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The Maine Question
28 minutes | 8 days ago
Are you ready to garden?
Springtime in Maine can mean turning on the heat in the morning and the air conditioner in the afternoon. Spring also is when people flock to vegetable gardens, patios, flower beds and orchards. Gardening, which has been particularly popular during the pandemic, has a number of benefits — from reducing stress to increasing property values. In this semester’s final episode of “The Maine Question,” Charlene Gray, University of Maine lecturer in landscape in design, and Kate Garland, University of Maine Cooperative Extension horticulture professional, talk with host Ron Lisnet about all things gardening, including promoting bee populations.
29 minutes | 15 days ago
How can we get the most out of technology?
Refrigerators tell us when we're out of juice. Digital assistants schedule appointments and alert us to the weather forecast. Driverless cars slide into tight parallel parking spaces. Today, many of us increasingly rely on devices, apps and artificial intelligence in our daily lives. How can technology be designed to do the most good? How can scientists make it easy to use and put people, rather than the technology, in charge? This is the work of the University of Maine VEMI Lab. VEMI stands for Virtual Environment and Multimodal Interaction. This week, directors Rick Corey, Nick Giudice and Caitlin Howell talk with host Ron Lisnet about the lab's mission, its many projects, and the answer to the question: How can we get the most out of technology?
25 minutes | 22 days ago
What does the future look like for manufacturing in Maine?
Manufacturing — making products and adding value to raw materials — plays a crucial role in Maine’s economic well-being, but the industry is changing. Pulp and paper production has declined over the years as several mills have shuttered. Emerging firms are smaller than they once were, and many now use high-tech, precision manufacturing. Despite its alterations, however, the manufacturing economy in Maine continues to expand and evolve. Companies eager to fuel or participate in industry growth face challenges in their efforts to create new products, implement cutting-edge technology and teach their existing workforce new skills. Fortunately, the Advanced Manufacturing Center, which is part of the University of Maine College of Engineering, is eager to help them. The center has assisted many manufacturers in Maine and beyond over the years with efforts to innovate and explore new areas in the industry. It also often acts as a research and development lab for companies that are unable to experiment on their own. In this episode of “The Maine Question,” we speak with AMC director John Belding about the role the center plays for Maine fims and the prospects for the state manufacturing industry.
30 minutes | a month ago
What role does graduate research play at UMaine and in the state?
Last week’s episode of “The Maine Question” explored the value of undergraduate research at UMaine, but graduate students also support the university and economy through their work. With the 2021 UMaine Student Symposium April 16 approaching, we shine a spotlight on the role and value of graduate education and research. The university welcomed a record 2,400 graduate students for the 2020–21 academic year. Research and enterprise from master’s and Ph.D. candidates show no signs of slowing down. They continue to grow and evolve. We delve into some of the studies and projects occurring at UMaine, much of which will be on display at this year’s symposium. Three graduate students discuss their work, and Scott Delcourt, associate vice president of graduate studies and senior associate dean of the Graduate School, describes how graduate research and creative work add to Maine's economy and pool of talented, young professionals.
28 minutes | a month ago
What is the value of undergraduate research?
Thousands of University of Maine undergraduates engage in research and creative activities that prepare them for careers and support the university and public. They uncover knowledge, technology and products for a growing, modern economy. Their work, which molds them into problem-solving citizens, exemplifies UMaine’s role as the state’s public research university. The annual UMaine Student Symposium, the culminating event for Maine Impact Week, showcases much of that work. This year's event will be held virtually April 16. Three undergraduates who will present at the 2021 symposium share their stories on this episode of “The Maine Question.” Melissa Maginnis, an associate professor of microbiology and associate director of the Center for Undergraduate Research (CUGR), also joins the conversation to paint the big-picture of how their work and others support the university community and beyond, and how the symposium benefits students and Maine.
32 minutes | a month ago
How do you teach political science without being political?
Mark Brewer has been particularly busy the last few years. In addition to his research and courses, the University of Maine political science professor is a respected go-to source for reporters seeking context about political events and the political climate. Recently, Brewer found time to talk with podcast host Ron Lisnet about the role of politics in our lives. In Episode 5 of Season 4, Brewer explains ranked choice voting, the Electoral College, and the filibuster, and he shares how he teaches politics without getting political.
55 minutes | 2 months ago
What is the future of Maine's food system?
Everyone loves food. It fills our stomachs, tantalizes our taste buds, sustains us through times of strife and prosperity, fuels multiple industries and helps define cultures. How best to obtain, consume, preserve, distribute and regulate food drives aspects of health care, science and politics. As food science innovation coordinator for the University of Maine’s School of Food and Agriculture, Rob Dumas brings a unique perspective on food to the table. Managing the food science pilot plant at the school, conducting research, and working with food companies has given Dumas morsels of insight into the future of Maine’s food system. In this episode of “The Maine Question,” Dumas discusses the latest food trends, the “Made in Maine” brand, food insecurity, the state of the food economy in Maine and more. The veteran chef and food innovator also speaks about his previous work as a chef on a nuclear submarine for the U.S. Navy and for the White House, where he cooked for former President Barack Obama and his family, politicians and leaders from around the world.
25 minutes | 2 months ago
What is AI and what roles does it play in our lives?
Artificial Intelligence, or AI, sounds like a futuristic concept from science fiction movies, but is very much with us in the present day. We interact with this emerging technology on a daily basis when we apply for jobs, order groceries, access our bank accounts, apply for a loan and scroll through social media. In Episode 3 of Season 4 of “The Maine Question,” we examine AI, how it improves our lives and how it can cause problems. Penny Rheingans, director of the University of Maine's School of Computing and Information Science, and Roy Turner, a UMaine associate professor of computer science, help us unravel the fascinating and complicated story of AI.
42 minutes | 2 months ago
‘The Maine Question’ asks what's your relationship with the forest?
Maine is the most forested state in the country, and its residents interact with forests regularly in many different ways. They provide supplies for various products, which fuels industry and job creation, and space for outdoor recreation. These interactions, which help define Maine’s identity, are the subject of Jessica Leahy's research. As a professor in UMaine's School of Forest Resources, she studies the human dimensions of forestry and other natural resources. In this episode of “The Maine Question,” Leahy discusses her work, the ways forests impact our lives and how our actions affect them.
27 minutes | 2 months ago
‘The Maine Question’ asks how does Cooperative Extension helps people thrive?
While University of Maine Cooperative Extension’s roots are in agriculture, the 106-year-old organization helps all Mainers thrive with its relevant research-based programs that promote child development, nutrition, robotics, entrepreneurship and more. Recently, “more” has included providing communities with much-needed resources during the pandemic. In this initial podcast of Season 4, host Ron Lisnet discusses Cooperative Extension’s past, present and future with UMaine and University of Maine at Machias President Joan Ferrini-Mundy and Cooperative Extension Dean Hannah Carter, who says the trusted organization can be like Google for Mainers seeking information.
34 minutes | 6 months ago
How are lobsters doing?
Lobsters are synonymous with Maine, defining it alongside lighthouses, forests, rocky coasts, blueberries and potatoes. Beyond its reputation as a delicious meal, this iconic crustacean propels a major industry, draws tourists from around the world and serves as a bellwether for climate change and environmental health. Few people know this creature from all angles better than Rick Wahle. The research professor and director of the Lobster Institute at the University of Maine has made it his life's work to study this renowned shellfish. In this episode of “The Maine Question” he takes us to the bottom of the ocean where lobsters live and shares his research about the health and abundance of Maine's lobster resource.
19 minutes | 6 months ago
How do you teach music during a pandemic?
The coronavirus has disrupted just about every facet of academia, especially music education. Like concerts and jam sessions, teaching music is a shared community experience, but the pandemic has prompted several educators to switch instruction from in-person to remote. How can a teacher help a student improve when they can't be in the same room or even play together? Philip Edelman, an assistant professor of music education at UMaine, tried to make the best of a less than ideal situation. He and Shianne Priest, director of music at Leonard Middle School in Old Town, developed a pilot program that gives music education students at UMaine the opportunity to provide remote lessons to middle school students via Zoom. The program has yielded some surprising outcomes that may improve music education in the future.
27 minutes | 6 months ago
What’s so cool about cold-water corals?
When people think of coral reefs, they might imagine snorkeling in warm Caribbean waters. But corals also live in the Gulf of Maine and in some of the most extreme environments on Earth, including the Arctic and Antarctic. Rhian Waller, associate professor of marine sciences and a National Geographic Explorer, dives deep in near-freezing water around the world to learn about what she calls the rainforests of the ocean. She examines how climate change, fishing and oil exploration affect their ecology and reproduction. And she studies the effects that their altered life cycle might have on the marine ecosystem and the planet.
38 minutes | 6 months ago
Did climate impact WWI, Spanish flu casualties?
Incessant torrential rain and cold air over Europe from 1914 to 1919 likely increased the number of people who died during World War I (22 million) and the Spanish flu pandemic (50 million). Alex More and Paul Mayewski from the Climate Change Institute connected data from climate science, history and public health to make the discovery. The colleagues say the once-in-a-century climate anomaly may have been caused by dust and explosives from the war that impacted the local atmosphere. As we anticipate another wave of COVID-19, More says we should be mindful of the interconnectedness of human-caused climate change, environmental conditions and disease.
29 minutes | 7 months ago
What do masks tell us about the people who wear them?
There’s an adage that people don’t get a second chance to make a first impression. Mollie Ruben, assistant professor of psychology, examines how face masks affect people’s first impressions of others during the COVID-19 outbreak. Do people appear more or less smart to others, depending on whether they’re wearing or not wearing a mask? More or less friendly? Learn about this research project conducted by Ruben, who directs the Emotion, Pain, and Interpersonal Communication (EPIC) Lab at the University of Maine.
32 minutes | 7 months ago
How can philosophy help deliver the best medical care?
Some may imagine that people who major in and pursue careers in philosophy are relegated to poring through old dusty books about Plato and Socrates. In reality, philosophy majors work in all kinds of fields, including the legal profession and entertainment. One place you might not expect to find a philosopher is in the hospital helping to make decisions about medical care, but that is what bioethicists do. Jessica Miller, a professor of philosophy at UMaine, also is a bioethicist. She uses her expertise to help medical professionals make decisions about care. We speak with Miller about bioethics and how it benefits patients, families and health care professionals. She also dispels a few myths as to what philosophy is really about.
26 minutes | 7 months ago
How does diversity strengthen education and community?
The death of George Floyd is just one of several incidents that put issues of race, diversity and justice to the front burner in 2020. At the University of Maine, President Joan Ferrini-Mundy created a new council to examine where UMaine stands in relation to these issues and what can be done to foster a more inclusive and equitable campus. The Council on Diversity, Equity and Inclusion began its work this fall. We speak with council co-chairs Kimberly Whitehead, vice president and chief of staff to the president, and Susan McKay, a professor of physics and director of the Center for Research in STEM Education, or RiSE Center, about efforts to make UMaine and the education it provides more just and reflective of the diverse world students will enter.
36 minutes | 7 months ago
How are technology and online classes changing education?
The COVID-19 pandemic accelerated many changes that were already underway in how and where education is delivered these days. From Pre-K to Ph.D., online curricula offered through digital platforms like Zoom and Brightspace are now a key component of virtually every student's instruction. What are the advantages of using these technologies? Will they replace or merely supplement in-class, face-to-face learning? We talk with Peter Schilling from UMaine's Center for Innovation in Teaching and Learning about the future of online education.
24 minutes | 7 months ago
What does the future look like for Maine's wild blueberries?
Along with lobsters and lighthouses, wild blueberries are an iconic product from the state of Maine. While the industry has struggled of late, promising developments exist for wild blueberries and the people who grow and make products out of them. UMaine's wild blueberry expert Lily Calderwood shares her thoughts on the work being done at the university to grow the industry and what the past, present and future holds for this delicious, native crop.
22 minutes | 8 months ago
How have Maine schools dealt with the pandemic?
Last spring, when the coronavirus was causing major shifts in how schools educated children, Catherine Biddle, Maria Frankland and students from the College of Education and Human Development did some research. They explored how schools were managing and communicating decisions to families. One of the researchers’ goals was to identify best practices for educators to use during the pandemic, or any other large disruption.
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