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.

2017 Sustaining Our World Lecture: Anthony Sinclair

Coming up on Tuesday, April 4, from 6 to 7 p.m. in Anderson Hall – Room 223, we are very pleased to welcome Professor Emeritus Anthony R.E. Sinclair from the University of British Columbia to give the annual Sustaining Our World Lecture, “The future of conservation: Lessons from the past and the need for rewilding of ecosystems.”

The talk is free and open to the public, but please register in advance to make sure we have enough seating. (Anderson Hall is one of the older buildings on campus and has no elevators to the second floor or ramp access at any entrance; our sincere apologies for any difficulty in accessing the room.)

Register today!

About the Talk
Three themes emerge from long-term research around the globe. First, the diversity of species is important in maintaining stability in the system. So if we lose species, as in agriculture, we create instability. Second, due to continuously changing environments, ecosystems are always changing. That means that static boundaries around Protected Areas will not be sufficient for long-term conservation. Third, disturbances in ecosystems (fire, floods, agriculture) can cause a rapid change in state from one species community to another. Consequently, Protected Areas are necessary but not sufficient for the conservation of biota. Restoration of human-disturbed landscapes must now become a priority. I present the rationale and a method for predicting the success of rewilding to a pre-determined state using a rewilding index. This approach tells us when rewilding has been achieved and whether the envisioned community of species and their interactions can be restored. The method can be used to guide restoration of both the type and number of species, and the rate of change of ecosystem processes.

About the Speaker
Anthony is currently professor emeritus at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada. Previously, he served as director of the Centre for Biodiversity Research, University of British Columbia, and was a professor at the Department of Zoology for 34 years. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of London and the Royal Society of Canada. Anthony was a Killam Senior Fellow in 2004-2006 and was awarded the Aldo Leopold medal from The Wildlife Society in 2013.

He has conducted ecological research on the role of biodiversity in the functioning of many ecosystems around the world, including Africa, Australia, New Zealand and Canada. He has worked with many different types of organisms to put together the food webs and their dynamics that cover several decades. This work included the regulation of mammal populations, food supply, nutrition, predation and disease. Anthony has examined the causes of migration and its consequences on ecosystem processes, and he has documented multiple states in the Serengeti savannah and grassland communities for almost 50 years. He has expanded these interests to include bird, insect and reptile faunas as part of the long-term dynamics of ecosystems; these studies have been synthesized in four books. He has worked in Canada on boreal forest ecosystems, in particular on cycles of snowshoe hares for 20 years. He has also worked on endangered marsupial mammal populations and predation by exotic carnivores in Australia and similar systems in New Zealand.

Director’s Message: Winter 2016

While I was biking into work this past Monday, the air was incredibly cool and crisp, and the sky was actually somewhat blue for a change. I remember thinking, “What a perfect way to start another work week in January.” Then, as I walked into Anderson Hall I heard the sound of someone playing piano up in the Forest Club Room. Those notes reinforced my optimistic feeling for the week and made me think of our wonderful community at SEFS—and, in many ways, how much of it revolves around that room.

The 26-foot noble fir, brought up from Pack Forest for the SEFS Holiday Party this year, soars toward the ceiling of the Forest Club Room.

The 26-foot noble fir, brought up from Pack Forest for the SEFS Holiday Party this year, soars toward the ceiling of the Forest Club Room.

When Agnes Anderson donated the financial support to build Anderson Hall in the early 1920s, she stipulated that the large room on the second floor was to be known as the Forest Club Room, and that it would forever be dedicated to students within our School. Her intent was to create a reading room and a common space where students could gather, discuss, study, invent, reflect, forecast and celebrate. The room also happens to be visually impressive, as it has a vaulted gabled ceiling with chandelier lights, a balcony, a large fireplace that we use at annual events, and tall multi-paneled windows that create a cozy, naturally lit atmosphere. It has picked up a few other more eclectic features over the years—such as the elk head mounted on the balcony railing—yet is has remained a warm and inviting space.

For us, as well, it means so much more. Since coming to the University of Washington in 2012, I have emphasized the importance of community within the School, and the Forest Club Room plays a key role in uniting us as friends and colleagues. Sure, the couches are a bit tattered and the tables wobbly—and the carpet seems to attract a remarkable assortment of crumbs—but the room represents so much that is great about our programs, our history, our integrity, our enthusiasm and dedication to our science. It’s the staging ground for scores of meetings and social events, and a catalyst for interdisciplinary activities. Just in the past few months, the room has hosted receptions after SEFS graduate seminars; it was the site of the SEFS Holiday party, a Pecha Kucha night with the International Forestry Students’ Association, and a couple Dead Elk parties that echoed laughter through Anderson Hall late into the evening. In the next few months, the room will be home to a Natural Resources Career Fair, the Graduate Student Symposium and prospective graduate student weekend, a Capstone Poster Session to showcase undergraduate research, thesis and dissertation defenses, and so many other solo and group work sessions. The secret is out, too, as just last year the UW Daily ranked the room as one of the best study spots on campus.

Even as we plan for Anderson Hall to get a major refurbishment in the next several years, we will make sure the Forest Club Room remains almost exactly as it is today, just with updated lighting, insulation and windows. After all, the room is like so much of what we offer in our School—unpretentious, welcoming and enriching. On chilly and rainy winter days, especially, it is both a place of retreat and the platform for an advance. It is part of the very fabric that makes us such a special and cohesive program. So, as the piano softly plays in the Forest Club Room, I welcome you as students, colleagues, alumni and friends to come and enjoy this warm and wonderful space during the cold, dark months of winter—and any other time you find yourself in these halls.

Tom DeLuca
School of Environmental and Forest Sciences

Tell Us: Favorite Memories of Anderson Hall

In the last issue of Roots, our alumni e-newsletter, we asked our graduates to tell us about their favorite memories of Anderson Hall. Here’s what Jenniffer Bakke, (’03, B.S.), who is now a wildlife biologist for Hancock Forest Management in Independence, Ore., recalls about her time in Anderson (when she was Jenniffer Holt):

2015_07_TellUs3“My memories of Anderson Hall run the full spectrum from the dark and cold basement classrooms to the bright and inviting Forest Club Room. One quarter, I had two or three classes in Anderson Hall, so I spent A LOT of time roaming those halls. As I think back to those years, most of my memories developed in the Forest Club Room, and I loved how the Forest Club met in the balcony. Speaking of which, I met my now-husband on that balcony at a Forest Club meeting. The room has so many windows, and the sun could be so bright at times. Those were the days I silently cursed having to study when I desperately wanted to be sunning myself next to the fountain. I remember several Forest Club parties in there, and that room where I laughed with my friends until late into the night (or until we were politely asked to wrap it up).

Perhaps my most poignant memory of that room is after the 2003 graduation ceremony. As I introduced my parents and brothers to all the friends I’d made over the previous three years, and amid all the celebration and congratulatory remarks, I couldn’t help but realize that I probably wouldn’t see the inside of that room for many years.”

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For the next issue of Roots, we’re asking alumni to tell us: What was your favorite spot on campus—a place to study, to eat lunch, to go for a walk? We’ll feature one or more response in the next issue of Roots, and also right here on the “Offshoots” blog. Please email submissions—of no more than 250 words—to sefsalum@uw.edu, and we’ll follow up to ask for a photo if your letter is accepted and published.

Photos © Jenniffer Bakke.