The Insider: College of the Environment Newsletter

From Dean Graumlich

Dean Graumlich

I am excited to be starting my first spring quarter as Dean and look forward to meeting many more members of the College community in the coming months. While I am no doubt influenced by the fact that I am beginning to see the promise of sunnier days and warmer temperatures, spring is also the time where we celebrate the successes of our undergraduate students and the transition of our seniors to life beyond the University of Washington.

In the College of the Environment, we have just under 1,000 undergraduate majors across six academic departments. In addition to our majors, we reach thousands more undergraduate students every year through our courses, seminars, and research opportunities.

I was fortunate to be able to participate in several class discussions during winter quarter and was blown away by the students in the classes I attended. Our students are curious, passionate, and committed to their education. They come to us from all corners of our State, our nation, and the world with the expectation that they will have access to the best faculty, curriculum, and learning opportunities possible.

In addition to my enthusiasm about our student body as a whole, I don’t want us to lose sight of our students as individuals.

I’d like to introduce you to Ricardo Humphreys, a native of Washington State who is now a junior with a major in Atmospheric Sciences. Ricardo is a Mexican American transfer student and recently completed a Student Career Experience Program (SCEP) internship with the National Weather Service. He is also this year’s recipient of the College’s Nancy Wilcox Endowed Scholarship.

I’d also like you to meet Veronica Tamsitt, a junior from Australia with a major in Oceanography and minor in Math. Veronica manages to balance the demands of the student-athlete with grace and is an honors student as well as a rower on the varsity crew team.

Finally, you should also know about Dani Dawson. Dani is another Washington State native who transferred from Olympic College, where she participated in the Running Start program. She is now a senior in Earth & Space Sciences and has served admirably as an Undergraduate TA for ESS 101.

Ricardo, Veronica, Dani and their peers have chosen to invest their education in us and it is an honor and a privilege to work with them to make sure they have the tools and knowledge that will allow them to soar when they leave us. With budget cuts looming and world events shifting attention away from events here at home, I invite you to take a moment and celebrate the successes of our undergraduates with me – their success is our success. And if you happen to see Dani’s poster at the 2011 Undergraduate Research Symposium in May, please make sure to stop and wish her well for her life after graduation.

Lisa Graumlich Signature

Lisa Graumlich
Dean, UW College of the Environment



College of the Environment 2011 Awards

The College of the Environment is seeking nominations for awards to honor members of our College community who have demonstrated outstanding service and dedication. For the 2010-2011 year, nominations are sought for the following awards:

The deadline for nominations for the awards listed above is Monday, April 18th, 2011, with the exception of the Outstanding Community Collaboration Award which has an extended deadline of Friday, April 29th, 2011. In its inaugural year, the Outstanding Community Collaboration Award will be granted in recognition of a partnership, program, project or team involving College of the Environment staff, student or faculty, and one or more external community members or organizations, that models a collaborative and innovative approach to environmental science within the broader community.

Please click here for additional information on award criteria and eligibility. All awards will be announced by the end of May.


New Leadership

Welcoming Sarah Reichard as the new Director of the UW Botanic Gardens and Julia Parrish as the College's first Associate Dean of Academic Affairs and Diversity.

Sarah Reichard


Welcome to Sarah Reichard (Professor, School of Forest Resources), who will be taking over the duties of Director of the University of Washington Botanic Gardens.  With research focused on the intersection of ecology and horticulture, Sarah is the founder of the Washington Rare Plant Care and Conservation Program. Special recognition goes to Sandra Lier for her vision and leadership as she so ably served in the role of UWBG Director since March of 2008.




Thank you to all of those who participated in the process of selecting the new Associate Dean of Academic Affairs and Diversity for the College, from the members of the search committee to all of those who attended the seminars, asked great questions, and provided feedback via the Catalyst survey.  Special thanks go to the three stellar candidates who stepped forward to lay out their vision for what the role of the Associate Dean would be in working with the faculty, staff and students in the College to develop innovative new academic programs, sustain existing programs, and to recruit, retain, and graduate an outstanding and diverse pool of students.


Julia Parrish

We are pleased to announce that Julia Parrish has accepted the position and, pending approval by the UW Board of Regents, will hit the ground running on April 15th. Julia brings a wealth of experience, including her leadership as Director of the Program on the Environment and as Associate Director of the School of Aquatic and Fishery Sciences. She has been instrumental in developing interdisciplinary programs ranging from the Marine Biology Minor to the Bevan Series on Sustainable Fisheries. Most recently, she has been funded by the Dimensions of Biodiversity Program at the National Science Foundation to organize a two-year distributed seminar on biodiversity, in collaboration with Conservation International. The seminar will bring together 18-20 different university teams from across the world to work together electronically and in person here at the UW.



Summer Fun for our Youngest Students

The College of the Environment, the University of Washington, and our partners offer a wide range of summer activities geared at providing hands-on learning experiences for youth to explore environmental and earth sciences and have fun at the same time.

UW Botanic Gardens Summer Camp (Ages 6-12) Summer camp at the Washington Park Arboretum is back and better than ever.  Come join us for a week (or two or three!) of fun & educational adventures in our 230 acre outdoor classroom located in the heart of Seattle.

NOAA Science Camp 2011 (7th and 8th grade in fall of 2011) Held at NOAA’s facility at Seattle’s Sand Point, participants are introduced to earth and ocean sciences and to science careers through hands-on activities emphasizing solutions to real-world problems.

NOAA Science Camp Junior Leadership Program (9th and 10th grade in fall of 2011) This pilot program aims to provide hands-on learning experiences in youth leadership, communication skills, team-building and the opportunity to teach marine science to younger kids.

UW Day Camps for Elementary School Students (1st - 5th grade in fall of 2011) Around the World in 15 Days, This Planet Rocks, and Animal Tales - Study the wonders of the world, discover the rocks beneath our feet, and learn about some amazing animals and their tales without ever leaving the UW Seattle campus.


Director Ginger Armbrust: Two Truths and a Lie

Dr. Ginger Armbrust

Ginger Armbrust, a marine microbiologist and the newly appointed Director of the School of Oceanography, joined the UW in 1996 as an Assistant Professor.  She obtained her undergraduate degree in Human Biology from Stanford University, followed by her Ph.D. in Biological Oceanography from MIT and Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution.

Dr. Armbrust’s research work incorporates molecular approaches into lab and field studies to address the roles of phytoplankton in marine ecosystems.  She heads the UW Center for Environmental Genomics and co-directs the Pacific Northwest Center for Human Health and Ocean Studies.  A Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation Investigator in Marine Microbiology and a Lowell A. and Frankie L. Wakefield Professor, Dr. Armbrust has been the recipient of multiple honors and awards including being recognized three times by UW graduate students for excellent teaching.

Two Truths and a Lie:

  1. In her current spare time(?!), Ginger has been plowing through Tolstoy's "War and Peace."
  2. Ginger was second runner up in her third grade Double-Dutch jump rope competition at Kinkaid Elementary School in Houston, Texas   
  3. Ginger's beloved dog, Sam, graduated with honors from obedience training in 2010.  

Click here to find out which are true and which one is not!


Innovation Challenge








On March 31, seventeen student teams from around the state presented their innovations at the UW Environmental Innovation Challenge. In its third year, the Challenge invites students to develop prototypes that solve environmental problems and have market impact. Ideas ranged from designing and building airships and complex carbon fiber components for vehicles, to a unique solution to bicycle storage and a wind power generator that creates electricity through the movement of a pair of wings. Students came from across the state and across disciplines to share their commitment to develop the innovations needed to accelerate the clean-tech economy.  There were several participants from the College of the Environment, including the C6 Systems Team from the School of Forest Resources, who won the $2,500 Davis Wright Tremaine Honorable Mention Prize for developing a system to turn woody biomass into charcoal at the site of forestry operations. Congratulations to all innovators!)





Tonight: “A New Dawn for Solar Energy”

Meeting the demand for clean, low-cost energy in a sustainable and environmentally friendly way is one of the defining issues of our time. Solar power can be a big part of the solution; however, ensuring it is affordable and scalable requires significant scientific and engineering breakthroughs.

Explore the potential of solar energy and learn how UW researchers are combining basic scientific research in chemistry and physics with the powerful tools of molecular engineering, advanced materials and device design to meet this monumental challenge.

The presentation by Deans Ana Mari Cauce (Arts & Sciences) and Matt O’Donnell  (Engineering) will be followed by a panel discussion with:

Date: Tuesday, April 12, 2011
Time: 7:00 PM - 8:30 PM

A live webcast of the event will be available on UWTV. Watch the presentation live and submit your questions for the panelists via Twitterby using the hashtag #newdawn or via email to More information available here.

For additional listings of environmentally-related events happening on and off campus, please visit our calendar of events. To submit an event for inclusion on the calendar, please contact


Survey: Do you take steps to decrease or change your energy usage?  Do you consider sustainability an important part of your life?  We want to hear about it!  Take our survey here



For & About Students

Student Spotlight: Alex Thomas, Senior

Major:  Environmental Science and Resource Management
Minors:  Quantitative Science; Music
Department:  School of Forest Resources

Alex at the TransAlta Centralia Coal Mine collecting field data on the forest reclamation project last November

Senior Alex Thomas from Carnation, Washington, did not travel far geographically to get to the UW, but did take a long path to becoming a UW student with a major in Environmental Science and Resource Management and minors in Music and Quantitative Science. Having played percussion in his middle school band, Alex’s earliest interests focused on music, so when he dropped out of high school and received his GED at 16, he soon started attending Seattle Central Community College with a focus on music. His path took another turn when he dropped out of college and got his first full time job at a fish shop in Pike Place Market, then worked as a manager at the Pike Place Market Creamery for over two years, all the while composing and performing music with a local circus, starting a performance art troop, and playing drums for a children’s theatre. 

Of his decision to go back to school in 2007 to study Environmental Science, he says, “It is hard to point to one thing in particular that pointed me in that direction.  I always had a love of the natural world as a child and enjoyed hiking.  I also grew up with a lot of information about environmental degradation.  Around that time I was also learning a lot about the growing sustainability movement.”

Alex in the rain forest is from the Summer of 2009 on a backpacking trip through the Bogachiel Valley on the Olympic Peninsula

Since coming to the UW, he has completed an internship with Sally Brown studying nitrous oxide emissions from compost and biosolid amended soils. He has also workedwith Darlene Zabowski doing field work testing a modified forest reclamation approach at the TransAlta Centralia Coal Mine. Currently, he is working with Friends of the Cedar River Watershed designing his own experiment on soil amendments and restoration efforts for his senior capstone, and  is also beginning work on his senior thesis with Christian Torgersen doing a multivariate analysis of zooplankton communities and landscape characteristics of lakes and ponds in Mount Rainier National Park.

Alex won the Charles L. Pack Essay Competition in 2010 with his essay entitled Hidden Providers: Forest Ecosystem Services of the Pacific Northwest, was awarded the School of Forest Resources Scholarship, and was appointed as the Undergraduate Student Representative on the College of the Environment Curriculum Committee. When he’s not immersed in his studies and fieldwork, Alex participates in the Society for Ecological Restoration University of Washington Student Guild and still finds time to play and record music.



College Co-sponsors Sustainable Living Community in new LEED-certified Poplar Hall – Opens Fall 2011!

The College of the Environment is partnering with Housing and Food Services to offer a new residential community for students interested in sustainability and the environment.  Located in the brand new LEED-certified Poplar Hall, the Sustainable Living Community will provide the social events, academic support, and opportunities to become involved that are found in all UW residential communities, while also offering residents the opportunity to explore environmental impacts and live and learn with other students interested in sustainability.

College of the Environment staff are Campus Partners for this new community and will provide insight and access to programs and opportunities, including tours of campus and area sustainability resources, informal gatherings with faculty renowned for their environmental research, and information on how to “clean green.”

Situated in the West Campus community close to classes and The Ave, Poplar Hall will feature energy- and water-efficient design, along with the private bathrooms and the largest residence hall rooms on campus.

Students in all majors are welcome and can indicate their interest by selecting the Sustainable Living Community in the Theme Community Preference portion of the housing application and will complete a personal Sustainability Pledge to be eligible. 



Environmental Management Certificate Students Help Launch Zimride

When seven graduate students were asked to develop a behavior-change project to reduce carbon emissions that aligns with the UW Climate Action Plan, the result was a new initiative called UW Seattle Zimride.

Students in the Environmental Management Certificate Program must complete a two-quarter Keystone Project that tackles projects proposed by community partners to address an environmental challenge or need. The Zimride Keystone Project team was made up of seven graduate students from the Evans School of Public Affairs: Kate Curtis, Chris Hoffer, Chris LaRoche, McKenna Morrigan, Emmett Nelson, Dan Welch, and Lindsey Grad (concurrent degree with the School of Law).  Dr. Karin Frey, Research Associate Professor in Educational Psychology, served as their faculty advisor. The team decided to focus on transportation as a pathway to reducing carbon emissions, and developed a way for UW commuters to share the seats in their car or get a ride with classmates or coworkers going the same way. UW Seattle Zimride users can offer or request rides for commutes, road trips, and events.

In order to ensure a critical mass of UW Zimride users, the team researched and implemented a community-based social marketing campaign to foster more sustainable transportation behavior on campus. The team has also applied for and secured funding from the Campus Sustainability Fund for a campus rideshare coordinator position to continue their efforts even after their Keystone Project is complete at the end of the Winter Quarter 2011.



News from Advancement

Gifts to the College

The College is grateful to be the recipient of several recent outstanding gifts. The following are two wonderful examples:

The University has received three generous gifts from Professor Emeritus in Atmospheric Sciences Conway Leovy. One of these gifts is directed to support graduate students in the Astrobiology Program, and one will go to further endow the Jan and Conway Leovy Endowed Graduate Support Fund in the Department of Atmospheric Sciences. Professor Leovy’s third gift is directed to the College’s Environmental Leadership Fund and will be used to address the Dean’s highest priorities. Thank you, Professor Leovy, for your continued support and friendship.

Friday Harbor Laboratories has received a total of $700,000 from the Wendt Family Charitable Foundation to establish a permanent endowment for the Research Apprenticeship Program. They have challenged FHL to raise an additional $700,000 to match their contributions—with the success of reaching this goal, the Wendts will make an additional financial commitment to the program. The Research Apprenticeship Program housed at Friday Harbor Laboratories offers an intensive transformational undergraduate research experience at a critical time in young scientists’ educational lives.



News from Advancement

Blogging from Abroad

In “Paleotsunami Travels” Department of Earth and Space Sciences Professor Jody Bourgeois has been blogging from Hokkaido University, where she has been a visiting scientist for several months. Dr. Bourgeois is a sedimentary geologist who has been studying tsunamis since the late 1980s. In addition to posting updates on the heartbreaking impacts of the recent tsunami, she also provides concrete information on how communities and individuals can prepare for and respond to tsunamis. As Dr. Bourgeois notes, “Many of them survived because they had the knowledge and opportunity to do the right thing.”

Kiki Jenkins, a postdoctoral researcher in the School of Marine and Environmental Affairs, has been writing for the New York Times “Scientist at Work” blog, reporting from Ecuador where she is studying factors in the cross-cultural adoption of marine conservation technologies like turtle excluder devices and circle hooks. Dr. Jenkins will be joining the faculty of the School of Marine and Environmental Affairs in fall of 2011.

To read more on colleagues in the news, click here.



Opportunity: NOAA's Emergency Response Division is hiring an Environmental

The Emergency Response Division of NOAA's Office of Response and Restoration provides scientific expertise to support an incident response and initiates natural resource damage assessment. This position will respond in the field to oil or chemical spills - requiring the ability to travel, drive rental cars, and conduct field activities on beaches, boats or aircraft, which may require physically strenuous tasks. This position requires 24-hour/day 365 days a year response availability. The incumbent is a member of a multi-disciplinary response and development team. View the complete position description here.


To receive regular announcements on career opportunities for undergraduate and graduate students (including job postings, internships, and volunteer positions) please sign up for the College of Environment Career Opportunities Listserv.



Director of Oceanography Ginger Armbrust has been elected a 2011 Fellow of the American Academy of Microbiology. Fellows of the Academy are elected annually through a highly selective, peer-review process, based on their records of scientific achievement and original contributions that have advanced microbiology.

Professor of Oceanography Steve Emerson has been named a 2011 Geochemistry Fellow. In 1996, the Geochemical Society and The European Association of Geochemistry established the honorary title of Geochemistry Fellow, to be bestowed upon outstanding scientists who have, over some years, made a major contribution to the field of geochemistry.

Dog Days, Raven Nights

Yale University Press has recently published Dog Days Raven Nights, by School of Forest Resources Wildlife Professor John Marzluff, in collaboration with Colleen Marzluff. Featuring original linocut illustrations by Evon Zerbetz, the book chronicles the Marzluffs' three-year endeavor, when John was a postdoc at the University of Vermont, to research a mysterious and often misunderstood bird. The Marzluffs assembled a gigantic aviary, climbed sentry trees, built bird blinds in the forest, captured and sustained 300 ravens as study subjects, and endured harsh Maine winters in pursuit of their goal. John’s current research focus is blending biology, conservation, and anthropology to understand if and how human and animal cultures have co-evolved.  Recent projects include studies of human face recognition among crows and the effects of urbanization on songbirds in the Seattle area.

Thomas Ackerman, Director of the Joint Institute for the Study of Atmosphere and Ocean and Professor of Atmospheric Sciences, has been elected a 2011 Fellow of the American Geophysical Union. As this designation is conferred upon not more than 0.1% of all AGU members in any given year, Nominated Fellows must have attained acknowledged eminence in the Earth and space sciences and are chosen by a Committee of Fellows.


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