ESRM Seminar Series: Winter 2017 Schedule!

The SEFS Seminar Series will be on hiatus this quarter (returning in the spring), but we still have two other terrific series to keep you thoroughly engaged through our darkest months: the Wildlife Science Seminar and the ESRM 429 Seminar.

The latter is our subject today, and SEFS doctoral student Si Gao is running the show this quarter. She’s put together a terrific line-up of speakers around the theme of “Ecosystem Services,” and talk topics will range from deep soil carbon to plant remediation and oceanography.

The talks are held on Tuesdays from 8:30 to 9:20 a.m. in Anderson 223. They are always open to the public, and we encourage you to mark your calendars and join us for as many as you can!

2016_12_sefs-senior-seminar_winter-2017Week 1: January 3
“Diversity of ecosystem services: examples from plant community ecology”
Dr. Claire Wainwright, SEFS Research Associate

Week 2: January 10
Topic: Fire management in the Pacific Northwest
Professor Ernesto Alvarado, SEFS

Week 3: January 17
Topic: Life -cycle assessment of wood products
Dr. Francesca Pierobon, SEFS Research Associate, CINTRAFOR

Week 4: January 24
Topic: Social ecology
Professor Steve Harrell, SEFS and Department of Anthropology

Week 5: January 31
Topic: Disturbance ecology and entomology
Professor Patrick Tobin, SEFS

Week 6: February 7
Topic: Deep soil carbon
Cole Gross, SEFS graduate student

Week 7: February 14
Topic: Biological oceanography
Bryndan Durham & Ryan Groussman, School of Oceanography

Week 8: February 21
Topic: Biofuel and Bioenergy
Chang Dou, SEFS doctoral candidate

Week 9: February 28
Topic: Plant remediation
Robert Tournay, SEFS doctoral student

Week 10: March 7
Topic: Atmospheric reactive N cycling
Professor Joel Thornton, UW Department of Atmospheric Sciences

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

Professor Tobin Awarded Powell Grant to Study Insect Invasiveness

Last month, Professor Patrick Tobin and a team of researchers were awarded an innovative grant from the John Wesley Powell Center for Analysis and Synthesis in Fort Collins, Colo.: “Predicting the next high-impact insect invasion: Elucidating traits and factors determining the risk of introduced herbivorous insects on North American native plants.”

This fall, entering his second full year on the SEFS faculty, Tobin welcomed four new grad students to his newly refurbished “Disturbance Ecology Lab.”

This fall, entering his second full year on the SEFS faculty, Tobin welcomed four new grad students to his newly refurbished “Disturbance Ecology Lab.”

Powell grants are somewhat unique in that they don’t fund new data collection and research, but rather “Working Groups” that mine and synthesize existing data sets to discover overarching trends and insights. For Tobin’s group, they wanted to search for broad patterns in what drives invasiveness on a continental scale. All non-native species initially lack natural predators, he says, and they all generally feed on host plants that haven’t adapted to them. Yet out of 100 introduced insects, there are probably only three or four that become high-impact pests—like the emerald ash borer (Agrilus planipennis)—that are dangerous enough to cause cascading changes to ecosystems. So what’s different about the other 90 to 95 percent of non-native species? What separates the really bad invasive species from the basically benign?

“I’ve dedicated my professional career to this question,” says Tobin, “so I’m excited to have this working group and the resources to really dive into it.”

The ultimate goal of this research is to develop a framework to help predict and prioritize strategies against future insect threats in the United States—with direct applications to invasive species management and risk assessment around the country and world.

The Working Group
When you submit a proposal to the Powell Center, you pitch a project and also a proposed participant list to make up a working group of about 15 scientists. The idea is to bring together a diverse set of specialties and backgrounds to explore an issue as comprehensively as possible. So Tobin’s group includes three co-investigators—Professor Daniel Herms from Ohio State University, Professor Travis Marsico from Arkansas State University, and Dr. Kathryn Thomas, a plant ecologist with the U.S. Geological Survey—along with a host of other experts from 12 different universities, ranging from chemical ecologists to population geneticists to forest ecologists.

Emerald ash borer (Agrilus planipennis) larva.

Emerald ash borer larva.

Their group had submitted this concept two times previously before finally securing the grant—one of four awarded out of 50 proposals in 2015. “We almost didn’t pitch it the third year,” he says, “but we decided to try one more time. You have to be persistent and keep improving your proposal, and you can’t get frustrated. Last year, we had the dubious honor of being the top-ranked proposal not funded. This year we’re the top-ranked proposal overall. Sometimes in the grant process, it’s just a matter of convincing them it’s a good idea, and it can take a couple years to do that.”

The award will cover travel expenses for the researchers to make three weeklong visits to meet as a group at the U.S. Geological Survey’s Fort Collins Science Center, where they will have full access to the facility’s computational, data manipulation and data management resources. They will have plenty of homework in-between these visits, as well, and the grant also includes up to $100,000 for a postdoc to help guide the project for two years.

Tobin says the postdoc, who will be working directly with him and based at SEFS, will be crucial to the success of the project. “The beauty of these working groups is that they really want you to get things done,” he says. “It’s a great opportunity for a postdoc to work with this diverse group of people, and they really get to pump out a lot of papers.”

The group’s plan is to meet this coming June for the first time, and Tobin will start looking this fall for a quantitative ecologist to fill the postpoc position. He has also recruited an undergrad at SEFS to help as part of a capstone project.

Photos © Patrick Tobin.

Cactus moth (now caterpillar) Cactoblastis cactorum.

Cactus moth larvae (Cactoblastis cactorum).

Wildlife Science Seminar: Winter 2015 Schedule

The schedule is set for the long-running Wildlife Science Seminar (ESRM 455 & SEFS 554), and the Winter 2015 edition kicks off this afternoon at 3:30 p.m. in Smith 120 with Professor Jonathan Pauli from the University of Wisconsin!

Wildlife Science SeminarProfessor Aaron Wirsing is hosting the seminar this quarter, and he’s lined up a wide array of subjects and speakers, including faculty from SEFS and other departments and universities, as well as local researchers and a doctoral student. There’s a lot to get excited about, from biological invasions to sloths, crocodiles, tree kangaroos and swift foxes, so check out the full schedule below and come out for as many talks as you can!

The seminars are held on Mondays from 3:30 to 4:50 p.m. in Smith 120, and the public is heartily invited.

Week 1: January 5
“’Slowly, slowly, slowly,” said the moth: a syndrome of mutualism drives the lifestyle of a sloth”
Professor Jonathan Pauli
Department of Forest and Wildlife Ecology
University of Wisconsin-Madison

Week 2: January 12
“Insect intruders: Biological invasions and the threat to ecosystems and biodiversity”
Professor Patrick Tobin
School of Environmental and Forest Sciences

Week 3: January 19
Holiday (no seminar)

Week 4: January 26
“Size-selective mortality and critical growth periods: diagnosing marine mortality for juvenile salmon in Puget Sound”
Professor David Beauchamp
School of Aquatic and Fishery Sciences

Week 5: February 2
“Behavior and conservation: the decline of the Mariana crow”
Dr. Renee Robinette Ha, Lecturer and Research Scientist
UW Department of Psychology

Week 6: February 9
“Conserving endangered wildlife in Papua New Guinea: Creating a sustainable community-based conservation program”
Dr. Lisa Dabek, Senior Conservation Scientist/Director of the Papua New Guinea Tree Kangaroo Conservation Program
Woodland Park Zoo, Seattle, Wash.

Week 7: February 16
Holiday (no seminar)

Week 8: February 23
“Ecology of swift foxes in southeastern Colorado: integrating ecology, behavior and genetics”
Professor Eric Gese
Department of Wildland Resources, Utah State University

Week 9: March 2
“A framework for successful citizen science: good data and good relationships”
Wendy Conally, Citizen Science Coordinator
Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife
Wildlife Diversity Conservation Assessment

Week 10: March 9
“Distribution and status of Crocodylus suchus in Kidepo Valley National Park, Uganda”
Carol Bogezi, PhD student
Wildlife Science Group, School of Environmental and Forest Sciences

New Faculty Intro: Patrick Tobin

With three new faculty members joining SEFS this fall—Professors David Butman, Peter Kahn and Patrick Tobin—we’re excited to introduce our new colleagues and welcome them to the community!

First up for introductions is Tobin, who joins us as an assistant professor after spending more than 11 years with the U.S. Forest Service Northern Research Station in Morgantown, W.Va. He spent most of the summer back in West Virginia selling his home and preparing for a cross-country drive to Seattle, where his family—Ahnya Redman and two “very energetic boys”—have been living since May. Ahnya, in fact, is also working at the University of Washington, just up Rainier Vista in Mary Gates Hall. It’s been about 20 years, says Tobin, since he and Ahnya worked close enough to have lunch together. That was back in graduate school at Penn State, and they feel lucky to be campus neighbors once again.

Patrick TobinAs for his background, Tobin earned a bachelor’s in environmental health sciences from the University of Georgia in 1991 (occasionally bumping into Michael Stipe around Athens), a master’s in entomology from Penn State in 1997, and then a Ph.D. in entomology from Penn State in 2002 (with minors in statistics and operations research). His interest areas broadly approach different aspects of forest health, including entomology, invasion ecology and population ecology. A big part of what inspired his transition to university life, as well, was the chance to partner with other faculty on a wider range of research projects. “I think there’s a greater opportunity for different kinds of collaborations,” he says.

Tobin is also excited to have closer engagement with students. With the Forest Service, he was able to serve on some graduate committees and give guest lectures, but he never had the opportunity to lead his own courses. “I’m really looking forward to teaching, and also student mentorship,” he says. “I think I’ve sort of missed out on that the last 12 years.”

Though he won’t be teaching his first quarter, Tobin says he’ll be taking on a quantitative science course this winter, an entomology/pathology course for spring, and then likely a graduate-level course on entomology next fall. “I’ve always been interested in insects,” he says. “It’s a personal bias of mine, but I think insects rule the world, and studying them just opens up so many opportunities.”

Whether you’re researching insects as vectors of disease, or how they interact with plants and animals, or how they affect humans, Tobin says there’s no limit to the kinds of questions you can ask and investigate. “I’m surprised more people don’t work with insects. There are so many different directions you can go.”

mosquito

A “magnificent creature”? Only to an entomologist!

In terms of favorite study species, Tobin says he’s always been partial to moths and butterflies, and he’s had a long fascination with mosquitoes—not an affection, to be sure, so much as a tip of the hat to their evolutionary success and historical impact. He even contracted malaria years ago while serving in the Peace Corps in West Africa, yet he still can’t help but respect and admire them.

“We can hate them because they annoy us and give us diseases and keep us up at night,” he says, “but you have to appreciate the sophistication of the mosquito. They are magnificent creatures.”

By moving to Seattle, Tobin will have to forgo the pleasure of swatting away swarms of mosquitoes all summer, but he and his family otherwise feel enormous excitement about life in the Pacific Northwest. Ahnya is originally from Chelan, Wash., where most of her family still lives, and Tobin is originally from southern California, so they feel very much at home on the West Coast. They’re also looking forward to the local coffee culture—including finding unroasted coffee beans for their roaster—and taking advantage of the countless outdoor opportunities throughout the year.

Tobin is now on campus full-time, and you can stop by his office in Anderson 123B or catch him by email at pctobin@uw.edu. He’s also giving the first talk in the SEFS Seminar Series this fall, so come out and welcome Professor Tobin on Wednesday, Sept. 24, at 3:30 p.m. in Anderson 223!

Photo © Patrick Tobin.

SEFS Seminar Series: Fall Schedule Announced!

If you’ve been pining for the sound of stirring voices and enthralled audiences, you’ll be excited to know the SEFS Seminar Series is booting up for the fall on Wednesday, September 24!

SEFS Seminar Schedule: Fall 2014We’ve lined up 10 weeks of fantastic talks, including presentations from two new faculty members—Professors Patrick Tobin and David Butman—as well as visiting speakers from CalPoly, Portland State University and other units on campus. Also, the final seminar will feature an alumni speaker, Stephen Hopley, to talk about his life and career in paper science and engineering.

Once again, we’re partnering with the Dead Elk Society to host a casual reception in the Forest Club Room following the seminar on November 5. Two other seminars will coincide with annual school-wide events, starting with the Salmon BBQ on October 1, and then the SEFS Holiday Party on December 3.

The seminars will be held on Wednesdays from 3:30 to 4:30 p.m. in Anderson 223. (Students can enroll for credit under SEFS 529B; contact Michelle Trudeau for more information.)

So check out the full line-up below, and get ready for 10 weeks of terrific talks!

Week 1: September 24
Professor Patrick Tobin
“Allee effects and biological invasions: Exploiting an Achilles’ Heel in management strategies”

Week 2: October 1
Professor Rob Harrison
“The ‘hidden half’ of PNW forests: Understanding why our trees grow so fast”
* Salmon BBQ to follow in Anderson Hall courtyard

Week 3: October 8
Research Scientist Vane Kane
“Biophysical controls on forest structure and disturbance across landscapes”

Week 4: October 15
Professor Rebecca Neumann, Civil and Environmental Engineering
“Climate change and arsenic uptake by rice: Impact of elevated soil temperature on rhizosphere oxygen dynamics and arsenic concentrations in rice tissue”

Week 5: October 22
Professor Christian Torgersen
“The Fourth Paradigm and data-driven discovery in riverine science”

Week 6: October 29
Professor David Butman
“Fitting freshwater ecosystems into the boreal and arctic carbon cycles”

Week 7: November 5
Professor Vince Gallucci, School of Aquatic and Fishery Sciences (and SEFS)
“Biodiversity of Arctic Ocean fauna as related to indigenous populations and climate change”
* Reception to follow in Forest Club Room

Week 8: November 12
Professor Sarah Bisbing, CalPoly
“Landscape influence on gene flow and connectivity across the range of Pinus contorta”

Week 9: November 19
Professor Todd Rosenstiel, Portland State University
“Canopies of change: Reconsidering bryophytes, biofuels and brown clouds in the PNW”

Week 10: December 3
Stephen M. Hopley, Alumni Speaker
“My life story as a paper science and engineering graduate”