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Wonders of science UMaine researchers who have changed our views of life on Earth by Margaret Nagle

Annually, the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), the world’s largest scientific society, recognizes researchers who advance our understanding of life on Earth. AAAS Fellows, nominated by their peers and chosen by the AAAS Council, are women and men who are pioneers in science, engineering and innovation. Their scientifically or socially distinguished efforts advance science or its applications, ultimately benefiting all people, according to the international nonprofit, founded in 1848.

In the history of Maine’s research university, there have been at least nine AAAS Fellows on the faculty. And the work of other AAAS Fellows in Maine, including Robert Kates, Presidential Professor of Sustainability Science, dovetails into the research of the University of Maine.

UMaine’s AAAS Fellows include professor emeritus Ronald Davis of the School of Biology and Ecology, and the Climate Change Institute. Davis was the first North American ecologist to study charcoal in lake sediment to detect past forest fires, and to relate pollen in surface sediments to vegetation on a continental scale. For Maine, firsts include mapping postglacial re-establishment of vegetation, and presenting ecological descriptions of the state’s peatlands and coastal spruce-fir forests.

AAAS Fellow Bruce Sidell, founding director of UMaine’s School of Marine Sciences, died in 2011. Three of his colleagues, writing about Sidell’s legacy in The Journal of Experimental Biology, noted that “he spotted questions that others in his field had missed and taught us many lessons about ‘how animals work’ that we otherwise might not have learned.”

Indeed, that view of our world — the ability to see, ask and explore passionately — is what unites all of UMaine’s AAAS Fellows, providing unique perspectives on the wonders of science.

Bob Steneck

_ABC2985 SteneckMarine ecosystems are changing at an unprecedented rate worldwide. This causes uncertainty in the availability and sustainability of marine resources. While changes in some marine plants and animals may be easy to describe, the same cannot be said for how we describe them collectively as marine communities or ecosystems. In the 1980s to early 1990s, Bob Steneck and co-authors published…(read more)



Paul Mayewski

Mayewski adjustedB&W

Photo by Joan Myers

Paul Mayewski conducts research about past and modern climate in some of the coldest and highest places on Earth to help us understand the implications for our future water resources, storm patterns and health. Mayewski has revolutionized the collection and analysis of ice cores as tools to inform our understanding of climate change. The internationally recognized explorer…(read more)




Joyce Longcore

Joyce B&WIn the last 30 years, more than 100 amphibian species around the globe have become extinct. Associate research professor Joyce Longcore is tracking the killer. Last year, AAAS recognized Longcore for her scientific contributions to mycology and microbiology on aquatic fungi known as chytrids. In her more than quarter-century of research, Longcore has developed extensive…(read more)



Susan Brawley

susan Brawley2Susan Brawley’s research focuses on marine algae. She and her students have informed our understanding of natural fertilization success in marine algae, including finding unexpected adaptations that allow rockweeds to reproduce successfully from wave-exposed habitats such as the Maine shore …(read more)



Edward Grew

GrewIn the past three decads, Ed Grew and his collaborators have discovered seven new boron and beryllium minerals. That’s important in understanding where it all began. One scenario for the origin of life posits the presence of boron minerals on early Earth as one key for self-assembly of critical prebiotic compounds. Recently, Grew has turned his attention to the question of whether boron…(read more)


Malcolm Shick

Malcolm For Malcolm Shick, marine organisms are the canaries in the coal mine of global climate change. His comparative physiology research of the ocean’s creatures, especially corals, helps forecast how they will be affected by environmental change. The professor of zoology and oceanography investigates…(read more)




Irving Kornfield

KornfieldIrving Kornfield’s evaluation of DNA evidence and its interpretation have provided opportunities to improve the criminal justice system. Kornfield’s applied research investigates the genetics of evidence found at human crime scenes. He conducts laboratory experiments on detection and transfer of body fluids…(read more)



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Fall 2013

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