Call for 2017-18 Research Reinvestment Fund (RRF) Student Award Applications!

The University of Maine System (UMS) is pleased to announce a request for applications for the 2017-18 Research Reinvestment Fund (RRF) Student Awards Competition. The purpose of the RRF student awards is to provide funding for UMS students (undergraduate or graduate) to work with UMS faculty/staff on research projects that will enable researchers from all disciplines and ranks to strengthen research, commercialization, and economic development activities that support Maine businesses and industries critical to the state’s economy. A related goal for the RRF student assistantships is to better position research groups to be more competitive in obtaining future funding from federal, state, system or commercial sources. Applications may be in either MEIF or non-MEIF focus areas. Collaborative and multidisciplinary projects, which include UMS campus and/or external partners, are highly encouraged.

A competitive process consisting of RRF Advisory Board members reviewing and scoring applications according to relevant competition rubrics, portfolio balance, and availability of funds will be employed.  The goal of such a review is to identify the highest quality proposals. R & D groups are encouraged to collaborate with UMS campuses and/or external partners to form competitive teams. Eligible projects will propose research and economic development activities that directly benefit Maine industries and enhance Maine’s economic well-being.

Eligible areas include (with some overlap):

  • Maine’s natural resource-based businesses and industries (agriculture, aquaculture, fishing, forestry, energy)
  • MTI’s seven Maine Technology Sectors (biotechnology, aquaculture and marine technology, composite materials technology, environmental technology, advanced technologies for forestry and agriculture, information technology, precision manufacturing technology)
  • High-tech financial and business services tied to Maine businesses and industries
  • Signature areas of excellence developed by each UMS campus that meet the economic development requirements as defined above.

The RRF Student Award Competition has been updated to include multiple funding competitions within a single request for applications.  There are three tracks that can now be pursued.  A limit of one application per PI per Track within this competition will be strictly enforced.


Track 1:  Graduate Assistantships

The RRF graduate assistantship awards will support eligible graduate students (Masters and/or Doctoral enrolled at a UMS institution). Awards are made to the UMS faculty/staff member submitting the application as the Principal Investigator (PI). Graduate Students should not submit applications as the PI, however, they are able to assist faculty members with preparing the proposal.  PI’s will be required to submit a Research Project Grant application related to the graduate assistantship to a federal funding agency, or solicit funding via a state or commercial entity, by January 01, 2019.  PIs who have been previously awarded RRF GA awards can compete for a second year of funding by submitting a new application within this round of competition.  Discussion of the progress of the current award should be included within the executive summary page limits and include details related to follow -on grant activity and other notable deliverables.  PIs should not have any delinquent progress reports related to any currently funded RRF awards.

Each graduate assistantship award supports a total of 1 student in the following manner:

  • $20,000 stipend for up to1 year (PI should indicate this time frame)
  • Up to 12 graduate credit hours annually (up to $5,016)
  • 50% of graduate student health insurance ($1,116)
  • Up to $5,000 for materials/supplies and travel related to carrying out and disseminating the results of the proposed research.  Support for undergraduate researchers can also be requested within this budget line.

*Please note that tuition and health insurance funds are reimbursed according to the student’s enrollment status and are not budget lines awarded to the PI. Materials/supplies and travel must be related to the research project proposed and the costs well justified.


Track 2: Undergraduate Assistantships

Each undergraduate assistantship award supports 1 student for a $5,000 stipend and $2,000 for materials and supplies and travel related to carrying out the project research or presenting findings of the project. The assistantships will be made for 1 year and may be used for student support during the academic semesters, winter break, over the summer, or a combination thereof. Applicants should propose a twelve-month project period in their executive summaries. The RRF undergraduate assistantship awards will support eligible undergraduate students enrolled at a UMS institution.


Track 3:  Interdisciplinary Undergraduate Research Collaboratives

Interdisciplinary proposals will be funded to address significant thematic areas, and will involve teams of two or more faculty members from different disciplines along with primarily undergraduate researchers.  Proposals requesting up to $30,000 will be considered.  Matching funds are permitted beyond this limit.  Funds should be primarily utilized for stipends for undergraduate researchers, but course buyout may also be included up to $5,000 (inclusive of fringe) for faculty mentors OR for a graduate student coordinator.  No summer salaries for faculty are permitted. Limited funds may be requested (10% or less of the total award) for domestic travel that supports the undergraduates’ activities and research supplies.  Computer purchases are not an allowable cost in this program.  Funds may also be requested to support collaborations with external partners and review priority will be given to proposals that establish partnerships with Maine businesses and industry.


The submission window for all Tracks in this request for applications opens December 18, 2017 and closes on January 17, 2018 at 4:30 pm.

How to apply: Interested UMS faculty members should submit an application package using our InfoReady Review grant application submission portal:

Questions about the competition may be directed to Jason Charland ( or 581-2461)

Best regards,

The RRF Advisory Board

Brian Beal Professor of Marine Ecology University of Maine at Machias
Martha Bentley Director of Innovation Infrastructure Maine Technology Institute (MTI)
Seth Berry Vice President for International Business Development Kennebec River Biosciences
Jason Charland (ex-officio) Director of Grant Development University of Maine
Doug Gardner Professor of Forest Operations, Bioproducts and Bioenergy University of Maine
Kody Varahramyan (Operations Committee) Vice President for Research and Dean of the Graduate School University of Maine
Mike Kinnison Professor of Evolutionary Applications, School of Biology and Ecology University of Maine
David Neivandt (Operations Committee) Associate Vice President for Research University of Maine
Kris Sahonchik Director, Cutler Institute for Health and Social Policy University of Southern Maine
Terry Shehata Senior Policy Associate: Research and Economic Development/
MEIF Coordinator
University of Southern Maine
Rebecca Van Beneden Director of the School of Marine Sciences University of Maine
James Ward (Operations Committee) Vice President of Innovation and Economic Development University of Maine


GSBSE Alumni Lisa Weatherly First Author Publication Accepted by the Journal of Toxicology and Environmental Health, Part B

Dr. Lisa Weatherly, a recent GSBSE PhD graduate, has had her review paper accepted for publication in the Journal of Toxicology and Environmental Health, Part B.  Her publication is entitled, “Triclosan Exposure, Transformation, and Human Health Effects”. Dr. Weatherly graduated this year with a PhD in Biomedical Sciences.


Lisa Weatherly

Julie Gosse

Maine-Syracuse Longitudinal Study investigators publish three new studies with implications for blood pressure measurement and control of diabetes mellitus.


University of Maine investigators in the Laboratory of Epidemiology, Cardiovascular Disease, Aging and Neuropsychology, Graduate School of Biomedical Science and Engineering (GSBSE), published three new studies on blood pressure and diabetes. The laboratory employs data from the Maine-Syracuse Longitudinal Study (MSLS), a 35-year study of relations between cardiovascular disease and cognitive function (



1. Torres RV, Elias, MF, Crichton GE, Dore G, Davey A, Systolic orthostatic hypotension is related to lowered cognitive function: findings from the Maine-Syracuse Study. Journal of Clinical Hypertension.  2017; doi: 10.111/jch.13095.

Study summary:

In some individuals, standing causes a shift in blood volume that can lead to postural hypertension (abnormal rise in blood pressure) or postural hypotension (abnormal fall in blood pressure) when the body’s control mechanisms (autoregulation) are not functioning properly. Both conditions have been associated with poor health outcomes, including reduced cognitive function. However, few studies have used more than one or two cognitive tests, have employed community-dwelling individuals and have blinded the participants and the investigators to the orthostatic testing procedure during data collection. Led by Rachael Torres (University of Delaware), the MSLS study team examined relations between postural hypertension, postural hypotension and cognitive function for six major cognitive domains with adjustment for demographics and cardiovascular risk factors.

In a sample of 961 community-dwelling individuals, orthostatic hypertension was not related to any of the cognitive measures. However, participants who exhibited postural hypotension due to an abnormal reduction in systolic blood pressure had lower Global composite, Verbal Memory and Scanning and Tracking domain scores compared with those who had normal systolic blood pressure change. From a practical standpoint, orthostatic hypotension is not always symptomatic and can go undetected in the absence of proper blood pressure assessment. The American Heart Association recommends assessment of recumbent followed by standing blood pressure, although it is common for assessment to be restricted to sitting blood pressure values. Considering the poor health outcomes associated with orthostatic hypotension, it is important that this practice is changed.


2. Dore GA, Elias MF, Crichton GE, Robbins MA. Age modifies the relation between intra-individual measurement to measurement variation in blood pressure and cognitive functioning: the Maine-Syracuse Study. Journal of Hypertension. 2017; doi: 10.1097/HJH.0000000000001510.

Study summary:

In many studies, intra-individual variation in BP at a single occasion or over time has been a stronger predictor of lowered cognitive functioning than chronically elevated blood pressure. But few, if any, studies have examined the important role of age in the adverse impact of higher variability in blood pressure on cognitive functioning.  Led by Gregory Dore (National Institute on Aging), MSLS investigators examined the role of age in the adverse influence of higher variability in blood pressure on cognitive functioning in 980 men and women (mean age=62 years, SD= 12.8). This community-based sample was free of dementia, acute stroke and serious kidney disease. Intra-individual blood pressure variability at a single measurement occasion was a stronger predictor of lowered cognitive ability than chronically elevated blood pressure. Systolic blood pressure variability was associated with lower levels of performance in the domains of Verbal Memory, Visual-Spatial Memory and Organization, Scanning and Tracking and Abstract Reasoning with statistical adjustment for demographics and cardiovascular risk factors. However, associations between variability in systolic blood pressure and lowered cognitive test performance increased in magnitude with advancing age.  Persons over 60 years of age were clearly more vulnerable to lowered cognitive performance in relation to higher blood pressure variability than adult participants less than 60 years of age.  In order to recognize variability in blood pressure, office visits should include more than the standard one to two blood pressure measurements. The team has advance arguments for multiple blood pressure assessments at each office visit (at least 5) in previous editorials in Hypertension and the American Journal of Hypertension.


3. Elias MF, Crichton GE, Dearborn PJ, Robbins MA, Abhayaratna WP. Associations between type 2 diabetes mellitus and arterial stiffness: a prospective analysis based on the Maine-Syracuse Study. Pulse. 2017;5:88-98.

Study summary:

The MSLS study team and other investigators have reported that lowering of cognitive performance in persons free from dementia and acute stroke history is observed in the presence of diabetes mellitus. Led by Merrill (Pete) Elias (University of Maine), this investigation was designed to see if diabetes recognized (diagnosed) 5 years earlier in adult life is associated with increased arterial stiffness at follow-up. Pulse wave velocity is the gold standard, non-invasive method of measuring stiffness in the arteries. Results of this investigation indicated that all treated but uncontrolled Type II diabetic individuals (n= 52) had three-fold greater risk for increased arterial stiffness than those with no diabetes (n=456). Further, participants with uncontrolled diabetes over a 4- to 5-year period (n=34) had nine-fold greater risk than non-diabetic participants. This was true despite control for demographic variables, cardiovascular risk factors and cardiovascular events such as stroke and heart attack.  Early recognition and treatment of diabetes is important for a healthy heart and healthy brain. Further studies are underway to see if arterial stiffness is a mediator (intermediate variable) in the relation between diabetes and lower cognitive performance.

Additional Information

Professors Merrill F. Elias and Michael A. Robbins are at the University of Maine, Department of Psychology and GSBSE. Walter P Abhayaratna is a professor of Cardiovascular Medicine at the University of Australia. Georgina E. Crichton is at the University of South Australia. Rachel V. Torres and Adam Davey are at the University of Delaware. Gregory A. Dore is a postdoctoral fellow at the National Institute on Aging, Baltimore. Rachael Torres and Gregory Dore both received degrees in psychology from the University of Maine; Rachel Torres received a BA in 2015 and Dore a PhD in 2013. Peter Dearborn is a PhD candidate in psychology at the University of Maine and a GSBSE student affiliate.  MSLS data collection was supported by the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute and the National Institute on Aging (NIH) and manuscript preparation was supported by various national grants awarded to co-investigators.

Merrill Elias

Michael A. Robbins

GSBSE Faculty Member Alan Rosenwasser Presents at National Meeting

Alan Rosenwasser, Ph.D., GSBSE faculty member and psychology professor at the University of Maine, co-organized a symposium entitled “Investigating the Bidirectional Relationship Between Alcohol and Circadian Clocks”. Dr. Rosenwasser presented this symposium at the annual meeting of the Research Society on Alcoholism in Denver, CO this past June.

Additionally, Dr. Rosenwasser gave a talk at the annual meeting entitled, “Chronobiology of Alcohol: Behavioral Studies.

More Information:

Alan Rosenwasser

GSBSE Students, Faculty, and Staff Win Awards at Annual Meeting



Students, Faculty, and Staff won awards for best talks, poster presentations, and service to the university,  at the 2017 GSBSE annual meeting held at the University of Maine on September 8th and 9th.

The winners for 2017 were:

Poster Awards

1st Place:

Carolina Figueroa

2nd Place:

Nick Carter

3rd Place

Elisabeth Kilroy

Oral Awards

1st Place

Kathryn Morelli

2nd Place

Magdalena Blaszkiewicz

3rd Place

Erin Carter

Service Award – Student

Erin Carter

Service Award – Faculty

Gregory Cox

Congratulations to all of the winners!



GSBSE Faculty Member Lucy Liaw Awarded 11 Million Dollar NIH COBRE Grant

Lucy Liaw, Ph.D., GSBSE faculty member and professor at Maine Medical Center Research Institute (MMCRI) received a 11 million dollar COBRE grant from the National Health Institute (NIH) to establish a multidisciplinary research center focused on human metabolic diseases such as obesity and diabetes.

The grant will also fund 4 junior investigators for 4 years, including GSBSE assistant professors Katie Motyl, Aaron Brown, and Michaela Reagan.

More Information:$11m-grant-funds-mmcri’s-research-of-obesity-and-other-metabolic-diseases


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Lucy Liaw

Katherine Motyl

Aaron Brown

Michaela Reagan

GSBSE Faculty Member Catherine Kaczorowski Awarded 5 Million Dollar NIH Grant

Catherine Kaczorowski, Ph.D., assistant professor at Jackson Laboratory (JAX) received over 5 million dollars from the National Health Institute (NIH) to study the effects of genetic factors that provide cognitive resilience in people with a family history of Alzheimer’s disease. This research could lead to  new treatments for this deadly disease.

Grant source: National Institute on Aging: Systems genetics analysis of resilience to Alzheimer’s disease, grant number 1R01AG057914-01


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Catherine Cook Kaczorowski

GSBSE Faculty Member Aric Rogers Awarded NIH Grant to Study Aging

Aric Rogers, Ph.D., GSBSE faculty member and assistant professor at MDI Biological Laboratory (MDIBL), received an R21 grant from the National Health Institute (National Institute on Aging) to study the effects of aging. The project will investigate the genetic mechanisms underlying increased cellular maintenance and longevity under dietary restriction.

In technical terms, this project will explore the role of alternative splicing and nonsense-mediated decay (AS-NMD) in controlling gene expression changes important for the benefits of dietary restriction.

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Aric Rogers

University of Maine Awarded NSF Grant to Purchase LightSheet Microscope

NSF Logo

The University of Maine was awarded a NSF MRI to acquire a Leica TCS SP8 Digital LightSheet microscope. The LightSheet microscope is superior for imaging living organisms because the low light illumination and high-speed image acquisition facilitate long-term live imaging. LightSheet microscopy also illuminates specimens from both sides which allows visualization and rendering of larger samples. This Leica TCS SP8 also includes a White Light Laser with a range of 470-670nm at 1nm increments and allows for 8 excitation wavelengths to be used simultaneously.

This microscope will be used to study neuromusculoskeletal development and disease, kidney development and disease, mechanisms of host-pathogen interactions in vivo, and adipose tissue innervation. The PIs included in this grant are Clarissa Henry, Rob Wheeler, Kristy Townsend, Leif Oxburgh, and Andre Khalil.

Clarissa Henry

Robert Wheeler

Kristy Townsend

Leif Oxburgh

Andre Khalil

GSBSE Flex Squad Raises Over $1,000 To Fight Muscular Dystrophy

The GSBSE Flex Squad raised over $1,000 dollars at the annual Muscular Dystrophy Association (MDA) muscle walk on September 16th in Bangor, ME to help fight Muscular Dystrophy. This was the 2nd year the GSBSE Flex Squad participated in a MDA muscle walk.

The GSBSE Flex Squad is always looking for more members! Learn more here:

GSBSE Flex Squad’s MDA Page