New Summer Course: Proto-Timber Design-Build Studio!

This summer, Professor Greg Ettl will be one of four instructors for a new cross-disciplinary course, Proto-Timber (ARCH 403B/506B), which will explore the nexus of 21st century technology, design and environmental science. The workshop aims to address new architectural, social and environmental potentials of forest resources prolific to the Pacific Northwest, and it involves designing and building a new outdoor education teaching shelter for the Mount Rainier Institute at Pack Forest!

As part of this course, students will get to understand the uses of timber in standard and non-standard construction methods, including the issues relating to forestry, craft and contemporary digital fabrication techniques; the historical evolution and pressures that have shaped timber production and consumption as it exists today; the social and environmental potentials of architectural design as they relate to community empowerment at a variety of scales, from the local to the global; and develop a practical skill competency in the areas of wood design, fabrication and construction.

The course is open to graduate and undergraduate students, and it includes a multi-day site visit to Pack Forest. Register today, or email Glen Stellmacher to learn more!

Laura Prugh Receives CAREER Grant to Study How Wolves Impact Smaller Carnivores in Washington

Professor Laura Prugh was recently awarded a National Science Foundation grant for $898,551—provided through the Faculty Early-Career Development (CAREER) program—to support a new project in northern Washington, “Integrating positive and negative interactions in carnivore community ecology.”

Laura collaring a wolf in Denali.

Large carnivores are key components of ecosystems, and as wolves naturally recolonize Washington, their presence could have cascading effects on a variety of species, including smaller carnivores, known as mesopredators. While wolves can reduce populations of mesopredators through killing and intimidation, they may also benefit these smaller carnivores by providing easy meals in the form of carrion. This study, in turn, will focus on the movements and population dynamics of two common mesopredators, coyotes and bobcats, as part of a collaborative investigation of wolves, cougars, deer and elk—with the ultimate aim of improving carnivore conservation and management.

“I’m fascinated by the fact that large carnivores provide food to small carnivores in the form of carrion, and yet they also kill small carnivores,” says Laura, an assistant professor of quantitative wildlife sciences in the School of Environmental and Forest Sciences (SEFS). “Scavenging and intra-carnivore killing have been treated as separate phenomena, but I’ve proposed that they are in fact closely linked: carrion could be an ecological trap that makes small carnivores vulnerable to being killed by their larger cousins. I’m looking forward to testing this ‘fatal attraction’ hypothesis and learning more about complex interactions at the top of the food chain.”

The project—which will run from June 15, 2017, to May 31, 2022—includes several collaborators, including Professor Leslie Herrenkohl from the UW College of Education; Professor Jonathan Pauli from the University of Wisconsin; Angela Davis-Unger from the UW Office of Educational Assessment; the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife; the Alaska Native Science and Education Program (ANSEP); and Symbio Studios.

These partners will use a powerful combination of animal-borne GPS and video tracking technology, stable isotope enrichment of carcasses, fecal genotyping, and cameras at kill sites to jointly examine facilitation and suppression. This research will be integrated into a wildlife course at SEFS with 150 students per year—ESRM 150: Wildlife in the Modern World—by creating new inquiry-based labs using photos from carcass sites. In addition, this study will involve Alaska Native students in field and lab research in partnership with the Alaska Native Science and Engineering Program, and video vignettes about carnivore ecology will be created in partnership with Symbio Studios to reach 2 million K-12 students per year for five to seven years.

Photos © Laura Prugh.

A coyote scavenging a wolf kill site in Alaska. This study focuses on coyotes and bobcats as study subjects because they differ strongly in their scavenging activity but are otherwise ecologically similar.

Alumni Update: Melissa Pingree

We were excited to learn that recent SEFS alumna Melissa Pingree, who defended her dissertation earlier this year and will walk in our graduation ceremony on June 9, has already begun a postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Idaho with Dr. Leda Kobziar, a fire ecologist in the Department of Natural Resources and Society! Melissa will be working on projects relating fire disturbances to soil heating and repercussions for soil ecological processes.

Also, you may recall that for 10 weeks last summer Melissa studied in Japan’s Teshio Experimental Forest. She applied for the opportunity through the National Science Foundation’s East Asia and Pacific Summer Institutes (EAPSI) program, in conjunction with the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science. The work she accomplished there is currently being prepared for a peer-reviewed journal, and she looks forward to continuing her research endeavors with Dr. Makoto Kobayashi to form a better understanding of soil nutrient limitations that pose challenges around the world.

If you’d like to get a glimpse of her experience in Japan—and also her travels in the country afterwards—Melissa shared a great 15-minute video she put together from her photos!

New Class This Summer: Intro to Papermaking (BSE 490B)!

Coffee cups, paper bags, cardboard boxes, baby diapers. What do these things have in common? They are all made from paper, and they are all essential items in our daily lives. Even in our modern society, papermaking continues to be a vital and innovative industry. So how long has paper been around? How is paper made? Is paper sustainable? This summer, SEFS Instructor Shannon Ewanick will explore these questions and more as part of a new class, “Intro to Papermaking,” that will run during the Summer A Term from June 19 to July 17!

In this course—which requires no science or engineering background and has no prerequisites—you’ll learn about methods of papermaking (from hand to machine), raw materials (from rags to wood), environmental sustainability (from water and air pollution to energy use and recycling), and you’ll get to make your own paper on the pilot-scale paper machine in Bloedel Hall!

We’re really excited to offer this course, which will include on-campus classroom sessions twice a week, as well as weekly labs and field trips.

Learn more and sign up for a summer of hands-on, papermaking fun!

SEFS Women in Science Panel: May 16!

On Tuesday, May 16, from 4:30 to 7 p.m. in the Forest Club Room, you are invited to the first SEFS Women in Science panel, featuring accomplished women from diverse STEM fields to discuss the challenges and opportunities they’ve faced along their journeys!

The distinguished panelists include Dean Lisa Graumlich from the College of the Environment; Professor Monika Moskal from SEFS; Bernease Herman, a data fellow with the eScience Institute; and Dr. Kathayoon Khalil, principal evaluator with the Seattle Aquarium. The event is free and open to the public, and snacks and drinks will be provided. RSVP by email to help them plan for the right number of attendees!

Also, the week before the panel on Tuesday, May 9, there will be a bonus Brown Bag Lunch Discussion in the Forest Club Room from noon to 1:30 p.m. You’ll get to learn more about the SEFS Women in Science group, and also contribute potential questions for the panel the following week.

Hope you can join this fantastic panel and discussion!

Washington Hardwoods Commission Annual Symposium: June 15

The Washington Hardwoods Commission invites you to join its annual symposium on June 15, 2017, at the U.S. Forest Service office in Olympia, Wash. The theme of this year’s symposium is “Where Are We Growing?” and speakers will represent the U.S. Forest Service, Washington Department of Natural Resources, Cowlitz Indian Tribe and Washington State University, among others.

Check out the day’s agenda, and you can register by mail or online!

Peter Kareiva to Give Keynote at UW Climate Change Video Awards

We are very pleased to announce that Dr. Peter Kareiva, director of the Institute of the Environment and Sustainability at UCLA, will be the keynote speaker at the 2017 UW Climate Change Video Awards on Friday, June 2, 7 to 9 p.m. at Town Hall Seattle!

Peter KareivaPeter studied political science and zoology at Duke University for his bachelor’s, and then ecology and applied mathematics at Cornell University for his Ph.D. Prior to taking his current role at UCLA, he served as chief scientist at The Nature Conservancy for 12 years, worked as director of the Division of Conservation Biology at NOAA’s fisheries lab in Seattle for three years, and was a professor of zoology at the University of Washington for 20 years. He began his career as a mathematical biologist who also did fieldwork on plants and insects around the world. His early work focused on ecological theory, and he gradually shifted to agriculture, biotechnology, risk assessment and conservation. He now mixes policy and social science with natural science, and further believes that today’s environmental challenges require a strong dose of the humanities and private sector engagement.

Peter is a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and a member of The National Academy of Sciences. He co-founded the Natural Capital Project, NatureNet Fellows, and Science for Nature and People (SNAP). He has written or edited nine books and more than 200 articles, including a conservation biology textbook. His most recent book, Effective Conservation Science: Data Not Dogma (co-edited with Michelle Marvier and Brian Silliman) will be published by Oxford University Press in October 2017.

His current research examines the importance of public engagement and science communication in advancing environmental stewardship. Exploring that theme in his keynote at the award show, Peter will address how we need new messengers and new messages to communicate about climate change—and how film and video could be a vehicle for new conversations.

We hope you can join us at the show—register for free today!

2017 UW Climate Change Video Awards: Meet the Judges!

Submissions have been rolling in during the past week, and today is the deadline for the 2017 UW Climate Change Video Contest. After we collect all the videos, we’ll turn them over to our panel of four judges to determine the finalists, which we’ll screen at the UW Climate Change Video Awards on Friday, June 2, 7 to 9 p.m. at Town Hall Seattle!

For the contest this year, we challenged high school students across the state of Washington to create a two-minute ad that will convince a climate change skeptic to take action—with a top prize of $5,000, $1,000 for second and $500 for third. We can’t wait to see how students tackled this prompt, and we’re excited to introduce the distinguished judges who’ll determine the winning videos!

Laura Jean Cronin

Laura Jean Cronin
Laura Jean Cronin has written, directed and produced an array of award-winning short films that played in festivals worldwide, including John Gill, 2000, Block Party, Leave It, Free Parking, Arthur and One Night. Laura Jean also works as a freelance 1st assistant director in the local Indie film and television industry and teaches video production skills to kids and teens at Reel Grrls, an after-school program that gives youth the tools to succeed as leaders through media production. She has recently wrapped Season Six of the Emmy Award-winning PBS show Biz Kid$, where she served as line producer. Currently, Laura Jean is a producer and director at B47 Studios in Seattle.

Melanie HarrisonDr. Melanie Harrison Okoro
Melanie is a water quality specialist and the aquatic invasive species coordinator for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Fisheries, West Coast Region. She earned her doctorate in environmental science from the University of Maryland Baltimore County, and her research focuses on water quality impacts to federally listed threatened and endangered species. Her passions include mentoring youth as a Big Sister in the San Francisco Bay Big Brothers Big Sister Program, and being an advocate for increasing diversity in STEM fields through her involvement with the American Association of University Women in Davis, Calif.

Cody PermenterCody Permenter
Cody is the social media manager at Seattle-based Grist.org, a nonprofit environmental news organization for people who want “a planet that doesn’t burn and a future that doesn’t suck.” Before joining Grist, Cody helped lead the social media efforts at viral news site Cheezburger.com and has been published in publications like Thrillist, The Daily Dot and USA Today. He has served on the nominating board for the Shorty Awards for the past three years, an awards program honoring the best of social media in the entertainment industry, and he studied multimedia journalism at the University of Texas at Austin.

Ethan SteinmanEthan Steinman
Ethan is an Emmy-nominated filmmaker and owner of the Seattle-based media production company, Daltonic Films. As a producer and director, he has worked over the past two decades on programming for a wide range of media outlets, including NBC, FOX, Comedy Central, Discovery Channel and A&E. During the past several years, he has produced original content for Al Jazeera English, FOX Sports, CNN, Adidas and Major League Soccer, and he directed two award-winning feature-length documentaries, including Glacial Balance, which explores the effects of climate change on Andean glaciers and the people who depend on them for survival.

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The award show and screening is free and open to the public, and we hope you’ll join us to celebrate these talented students!