SEFS Seminar Series: Week 8 Preview

SEFS Research Associate Van Kane studies ecology at large scales using airborne LiDAR (a portmanteau of “light” and “radar”). For this talk in Week 8 of the SEFS Seminar Series, he’ll describe his work looking at how fires are reshaping the structure of forests in Yosemite National Park with some unexpected results and implications for how forests should be restored!

What: “Landscape-scale effects of fire severity in Yosemite National Park from LiDAR and Landsat Data.”
When: Wednesday, May 22, 3:30-4:20 p.m.
Where: Anderson Hall, Room 223
Who’s Invited: It’s open to the public, and all faculty, staff and students are encouraged to attend!

Come out and support your colleagues, and then head over to the Forest Club Room afterward for a casual reception from 4:30-5:30 p.m.

Also, mark your calendars for the two remaining talks this spring!

LiDAR image © Van Kane.

Thesis Defense: Colton Miller!

Colton Miller

Miller and one of his Douglas-fir seedlings.

This Thursday, May 23, at 10 a.m. in Winkenwerder 107, Colton Miller will be defending his Master’s Thesis: “Reforesting Surface Coal-Mined Land Using Douglas-fir Seedlings in Washington State.”

Land productivity can be substantially degraded by surface mining, which introduces such problems as erosion, landslides, floods and loss of habitat. Previous research has focused on methods for improving tree seedling establishment on surface mines in the Appalachian region. Miller’s research investigated modified treatments for improving seedling performance in the Pacific Northwest. He also quantified the response of seedling foliar nutrients to post-planting fertilization.

While you let these thoughts take root, go ahead and mark your calendar and come out and join Miller’s committee chair Darlene Zabowski and other committee members Rob Harrison, Eric Turnblom and Dan Vogt!

Refreshments will be served!

Photo © Colton Miller.

Thesis Defense: Betsy Vance!

Hackelia venusta

Is there a better way to kick off a Wednesday morning than by listening to one of your fellow graduate students present her original research? No way!

So come out to Anderson 22 at 9 a.m. this Wednesday, May 22, to hear Betsy Vance defend her Master’s Thesis: “Investigating the ecological requirements of Hackelia venusta: An examination of the soils and their potential influence on the limited distribution of one of Washington State’s most endangered species.”

Hackelia venusta (“Showy Stickseed”) is an endemic, endangered species restricted to a single population located on the eastern footslopes of the Cascade Mountains in Washington State. Preservation of the current population, as well as the establishment of future populations, is contingent upon a better understanding of the plant’s specific ecological requirements. The purpose of this study was to characterize the physical and chemical properties of the soil and how these properties may be influencing the current extent of the population.

Professors Darlene Zabowski and Rob Harrison are co-chairs of Vance’s committee, and other members include Professors Sarah Reichard and Eric Turnblom.

She’ll have coffee, juice and some sort of food/snack on hand, so come kick-start your day with some caffeine and a healthy dose of intellectual stimulation!

Photo of Hackelia venusta © Betsy Vance.

Mobile Planetarium Draws Stargazers to ONRC

On Saturday, May 4, the Olympic Natural Resources Center (ONRC) hosted an astronomy program for the local community, including an afternoon session for families and younger children, and then an evening session for youth and adults.

The main attraction was a mobile planetarium, which looked like a big black igloo from the outside. Three doctoral students from the University of Washington’s Astronomy Department brought the instrument out to the ONRC campus to offer an immersive experience to participants, who were able to view galaxies billions of light years from Earth.

Mobile Planetarium

Members of the mobile planetarium team at the UW Astronomy Department. Doctoral student Phil Rosenfield, standing back left, was one of the three graduate students who came to ONRC for the event.

About 175 people attended the program throughout the day, and the afternoon session included five rotations in the planetarium. While one group was in the planetarium, another group walked a graphical representation of the solar system on the sidewalk outside the administration building, giving folks a tangible sense of the distances between planets.

Later, the evening program kicked off with a one-hour presentation about current thinking in astronomy and a capsule look at cutting-edge research at UW. The doctoral students offered an opportunity for each person to be a citizen scientist and provide help with sorting through the images coming from the Hubble Space Telescope they use in their research. Planetarium showings and solar system walks followed until dark. Then the students set up a high-grade telescope that allowed folks to view planets, including Saturn, up close and personal.

“The enthusiasm of the three students was infectious and inspired people to think very differently and more expansively as they gazed at the heavens,” says Ellen Matheny, education and outreach director for ONRC.

Astronomy Presentation

One of the evening astronomy presentations.

This month is particularly rich with chances to view other planets, and Jupiter, Venus and Mercury will all be visible at various times. In fact, on May 26, those three planets will form a compact cluster in the sky, all visible through binoculars or a telescope about a half-hour after sunset—so mark your calendars for a planetary bonanza!

Funding for the event was provided by the Rosmond Forestry Education Fund, an endowment established at ONRC to provide quality programs on forestry and other scientific topics for the regional community. The astronomy students enjoyed the program so much they said they’d like to organize a similar event next spring. Community members seemed equally impressed.

“Many people approached me during the day with thanks to ONRC for putting this program together,” says Matheny. “The most common comment was, ‘Let’s have more of these events!’”

Photo of mobile planetarium © Mary Levin; photo of astronomy presentation © Ellen Matheny.

SEFS Recognition Event: Nominees and Award Winners!

SEFS Recognition EventIn case you weren’t able to join us this past Tuesday for the annual SEFS Recognition Event, we honored a number of students, staff and faculty for their tremendous contributions to the life and success of our school.

Below are the award categories, nominees and overall winners (in case you haven’t had a chance to give them a hearty pat on the back yet):

Staff Nominees
Academic and Student Services Team (Amanda Davis and Michelle Trudeau)
David Campbell
Carrie Cone
Amanda Davis
Laura Davis
Sarah Heller
Lynne Hendrix
Fred Hoyt
IT Team (Marc Morrison, Brad Coston, Shane Krause)
Zareen Khan
Joy Louie
Terri McCauley
Sally Morgan
Marc Morrison
Lisa Nordlund
Megan O’Shea
Mike Roberts
Theresa Santman
Pat Saunders
Nevada Smith
Karl Wirsing
David Zuckerman

Exemplary Administrative PerformanceHonorees:
Exemplary Research Performance: Zareen Khan
Exemplary Outreach Performance: David Zuckerman
Exemplary Administrative Performance: Fred Hoyt
Exemplary Research Funding Performance: Luke Rogers*

Student Nominees

Jack DeLap
Eric Delvin
Shyam Kandel
Miku Lenintine
Colton Miller
Hyungmin (Tony) Rho
Rob Schmitt
Kaitlyn Schwindt
Eric Snoozy
Linda Uyeda
Mu-Ning Wang 

Distinguished RA ServiceHonorees:
Distinguished RA Service: Eric Delvin
Distinguished TA Service:
Rob Schmitt and Mu-Ning Wang
Outstanding Community Participation: Kaitlyn Schwindt
Richard Taber Wildlife Award:
Bethany M. Drahota*
John A. Wott Fellowship: Chris Watson*
Charles L. Pack Essay Competition Winner: Matthew Grund*

Faculty Awards*
Exemplary Research Funding Performance
□ Direct Expenditures: Rick Gustafson and Ernesto Alvarado
□ Indirect Cost Recovery: Josh Lawler and Ivan Eastin
Exemplary Graduate Student Funding Support
□  Rick Gustafson and Ernesto Alvarado
Exemplary Student Enrollment: Rob Harrison
Exemplary Teaching: Jerry Franklin and Aaron Wirsing
Exemplary Service to the School and University: Steve West

Director’s Awards
Renata Bura, Sharon Doty, Greg Ettl and David Ford

Congratulations to all of you!

* Award not determined by nomination.

Graphics © SEFS.

UW-REN to Host Volunteer Work Party at Ravenna Park

UW-REN Work Party

The restoration site in Ravenna Park.

Coming up this Saturday, May 18, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., the UW Restoration Ecology Network (UW-REN) is organizing a restoration project at Ravenna Park in Seattle. They’re still recruiting volunteers for the work party, so if you’re in the mood for some romping in the mud—with positive ecological results—then email Amy Vondette today!

Depending on how many volunteers they can scrounge up, you’ll likely be removing invasive species, mostly Himalayan blackberry, but also some Reed canary grass and creeping buttercup, from previous work sites in Ravenna Park.

The site is by Ravenna Creek and is muddy in a lot of places, so you’ll want to wear rubber or waterproof boots if you have them. UW-REN will provide gloves and tools, as well as snacks, coffee and juice. If you need more detailed directions to the site from the parking lot (5520 Ravenna Ave NE, 98105), contact Vondette anytime before Saturday.

So sign up to make a splash at Ravenna Park on Saturday!

UW Forest Club Gets Colorful!

Forest Club Coloring BookThis spring, several UW Forest Club members starting putting together the first few pages of a coloring book about forest trees and plants. They began the project as part of an Earth Day nature walk, and some of the featured species so far include a sequoia, western red cedar, Douglas-fir and a sword fern.

The idea came about as a way to get kids excited and educated about forests, so the drawings also include some fun facts, including the scientific name and other identification details (like the “sinewy bark” and “droopy, scale-like leaves” of a western red cedar.) And now that the Forest Club has a few sketches laid out, they’re thinking it would be fun to complete a full book.

“We have a mission to be passionate about nature and help our planet,” says Forest Club President Kaitlyn Schwindt, “and it’s important for us to pass that down to the next generation. A coloring book is simple, but it could be fun for kids to get some forest exposure.”


New logo design for SEFS pint glasses and sweatshirts.

Eventually, the Forest Club hopes to have the book for sale alongside other SEFS garb and merchandise. But to help fill out the remaining pages and complete the project, they’re soliciting sketches and ideas from all interested faculty, staff and students. Send them an email if you’d like to pitch an idea or drawing!

The coloring book isn’t the only crafts project keeping the Forest Club busy. They also recently designed a new SEFS logo for pint classes and hoodies, so keep an eye out for the fresh look!

Coloring Book Page and Logo © UW Forest Club.

Dissertation Defense: Rachel Mitchell!

Rachel Mitchell

Rachel Mitchell at an experimental grassland at Glacial Heritage Preserve, Wash.

Thesis season is in high gear, and we have another great dissertation defense coming up this Monday, May 13, with Rachel Mitchell: “The Extent, Drivers and Consequences of Intraspecific Variation in Plant Functional Traits.”

Although plant functional traits are increasingly used to explore and understand plant ecology, most studies assume that intraspecific variation in functional traits is negligible. Recent research, however, indicates that this is not the case, and that intraspecific trait variation may play an important role in plant communities and ecosystem function. Mitchell’s defense focuses on the extent, drivers and consequences of intraspecific trait variation in grassland species and communities.

Mitchell’s committee chair is Professor Jon Bakker, and her other committee members include SEFS Professors Sarah Reichard and Soo-Hyung Kim, along with Janneke Hille Ris Lambers, Martha Groom and Regina Rochefort.

Mark your calendars and clear some space to come see Mitchell’s talk this coming Monday morning at 9 a.m. in Anderson 22!

Photo © Rachel Mitchell.

SEFS Seminar Series: Week 6 Preview!

What is it that makes Pacific silver fir and western hemlock shade-tolerant trees? And how is it that they can both out-compete Douglas-fir in the ‘twilight’ of the Olympic Peninsula? In Week 6 of the SEFS Seminar Series this Wednesday, Professor David Ford will describe the particular properties of photosynthesis of these species and discuss some general implications for how we measure and model photosynthesis.

So whether you’re on Team Edward or Team Jacob, one thing will be perfectly clear: There’s more competition on the Olympic Peninsula than just between werewolves and vampires!

What: “The dynamics of photosynthesis and its significance for modeling plant growth.”
When: Wednesday, May 8, 3:30-4:20 p.m.
Where: Anderson Hall, Room 223
Who’s Invited: It’s open to the public, and all faculty, staff and students are encouraged to attend!

Come out and support your colleagues, and then head over to the Forest Club Room afterward for a casual reception from 4:30-5:30 p.m.

Also, mark your calendars for the remaining talks this spring!

Vampire clipart courtesy of David Ford.

Young Scientist Meets Professor John Marzluff

This past Tuesday, April 30, Professor John Marzluff entertained a special visitor: 10-year-old Olivia Rataezyk of Issaquah, Wash., a big admirer of his work with corvids.

Olivia and Professor Marzluff

Professor Marzluff points out a crow’s nest to Olivia outside of Anderson Hall.

Olivia had come to campus with her mom to learn more about Marzluff’s research, and also to share some of her own. In preparation for her visit, the young scientist came armed with a notebook of questions and a copy of In the Company of Crows and Ravens, written by Professor Marzluff and Tony Angell. Olivia then kept Marzluff on his heels with a series of challenging inquiries—including if crows ever laugh or deliberately try to humor their friends, or whether crows ever intentionally kill one of their own.

She also more than impressed the professor with some of her own research. One of Olivia’s projects includes color-coding different sizes of peanuts to see whether crows in her backyard will learn to trust the color system and favor one particular color, which she assigned to the largest peanuts. Results are still pending, but her methodology appeared to pass muster with Marzluff.

After exploring Marzluff’s lab—where Olivia got to see his famous crow masks and learn how to live-trap the birds—and then a quick tour outside of the herons nesting across from Anderson Hall, Marzluff bid farewell to a beaming Olivia by signing her book and posing for a photo with the aspiring wildlife biologist. She then headed home with a brand-new School of Environmental and Forest Sciences (SEFS) sweatshirt.

We sure hope to see Olivia again soon—eventually, perhaps, as a SEFS student!

Olivia and Professor Marzluff
Marzluff and Olivia, clutching her freshly autographed book, at the end of her visit.

Photos © Karl Wirsing/SEFS.