Daniel Sorensen is a graduate student at the UW School of Environmental and Forest Sciences, working in the lab of UW Botanic Gardens Director, Sarah Reichard, and researching the risk of invasion across Washington and Oregon of 2 two closely related grasses in the genus Cortaderia – pampas grass and jubata grass. Daniel works as the Integrated Pest Management (IPM) and Sustainability Coordinator for UW Grounds Management, and in that role he helps manage invasive species in the Union Bay Natural Area along with UW Botanic Gardens staff. He is also a student member of the Arboretum Botanic Garden Committee.
Daniel grew up on Long Island in NY, close to the ocean and the salt marshes along the south shore. Family vacations–swimming, hiking and getting lost in the woods of Northern Vermont–sowed Daniel’s love for plants and nature. Daniel earned a BS from the State University of New York, College of Environmental Science and Forestry, in Syracuse NY. He also worked in several states doing ecological restoration, natural resources management, and invasive plant management.
Starting a master’s program at the UW is what ultimately brought Daniel to Seattle, although he had longed to live in the Pacific Northwest. He enjoys exploring Seattle neighborhoods by bicycle, hiking and camping the in the Cascades and Olympics, and going to antique/thrift stores to find vintage Pyrex for his collection. He also enjoys gardening, growing his own food, canning and being surrounded by plants inside his home.
Daniel’s favorite classes are Plant Ecophysiology and Landscape Plant Recognition. Plant Ecophysiology makes connections between the internal working of the plant with external influences in the landscape; it taught him how to ask research questions and set up experiments to answer those questions. Landscape Plant Recognition was a race to memorize the scientific names and identify over 250 plants in one quarter.
Daniel now gives talks and workshops for the UW Botanic Gardens Adult Education Program.
Although Daniel is often busy with classes and work on campus, he often bikes over to the Center for Urban Horticulture for a class or just to spend time in Elisabeth C. Miller Library where he loves “being surrounded by the community of professional staff, faculty, students, and volunteers on campus and UW Botanic Gardens.”
Daniel also loves to visit the Washington Park Arboretum to “get lost under the trees” of the Woodland Gardens, or go paddling in the marshes at the Union Bay Natural Area.
No one plant can be considered Daniel’s favorite, this changes seasonally and sometimes daily. With that said, one his favorite plants from his time in the northeast is Northern spice bush- Lindera benzoin– this small understory shrub has a delightful smell found in the leaves, stems, and fruit (hence its common name) but its small yellow blooms are the reason it is his favorite northeast plant. These small blooms are one of the first bit of color to in early spring and a dense stand of spicebush can glow strong against the drab brown and gray backdrop of the deciduous woodlands in the Northeast. “When I would see the spice bush in flower,” he says in glee, “I knew winter was definitely over!”