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A Love for Science, Bread and Everything in Between

May 8th, 2015

Dusty Dowse baking breadAs undergraduates filed into their seats in 107 DPC for their last introduction to neuroscience lecture, former students and fellow faculty members filled in the back row. An email had circulated throughout various departments that professor Harold (Dusty) Dowse, would be giving his last formal lecture at the University of Maine.

Like he did in so many of his lectures, Dowse wove in anecdotes and stories. He also talked about his research, his contributions to the field of biological science and his life outside the university.

As the lecture came to a close, the hall erupted in a thunder of applause. He stood, smiling as he scanned the lecture hall filled with familiar faces. He will miss the way lecturing creates a tranquil space in his mind.

He remembers his first lecture in comparative anatomy 35 years ago, in which he explained that the human ear was evolutionarily formed from the jaw of a shark.

He remembers the laughter of his two young daughters dancing off the walls as they raced around his office in rolly chairs after they got out of school.

He remembers pushing a cart piled high with dissected cats and sharks, leaking bodily fluids and formaldehyde, across campus to be disposed of after his last semester teaching comparative anatomy lab, his first Umaine teaching position.

Today, on the eve of his retirement, his office is proof of his many years as a professor —  neuroscience textbooks, journals and scientific papers cover every available surface.

“He is totally unique. Everything about him,” said Mary Tyler, a UMaine professor of biology.  “The way he runs his lab, the way he keeps his office– with a rug, a plant and classical music playing– his facade.  I love his beard and his long hair. He really is all heart. Despite the fact that he might appear gruff, he is a softhearted, truly wonderful person.”

Though his normal attire consists of jeans, a flannel and a decorative dew rag, that was not always the case.  In the early 80’s, he could be spotted giving a lecture in a tie and a sports jacket adorned with leather elbow pads; the same sports jacket that once belonged to a Harvard professor.

Though he has mixed feelings about retiring, he is excited to turn his focus to another passion: bread.

Dusty baking pizza

He has been baking bread for half a century, a skill acquired from his step-father. His house is equipped with a professional wood-fired oven. He is the director of education for the Maine Grain Alliance, a nonprofit organization whose mission is to provide opportunities for members of the community to learn and share how to best grow and use traditional grains. 70-year-old Dowse’s next endeavor is his professional bakery, named Lammas Day Bakers, named after the Celtic day of festivals.

He views baking — and science — as a process in constant adaption, with a forever fleeting finish line.

“The more you know, the better it will be. You never see an end to it,” said Dowse. “What is the point to do anything if you finish and say, well I’m good at it, and move on. No matter how good you get, there is always something to learn.  Every time I bake, I learn something. Every time I come into the lab and do an experiment or do an analysis, I learn something.”

Dowse is highly respected in the neuroscience community at UMaine and nationwide. He has published over 50 papers, two in Nature and one in Science magazine and is known around campus for his deep-belly laugh, long wiry beard and hair that reaches halfway down his back. His life is filled with bread, motorcycles, martial arts, poetry, guns and beer — the rural version of a renaissance man.

His lectures are described as engaging, unique and entertaining. Between slides of neurons and brain anatomy, pictures of the Rolling Stones, bread and his old “biking buddy Rob” are a common occurrence.

“I think if you do just what you are doing, and have a very narrow range of study, you are top heavy, in a sense,” said Dowse.  “You have to fill in around the edges with everything else, all the way to literature and art. Everything has to balance, otherwise your work is this tiny thin column that can blow in the wind.”

Dowse grew up in Albany, N.Y. and attended Amherst College for his undergraduate degree in biology. He continued his education at New York University and received his doctorate degree in biology in 1971. After giving a research seminar at the University of Alaska, he was offered and accepted into a postdoctoral research program. But due to lack of funding, he later received a letter rescinding his acceptance.

So Dowse and his wife, Patricia, headed for New York’s Catskill Mountains.  For four years he worked as a master electrician until he took up the art of cabinetmaking. In 1975, the couple packed up their things and made their way to Maine with twenty goats in their wake.

For the next few years Dowse worked a variety of jobs including short-order cook at a truck stop, cabinetmaker, and bulldozer operator. One breezy summer day in 1989, (Why was he around campus?) Dowse wandered into Deering Hall at UMaine, intrigued by the greenhouses he had happened to see on campus.

After inquiring about work, he was sent to Murray Hall, home of the Department of Zoology. “I’m not looking for a work study job, I am inquiring about a faculty position,” Dowse told Frank Roberts, the department chair. The two chatted about Dowse’s research on mice, but mostly about mountain climbing and running. Roberts took down his contact information and Dowse thought that was the end of it.

The Friday before Dowse was to take a job as a meat cutter he received a call from Roberts looking to meet with him.

He walked out of the meeting teaching comparative anatomy lab.

For seven years, at the end of every semester, Dowse would receive a letter from the president’s office saying that his position was terminal and to not expect to be re-appointed. But that didn’t deter him.

“It was like I was hanging on the outside of the building with my fingernails in the crevices of the concrete, dangling off the walls,” he said.

“I think the reason Dusty was able to stay was because he was willing to do anything,” said Tyler, who was teaching the comparative anatomy lecture at the time. “There would be a course that needed to be taught and he would teach it no questions asked.”

In 1980, Dowse had the opportunity to teach his first lecture. Tyler was planning to visit her husband, Seth, who was on his sabbatical leave in Washington state, but she needed someone to teach comparative anatomy. Dowse was the perfect candidate.

“Two things you have to know when you are in a position like that: One, you can’t make any mistakes, two, you have to have some luck,” said Dowse.

In (year), six years after teaching his first UMaine lab, Dowse was awarded a tenure-track position in 1986. He celebrated by getting his ear pierced.

Throughout his long 35-year-long career at UMaine, Dowse taught nearly 30 different courses, ranging from mathematics to biomedical engineering. If he didn’t know something, he learned it. If the department didn’t have a professor for a course, he taught it.

“I think what impresses me most is, well, a lot of things impress me about him. Number one, he is extremely smart,” said Tyler.  “He has such a quick mind.”

He even taught a lecture on anatomy for the art department’s figure drawing class. “We would have a couple models pose nude in front of the class, and I would have a skeleton and I would do a whole lecture on anatomy for artists. It was a lot of fun,” said Dowse.

At one point in time, Dowse was professor of biology, cooperating professor in mathematics and cooperating professor of biological engineering. He served as associate director of the School of Biology and Ecology for three years.

Looking back on his career, he remembers the time where he had 48 hours to prepare for a course he had never taught before.

It was two days before the semester started when the director of the school approached Dowse. He was told that he would no longer be teaching anatomy and physiology, but would be teaching parasitology. Though both biological, the courses were as similar as a pinecone and piece of coral.

Usually, the last minute course change would not have been a problem. But the parasitology lab was scheduled to meet at the same time as Dowse’s special section of neuroanatomy, which a dozen students had specifically requested.  So what to do?

He taught them both labs — simultaneously.

Because the two courses were serendipitously placed next to each other in Murray Hall, Dowse could easily stride back and forth between the two rooms.

“I’d walk in and work on the lumbosacral plexus in the cat, then walk back to the other room and start dealing with dissections of seagulls to find parasites. That was a high point or a low point depending how you look at it,” said Dowse with a chuckle.

In 2013, Dowse was recognized by the School of Natural Sciences, Forestry, and Agriculture with the Outstanding Teaching Award.

“I think he is a great professor, students really respond to him. He’s got great anecdotes and stories that he weaves into his lectures,” said Kristy Townsend, a new UMaine assistant professor of biology and former student of Dowse’s.

And students agree.

His teaching philosophy is simple: don’t ever read off the powerpoint slides. He believes that in order for a lecture to be beneficial to a student, it must offer a different approach than a standard textbook would.

“A bulleted list, or the information you find in the textbook, is two dimensional, sometimes even one dimensional.  If the lecture is not three dimensional, why bother giving it? Lectures are extremely useful, if done right,” he said.

He compares his teaching philosophy to the book “Dancing Wu Li Masters: An Overview of the New Physics,” written by Gary Zukav. In the book, the Wu Li Masters would draw individuals toward enlightenment by dancing. In the book, Zukav explained that if you want people to understand the basis of quantum physics, do it by dancing.

“When you’re giving a lecture, you’re dancing. Here is the material and I’m gonna dance it to you so that you understand it,” said Dowse.

Dusty Dowse photo

Dusty’s faculty photo on the School of Biology & Ecology’s website.

“When I walked into Dusty’s class, my first thought was this guy looks like a biker dude. My assumption was not far from the truth,” said Dylan Cole, third-year biology student.  “But it turns out he is a biker dude that knows an incredible amount about how the brain works.  His classes were interesting because one moment he is showing us pictures of him shooting guns out of his hot tub, and the next he is talking about the brain in the fourth dimension.”

His teaching strategies allowed students to think for themselves, instead of regurgitating information. Students felt his exams were difficult– but worth it.

Tricia VanKirk, who is finishing up her Ph.D. in Dowse’s lab, said she appreciated Dowse’s “laid back,” advising because it allowed room for independent thought and growth.

“He is pretty hands-off as an advisor, and I don’t mean that in a negative way at all,” VanKirk said.  “He is not constantly hounding you on where your project is at. He lets you go at your own pace and learn as you go. I think that’s really important.”

For the last couple years, Dowse has not taught a formal class during the spring semester. Instead, he used his time to focus on his research, and advising his four graduate students.

When Dowse received laboratory space from John Ringo in the early years of his UMaine career, he began using fruit flies for his studies after he developed an allergy to mice. To this day, Dowse is still contacted from scientists around the world looking to replicate his methods and experiments studying cardiac rhythmicity in the fruit fly, which serves as a model of mammalian biology in order to explore human disease and development.

“I go where problems lead me. That’s why I would not have done well as a staff scientist,” said Dowse. “I like to come in in the morning, turn on the lights, and say What am I going to do today? The things that I study are all logical consequence involving oscillators–the 24-hour biological clock, the periodicity in the flies song and the heart pacemakers. They all fascinate me, and always have. The math underlying oscillating systems is nothing short of beautiful.

He says we owe a lot to the fruit fly, and the history books say we do too. The fruit fly broke open the field of developmental biology in the 20th century. Though many scientists contributed, Dowse credits Thomas Hunt Morgan, an American evolutionary biologist, geneticist, embryologist, and author who won the Nobel Prize in Physiology & Medicine in 1933 for his discoveries linking chromosomes and heredity, using Drosophila melanogaster.

Fruit flies prove great model organisms due to their small size, simple diet and inexpensive maintenance of large numbers in the laboratory.  Their life cycles are also extremely short– only two weeks– so multiple generations can be created within a matter of months.

Townsend sat in on a guest lecture given by Dowse during her undergraduate years at UMaine during her neuroanatomy lecture.  She had no idea at the time that the same man would be on the search committee that would hire her as professor of biology when Dowse retired.

“I was fascinated by him and his research. I could tell that he was the laid back member of the committee that didn’t push very hard, but I could also tell that he was the one I wanted to have approval from.  If that’s the person you are taking over for, you want to make sure they think you are the right person.”

Though they both have a great wealth of knowledge pertaining to the field of neuroscience, their research varies drastically. While Dowse works with drosophila looking at circadian rhythms and genetics, Townsend’s research focuses on molecular differences in mammalian brains, specifically, mechanisms by which the body maintains or loses energy balance.

“I don’t feel like I’m stepping in his shoes. I’m definitely inheriting a course and some lab supplies from him, but Dusty is irreplaceable,” said Townsend.


Making History One Species at a Time

March 1st, 2015

Making History One Species at a Time

aquatic worm photo

Species of aquatic worm, Vrijenhoekia ketea, discovered by Mindi Summers.

In a research laboratory tucked away on the second floor of Deering Hall at the University of Maine, a researcher has been changing the world of science as we know it. Her office is lined with shelves busy with textbooks, papers and scientific journals that make the room feel larger than its dimensions.  Here, Joyce Longcore, School of Biology and Ecology research scientist has happily conducted her research for the past 20 years, discovering new species of fungi.

School of Biology and Ecology faculty and researchers are making their marks in science’s history — one species at a time.  The discovery of new species has a large impact on the environment, and to the ever-changing world of science as a whole.

Longcore is an expert in the field of mycology, specializing in a group of organisms only a handful of individuals around the world study intensively, a group of microscopic fungi commonly referred to as chytrids.

In 1997, Longcore received an email that would change her career.  The Smithsonian National Zoological Park in Washington, D.C, was looking for researchers who had information on an unidentified organism that had been devastating their poisonous dart frog’s populations; the same organism that had been killing off amphibians in Central America and Australia.

Joyce Longcore photo

Joyce Longcore with a northern leopard frog infected by the chytrid fungus. Photo Credit: Herb Swanson, The New York Times

After reviewing electron microscopy images of the organism and analyzing a tissue sample from an infected frog, it quickly became apparent to Longcore that the organism was a chytrid, a member of the group she had been studying.  Chytrids fall within the phylum Chytridiomycota, a lineage in the fungal kingdom identified by the formation of uni-flagellated reproductive cells.  But this particular chytrid had not been described yet within the scientific community.  Longcore and her colleagues had discovered a new species.

“We knew it was an important disease found in several parts of the world,” said Longcore.  “No chytrid had been seen to be pathogenetic to a vertebrate before.  I used the culture to do electron microscopy in order to determine its relationship within the chytrids and began the process of naming and describing it.”

Though this species of amphibian-pathogenic chytrid, Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis, was not the first species Longcore discovered in Chytridiomycota, this discovery drew attention around the world to the formerly obscure group of organisms.  Longcore first became interested in chytrid fungi when she was in her early 20’s as an undergraduate at the University of Michigan.  She received her PhD from the University of Maine in 1991. Longcore is now well known in the mycological community.  She runs the Maine Chytrid Laboratory at University of Maine, where she maintains a diverse culture collection of chytrid isolates from around the world. The world-renowned collection is funded by grants and the sales of her isolates. She distributes these isolates to other researchers interested in studying the species for research or teaching purposes.

Longcore has been a member of the Department of Biology and Ecology for twenty-five years now, collecting and studying her favorite microscopic fungi. Her research, which has drawn attention from scientists around the world, is biologically relevant for discovering news species and saving the ones in danger of extinction.

According to National Geographic, our planet is home to 8.7 million species… and approximately eighty six percent of Earth’s species still have not been fully described. So what happens when a scientist discovers what they believe to be an un-described species?

In order to name and describe a species, a variety of steps must be taken before the classification can be recognized and accepted by the scientific community.

Before a species can be named, it must first be proven that it is, in fact, a new species. For Seth Tyler, UMaine professor of zoology and cooperating professor of marine sciences, the process of describing a new species is the most exciting aspect.

“I love the work of describing a new species… I enjoy having collaboration of molecular systematics,” said Tyler.  “But what is more interesting to me is the morphology, which requires histological reconstruction, being able to look at these tiny little features in a species, looking at what is unique, and then deciding from that if we have a new species.”

Seth Tyler photo

Seth Tyler, Professor of Zoology.

Tyler specializes in invertebrates — organisms without spinal columns.  More specifically, he works with organisms in the loosely defined group called the meiofauna.  These organisms are microscopic and are found in sedimentary environments.  Tyler relies heavily on molecular phylogenetic and morphological data when trying to determine what constitutes a new species.

According to Tyler, one of the greatest struggles that scientists face once they isolate a new species is coming up with a name.

“You simply run out of names…  Typically, what we do in the field, is researchers involved will use a name of a friend or loved one to dedicate the species to.” -Seth Tyler

Though many species are often referred to by their common names, these names can cause confusion for scientists performing research in different areas of the world.  For example, a fire ant in Argentina may not be morphologically the same as one found in New Zealand.   This is where scientific names become important.

The scientific name, as well as its description, serves as a universal form of identification that is accepted around the world.  For a new species to be accepted, a paper must be published in a peer-reviewed scientific journal stating its proposed two-part Latin name and description.  The species’ description includes a listing of morphological and behavioral characteristics that distinguish it from other known species.

The International Code of Nomenclature for algae, fungi, and plants (ICN), the International Code of Zoological Nomenclature (ICZN), and the International Code of Nomenclature of Bacteria (ICNB) provide guidance for scientists and researchers, as well as specific conventions and terminology used in different taxa.  These codes are accepted worldwide, and aid scientists and researchers in publishing their discoveries in order for them to be recognized by the public.

Though species are usually named and described by the researchers who discover them, sometimes, scientists seek the public’s opinion.


dementor wasp photo

Ampulex dementor, found in Southeast Asia.

In May 2014, The Natural History Museum in Berlin let the public vote on the name for a newly discovered wasp, now scientifically referred to as Ampulex dementor.  The wasp, which was discovered in Southeast Asia, was named after J.K. Rowling’s terrifying soul-sucking dementors in her Harry Potter series.  The name was based on the wasps’ behavior to “suck the life” out of cockroaches in order to paralyze them to use as a host for the development of its offspring.

Many species have also been named after culturally significant individuals, both fictional and nonfictional.  For example, another wasp, Aleiodes elleni, was named after Ellen DeGeneres.  A species of spider, Anelosimus nelsoni, was named after Nelson Mandela, beloved leader of the anti-apartheid movement in South Africa and the first black president of that country.  Even past United States president, Thomas Jefferson, was the inspiration for a species of scallop, called Chesapecten jeffersonius.

Chris Campbell photo

Christopher Campbell, Professor of Plant Systematics.

Sometimes, researchers have to work backward in naming a species if it has been classified incorrectly in the past.  Christopher Campbell, professor of plant systematics, is currently working on a species in the rose family, Rosacea.  This species of tree is especially common in Maine, and in 1949 was planted in the entryway of Deering Hall, which can still be seen today.   Campbell, as well as two graduate students, has been collecting morphological data and samples across North America in order to rename the species that was incorrectly classified in the early 1960’s.  From their research, the group will be naming five species within the Amelanchier genus.

“I get excited about figuring out this huge puzzle,” said Campbell.  “A puzzle that does not have one answer, you just make inferences, hypotheses, and test them with different data.  I get new ideas all the time that shape things and change the direction of research.”

The most difficult part about the process is being able to communicate what you’ve learned effectively to the public, says Campbell.

Mindy Summers, a postdoctoral researcher at UMaine, named 22 new species of aquatic invertebrates while researching at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography.  During her time here, she worked with the community to name four species in the family of Hesionidae, a type of aquatic worm.

Researchers worked with the Birch Aquarium at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography to hold a name a species competition.  Participants included the local community, staff and volunteers at the aquarium, and different school groups. The competition received almost 200 suggested names, with 2,000 votes spanning from 16 different countries.  One name that was chosen was Vrijenhoekia ketea, meaning in Latin “sea monsters.”

“Names are how we interact with the natural world,” said Summers. “Going out and observing and naming diversity is the way we learn about the environment that we live in and are a part of. On a conservation level, understanding biodiversity and what is out there is really important for us to be able to have a baseline for how things change in the future.”

A challenge that has become overwhelmingly apparent around the world is the need to preserve threatened ecosystems in an effort to protect species diversity.

A study in 2011 published in Science Magazine, estimated that the human population had doubled in the past 35 years, and the number of invertebrate animals has decreased by 45%.  Though the estimates of annual species loss vary drastically, the scientific community can agree that the current species extinction rate is dangerously pushing the balance of nature.

The importance of discoveries such as Longcore, Tyler, Summers and Campbell’s, as well as scientists around the globe, was eloquently depicted by Vicki A. Funk, curator of the United States National Herbarium when she said “If you don’t know what level of biodiversity exist, how are you going to conserve it?”

Where are they now: Chelsea Wagner

February 23rd, 2015
Farm Fresh Food, Close to Home
Chelsea Wagner photo

Chelsea Wagner, specialist in Hannaford’s Close to Home program. Photo Credit: Whitney Hayward

When Emma Sanchi walks through the sliding doors of the Hannaford supermarket in Old Town, Maine, she weaves through the checkout area and heads straight for the produce section.  The air smells of salty deli meat and fried onion rings; a constant rumble of shopping carts and crinkling plastic bags resonates off the walls. In the produce section, her eyes begin scanning the rows of fresh vegetables and fruits.  Juicy oranges, crisp leafy greens and plump red tomatoes form perfect rows, mimicking the landscape of a farm.  After a few moments, she finds what they have been searching for.  She spots a tiny red label with the words Close to Home delicately printed on the skin of a shiny winter squash.


These tiny red labels signal to customers that the product is locally produced. Currently, Hannaford carries 5,000 different locally made and grown products throughout stores in Maine, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Vermont, and New York. And their numbers increase every year.


The Close to Home program is flourishing with the help of Chelsea Wagner, a University of Maine Biology graduate who is now a specialist in Hannaford’s Close to Home department.  She is dedicated to increasing the number of locally grown foods and products available in Hannaford stores. By working with local farms, Wagner acts as a liaison between farmers and managers at 185 Hannaford locations.


The program began in 2008, but its commitment to local food had formed during the company’s inception. Hannaford sprouted its roots on the Portland waterfront in 1883, where the Hannaford brothers sold locally grown produce from a single farm stand.  Nearly 130 harvest seasons later, the company is still as committed to locally sourced food as ever.


“Buying local is extremely important,” said Sanchi. “You are supporting local farms while also supporting your community, and the environment as a whole. Our society relies on monocropping systems that may be economically efficient, but are environmentally unsustainable.  We need a new way of looking at our food system, and the first step is supporting locally grown food. Why buy lettuce from Mexico when it’s grown down the street?”


Though each Hannaford location provides different local products, the company as a whole supports 150 local farms, 700 local vendors, and 5,000 locally made products across their five states of operation. Even in the winter months, the program still remains strong, providing local products such as bread, cheese, wine, meat and beer all year long.


In the Old Town Hannaford, the largest grocery store close to the University of Maine, the most popular local products include Todd’s Original Salsa, Little Lads Popcorn, Swans Raw Honey and, of course—local produce. As a third-year sustainable agriculture student at UMaine, Sanchi is committed to supporting local farmers and she is not the only one.  Sanchi is one of a growing number of consumers who see the benefits of buying local food, and she is thankful Hannaford shares her philosophy.


Wagner’s mission as an advocate for locally based food is to encourage a larger consumer base to support local products and to tell the stories of Hannaford’s close-to-home producers so that customers can develop connections with their food and their community.  With a degree in biology, a background in farming and a passion for local food, Wagner is equipped to help local businesses and farmers navigate their products to the shelves.


Wagner majored in biology at the University of Maine in Orono, with the intent of pursuing a career in Optometry. However, she had many friends in the sustainable agriculture degree program at UMaine and the connection between farming and science intrigued her. Having a strong background in biology, she decided to explore the relationship herself.


After graduation, Wagner pursued a year-long apprenticeship with the Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association (MOFGA), where she worked on Willow Pond Farm in Sabattus, Maine.  The diverse farm featured seven acres of organic vegetable fields and 11 acres of apple orchards.  After their farm had finished the community supported agriculture program (CSA) at the end of the summer, Wagner delivered the rest of the harvested apples to local Hannaford stores.


“I had an incredible experience during my apprenticeship with Willow Pond Farm, and the experiences I gained in agriculture, as well as during my education, have carried into my own life, and paved the way to my current career.

Chelsea Wagner


After completing her apprenticeship in November 2013, Wagner applied to biological institutions throughout Maine, looking for a position that would harness the knowledge she gained as an undergraduate. A family friend suggested that she apply to Hannaford’s, so she sent her resume into the corporate office in hopes that a position involving local food would surface.


When Wagner sent in her resume, Hannaford was seeking someone with farming experience and a passion for local food. She was called in for an interview, and even though it went smoothly, she brushed off the interview as a lost cause for her lack of corporate experience.  Three weeks later, she received a phone call offering her the position.   A year out of college, Wagner, 23, obtained a corporate position at Hannaford Supermarket and hit the ground running.


“I put a lot of hard work throughout my education without any idea of what I wanted to do with my degree I just embraced whatever I was interested in at the time,” said Wagner. “ It’s funny how much your mind changes.  Eventually, you just have to trust that everything will work itself out. You have to be extremely persistent when you graduate and ready for whatever comes your way. I may not be in this job for my whole life, but I will take this experience I gain here and apply my knowledge to whatever I dive into next. But I know for a fact that I am definitely in the right field…I would not be where I am now if it wasn’t for the education I received at the University of Maine.”


For the past year, Wagner has been in charge of communicating with farmers and local businesses from Maine to New York to increase the number of locally sourced products available to Hannaford customers, and to make the process smoother and more accessible for farmers. One aspect of her position is working with marketing to label products accordingly to allow customers to see where their food is coming from.  In this way, customers know that they are supporting their local economy by deciding what they put in their carts.


As the local movement continues to spread across the country, Hannaford customers have a growing interest in locally sourced products. In last year alone, Hannaford saw a 35% increase in local produce sales compared to the previous year, says Wagner.  By purchasing produce grown close to home, consumers are encouraging the success of their local economies while supporting their environment.  According to Hannaford, the company saw a six percent drop in greenhouse gas emissions from product transportation in 2011.


For Lakeside Family Farm located in Newport Maine, Wagner has been an invaluable resource to their success with the Close to Home program. The farm is committed to providing locally grown, farm fresh food to the people of Maine in a reliable and accessible way. “We have felt truly blessed to have Chelsea working with Hannaford,” said Sarah Redfield, co owner of Lakeside family farm.  “She has strong Maine roots, an environmental background, and commitment to the cause.  She brings a fresh perspective to her position and recognizes the common purpose of connecting customers to their communities. Hannaford’s commitment to local is a great program, and it is here to stay. One of the ways they ensure this is hiring an individual like Chelsea.”

Wagner was recently featured in the Portland Press Herald.



A Core Facility for Research, Teaching, and Service: The University of Maine Herbarium

February 16th, 2015
Chris Campbell photo

Christopher Campbell explains specimen organization at the UMaine Herbariums open house.

A core facility at The University of Maine, widely known for its accumulation of specimen that are decades older than the university and represent a great deal of the natural world, has recently changed locations on campus. Previously located in Hannibal Hamlin Hall, The University of Maine Herbarium can now be found in room two on the ground floor of Winslow Hall. The herbarium, which consists of five different collections: vascular plants, fungi, lichen, mosses, and algae, remains readily accessible to all those interested in expanding their botanical knowledge and enthusiasm. On Monday, February 9, enthusiasts, friends, and contributors gathered in Winslow Hall to share snacks, make conversation, and tour the newly located herbarium during its open house.

Lining the spacious room are large, metal cabinets that contain hundreds of manila folders conveniently available for any interested individual. Each of these folders is brimming with species of plants and fungi in a dried state, all of which were either collected or donated throughout the existence of the herbarium. Carefully glued to a piece of paper and arranged accordingly, the specimen lasts for centuries of observation and examination while being thoroughly organized in their cabinets. Alongside each specimen there is a label that reads the scientific name of the organism, its location, date of collection, and name of collector. This imaging and archiving of specimen data provides information that can be utilized for educational and scientific advances. By further expanding the online database, people from all over the world are provided with access to the UMaine Herbarium right at their fingertips.

Herbarium photo of specimen

Specimen found in UMaine Herbarium.

The involvement of many individuals, including professors, students, enthusiasts and professionals, is crucial in order for the herbarium to thrive and grow. Garth Holman, who graduated from UMaine last August with a PhD in Ecology and Environmental Sciences and is a devoted contributor, mentioned that the herbarium is a great resource for students who are interested in plant diversity and identification.

“The herbarium functions as a museum of plant life, providing a historical window on environmental conditions which can be analyzed to study many things, including the expansion of invasive species, extinctions, and climate change,” said Holman.

Chris Campbell, professor of plant systematics and a valuable resource due to his extensive knowledge on botany, is thoroughly involved with the herbarium as well. Campbell is a member of an organization called: Friends of the University of Maine Herbaria, who conduct workshops that are open to the public and students. These opportunities allow for the public to learn from individuals who are knowledgeable about plants and love to share their insight. Additionally, the friends perform important service functions, assist with the curation process, and are always willing to help the community.

The UMaine Herbarium has long been a critical asset to teaching and enlightening. It is not only a resource for students and a crucial component for several courses, but many publications have used the herbarium as a resource for their work. Kaylei Bergeron, a zoology major and contributor to the herbarium, said that the herbarium is one of the most beneficial resources on campus that can be utilized by students of all majors and interests. Whether it be out of curiosity, passion, or otherwise, visiting the UMaine Herbarium is guaranteed to provide you with knowledge of taxonomy, evolution, biodiversity in the plant world, and beyond.