School of Biology and Ecology student and attendant on UMaine’s University Volunteer Ambulance Corps (UVAC), recently rescued a dining hall coworker from choking. Helen completed her first year at UMaine as a recipient of the SBE Academic Award and the Dr. Joseph W. Warren Scholarship, both awarded for high academic standing. Read the full story from the Wiscasset Newspaper here.
Congratulations to Minna Mathiasson and Sara Bushmann who were recently presented the Outstanding Women in Science awards! The awards ceremony took place at Fogler Library on April 21,2013. For the undergraduate category, Minna gave a presentation entitled “Impact of Invasive Plant Species on Maine Native Plant-Pollinator Interactions.” For the PhD category, Sara gave a presentation on, “Wild bumblebee diversity and Nosema infection levels associated with low bush blueberry production and commercial bumblebee pollinators”. Both individuals are advised by Frank Drummond, professor of Insect Ecology and Insect Pest Management here at he University of Maine.
Carl Tugend, a fifth year zoology student, presented his research on The Jordan Pond Water Quality Change; his research mentor was Jasmine Saros. “My favorite part about this whole experience was how fun the field work is, and to be able to look at how things are changing in our environment is really interesting.” Explains Carl.
Rafael Garcia, a food and nutrition’s major, presented his research on the potential for the production of mycotoxins in Fungi Isolated from maple syrup. Rafael works in Seanna Annis’s lab, and SBE professor here on campus.
Amy Michaud presented on the alteration of microflora of the insect parasitic nematode pristionchus entomophagus and its potential application as a biological control agent. Her faculty mentor was Eleanor Groden, the School of Biology director.
Justin Lewin gave an oral presentation titled “What are They Talking about: Does Peer Discussion at the Middle School Level Lead to Learning?” Justin is interested in Science Education Research, and is advised by Michelle Smith, a SBE Professor.
Christie M. Edwards, majoring in biology, gave a poster presentation on the Effects of Ketamine on Alcohol Withdrawal-Induced Depression. Her researched focused on the locomotor activity of alcohol withdrawn mice. Her faculty Mentor was Alan Rosenwasser.
“CUGR, The Center for Undergraduate Research, is supporting the culture of independent learning on campus. So we support all different disciplines and all different colleges, by providing them first off with an opportunity like this showcase to come and talk about their research and talk about other peoples research, as well as providing funding.” Explains Dr. Ali Abedi, director of the academic showcase.
Congratulations to all of the participants in the CUGR showcase, and best of luck in your future research!
On April 17th, The School of Biology & Ecology held their sixth annual recognition Ceremony in 102 Murray Hall, which recognized undergraduate and graduate students, as well as faculty for their hard work and commitment to their academic studies. During the ceremony, Ellie Groden, director of the School of Biology & Ecology, and Christa Schwintzer, presented student awards, prizes, and scholarships to the recipients
SBE Academic Awards, which are given to students with the highest GPA in a major within the School, were given to the following recipients:
Helen E. Call
Victoria L. Gagnon
Jin Sun L. Thomas
Alexandra J. Perry
Eric M. Veitch
Chelsea R. Wagner
Katherine E. Mills
The School of Biology & Ecology Academic Achievement Award, which is awarded to a graduating senior for having the highest GPA, was awarded to
The Richard C. Wadsworth Annual Memorial Prize is awarded to the highest ranking junior or senior enrolled in the CLS program. This award was presented to
Emily E. Stevens
The Frank H. Lathrop Scholarship was awarded to high achieving juniors and continuing seniors whom are Maine residents majoring in Biological Sciences.
Bradley H. Clemens
Mattie V. Paradise
The Wayland A. Shands Scholarship Fund is was awarded to a student of Entomology with high academic standing
Auburn E. and Lurana C. Brower Scholarship was awarded to an outstanding junior with an interest in Entomology
The Dr. Joseph W. Warren Scholarship was awarded to a student of high academic standing.
Helen E. Call
Fay Hyland-Hilborn Prize in Plant Biology was awarded to the outstanding graduate student in Plant Biology or Plant Pathology
Graduate Prize in Animal Biology is an award for an outstanding graduate student in Animal Biology
The Edith M. Patch-Frank H Lathrop Prize in Entomology was awarded to
The Outstanding Teaching Assistant Award was awarded to
The SBE Graduate Student Travel Award was awarded to
Congratulations to all award recipients, and we wish you all the best of luck in your future studies!
On April 5, 2013 the University of Maine Career Center hosted the 4th annual Health Professions Career Day, which highlighted a variety of different professionals in the medical field. This event gave students the opportunity to learn about their prospective career and how the pre-med concentration at Umaine can prepare students for their future.
“Most students come in and say “well I want to be a doctor, I want to be a dentist”, and that might be all they really know…they may not have a very good understanding of what those occupations are about…we want students that are interested in health care, to stay in health care” says Crisanne Blackie, the health and legal professions career specialist at the University of Maine.
The pre-med concentration is intended for students preparing for a career in medicine or one of the other health professions (dentistry, optometry, osteopathy, physician assistant, pharmacy, podiatry, veterinary medicine and other health-related fields). In addition to the required science and mathematics courses, the concentration also includes general education courses that are desired by many medical schools as well as graduate programs. The concentration allows for considerable choice in courses and provides valuable guidance to students and their advisors with regard to course selection in their major and in general education requirements.
Scott Merrill, sophomore SBE student studying biology, describes how the University of Maine has helped to prepare him for Medical school. “The one that has obviously helped me the most is Crisanne Blackie, who has been guiding me through the process making sure I stay on track step by step with the plan that I have, and making sure I take full advantage of as many opportunity’s as possible.”
The opening session for the day was a presentation by Dr. Samer Sbayi, a laparoscopic and general surgeon practicing at Penobscot Valley Hospital in Lincoln, Maine. This provided students with a real life look into what it is like being a doctor, as well as the necessary steps Dr. Sbayi took to get where she is in her career.
After a complimentary lunch, Dr. Brenda Joly spoke on the topic of public health. Dr. Joly is an Associate Research Professor in the Master of Public Health Program at the University of Southern Maine. Her presentation focused on the idea of public health, and how the public health system can do better at reducing premature death and chronic illnesses in the United States. She also discussed the opportunities available if a person were to choose a career in Public Health.
Next, students had the opportunity to meet with different health care professionals and representatives from graduate school programs in small groups. The students had the opportunity to choose which guest they got to speak with and ask questions about the field. Guests included physician’s assistants, DO students, pharmacy students, Dentists, and representatives from National Health Service Corps, Husson University School of Pharmacy representatives, Logan chiropractic, UNE Osteopathic Medicine, and USM’s Master in Public Health program. These representatives provided students with great real-life perspectives of what it is like to work in these areas of Medicine.
For more information on The University of Maine Pre-Medical Concentration contact Crisanne Blackie, the Umaine Pre-Med advisor, or visit her office in the Career Center located in the Union. Thank-you to all the presenters, and we wish all the pre-med students the best of luck with their future studies. To view the requirements for the Pre-med Concentration please click here.
Weren’t able to attend the event? That’s okay! Click here for a highlighter video
A Former Miss Teen Maine recently visited the BIO 350 Concepts and Application of Genetics course and spoke about living with a genetic disorder know as Marfan syndrome. The course is taught by Dr. Michelle Smith, an assistant professor in the School of Biology & Ecology and the research in the STEM Education Center (RiSE Center), which introduces students to the chromosomal, biochemical and molecular basis of inheritance.
To help students understand abstract concepts in genetics, Dr. Smith’s teaching philosophy includes an emphasis on interactive learning and stresses the importance of real life examples that she hopes students will carry beyond her class.
“I hope that this class may be a reality check for my students, to have them realize that they are going to need this genetics class when having children, or having loved ones diagnosed with cancer or other genetic diseases, I hope that students will be able to call upon their knowledge from this class in the future.” -Dr. Michelle Smith
As part of this strategy to interlink genetics with real-world scenarios, Dr. Smith recently welcomed the former Miss Teen Maine, who coincidentally is also named Michelle Smith and her mother Blue Smith to speak to her class. Michelle Dawn Smith is a student at Southern Maine community college, studying business administration with a concentration in entrepreneurship.
On the surface, Michelle Dawn Smith seems like an average college student; self-driven and confident, but what you can’t see is her life threatening syndrome that wreaks havoc on her life causing many daily difficulties and medical complications. She has Marfan syndrome, a serious genetic disorder of the connective tissue. During Michelle’s speech in Dr. Smith’s genetics class, she described the difficulties she faces on a daily basis living with Marfan syndrome.
Marfan syndrome is a genetically inherited syndrome, which results from mutations that occur in the fibrillin 1 gene located on chromosome 15. This protein is responsible for the elasticity of the body’s connective tissues. This defect results in an increase in a protein called transforming growth factor beta, or TGFβ. The increase of this particular protein causes problems with the connective tissues throughout the body, causing numerous medical complications. Genetic testing for Marfan syndrome is currently not routine, so the initial diagnosis is typically made through a series of clinical evaluations.
This disorder, still unknown to many medical professionals, affects many organ systems, including the skeleton, lungs, eyes, skin, heart, and blood vessels. A very serious area of the body that is affected by this disorder is the heart and blood vessels. Marfan syndrome can cause an enlarged aorta; which is the blood vessel that carries blood away from the heart. Separation of the layers of the aorta can cause the walls to tear, resulting in what is known as an aortic dissection, often misinterpreted by medical professionals as a heart attack. A person with Marfan syndrome has a 250 times greater risk for an aortic dissection, with an 80% mortality rate. Individuals with Marfan syndrome live with this reality, that at any time, if too much stress is put on their heart, it could give out.
There are a few obvious physical characteristics that are commonly associated with Marfan syndrome, like slenderness, unusually long arms, legs, fingers, and toes. They also generally have a very low percentage of muscle mass, often being misidentified by others as suffering from anorexia nervosa. Often affected individuals will be double jointed and have an either inward or outward curvature to their chest bone. Also mild to severe curvature of the spine, and in some more extreme cases, scoliosis will be present. Other common physical characteristics are flat feet, and sight and eye complications. Michelle embodies many of these physical characteristics including abnormally long arms, feet, and toes, low muscle mass, double jointed, and a severe case of scoliosis.
The Bio 350 students had a positive reaction to having Michelle Dawn Smith visit the classroom. “Michelle seems to embrace her genetic disorder,” said Lance Lajoie, a BIO 350 student, observed. “She has really good spirits and a great sense of humor. I was impressed by her ability to stand in front of a group of people and show all these “tricks” she could do as a result of having longer appendages/fingers. It takes a lot for someone to be able to do that and I admire her self-confidence.” Lances comments reflected Dr. Smith’s overall goals for welcoming Michelle Dawn Smith into her class. “I wanted the students to see that people with genetic disorders are all around us. To be able to observe Michelle’s energy and enthusiasm for themselves, and see that just because a person has a genetic disorder, it does not dictate how they have to live their life” said Dr. Smith.
About 1 out of every 5,000 people are affected by Marfan syndrome, but misdiagnosis and general lack of knowledge on the disorder gives scientists the idea that there is a much greater percent of the population affected by the disorder.
Michelle’s mother searched for an answer to her questions about her daughter’s health for five years, while many doctors assured her she had a perfectly healthy child. At one point her mother was accused of having Munchausen by proxy, a psychological disorder that involves the exaggeration of illness or symptoms of another person by their primary care taker.
Michelle Dawn Smith does not see Marfan syndrome as a disability, but rather uses her experiences to raise awareness to others about Marfan syndrome, and gives hope to individuals that were born with the genetic syndrome. She encourages these individuals to embrace their differences and to not to be ashamed of them. Furthermore, she is a lead advocate for Hands Saving Hearts, a campaign to help people recognize the common physical characteristics of those affected by Marfan syndrome. “Knowing you live, not knowing you die” is Michelle’s mantra for about raising awareness for Marfan syndrome.
The winners of the SBE video contest have been announced. The following students will be making videos that highlight various aspects of the School of Biology and Ecology:
Winners will work in collaboration with the BioMediaLab to create the 2-3 minute videos, which will be featured on the SBE Web site and on the interactive video display in the Murray Hall foyer. All winners will receive a $500 stipend upon completion of the videos.
The videos can be expected to appear as they are completed over the summer. We will announce the videos on the SBE website as they are released.
Thanks to everyone who submitted video proposals.