Introducing Kristin Buckley, Philanthropy Officer

Kristin Buckley

Kristin Buckley grew up on Orcas Island and graduated from UW’s Jackson School of International Studies.

This past May, the College of the Environment welcomed Kristin Buckley as a new philanthropy officer to work in support of the School of Environmental and Forest Sciences (SEFS) as well as other units in the college. After 16 years in a similar role with the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, Buckley brings a strong background in fundraising for scientific research.

The University of Washington (UW) will be familiar territory for Buckley, who grew up on Orcas Island and graduated from the Jackson School of International Studies. Her husband is also a UW alumnus who studied at the School of Aquatic and Fishery Sciences and now works as a research scientist.

Buckley has another personal connection that made her especially excited to work with SEFS: She and her husband have a family-owned forest on Natapoc Mountain in eastern Washington. They initially purchased it for recreational purposes, she says, but they’ve since taken classes to learn more about how to manage the land for the health of the forest. As time permits, she hopes to take advantage of the many seminars and learning opportunities that abound throughout the SEFS and college community.

Kristin Buckley

Buckley and her husband have a small family-owned forest on Natapoc Mountain in eastern Washington.

A little more than a month on the job, Buckley says she’s still “drinking from the fire hose of new information,” but that’s part of what motivates her about the role. “I’m really enjoying learning about all the research happening here,” she says. “I loved going to the graduations and seeing the enthusiasm of the students, and how SEFS has given them a foundation to go forward.”

As she works to grow that foundation, Buckley will be working with people who wish to support programs involving SEFS faculty and students. Her experience with the language and vocabulary of research will be a big asset. “One of the great things [about this position] is the opportunity to learn about the science and to then describe it for people who want to support the work,” she says.

Buckley remembers walking past Anderson Hall’s beautiful landscaping as a student, and as a long-time Seattle resident she’s spent many hours at the Washington Park Arboretum. Now, of course, her relationship to these facilities is a little deeper, and she can’t wait to work on behalf of the school and college. “Everybody has been so warm and welcoming,” she says. “I am fortunate to have joined such a smart, dynamic and dedicated group.”

She’ll be stationed at 3718 Brooklyn Ave. NE and can be reached at buckleyk@uw.edu. Please join us in welcoming Kristin to our community!

Photos © Kristin Buckley.

Thesis Defense: Katrina Mendrey!

Katrina Mendrey

Mendrey canoeing on Lake Sawyer with her dog Jude.

That dullness you’re experiencing—that listless and rudderless feeling at the start of Summer Quarter—has an easy diagnosis: thesis withdrawal.

Lucky for you there’s an easy remedy coming up at 10 a.m. this Monday, July 1, when Katrina Mendrey will be defending her Master’s Thesis in Anderson 22!

“Metal Response of Douglas-fir: A Comparison of Metal Uptake and Phytochelatin Production in Trees Planted in Soil Amended with Biosolids or Metal Salts”

Mendrey’s research explores the relationship between metal uptake in needles of Douglas-fir trees and phytochelatin production to determine if phytochelatin measures are an accurate indicator of metal stress in forest ecosystems. In addition, metal response in trees planted with similar concentrations of metals in the form of biosolids or metal salts are also compared.

If you’re around campus, join us in Anderson 22 at 10 a.m.!

Photo © Katrina Mendrey.

Alumni Spotlight: Christina Galitsky

Christina Galitsky

After nearly a decade as an engineer, Galitsky changed course and headed to graduate school to study wildlife ecology at SEFS.

“Ecology is so much harder than engineering, despite what the majority of the population might think,” says Christina Galitsky, who recently earned a Master of Science from the School of Environmental and Forest Sciences (SEFS). She would know: After nearly a decade as an engineer, Galitsky moved to Seattle in 2009 to begin graduate study in wildlife ecology—trading factories for field work, and lab goggles for binoculars.

What prompted this turnabout was many years in the making, and it started with a simple desire to feel more energized by her work.

Originally from Allentown, Pa., Galitsky moved to California in 1996 to attend graduate school at Berkeley. She had always excelled at math and science and felt it was a natural fit to study chemical engineering. After school, she spent the next nine years as a full-time engineer, first with an environmental consulting firm in Oakland and then with Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.

Her work involved solving basic engineering problems for some of the poorest people in the world. No question, she says, the projects were immensely important and rewarding. Yet she got to a point where she’d be in a meeting and watch her colleagues be giddy and raving about a tiny engineering tweak, like getting a minute increase in efficiency, and she realized she wanted to share that same pulse of excitement with her job someday—and it wasn’t going to happen as an engineer.

Christina Galitsky

In her free time, Galitsky is an accomplished rock climber, mountaineer, snowboarder and lover of all things outdoors.

Galitsky decided to take some time off work to figure out her next move. She spent a summer interning with the U.S. Geological Survey on the Olympic Peninsula and researched graduate programs and professors studying wildlife biology, conservation and related areas.

She soon discovered SEFS and was particularly attracted to the work Professor Josh Lawler was doing with climate change and landscape ecology. She wanted to be involved in research that would directly influence policy or on-the-ground management, and when she met Lawler and visited campus, she felt a strong connection. “At first it was his research, and then our conversations,” she says. “I really liked his lab and the way he has his students weigh in on potential next students, which I think is really unique and special. Josh was clearly passionate about what he does and wanted to make a difference in the world. I liked all of those things about him.”

After so many years in the workforce, Galitsky wasn’t eager to take out new student loans and debt, so she was relieved to find that Lawler had funding for another Master’s student. Plus, he was open to her doing field work, which became the heart of her graduate program.

For her thesis, “Effects of Local Vegetation and Landscape Patterns on Avian Biodiversity in the Threatened Oak Habitat of the Willamette Valley, Ore.,” she spent several field seasons meticulously documenting birds, learning to recognize species by sight and sound, patiently listening and watching for long hours.

Christina Galitsky

Galitsky out birding.

“I found field work really hard, frustrating and amazing, all at the same time, every day,” she says. “Getting to see the sunrise every day and hear the birds in the morning was great. But having to get up at 3 a.m., not so good.”

The stress of field work, too, was different from her previous office deadlines. If things don’t go right in a field season—if your research doesn’t come together, or you need to adjust your methods—you’re in school for another year. “There’s more urgency to figure out how to make it right,” she says.

Galitsky persevered, of course, and she credits her committee, which included SEFS Professors John Marzluff and Aaron Wirsing, for their critiques and encouragement in building her confidence as a researcher. Above all, she’s grateful for Lawler’s support as her advisor. “Working with Josh was the highlight for me,” she says. “He just blew me away with how understanding, helpful and encouraging he was. He always seemed to have time for me, and he really helped me through grad school, probably more than he knows.”

Now, her transition from engineer to ecologist is complete: As of May 1, 2013, Galitsky is the program coordinator for Tree Kangaroo Conservation at Woodland Park Zoo in Seattle.

Not quite two months into her new gig, she says she feels privileged to have found a home at the intersection of so many of her interests. “The tree kangaroo program has both a wildlife and a people component, which was exactly what I wanted,” she says. “I think that’s why this project hits home to me. It’s been really fun working in a place where everyone has the same passions about animals and conservation.”

Tree Kangaroo

This photo, taken by Bruce Beehler, captures an incontrovertible truth about tree kangaroos: their incredible stuffed-animal cuteness.

Tree kangaroos are found only in one small region of Papua New Guinea, and Galitsky hopes she’ll get a chance to travel there in the next year or two with her boss, Dr. Lisa Dabek. Her current position, though, is not as a field research biologist, and she’s been focusing on fundraising, program management and outreach. “I’m probably most excited about the outreach,” she says. “We scientists aren’t always the best communicators, and I enjoy the challenge of being the link between scientific research and the public.”

As she settles into her new role, Galitsky has no regrets about her past career. Her new work, she says, isn’t more worthwhile; it’s just more her. Unlike her years spent in cement plants or steel factories, where she felt invested if not inspired, these days she finally has her passions and profession in tune. How can she tell? This time, the line between work and play is awfully fuzzy.

“I still love going out and watching birds and trying to identify them, probably to the dismay of my boyfriend and everyone around me,” says Galitsky. “I can’t shut it off!”

Photos of Christina Galitsky © Matt Gerhart; photo of tree kangaroo © Bruce Beehler.

Tree Kangaroo (Photo by Bruce Beehler)

2013 SEFS Graduation Slideshow!

In case you missed the SEFS Graduation fun last Friday, we had a packed ceremony followed by a terrific reception in the Anderson Hall courtyard–where beaming families and friends enjoyed perfect sunshine and enough cupcakes to put their kids in orbit for a week!

We put together a brief slideshow to capture some of the energy, so take a look at the final send-off for our latest graduating class!

Photos © Karl Wirsing/SEFS.

Thesis Defense: Katherine Wyatt!

Katherine WyattWhat better way to end the academic year and kick off the graduation celebrations than with one more thesis defense!

You are invited to join Katherine Wyatt as she defends her research, “Riparian Vegetation Structure and Composition in the Fire-Dependent Ecosystem of Eastern Washington,” on Thursday, June 13, at 11 a.m. in Bloedel 292.

Centered in the fire-dependent ecosystem of Eastern Washington, this study explores patterns of riparian vegetation structure and composition as well as the relative role of natural and anthropogenic processes. Interior Columbia Basin Ecosystem Management Project photo-interpreted resource aerial photos, Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and Permutational Multivariate Analysis of Variance (PERMANOVA) were used to compare riparian to upland areas, summarize the range of vegetation conditions present in the second half of the 20th century, and correlate vegetation with processes on the landscape. The spatial extent of the study was the Tapash Sustainable Forest Collaborative, offering multiple agencies the local best science needed for effective management. This field of work contributes not only to our understanding of a historically fire-dependent ecosystem, but also to the role of riparian areas within them.

Wyatt’s committee chair is Professor Ernesto Alvarado, and her other members are David Peterson and Richard Harrod.

Photo © Katherine Wyatt.

SEFS Graduation Speaker: Dean Thomas Maness

For the SEFS graduation celebration this Friday, June 14, we are extremely pleased to welcome Professor Thomas Maness, Dean of the College of Forestry at Oregon State University, as the keynote speaker. A SEFS alumnus, Maness is a leading voice in forestry research and education, and he brings an incredible wealth of professional and academic experience from across the United States and Canada.

Dean Thomas Maness

Thomas Maness

We caught up with Dean Maness this week as he prepares to address the latest class of SEFS graduates. Reflecting on his time as a doctoral student at UW in the 1980s, he spoke of the promising career landscape today’s students can find in the forestry and natural sciences fields.

“Right now there’s a huge opportunity for graduates because so many people who had started their careers in the 1970s and ‘80s are retiring now,” says Maness. “I remember when I graduated, the problem was that the pipeline was full and it was difficult to get promoted. That’s not true now. You see it everywhere, in land management and public agencies or private companies, it’s all the same—there are a lot of opportunities for promotion and career advancement.”

One of the keys to success as a new applicant or employee, he says, will be your approach to work. “I think attitude is everything. Graduates are coming out and they now know the language, but they have to learn the culture. They have to work hard, be responsible and want to learn. That’s what companies are looking for: People who can socialize into their organizations really quickly and be decision-makers.”

Just as important in this profession is being able to present yourself and your ideas, he says. “I think communication is key. To survive in natural resources, you have to have really good communication skills. It doesn’t matter if you’re an economist or an ecologist, you’ve got to be able to connect with people.”

We won’t scoop his talk any further, and we look forward to hearing more on Friday!

The SEFS Graduation Celebration will run from 2 to 3:30 p.m. in Kane Hall 120. A reception will directly follow in the Anderson Hall courtyard.

About the Speaker
Maness, who lives in Corvallis, Ore., with his wife Nicole, earned his Bachelor’s degree in forest management from West Virginia University in 1979, and then a Master’s in forest operations at Virginia Tech in 1981. He then headed west to work for Weyerhaeuser Company as a forest engineer in the Klamath Falls region of Oregon. His responsibilities ranged from developing forest-planning models, to conducting financial analyses for large-scale capital projects, to designing and installing manufacturing optimization systems for West Coast sawmills.

From Weyerhaeuser, Maness returned to school and earned his doctorate in forest economics from the College of Forest Resources at UW (now SEFS). He then joined the Faculty of Forestry at the University of British Columbia, where he served in various capacities for 20 years.

His career highlights are many, including founding the Canadian National Centre of Excellence in Advanced Wood Processing, as well as the BC Forum on Forest Economics and Policy. He led an effort to design and implement a completely new undergraduate program at UBC, which won the Yves Landry Foundation Award for the most innovative Canadian university-level manufacturing technology program in 2002. Later, in 2008, Maness served as senior policy analyst with the U.S. Forest Service in Washington, D.C., researching and writing on climate mitigation and wood energy policy. He joined OSU’s College of Forestry in 2009 and in 2012 became dean of the College of Forestry and director of the Oregon Forest Research Laboratory.

Maness’ research interests include developing innovative forest policies and practices to balance the production of traditional forest products with society’s expanding need for ecosystem services, energy and climate mitigation. He has also developed and taught courses in Forest & Conservation Economics, Sustainable Forest Management and Quality Management.

Photo of Dean Maness © Oregon State College of Forestry

Thesis Defense: Rosemary Baker!

At 9:30 a.m. tomorrow on Tuesday, June 11, Rosemary Baker will be presenting her Master of Environmental Horticulture research in the Douglass Classroom at the Center for Urban Horticulture (CUH): “Elwha Revegetation Project: 2012 Lake Aldwell Seeding Trials.”

Rosemary Baker

Lake Aldwell/Elwha River, 2012

Landmark restoration of the Elwha River by the Olympic National Park and Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe began in 2011 and involves planting native woody trees, shrubs, grasses and forbs throughout two recently exposed reservoirs. Revegetating by direct seed application supplements these efforts and is intended to speed ecosystem processes by quickly adding organic matter and building soils on fine and coarse glacial sediments. Revegetation efforts are expected to reduce sediment erosion on valley walls and terraces and assist in the natural succession process within the context of restoring relatively pristine riparian habitat for the return of salmonids following a 100-year absence from the Elwha River.

Practical seeding methods and several species mixes were tested on the shoreline of former Lake Aldwell in 2012 and monitored for successful germination, initial growth and resulting stand densities through the summer drought period. Colonization by priority weeds and native tree and shrub recruitment was also assessed.

So make your way to CUH to hear Baker talk about her work during the past two years and its context within the restoration of the Elwha River. All are welcome!

Image © Rosemary Baker.

UW Students Press for Divestment

A group of University of Washington (UW) students—led by the College Greens and the Student Association for Green Environments (SAGE)—is calling on the University to divest its endowment from fossil fuels and take concrete action against climate change.

Divest UWTwo students leading the charge of the “Divest UW” campaign are Sarra Tekola from the School of Environmental and Forest Sciences and Robert Marsh from the Program on the Environment. They and other supporters are running a petition and gathering further backing, on top of their endorsement from the ASUW Student Senate, in the run-up to a presentation before the UW Board of Regents on Thursday, June 13, at 12:30 p.m., and a simultaneous rally on the HUB lawn. Regents meetings are open to the public, and organizers are hoping to pack the room to exercise their political voice as students in favor of divestment.

What is divestment? Championed by Bill McKibben and 350.org on the national scale, the divestment movement seeks to effect broad social change by shifting investment away from fossil fuel companies and other direct drivers of climate change. McKibben is widely known for his “Do the Math” tour, during which he traveled the country stressing that if we’re going to keep global temperatures rising less than 2°C, then we can only allow about 565 gigatons more CO2 into the atmosphere in the next four decades or so before reaching a tipping point, after which life as we know it will be fundamentally altered. However, says Tekola, the amount of carbon contained in the proven coal, oil and gas reserves of national oil companies and private corporations is about five times higher than that—roughly 2,796 gigatons—and burning all of it would have disastrous results.

The Divest UW campaign, in turn, is focusing on the UW’s reputation for environmental sustainability and stewardship—and how taking a stand on divestment would make a huge statement about the importance of investing in a cleaner energy future right now.

It’s true, says Tekola, that the UW’s direct investment in fossil fuel companies—which is variable, but right now represents about $10 million of a total $2.2 billion endowment—won’t make a big individual impact on the profitability of these companies. But hurting stock prices isn’t the immediate goal. The deeper aim, she says, is to revoke their social license and to put public pressure on these industries. And the only way to combat the financial and political leverage these companies hold is with a mass movement, and with universities at the forefront of social change. Seven other colleges have already divested, and another 300 other campuses have campaigns going on just like Divest UW, so the momentum is growing. On top of that, Tekola says that Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn has pledged to divest the city’s general fund from fossil fuels.

Divest UWTekola and Marsh cite multiple studies that divestment won’t harm the UW’s endowment or endanger its financial viability. To the contrary, they argue that divestment will put UW on safer long-term financial ground. The Divest UW campaign is designed to hedge against increased risk and potential profit losses, and to preserve the health of the endowment for future generations of students.

A similar divestment tactic, says Tekola,  was effective with the tobacco industry, which had stymied health science, label laws and taxes through incredible congressional influence until scientists and universities joined forces to sound the alarm of the dangers of cigarettes.

Now, the Divest UW campaign is hoping to overcome the assault against climate change science. Their message is clear: There is no possible way fossil fuel industries can continue business as usual while preserving a stable climate, and investing in a business-as-usual scenario presents incredible financial, social and ethical risks to the UW endowment.

“Climate change isn’t something that only affects polar bears,” says Tekola. “It will submerge Harbor Island and the shores of West Seattle and South Park, and we are already seeing the impacts. Last year the Atlantic Ocean was in the subways of New York City, on top of it being one of the hottest years on records, there is no denying climate change is here. Continued support for the use and investment in fossil fuels is signing a blank check for the destruction of our home. There are many better alternatives, but first we have to take a stand. Supporting divestment is about protecting our future.”

Divest UW is an entirely student-led initiative, and you can find more information, sources for statistics and information, and studies regarding the impact of divestment on an endowment financially on the group’s Facebook page or website.

Dissertation Defense: Camila Tejo Haristoy!

Camila Haristoy

Camila Haristoy

Want to see the forest from a different perspective? Then strap in for some high-flying research as Camila Haristoy defends her dissertation in the Forest Club Room this Monday, June 10, at 10 a.m.!

“Above and Below the Canopy of Bigleaf Maple (Acer macrophyllum): Canopy Soils, Litterfall and Decomposition in an Old-Growth Temperate Rainforest”

Epiphytes play critical functional roles in ecosystems by capturing rain, transforming nutrients and providing habitat for canopy-dwelling organisms that are often habitat specialists. Few studies have examined the transfer of epiphytes from the canopy to the forest floor, or how decomposition differs between the canopy and forest floor environment in coastal temperate forest ecosystems.

In her study, Haristoy examined canopy soils, epiphytic litterfall and decomposition of materials associated with bigleaf maple (Acer macrophyllum) in an old-growth temperate forest at the Queets River watershed, Olympic National Park. An enhanced understanding of the movement of epiphytes can provide ecological insights into processes and dynamics of these complex forest ecosystems, and provide conservation strategies for managers.

Haristoy’s committee is co-chaired by Professor Darlene Zabowski and Nalini Nadkarni, and other members include SEFS Professors Bob Edmonds and Jerry Franklin, along with Marcia Ciol.

Camila Haristoy

Images © Camila Haristoy.

SEFS Seminar Series: Week 10 Preview!

Like the last bite of birthday cake, or the day after Christmas, you knew the good times had to end. Beg and plead as you might, the SEFS Seminar Series for the Spring Quarter could not go on forever. But we do have one last hurrah, one final romp through the fields of discovery, this Wednesday, June 5, at 3:30 p.m., when Michelle Trudeau takes the stage!

Trudeau, director of Student and Academic Services, will be exploring the long-term patterns and trajectory of SEFS enrollment. Are we on a rollercoaster or climbing a mountain? Why do enrollment figures change so much, especially with our undergraduate numbers? How and why have our programs evolved into what we offer today, and how do these changes relate to our enrollment? For these answers and many more, come join Trudeau and get a glimpse of where we stand in comparison to our peer institutions around the nation.

What: “SEFS Student Enrollment: Past, Future and National Trends”
When: Wednesday, June 5, 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 join your colleagues, and then head over to the Forest Club Room afterward for a casual reception from 4:30-5:30 p.m.

Undergraduate Enrollment Report

Undergraduate Enrollment Report, 1989 to present