John Tylczak to Host Fourth Photography Exhibition at SEFS

This October, we are very pleased that local photographer John Tylczak will be hosting his fourth photography exhibition in the Forest Club Room!

John grew up in Shelton, Wash., where four generations of his family have lived since 1885 (his grandfather, in fact, was the executor of Agnes Anderson’s estate). The black-and-white portraits he will be showcasing come from his broader collection, Views from the Northwoods: 1983-1995, which captures the faces of the Washington timber industry in the mid-1980s and early 1990s—from fallers and rigging crews, to loaders and transport workers, log scalers and mill workers. John’s broader collection includes more than 1,500 photographs, and the 10 images he’s sharing this year will focus on shots from Weyerhaeuser properties.

The exhibition will officially kick off on October 4—coinciding with the annual Salmon BBQ (4 to 6 p.m. in the Anderson Hall courtyard)—and run through the end of the month. It will be open to the public during normal weekday business hours, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

We heartily encourage you to come by and enjoy John’s powerful photographs!

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

Introducing the SEFS Shared Genetics Laboratory!

After many months of planning and set-up, room renovations and equipment tweaks, we are very pleased to announce that our new SEFS Shared Genetics Laboratory is fully open and operational in Bloedel 170!

Funded by Professor Laura Prugh, SEFS and a Student Technology Fee grant that alumna Melissa Pingree secured, the newly refurbished lab is designed to focus on non-invasive, low-quality/low-quantity DNA genetic testing from hair, scat, saliva,  water, soil and other collected material that doesn’t require the capture of an animal (though the lab is also capable of handling blood and tissue sampling). It’s equipped with highly specialized technologies, including a droplet digital PCR machine to detect very low levels of DNA, and is open to SEFS graduate and undergraduate students in need of space and equipment for their genetic research, whether they’re exploring bacterial communities in soil, or identifying species through hair samples. While using the equipment is free—dependent on availability—students do have to provide their own supplies.

Several graduate students are already using the lab, including a project that involves swabbing bite marks on killed ungulates to determine predator identification. There’s also a new citizen science project on Vashon Island through the Vashon Nature Center that involves a pilot coyote study to try to isolate quality DNA from scat samples to determine individual identification.

The possibilities range widely, and the best way to see how the lab might support your own research is to contact the lab manager, Kelly Williams. Originally from Upstate New York, Kelly earned a master’s in ecology from Colorado State University, and her graduate research involved developing a method of detecting feral pig DNA in water samples (she just had her paper accepted in PLOS ONE!). In addition to assisting graduate student projects, she is currently training and working with three undergraduate student volunteers this summer to help extract DNA scat samples from Alaska as part of one of Laura’s grants.

If you’d like to learn more about the lab or set up a tour, contact Kelly anytime!

Lab manager Kelly Williams with the PCR workstation.

Alumni Spotlight: Olivia Moskowitz

by Karl Wirsing/SEFS

Shortly after graduating this spring, new SEFS alumna Olivia Moskowitz flew to Chicago to spend a week training for her Chicago Botanic Garden Conservation and Land Management Internship. Through a highly competitive application process, the program matches interns with federal agencies or nonprofit organizations involved in land management work. For Olivia, that meant heading to Idaho Falls, Idaho, earlier this month to begin a five-month assignment—as a full-time employee, paid by the Chicago Botanic Garden—with the U.S. Forest Service.

Olivia at the 2017 SEFS Graduation.

She’ll be working in four different national forests around the region (Caribou-Targhee, Sawtooth, Bridger-Teton and Uinta-Wasatch-Cache), and covering a big mix of projects, from collecting native seeds (like showy fleabane and horsemint) for sage-grouse habitat restoration, to conducting forest inventories, plant population scouting and GPS mapping. Some of her tasks will be completely new to her. Others will feel incredibly familiar, which isn’t surprising considering the number of lab and field experiences Olivia accumulated during her four years as an undergrad!

Olivia, who grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area, wasted no time getting involved in university life when she arrived on campus. In her first year, in fact, she co-founded a student group, Conservation in Style, and organized a highly successful “Conservation Catwalk” to raise money to support wildlife conservation efforts for endangered species, including African elephants, through The Gabby Wild Foundation.

Though no longer involved with that group, she quickly filled her hours by exploring every opportunity as an Environmental Science and Resource Management (ESRM) major. At the end of her sophomore year in 2015, she headed down to Pack Forest to take part in the Summer Crew, a foundational internship experience that entrenched and expanded her interest in forests and field work. “That’s what started it all,” says Olivia, who also minored in Quantitative Sciences. “[Working on that crew] puts you on the right track, and it’s a whole lot of fun.”

Working in Pack Forest with Stephen Calkins, a fellow intern on the 2015 Summer Crew.

Olivia came back energized in the fall and started working with SEFS doctoral student Matthew Aghai on his dissertation research. She had reached out to Matthew earlier in her sophomore year, and now he was able to bring her in as a lab tech. She started attending weekly lab meetings with Professor Greg Ettl and taking trips down to Pack Forest, the Cedar and Tolt River watersheds, and Cle Elum. She completed the rest of her research at the Center for Urban Horticulture overseeing and collecting data for Matthew’s greenhouse studies. “It was a lot of fun and really intense, but also probably the most valuable experience I’ve gotten,” she says. (Her research there would eventually lead to a sub-study for her capstone project this spring, “The effects of varying light and moisture levels on the growth and survival of 12 Pacific Northwest tree species.”)

Last summer, Olivia then got to work with Professor Charlie Halpern on his long-running Demonstration of Ecosystem Management Options (DEMO) study, looking at how different patterns of harvesting trees have long-term effects on the landscape. That study took her down to the Umpqua National Forest in Oregon, near Crater Lake, and also to parts of the Gifford Pinchot National Forest in southern Washington.

Most recently, this past quarter Olivia worked with Professor Ernesto Alvarado’s Pacific Wildland Fire Sciences Laboratory doing a fire-risk assessment report for Washington State Parks out in Spokane. She got to spend several weekends out in the field, as well as plenty of time in the lab working on GIS, writing reports and data entry. “It was great to be a part of something directly useful, and hopefully applied,” she says. She also enjoyed the exposure to how state government works, and getting to meet stakeholders involved in the project at different levels.

Measuring leaf area of destructively sampled seedlings for her capstone project.

Those hands-on research experiences opened doors for Olivia to get some high-level presentation experience, as well. In spring 2016 she presented preliminary results of her capstone research at the 10th IUFRO International Workshop on Uneven-aged Silviculture in Little Rock, Ark., and this May, as part of her Mary Gates Research Scholarship, she gave an oral presentation at the 2017 UW Undergraduate Research Symposium. She will also be presenting twice this summer—first in July at the Forest Regeneration In Changing Environments conference in Corvallis, Ore., and then in September at the IUFRO 125th Anniversary Congress in Freiburg, Germany.

Throughout these many side projects, of course, has been a steady stream of memorable classes. “I’ve made it a point to take as many ESRM classes as I can, which has resulted in very packed schedules,” she says. Among her favorites—and there are many, she says—were Professor Emeritus Tom Hinckley’s Spring Comes to the Cascades, and then Professor Jerry Franklin’s ESRM 425 field trip down in Oregon, Fire-Prone Ecosystems of the Pacific Northwest.

Now, at the end of her four years at SEFS, Olivia has some advice and encouragement for other students getting started in the program. “Get involved, and don’t be afraid to put yourself out there,” she says. “It was pretty scary to reach out to Matthew and Greg [Ettl] and know you want to get involved, but not what your role would be. But when you talk to the professors, they’ve been so helpful and encouraging, they take the whole scariness away from the process. I don’t think a lot of students realize that undergraduate research is available to them. I think it set the stage for the rest of my life, and my experience certainly wouldn’t have been as wonderful and fruitful as it’s been.”

Good luck, Olivia, and stay in touch!

Graduation photo © Karl Wirsing/SEFS; Pack Forest pic © Olivia Moskowitz; lab shot © Matthew Aghai.