Going Rogue in Oregon

Rouge River

Sunlight filtering through the trees and canyons on the way back to the crew’s BLM house on the Rogue River. “It was the perfect end to every day working underneath the Douglas-firs,” says Putz.

This past summer, a five-person crew from the School of Environmental and Forest Sciences (SEFS) set out to conduct research along the Rogue River in Oregon. Working as part of Professor Monika Moskal’s Remote Sensing and Geospatial Analysis Laboratory, the students collected data of red tree vole habitat for the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) from May to September.

Their research proposed to answer several questions, including whether survey grade GPS can be used to accurately acquire individual tree location from LiDAR data (light detection and ranging), and whether ground-based inventory and leaf area measurements can be used to drive LiDAR-based empirical habitat models for the Rouge River site. The project will ultimately help the BLM develop a method of analyzing LiDAR data for forest inventory and management.

“Spending the summer in the Rogue River Valley working with amazing people and learning useful techniques taught me the importance of fieldwork, our forests and the animals that inhabit them,” says Tessa Putz, an undergraduate ESRM major with the SEFS crew.

“Working for BLM this summer was a great experience,” says PhD candidate Gonzalo Thienel, another member of the SEFS team. “I learned many things about nature, remote sensing and teamwork.”

Not bad for a field site!

Photo of the Rogue River © Tessa Putz/SEFS.

William H. Hatheway, Professor Emeritus at SEFS, Passes away at 89

From The Seattle Times, December 16, 2012:

Bill HathewayDr. William H. Hatheway died peacefully at the age of 89 on Tuesday, December 11, 2012, at his Mercer Island home of 42 years. Born November 28, 1923, in Hartford, Conn., Bill, as he was known to his family and friends, grew up nearby in Litchfield, Conn..

A lifelong academic, he left home at the age of 13 to attend Andover Academy and, soon after, Yale University. He made his first trip to South America at age 17 to study Spanish, foretelling a career in that area of the world. Before completing his degree at Yale, WWII called him to service, and he served four years in the U.S. Army. Following the war he enrolled at the University of Chicago, where he received a BS degree in mathematics with a minor in mathematical statistics. At Chicago, in addition to mathematics, he became interested in botany and biology, receiving his MS in botany. He pursued his passion for tropical plants at the University of Hawaii and, soon after, Harvard University, where he earned a MF in forestry and a PhD in biology. Bill received a John Parker Fellowship from Harvard in 1954.

Bill met his wife of 42 years, Merilyn, while completing his PhD studies in Cuba. They married in 1953. Bill and Merilyn moved to Medellin, Colombia, when Bill took a position as a statistician with The Rockefeller Foundation where, in addition to his statistical work, he studied the biology of maize and corn. As a post-doc at North Carolina State University, he studied experimental statistics and quantitative genetics from 1956 to 1957. Bill’s three sons, Dave, Bob and Larry, were born in Colombia between 1956 and 1958. The family moved from Columbia to Mexico City in 1961, where they resided until 1964 as Bill continued his work with Rockefeller. From Mexico the family moved to Costa Rica, where Bill joined the Organization for Tropical Studies as their Executive Director, and where he continued his botany studies at the Tropical Science Center in San Jose.

Bill continued his teaching career when, in 1967, he joined the faculty of North Carolina State University, and the family moved from Costa Rica to Raleigh in 1969.  Later that year, the University of Washington recruited Bill as a professor in the College of Forest Resources, where he taught applied statistics and experimental design until his retirement in 1986.

Following retirement and Merilyn’s passing in 1995, Bill remained active in academics at the University of Washington, supporting Rose Ann Cattolico’s Marine Molecular Biology lab assisting graduate and post-graduate students. In addition, Bill created and funded the James and Marinelle Bethel Endowed Scholarship in honor of his friend and former CFR Dean, Dr. James Bethel.

He is survived by his brother Curtis (Virginia), his sister Lee Jordan (Paul), his three sons, six grandchildren and dear friends Rose Ann and Toby Cattolico.

He will be fondly remembered as a brilliant lifetime student and academic, a wonderful and caring teacher, a serious investor, a lover of all living things (especially plants), an expert in rhododendrons, and a most generous father, stepfather and grandfather.

In lieu of flowers, remembrances may be made to The University of Washington Foundation. To make a donation, please make checks payable to the UW Foundation, 3718 Brooklyn Avenue NE, Box 355055, Seattle, WA 98195-5055. Please indicate “Bethel” in the memo line. (To make a gift online, visit http://bit.ly/jbethel.)

There will be a memorial service in the Forest Club Room on January 10, 2013, at 1:30 p.m.

Students to Investigate Raccoon Ramblings

Thomas and Klein

Terence Thomas and Amy Klein

Whether you’ve ever been startled by some late-night shuffling in a trash can on campus, or a scratching in the bushes by the bus stop, there’s a good chance you’ve spied a pair of glowing eyes in the twilight. Nighttime, after all, invites a host of critters into the open, and raccoons are one of the more familiar sightings for after-hours visitors.

But even if bumping into raccoons seems inevitable, are these encounters totally random? What do we really know about the habits of these nocturnal nibblers? Where are they foraging, and what are they finding? More importantly, are there statistical correlations between their presence and certain features of the landscape?

This winter, three seniors in the Environmental Science and Resource Management (ESRM) program—Terence Thomas, Amy Klein and Ben Krabill—hope to shed some light on these questions.

Raccoon

Do you recognize this guy?

“You see raccoons all the time on campus,” says Thomas, “but we don’t know much about them—what they’re doing, and why they’re doing it.”

In search of some answers, they applied for and received a $250 Capstone Project Grant from the Director’s Office to help purchase camera equipment and other supplies for their senior project. They’re still fine-tuning their proposal, but the general plan is to use motion-sensor cameras to capture images of raccoons at night.

For 25 nights during the winter quarter, they’ll set up three cameras at different locations each night, from 9 p.m. to 8 a.m., providing three data samples every day.  As they sift through the collected images, says Klein, they’ll assess each camera site and evaluate factors such as nearby vegetation, distance to garbage cans or a water source.

They’re looking to identify a relationship between the physical environment on campus and raccoon distribution. “We’ll be very excited,” says Thomas, “if we collect strong statistical evidence that there are major features of the landscape that impact why raccoons are found in certain areas.”

Raccoons

Test runs with the cameras have already produced multiple sightings.

Their findings have potential to help in the future management of raccoons on campus, says Aaron Wirsing, a professor of wildlife ecology at the School of Environmental and Forest Sciences, who is advising the three students on the project. “By photographically documenting raccoons all across campus, their project should better our understanding of how this species uses urban environments, how certain human activities might attract raccoons, and how we might change our behavior to mitigate human-raccoon conflict.”

So, depending on the results of their investigation, the next time you stumble across a raccoon on campus, you might know why!

About the Grant

ESRM Senior Capstone students are encouraged to apply for Director’s Office financial support to defray costs incurred to complete their ESRM capstone. Funds are at three levels—$50, $150 and $250—and are awarded in Autumn, Winter or Spring quarters. Students must be registered for a capstone course (ESRM 494, 495 or 496) during the quarter of the award. The School Curriculum Committee will allocate the funds. Only one award is allocated per undergraduate student. The deadline is the second Friday of each quarter, and you will be notified of your award no later than the fourth week of the quarter. Learn how to apply for your own grant (login required).

Photo of Thomas and Klein © SEFS; raccoon images courtesy of Klein, Krabill and Thomas.

Undergrad Spotlight: Megan James

Megan James, left, and other members of the student TAPPI chapter during the November 28 papermaking project.

Dating back to the 2nd century AD during China’s Han Dynasty, and possibly earlier, the ancient art of papermaking helped transform the way people kept and transferred knowledge, records and language. Gallop ahead a couple thousand years, and that proud tradition is still alive today at SEFS—though with some modern upgrades.

Every fall, using the pilot paper machine in Bloedel 014, several students in the Bioresource Science and Engineering (BSE) program roll up their sleeves to produce a few rolls of handcrafted paper. Organized by the student chapter of the Technical Association of the Pulp and Paper Industry (TAPPI), the annual papermaking fundraiser helps cover student conference fees and support other events. “It’s a social event just as much as a learning event,” says Megan James, a senior BSE major and president of the student chapter of TAPPI. They also host barbecues and bowling events, as well as a resumé café to help students fine-tune their applications.

Papermaking

Students add plumosa ferns to the slurry to create some festive accents in the paper.

James first participated in the papermaking project as a freshman. Now, her favorite part is seeing everybody get a chance to get their hands dirty in the various stages of production, from stock preparation and the pulping of materials, to the final messy day—in goggles—using the paper machine. “It’s a great opportunity for students who are leaning about these things in the classroom to see everything take place, and actually participate,” says James. “Some students have never seen the machine run before.”

The paper itself—which is 100 percent non-wood—is composed of a giant reed (arundo domax), bagasse from sugarcane, and Washington-grown wheat straw. As a holiday flourish, students also added some plumosa ferns to the slurry during production, so you’ll find some festive accents in the paper. (The reeds are native to Egypt, but in this case the materials came from Mark Lewis’ lab; he’s the faculty advisor for TAPPI.)  This year’s crop was produced on November 28 and featured several styles and weights, including card stock, regular 8.5×11-inch copy paper, and greeting cards.

Paper Roll

One of several rolls of paper the students produced.

Papermaking is only a small part of the BSE experience for a handful of students, yet this kind of hands-on training has broader applications in the field. Many BSE graduates go on to work for chemical vendors or pulp and paper companies, and since the curriculum has expanded to include biofuels, students are finding additional opportunities with research positions or graduate school. “The great thing about this major is that it prepares students with a specific skill,” says James. “We’re kind of like specialized chemical engineers, equipped to go into pulp and paper and the emerging biofuels field.”

James is a perfect example of the market value of this skillset, as her papermaking career won’t be ending with graduation. Following a successful internship with Procter & Gamble last summer, James has received a job offer to continue on full-time starting this summer. She’ll be working as a process engineer at a brand-new plant in Bear River City, Utah. The plant, located about an hour and a half north of Salt Lake City, produces toilet paper and paper towels for brands such as Charmin® and Bounty®.

Congratulations, Megan, and the rest of the papermaking crew!

Photos by Dustin Cardenas/BSE

SEFS Seminar Series: Speakers & Topics Announced

Seminar SeriesStarting on January 9, 2013, Director Tom DeLuca will kick off the SEFS Seminar Series (SEFS 550F) for the Winter Quarter with an introduction and the first topic, “Nitrogen dynamics in boreal ecosystems.” Check out the rest of the schedule below, and mark your calendars today!

The seminars, held in Anderson 223 on Wednesdays from 4 to 5 p.m., are open to all faculty, staff and students. Each week, a reception will follow in the Forest Room from 5 to 6:30 p.m. (Graduate students can receive course credit for attending 9 of 10 seminars by registering for SEFS 550F, SLN 20703. Please email sefsadv@uw.edu if you have any trouble registering.)

Seminar Schedule

1/9/2013
Introduction to SEFS Graduate Seminar Series: Nitrogen dynamics in boreal ecosystems
Tom DeLuca

1/16/2013
The really hidden half of the hidden half: The role of deep soil in forest ecocystem processes
Robert Harrison

1/23/2013
Suffer the Buffers: Population Growth and Resource Degradation in Pre-Modern China
Stevan Harrell

1/30/2013
Cost-effective subwatershed targeting of agricultural conservation practices to address Gulf of Mexico hypoxia
Sergey Rabotyagov

2/6/2013
Environmental stewardship, social equity and corporate profitability: Siblings or strangers?
Dorothy Paun

2/13/2013
How can we improve the production of fuels and chemicals from lignocellulosic biomass?
Renata Bura

2/20/2013
Reintroducing the water cycle in urban areas
Sally Brown

2/27/2013 (Doubleheader)
3 p.m.: Managing for resilience: Sustaining mountaintop ecosystems in the presence of white pine blister rust
Anna Schoettle

4 p.m.:  Chaos in federal forest policy in PNW: The situation and a proposal
Jerry Franklin

3/6/2013
No seminar scheduled.

3/13/2013
Modeling greenup constraints in spatial forest planning
Sándor Toth

3/20/2013
TBD

Director’s Message, Autumn 2012

Late autumn is a special time of year. For many of us, the season stirs the reflection and anticipation mirrored in the natural cycles that surround us. Leaves once engaged in photosynthesis and the creation of wood mass are shriveling and falling to the earth. The autumn senescence of leaves and life represents the end of one journey and the beginning of another, resulting in the release of nutrients, energy and the building of humus—the rich, black organic matter of surface soils and the wisdom of living landscapes. In nature, loss yields opportunity.

Traveling the state and seeing the extent of beetle, budworm and fire-killed trees, coupled with our slow climb out of recession, I’m struck by the significant and mounting environmental, economic and societal challenges we’ll face in the coming years. However, I am given to hope when I see the enthusiasm in our students, and when I reflect on the depth and diversity of what is taught and learned in our school. Not only will our students understand the intrinsic value of wildfire-killed trees in a fire-maintained forest, they will also see opportunities where others see ecological catastrophes. The careful and sustainable management of beetle- and fire-killed trees, after all, has the potential to yield durable living structures as well as the generation of fuels or other products from residues.

If our goal is to create sustainable living systems that are reflective of natural ecosystems, a key part of this learning process is the integration of our students with those from across the College of the Environment and the broader university community. We live in a connected world, and few issues can be solved—or opportunities maximized—without a holistic approach to research and educational development. Sustainable land and resource management requires an understanding of ecosystems, management skills, a deep conservation ethic, critical thinking skills and an ability to apply systems thinking to complex problems. Our students are instructed and immersed in precisely those skills and qualities, and their careers will help raise our capacity to address these challenges. Loss yields opportunity. As we shed talented graduates, the world churns with fresh energy and determined minds.

So, here is to autumn and the collective knowledge generated during the last quarter—and here is to humus!

Thomas H. DeLuca
Director
School of Environmental and Forest Sciences

Welcome to Offshoots!

At the School of Environmental and Forest Sciences (SEFS), we are proud to provide cutting-edge knowledge and leadership for environmental and natural resource issues in the Pacific Northwest and around the world. Whether our faculty and students are pioneering sustainble forest products and management, or investigating the impacts of climate change on vulnerable species and ecosystems, our campus is constantly buzzing with ideas and innovation. Our fields of study are so diverse, in fact, that one of the biggest challenges is making sure everyone outside our halls–from prospective students and alumni to local residents, reporters and industry leaders–knows all of the incredible work going on here every day.

To help spread the word and highlight these great stories and the people behind them, we’re excited to introduce “Offshoots.”

The goal of this blog is to cover as much of the SEFS community as possible and open a window into our classrooms, labs and research centers. That means sharing photos and news stories about students and faculty in the field, staff in action, research projects and grants, new publications and class offernings, updates and profiles of alumni, links to related sites and posts, and all the images and scenes in between.

Working in partnership with the College of the Environment and the broader University of Washington community, our hope is to capture and represent everything in the SEFS spectrum. So as we cast our net in search of stories and photos, we encourage you to shoot us an email with any ideas or comments.

Thanks for reading, and we hope you stay connected!