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Updated: September 6, 2023

UMaine’s latest workforce training program to address changing oceans

boats and harbor File photo / Laurie Schreiber The goal is to support coastal communities, particularly those dependent on fishing and other natural resources, to adapt to climate change.

The University of Maine will use a $3 million grant to create a graduate training program focused on the world's changing oceans.

The money comes from the National Science Foundation’s research traineeship program.

Over the next five years, Joshua Stoll, an associate professor of marine policy, and his colleagues will design and implement a new traineeship program for master’s and doctoral students that focuses on ecosystem science amid rapid ocean change. 

Their work will support members of coastal communities throughout the Gulf of Maine region, particularly those dependent on fishing and other natural resources, to adapt to climate change. 

The program will support at least 45 students in the fields of marine ecology, oceanography, genomics, computational and social sciences. The training will incorporate an emerging discipline called ecosystem-based management. 

Ecosystem-based management is place-based management of human interactions with marine species and ecosystems that contributes to the resilience and sustainability of the whole system. Practitioners use a variety of expertise — including indigenous and local knowledge — to help solve societal problems and inform responses to environmental challenges, such as rapid ocean change.  

Throughout the five-year grant, the students and faculty will generate new data, tools and information about the effects of a rapidly changing ocean on local ecosystems and the people who rely on them. 

The goal of the work will be to empower local, state, tribal and federal resource managers to take action toward protecting coastal ecosystems and their communities. 

Other UMaine faculty participating in the initiative are Christine Beitl, associate professor of anthropology; Kristina Cammen, associate professor of marine mammal science; Sudarshan Chawathe, associate professor of computer science; Chaofan Chen; assistant professor of computer science; Tora Johnson, professor of GIS and environmental studies at the University of Maine at Machias; Heather Leslie, professor of marine sciences; Darren Ranco, professor and chair of Native American Programs; and Anthony Sutton, assistant professor of Native American Programs and University of Maine Cooperative Extension. 

The team will also work with multiple organizations to conduct collaborative research and establish field experiences for students. The partners include the Governor’s Office for Policy Innovation and the Future, Department of Natural Resources for the Penobscot Nation, Sipayik Environmental Department, Maine Center for Coastal Fisheries, Maine Department of Marine Resources, Nature Conservancy in Maine and Northeast Fisheries Science Center.

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