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Dean's Letter

Diversity, Inclusion, Access

Dean Lisa GraumlichInterim President Ana Mari Cauce brought renewed focus to diversity, inclusion, and access at UW through her widely publicized address to the campus. In wake of her talk, many have asked me to define the College’s vision for diversity and I have a ready answer. I cite the need, especially in a college devoted to environmental sciences, to have “all hands on deck”—ensuring that access to our critically important research and education is never deterred by gender, race, ethnicity, socioeconomic background, or disability. The vision is clearly laudable and is reflected in the dedicated efforts of the Dean’s Office and the College Diversity Committee and a broad range of opportunities for faculty and staff and students. However, as a college, we have yet to collectively translate our vision into a coordinated and fully resourced action plan.   

We can do more. Over the next year, I am dedicating my own efforts and College resources to building a stronger strategic plan for diversity that reflects who we are as a college: our values, our aspirations, and, importantly, where we currently stand.

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New Chair named for Earth and Space Sciences

Bruce NelsonWe are pleased to announce that Bruce Nelson has been named the next Chair of the Department of Earth and Space Sciences at the College of the Environment. Nelson, a geochemist who specializes in the tools of isotope geochemistry, is known for his expertise in a wide range of Earth science topics, including volcanology, sedimentary transport, tectonic history, and environmental contamination to name a few.

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College of the Environment honors graduates by helping fund on-campus water savings

GraduationIn honor of its graduating class of 2015, the College will jointly fund a student project with the Campus Sustainability Fund that will build a rainwater collection and purification system in More Hall’s Construction Materials Laboratory. Based on feedback from our Student Advisory Council and a vote by the College’s graduating students, this new system will reduce the lab’s tap water consumption by an average of 600 gallons per day and save $1,800 per year.

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Antarctic ice core shows northern trigger for ice age climate shifts

Ice CoresUsing evidence trapped in ice cores from the West Antarctica Ice Sheet, scientists in the Department of Earth and Space Sciences were part of an international team that discovered a consistent link between abrupt temperature changes in Greenland and Antarctica during the most recent ice age.

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UW ecologist and citizen scientists lead the charge against invasive crayfish

Julian OldenJulian Olden, a freshwater ecologist at the School of Aquatic and Fishery Sciences and local mudbug expert, recently met with residents of Pine Lake in Sammamish, Washington, to discuss his citizen science program aimed at controlling the invasive population of red swamp crayfish in their backyards. 

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New knowledge and technology help scientists track harmful algae

Algae 2Though the waters of Puget Sound are full of beneficial algae, there are also plenty of nasty ones that can sicken humans and wreak havoc on shellfish and fishing industries. Researchers working with Washington Sea Grant have started to narrow in on harmful algae’s behaviors, and are developing some slick techniques for much more effective detection and monitoring.

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Puget Sound’s clingfish could inspire better medical devices, whale tags

Cling fishResearchers at Friday Harbor Laboratories are studying the Northern clingfish to understand how it summons massive suction power in wet, slimy environments. They are looking at how the biomechanics of clingfish could be helpful in designing devices and instruments to be used in surgery and even to tag and track whales in the ocean.

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Meryl MimsMeet Meryl Mims, Aquatic and Fishery Sciences graduate student

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

With two degrees under her belt and dissertation research to complete, Meryl Mims found herself in southeastern Arizona’s Sky Islands in the summer of 2013. In a landscape known for the juxtaposition of its sprawling features—where towering, forested mountains seep upward through the desert’s dry, cracked surface—a two-inch long frog captured Mims’ attention.

“We were already out there and we were hearing the Arizona treefrogs. It’s like they were calling us in,” Mims said.  

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Philanthropy: Making a Difference

June is an exciting month for students (graduation, summer) and faculty (fieldwork) at the College of the Environment! We anticipate another strong year in private support, thanks to an ever-increasing number of gifts and private grants. We can’t overstate how important this private support is to helping the College.

There are many opportunities to help support the College, through the fund of your choice or through one of our highlighted funds below:

  • UW Botanic Gardens Director’s Priorities
  • Oceanography Undergraduate Scholars Fund
  • College of the Environment Environmental Leadership Fund

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Save the Date

Friday Harbor Labs Illg Distinguished Lectureship and Jazz at the Labs (July 2 and August 22)

On July 2, Professor Stefan Bengtson from the Swedish Museum of Natural History will discuss his work in animal evolution, particularly from the time around the Cambrian Explosion. Bengston’s lecture, part of the Illg Distinguished Lectureship honoring Professor Paul L. Illg, will shed light on new fossil evidence related to one of Darwin’s greatest mysteries: the origin of animals. On August 22, Friday Harbor Labs will hold its 15th annual Jazz at the Labs! Please join in for a fabulous dinner in FHL’s historic dining hall and enjoy music provided by the San Juan Jazz Quintet and Seattle’s Jazz Coalescence. All proceeds will benefit FHL’s K-12 Science Outreach Program. Find out more about both of these events on the Friday Harbor Labs event page.  

You can always stay up to date with the latest events happening at the College of the Environment by checking out our Events Calendar.

Awards & Acknowledgements

Congratulations to the School of Marine and Environmental Affairs’ Brian Tracey, the first-ever recipient of the College’s Outstanding Diversity Commitment Award. Nearly 30 faculty members, students, and staff from the College were nominated, but Tracey nabbed the top prize for his dedication and leadership in working toward a more diverse and inclusive program, College, and University.

The London-based Royal Meteorological Society recently awarded Robert Houze, a professor in the Department of Atmospheric Sciences, the Symons Gold Medal in recognition of his distinguished work in meteorology!

Professor Jody Bourgeois was recently chosen as the recipient of the Laurence L. Sloss Award! This is the Division of Sedimentary Geology’s highest honor and their opportunity to recognize important contributors to sedimentary geology. 

Twenty years of work on sea and land to save threatened seabirds from becoming fishing bycatch earned national recognition for senior fisheries scientist, Ed Melvin, in the School of Aquatic and Fishery Sciences. The research project he leads develops, tests, and promotes bird-scaring streamer lines for long-line fishing vessels and received the 2015 Presidential Migratory Bird Federal Stewardship Award in May.

Kudos to Emily Newsom, a PhD student in the Department of Earth and Space Sciences and Geophysics, for being chosen as one of 85 doctoral students nationwide to receive the Philanthropic Educational Organization’s Academic Scholar Award for 2015-2016!

An esteemed panel of judges, including the College of the Environment’s Dean Lisa Graumlich, chose undergrad Sarra Tekola as the winner of the UW Climate Change Video Contest! Tekola and fellow UW student Michael Moynihan won $5,000 for their powerful, creative performance of an original rap. Watch all 10 of the finalists’ incredible videos on the School of Environmental and Forest Sciences' Offshoots blog.

The Environmental Studies Spring Capstone Symposium was a success and showcased a wide array of project topics ranging from education and outreach in farmers markets, commuter friendly transportation and urban restoration efforts, to improving policies to increase salmon populations. Congratulations to the award winners for best oral presentation: Emily Warnock and Samuel Timpe, and best poster presentations: Andrew Jauhola and Qiren Lu. 

Congrats to the Department of Earth and Space Sciences’ Noell Bernard Kingsley! She recently received an Outstanding Advisor Award from NACADA – The Global Community for Academic Advising.

Kudos to the student athletes in the School of Environmental and Forest Sciences, the Program on the Environment, and the Department of Earth and Space Sciences who participated in UW’s recent rowing competitions! The men’s rowing team swept all five IRA Races and earned the National Championship, while the women’s team placed fourth at the National Championship.

May / June 2015

In the Media

Meet the scientists making new climate discoveries (and fudge) at the South Pole

Amazon Dams Keep the Lights On But Could Hurt Fish, Forests 

Seaweed Might Have The Power To Make The Oceans Less Acidic

America is running out of soil

Climate Change May Drive Fish and Coral From Equator, Studies Say

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