SEFS alumna Vicki Christiansen appointed Forest Service chief

School of Environmental and Forest Sciences alumna Vicki Christiansen (’83, B.S.) is the 19th Chief of the USDA Forest Service after spending seven months as the interim chief.

She was appointed on Oct. 10 by Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue, who said in a press release that Christiansen “knows what’s needed to restore our forests and put them back to work for the taxpayers.”

Christiansen, a Washington native, has worked in wildland firefighting and forestry for 36 years, joining the U.S. Forest Service in 2010. She is also a Society of American Foresters member. While attending UW, she worked as a wildland firefighter and later held jobs in operations, managing state trust lands and regulating forest practices on state and private lands.

“I’m passionate about the Forest Service mission to sustain the health, diversity and productivity of the nation’s forest and grasslands and I have worked over the past 35 years both at the state and national level to advance that mission,” Christiansen said. The University of Washington provided me a place to really be curious and develop a quest for lifelong learning.”

A dose of nature: New UW initiative to spearhead research on health benefits of time outside


Time spent in nature can reduce anxiety and help you sleep better at night, experts have found. It also offers promising benefits for a range of health issues, including cardiovascular disease, depression and obesity.

But there are still many questions about how time in nature can help with these health conditions, and others. A new University of Washington initiative announced this week seeks to advance research on these questions, connecting academic researchers with pediatricians, childcare providers, mental health practitioners and others who work with various populations on critical health issues.

“The Nature for Health initiative is aimed at accelerating our understanding of the health impacts of time spent in nature,” said Joshua Lawler, the initiative’s lead and a UW professor in the School of Environmental and Forest Sciences. “The group is not only about doing this critical research, but also about applying it to create programs and policies that are good for human health.”

Read more on UW News

Greg Bratman Selected for Harvard Fellowship

Greg Bratman, assistant professor at SEFS, has been selected as a JPB Environmental Health (EH) Fellow by Harvard University’s T.H. Chan School of Public Health. Professor Bratman is one of 15 new fellows that were selected through a competitive process. Over the next three years, he will receive $240,000, mentoring and training in methods, skills, new technologies, leadership and communications.

Funded by the JPB Foundation, the JPB EH Fellowship Program supports a new generation of environmental health scholars who are committed to developing solutions and supporting policy changes that address environmental, social and economic health disparities in the U.S. JPB EH Fellows are engaged in rigorous interdisciplinary research on the social and physical determinants of environmental health disparities in vulnerable communities.