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Dean's Letter

Dean Lisa GraumlichCuriosity-driven research: The foundation of all we do

"The important thing is not to stop questioning. Curiosity has its own reason for existing." —Albert Einstein

Curiosity-driven research is scholarship in which real world applications are not immediately apparent. Such fundamental research can be seen as a luxury in a time where the College is called on to address a panoply of environmental challenges. But without it, our ability to understand the world—and address its very real problems—diminishes. 

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leah litwakUW Environment's Leah Litwak champions better food assistance integration at local farmers markets (VIDEO)

Get to know our incredible community and learn more about the work they're doing in the College's Spotlight series. 

More than 48.1 million people in the United States live in food-insecure households. Leah Litwak, a senior in Environmental Studies, explores how farmers markets might make nutritious, local food an option for entire communities through more alignment with federal food assistance programs. 

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john vidaleQ&A about 'The Really Big One' 

In response to the recent hype surrounding The New Yorker’s “The Really Big One” story and a call to action from Washington, D.C., to create an earthquake early warning system, UW professor John Vidale answers some of the Pacific Northwest’s most pressing questions.

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charles nittrouerExploring Earth's surfaces on UW's flagship research vessel (VIDEO)

Charles Nittrouer’s “Rivers and Beaches” course gets undergraduate students, and even undeclared majors, out into the field to look at the links between landscapes and seascapes aboard the R/V Thompson.

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nasa-funded consortium STEMNASA-funded consortium to support science education in Washington, Oregon, and Montana

A new program, the Northwest Earth and Space Sciences Pipeline, based at the UW will bring together educational institutions, K-12 teachers, and informal education organizations to inspire, teach, and recruit the next generation of students in STEM.

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IMG_1970-750x448.jpgRare beluga data shows whales dive to maximize meals

As the Arctic continues to change due to rising temperatures, melting sea ice, and human interest in developing oil and shipping routes, Aquatic and Fishery Sciences’ Donna Hauser and Kristin Laidre argue it’s important to understand belugas’ baseline behavior. 

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Save the Date

Meet Your Future: Environmental Education Career Panel 

Join us to learn from environmental education professionals on April 5, 2016.  


Meet, Greet, Teach: Gaming for Good 

A panel from around the College and across the UW will discuss the power of video games and apps as innovative opportunities to teach on April 5, 2016.


2016 Sustaining Our World Lecture: Lynda Mapes 

RSVP to explore the human and natural history of a 100-year-old red oak tree at the Harvard Forest and read from Mapes’ forthcoming book on April 21, 2016. 


2016 Bevan Series Symposium 

Aquatic and Fishery Sciences’ yearly Bevan Series Symposium on April 21 and 22, 2016 will highlight marine invertebrate fisheries of the North Pacific region through a wide range of presentations from experts.


College of the Environment Spring Celebration

Join us on May 11, 2016 for ice cream and sundaes as we honor faculty, student, and staff award winners for the 2015-2016 academic year. 


College events calendar

Stay up to date with all the events happening at the College by checking out our Events Calendar.

For & About Students

Second annual UW Climate Change Video Contest

The contest, open to all undergraduate and high school students, runs through April 4, 2016.

See you at upcoming college fairs in California

Know any high school students in California? Let them know we'll be at National Association for College Admission Counseling (NACAC) college fairs this spring in San Diego, Orange County, Los Angeles, and San Francisco. 


Explore environmental majors at UW 

The College will be hosting online information sessions on April 7, 2016 and May 12, 2016 for current high school students—register now.

Philanthropy: Making a Difference

We’re happy to announce that the College received 17 gifts that qualified for a gift match offered through the UW. These gifts, $3 million in donor funds and matching funds of $1.5 million, will benefit funds across many units in the College!

If you’re interested in supporting the College, consider one of our highlighted funds below or choose the fund of your choice on the UW Foundation website:

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Awards & Acknowledgements

Congratulations to Washington Sea Grant, Climate Impacts Group, and their partners who were recently awarded a three-year project to help coastal communities in Washington that face significant risk from the impacts of sea level rise from NOAA.

Kudos to Environmental and Forest Sciences’ Josh Lawler, who with the Information School's Kate Davis, earned a University of Washington innovation award in environmental sciences for their NatureCollections app that connects kids with nature.

Cheers to Friday Harbor Labs’ Claudia Mills! The Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute recently named a small and delicate jellyfish, the Crossota millsae, after her.

Congrats to Marine and Environmental Affairs’ Patrick Christie and Nathan Bennett, who recently organized the first-ever major discussion of challenges associated with how people interact with Large-Scale Marine Protected Areas (LSMPAs).

Props to Aquatic and Fishery Sciences' Kristin Laidre who was recently chosen as the 2016 Grace Hopper Awardee for Outstanding Achievement by the Seattle Girl's School.

Congratulations to Oceanography’s Alex Gagnon and Atmospheric Sciences’ Abby Swann for receiving Early Faculty Development (CAREER) Program Awards from the National Science Foundation.

Kudos to Earth and Space Sciences’ John Vidale, Atmospheric Sciences’ Cliff Mass, and Environmental and Forest Sciences’ Tom DeLuca for having projects funded by the Amazon Catalyst program. For more information on the program, please contact Liz Exell, Associate Director of Corporate and Foundation Relations, at (206) 685-4995 or

March / April 2016

In the Media

Meet the Bird Brainiacs: American Crow
Audubon Magazine

New high-tech buoy key to monitoring health of Bellingham Bay
The Bellingham Herald  

Does the moon influence rainfall? Scientists reveal odd link.
The Christian Science Monitor

Researchers discover plastic-loving bacteria in recycling plant
The Christian Science Monitor

Climate & Beer 

How Our Favorite Fish Could Recover in a Decade
National Geographic

Local OLYMPEX rain research project picks perfect winter for study
KOMO News  

Invasive Species Aren't Always Unwanted
The New York Times

Could Sea Level Rise Swamp Cities within a Century? 
Scientific American 

The alarming science driving much higher sea level projections for this century
The Washington Post 

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