Recent News

Nicole Maines ’19 to Star in TV Series

Nicole Maines ’19 has been chosen to co-star in The CW/Warner Bros.’ television show “Supergirl.” Her character, Nia Nal, a.k.a. Dreamer, is a transgender woman with a strong propensity to protect others.

The role in “Supergirl” is a major career leap for Maines, who played Charlotta in the School of Performing Arts’ 2015 production of Anton Chekov’s masterpiece, The Cherry Orchard. Maines, who is transgender, gained national attention in 2009 when, as a fifth-grader, she and her family fought school officials for Nicole’s right to use the girls bathroom. Eventually the Maine Supreme Judicial Court found in favor of Nicole, ruling that she had the right to use the restroom made available for the gender with which she identified.

Nicole’s story was the subject of the 2015 book, “Becoming Nicole: The Transformation of an American Family” by Washington Post’s Amy Ellis Nutt. She had an acting role in USA Network’s “Royal Pains,” and will star in the indie horror film “Bit” as a transgender teen. She has also appeared in several documentaries.


UMaine Recognized in National Publications

The University of Maine has been highlighted as one of 300 “best and most interesting” colleges by the Fiske Guide to Colleges, and then again in the Princeton Review’s “The Best 384 Colleges: 2019 Edition.”

The Fiske profile notes the university’s safety, reasonable costs, strong academic programs and faculty, and welcoming environment. It cites UMaine’s programs in marine sciences, engineering, and Honors College as strengths and singles out business management, nursing, psychology, and mechanical engineering as popular majors.

UMaine is “a medium-sized school with a small-school atmosphere,” concluded Fiske. “Combine the state’s natural beauty with an increased emphasis on top-quality facilities and more intimate student/faculty interaction, and it’s no surprise that this campus draws more die-hard ‘Maine-ia(c)s’ each year.”

“The atmosphere is very relaxed and allows for a more comfortable exploration of your education,” a third-year UMaine student noted in the Fiske profile. Several other students cited the housing and dining on campus, the activities and entertainment offered, and the state’s only Division I athletics program as positive attributes.

Meanwhile, another prominent publication that assesses universities and colleges, the Princeton Review, found similar results; in its 27th annual guide UMaine scored highest in several metrics including student engagement, political awareness, and quality of residence halls. In addition, students also reported satisfaction with the Career Center, Fogler Library, and the Counseling Center.

Seeking 2019 Alumni Award Nominations

Do you know an alumnus or alumna whose professional achievements, community service, or volunteer activity on behalf of UMaine deserves recognition?

The Alumni Association is seeking nominations for the 2019 Alumni Achievement Awards. There are eight categories of awards, the purposes, criteria, and the nomination process for which can be found here. The deadline for nominations is November 5, 2018. A 13-person committee will review nominations, with award recipients announced in January.  

Awardees will be honored at the 2019 Alumni Achievement Awards dinner and ceremony, to be held in Orono in April. Images and videos from the 2018 ceremony may be found here.

Reunion Registration is now Open!

Registration is now open for Reunion 2018, which will be held on campus September 13-15. This year’s Reunion will celebrate the Classes of 1950, 1953, 1958, 1963, and 1968, as well as Senior Alumni (that is, all Black Bears who have already celebrated their 50th Reunion). Click here for the schedule or activities and to register.

Meanwhile, Homecoming Reunion, to be held on campus October 26-28, will honor the Classes of 1973, 1978, 1983, 1988, 1993, 1998, 2003, 2008, and 2013. Registration for Homecoming will open later this month.


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.