Our Projects

This page lists all of our current projects involved in the North Atlantic. You may search all projects by keyword related to individual projects our by their affiliated country. 


Visiting Professor, Aarhus University International Summer School

Hirotoshi Takeda

School of Business

This project’s research has focused on Information Systems researcher impact on the scholarly field, expanding on the measures used to incorporate into online communities, knowledge management systems, and open data contributions. Hirotoshi Takeda’s cultural background of being Japanese, long standing connection with Canada, and connection with the Francophone world has helped expand his IS research impact and open data impact to such as the US, Canada, France, and Japan. A long term goal of this project is expansion into Scandinavian countries starting with Denmark by teaching AU Summer University at Aarhus University.

USM: James Suleiman External: Nicolas Antheaume, University of Nantes, Jacqueline Corbett, Universite Laval, François de Corbière, IMT Atlantique, Michael Cuellar, Georgia Southern University, Johanna Habib, University of Paris-Est Créteil Val de Marne, Roy Johnson, Pretoria University, Frantz Rowe, University of Nantes, Mathieu Templier, Universite Laval, Daniel Thiel, University of Paris 13 Nord, Duane Truex III, Georgia State University, Richard Vidgen, University of Hull, Brett Young, Georgia Gwinnett College

Suds to Shrimp

Theodore Willis

Environmental Science and Policy

Recirculating aquaculture systems (RAS) solve several vexing problems with aquaculture, specifically water usage and untreated nutrient waste. Opportunities for RAS in Maine are rapidly expanding, with several large commercial RAS facilities slated to open in the next few years, and many smaller-scale aquaponics operations in development or opening soon. We intend to prepare our students for employment in RAS, aquaponics, and aquaculture through curriculum and research based on our expertise in Environmental Science (water quality, ecology, environmental policy and regulations), strong problem-solving skills, and an environmental ethic.

USM: Karen Wilson, Rachel Lasley-Rasher, Rob Sanford, Joe Staples External: Whole Oceans, University of Maine, Alewife Harvesters of Maine

Maine Regulatory and Training Ethics Center (MeRTEC)

Ross Hickey

Office of Research Integrity and Outreach

The Maine Regulatory Training and Ethics Center is an interdisciplinary, educational program designed to provide guidance in regulatory training and ethics. The Center was established in response to the business community’s growing need to understand and comply with regulations in order to avoid costly mistakes and time-consuming barriers to entry. The Center brings together an interdisciplinary methodology to improve workforce education, business viability, and Maine job growth. Graduates will be employed in businesses looking for this competency in their workforce; new professionals in the field of regulatory compliance will receive training through USM’s professional certificate; and participating start-up companies will demonstrate increased efficiency in getting products to market, as well as increased job creation and sales.

External: Reykjavik University, Iceland Ocean Cluster House, New England Ocean Cluster House

Experiential New England Ocean Cluster and Student Collaboration

Robert Heiser

School of Business

Maine has been a net exporter of raw seafood for many years. Maine businesses would like to increase the production of downstream shellfish and seafood products, but have been challenged by industry technology limitations and limited availability of market planning resources and logistic channel outlets. The USM School of Business deploys teams of undergraduate and graduate MBA students as ocean-based company consultants. The teams work with the New England and Iceland Ocean Cluster Houses to address seafood, aquaculture, logistics, and marine technology business gaps and needs. Working collaboratively with local and Icelandic and other Northern Atlantic entrepreneurs and business leaders, student and faculty teams analyze business potential, develop business plans, and investigate and recommend retail distribution outlets, product designs, advertising strategies, updated company images, etc. The student teams propose creative solutions to business challenges and barriers to growth. Students benefit as they work directly with seafood, tourism, logistics, and technology entrepreneurs and small businesses; area businesses gain valuable consulting and research help as they develop, launch, and promote their seafood and marine technology products.

USM: Jimmy Zu, Jane Kuenz External: NEOC, IOC, waterfront business owners, GMRI

Regulatory Compliance and Ethics Student Exchange Program

Robert Bruce Thompson

Department of Psychology

There is growing international awareness of how important ethical considerations are for the viability of regional and international trade, research collaboration, and business partnerships. It is critical for professionals to understand the psychological and cultural processes involved in ethical decision making to avoid costly litigation, sanctions, and damage to business relationships. USM has established MeRTEC, the Maine Regulatory Training and Ethics Center, to facilitate regional entrepreneurship and international trade through research and an educational curriculum aimed at facilitating understanding of regulatory compliance and policy, and the cross-cultural ethics underlying them. To date we have designed and launched an undergraduate Regulatory Ethics minor and certificate, with courses in Regulation 101 and Human Factors in Regulatory Compliance and Policy, as well as Study Abroad: Experiential Cross-Cultural Ethics in Iceland, a program in which USM and Reykjavik University students joined for a day-long workshop to work collaboratively in case analyses involving cultural differences in ethical perspectives. We are currently collaborating with faculty and administrators at Reykjavik University to extend the reach of the new curriculum. Plans for the future include students from the RU Business School taking USM Regulatory Ethics coursework and a follow up Study Abroad course.

USM: Dr. Carol Nemeroff, Ross Hickey, MeRTEC External: Rekjavik University (School of Business, Bio-Innovation, Dept. of Psychology), Iceland Ocean Cluster House, New England Ocean Cluster House

Innovation and Creativity Summer Session

Richard Bilodeau

School of Business

Business growth depends upon creativity. This projects seeks to equip students with the strategies to cultivate creativity by combining the expertise demonstrated in both Maine and Iceland in understanding entrepreneurial risk and opportunity identification, as well as creatively implementing strong new ideas. The project will result in a 10-day intensive program designed to improve students’ understanding of innovation. The program’s coursework will be collaboratively designed by two faculty from each institution, USM and Reykjavik University, and will rotate location every year between the two campuses. The coursework will be based on industry projects so that students will solve real world problems in industries most closely tied to North Atlantic trade that have high interest, growth potential, and common challenges in both Iceland and in Maine, such as microbrewing, fisheries, renewable energy, and tourism/hospitality. This course will teach practical creativity approaches, in which teams will be mentored by a faculty member from each institution to enhance and broaden cultural perspectives for the students.

USM: Heidi Parker, Joanne Williams External: Hallur Sigurdsarson, Pall Rikardsson, Hrefna Briem (Reykjavik University); NEOC; IOC; Maine Brewers Guild; Allagash; Rising Tide; Bissell

Honors Study Abroad Program

Rebecca Nisetich

Honors Program

The Honors Abroad program offers scholarship-funded short-term travel courses, as well as local and international internships. These interdisciplinary and applied educational experiences are each designed to help students become more engaged in their education and in their community by introducing them to new perspectives regarding Maine’s relevance and our emerging role in the North Atlantic region. To complement the worldview expansion encouraged by the short-term experiential learning travel, students have the opportunity to participate in internships that support Maine and the greater Portland area’s role in the North Atlantic economy. Currently we offer internships both in Maine and in Iceland, and are planning to expand our offerings in Norway by summer 2020. The goal of this program is to give students opportunities to build intentional and meaningful connections with the business communities in greater Portland and the North Atlantic region. Through scaffolded learning opportunities, students will graduate with skills in the following areas: engage with diverse perspectives and cultures; complete advanced interdisciplinary projects; and work well independently and as members of interdisciplinary teams.

USM: Ross Hickey, Richard Bilodeau, Honors Faculty members including Dan Panici, Dennis Gilbert, Assunta Kent, Mark Mullane, Luci Benedict, Libby Bischof, etc. External: New England Ocean Cluster, Iceland Ocean Cluster, Reykjavik University, Eimskip, Geo Camp

USM Visiting Artist Program

Ólöf Nordal

Iceland University of the Arts

Each year visiting artists and scholars from international, national, and regional locations collaborate with USM faculty and students. During their stay, the artists and scholars engage in activities ranging from student art critiques, demonstrations, art exhibitions, and lectures. In spring 2019 Ólöf Nordal spent a week on the USM campus. She visited classes to interact with art students and met with art faculty to complete a comparative analysis of curriculum structures at the Iceland University of the Arts and the USM Art Department. She presented to students and faculty at a Visiting Artist Talk on the USM Portland campus. She will participate in BFA Exhibition critiques and will explore the possibility of completing a longer term residency at USM in spring 2020.

Nordal’s visit is co-sponsored by the USM Art Department and USM Digital Humanities, and is funded in part by the Maine Economic Improvement Fund (MEIF)

Tourism in Maine and Iceland

Tracy Michaud

Tourism & Hospitality

Maine and Iceland share many similarities: a rural landscape; tourism as a leading economic sector; and workforce shortages. Both regions also suffer from lack of planning in the tourism sector, putting this economic driver at risk. There is much the two regions can learn from one another. Developing collaborative educational programs and research projects is a way to build the future workforce, sustain the tourism landscape, and improve the tourism industry in Maine. The investment of Maine Economic Improvement (MEIF) funds has supported specific projects aimed at accomplishing these goals: an undergraduate travel class of USM TAH students to Iceland bi-annually; joint research projects on sustainable tourism issues with the University of Iceland; a speaker series and presentations of faculty from Maine in Iceland and faculty from Iceland in Maine; and the creation of a Tourism Concentration in Reykjavik University’s Masters of Business taught by USM TAH faculty. The benefit to our students are many: connecting USM TAH students to global issues in the tourism industry; developing students’ skills as they learn in Maine and Iceland through faculty research and the speaker series; affording the opportunity for international travel where students can apply classroom learning in a global context through the travel class; and offering the option to pursue a business graduate school with a tourism concentration (something not available to them in New England) in the new Reykjavik University Master’s program collaboration.

USM: USM Tourism & Hospitality and Geography Faculty, TAH industry advisory board External: Tourism Faculty at University of Iceland, Faculty at Reykjavik University, RU industry advisory board

Research Partnerships for Rural Community Development

Matthew Hoffman

Food Studies Program

Throughout the North Atlantic Periphery, rural communities face a variety of similar challenges when it comes to managing their resources and creating and capturing value. Because even such private activities as fishing, grazing, or opening a seaside hotel depend on public conditions – such as healthy fish populations, well-managed range areas, or compatible neighboring land uses – institutional innovation in resource management is often the necessary foundation for private entrepreneurship. On this theme Prof. Hoffman maintains a varied and ongoing research program in Norway and Scotland with a variety of academic and industry partners. Current projects include an effort to expand the use of grazing resources in Norway (with NIBIO), an enquiry into the social foundations and consequences of technological innovation in agriculture (with RURALIS), and a study of game management in Scotland compared to Norway (with the James Hutton Institute). Funding is currently being sought for a project that will map unused potential grazing land in Maine and create a system for making it available. Student involvement: The project in Maine will hire and train at least three students in cooperation with local community partners, also introducing them to visiting Norwegian collaborators. In the near future Prof. Hoffman will lead a USM travel course to Norway.

The Norwegian Institute of Bioeconomy Research (multiple locations, Norway); RURALIS Institute for Rural and Regional Research (Trondheim, Norway); Faculty of Landscape and Society, Norwegian University of Life Sciences (Ås, Norway); Nofence AS (grazing technology company in Batnfjordsøra, Norway); The James Hutton Institute (Aberdeen, Scotland).

North Atlantic Student Teacher Exchange

Kelly Hrenko

Department of Art

North Atlantic countries implement a number of innovative ideas in public schooling, teaching, and education models. Global perspective is a sought-after experience for student teachers, who regularly teach abroad after graduation to experience the way education systems operate in other countries, and to gain new worldviews that contribute to the value of their personal teaching styles. In addition, hosting foreign teachers often enhances the quality of education received by the students, as well as colleagues. This exchange project will help students and schools achieve these goals before graduation and increase the quality of the experience. It will send USM student teachers in the humanities abroad to gain first-hand experience working and learning in these school systems, and will bring Icelandic student teachers to USM. The project seeks to integrate teaching and learning for student teachers, particularly through the integration of humanities into all content areas. The project considers input from STEM disciplines to enhance the integration of different perspectives and content areas. Student teachers will gain a sophisticated perspective of cultural and methodological nuances between Iceland and Maine, expand their teaching experience, gain proficiency in weaving humanities into new disciplines, and develop a personal network of international peers to continually incorporate this perspective in their work.

USM: Jean Whitney, Department of Education External: Westbrook School Department, Portland School Department

GIS and Dune Formation Research

Matthew Bampton

Muskie School of Public Service

This work studies environmental resilience and how severe weather impacts landscapes and how human beings react resiliently. Specifically, the project studies the North Atlantic Oscillation, which is currently imperfectly understood. Using GIS technology to identify potential areas of interest, the project evaluates grass dunes and sediment samples to find clues about historic coastal towns and the weather events they endured. The model Bampton is producing has the potential to predict future locations where drastic weather events will not be survivable or rebuildable, preventing a misuse of valuable resources for economic planners.

USM: Firooza Pavri, Tracey Stutzman External: John Preston (Steffenson Institute); University of Iceland

Culture, Commerce, and the Digital Humanities

Libby Bischof

Department of History

The Digital Humanities program aims to equip students for the global marketplace by developing skills to communicate using multi-modal digital methods. In this project, students explore the humanities – and learn how to represent cultural nuances of the North Atlantic – through the use of information technology skills, such as big data analysis, data visualization, and cross-platform communication. Students gain workplace competency based on interdisciplinary knowledge from the sciences and humanities and gain real-life applications in marketing, business communication, and humanities-centered entrepreneurialism. As part of the Digital Humanities program, Bischof’s research compares cultural and geological experiences of Maine and Iceland through 19th and 20th century photography. Bischof is analyzing the ways in which these cultures have created and used a sense of regional identity. She is exploring the impact of the modernization of these societies and the cultural traditions that have evolved or remained to develop an understanding of the visual culture of the North Atlantic. Bischof is also working with private and public institutions to digitize large photographic archives that are not easily accessible to the public.

USM: John Muthyala, Jan Piribeck, Rebecca Nisetich External: Einir Suarversson, Justin Levesque, Bowdoin College, Penobscot Marine Museum, National Museum of Iceland, Reykjavik Museum of Photography, Maine Historical Society, Maine Humanities Council

Exploring Public Health Collaboration in the North Atlantic

Judy Tupper

Cutler Institute

The Samstarf Initiative enhanced public health and healthcare capacity in the areas of workforce training, international health, health services research, and academic course development. Public health graduate students from Maine engaged in public health research and fieldwork with Icelandic preceptors and Icelandic public health students completing health services research work in Maine. Dr. Tupper successfully piloted e-Learning opportunities for Icelandic public health students; Maine graduate students gained cultural competencies from their shared learning experiences. Multiple activities supported the growing business, cultural, and academic relationships between Icelandic universities, government agencies, and industry and the State of Maine. The Samstarf initiative increased international cooperation and development with academic, business, and governmental organizations. The Samarbeid Initiative expands the success of the Icelandic partnerships with new relationships with the University of Trumso, Norway and Robert Gordon University, Scotland.

USM: Faculty, Graduate Program in Public Health, Muskie School of Public Service Professional Staff, Cutler Institute, Muskie School of Public Service External: Iceland Ocean Cluster, United States Embassy, University of Iceland, University of Akureyri, National University Hospital

Culture, Commerce, and the Digital Humanities

Jan Piribeck

Department of Art

The Digital Humanities program aims to equip students for the global marketplace by developing skills to communicate using multi-modal digital methods. In this project, students explore the humanities – and gain an understanding of cultural nuances of the North Atlantic – through the use of information technology skills, such as data analysis and visualization and cross-platform communication. Students gain workplace competency based on interdisciplinary knowledge from the humanities, sciences, and technology, and gain real-life applications in marketing, business communication, and humanities-centered entrepreneurialism. Piribeck’s project, The Moving Tides: An Arctic Journey, studies the implications of climate change and sea level rise in Maine and the North Atlantic region. It is based upon the premise that effective communication will be crucial in addressing the changes happening in the Arctic, and that art can communicate across national and cultural borders in ways that are different from, but complementary to, science. Her project is inspired by Josephine Peary’s memoir “My Arctic Journal.” Peary’s journal chronicles an 1891/92 expedition with explorer Robert Peary along the west coast of Greenland. Piribeck casts backward and forward in time, using a blend of artistic imagery and scientific information to interpret relationships between culture, commerce, and the environment. She presented with Professors Libby Bischof and John Muthyala at the 2018 Arctic Circle Assembly in Reykjavik.

University of Southern Maine: Libby Bischoff, John Muthyala, Vinton Valentine, Matthew Bampton, Arctic Futures Institute External: Gulf of Maine Research Institute, Jordyn Curley (3D animation specialist)

Culture, Commerce, and the Digital Humanities

John Muthyala

Department of English

The Digital Humanities program aims to equip students for the global marketplace by developing skills to communicate using multi-modal digital methods. In this project, students explore the humanities – and learn how to represent cultural nuances of the North Atlantic – through the use of information technology skills, such as big data analysis, data visualization, and cross-platform communication. Students gain workplace competency based on interdisciplinary knowledge from the sciences and humanities and real-life applications in marketing, business communication, and humanities-centered entrepreneurialism. The project is divided into three segments that showcase the strength of Digital Humanities in the North Atlantic. Muthyala is developing a web platform where rigorous humanities work can be published using multi-modal methods. Traditionally, writing has been the primary and most credible method of meaning-making in academia, while the other four recognized modes of understanding established in the field of rhetoric studies are largely neglected. The platform will experiment with all methods of communication and will add a degree of legitimacy to work being published using these methods. The platform will feature Muthyala’s own research in the role of coastal societies in culture, which he is developing with John Gillis. The feature will be framed as a dialogue between the two experts.

USM: Michael Hillard, Lisa Walker, Eileen Eagan External: Creative Portland, John Gillis, Maine Center for the Humanities

Seaweed Farming in Maine and Iceland

Ira Levine

Department of Natural and Applied Sciences

In recognition of algae as a sustainable source for bio-based products, fuel, and foods, the Algae Technology Educational Consortium is developing educational programs to strengthen workforce capabilities, both through a technical college degree in Algae Biology, Cultivation, and Technology, as well as through an online extension program designed for professionals in the industry. Through this project, USM and a group of collaborators from the University of New England, the Aquaculture Innovation Center, and the Maine Sea Grant extension film and develop a week-long online course featuring the recent renaissance in Maine kelp farming. As part of this effort, the project creates partnerships in Iceland’s algae community and works to expand this educational effort through finding ways for connection and collaboration between aquaculture companies and initiatives. The ultimate goal of this work is to help aquaculture companies in Maine and similar regions develop robust polycultures that support evolving global needs.

External: Paul Dobbins (Ocean Approved); Chris Davis; Dana Moore (SeaGrant); Jeff Flimlin (ATEC, Algal Cultivation Extension Short Courses); University of Akureyri; Reykjavik University

Sustainable Adaptations to Climate and Landscape Change

Firooza Pavri

GIS Department

Maine and Iceland share similar maritime climates and both regions face environmental and economic vulnerabilities due to warmer terrestrial and sea surface temperatures brought on by regional scale climatic shifts. The growing consensus voiced by world leaders, scientists, and stakeholders at the 2015 Climate Conference in Paris is that countries must focus on adaptation and mitigation strategies in the face of shifting climate regimes. Such strategies will be critical to building long-term resilient and sustainable systems. This project addresses these issues through exchanging ideas on cutting edge digital mapping technologies, developing long term applied research ties, enhancing the training of students in geographic information systems technologies, and training students in sustainable environmental and tourism development and planning strategies.

USM: GIS Department External: University of Iceland, Iceland Ocean Cluster House, NEOC, National Land Survey of Iceland (Akranes), and the University of Akureyri