David G. Briggs: 1943-2014

We were extremely sad to learn last week that a wonderful member of the SEFS family, Professor Emeritus David Briggs, passed away at his home on Saturday, July 26.

Briggs was born on July 3, 1943, in North Brookfield, Mass. He earned his bachelor’s at the University of Massachusetts, a master’s from Yale University, and his doctorate from the College of Forest Resources (CFR). He first joined CFR as a graduate student around 1968, but in the early 1970s he briefly left the university to work as an analyst for Washington Iron Works in Seattle. After returning and finishing his dissertation in 1980, Briggs joined the CFR faculty and taught operations research and forest products for more than three decades until his retirement in 2011.

David G. BriggsIn his many distinguished years with our school, he simultaneously served as director of the Stand Management Cooperative and the Precision Forestry Cooperative, and also directed the UW site of the National Science Foundation’s Center for Advanced Forestry Systems. Briggs was respected as a great leader and collaborator, and he was appointed as the Corkery Chair in recognition of his scholarly and professional contributions. He mentored dozens of graduate and undergraduate students, as well as young professors, and was especially known for his enormous generosity and kindness. Even as his health started to slow him down, he continued participating in school affairs and kept an active research profile.

His decorated career as a professor is only part of what his many friends and colleagues remember so fondly. With a tremendous zeal for life and the outdoors, Briggs was an avid climber and mountaineer, and was famous for his storytelling—such as tales of climbing peaks, up and back, early in the morning before the rest of his party had even woken up. He loved traveling and had only recently returned from a trip with his wife Anne to Mongolia and the Gobi Desert. He also had an affinity for animals, at various times keeping llamas, chickens, geese, dogs, cats and a horse on his land.

Briggs will be sorely missed by his mother, Georgia Briggs, his wife, Anne Briggs, his son Jeremy Briggs, his stepdaughter Laura Shepard, many other family and friends, and the countless students and faculty he guided and influenced during his long career at the University of Washington.

A celebration of his life will be held at The University of Washington Club (4020 E. Steven Way) on Sunday, August, 17, from 4 to 7 p.m.; parking on Sundays is available in the Padelford Parking Garage. The family asks that remembrances may be donated to the American Alpine Club or Washington Trails Association.

David Briggs

Professor Moskal Delivers Keynote Address at Conference in Beijing

SEFS Professor Monika Moskal just returned from a week-long trip to China, which included giving a keynote address—“LiDAR for the Measurement and Monitoring of Forest Ecosystem Services”—at the 2013 SilviLaser conference in Beijing, October 9-11 (the “13th International Conference on LiDAR Applications for Assessing Forest Ecosystems”).

Monika Moskal

Professor Moskal’s tour guides, Zhongya and Guang, taking her on a tour of Beijing.

During her trip, Professor Moskal had the opportunity to catch up with one of her former graduate students at SEFS, Guang Zheng, who is now an associate professor of remote sensing at Nanjing University. Guang’s Ph.D. work, which resulted in five peer-reviewed publications, was funded by Moskal’s grant through the National Science Foundation’s Center for Advanced Forestry Systems. Guang is continuing his work with terrestrial LiDAR, and one of his students presented a paper—with Moskal as a collaborator—about classifying point cloud data into ground, leaf and trunk points. This is a breakthrough in LiDAR analysis, says Moskal, as the method is not sensor dependent and can be applied to any 3-D point cloud data (including aerial LiDAR).

Another presenter at the conference was Zhongya Zhang, who was a visiting student in Moskal’s lab for two years. Zhongya presented their work in collaboration with another SEFS student, Alexandra Kazakova, on using hyperspectral imagery and LiDAR to classify forest tree species. This work was funded by McIntire-Stennis funds, as well as the Precision Forestry Cooperative.

Also, a day before the SilviLaser conference, Moskal was invited to address a group of students and faculty at the University of Geosciences in Beijing. She spoke about the hyper-resolution remote sensing research that is a big focus and specialty of her Remote Sensing and Geospatial Analysis Laboratory at SEFS.

Photos © Monika Moskal.

Monika Moskal

Professor Moskal, center, with her hosts, Guang and Zhongya, at the SilviLaser conference.