Chief Kitsap Academy Immersion Day

On Tuesday, May 24, a group of students from Chief Kitsap Academy visited the University of Washington for a college immersion day.

Sponsored by SEFS, the Graduate Opportunities and Minority Achievement Program (GO-MAP), and the wǝɫǝbʔaltxʷ – Intellectual House, the Immersion day gave the Chief Kitsap students an opportunity to explore a range of college experiences. For most of them, it was their first time visiting a college campus, says Jessica Hernandez, a first-year graduate student at SEFS and one of the main organizers of the event. Their day started with a classroom lecture—ESRM 101A: Forest and Society—with Professor Kristiina Vogt and guest speaker Mike Marchand, and later included a tour of the Intellectual House and then undergraduate presentations from students in the iSchool.

Back in March, the Vogt lab joined the iSchool students out at Chief Kitsap Academy to work with them on the creation of apps to visualize climate change and their personal footprint on the environment. The Immersion Day, in turn, provided a great follow-up to those initial interactions, as well as a broader introduction to the university community and experience.

Chief Kitsap Academy is a tribal school that supports the Suquamish Tribe’s mission of respecting diversity and ancestral heritage, and encouraging lifelong learning. Partnering with the school is one of several projects Jessica is involved with, including the Lummi Youth Academy and Indigenous Wellness Research Institute, around empowering indigenous youth to enter STEAM fields (science, technology, engineering, art and math). In her outreach efforts, she focuses on the revitalization of ancestral knowledge and language, and integrating traditional knowledge with scientific concepts.

Photo © Jessica Hernandez.

2016_06_Immersion Day

Melissa Pingree Preps for Summer Research Program in Japan

This summer, from June 14 through August, SEFS doctoral candidate Melissa Pingree will be spending 10 weeks in Japan studying in the Teshio Experimental Forest—an ideal field research center in northern Hokkaido that provides 22,550 hectares of sub-boreal forests.

Melissa 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 EAPSI program partners with international research institutes in Australia, China, Japan, Korea, New Zealand and Singapore to provide graduate students in the United States with firsthand research experience in an international environment. Participating students get an immersive introduction to the science, science policy and scientific infrastructure of the host research institution, as well as an orientation to the society, culture and language of the host country.

Melissa Pingree collecting soil samples on the Olympic Peninsula.

Melissa Pingree collecting soil samples on the Olympic Peninsula.

EAPSI awards are designed to initiate professional relationships and enable future collaborations with foreign counterparts, and Melissa will be working with Professors Makoto Kobayashi and Kentaro Takagi of Hokkaido University. Her project involves measuring soil phosphorus (P) in contrasting soil types of northern Japan with an advanced method that mimics the variety of plant P acquisition techniques. In a laboratory experiment, they will combine soils with a common earthworm species and charcoal from wildfires in order to provide a context for biological activity and forest disturbance that is likely to alter soil P availability.

Melissa’s doctoral research at SEFS involves studying the role of wildfire in soil nutrient pools, and the influence of charcoal in fire-affected forest soils of the eastern Olympic Peninsula. So after spending so much time researching Pacific Northwest forests, she’s excited to get out in the woods in Japan. “I’m excited to see bamboo growing next to spruce and larch,” she says. “While we have some interesting similarities in the Pacific Northwest, with volcanism shaping much of our regions, there will also be some really interesting differences between our forests.”

Her NSF award includes a pre-departure orientation in Washington, D.C., an orientation and homestay in Tokyo, a summer stipend of $5,000, and roundtrip airplane ticket to the host location. The EAPSI partner agencies pay in-country living expenses during the summer period. While she’s there, Melissa will be participating in field excursions with her host lab to multiple experimental forests, as well as the nearby Daisetsuzan National Park, which is the largest of Japan’s national parks.

She can’t wait to experience and explore Japanese culture—very much including the unique and delicious food—and she promises to send plenty of photos when she gets there!

Photo © Melissa Pingree.

For Graduation Donation, College Contributes to Two UW Farm Projects at CUH

For its annual gift to the graduating class this year, the College of the Environment is partnering with the Campus Sustainability Fund (CSF) to help fund two CSF projects at the Center for Urban Horticulture (CUH): planting pollinator habitats to create suitable habitat for local pollinating insects, and installing a composting toilet to support more than 180 student farmers and volunteers!

The College decided to contribute to these two projects based on the recommendation of its Student Advisory Council and a vote by graduating students. Read more about each project below!

Pollinator Habitats
This project involves planting and installing pollinator habitats at the UW Farm. Specifically, the UW Farm will design and plant a hedgerow along its southern boundary to create suitable habitat for local pollinating insects, enhancing the biodiversity of the surrounding Union Bay Natural Area and student food production at the UW Farm. The hedgerow will be composed of woody perennial plant species that will act primarily as pollinator habitat, providing forage, shelter and, most importantly, overwintering habitat for insects.

UW students who work and volunteer at the farm will have the opportunity to help plant the vegetation over the coming year. They will learn how to care for the habitats into future years: primarily trimming and maintenance of perennial shrubs, removing weeds that grow into the area, and planting replacement plants as necessary. Teens and young adults from Seattle Youth Garden Works will also be involved in the installation and future maintenance of the pollinator habitats.

The total award for this project was $750, and you can contact Nicolette Neumann with any questions.

Composting Toilet
The lack of a bathroom on the worksite at the UW Farm has negatively impacted productivity and disrupted workflow (individuals have to stop work and leave the site to use the nearest restrooms), disrupted programing on the farm, and especially impeded access to any bathroom on weekends (the nearest bathrooms are locked on the weekend, a time when the farm has routine volunteer hours).

So the installation of this composting toilet—arriving in a few weeks!—at CUH will help support more than 180 student farmers and volunteers working at the UW Farm, and more than 500 student visitors to the site annually. Yet the farm will not be the only beneficiary, by any means. An outdoor bathroom will provide an indispensable resource and greatly benefit a variety of community and university groups that operate adjacent to the farm, including neighborhood visitors to the Union Bay Natural Area and CUH during daylight hours; participants in the neighboring Seattle Tilth Youth Garden Works program; youth participating in other educational programs at CUH; student ecologists and volunteers doing restoration work in UBNA; and UW grounds and maintenance members who frequently do work in the area.

The total award for this project is $33,000, and you can contact UW Farm Manager Sarah
Geurkink with any questions.

Photo © Sarah Geurkink.

This Friday (6/3): Dead Elk Spring Party!

Come celebrate the end of classes this Friday, June 3, at the Dead Elk Society’s annual spring party! “Fin de Año” starts at 5 p.m. at the Center for Urban Horticulture Headhouse, which is around the back side of the Douglas Research Conservatory greenhouse. There will be games, free food and plenty of free beer, and also live music from Mariachi Quinto Sol de UW.

All are welcome—students, staff, faculty, friends and family—so head over to CUH for a fun-filled fiesta!

2016 Dead Elk Spring Party

SEFS BioBlitz Team Featured Nationally!

This past weekend, a team from SEFS participated in the Olympic National Park BioBlitz, which was one of dozens of BioBlitzes held across the county as part of the National Park Service’s centennial celebration this year (another event down at Mount Rainier included Professor Laura Prugh and her ESRM 351 class!). The Olympic National Park team included Research Scientist James Freund and Affiliate Professor Robert Van Pelt, along with graduate students Russell Kramer, Sean Callahan and Korena Mafune.

In preparation for the BioBlitz, they put together a video of some of their tree-climbing work high up in a 401-year-old Douglas-fir in the Hoh River Valley. The video captures them roped in and measuring the tree’s characteristics, including documenting the moss, lichen and other plant and animal communities in the canopy. It’s a great five-minute video, and also a terrific window into some the research going on in our school.

Even cooler, too, is that the National Park Service chose this video as one of only three across the country to show on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., this past weekend!

Nice work!

Video © National Park Service.

Olympic National Park BioBlitz

Emilio on the Go: From French Guiana to Venezuela

From March 21 to 25, SEFS doctoral student Emilio Vilanova traveled to Kourou in French Guiana to take part in a meeting, “Thematic School on Functional Ecology of Tropical Rainforests in the Context of Climate Changes: From Real Observations to Simulations.” Mostly organized for graduate students and young scientists, the meeting included many sessions to discuss the fundamental processes driving tropical forest dynamics, and how to study them by means of climate stations—permanent sample plots with a major focus on modeling.

In addition to the presentations and traditional lectures, an important part of the thematic school involved practical works, both in the field/greenhouses (measurements on trees or seedlings) and in classrooms (modeling and simulation). Emilio also got a chance to visit an interesting tropical rainforest experimental site of Paracou, including the Guyaflux tower.

Emilio helping survey a forest plot during his field campaign in Venezuela.

Emilio helping survey a forest plot during his field work in Venezuela.

From there, thanks to the support of the RAINFOR network, and with partial funding through the Corkery Family Chair Fund, Emilio got to spend several weeks in Venezuela from March 30 to May 5. He was there to work with a diverse group of students, professors and technicians from Universidad de Los Andes in Venezuela, specifically from the Instituto de Investigaciones para el Desarrollo Forestal, on the re-census of 18 permanent forest plots located in western Venezuela.

This research is part of the ongoing effort to monitor the dynamics of forests in the neotropics, and also a critical part of Emilio’s doctoral research at SEFS, where he is working with Professor Greg Ettl. His aim is to analyze the factors driving the main differences in wood productivity and turnover in a contrasting environmental setting in Venezuela using information collected from these and other forest plots—and by applying a functional trait approach in the process.

On this field campaign, Emilio helped survey six plots that were installed during the 1960s in the Andean cloud forests, including a botanical check and the collection of leaf samples from 61 individuals corresponding to the most important species in the area. A group of skilled tree climbers carried out that task.

After that, the crew moved to the Caparo Forest Reserve in the western plains region to evaluate six more plots established originally in 1990 in lowland seasonal forests. Using a similar approach, they reviewed some individuals for botanical identification, and also climbed into 27 individuals to collect leaf samples. Finally, a reduced crew moved to the El Caimital sector, also in the western plains region (Barinas state), in order to re-census six more plots established in 1960.

Along with Emilio, the other participants in this field work included a forest technician, botanist, tree climbers and an undergraduate student, as well as several local workers, or “parataxonomists.”

Photos © Emilio Vilanova.

Staring high up into the canopy in French Guiana.

Staring high up into the canopy in French Guiana.

 

Brockman Tree Tour Going Mobile!

For the past two quarters, a pair of undergrads in the University of Washington Information School (iSchool)—Omar Rojas and Jamy Southafeng—have been working on developing a mobile app for the Frank Brockman Memorial Campus Tree Tour.

Started in 1980, the Brockman Tree Tour guides visitors to explore 80 of the hundreds of tree species on the University of Washington campus. Most information from the tour is available online—though not in a mobile-friendly format—so most people still follow it through an old black-and-white booklet, with each tree marked as a number on the campus map (we also have a printed insert that updates some of the trees that have died or been removed). It’s long been a popular way to stroll through and experience campus, but the use of paper maps has largely declined in favor of real-time mapping and navigational services on mobile phones.

With this new app, users will be able to locate trees around them nowhere where they start the tour.

With this new app, users will be able to locate trees around them no matter where they start the tour.

Wanting to make the tour more modern and accessible, we’ve circulated the idea of adapting it for a mobile app for a few years. Yet we hadn’t been able to get the project running until Professor Emeritus Al Wagar picked up the baton about a year ago and started organizing a more concerted effort. He eventually rallied more interest and connected with SEFS doctoral student Isabel Carrera Zamanillo, who also works with students in the iSchool. She then helped recruit Omar and Jamy to design the app for their senior capstone project, and they set to work this past winter.

They’ve since put in countless hours storyboarding, sketching out wireframes, coding and testing their concept, and they’re now in the final stages of development. Designed to be used on Android phones, their app will enable users to set up customized tours and use GPS navigation through Google Maps to locate trees—and pull up images and info—from anywhere on campus. All you will have to do is launch the app on your phone wherever you’re standing, and you will see icons for trees on the tour around you. It’s going to create a far more fun, interactive and versatile experience, making it much easier, as well, to enjoy parts of the tour for short breaks between classes or during lunch.

As Omar and Jamy tweak the final details and functionality, you can check out their one-minute promotional video to get excited about their work! You’re also invited to the iSchool Capstone Night, which is coming up at the HUB on May 26. Omar and Jamy will be presenting their app, and two other iSchool students are working on projects with the Vogt Lab (please RSVP if you’d like to attend).

2016 Climate Change Video Awards: Announcing the Winners!

We hosted our second UW Climate Change Video Awards last Saturday, May 14, at Town Hall in Seattle, and it was quite a show!

From our emcee, stand-up economist Yoram Bauman, to our fantastic judges—Dean Lisa J. Graumlich, Paul D. Miller (aka DJ Spooky) and Ethan Steinman—to all of the students, families and friends who came out to watch, we couldn’t have asked for a more positive and inspiring evening. Also, one of the team members on the second-place winner for the undergraduate category, Ben Jensen, is a student in our Environmental Science and Resource Management program!

Yuna Shin, from Henry M. Jackson High School in Bothell, won first prize in the high school category—good for $5,000!

Yuna Shin, from Henry M. Jackson High School in Bothell, won first prize in the high school category—good for $5,000!

Hannah Letinich, our photographer for the show, captured a wonderful range of shots from the evening, so we encourage you to take a look at her gallery (download any images you’d like for free, but please give Hannah credit if you post or share them online anywhere). We’ll be working on getting the winning videos up online to share soon, as well, and in the meantime, below are this year’s finalists and winners.

A huge congratulations to all of them, and to everyone who submitted a video for this year’s contest. These students poured so much time and creativity into these films, and they give us tremendous hope for the future of environmental leadership.

High School

First Place: Yuna Shin, Henry M. Jackson High School, Bothell – $5,000
Second Place: Suraj Buddhavarapu, Naveen Sahi, Allison Tran and Vibha Vadlamani, Tesla STEM High School, Redmond – $1,000
Third Place: Luke Brodersen, Shorewood High School, Shoreline – $500

Other finalists: Julci Areza, Chloe Birney and Tanaya Sardesai from Redmond High School in Redmond, and Aria Ching, Jesselynn Noland, Emily Riley and Emily Weaver from Lynnwood High School in Bothell.

Undergraduate

First Place: Audrey Seda and Tommy Tang, Eastern Washington University and University of Washington – Bothell – $5,000
Second Place: Ben Jensen, Charles Johnson and Anthony Whitfield, University of Washington – $1,000
Third Place: Aaron Hecker, University of Washington – $500

Other finalists: Kennedy McGahan from Gonzaga University, and Malea Saul, Madeline Savage and Bethany Shepler from the University of Washington.

***

Special thanks to the Denman Endowment for Student Excellence in Forest Resources for funding the contest.

Photos © Hannah Letinich.

Aaron Hecker, who won third place in the undergraduate category.

Aaron Hecker, who won third place in the undergraduate category, is a student at the University of Washington.

A Sabbatical Sojourn in Australia

Professor Aaron Wirsing just returned from a sabbatical sojourn in Australia, where he spent six weeks as a visiting professor at the University of Sydney. Hosted by SEFS Affiliate Assistant Professor Thomas Newsome, Aaron says the trip turned out to be quite the adventure.

Along the way, he logged more than 4,000 kilometers on the ground, highlighted by an epic drive from Alice Springs to the Tanami Desert along the legendary Tanami Track, which most Australians never see. He also paid visits to Melbourne for a guest lecture at Deakin University, and to Yulara for some hiking in the iconic Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park. Wildlife abounded at every turn, including a flood plains monitor (the biggest lizard he’s ever seen), a host of small marsupials in the Simpson Desert, and numerous dingoes.

For a more detailed account of his travels, and loads of additional photos, you can check out his research blog!

Photo © Aaron Wirsing.

2016_05_Aaron in Australia

 

2016 UW Climate Change Video Awards: Meet the Judges!

Last year, our first-ever UW Climate Change Video Contest was such a success that we decided we had to do it again. So this winter and spring, we once again challenged high school and undergraduate students in the state of Washington to grab a camera and show us what climate change means to them in three minutes or less. The submissions are in, the finalists reviewed and selected—and now the reel fun begins!

Join us at Town Hall on Saturday, May 14, from 7 to 9 p.m. for a public screening of the top five video entries in each category—high school and undergraduate—and see who takes home the grand prize of $5,000, as well as $1,000 for second and $500 for third. A renowned panel of judges will be on hand to announce the winners and discuss the student’s work, and it’s going to be a great show!

We hope you’ll join us in recognizing these incredibly talented students. The screening and award ceremony is free and open to the public, and doors open at 6 p.m. Register now!

Meet the Judges

2016_05_Yoram for blogYoram Bauman (Judge and emcee)
An environmental economist, writer and comedian, Yoram Bauman earned a Ph.D. in economics from the University of Washington in 2003 and now performs as the “world’s first and only stand-up economist.” He’s shared the stage with everyone from the late Robin Williams to Paul Krugman, and he has appeared in TIME Magazine and on PBS and NPR. He’s the founder and co-chair of Carbon Washington, a grassroots campaign to bring a revenue-neutral carbon tax (I-732) to Washington, and he is also the co-author of The Cartoon Introduction to Climate Change.

2016_05_DJ Spooky for blogPaul D. Miller, aka DJ Spooky
Paul D. Miller is a composer, multimedia artist and writer. He has created many works based on his travels to the Arctic and Antarctic, including multimedia stage works: “Arctic Rhythms,” “Check Your Math,” “Terra Nova: Sinfonia Antarctica”; art exhibition “Ice Music”; and The Book of Ice, a graphic book that explores the impact of climate change on Antarctica through the prism of digital media and contemporary music.

Some of his recent projects include “Heart of a River,” a composition that looks at water, cities, climate change and music in India, and “Heart of a Forest,” a symphony about forests and the future (premiering May 18 at Oregon State University). You can follow him on Twitter at @djspooky.

2016_05_Lisa Graumlich for blogDean Lisa Graumlich
Dr. Lisa J. Graumlich, Virginia and Prentice Bloedel Professor, is the inaugural dean of the College of the Environment at the University of Washington. As dean, she leads a college with unparalleled depth and breadth in environmental systems: from the forests to the seas, and from the depths of the Earth to the edges of the solar system. As a scholar, Graumlich pioneered the use of tree-ring data to understand long-term trends in climate, focusing on the mountains of western North America. She is actively engaged with a broad range of stakeholders to understand the impacts of climate change on wilderness and natural areas.

2016_05_Ethan for blogEthan Steinman
Ethan Steinman launched his career in film and television in 1995, and the Emmy-nominated filmmaker opened his Seattle-based media production company, Daltonic Films, in 2013. As a producer and director, he has worked on programming for a wide range of stations, 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 documentaries, including Glacial Balance, which explores the effects of climate change on Andean glaciers and the people who depend on them for survival.