App connects kids to the outdoors

SEFS Professor Josh Lawler

Technology is a big part of our lives today, but that means kids spend less time outside. But what if we combine the two?

That’s the aim of an app developed by School of Environmental and Forest Sciences professor Josh Lawler and the University of Washington Information School.

Nature Collections provides a platform for children to build photo collections from what they see and encounter outdoors. Similar to popular apps like Pokemon Go and other games, it allows them to collect items and compete in scavenger hunts.

Lawler and iSchool professor Katie Davis first introduced their idea in 2016, when they won $400,000 in funding for the app from the UW Innovation Awards. After developing the app, testing with kids began, and the early results are promising.

Read the full story of the app and its reception published in Washington Trails magazine and posted on the iSchool’s website.

Winter 2019 SEFS Seminar Schedule

The new year is here, and along with it comes the 2019 winter quarter SEFS Seminar schedule. Each seminar is held at 3:30 p.m. on Wednesdays in the Forest Club Room of Anderson Hall. After each presentation, a reception and discussion time is held in the room. Please note some of the titles are pending and will be added at a later date.

Jan. 9Prospects for biodiversity and ecosystem services in coffee agroecosystems facing socio-ecological changes in southwest Ethiopia
Getachew Eshete, associate professor at Cascadia College

Jan. 16 Mid-rotation forest carbon credits: The low cost of emissions reduction plan that works immediately
Mike Warjone, vice president of operations, Port Blakely

Jan. 23 – How cold is it in the mountains? Temperatures, lapse rates 
and inversions from models, weather stations, sensors in trees and remote sensing
Jessica Lundquist, associate professor, civil and environmental engineering, UW

Jan. 30The role of people and climate in shaping vegetation and fire history
Cathy Whitlock, professor, Montana State University

Feb. 6Evaluating climate change & demographics dynamics: An analysis of natural disasters and population change
Sara Curran, professor, UW Sociology; Director, CSDE

Feb. 13Forest conservation and restoration in the Pacific Northwest
Ryan Haugo, The Nature Conservancy

Feb. 20The role of fire in Yosemite’s ecosystems
Jan van Wagtendonk, research scientist emeritus, Yosemite National Park

Feb. 27 – Socio-spatial approaches to understanding public use patterns in national forests and monuments
Lee Cerveny, research social scientist

March 6Quantifying the role that terrestrial ecosystems play in Earth’s climate
Abby Swann, associate professor, atmospheric sciences and biology, UW

March 13Wildlife conservation in a brighter and louder world
Neil Carter, assistant professor, Boise State University

SEFS Professor Represents Washington at ABLC Global Conference

Hisham El-Husseini, left, and Dr. Richard Gustafson stand together
at the ABLC Global Conference.

Dr. Richard Gustafson, professor at the School of Environmental and Forest Sciences, and Hisham El-Husseini, a graduate student in bioresource science and engineering, represented Washington at the Advanced Bioeconomy Leadership Conference (ABLC Global), a conference dedicated to the most important issues in the bioeconomy. The conference was held in San Francisco.

Attending ABLC Global provides an opportunity for students to learn from and network with industry professionals, as well as participate in leadership training sessions. Students took part in information sessions and industry panels that featured representatives from Aemetis, LanzaTech, Sierra Energy, POET, Impossible Foods, and many others.

SEFS Affiliate Professor Profiled in Article about Fuel Treatments

Growing up, SEFS affiliate professor Dr. Morris Johnson thought he might join the military or be a powerlifter.

“No one really talked about going to college,” he said. “The big push for us upon high school graduation, unless you were the one best basketball player who got a scholarship, was Army, Air Force, or Marines.”

Today, he is a fire ecologist for the U.S. Forest Service‘s Pacific Northwest Research Station and was profiled in a new article in the U.S. Forest Service’s Science Update Issue 25. The article looks at how fuel treatments change fire behavior and highlights Dr. Johnson’s work studying trees after large wildfires move through forests.

Read the full story here.

Doctoral Student Contributes to Carbon Storage Study

Earlier this month, Ecotrust, in partnership with the University of Washington, published “Tradeoffs in Timber, Carbon and Cash Flow under Alternative Management Systems for Douglas-Fir in the Pacific Northwest,” a peer-reviewed study that looks at the carbon storage in Washington and Oregon forests.

Among the researchers who authored this study is David Diaz, one of the School of Environmental and Forest Sciences’ doctoral students. In addition, Diaz is the director of forestry analytics and technology at Ecotrust.

The study analyzed the forests in Washington and Oregon because of their ability to store large quantities of carbon, an important part of fighting climate change. The results showed that having larger buffers along streams, keeping more live trees after a harvest and other actions involving carbon rotation can aid carbon storage.

Read more about the study and its results.

SEFS Alumni Alexander Friend Tapped to Lead Research at U.S. Forest Service

A School of Environmental and Forest Sciences alumnus Alexander Friend, PhD, was recently named deputy chief of research and development at the U.S. Forest Service (USFS).

He joins current U.S. Forest Service chief and SEFS alumna Vicki Christiansen on the USFS leadership team.

In this position, Friend will provide technical leadership in all phases of USFS research. His role includes formulating and executing policies and programs that advance the management and protection of forest resources. Research fields that USFS oversees involves forest soil and water, wildlife and fish habitat, forest recreation and management, insects and disease, timber management, forest economics and products, as well as marketing.

Friend received his doctorate from SEFS in 1988. He studied nitrogen stress and fine root growth of the Douglas fir.



UW Botanic Gardens Announces 2019 Urban Natural Areas Seminar

The University of Washington Botanic Gardens is pleased to announce the 2019 Urban Natural Areas Seminar.

The seminar, “Stewardship Required: The Power of Interdisciplinary Collaboration for Long-Term Function of Urban Areas,” will be held 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m., Jan. 30-31 2019 at the Center for Urban Horticulture, NHS Hall, 3501 NE 41st St., Seattle, WA 98105.

The seminar is $95 for one day or $175 for the full event. Discounts available for students and corps members. See website for details.

Program information and registration available here.

Most people expect established natural area landscapes to be low maintenance. That concept comes back to haunt us when the realities of invasive weeds, aggressive native species, and plant encroachments demand immediate attention. As the fox said in Antoine de Saint-Exupéry’s The Little Prince, “You become responsible forever for what you have tamed.” And so, for all the urban natural area plantings we create: stewardship is required.

Taken out of the context of wilderness areas, urban natural areas demand attention to the details of plant selection, site design, and maintenance standards to keep them functioning well. The significant costs of deferred maintenance that have been documented for urban trees and landscapes apply equally to urban natural areas. With proactive and timely collaboration between researchers, city planners, site managers, landscape designers and engineers, field crews, volunteer stewards, and others, we have the power to improve and protect this valuable environmental resource in our communities. Join us for this rare opportunity to exchange information across the mix of professions responsible for creating and maintaining urban natural areas.

Professional credits pending: APLD, CPH, ecoPRO, ISA, LA CES, NALP/WALP.

SEFS Researchers Contribute to Fourth National Climate Assessment

Two researchers at the School of Environmental and Forest Sciences contributed to a chapter in the new volume of the Fourth National Climate Assessment, an assessment of climate change across the nation produced every four years by the federal government.

Professor David Peterson was one of two coordinating lead authors, and research scientist Jessica Halofsky was a technical contributor. Both contributed to a chapter in the assessment on forests. The chapter looked at how extreme weather, including droughts, will make wildfires more frequent and intense nationally and in specific regions of the U.S. It also describes how climate change will affect other ecological disturbances, such as insects. The authors find that many options exist to reduce the largely negative effects of climate change, and list how federal agencies and other entities are already implementing adaptation measures across the United States.

In addition, former SEFS student, Gabrielle Roesch-McNally, who now works for the U.S. Forest Service, also contributed to the assessment.

Read more about the assessment and the other UW researchers who were involved in its creation.

Holiday Papermaking Rolling Off the Presses Nov. 28

This Wednesday, the UW Student Technical Association of Pulp and Paper Industry (TAPPI) organization will be printing their annual holiday paper. The paper will roll off the presses between 11:30 a.m. and 3:30 p.m. in the Wollenberg Paper and Bioresource Lab.

This year’s paper will be made from bleached softwood pulp. Red and green dye will make the paper festive and rayon fibers will give it a bit of texture. Once printed, the paper will be cut into cards and sold as a fundraiser for TAPPI. For more information on this fundraiser and how to purchase some holiday paper, contact

SEFS Holiday Tree Sale

Winter is coming, and that means it’s time for the annual SEFS Holiday Tree Fundraiser! Due to some club reorganizations, we got a bit of a late start this year, we apologize for any inconvenience this may cause with the shortened ordering window. Like last year, the sale is being run by a number of UW School of Environmental and Forest science clubs, and all proceeds will go to helping these clubs function throughout the year.

Your $45 donation will get you a beautiful five to seven-foot Noble Fir holiday tree from Hunter Farms, cut and sold by the SEFS Students. Our trees are handpicked and unique, and will come in all shapes and sizes. Some will be over seven feet and some will be less than 5 feet. If you are looking for a specific type of tree we recommend coming early to make sure you have a variety of trees to choose from!

If you would like a tree under five feet tall or over seven feet tall, please email your request to:

To preorder your tree, simply visit our website to place an order online. Due to the late start this year, we are moving away from paper order forms. However, if you would still like to order a tree this way, please email for more information. All orders must be submitted by Thursday, Nov. 29.

The trees will be cut on Saturday Dec. 1 and available for pick-up at the UW Center for Urban Horticulture outside the Douglas Research Conservatory on Sunday Dec. 2 from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Please Note: Your $45 donation is non-refundable. This sale is organized and run entirely by student volunteers, all proceeds go towards funding SEFS student club events and are highly appreciated.

We look forward to seeing you on Sunday, Dec.2!