SEFS Director Search Launches!

We are very pleased to announce that our search for a permanent director to replace Tom DeLuca is officially underway. The official posting is available online and below, and we encourage you to help us spread the word as widely as possible!

Position Details
The School of Environmental and Forest Sciences (SEFS) at the University of Washington (UW) seeks an innovative leader in the natural and/or human dimensions of environmental science and forest resources who, in the role of Director, will inspire faculty and students and enhance the School’s reputation and position as an international leader in learning, discovery and engagement. SEFS is a part of the UW’s College of the Environment, and our graduate and undergraduate programs are ranked among the very top environmental and forest science schools in the country.

The mission of SEFS is to generate and disseminate knowledge for the stewardship of natural and managed environments and the sustainable use of their products and services. Our students and faculty study everything from environmental restoration to wildlife science and conservation, sustainable forest management and silviculture to forest ecology and economics, human dimensions of natural resource management and planning to the production of biofuels and bioproducts, wildfires and disturbance ecology to hydrology and plant microbiology, and so much more. From urban to wilderness areas, forests to wetlands, deep soil to tree canopies, natural to social sciences, labs to field sites, our research explores ecosystems from every angle—and with partners from nonprofit, industry, government and tribal communities.

Our curriculum is fundamentally interdisciplinary with a heavy emphasis on field-based, hands-on learning supported by the School’s field sites and centers, including the Union Bay Natural Area, Pack Forest, the Olympic Natural Resources Center and the UW Botanic Gardens. The Director will play a vital role in guiding the school’s academic growth and developing new initiatives, providing school-level leadership and management of its programs, centers and research grants, allocating its revenues in a manner that supports its mission, and enhancing its sizable and growing endowment. The Director also sits on the Natural Resources Board of Washington State, which oversees the management of state lands.

The College of the Environment and SEFS are dedicated to creating a climate of engagement, actively enlarging the boundaries of diversity, and emphasizing the crucial roles that under-represented groups play in experiencing, documenting, understanding and solving environmental challenges. All applicants must, therefore, have a demonstrated willingness to work collaboratively with faculty from a wide range of disciplines, cultures and academic backgrounds; and to recruit, advise and teach a student body that is diverse with respect to socio-economic status, culture and career path.

Job qualifications include a Ph.D. or foreign equivalent in any field of natural resources or environmental science, human dimensions of the environment, conservation or management; substantial research, teaching and mentoring, as well as administrative and team leadership experience; and the ability to work productively with a variety of organizations and private donors. All UW faculty engage in teaching, research and service. The Director position is at the Professor level (0101), so the appointed person must qualify for the rank of Professor in SEFS. This is a tenured, 9-month, full-time (100% FTE), indefinite position.

Application Instructions
Applicants should submit a statement of interest and vision for the department addressing the qualifications listed above, a current CV, and the names and contact information of five references. These materials should be assembled into a single PDF document and emailed to

Questions about this position can be directed to Individuals requesting disability accommodation in the application process should contact SEFS at or 206-543-2730 for assistance. Review of applications will begin on March 15, 2017. and continue until the position is filled.

University of Washington is an affirmative action and equal opportunity employer. All qualified applicants will receive consideration for employment without regard to race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, national origin, age, protected veteran or disabled status, or genetic information.

SEFS to Host Wood Identification Workshop

Next week, the Center for International Trade in Forest Products at SEFS—in partnership with the World Resources Institute’s Forest Legality Initiative, World Wildlife Fund and the U.S. Forest Service International Programs—will be hosting a two-day workshop, “Development and Scaling of Innovative Technologies for Wood Identification.” Held in the Forest Club Room on February 28 and March 1, the workshop will feature short thematic presentations, as well as breakout groups centered on the different technologies, in order to dive deeper into the methodologies and challenges of the taxonomic and provenance (origin) identification of wood and forest products.

The remains of illegally harvested trees in Ghana.

Workshop Context
In many parts of the world, illegal logging continues to drive deforestation and poses a significant threat to biodiversity, the livelihoods of forest-dependent communities and the rule of law. As part of an international effort to combat illegal logging, the U.S. Lacey Act was amended in 2008 to require that an importer must declare the species and origin of the forest product they are importing. Since then, government and academic labs have been working to develop methods to identify the species and origin of timber and wood-based products. However, the ability to scale these methods and make them available to enforcement officials and the private sector has yet to materialize.

One of the problems for enforcement agents tasked with Lacey compliance is an inability to quickly and accurately verify the information in customs declarations. For all but the most experienced wood scientists, timber and forest products are nearly impossible to identify to species. Additionally, there is little to aid an agent in verifying a timber or wood product’s origin.

This workshop will convene academic, government and enforcement sector entities to help map out the biggest challenges, and set up partnerships and collaborations to resolve these challenges in the United States. Participants from SEFS include Professors Ivan Eastin and Indroneil Ganguly, Research Associates Daisuke Sasatani and Francesca Pierobon, and alumnus John Simeone. Other core participants will include scientists who have built methods in wood identification using mass spectrometry, stable isotope, wood anatomy, genetics and near-infrared spectroscopy; scientists who employ these methods on non-wood based materials; and state and national enforcement agents who will provide insights on their needs.

For more information about the workshop, contact John Simeone or Meaghan Parker-Forney.

Photo © Jane Atkins.

Garden Lovers’ Book Sale: April 7 and 8

Coming up on April 7 and 8 at the Center for Urban Horticulture, you’ll have a chance to shop a selection of thousands of used gardening, horticulture, botany and landscape design books at the 12th annual Elisabeth C. Miller Library Garden Lovers’ Book Sale!

Be among the first to browse the books at a party with silent auction on Friday, April 7, from 5 to 8 p.m. Tickets to the party are $25 in advance or $30 at the door, and your purchase directly funds the Miller Library book budget. Enjoy a glass of wine, mingle with other gardening enthusiasts, and bid on specially selected books in the silent auction. To purchase tickets to the party, contact the library at 206.543.0415.

Then, on Saturday, April 8, the book sale will run from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Admission is free, and shoppers will find a wide range of topics on all things horticultural—and at great prices.

All proceeds from the book sale will be used to purchase the best new horticultural books and journals for the library. Original artwork from the Pacific Northwest Botanical Artists will also be on exhibit and for sale for the entire month of April.

You’re Invited: Field Tour of Poplar Demonstration Site in Oregon

Advanced Hardwood Biofuels Northwest (AHB) invites you to join researchers, Washington State University Extension agents, and other poplar tree enthusiasts for a free field tour of the AHB Jefferson “Poplar for Biofuels” demonstration site in Jefferson, Ore., on February 22, anytime from 10:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.

The poplars at the Jefferson Demonstration Site were planted in the spring of 2012 and first harvested in 2013 after two growing seasons. Now, three years after the initial harvest, they have regrown to heights of more than 30 feet and are ready for a second harvest. So on the site tour, attendees will get to learn about the harvest procedure, watch the poplar harvester at work (it’s a modified version of the machine used to harvest corn in the Midwest), and learn about the uses of poplar farms in the Pacific Northwest.

You can register for free online, and email Noelle Hart or call 425-741-9953 with any questions. (Please do register, though, so you can be informed of any changes or cancellations due to inclement weather). And remember to dress for field conditions!

AHB is a consortium of university and industry partners, including the University of Washington, working to prepare northern California, Oregon, Washington and northern Idaho for a sustainable hardwood bio-based chemicals and biofuels industry.

Photo of poplar harvester © AHB.

IFSA to Host Canadian-American Regional Meeting

Starting this Saturday, February 18, and running through Sunday, February 26, our UW Local Committee of the International Forestry Students’ Association (IFSA) will be hosting the 2017 Canadian-American Regional Meeting (CARM). Organized entirely by our IFSA students, this international gathering will welcome around 40 students from universities across the United States and Canada to learn about sustainable forestry practices in Washington.

Throughout their visit, CARM attendees will enjoy a full slate of activities, from tours of the Washington Park Arboretum and Union Bay Natural Area, to an overnight field trip to Pack Forest and the Olympic Natural Resources Center in Forks, Wash. Other events include a Faculty Welcome Dinner and informal networking night on Wednesday, February 22, and one of IFSA’s annual Pecha Kucha nights on Thursday, February 23, at 5 p.m. in the Forest Club Room, where students will give lightning talks on a variety environmental topics (with a potluck dinner afterward). Then, at 7 p.m. on Friday, February 24, IFSA is throwing the Forester’s Ball in the Forest Club Room. The cost is $10 at the door or $8 in advance, which includes two drinks (for those of age with ID), and other snacks and beverages will be provided (tickets can be purchased starting this Thursday, February 16, in Anderson 116 or 107B). For more information, check out the event page on Facebook, and you can email IFSA with any questions.

IFSA heartily invites all faculty, staff and students to attend all of these events. Hosting CARM is a huge undertaking—from housing the many out-of-state guests, to pulling together a full slate of activities throughout the week—and they are eager to show off the incredible programs and community we have here at SEFS. So take a look at the schedule for this week-long event, and we hope you’ll join in as many events as you can!

Next Tuesday (2/14): Natural Resources Career Fair!

This coming Tuesday, February 14, the Society of American Foresters – UW Student Chapter will be hosting its 3rd annual Natural Resources Career Fair in the Forest Club Room from 1 to 4 p.m.!

SEFS master’s student Cole Gross, who is organizing the fair this year, has signed up 17 agencies and organizations, ranging from Weyerhaeuser and the U.S. Department of Fish and Wildlife, to King County Parks and The Nature Conservancy. The fair will be a fun, informational and interactive process that will allow you to introduce yourself to these potential employers and learn about a wide range of opportunities in natural resource fields. You can come for any length of time during the three hours, and there will be periodic raffle giveaways (including several REI gift cards!), as well as free refreshments and snacks.

So update your résumé, do your research, and come learn about some great internship and career possibilities!

PowerPoint Presentation

How Do You Convince a Climate Change Skeptic?

We are very excited to announce the launch of our third annual UW Climate Change Video Contest! Our first two contests inspired some incredibly thoughtful and creative videos, and this year we’re challenging high school students throughout Washington with a new prompt: Create a two-minute ad that will convince a climate change skeptic to take action.

2017_02_2017 FlyerYour ad can be targeted at anyone—the general public, voters, a friend, family member, local politician or world leader. What matters most is the power and effectiveness of your message, from your ability to engage viewers with opposing viewpoints, to the strength of your scientific reasoning. Your video can take on any format imaginable, and we encourage you to get creative (fake news satire, Claymation, sci-fi, music video, film noir mystery, ballet, stand-up comedy routine, rock opera, personal monologue, documentary…and everything else in between).

A top prize of $5,000 awaits the winner, $1,000 for second and $500 for third, and we’ll screen and celebrate the finalists at the UW Climate Change Video Awards at Town Hall Seattle this spring.

The deadline to submit a video is Sunday, April 30, 2017, and we can’t wait to see how students tackle this challenge. So learn more about the contest, and help us spread the word to as many high schools as possible across the state!

2017_02_Blog Announcement

This August: Symposium on Systems Analysis in Forest Resources

This summer, from August 27 to 31, Professor Sándor Tóth is organizing the Symposium on Systems Analysis in Forest Resources (SSAFR), an international gathering that has been held every couple years since 1975. Co-sponsored by the Precision Forestry Cooperative, this symposium will be held at the Clearwater Resort in Suquamish, Wash., about an hour outside of Seattle.

Past symposiums have brought together decision scientists from around the world who study forest systems with the goal of making better management and policy decisions. Common topics have included harvest scheduling, spatial reserve design, wildfire management, wildlife management, invasive pest detection and control, forest ecosystem services, supply chain optimization for biofuel and timber and non-timber forest economics. The overarching link across these topics has been the use of operations research and decision theory to inform on-the-ground management as well as forest policy.

The 2017 SSAFR will be unique in that it will bring together two traditionally disconnected disciplines both working on forest decision support systems: the remote sensing/geospatial informatics community, and operations researchers. The former group is concerned with how to best collect and process data on forests and other resources, whereas the latter tries to optimize resource management given whatever data is available. Despite the obvious feedback and connections between the two groups, so far they have generally operated separately from each other. Working together in this symposium, the two groups will seek to study such questions as how to streamline data collection protocols of competing forest management objectives.

The deadline to submit abstracts has been extended to this coming Friday, February 10, so learn more about the symposium and get involved!


Alaska Airlines Takes Flight Using Forest-Powered Biofuel

This past November, Alaska Airlines made history by completing the first commercial flight using an alternative jet fuel made in part from forest residuals, the limbs and branches that remain after the harvesting of managed forests. The first-of-its-kind renewable biofuel comprised 20 percent of the jet fuel blend, and it helped power the demonstration flight on a Boeing 737-800—carrying several elected officials and a number of researchers involved in the project, including Professor Indroneil Ganguly and SEFS doctoral candidate Laurel James, among the 163 passengers—from Seattle-Tacoma International Airport to Reagan National Airport in Washington, D.C. This cross-country flight on November 14 provided a triumphant culmination to a five-year USDA-funded project, led by Washington State University (WSU).

The wood used in the jet fuel came from Washington, Oregon and Montana, including forests managed by Weyerhaeuser, the Muckleshoot Indian Tribe and the Confederated Salish Kootenai Tribe.

The wood used in the jet fuel came from Washington, Oregon and Montana, including forests managed by Weyerhaeuser, the Muckleshoot Indian Tribe and the Confederated Salish Kootenai Tribe. (© 2016 Washington State University)

Nearly lost in the press coverage and excitement, though, were some of the contributions SEFS researchers made as key partners in this bio-jet fuel development, including leading the overall environmental, community and deep soil carbon impact assessments of this bio-based alternative energy.

Guiding the cutting-edge research on this alternative jet fuel has been the Northwest Advanced Renewables Alliance (NARA), a partnership of public universities, government laboratories and private industry. NARA received a $40 million grant from the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture in 2011 to develop bio-based alternatives to traditionally petroleum-based products such as jet fuel. Led by WSU, NARA organized a comprehensive approach to building a supply chain for aviation biofuel with the goal of increasing efficiency in everything from forestry operations to conversion processes. The project aimed to create a sustainable industry to produce aviation biofuels and valuable co-products, all while empowering rural economies, increasing America’s energy security, and reducing aviation’s environmental impact.

At SEFS, Indroneil and Dr. Francesca Pierobon led a team of researchers evaluating the overall environmental footprint of the bio-jet fuel using a cradle-to-grave life-cycle assessment (LCA). To meet the U.S. Energy Independence and Securities Act standards, it was critical to be able to show that using this renewable biofuel could achieve at least a 60 percent lifecycle Greenhouse Gas (GHG) reduction threshold. Impressively, their LCA demonstrated the potential for as much as a 72-percent reduction in lifecycle GHG emissions using NARA’s jet fuel, which is chemically indistinguishable from regular jet fuel.

“If Alaska Airlines were able to replace 20 percent of its entire fuel supply at Sea-Tac Airport, it would reduce greenhouse gas emissions by about 142,000 metric tons of CO2,” said Joe Sprague, Alaska Airlines senior vice president of communications and external relations. “This is equivalent to taking approximately 30,000 passenger vehicles off the road for one year.”

“If Alaska Airlines were able to replace 20 percent of its entire fuel supply at Sea-Tac Airport, it would reduce greenhouse gas emissions by about 142,000 metric tons of CO2,” said Joe Sprague, Alaska Airlines senior vice president of communications and external relations. “This is equivalent to taking approximately 30,000 passenger vehicles off the road for one year.” (© 2016 Washington State University)

Typical forest harvest operations in the Pacific Northwest, after all, leave behind a considerable volume of unused residual woody biomass, most of which is collected into piles in the forest and burned. “So in my opinion,” says Indroneil, “the most important environmental benefit associated with producing this bio-jet fuel is the avoided slash pile burns, which improves local air quality and reduces the local health impacts caused by the harmful pollutants generated from burning.”

Through a community impact assessment (CIA), Professor Ivan Eastin—who led SEFS’ overall involvement in the project—and Research Associate Daisuke Sasatani evaluated the potential economic impacts, including job creation, of a bio-jet fuel production facility located in the Pacific Northwest. They found that establishing a commercial-sized bio-jet fuel production plant, located in southwestern Washington and producing 35 million gallons of woody biomass-based jet fuel per year, could generate approximately $650 million in industrial output while directly creating 173 jobs within the production facility—and indirectly leading to the creation of an additional 1,200 jobs within the supply chain.

For the soil carbon impacts assessment, Professor Rob Harrison led stump decomposition, deep soil carbon retention and nutrient sustainability studies. He and his team concluded that Pacific Northwest forests—particularly moist coastal coniferous forests—are highly productive due partly to high belowground resource stocks and availability. They further concluded that these resource stocks are likely to be resilient to additional biomass harvest removals that would provide feedstock for a biofuels and biochemical industry.

These findings, coupled with the successful demonstration flight, highlighted some of the enormous potential of viable alternatives to replace conventional fossil fuels for aviation.

“By creating an advanced drop-in biofuel from residual woody biomass, which is generally disposed of by open burning,” says Indroneil, “we are not only addressing the global warming issue by displacing fossil fuel, we are also presenting an economic alternative for forest-dependent communities.”

Photo below © USDA/Lance Cheung/USDA.