SEFS Seminars – Wednesdays at 3:30 PM

In Autumn 2018, SEFS will offer seminars on Wednesdays at 3:30 PM in the Forest Club Room (Anderson 207).  These seminars are not for credit and the entire SEFS community is invited.  Please consider attending to learn about current research and interesting projects.

A reception will follow each seminar.  See the schedule of speakers below:

Oct 10 – Briana Abrams
Position: Research Ecologist, NOAA Southwest Fisheries Science Center
Seminar Title: From the Savanna to the Sea: Linking environmental conditions to wildlife movement, fitness, and conservation

Oct 17 – David Diaz
Position: PhD Student, SEFS, UW
Seminar Title: Tradeoffs in Timber, Carbon, and Cash Flow under Alternative Management Systems for Douglas-Fir in the Pacific Northwest

Oct 24 – Jenny Knoth and Elaine O’Neill
Positions: SEFS Alumnae, Green Crow and WA Farm Forestry
Seminar Title: Carbon – Forest science, policy, and practice in the PNW

Oct 31 – Robert Montgomery
Position: Assistant Professor, Michigan State University
Seminar Title: Why big fierce animals are increasingly rare

Nov 7 – Sarah Gergel
Position: Professor and Associate Dean, UBC
Seminar Title: TBD

Nov 14 – Sharon Doty
Position: Professor, SEFS
Seminar Title: The Functional Importance of the Plant Microbiome in Sustainable Forestry, Agriculture, and Bioenergy

Nov 28 – Mark Huff
Position: Inventory & Monitoring Program Mgr, North Coast and Cascades Monitoring Network
Seminar Title: Long-term ecological monitoring of northwest national parks from 2005 to 2018

Dec 5 – Paul Sounders
Position: Photographer
Seminar Title: Arctic Solitaire

Dec 12 – Sara Curran
Position: Professor and Director, CSDE, UW
Seminar Title: Research Reflections @ Demographic & Environment Dynamics

2018 Sustaining Our World Lecture: Jonathan Foley

Guest Post by Daniel S. Feinberg, SEFS Staff Assistant and Ph.D. Candidate

On Thursday, April 26, SEFS had the pleasure of hosting Dr. Jonathan Foley, executive director of the California Academy of Sciences, for the annual Sustaining Our World Lecture, along with a variety of other activities throughout the day. Dr. Foley studies global sustainability and is one of the most cited environmental scientists in the world.

Picture of Dr. Jonathan Foley.

Dr. Jonathan Foley

Dr. Foley’s visit began with an informal lunch and discussion that touched on topics such as the accessibility (or lack thereof) of scientific journals, as well as the need for scientists to inspire children from under-represented communities. He also expressed his appreciation for the intersection of science and art, which manifests itself through exhibits at the California Academy. Following the discussion, Dr. Foley spent the afternoon in individual meetings with faculty members to explore shared interests and potential opportunities for collaboration.

Although Dr. Foley began his lecture with examples of pressing environmental problems (e.g., methane pollution from cows), he went on to offer corresponding solutions (e.g., eating less red meat). He described the perceived state of political polarization in the U.S. and its implications for climate change, noting that many Americans are actually undecided and might still be swayed to support or oppose climate action.

Dr. Foley described himself as having hope for the future, without being blindly optimistic; he stressed that we (i.e., humans) must take it upon ourselves to create a better world, rather than waiting for an invisible hand to correct our errors. The California Academy’s Planet Vision initiative provides specific guidance for how we can start to make changes in our day-to-day lives.

Dr. Jonathan Foley is joined by SEFS students, faculty, staff, alumni, and friends for dinner at Ivar's Salmon House after the lecture.

Dr. Jonathan Foley with SEFS students, faculty, staff, alumni, and friends at Ivar’s Salmon House.

The evening concluded with dinner at Ivar’s Salmon House, where a combination of faculty, staff, students, alumni, and friends continued the conversation with Dr. Foley. As one of the students who attended the dinner, I had the chance to learn about various environmental career paths, such as academia and the non-profit sector. In addition to the extra time with Dr. Foley, I appreciated being able to chat with SEFS faculty outside of the classroom.

Watch the full UWTV recording of Dr. Foley’s 2018 Sustaining Our World Lecture here.

Director’s Message

In my first quarter as director of the School of Environmental and Forest Sciences, I am so grateful for the warm welcome, and for opportunities to meet the committed students, faculty, staff, alumni, and friends that make up the SEFS community. As I do, I learn more about the many ways in which the mission that attracted me here in the first place—“generating and disseminating knowledge for the stewardship of natural and managed environments and the sustainable use of their products and services”—inspires your work. I’m also energized as I learn about the opportunities we have to collaborate within the College of the Environment, the University of Washington, Seattle, and the Pacific Northwest region. We have an important mission, and together, we’re well positioned to make a big impact through our collective commitment and strong partnerships.

SEFS Director Dan Brown

Trained as a geographer and landscape ecologist, my research program takes a systems approach to understanding human-environment interactions and their implications for landscape and societal change. From that background, I’m particularly drawn to how scholars in SEFS confront the challenges of managing and stewarding environmental resources and their products using multiple strategies, perspectives, and disciplines. Our forests and landscapes are called upon to provide an increasingly diverse set of services in a globalizing, urbanizing, and warming world, and as a society, we face increasingly challenging choices about how to balance forest products, wildlife habitat, carbon storage, environmental justice, outdoor recreation, and human health, among others. I’m excited to work within the SEFS community as we lead efforts to advance knowledge discovery, application, dissemination, and integration, across science and engineering, natural and social processes, and many audiences of learners, to address these environmental challenges and support societal decision-making.

SEFS graduate programs are superb platforms for developing scientific and engineering expertise, as are our undergraduate tracks within the ESRM and BSE curricula. Importantly, the ESRM degree has long been structured to provide a foundation for integrated understanding of sustainability across economic, environmental, and social dimensions. My own experience with systems thinking has drawn me to sustainability science as a lens through which such integration can productively occur, and I am inspired by the leadership SEFS has shown in curricular innovation on this front. Further, SEFS and College of the Environment are also leaders in immersive learning, getting students into the field, into labs, and into internships so they can work on real problems, and in critical efforts to increase diversity, equity, and inclusion in the environmental sciences. Our engagement with state, federal, tribal, and community partners, numerous field facilities, and partnerships with EarthLab and other units of the College of the Environment provide many avenues for SEFS faculty and students to confront complex social, environmental, and economic issues and sets the stage for innovative sustainability thinking and problem-solving.

It is the commitment of communities like those in SEFS, College of the Environment, and the UW that keep me hopeful in the face of big challenges. I’m so happy to be a part of them, and invite you to join us.

Dan Brown
School of Environmental and Forest Sciences

Photo Gallery: 2017 Pack Forest Summer Crew Recap!

For nine weeks, from June 19 to August 18, four SEFS undergraduate students—Nicole Lau, Xin Deng, Brian Chan and Joshua Clark—took part in this year’s Pack Forest Summer Crew!

As part of the internship, these students worked closely with SEFS graduate students Matthew Aghai, Kiwoong Lee and Emilio Vilanova, as well as forester Jeff Kelly. They participated in a diverse set of activities, including a great amount of time measuring 92 permanent forest plots from the Continuous Forest Inventory (CFI) project. During this time, they became true field experts and were able to update a vital piece of information for the sustainable management of Pack Forest.

On a similar note, the interns joined Matthew in several field tasks related to his doctoral research project, both at Pack Forest and the Cedar and Tolt River Watersheds. They also helped in the maintenance of a through-fall exclusion project led by Professor Greg Ettl and Kiwoong Lee, and they were critical in the upkeep of the trail network at Pack Forest and measuring additional small-scale research projects, ranging from regeneration surveys to the installation of other research plots. Finally, during the summer the interns also got to participate in three field trips, including official visits to Rainier Veneer and Silvaseed facilities.

Check out a photo gallery for more on another fantastic summer at Pack Forest!

Photos courtesy of Emilio Vilanova
.

Student Spotlight: Jake Henry

This summer, one of our Environmental Science and Resource Management (ESRM) majors, Jake Henry, landed a great paid internship as part of Waste Management’s (WM) Recycle Corps. The award-winning program puts college students through intensive, hands-on job training involving the latest strategies in engaging people and organizations to change behavior around waste reduction and recycling.

Jake, left, conducting commercial outreach earlier this week.

Over the course of 10 weeks, WM Recycle Corps interns work with businesses, multifamily properties and residents in 26 cities across two counties to improve recycling habits and reduce waste. “We have a group of 14 of us, all college students about the same age,” says Jake, whose fellow interns attend the University of Washington, Western Washington and other colleges in the area. “We do a lot of education and outreach in Seattle and surrounding cities, like Mukilteo, Auburn and Tukwila. We answer questions and share information about recycling and composting.”

This outreach process often involves meetings with city council members and other community leaders to determine local priorities, and interns then fan out in pairs to talk with businesses and residential customers throughout the week (in the past three years, WM Recycle Corps interns have conducted more than 48,000 customer conversations). “We also work events, like farmer’s markets and SeaFair, where have a booth set up with information for people,” says Jake.

Face-to-face conversations are a huge component of the internship, and Jake says he’s gotten tremendous experience speaking with all sorts of people—some who are interested in recycling and composting, and plenty who aren’t, especially in communities outside of Seattle. “Talking to a lot of people who don’t really care can be frustrating,” he says, “but it’s really nice when you do talk to someone who cares.”

Jake has about one week left in the internship, and then he’ll begin his senior year at SEFS. Good luck with the rest of the summer, and we’ll see you in the fall!

***

Though Waste Management provides comprehensive waste and environmental services across North America, the Recycle Corps program is only held in the Seattle area. So if you’re looking for a great internship in sustainability and environmental outreach next summer, keep your eye out next spring for the application deadline (this year it was April 1)!

Jake and his fellow interns touring the Cascade Recycling Center.

Register Now: 17th Symposium on Systems Analysis of Forest Resources, Aug. 27-30!

In two weeks, from August 27 to 31, Professor Sándor Tóth is organizing the 17th Symposium on Systems Analysis in Forest Resources (SSAFR), an international gathering that has been held every couple years since 1975. So far, the symposium has 112 registrants from 23 countries, representing every continent (except the forest-deprived Antarctica)!

Co-sponsored by the Precision Forestry Cooperative, 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 symposium will be held at the Clearwater Resort in Suquamish, Wash., about an hour outside of Seattle. It’s not too late to register if you’d like to join this impressive international gathering, so learn more and get involved!

A Bird’s-Eye View of Air Pollution

Olivia Sanderfoot, an NSF Graduate Research Fellow and incoming SEFS doctoral student with Professor Beth Gardner’s research group, is the lead author on a paper just published today in Environmental Research Letters, “Air pollution impacts on avian species via inhalation exposure and associated outcomes.” Reviewing nearly 70 years of the scientific literature, the study explores how much we know about the direct and indirect effects of air pollution on the health, well-being, reproductive success and diversity of birds.

Olivia with a stuffed great gray owl (named Wilson) that she uses in her All About Owls lesson at the Madison Audubon Society.

According to Olivia and the paper’s co-author, Professor Tracey Holloway the Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies at the University of Wisconsin, few studies have examined the health and ecological well-being of wild bird populations in the United States—only two since 1950, in fact. In their paper, they identify gaps in research to date on the impacts of air pollution on birds, including air pollution’s effects on the avian respiratory system, reproductive success, population density and species diversity.

“There is a lot of work to be done in this area,” says Olivia, who has been transitioning this summer from her projects at the University of Wisconsin. “Air quality is an ever-changing problem across the globe. There’s a need to look at different types of air pollution and different species all over the world. We have a huge lack of understanding of the levels of pollution birds are even exposed to.”

Learn more about the paper in the official release from the University of Wisconsin, as well as a video abstract Olivia put together for the research. You’ll get to talk to her in person when she arrives in Seattle this coming Thursday, August 18, after wrapping up her summer job as an educator with the Madison Audubon Society. We look forward to welcoming her to our school and community and learning more about her research!

Photo © Olivia Sanderfoot.

Alumni Update: Jorge Tomasevic

Two days ago, we were very excited to hear an update from SEFS alumnus Jorge Tomasevic (’17, Ph.D.), who moved back to his home country of Chile earlier this spring. Jorge, who worked with Professor John Marzluff for his doctoral research, has taken on a position as science coordinator for Centro de Humedales Río Cruces (Cruces River Wetland Center, or CEHUM), a research and conservation center dedicated to produce knowledge, restore ecosystems, raise environmental awareness and promote sustainable wetland management.

“Moving abroad is very challenging,” writes Jorge, “and moving abroad with a whole family is even more challenging. But we are in a very nice place now. We found a nice house to rent. And by nice, I mean small, WARM and cute! It has a backyard, and it’s placed on a very nice area of the city of Valdivia, southern Chile. It’s winter here and it rains a lot. Way more than in Seattle. So, having a wood stove to heat the house is much appreciated. My daughter, Matilda, is loving her school, and Vania is loving this new life. We are all finding our places on this new routine.”

Jorge’s organization was established in 2015 as one of six mitigation measures mandated by court after a trial stemming from the Rio Cruces ecological disaster of 2004. At that time, the company ARAUCO S.A. had polluted the river waters with residues of a pulp mill located upstream of the Rio Cruces Natural Sanctuary. Damaging impacts included massive mortality and emigration of black-necked swans, as well as a series of other effects on the local ecosystems and surrounding communities and their local economies.

“My job is interesting and challenging, and I’m learning a lot. Very soon we will be opening a call for research proposals, and I will be overseeing the development and results that those projects generate. The main goal is to improve the sustainability of a Ramsar Sanctuary Wetland, right next to Valdivia. I am attaching a photo of the wonderful team that I work with: Ignacio Rodriguez (middle) is the executive director of the Rio Cruces Wetland Center, and Patricia Möller (right) is the environmental education coordinator. In the back is the wonderful wetland we are working to protect: Rio Cruces Natural Sanctuary.”

Great to hear from you, Jorge, and stay in touch!

Photo © Jorge Tomasevic.

Annual Honey Extraction: ’Comb and Get It!

On Friday, July 14, Evan Sugden organized his annual honey extracting event at the UW Ceramics Lab, just north of the UW Farm at the Center for Urban Horticulture. Evan, who teaches “Bees, Beekeeping and Pollination” (ESRM491D) during the summer, says the course hives can produce several hundred pounds of honey, and this year’s bees delivered 450 pounds!

The bees make honey early in the season as Himalayan blackberry blooms, and then they finish the summer as research subjects for the science-based class (up to five bee research projects are run simultaneously). Extraction of the honey, the first harvest, marks the transition of the function of the hives. The second harvest comes with the presentation of research results on the last day of class, August 17, and the public is invited. Students help in the honey harvest, and all the proceeds benefit the beekeeping course and program as part of the UW Farm.

Update: As of August 16, the honey is now bottled and ready to go! The student marketing team has arranged a tabling event and pick-up time for this Friday, August 18, from 2:30 to 4 p.m. on the UW Quad, and you can place your order online (payment at pick up accepted by cash or check). If this pick-up time does not work for your schedule, there will be future events. They acknowledge that distribution is a challenge, but with a little patience you’ll be able to get your delicious UW honey, and maybe also a UW Farm-etched beverage glass. Thank you for your support!

Photos © Evan Sugden and Will Peterman.

 

Interim Director’s Message: Summer 2017

High summer in Seattle: blue skies, cool breezes, roses in the rose garden. How did we get here so fast? Seems like a moment ago I was writing you with “hello,” and now we’ve progressed through winter and spring quarters and are already midway through summer. What’s kept me so busy?

The glorious, redolent rose garden around Drumheller Foundation.

SEFS is a wonderful school and has shown me in a variety of ways just what we are about. My favorite learning spot has been the “SEFS 15 Minutes” opportunities I introduced during faculty meetings. Faculty had mentioned they hungered for in-person conversation about issues affecting our community, and I thought devoting time in faculty meetings for this discussion would be an ideal way for me to learn who and what SEFS is—and for all of us to discern which direction SEFS wants to go with a new director.

At first, I invited faculty attending the January 24 meeting to list up to three issues they wanted to discuss on a card, collected and sorted the issues, and shared the outcome. Next, I met with the SEFS Elected Faculty Council for a probing, hour-long discussion of the main issues facing SEFS, and how best to elicit productive conversation among faculty. I seeded the first “SEFS 15” with: “What questions in environmental and forest sciences would you like to address with your research?” This conversation proved difficult for a number of reasons: The question was stilted, faculty wondered whether to answer for themselves or for SEFS as a whole, and the practice of thinking out loud in faculty meetings was unfamiliar. But the first stumbling try gave way to a soaring second, seeded by a rephrasing of the first question: “What BIG questions do you want to address …?”

With me at the chalkboard recording faculty suggestions, a picture of SEFS emerged with everyone’s contributions, showing a coherent and passionate mission for developing and conveying knowledge about how best to understand, utilize and conserve our landscape environment. I believe we all walked away from that meeting feeling part of a larger whole, enthusiastic about pushing forward. Since then, faculty meetings have dealt with a number of issues, including the value (and description) of “Interest Groups” in SEFS, a Faculty Salary Plan requested by Provost Jerry Baldasty, and finally our searches for five open faculty positions.

Our most recent faculty meeting, held last week as a special session since we are in summer, vibrantly summed the progress we’ve made this year as we discussed our search for a new SEFS Director. In June we hosted three candidates who interviewed and enthused us with their and our visions of the future. This energy, and a wish to be a concerted group sure of its momentum and purpose, shined through a thoughtful discussion that included disagreements, points of information, and gradual agreements. The eve of a leadership change is always an exciting and anxious time, and we could potentially reach a final decision about the next director within a few weeks.

I’m also looking forward to at least one more “SEFS 15” discussion during the school’s annual retreat this September. We will welcome everyone back, from field research, travels to meetings and holiday, and also new graduate students, staff and faculty. We’ll focus our attention on the SEFS Graduate Program, as it is surely the grads who carry out most of the research conducted in SEFS. How best can we select, guide, fund and promote our grads? If we consider their work as the forefront of all of our efforts, we must all work to support their mission.

As always, I welcome your input and look forward to learning more about SEFS every day.

Liz Van Volkenburgh
School of Environmental and Forest Sciences