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.

Photo Gallery: Pack Forest Summer Crew Gets Underway!

On June 19, four SEFS undergrads began a nine-week internship at Pack Forest as part of the long-running Summer Crew. For the rest of summer quarter, these students—Nicole Lau, Xin Deng, Brian Chan and Joshua Clark—will be involved in a set of diverse projects while receiving hands-on field training in sustainable forest management in the 4,300 acres of Pack Forest. Graduate students Kiwoong Lee, Matthew Aghai and Emilio Vilanova, as well as Forester Jeff Kelly and Professor Greg Ettl, will be working with the interns as they develop skills from forest mensuration to species identification, tackling projects from repairing roads and trails to assisting with research installations, and also taking some field trips.

It’s a tremendous, hallowed experience in SEFS history, and you can check out some great photos from their first couple weeks of work!

Photos © Emilio Vilanova.

2017 Pack Forest Summer Crew

New Summer Course: Proto-Timber Design-Build Studio!

This summer, Professor Greg Ettl will be one of four instructors for a new cross-disciplinary course, Proto-Timber (ARCH 403B/506B), which will explore the nexus of 21st century technology, design and environmental science. The workshop aims to address new architectural, social and environmental potentials of forest resources prolific to the Pacific Northwest, and it involves designing and building a new outdoor education teaching shelter for the Mount Rainier Institute at Pack Forest!

As part of this course, students will get to understand the uses of timber in standard and non-standard construction methods, including the issues relating to forestry, craft and contemporary digital fabrication techniques; the historical evolution and pressures that have shaped timber production and consumption as it exists today; the social and environmental potentials of architectural design as they relate to community empowerment at a variety of scales, from the local to the global; and develop a practical skill competency in the areas of wood design, fabrication and construction.

The course is open to graduate and undergraduate students, and it includes a multi-day site visit to Pack Forest. Register today, or email Glen Stellmacher to learn more!

SEFS Students Win Academic Competition Against University of British Columbia

Twenty-four hours is all the students were given to assess the forest and develop a stewardship plan for a 35-acre, 100-plus-year-old forest tract on King County Parks land. That was the task this past weekend at the 10th Annual International Silviculture Challenge, which pitted six students from the School of Environmental and Forest Sciences (SEFS)—Paul Albertine, Aoife Fae, Anthony Martinez, Timothy Seaman, Chris Scelsa and Brendan Whyte—against six students from the University of British Columbia (UBC)—Devon Campbell, Alexia Constantanou, Shawna Girard, Flavie Pelletier, Codie Sundie and Cole Troughton.

Professor Greg Ettl led this year’s group for SEFS and has been involved in the challenge since its inception. In addition to Professor Larson, the UBC team was led by Professor Steve Mitchell and doctoral student Adam Polinko.

SEFS undergrad Aoife Fae, who was part of the winning team with fellow students Paul Albertine and Timothy Seaman.

To kick off the challenge on Friday, March 3, the students—broken into two teams per university—met with King County Parks Forester Bill Loeber at noon to learn the specifics of competition. The students then spent three and a half hours taking forest measurements on the plot to inform their management plans.

David Kimmett, natural lands program manager for King County Parks, designed this year’s challenge, which asked the students to design a canopy walkway for the public, and silviculture treatments that would maintain ecological health of the forest and also provide opportunities for recreation and education. One of the key considerations was that the forest needed to provide between $100,000 to $200,000 in funds to support building the canopy walkway, and then annual revenue to maintain the facility. Another was that the canopy walk had to be constructed from materials harvested on site.

At 1 p.m. on Saturday, March 4, the four student groups presented their plans to a distinguished panel of judges, which included Loeber, King County Parks Environmental Program Manager Richard Martin, and SEFS Affiliate Professor Rolf Gersonde. The competition was close, as all of the prescriptions were strong, and the judges deliberated for more than 30 minutes. But in the end, the SEFS team of Paul Albertine, Aoife Fae, and Timothy Seaman delivered the winning plan!

Please join us congratulating these students when you see them. And students, if you’d like to participate in next year’s challenge, you can start preparing by signing up for ESRM 323 this spring!

***

The Silviculture Challenge was created in 2005 when Professor Emeritus David Ford from SEFS made a phone call to Professor Bruce Larson at UBC and challenged him to an academic silviculture competition. The challenge was born out of a spirited debate as to which faculty and university possessed the best silviculture students and program. The two universities have since alternated hosting the challenge, with UBC winning the past three before SEFS broke the streak this year and returned the award plaque to our campus.

Photo © Greg Ettl.

This Saturday (3/4): SEFS to Host Annual Silviculture Challenge

Coming up this weekend, SEFS will welcome a team from the University of British Columbia (UBC) to compete against our students in the 10th annual International Silviculture Challenge!

This year’s challenge will focus on Preston Ridge Forest (marked in yellow), located 20 miles east of downtown Seattle along Interstate 90.

Professor Emeritus David Ford and former UW Professor Bruce Larson first developed the contest when Bruce left for UBC. In the decade since, the two universities have alternated hosting the challenge, and this year SEFS is partnering with King County Parks to have the students create a management and prescription plan on a forest site near Preston, Wash. King County Parks personnel Dave Kimmett, Bill Loeber and Richard Martin have all been involved in designing the challenge, and Richard and Bill will join SEFS Affiliate Rolf Gersonde as judges Saturday afternoon.

Led by Professor Greg Ettl, the team from SEFS includes five undergraduate students: Paul Albertine, Aoife Fae, Anthony Martinez, Timothy Seaman and Chris Scelsa. We wish them good luck as they face off against their UBC counterparts, and we’ll share the results—as well as more specific details about the challenge—next week!

Pack Forest Spring Planting: March 20-24!

For nearly 80 years, SEFS students have been putting down roots at Pack Forest, helping to shape the woods for future generations. This Spring Break, you can leave your own mark by taking part in the annual spring planting, March 20 to 24, as a Pack Forest intern. After all, why veg when you can plant?!

While staying in rustic cabins at Pack Forest—just down the road from Mount Rainier—you’ll get to roll up your sleeves and work on forest establishment, including planting, regeneration surveys and survey reports. Your housing (and some food) will be covered, there’s a kitchen at your disposal, you’ll earn a $200 stipend, and one course credit is also available. It’s a week of hard work and hands-on learning, and also a whole lot of fun as you explore the gorgeous 4,300 acres of Pack Forest. It’s an unforgettable experience!

The internship is open to undergraduate and graduate students. To apply, send an email expressing your interest to Professor Greg Ettl as soon as possible, and no later than Sunday, February 26!

2017_01_Spring Planting1

Next Thursday (12/8): IFSA to Host Forestry Panel

On Thursday, December 8, at 5 p.m. in the Forest Club Room, the UW local committee of the International Forestry Students’ Association (IFSA) is hosting a panel, “On the Comparison of American and European Forestry Methods.”

Featuring two SEFS undergrads who recently traveled to a forestry conference in Austria, as well as Professors Greg Ettl and Aaron Wirsing, the panel will explore aspects of forest management that lead to success across nations. The event is free and open to the public, and there will be a light reception afterward.

Visit the IFSA Facebook page or email jamesaugust@gmail.com for more information. Check it out!

2016_12_ifsa-forestry-panel

2016 Pack Forest Summer Crew: Season Recap

For nine weeks this summer, five SEFS undergrads worked as interns down at Pack Forest getting immersive, hands-on field training in sustainable forest management. The students—Paul Albertine, Dana Chapman, Dana Reid, Chris Scelsa and Robert Swan—were part of the annual Pack Forest Summer Crew, and they recently wrapped up another successful season.

2016_09_summer-crew-recap2This year, the students got to work with several SEFS graduate students, as well as Jeff Kelly, the forester at Pack Forest. They participated in a wide range of activities, including a great amount of time measuring 85 permanent forest plots from the Continuous Forest Inventory (CFI) project. Doctoral student Emilio Vilanova says they became true field experts and were able to update vital information for the sustainable management of forests at Pack.

Other tasks for the students included assisting Matthew Aghai with his doctoral research, both at Pack Forest and at the Cedar River Watershed, and helping maintain a throughfall exclusion project led by Professor Greg Ettl and doctoral student Kiwoong Lee. They were critical in the upkeep of Pack Forest’s trail network, as well as the measurement of additional small-scale research projects, from regeneration surveys to the installation of other research plots. They also got to take three field trips, including official visits to Rainier Veneer and Silvaseed Company facilities, along with a two-day camping trip to the Cedar River Watershed.

In short, as always, the Pack Forest Summer Crew had an incredibly packed, productive and memorable internship. Take a look at a gallery of photos from their summer!

Photos © Emilio Vilanova.

2016_09_summer-crew-recap3

SEFS Seminar Series: Fall 2016 Schedule!

The schedule is set for the Fall 2016 SEFS Seminar Series, and this quarter’s talks are loosely organized around a spatial theme, “Ecosystems, Ecology and Management at Scales.” We’re excited to welcome a wide range of speakers, from new faculty hire Brian Harvey, to a research fellow from Tasmania, to Professor Randy Dahlgren, who will be visiting from UC Davis to give the Distinguished Alumni Seminar.

Held on Wednesdays from 3:30 to 4:20 p.m. in Anderson 223, the talks are always open to the public, and the first seminar of each month will be followed by a casual reception down the hall in the Forest Club Room (or the Salmon BBQ, in the case of the October 5 seminar!). Students can register for course credit under SEFS 529A.

Check out the schedule below and join us for as many talks as you can!

2016_09_fall-2016-posterWeek 1: September 28
“Carbon cycling in the global forest system”
Dr. Tom Crowther
Postdoctoral Research Associate
Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies

Week 2: October 5*
“From subduction to salmon: Geologic subsidies drive high productivity of a volcanic spring-fed river”
Professor Randy Dahlgren
UC Davis

Week 3: October 12
“Putting PNW retention forestry practices into a global context”
Dr. Sue Baker
Research Fellow
University of Tasmania & Forestry Tasmania

Week 4: October 19
“A comparison of low-intensity management options for Douglas-fir dominated forests in western WA”
Professor Greg Ettl
SEFS

Week 5: October 26
“Bring on the heat: How climate change may protect eastern hemlock”
Dr. Angela Mech
Postdoctoral Research Associate
SEFS

Week 6: November 2*
“Avoided impacts on human health by recovering wood residues for bioenergy and bioproducts in the Pacific Northwest”
Professor Indroneil Ganguly
SEFS

Week 7: November 9
“Unlikely hero, or the next to fall? Causes and consequences of subalpine fir mortality in the wake of recent bark beetle outbreaks”
Dr. Brian Harvey
Smith Fellow (and future SEFS faculty member!)

Week 8: November 16
“California spotted owl habitat: New insights from a multiscale analysis from LiDAR data”
Professor Van Kane
SEFS

Week 9: November 30
“Changing fire regimes in eastern Washington: Recent large wildfire events and implications for dry forest management”
Dr. Susan Prichard
SEFS Research Scientist

Week 10: December 7*

“Exploring frequent fire forests at multiple scales”
Dr. Keala Hagmann
Postdoctoral Research Associate
SEFS

* Indicates reception after seminar

Institute of Forest Resources Announces Four Research Grant Winners

This March, the Institute of Forest Resources awarded four grants through the McIntire-Stennis Cooperative Forestry Research program, totaling $374,877 in funding. After final approval from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, these projects will begin during the 2016 Fall Quarter and last two years, wrapping up by September 30, 2018.

Read more about the funded projects below!

Awarded Projects

1. Sustainable Development of Nanosorbents by Catalytic Graphitization of Woody Biomass for Water Remediation

PI: Professor Anthony Dichiara, SEFS
Co-PI: Professor Renata Bura, SEFS

The present research proposes the development of a simple, sustainable and scalable method to produce high-value carbon nanomaterials from woody biomass. As-prepared carbon products will be employed as adsorbents of large capacity and high binding affinity to remove pesticides from hydrological environments. This project will (i) help mitigate forest fires by limiting the accumulation of dry residues in forest lands, (ii) create new market opportunities to transform the wood manufacturing industry and reinvigorate rural communities, and (iii) minimize potential exposure to hazardous contaminants.

Award total: $109,869

2. Trophic Relationships of Reintroduced Fishers in the South Cascades

PI: Professor Laura Prugh, SEFS

In 2015, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) began reintroducing fishers (Pekania pennanti) to the South Cascades. The west coast fisher population has been proposed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act (decision due by April 2016), and fisher recovery is thus a high priority in Washington. Fisher habitat use has been studied with respect to denning and rest site characteristics, but effects of forest management and stand characteristics on establishment success of reintroduced fishers remains unknown. In collaboration with agency partners, we propose to study how forest structure and management impact prey availability, competitor abundance and fisher establishment in the South Cascades.

Award total: $99,679

3. High-value Chemicals and Gasoline Additives from Pyrolysis and Upgrade of Beetle-killed Trees

PI: Professor Fernando Resende, SEFS
Co-PI: Professor Anthony Dichiara, SEFS

In this project, we will convert beetle-killed lodgepole pine into fuel additives and valuable chemicals (hydrocarbons) using a technique called ablative pyrolysis combined with an upgrading step. We developed a novel and unique system for pyrolysis of wood that has the capability of converting entire wood chips into bio-oil. This characteristic is important for mobile pyrolysis units, because it eliminates the need of grinding wood chips prior to pyrolysis.

Award total: $109,861

4. Bigleaf Maple Decline in Western Washington

PI: Professor Patrick Tobin, SEFS
Co-PI: Professor Greg Ettl, SEFS

We propose to investigate the extent and severity of a recently reported decline in bigleaf maple, Acer macrophyllum, in the urban and suburban forests of Western Washington, and to differentiate between possible abiotic and biotic drivers of the decline. Specifically, we propose to (1) survey the spatial extent of bigleaf maple decline (BLMD) and record associated environmental, anthropogenic, and weather conditions that are associated with BLMD presence and absence; (2) use dendrochronological techniques to analyze and compare growth rates of healthy and symptomatic trees to further differentiate the potential roles of abiotic and biotic drivers of the decline; and (3) to link the data collected under Objectives 1 and 2 with previous  records of BLMD collected by the Washington State Department of Natural Resources to ascertain the spatial-temporal pattern associated with BLMD in Western Washington.

Award total: $55,468