Chris Brinegar, a faculty member affiliated with UMF's Division of Natural Sciences, gave a presentation at UC Santa Cruz that showed the redwood forests north of San Francisco Bay are much more genetically diverse than the smaller, more fragmented southern redwood forests, especially those found along the Big Sur coastline. The southern redwood populations are at risk of extinction because they may not be able to adapt rapidly enough to the increasing temperature and decreasing precipitation that the California central coast is now experiencing. Brinegar, while at UMF, won a fulbright scholar grant in 2008 to do research at Kathmandu Univ. in Nepal. He is a plant molecular biologist and geneticist and former director of the Biotechnology Education and Research Institute at San Jose State University in California.
UMF faculty member in the Division of Natural Sciences Nancy Prentiss garnered international attention with her National Science Foundation (NSF)-funded research project on polychaetes or marine worms. Known to some of her students as "the worm lady," Prentiss has been studying and identifying marine worms, often used as bio-indicators of environmental stress, in the waters off St. John in the U.S. Virgin Islands since 2007. Prentiss' NSF Grant has attracted the attention of scholars from Australia and other countries that are planning to join her Caribbean project. In addition, researchers from Greece are interested in investigating the potential of setting up a new Natural Geography In Shore Areas site in Prentiss' project area in the Caribbean.
In 2009, UMF's Dept. of Geology was awarded a $20,000 Quimby Family Foundation grant to study the effects of climate change on high elevation ponds in Maine. The grant was awarded to Assoc. Professor of Geology Julia Daly, and is one of only two Quimby Family Foundation grants to be received by a University of Maine System campus since the grant's inception. The grant will provide stipends for three Farmington students, purchase new weather station monitoring equipment and help pay for related research expenses. The students were chosen for the selective undergraduate research project based on their academic standing and level of outdoor skills and experience.
In 2009, the University, in collaboration with Farmington citizens and non-profit groups, hosted a day-long international day of climate awareness, "350 Day." The day's events focused on combating climate change, reducing energy use, improving energy efficiency and celebrating the natural riches of Maine. Sponsored by a number of organizations, including the UMF Sustainable Campus Coalition; County Energy Resource Team; United Way of the Tri-County Valley; Old South First Congregational Church; Koviashuvik Local Living School; Alpha Phi Omega, UMF service club; UMF Everyone's Resource Depot; UMF SEA-Change; Western Maine Peace Action Workshop and WordPlay Theater, and others.
In fall 2009, the University hosted the UMF Climate Forum, a semester-long series of lectures, presentations, panel discussions, and an observation of the International Day of Climate Action. The Forum series brought the campus and surrounding community together over the course of three months to consider the effects of global climate change - from a variety of perspectives: scientific, historical, political, sociological, economic and others. UMF speakers, panelists and presenters included Assoc. Professor of Geology Julia Daly, Professor of Biology Drew Barton, Assoc. Professor of Political Science Linda Beck, Professor of Political Science Scott Erb, Assoc. Professor of Political Science James Melcher, Assoc. Provost and Dean of Academic Services Rob Lively, Professor of Geology Thomas Eastler, Assoc. Professor of Physics Paul Stancioff, and other experts from outside UMF.
In 2009, Professor of Geology David Gibson was named a University of Maine System 2009-2010 Trustee Professor. His year-long research project, using Farmington's exclusive X-Ray Fluorescence Spectrometer lab, will provide data that can be used to investigate the role volcanic eruptions may play in impacting climate variations. David will focus on learning more about the geologic events that contributed to volcanic deposits in Patagonia and the South Shetland Islands.
In 2009, Environmental Science student Megan Devine of Farmington was named a Michael D. Wilson Research Scholar and used her scholarship funding to conduct research into lichen as pollution indicators. Her research involved monitoring the impact of air quality on lichens, which are excellent bio-indicators because they accumulate contaminants from the air over time in their biological tissues. The samples used in her study were collected from a former mill town and a "clean" town in Maine and microwave-digested samples using HF, H2O2 and HNO3. The Michael D. Wilson Research Scholars program awards funding to students to conduct undergraduate research.
In 2009, 11 University of Maine at Farmington students participated in a 2-week travel course to help some of the world's poorest children in Guatemala City's garbage dump community. Led by Assoc. Professor of Chemistry Mariella Passarelli, who is originally from Guatemala, the UMF students worked with the Safe Passage program, which offers education and basic needs assistance to the children of the Guatemala City's infamous dump. In advance of the trip, UMF students spent the spring semester learning Spanish, designing educational projects for the children, and raising funds to support the Safe Passage charity.
UMF's spatial ecology lab helps students conduct environmental research in biodiversity, habitat analysis, invasive species incursions, and pollution impact modeling using GPS, GIS, and image analysis technology.
UMF Environmental Science students have the opportunity to join faculty in research, which can lead to publications. Recent examples include research on invasive plants in the Farmington area leading to a publication in an international journal and a published study of the range expansion of a rare damsel fly in Maine and its habitat characterization.
Students also may conduct independent research: two students in Forest Ecology and Conservation coordinated a campus-wide audit of greenhouse gas emissions from Farmington.
The University's Education Center is a LEED-certified green building that is heated and cooled geothermally. Environmental Science students were involved in the concept and planning of the facility and assist in monitoring the environmentally friendly systems in the state-of-the-art building.
Environmental Science students often participate in the on-campus Natural Science Club or Green Campus Coalition. These student organizations bring speakers and other programs to campus. The Green Campus Coalition is a student club focused on environmental action. Two of their recent projects included recycling dining hall waste and a study of how to lessen food waste on campus.
For additional information about Environmental Science (B.A. and B.S.) at the University of Maine at Farmington, just contact the Office of Admission:
Office of Admission
University of Maine at Farmington
246 Main Street
Farmington, Maine 04938-1994
US tel 207-778-7050
Intl. tel 00-1-207-778-7050