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Dean's Letter

Dean Graumlich headshot

The beginning of the summer is a time to switch gears and recalibrate for many of us at the College of the Environment. In fact, in many ways it’s like our New Year's Day—a day that marks fresh beginnings and new perspectives. Summer gives us a chance to reflect on the past and forge pathways into the future; it also lets us get out and show what we are made of, sharpening our scientific smarts as we go.

Simply put, summer brings opportunity. For faculty, it means designing new experiments, checking on old ones, or testing fresh hypotheses based on the mountains of data we’ve been methodically crunching. We get to spend time with colleagues in the lab and field, breaking new ground, asking new questions, and building new partnerships. We nudge the boundaries of science closer to the horizon and advance our understanding of the world around us.

For graduate students, summer allows us to dive deeply into a newfound system of study. It’s a time of laser focus, executing that first big experiment or figuring out why the last one didn’t turn out as expected. We learn that science is as much about learning from failures as it is about reaping successes, and that the process yields unexpected surprises that ultimately underpin and strengthen our work.

For undergraduates, summer brims with excitement and offers the opportunity to move outside of the classroom, perhaps cutting our scientific teeth in the field or lab for the first time. You try a few different pathways, dipping your toes into forestry or fisheries or physics, exploring the connections between all sciences and getting a first glimpse at what your potential career path may be. 

And for those graduating, newly minted with a bachelor’s, master’s, or PhD, it’s the time to take your polished skillset and begin the next chapter, meeting head on the challenges that define your chosen professions. This particular summer marks a profound milestone for you, both in terms of what has already been accomplished and those accomplishments that lie ahead.

As this “new year” begins, let’s celebrate our collective triumphs as a College community and embrace what the upcoming summer has to offer each of us. Congratulations again to all of our new graduates and thank you to everyone who makes our College such a spectacular place.

Now get out there and have fun!

Dean Graumlich signature

Lisa Graumlich
Dean, College of the Environment
Virginia and Prentice Bloedel Professor


UW LogoDean Graumlich to Lead UW Board of Deans and Chancellors

Lisa Graumlich was elected by her peer Deans and Chancellors to serve as co-chair—along with the Provost—of the Board of Deans and Chancellors (BODC), a group that meets regularly to consider matters related to educational policy and administrative processes, as well as other topics relevant to the UW. The BODC can submit recommendations on such matters to the President as it relates to the welfare of the University and the achievement of its objectives through its academic colleges, departments and schools.


Biofuels turn wood into fuelBiofuels Group Meets with Industry Partners

In late May, Rick Gustafson, Professor of Environmental and Forest Sciences, along with colleagues from the College of the Environment and College of Engineering, met on campus with industry partners to discuss research objectives and the path forward for the commercial use of biofuels. Gustafson and colleagues are using woody biomass to expand what has been a Midwest-centric biofuels industry into the Pacific Northwest. Funded through a $40M US Department of Agriculture grant, this research is aimed at catalyzing the commercial production of bio-based aviation, diesel and gasoline fuels using plantation-grown poplars as feedstock. To learn more about the research and biofuels visit the Biofuels and Bioproducts Laboratory website(photo from Forest Products Society)


Robert FleagleRemembering Robert Fleagle, Professor Emeritus of Atmospheric Sciences

Professor Robert Fleagle passed away on April 20, and will be missed greatly by his university colleagues and others that knew him well. His distinguished career spanned 40 years, which included time as the Department of Atmospheric Science’s Chair and as a Senior Fellow in the Joint Institute for the Study of the Atmosphere and Ocean. His work reached beyond the boundaries of UW, chairing the National Academy of Sciences Committee on Atmospheric Sciences and the University Corporation of Atmospheric Research Board of Trustees. He was also President of the American Meteorological Society, and served under President Kennedy in the Office of Science and Technology overseeing atmospheric research in government agencies.

"Bob Fleagle was a Founding Father of the Department of Atmospheric Sciences, who helped establish the productive and collegial culture that yielded the excellent international reputation the department now enjoys,” said Greg Hakim, Professor and Chair of Atmospheric Sciences. “In addition to his publications, students, and influential textbook, his legacy includes an endowed lectureship on atmospheric science policy and a fund to support graduate education."

To read more about the life and influence of Professor Fleagle, please visit the College of the Environment website.


College AwardsCollege of the Environment Award Recipients

Each year, the College of the Environment recognizes outstanding faculty, students and staff for their efforts. Congratulations to this year’s award recipients:

  • Distinguished Staff Member: 
Juan Carlos Chavez, Washington Space Grant
  • Outstanding Teaching Faculty: 
Nives Dolšak, School of Marine and Environmental Affairs

  • Outstanding Researcher: Trevor Branch, School of Aquatic and Fishery Sciences

  • Outstanding Community Impact: 
Karl Lang - Student, Earth and Space Sciences; David Fluharty - Faculty, School of Marine and Environmental Affairs

  • Undergraduate Dean's Medalist: Taryn Black, Earth and Space Sciences

  • Graduate Dean's Medalist: Kate Allstadt, Earth and Space Sciences


College of the Environment Awards 2013-2014 Dean's Office Scholarships

The College is pleased to announce the following scholarships awarded for 2013-2014:

Del Rio Endowed Environmental Studies Scholarship

The Del Rio Family Foundation established the Del Rio Endowed Scholarship Fund for Environmental Studies to encourage and support students with an interest in the environment who are participating in the Educational Opportunity Program, which promotes academic success and graduation for under-represented ethnic minorities, economically disadvantaged and first generation college students at the University of Washington. The Foundation hopes that through their studies and participation in real-world environmental research and problem-solving, students will broaden their personal horizons to include issues of global concern and will develop a passion and the skill set for making a difference in the world.

Recipients (*Denotes continued funding from 2012-2013):

  • Aundrea Lugo Penaloza*, Senior, Bioresource Science and Engineering
  • Tara Wilson*, Junior, Environmental Science and Terrestrial Resource Management
  • Burlyn Birkemeier*, Sophomore, Aquatic and Fishery Sciences
  • Samantha Mendez*, Sophomore, Pre- Bioresource Science and Engineering
  • Viviana Castillo, incoming 2013 Freshman, Oceanography

Nancy Wilcox Endowed Scholarship 
This scholarship is made possible by the generosity of former UW Provost Phyllis Wise, who established it to support students pursuing degrees in the College of the Environment. Dr. Wise named the endowment in honor and memory of her late sister, Nancy E. Wang Wilcox, a middle school teacher who tried to develop the minds of young adolescents using creative and innovative ways of learning. It is this legacy that inspired Provost Wise to establish this endowment to carry on her sister’s commitment to helping others achieve their educational goals.

Recipients (*Denotes continued funding from 2012-2013):

  • Hayley Davidson*, Junior, Environmental Studies
  • Brandon Ringstad*, Junior, Aquatic and Fishery Sciences
  • Lilia Bannister*, Sophomore, Aquatic and Fishery Sciences
  • Emily Richmond*, Freshman, Environmental Science and Terrestrial Resource Management
  • Dana Chapman, incoming 2013 Freshman, Environmental Science and Terrestrial Resource Management

Clarence H. Campbell Endowed Lauren Donaldson Scholarship 
Clarence H. Campbell established this scholarship in memory of Lauren "Doc" Donaldson to support students in the Schools of Aquatic & Fishery Sciences, Marine and Environmental Affairs, and Oceanography. Professor Donaldson earned his MS and his PhD degree from the UW. He served on the faculty of the School of Fisheries from 1932 until his retirement in 1973. Doc was a world-renowned expert in development of fish stocks and trained countless students in freshwater fisheries research and management. Clarence Campbell, '30, established this fund to recognize Doc's lasting influence.

Recipients (*Denotes continued funding from 2012-2013):

  • Richard Berg, Graduate Student, Oceanography
  • Juliana Houghton*, Graduate Student, Aquatic and Fishery Sciences
  • Brit Sojka*, Graduate Student, Marine and Environmental Affairs
  • Lauren Brandkamp, Junior, Oceanography
  • Sarah Friedman, Junior, Aquatic and Fishery Sciences
  • Campbell Glass, Sophomore, Oceanography
  • Daniel Geldof, Freshman, Aquatic and Fishery Sciences
  • Zachary Houghtaling, incoming 2013 Freshman, Aquatic and Fishery Sciences
  • Nirupam Nigam, incoming 2013 Freshman, Aquatic and Fishery Sciences / Biology

College of the Environment Scholarship

This scholarship is made possible by the generosity of many donors. The scholarship was created to support both undergraduate and graduate students pursuing degrees in the College of the Environment.


  • Brooke Cassell, Graduate Student, Environmental and Forest Sciences
  • Elizabeth Phillips, Graduate Student, Aquatic and Fishery Sciences
  • Benjamin Roe, Graduate Student, Environmental and Forest Sciences
  • Anne Gower, Junior, Aquatic and Fishery Sciences
  • Jennifer Zech, Junior, Environmental Science and Terrestrial Resource Management
  • Sierra Kross, Freshman, Environmental Science and Terrestrial Resource Management
  • Natalie Pollett, incoming 2013 Freshman, Pre-Bioresource Science and Engineering
  • Eliot Shoemaker, incoming 2013 Freshman, Pre-Bioresource Science and Engineering
  • Alison Wang, incoming 2013 Freshman, Environmental Science and Terrestrial Resource Management


Faculty Awards

Congratulations to David Battisti—Professor of Atmospheric Sciences—and numerous others for being awarded the 2013 Ecological Society of America’s (ESA) Sustainability Science Award. Battisti and colleagues’ work, entitled Seeds of Sustainability: Lessons from the Birthplace of the Green Revolution, is recognized by the ESA as a single scholarly contribution published in the last 5 years that represents the greatest contribution to the emerging science of ecosystem and regional sustainability through the integration of ecological and social sciences.

Congratulations to Ceclia Bitz—Associate Professor of Atmospheric Sciences—on being awarded the 2013 Ascent Award from the American Geophysical Union. First given in 2012, the Sciences Ascent Award aims to “reward exceptional mid-career (academic, government, and private sector) scientists in the fields of the atmospheric and climate sciences."


Karl Lang with RocksKarl Lang

Karl Lang,
Graduate Student

Spotlight is an ongoing series that will introduce you to the many members that make up the College community. 

Karl Lang speaks as if being a geologist was his destiny. “I’ve always been interested in geology,” says Lang, who as a child was fascinated by rocks and fossils. He went on to study Geology and Economics at the College of William and Mary in Virginia and is now a PhD student in the Department of Earth and Space Sciences at the UW College of the Environment. Drawn by the quality of faculty, and the strengths of his advisor—Assistant Professor Kate Huntington—Karl joined the Tectonics and Erosion research group, which applies novel geochemical tools to understand the complex relationship between erosion and landscape evolution across the globe. Read more on the College of the Environment website.

Philanthropy: Making a Difference

Private gifts and grants make all the difference in the lives of our students, faculty, and programs. The College receives numerous gifts and grants annually from generous and far-sighted alumni and friends whose philanthropy helps fund crucial student scholarships and fellowships, critical research, public outreach and much more. In this, the closing issue of The Insider in the 2012-2013 academic year, we wish to salute and thank every one of our amazing supporters, be they individuals, corporations, private foundations, organizations, or community partners. You help ensure that the College of the Environmentand all of its exceptional schools, departments, centers and programsremain and grow as national and global leaders in education, research and outreach across a broad array of environmental fields.

For more information on ways to make a gift, or programs you can support, please contact Marilyn Montgomery, Assistant Dean for Advancement, at 206-221-0906 or mmmontg@uw.edu.

This Month's Highlights

  • The Arboretum Foundation has made an extraordinarily generous commitment of more than $350,000 to the University of Washington Botanic Gardens (UWBG) for the coming fiscal year (July 2013-June 2014). This gift is one in a series of remarkable contributions made by the Arboretum Foundation over many decades, and exemplifies the vital partnership between the UWBG and the Arboretum Foundation. This gift will help fund gardeners and arborists working in the Washington Park Arboretum (WPA), as well as education programs for the community. The WPA is one of Seattle’s most cherished parks, and the partnership between UWBG, the Arboretum Foundation, and the City of Seattle ensures that the community will continue to enjoy its beauty and cultural and educational offerings.
  • The ExxonMobil Foundation (EMF) has been a steadfast supporter of the College, most specifically as a donor of scholarship support for undergraduate students in the Department of Earth and Space Sciences (ESS). The Foundation continues to donate critical scholarship support for ESS students, noting that these students are among the top graduates in their field nationwide. This scholarship helps ESS attract a very strong pool of undergraduate majors, and in turn helps provide these students opportunities to further their careers in the private sector upon graduation.

This Month's Target Funds

Please consider making a generous annual gift to any of the funds below, or to the fund of your choice via the UW Foundation:

  • UW Botanic Gardens Director's Priorities Fund: supports the most critical needs for the programs and gardens within the UW Botanic Gardens, including the Washington Park Arboretum.
  • Geology Undergraduate Field Support Fund: provides financial support for transformational student field experiences, especially the required Summer Geology Field Camp, by covering field-work related expenses for undergraduate students.
  • College of the Environment – Environmental Leadership Fund: to be used at the Dean’s discretion to support innovative education, research and public service programs in the College of the Environment.

Save the Date

UW Awards of Excellence

Awards of Excellence Ceremony

Join the greater UW community on June 13 in the Meany Hall Auditorium from 3:30-4:30 p.m. for this year’s Awards Ceremony. The Awards of Excellence honors members of the UW community who exemplify the University’s values with special distinction. While the first ceremony was held in 1970, the origins of these awards date back to 1938, when the Alumnus Summa Laude Dignatus Award was first presented. Since that time, other awards have been added to pay tribute to individuals from across our UW community who have demonstrated exceptional talents, dedication and service. The reception will have light refreshments; reservations are not required.


Seattle Science Festival

Seattle Science Festival

On June 15, ScienceOnlineSeattle—a partnership of the College of the Environment, COMPASS, and the Open Science Federation—will live stream a thought-provoking event titled Our 11th Hour: Straight Talk on Climate Change from People Who Know. This will be part of the closing night of the Seattle Science Festival and feature three TED-style presentations with world-leading experts on climate change, including Dr. Kevin Trenberth, Dr. Richard Alley and New York Times journalist Andrew Revkin, followed by an uplifting 30-minute opera focused on environmental stewardship set in the Pacific Northwest, Heron and the Salmon Girl, performed by Seattle Opera and Seattle Opera’s Youth Chorus. Emceed by Pulitzer- and Polk-prize winning environmental journalist, Usha McFarling. For more information, visit their website


2013 Illg Distinguished Lectureship—Friday Harbor Laboratories

This year’s Distinguished Illg lecture will be delivered by Dr. Gonzalo Giribet, Harvard University, Professor of Organismic and Evolutionary Biology and Curator of Invertebrates at the Museum of Comparative Zoology. For more information, visit the Friday Harbor Laboratories website.

Public Lecture
Around the world in search of invertebrates for species discovery, biogeography and systematics
Thursday, June 20 at the San Juan Community Theater, 7:30pm

Invertebrates dominate all the ecosystems on earth and are perfect models for studying the patterns of distribution of organisms in our planet. During the past decade I have collected invertebrates in all continents and all oceans and discovered new species to address biodiversity questions and to study biogeographic and phylogenetic patterns.

June 2013

Dean's Letter
Save the Date

In the Media

Scientists resolve a 3.5 billion-year-old mystery of life

Whale songs and melting ice: Stories of a changing Arctic

Transportation fuels from woody biomass promising way to reduce emissions

New food exploration community opening in Mercer Court

Amazon River exhales virtually all carbon taken up by rain forest

Scientists excited about new lab at bottom of Pacific Ocean

UW research vessel Clifford A. Barnes marks its 1,000th cruise

Using earthquake sensors to track endangered whales