95 episodes

This podcast series will engage in a pursuit of knowledge on topics ranging from the nanoscale to the polar icecaps and everything in between.

The world can be complex, fascinating and daunting all at the same time.

The Maine Question will explore ways to navigate and make sense of today’s world.

We’ll look at how UMaine researchers and students do what they do, what it means for Maine and the world, and why they are passionate about their work.

The Maine Question The Maine Question

    • Education
    • 5.0 • 12 Ratings

This podcast series will engage in a pursuit of knowledge on topics ranging from the nanoscale to the polar icecaps and everything in between.

The world can be complex, fascinating and daunting all at the same time.

The Maine Question will explore ways to navigate and make sense of today’s world.

We’ll look at how UMaine researchers and students do what they do, what it means for Maine and the world, and why they are passionate about their work.

    Lost Winter: What happens if Maine loses its winter?

    Lost Winter: What happens if Maine loses its winter?

    Romanticized by outdoor enthusiasts and feared by warm-weather lovers, Maine is faced with an era of adaptability as climate change begins to alter the state’s identity. Deemed a “lost winter,” the 2023-24 snow season capitalized on what the future could look like for Maine’s residents, economy and tourism. Coastal communities are racked with complications caused by extreme weather. Businesses that rely on winter-time recreation and marine life are faced with unreliable conditions. And the aspects of Maine that draw vacationers may start to disappear and be replaced. Even with negativity blooming, the future isn’t all withered. Changing climate allows the state to welcome new opportunities. The University of Maine is positioned at the center of climate discussion with new research and expert voices who explain and study centuries of changes, as well as those to come. A UMaine economist and a climate data expert address the “lost winter” and “not-so-gloom-and-doom” future of the state in a new episode of “The Maine Question” podcast.

    • 27 min
    How can I experience the total solar eclipse?

    How can I experience the total solar eclipse?

    On April 8, Mainers will have the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to witness a rare cosmic event without traveling out of state: a total solar eclipse. Space enthusiasts from across the U.S. are flocking to communities in rural Maine like Jackman and Houlton and enjoy three-and-a-half minutes of totality, when they can see a ring of light surround the moon as it blocks the sun.
    Shawn Laatsch, the director of UMaine Versant Power Astronomy Center, and his graduate student, Nikita Saini, have been preparing for the event for a long time. They are coordinating the viewing and recording of the eclipse, through which they will gather valuable data.
    On this episode of “The Maine Question” podcast, Laatsch and Saini discuss the spectacle and how to experience it safely. They will also describe what inspires them to study the cosmos and answer various questions about space, such as whether there is life on another planet and what the best space-based movies and TV shows are.

    • 34 min
    How can student research and development help them and our economy prosper?

    How can student research and development help them and our economy prosper?

    Conducting research with global impact and local relevance is a quintessential service of the University of Maine. Out of all university research conducted in Maine, 89% occurs here, and the insight and innovation it yields annually benefit hundreds of businesses. Research funding in 2023 reached an all time high of close to $190 million. In recent years, more of UMaine's research has been executed by undergraduate and graduate students, work that provides the knowledge and skill sets needed for the modern workforce. Opportunities for undergraduate students to conduct R&D, in particular, continue to grow. Funding support for these activities from sponsored research projects has risen 118% since 2017. In this episode of "The Maine Question" podcast, we delve into UMaine''s research enterprise and explore how students can grow their skill sets and resume, and bolster the state's economy and workforce, through conducting R&D.

    • 29 min
    Can Maine become a global pioneer in renewable energy and infrastructure ?

    Can Maine become a global pioneer in renewable energy and infrastructure ?

    Finding possible solutions to the nation’s ailing infrastructure, affordable housing deficit and renewable energy needs is all in a day's work for the University of Maine Advanced Structures and Composites Center (ASCC).
    At Maine's largest university-based research facility, faculty, staff and many students are feverishly developing new materials and technologies to help address national and global issues. Projects include designing components for longer-lasting bridges, a 3D-printed home made entirely out of biobased materials and floating offshore wind energy. Through their work, the ASCC is also bolstering Maine’s workforce, and helping open new markets for forestry and other major industries in the state.
    In this episode of “The Maine Question” podcast, we speak with Dr.Habib Dagher, founding executive director of the ASCC, to elaborate on its research and development and discuss how it can help Maine become a global pioneer in renewable energy and infrastructure.

    • 27 min
    Can Maine lead a revolution in consumer goods with nanocellulose?

    Can Maine lead a revolution in consumer goods with nanocellulose?

    In every plant and tree exist tiny fibers called nanocellulose, a building block like no other with the potential to be the next material that changes the world. This plant matter, which is a billionth of a meter in length, can be used to make packaging, building products, insulation, water filters, medical tools and countless other products. An abundant, biodegradable and renewable material, nanocellulose has the potential to replace plastic as a key component in consumer goods.
    Nanocellulose research and production is already underway at the University of Maine. More than 100 clients worldwide purchase UMaine nanocellulose for their own research and development, and on-site client trials are conducted at the Process Development Center. The university has positioned itself as a leader in researching this material, and could help bolster Maine’s forestry industry and make the state a trailblazer in this market.
    In the first episode of season nine of “The Maine Question,” we explore the manufacturing, functionality and possibilities for nanocellulose. We also discussed whether Maine can be home to a Silicon Valley-style nanocellulose sector, or Nanocellulose Valley. and lead a revolution in consumer goods with it.

    • 41 min
    How can nature-inspired engineering improve human health?

    How can nature-inspired engineering improve human health?

    Antibiotic resistance has become a growing problem in the treatment of bacterial infections. In addition to minimizing or negating the effects of existing medicine, these antibiotic-resistant bacteria, or “superbugs,” are mutating faster than the development of new remedies.
    Caitlin Howell, University of Maine associate professor of biomedical engineering, is working on new tools that take notes from nature to combat antibiotic-resistant bacteria. Similar to the way in which the human body keeps balance with its own bacterial populations, Howell’s devices use nontoxic, non-invasive surface-based technology to trap bacteria and prevent them from spreading.
    In this episode of “The Maine Question” podcast, Howell discusses how nature can inspire engineers when developing new resources for improving human health. She elaborates on her research developing technology that can help reduce infections among hospital patients.

    • 29 min

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