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science is everywhere

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Friday, March 24th | 7:30 PM

Bangor Arts Exchange, 193 Exchange Street, Bangor

2023 geniuses

Speaker Information

Dan Cortez-Perez: How to understand our brains better using stem cells and mini-brains


Dan is an Associate Research Scientist in the Pera Lab at The Jackson Laboratory. Originally from Mexico City, Dan has MD and Ph.D. degrees from the National and Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM, by its acronym in Spanish ). After studying ischemia and reperfusion in the liver and how adenosine receptors can modulate metabolic pathways for his master's degree, Dan decided to move toward stem cell and neuroscience field during his Ph.D. training. Dan came to The Jackson Laboratory as a Postdoctoral Associate, and his ongoing work at JAX tries to unveil the genetic basis of individual differences in the response of the central nervous system to injury using pluripotent stem cells and transgenic mice as models.

Caitlin Howell: Maine's Secret Superpower: Environmental Sustainability Beyond Packaging

Caitlin is an Associate Professor of Bioengineering and head of the Biointerface and Biomimetics Lab at the University of Maine. She completed her B.S. and M.S. degrees in Biology at the University of Maine, then went on to complete her Ph.D. in Physical Chemistry at the University of Heidelberg in Germany. Caitlin returned to the US for postdoctoral work at the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard University, where she developed a passion for looking at natural solutions to develop cutting-edge technologies and then translating those technologies to the market. 


Caitlin rejoined UMaine as a faculty member in the Department of Chemical and Biomedical Engineering in 2016. Since then, she and her team have worked on drawing inspiration from Nature and working across the disciplines of biology, chemistry, and material science to address major issues in human and environmental health. Their work has resulted in the development of new solutions for preventing infection in medical devices as well as alternative uses for pulp and paper technology in biomedical and environmental applications. Caitlin has been recognized with numerous awards, including, most recently, a 2023 Gilbreth Lectureship from the National Academies of Engineering. 

Dave Levine: Designing Effective Validations Through Change Effect Assessments

Dave is the Science & Engineering Manager for the V&V Shared Services team at IDEXX in Westbrook, Maine. He has worked there for over 16 years, developing, designing, and executing the validation and verification protocols for new parts, products, and process changes before they enter production. Dave has also been a member of multiple focused problem-solving teams, applying Six Sigma techniques to identify the root causes and design effective solutions. As part of the V&V Shared Services group, his team works with all lines of business, all parts of the IDEXX portfolio, and across all disciplines within the company to support validation and testing requirements.

Dave graduated from Worcester Polytechnic Institute with a Bachelor of Science in Manufacturing Systems Engineering and later received a Master of Science in Instructional Design and Technology from Walden University. He has had a wide-ranging career in various low, medium, and high-volume manufacturing industries, from building satellites, wire bonders for the semiconductor industry, steering and suspension components for automobiles, luxury yachts, and now, diagnostic tests and instruments for veterinarians.

In addition to the Maine Science Festival, Dave volunteers with Junior Achievement and the Maine Science Bowl. He lives in Portland with his wife of 27 years, Beth, who is the head librarian at Dyer Elementary school in South Portland. Together, they have a son, Ben, who is currently a Senior at Carleton College in Minnesota, where he is majoring in Political Science and playing defensive back for the Knights football team. Dave, Beth, and Ben share their home with a rescued St. Bernard/Pitbull mix named Pixie.

Ian Meng: Cool neurons and the secretion of tears without pain


Ian is the Director of the Center for Excellence in the Neurosciences and Professor of Biomedical Sciences at the College of Osteopathic Medicine at the University of New England (UNE). Ian received his ScB and Ph.D. in Neuroscience at Brown University, and then he worked as a postdoctoral fellow with Dr. Howard Fields in the Department of Neurology at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF), studying the brain circuits mediating the analgesic properties of cannabinoids.


Ian joined UNE in 2003, and he has maintained a continuously funded research program with the aim of understanding trigeminal sensory processing underlying headache and ocular pain, and homeostasis. Ian's lab is currently investigating sensory neurons that regulate tearing and ocular pain under both normal and pathological conditions, such as dry eye. Additional projects are exploring the ability of corneal afferents to promote corneal healing by providing trophic support to the injured cornea in dry eye.

Marko Pende: 3D microscopy unlocks new ways to shine a light on biology

Marko is a Postdoctoral Researcher in the Murawala Lab at MDIBL. In 2014 he received an MSc in Molecular Biology, and in 2015, Marko received a second MSc in Immunology, both from the University of Vienna. In 2020, Marko earned a Ph.D. in Biomedical Engineering at the Technical University of Vienna and the Center for Brain Research, Medical University, Vienna.


In 2018 Marko received the Constantin von Economo Young Investigator Award from the Austrian Neuroscience Association. Currently, Marko studies organ-wide structures such as nerves and their control of limb regeneration, and to do he developed and uses tissue-clearing methods and built a light-sheet microscope at the MDI Biological Laboratory.

Salimeh SekehCan we Trust AI? Robust Lifelong Learning Could be a Solution!

Salimeh is an Assistant Professor in the Computer Science Department of the University of Maine (University of Maine). She joined the University of Maine in 2019 from Michigan, where she was a postdoctoral researcher working with Alfred O. Hero. Salimeh held a CAPES-PNPD Post-Doctoral Fellow appointment with the Federal University of Sao Carlos (UFSCar), Brazil, in 2014 and 2015. From 2011 to 2013, she was a Visiting Scholar with the Polytechnic University of Turin, Turin, Italy; Salimeh was a recipient of the CAREER award and CISCO research gift both in 2022.

Salimeh is the Director of the Sekeh Laboratory, and her research interests include machine learning, large-scale data science, and computer vision. Her primary focus is on the design, improvement, and analysis of deep learning techniques with an emphasis on efficiency and robustness. Salimeh also works on the analysis of continual learning methods, adversarial learning, domain adaptation, graph summarization, and practical applications of machine learning in real-world problems, including hyperspectral imaging, forestry, and ocean science.

Alaina Weinheimer: Microscopic warfare in the ocean and how it affects you!

Alaina recently moved to Maine this past January to start as a Simons Foundation Postdoctoral Fellow at the Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences, where she is working on a variety of projects to understand how viruses impact microbes in the ocean. Alaina was awarded a Ph.D. at Virginia Tech in November 2022, where she studied the evolution and biology of unusually large viruses called "jumbo phages" and "giant viruses." Alaina is convinced that microbes can help us solve major world problems, like pollution and disease, and in her spare time, she helps run a blog called The Microbial Times to share the good news and wonders of microbes with all. 

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