Recent News

Souza Cunha ’19 Has A Lot to Give


“Every activity I do is my favorite, because everything I do is with the intent that it will grow into something more,” says Ana Eliza Souza Cunha ‘19. “Give a flowerbed half a can of water and you will get one flower, give the flowerbed the whole can, and you will get a garden.”

Cunha, a third-year biology and pre-medical science major with minors in psychology and neuroscience, has a passion for helping people. From studying migrational patterns of wood frogs, to evaluating a radar that measures external bee activity, to studying solarization and tarping for weed management on organic vegetable farms, her undergraduate research and opportunities have touched the community as well as the state of Maine as whole.

In fact, she chose UMaine for its research-focused curriculum, a perk that she has been taking advantage of since her sophomore year of high school.

“The University of Maine is one of the most encouraging schools for undergraduate research. It’s rare that a student is unable to find a research opportunity,” she adds.

After graduation, Cunha plans to take a gap year before applying to medical schools. She hopes to continue working as a Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) in order to gain more clinical hours, and hopes to also eventually get her master’s in public health. The next big question to tackle for her to answer is how she can help expand health care in the country.

“Being around most agricultural parts of the state of Maine I have seen the more rural side of Maine and have realized the immediate need for physicians in these areas.”

Her affinity for helping others extends to the campus community as well. Cunha was born in San Paulo, Brazil, moved to the United States when she was four, and grew up in a bilingual home speaking Portuguese and English. As a first-generation American college student, Cunha works as a student ambassador for the School of Ecology and Biology, helping to mentor students in their career paths and guide them directly to programs that can meet their intellectual and humanitarian ambitions. She remembers how scary it was for her to navigate the same experiences on her own – so she makes it a point to pay it forward.

Cunha is also involved with the UMaine Latin American Student Organization (LASO) and several volunteer organizations including Partners for World Health and Operation H.E.A.R.T.S, UMaine’s volunteer organization.

In her free time, Cunha enjoys running, hiking, and exploring the outdoors. She finds that exercise is a great outlet to push herself physically as much as she does mentally through her schoolwork. The most iconic campus event on campus in her opinion is the Culture Fest, as it brings together a variety of cultures together over food, activities, song, and dance.

On a final note, Souza Cunha closes with a reflection of the campus community: “I’m humbled by our student body as a whole. Along my journey and with the people I interact with every day I meet people who are dedicated, passionate, and curious in nature. It’s being in this kind of environment that has allowed me to flourish.”

The UMaine Alumni Association, with support from University Credit Union, each month presents its Dirigo Award to an undergraduate student who exemplifies the academic and civic ideals of the University of Maine. Selections are made in consultation with UMaine’s deans and the Division of Student Life.

For Prof. Marie Hayes Sleep Studies Provide Clues to Health Conditions

For Prof. Marie Hayes, sleep is not simple, quiet rest; rather, it can hold clues about different human conditions.

“Sleep is a great frontier,” she explains. “We know a lot less about it than daytime behavior.”

Hayes, who joined the UMaine faculty in 1988, is a psychology professor and member of the Graduate School of Biomedical Science & Engineering faculty. She has also served for many years as an Allied Senior Scientist with the Maine Institute for Human Genetics and Health and at Eastern Maine Medical Center and Acadia Hospital.

Among her areas of expertise are sleep studies, which she uses to detect health issues among individuals of all ages. Because sleep can be an indicator of health problems, the studies help Hayes and her colleagues examine a number of conditions, such as brain injury associated with prematurity and medications, and prenatal exposures including how opioid-exposed infants’ development is affected and what their exposure reveals as they withdraw from opioids. She published several studies on genetic and epigenetic risk factors in opioid Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome severity that were published in The Journal of the American Medical Association. She has recently taken the sleep technology for measuring sleep movements and respiration in infants to aging populations, looking at how sleep and mild cognitive impairment, or early stage Alzheimer’s disease, are linked.

Hayes has developed an innovative device with Professor Ali Abedi in UMaine’s electrical and computer engineering department. Their patented mattress pad-type product has sensors that record movement, changes in breathing, and other sleep patterns, which are examined for their relationship to cognitive function and sleep disorders.

Hayes enjoys working with students and helping them to become a part of the research process. Because her lab operates year-round, student researchers contribute their talents in the summer as well as during the academic year. When students become productive in a work setting, she observes that they become more curious, asking questions, and making new connections and adding to ideas and directions that are very important in the intellectual process and the team’s work

Hayes encourages students to identify what they enjoy and are good at. She advises students to pursue things that they are passionate about, and she enjoys helping them find those passions. As part of their college experience, she recommends that students join activities and take advantage of opportunities on campus in order to explore a range of interests and find internships related to their future directions.

Sponsored by the UMaine Alumni Association and University Credit Union, the Faculty Excellence Award is given monthly to a faculty member whose work contributes to UMaine’s national reputation for excellence. Selections are made in consultation with the university’s academic deans.


Professor DePoy Exemplifies UMaine’s Three-Part Mission

A review of Dr. Elizabeth “Liz” DePoy’s academic profile might give some the impression that she never sleeps.

DePoy, the April recipient of the Faculty Excellence Award, has accumulated a remarkable list of accomplishments relevant to UMaine’s mission of teaching, research, and public service. As a result, she is well regarded by students and colleagues on campus as well as by academics and practitioners throughout the country.

Her various titles underscore her dedication to her academic fields and interests:  UMaine professor of Interdisciplinary Disability Studies and Social Work. Cooperating faculty member of Mechanical Engineering and of the university’s School of Policy and International Affairs. Former faculty associate with UMaine’s Canadian-American Center. An equestrian. Co-founder of a company that develops assistive and protective equipment for individuals with mobility limitations. And more.

A member of the UMaine faculty since 1989, DePoy is highly respected as an innovative teacher, scholar, and real-life-problems solver. In fact, she was recognized for her efforts in 2007 when she received UMaine’s Presidential Research and Creative Achievement Award, one of the university’s most prestigious faculty honors.

The integration of those roles is perhaps best exemplified by her co-development of AFARI, a fitness device that enables individuals with mobility limitations to walk and jog in challenging terrain. The device has a lightweight framework within which the user stands while holding arm-supporting handles similar to those found on a bicycle. The frame glides along on three wheels—one in front, two in the rear. DePoy and her husband, UMaine Professor Stephen Gilson, collaborated with UMaine Mechanical Engineering Professor Vince Caccese to design and produce it.

AFARI, which is now available for purchase through Mobility Technologies, was featured in “Access + Ability,” an exhibit of Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum in New York City.

“[It’s] pretty cool to have our work in the Smithsonian,” DePoy acknowledges.

DePoy is quick to note the value and relevance of collegial, interdisciplinary teaching and research to her work as a faculty member.

“One does not do scholarship in private, so my accomplishments are not just mine,” she explained. “They involve students, faculty, and the ideas of scholars who pen their works before and adjacent to mine.“

When not on campus, DePoy and her husband care for their seven horses and their adaptive farm. Her advice to students is to read and interact with ideas and people with diverse perspectives, stretch their imaginations, and enjoy the opportunity to learn.

Her faculty page can be found here

Sponsored by the UMaine Alumni Association and University Credit Union, the Faculty Excellence Award is given monthly to a faculty member whose work contributes to UMaine’s national reputation for excellence. Selections are made in consultation with the university’s academic deans.


Senior Roney Takes Advantage of Opportunities

Ethan Roney ’18 chose UMaine because of all of the options the school offered.

“When I was first looking at colleges, I had no idea what I wanted to do. By choosing UMaine, I knew I would be able to try different things and take a broad range of courses,” he says.

This ability to try many things did allow the now senior to find his passion. Majoring in business management and finance with a double minor in psychology and environmental science, Roney plans to eventually work with technology startups in New York City. Roney hopes to utilize his academic background to help solve problems that benefit communities as well as the environment.

The Freeport native worked to solve several problems on the UMaine campus during his time here. For example, he hosted a winter clothing drive and also led a leadership summit. Roney currently serves as the president of Golden Key International Honour Society, the world’s largest collegiate honor society, and also as the treasurer of the men’s club soccer team.

“I am so glad that I got involved,” he states, “I have been able to give back, continue to play a sport I have always loved, made great friends and connections, and learned so much as a student, professional, and person.”

Roney credits Dr. Sarah Nelson, associate research professor of the School of Forest Resources, for her influence on his academic growth. He says her energy and enthusiasm has been engaging and inspiring. She even helped him get a paid job on campus: working in a lab examining dragonfly larvae, not your typical student employment gig!

Outside of school and his commitments, Roney enjoys taking advantage of what’s available to students on the UMaine campus. He frequents the New Balance Recreation Center each night, and notes that he loves to go rock climbing at the Maine Bound Adventure Center. He particularly enjoys Mahaney Dome, where its indoor turf field allows him to continue playing soccer during winter months.  Off-campus he enjoys traveling to new places and trying out unique food and restaurants.

His advice to anyone considering UMaine is to branch out and take advantage of everything the school has to offer.

“I was able to get involved on campus, take a broad range of courses, and study abroad in Germany,” he states, “These experiences really made my experience at UMaine noteworthy.”

The UMaine Alumni Association, with support from University Credit Union, each month presents its Dirigo Award to an undergraduate student who exemplifies the academic and civic ideals of the University of Maine. Selections are made in consultation with UMaine’s deans and the Division of Student Life.

Van Goffrier loves a good problem

Graham Van Goffrier ’18 routinely solves Rubik’s Cubes – and with 42 quintillion possibilities but only one solution, it is no easy feat. He has competed regionally for the last four years and started a club devoted to solving the cubes on campus. In fact, finding solutions and thinking through puzzling problems is central to his academic work.

Van Goffrier, this month’s Dirigo Award recipient, will graduate in 2018 with a bachelor’s degree in physics and minors in electrical engineering, mathematics, and nanotechnology, as well as a master’s in electrical engineering. He attributes much of his success in pursuing such a unique degree path to the faculty and staff in both the physics and electrical engineering departments.

“Without their support, I would not have been able to fit together my unconventional course load,” he states, “or find the research experiences that have made such a difference in my career path thus far.”

Growing up he spent summers in Orono with his mother, taking part in the “Consider Engineering” summer camp at UMaine while he was in high school. He learned about the many facets of the engineering program and met Andy Sheaff ’93, ’99G, of the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department, who remains a mentor. While at camp he also toured the physics department and was inspired by what he calls the “individualized approach to education” that it offers to students.

Outside of his heavy course load Van Goffrier has served in leadership positions for three academic societies during his time on campus. He is president of the Society of Physics Students and Tau Beta Phi, the nation’s oldest pan-engineering academic honor society.

He also takes time to explore the arts. He enjoyed performing with the Black Bear Men’s Chorus and has participated in several theatrical productions with the Maine Masque. After skating for the first time at the Alfond Arena, he also joined the Figure Skating Club.

“The single best place on campus to meet people is at the piano in Union Central,” Van Goffrier adds.

After graduation, the Norwell, Massachusetts, native will travel to Cambridge, England to enter Cambridge University’s MASt program, a one-year master’s course designed to prepare students for research or industrial work by providing a diverse selection of mathematics and physics courses. His focus will be in applied mathematics. Following his studies in Cambridge, he plans to pursue a Ph.D. program in theoretical physics with interests ranging from fundamental particles to computational finance.

“In my career I hope to explore how all facets of mathematics have the potential to improve lives, both in the present and the future,” he closes, encouraging other students to explore many options while at the university and to define a career which can be a lifelong source of inspiration.


Professor Richard Brucher does not shy away from drama

Brucher, this month’s Faculty Excellence Award recipient, specializes in Shakespeare and other dramatic works of the English Renaissance as well as modern European and American drama. He is particularly interested in early modern revenge plays, but he also studies and teaches the forms that retribution takes in modern literature and drama.

His comparisons span centuries and cultures from Sophocles, Shakespeare, Henrik Ibsen, Lillian Hellman, and Arthur Miller to Clint Eastwood. He says their presentation of sophisticated language, moral outrage, wrong headedness, theatrical self-consciousness, and wild justice prepares students for the healthy skepticism needed for living in today’s world.

“We need our Ibsens and Millers in these days of bombast, intolerance, and ‘fake news’,” he observes.

Brucher joined UMaine’s faculty in 1974 as an assistant professor of English. He credits department colleagues Nancy MacKnight and Burton Hatlen for mentoring him early in his UMaine career. He also notes the deep influence that fellow English professors Pat Burnes and Paul Bauschatz had on his teaching and scholarship over the years.

Brucher says he especially likes the interdisciplinary nature of the UMaine community. Along with working with colleagues and students in the English department, he has enjoyed teaching and collaborating with students and faculty from all of the university’s academic colleges.

Brucher emphasizes the relevance of old and new literature to understanding contemporary life.

“Regardless of how you make your living, read literature and go to the theatre once in a while so that you’re not surprised every time you watch the news.”

Sponsored by the UMaine Alumni Association and University Credit Union, the Faculty Excellence Award is given monthly to a faculty member whose work contributes to UMaine’s national reputation for excellence. Selections are made in consultation with the university’s academic deans.


Floreani Knows the University of Maine

Mary Celeste “MC” Floreani ’18, this month’s Dirigo Award recipient, takes advantage of every opportunity on campus. From Greek life to the founding of clubs, unions, and teams, to her leadership in the University of Maine Student Government – she stays involved.

The history major, minoring in both labor studies and economics, started as a senator for Student Government her frirst year, and by her senior year became the president. She credits the executives who have served before her for their mentorship and support and playing a huge role in developing her as a student leader. In fact, Student Government is her favorite activity to date.

“I’ve loved every moment of my time as president. Every day I meet new people who care deeply about this campus for different reasons. There is no better way to get to know a university than to serve the student body in this capacity.”

The Houston, Texas native has definitely gotten to know the university. In addition to her role with Student Government, Floreani is a sister of Delta Delta Delta, a member of History Honor Society Phi Alpha Theta, and serves on the Maine Day Meal Pack-Out Committee. She is the president of the UMaine Curling Team, and founded both the UMaine Fiber Arts Club and the UMaine Italian Student Union.

After graduation Floreani hopes to work as an organizer for labor unions. She plans to attend graduate school in pursuit of a master’s degree in labor and industrial relations, followed by law school. Her ultimate goal is to serve as a litigator for an organized labor group.

Her final advice to any student considering UMaine is simple: take every opportunity that comes your way. “You won’t regret it,” she states.

The UMaine Alumni Association, with support from University Credit Union, each month presents its Dirigo Award to an undergraduate student who exemplifies the academic and civic ideals of the University of Maine. Selections are made in consultation with UMaine’s deans and the Division of Student Life.

Prof. Mary Ellin Logue Helps Students Young and Old

Prof. Mary Ellin Logue ’74, February recipient of the Alumni Association’s Faculty Excellence Award, is concerned with not only the UMaine students in her classroom but also very young students in their learning environments.

Her particular interest and area of research is how different social and physical environmental characteristics impact young learners and their role in student success. She studies how different educational environments, including the customs of childcare and education, teacher attitudes, and the attitudes of caregivers and other students, impact these young children. As both a researcher and former elementary school teacher, she seeks ways to expand access to school success for children.

Logue is the director of the School of Learning and Teaching and February recipient of the Alumni Association’s monthly Faculty Excellence Award. Raised in Orono, she credits the late Professor Maryann Hartman for encouraging her to attend college, strive professionally, be politically aware, and to advocate for others.

After graduating from the University of Maine, Logue earned advanced degrees out of state. She returned as a member of the faculty in 2002 after working on educational policy initiatives at the national level.

Logue is continually reminded of the important role that teachers play. Whether her students strive to emulate their teachers or choose a different model, she says she feels privileged to watch them find their own professional identities.

Her advice for students is to get to know their professors, who can support students’ learning. She also encourages students to explore new ideas, meet new people, take chances, develop the skills to work with diverse partners, and learn from their mistakes.

Sponsored by the UMaine Alumni Association and University Credit Union, the Faculty Excellence Award is given monthly to a faculty member whose work contributes to UMaine’s national reputation for excellence. Selections are made in consultation with the university’s academic deans.

Baldacci, Collins Family Are Among UMaine’s 2018 Alumni Achievement Award Winners

Two of Maine’s most prominent families, both with deep ties to the University of Maine, are among the recipients selected for the UMaine Alumni Association’s 2018 alumni achievements awards.

Former Maine Governor John E. Baldacci has been chosen to receive the Alumni Career Award, the Alumni Association’s highest honor.  Baldacci, a 1986 UMaine graduate, is one of seven Baldacci siblings who are Black Bear alumni.  A former city councilor, state senator, and U.S congressman, Baldacci was selected for the award based on his decades of public service. Baldacci currently lives in Portland.

The family of Donald and Patricia Collins, of Caribou, has been selected for the Fogler Legacy Award. The honor is awarded annually to a family with multiple generations of Black Bear graduates who have been actively engaged in volunteer service on behalf of UMaine, their community, and/or their respective professions.

Don and Pat, both members of the university’s Class of 1949, are part of the second generation of Collinses to attend UMaine. Don’s father, Sam, a 1916 graduate, started the Collins family tree at UMaine. In the 100 years that have followed, three more generations of Collinses have graduated from UMaine. In addition, Don and Pat’s daughter, U.S. Sen. Susan M. Collins, received an honorary doctorate from UMaine in 2011. Adam Collins will graduate from UMaine in May, 102 years after his great-grandfather Sam earned his degree.

Seven more alumni with diverse backgrounds and rewarding careers have been selected to receive Alumni Achievement Awards.

Allen and Patricia Morell have been selected to receive the Bernard Lown ’42 Alumni Humanitarian Award for their lifetime of service to others. The couple, UMaine Class of 1973 graduates, have devoted themselves to improving the lives of impoverished children at the Child Rescue Centre (CRC), a residential home for children left without families to care for them after the civil war in Sierra Leone.  The Morells currently reside in Centerville, Mass.

Todd Saucier of Milford has been selected to receive the Alumni Association’s Pine Tree Emblem Service Award, which honors an individual whose leadership and service advanced the organization’s success and reputation. Saucier, who earned his bachelor’s degree in 1993 and master’s in 1997, served nine years as the Alumni Association’s president and executive director, stepping down in 2015. Prior to becoming president, Saucier spent six years as the organization’s finance director.

George Pullen has been chosen to receive the Spirit of Maine Achievement Award. The award recognizes an individual who both graduated within the past 15 years and has achieved outstanding professional success. Pullen, a 2003 UMaine graduate, is a senior economist with the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission. He resides in Montgomery Village, Maryland.

Norman Minsky of Bangor has been selected as the inaugural recipient of the Champion of UMaine Award, a new honor established by the Alumni Association. The award recognizes an individual who, though not an alumnus, has been a strong and effective advocate for UMaine. Minsky, an honorary member of the Class of 1952, has been actively involved in many of the university’s academic and cultural initiatives.

Three recent UMaine graduates are recipients of the Alumni Association’s new Rising Star Award. The honor acknowledges individuals who as students were actively engaged in student leadership roles and have continued their participation and promotion of UMaine and alumni interests since earning their degree.

The 2018 recipients are Brian Harris of Gray, a 2011 graduate; Hannah Hudson of Washington, D.C., who earned her bachelor’s degree in 2012 and her master’s in 2014; and Owen McCarthy of Gorham, a 2010 graduate. Hudson is an associate for The Cohen Group, an international business consulting organization. Harris and McCarthy are the executive partners of MedRhythms, Inc., a Boston-based neurological rehabilitation company. McCarthy currently serves as chair of the University of Maine Board of Visitors, which advises UMaine’s president on policy, financial, and advocacy matters.

Award recipients were selected through a formal nomination and review process that concluded in January.  A standing committee of alumni volunteers conducted the review. Recipients will be honored at the Alumni Association’s inaugural Alumni Achievement Awards Dinner and Celebration to be held on Thursday, April 26 at Wells Conference Center on the University of Maine campus. The event is open to the public. For more information please contact or call 207.581.1146.

Established in 1875, the University of Maine Alumni Association is an independent, not-for-profit organization dedicated to supporting the interests of UMaine and its 107,000 alumni.

Prof. Senthil Vel sets the standard in and out of the classroom

Prof. Senthil Vel states that time in the classroom is usually the highlight of his day. Vel, who is the Arthur O. Willey Professor of Mechanical Engineering, enjoys his day-to-day interaction with students, and his students consistently rank him as an outstanding professor.

Vel is the January recipient of the Alumni Association’s monthly Faculty Excellence Award. Vel’s academic specialty is the multiscale modeling of heterogeneous material systems, such as advanced composite materials. His research group has been primarily involved with the development of a computational framework for the analysis and design of complex heterogeneous materials. His work on the analysis and optimization of composite structures and functionally graded materials have been widely cited by other researchers.

During the last several years, he has also enjoyed collaborating with colleagues in the School of Earth and Climate Sciences. Using techniques that were originally developed for engineering materials, he has analyzed the mechanical behavior and evolution of natural materials, such as polycrystalline rocks.

Vel arrived at UMaine in 2000 after earning his doctorate in engineering mechanics and conducting postdoctoral research at Virginia Tech. He notes that Don Grant ‘55, ’63G, UMaine professor and chair emeritus of mechanical engineering, is one of several people who has had a big influence on his development as a teacher.

Vel encourages students to challenge themselves by taking courses that stretch their limits. He also advises them to keep an open mind, find out what they are interested in, and to work hard to get good at it.

Sponsored by the UMaine Alumni Association and University Credit Union, the Faculty Excellence Award is given monthly to a faculty member whose work contributes to UMaine’s national reputation for excellence. Selections are made in consultation with the university’s academic deans.