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The Insider: College of the Environment Newsletter

From Dean Graumlich

Dean Graumlich

As Autumn Quarter wraps up and 2012 wanes, I find myself taking stock of where the College has been and where we are headed. As it turns out, the Provost’s recent request for a comprehensive “academic plan” prompted us to reflect on how the broad trends in our performance as a College map onto our goals. It is gratifying to see how, in our brief history as a College, there is already concrete manifestation of the founding vision for the College of the Environment.

The College is attracting more and more students. Since the inception of the College, student engagement, as indicated by student credit hours, has consistently grown. In fact, over the past 2 years, we have seen an across-the-College average of 4% growth in undergraduate classroom student credit hours per year. Moreover, the number of undergraduates majoring in degrees across the College has seen an annual growth of 8% or higher. These healthy metrics reflect the stellar quality of our faculty, a curriculum rooted in experiential learning, and the importance of the work that we do to the wider world.

CoEnv faculty have a creative, entrepreneurial approach to funding research.   In practice, this means diversifying the research portfolio beyond funding that relies on federal dollars, which is the mainstay of most academic research enterprises. We know that federal support of research will slow over the next 5 to 10 years, so to maintain our research leadership we have been expanding our ability to attract research support from non-federal sources.  In just 2 years (from Fiscal Year 2010 to Fiscal Year 2012) we have seen the following dramatic growth: a 203% increase in non-governmental funding and a 53% increase in funding by private industry.  Further, by intensifying our focus on large (>$1M) grants, we have grown that part of our portfolio by 16% in the past two years.  This success is a direct result of the fact that our researchers continue to provide deep disciplinary discoveries, broad interdisciplinary initiatives, and use-inspired research efforts.

Our research targets critical, emerging issues. We are increasingly aware of the threat posed by ocean acidification to local ecosystems and economies. College of the Environment scientists played a key role, along with leading tribal, state, federal and local policy-makers, public opinion leaders, and industry representatives, in the Governor’s Blue Ribbon Panel on Ocean Acidification. In response to their report, Governor Gregoire has proposed the establishment of an Ocean Acidification Impacts and Adaptation Center based out of the College. The trust that the state has shown in our scientific and administrative capacity is the latest evidence of our abilities to not only do great research, but also to engage in meaningful partnerships that ensure that our research can be used to solve the pressing environmental issues of our region and our planet.

We are no longer a new College. We are well on our way to being internationally recognized, as the powerhouse of the excellent education, use-inspired science, and innovative partnerships that are the core of our units. I am excited to see what the next year holds for us.

Lisa Graumlich Signature

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



GingerMoore Foundation's Marine Microbiology Initiative Investigator Award

Ginger Armbrust, Professor and Director of the School of Oceanography, was awarded the Marine Microbiology Initiative investigator award, along with 15 other scientists from a total of 14 institutions.  The award, given by the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, provides up to $35 million to investigators over five years to pursue groundbreaking research in the realm of marine microbial ecology.  Curtis Deutsch of UCLA is also a recipient, and will join the faculty of UW’s School of Oceanography in the fall.  Learn more about the award and the importance of better understanding the marine microbial environment on the Moore Foundation website.


Robert Houze

Robert Houze Elected to American Association for the Advancement of Science

Each year, the members of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS)—the nonprofit organization that publishes Science magazine and seeks to advance science, engineering, and innovation through the world for the benefit of all people—elect new fellows to the organization in recognition of their efforts to advance science and its applications.  Robert Houze, Professor of Atmospheric Sciences, is among this year’s inductees for his fundamental contributions to the understanding of cloud dynamics.  Read more about Professor Houze’s research, and learn about the other UW faculty that received the same honor this year. 


Freshwater Initiative

UW's Freshwater Initaitve Launches

The College of the Environment is pleased to partner with the College of Engineering and UW Tacoma to launch the new Freshwater Initiative, one step taken towards implementing our strategic plan.  Operating on the core College tenets of disciplinary depth and interdisciplinary strength, the Freshwater Initiative focuses energy and resources on building scientific and educational capacity towards the conservation and sustainable use of freshwater.  The Initiative consists of hiring multiple faculty with expertise in freshwater, coordinating freshwater research activities across UW, and developing a robust education program at the graduate and undergraduate levels connected to freshwater science and the human dimensions of its use.  Learn more about the Freshwater Initiative online.


grad climate conferenceAnnual Graduate Climate Conference

The 6th Graduate Climate Conference, held in late October at the Pack Forest Conference Center, was another smashing success.  The event was planned entirely by a committee of graduate students from the College of the Environment, and brought together 83 graduate students from around the world—33 from the UW alone—to discuss current research in climate science. Initially founded by UW graduate students, the conference goals are to connect students studying a diversity of climate topics and to place their own research in the broader context of the climate science community.  For more information on the Graduate Climate Conference, visit the conference webpage or the Program on Climate Change website.


jane lubchencoNOAA Administrator Jane Lubchenco Visits UW

The College of the Environment was fortunate to recently host Jane Lubchenco, Administrator of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, on campus to visit with students and share her thoughts about climate change, its impacts on our oceans and atmosphere, and what we can do about it.  A long-time proponent of scientific transparency and communication, Dr. Lubchenco—recipient of the UW Alumna Summa Laude Dignata award, as well as numerous others—talked about the state of climate science, the roles of government and academic scientists, and how society can leverage their expertise to provide insights into how we deal with climate change and the economy.


scholar donor2nd Annual College of the Environment Scholar and Donor Celebration

The College of the Environment held its 2nd Annual Scholar and Donor Celebration, providing an opportunity to pause and acknowledge our amazing student scholars and the donors that help provide support.  It was also an opportunity for scholarship recipients to meet their supporters in person, allowing each to share their thoughts on research and the rich engagement opportunities afforded through philanthropic giving.  This year, the Dean’s office awarded nearly $40,000 in 17 separate scholarships to undergraduate and graduate students, and the departments and schools in the CoEnv gave nearly 200 scholarships to students throughout the College. 


OAReportWashington State Takes Action on Ocean Acidification

Earlier this year, Governor Gregoire convened a Blue Ribbon Panel on Ocean Acidification, represented by leading tribal, state, federal and local policy makers, public opinion leaders, industry representatives, and members of the scientific community, many from the College of the Environment.  The Panel recently provided their recommendations for how the state of Washington can mitigate and adapt to the effects of ocean acidification, and the governor has proposed the establishment of an Ocean Acidification Impacts and Adaptation Center at the UW.

The Center will:


Friday Harbor Labs OAELFriday Harbor Labs' Ocean Acidification Environmental Laboratory in Full Swing

One of Friday Harbor Laboratories’ (FHL’s) newest facilities is the Ocean Acidification Environmental Laboratory (OAEL), which has been in operation for much of 2012.  Construction of the laboratory was completed just last year, with funding from the National Science Foundation, University of Washington, private donors, and individual awards to Emily Carrington (FHL, OAEL Director) and James W. Murray (Oceanography). This state-of-the-art multi-user ocean acidification facility—a facility that is certain to further our understanding of the effects of ocean acidification in the Pacific Northwest and worldwide—offers unique research and instructional opportunities to run experiments, monitor how species react to differing ocean acidification regimes, and perform analytical chemistry.  In addition, a spring apprenticeship on the topic will be taught, and a course titled Ocean Acidification Techniques is slated for summer 2013. A complete description of services can be found at the OAEL website.



Save the Date

Dawg Days in the Desert

It’s not too soon to start planning for our second Lunch and Learn event during March’s Dawg Days in the Desert event.  If you’ll be in the Palm Springs area on March 27th, 2013 please join us to learn about an earthquake early warning system being developed at the UW in partnership with Cal Tech and UC Berkeley.  Details are forthcoming; for more information, please contact Andrea Fleming at abyrd@uw.edu.


CoEnv Events Calendar

Don’t forget the many on-going series of seminars of interest to researchers and laypersons alike happening throughout the College and elsewhere – you can stay current through our events calendar or by subscribing to our weekly events bulletin.



For & About Students

UW Environmental Career Fair

All students and alumni are welcome to attend the 2013 UW Environmental Career Fair on February 7, 2013 in Mary Gates Hall Commons, so prepare your résumé and dress to impress. The fair will feature approximately 40 employers including King County Department of Natural Resources and Parks, National Park Service, New Fields Consulting, Puget Sound Energy, Seattle Aquarium, Student Conservation Association, and the U.S. Forest Service. Held annually for over 10 years, the fair attracts employers from government, nonprofit, and private sectors to campus to promote career-level positions and internships to UW students and alumni. Questions? Contact envjobs@uw.edu.

College of the Environment Student Travel / Meeting Fund

Winter Quarter Deadline: February 1, 2013

The College of the Environment supports undergraduate and graduate students in furthering their careers, and in particular in connecting students to networking opportunities afforded by the presentation of their original work in meeting venues. CoEnv supports two types of student attendance at meetings:

Individual Student Travel to Meetings
CoEnv realizes that presentation of original work at national or international meetings hosted by scientific/academic societies can truly accelerate the career of a student. Because grant and contract funding, unit-based funding sources, and/or individual resources are occasionally not enough to cover travel expenses, the College will competitively award travel grants to individual students on a one-time basis who are giving oral presentations of their original work (including co-authored work where the student is first author).  Maximum awards are $300 for North American travel and $500 for all other international travel. Awards are given to one per student per degree career and a maximum of 10 awards are given out annually.

Student-Organized Meetings
CoEnv supports a range of student organizations that organize and host meetings attended by CoEnv students where central goals of the meeting include linking science (natural and/or social) to policy or real world application; and interdisciplinary attendance realized within CoEnv as attendance and presentation by students from multiple units within the College. CoEnv will competitively award grants to student organizations for partial funding of interdisciplinary, student-run meetings at which CoEnv students are presenting original (including co-authored work where the student is first author) work.  The maximum award is $1,500 or 20% of total expenditures, whichever is smaller.  One award per organization, with maximum of 4 awards given out annually.

To Apply:
Visit the CoEnv website for detailed application instructions.



Philanthropy - Making a Difference

Private gifts and grants make all the difference in the lives of our students, faculty, and programs. Did you know the College is the beneficiary of hundreds of gifts and grants annually from generous and far-sighted donors whose philanthropy make possible student scholarships and fellowships, the advance of critical research, and outreach involving multiple corporate, non-profit, agency, and community partners?  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.

The School of Aquatic and Fishery Sciences received a generous gift this fall from the estate of Harold Brindle, to establish the Harold A. Brindle, Class of 1956 Endowment for Fisheries. Mr. Brindle passed away earlier this year, and chose to support fisheries via bequest. Harold Brindle was a UW alumnus (1956, BA Mechanical Engineering), and went on to become a pioneer in the Alaskan seafood industry. The Brindle Endowment in SAFS will support the greatest needs as determined by the Director, and the School is very thankful for Mr. Brindle’s planning and generosity.

Dr. Robert Burns has made a generous gift to Richard H. Fleming Endowed Faculty Fellowship that elevated the fund to a full professorship in the School of Oceanography. This fund is used to enhance the University’s ability to recruit and retain distinguished faculty in the School of Oceanography. Dr. Burns, who received his Ph.D. in Oceanography from the School in 1962, chose to direct his giving to this fund to enable to School to continue to attract and keep the best faculty in the field. We are excited to now be able to award this professorship to an excellent educator. 

Ally Soest, longtime friend of the College and especially of the University of Washington Botanic Gardens, has made a generous gift to the Orin and Althea Soest Herbaceous Display Garden Fund. Ally and her late husband Orin established this fund in 1997 to create and support one of the beautiful attractions of UWBG – the Soest Herbaceous Garden. The Garden continues to draw visitors to the Center for Urban Horticulture, and Mrs. Soest’s continued support brings funding for ongoing maintenance and improvements.


Private Funding Opportunities

Below are some recent corporate and foundation funding opportunities. If you have a program or project that fits the funding criteria or have other ideas on how you want to engage corporate and foundation funders please contact Chris Thompson, Director for Corporate and Foundation Relations, at 206-221-6372 or csthomp@uw.edu.

In addition, Lauren Honaker joins us as the new Associate Director for Corporate and Foundation Relations. Lauren is an alum of Washburn University in Topeka, KS and has a Masters in Public Service from DePaul University in Chicago. Please feel free to contact her at 206-685-4423 or lhonaker@uw.edu.


Environmental Solutions for Communities Grant Program, 2013 Request for Proposals

Wells Fargo and the National Fish & Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) are pleased to offer financial assistance through our program, Environmental Solutions for Communities, whose mission is to help communities create a more sustainable future through responsible environmental stewardship. This Request for Proposals invites applications for competitive funding through this initiative.
Deadline: December 17, 2012.
For more information and the application are available on the NFWF website.


TD Bank and Arbor Day Foundation Announce Program to Support Urban Forestry Initiatives in Underserved Communities

Ten $20,000 grants in support of innovative urban forestry initiatives in low- to moderate-income neighborhoods. Funding will support the purchase of trees, tree planting and maintenance, and educational activities. Up to 50 percent of the proposed funding can be used to purchase new trees.
Deadline: January 31, 2013
Posted: November 29, 2012
For more information and the application are available on the Arbor Day Foundation website.


National Fish and Wildlife Foundation Accepting Proposals for America's Great Outdoors: Developing the Next Generation of Conservationists

The National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, in cooperation with the Bureau of Land Management and the Bureau of Reclamation, has announced a Request for Proposals for America's Great Outdoors: Developing the Next Generation of Conservationists, an initiative to connect youth to the outdoors by providing financial support for conservation job-training programs. The initiative brings together public and private partners to support organizations that are developing conservation job opportunities on public lands which expose young people, particularly urban and minority youth, to the natural world and career opportunities available in conservation. In this funding round, approximately $1.4 million will be available for matching grants nationwide. The geographic focus is on the western United States.
Deadline: January 21, 2013
Posted: December 6, 2012
For more information and the RFP are available on the NFWF website.


Foundational Questions Institute Announces International Request for Proposals on Physics of Information

The current RFP targets research regarding the physics of information both in physics and also in related fields, including cosmology, astrophysics, mathematics, computer science, complex systems, biology, and neuroscience. Funded research will address the gap between research and technological progress on information science on one side and active study of the true physical nature of information on the other. It will also bring the research community together to focus on developing a common understanding of the different types of information and the roles they play. Most importantly, the research supported by the program should have significant implications for our understanding of the major questions across many scientific disciplines and address the deep or "ultimate" nature of reality. In the 2013 competition, grants totaling approximately $3 million will be available for projects of up to two years.
Deadline: January 16, 2013 (Initial Proposals)
Posted: November 26, 2012
For more information and the application are available on the Foundational Questions Institute website.


W.M. Keck Foundation is soliciting proposals for its Science & Engineering Program

The W.M. Keck Foundation is soliciting proposals for its Science & Engineering Program; the programmatic criteria are outlined below.  The W.M. Keck Foundation's Science & Engineering Research Program seeks to benefit humanity by supporting high-risk/high-impact projects that are distinctive and novel in their approach to intractable problems, push the edge of their field, or question the prevailing paradigm. Past grants have been awarded to major universities and independent research institutions to support pioneering science and engineering research and the development of promising new technologies.

Programmatic criteria:

Funding amount: $1,000,000
Number of letters of inquiry UW can submit: 1
OSP deadline: Not applicable for Phase I inquiries
UW Deadline: Thursday, January 17, 2013
Letter of intent due to sponsor: May 1, 2013
For more information is available on the Keck Foundation website.

Important UW Pre-Proposal Instructions: To have a project considered for submission to the W.M. Keck Foundation, please submit a three-page narrative plus budget by email to research@uw.edu by 5:00 p.m. on Thursday, January 17, 2013.

If you have any questions about the program, please contact Joanna Glickler, Assistant Vice President for Corporate & Foundation Relations, at 206-685-6736 or glickler@uw.edu. Other open limited submissions opportunities, as well as the internal proposal review committee review and selection process outline are available on the UW Office of Research website. Please feel free to email research@uw.edu with questions or information on any limited submission opportunities that should be but are not already listed on that page.


CoEnv Instructions: Please copy Bruce Nelson (bnelson@uw.edu), Associate Dean for Research, and Chris Thompson (csthomp@uw.edu), Associate Director for Foundation Relations, when you submit your application to the Office of Research. If you would like to vet a proposal in advance of submission, both Bruce and Chris can be contacted directly 



CoEnv Community Spotlight

The CoEnv Community Spotlight is an ongoing series that will introduce you to the many members that make up the College community.  These include faculty, students, philanthropists, staff, and many more.  In each newsletter, we will feature a member’s unique story and how they help make the College the vibrant place that it is.

Vaughn IversonVaughn Iverson
Oceanography Graduate Student

On the surface, graduate student Vaughn Iverson seems like a guy who would rather be spending his day at the beach—he’s laid back, in sunglasses and sandals, wearing a black t-shirt with a stylized purple crab on it.  “I was a kid that could spend the whole day peering into tidepools,“ he says, talking about his connection to the sea.  An avid SCUBA diver and underwater photographer, he’s traveled the world to experience the diversity of life under the ocean’s surface. 

But dig a little deeper, and it quickly becomes clear that he is a highly motivated scientist with a firm foot in two seemingly disparate worlds: biological oceanography and computational science.

Iverson is on the leading edge in the burgeoning arena of “big data.”  Scientists’ capacity to produce data has increased exponentially over the last several decades, which has greatly benefitted scientific research; but with that comes the need to store, analyze and make sense of these ever-expanding data sets.  Iverson is helping bridge this gap through the lens of oceanography.

Much of this expertise stems from his past life, where he earned a MS in computer science from UW, and then spent 15 years in industry working on the compression of huge streams of video data.  But serendipity connected him once again to academia, piquing his interest to potentially make a career change.  Testing the waters, he enrolled in a marine biology course, volunteered to do lab work, and participated in the scientific apprenticeship program at the UW’s Friday Harbor Labs on San Juan Island. “After that, I decided research was for me and I started my PhD the next quarter in Ginger Armbrust’s lab.”

profileIverson is working to connect the worlds he knows through a research approach known as “metagenomics.”  His work revolves around understanding the vast soup of single-celled organisms that are found in seawater through genome sequencing.  In the past, this has been difficult, as only a relative handful of such organisms can be successfully isolated and grown in the lab. 

“We’re flipping this process on its head, and instead of isolating organisms in the lab, and then sequencing single genomes…we sequence all the organisms’ genomes mixed together and then isolate their genomes from the resulting data using computers.”  Ultimately, this allows researchers to better understand the vast diversity of microscopic organisms and the important roles they pay in marine ecosystems. “This is groundbreaking stuff.”

Supported in large part by a grant from the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, Iverson and his colleagues recently published their findings in Science.  They are now working to make this approach routine so that others can use these methods to study soils, freshwater, or the microorganisms that live upon and within plants and animals.


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