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The Insider: College of the Environment Newsletter

From Dean Graumlich

Dean Graumlich

With ever more ways of creating, storing and analyzing signals about the state of our environment, we are squarely in an age of “big data”, where the amount of information we have about the world meets, or even exceeds, our capacity to explore it. Yet the ability to understand the complex system in which we live requires the ability to ask questions using these big data sets.

As someone who relishes finding insights through the visualization of environmental data over space and time, I am inspired by how the College of the Environment uses big data in exploration, synthesis, interpretation and decision-making, from genomes to global resource sustainability.

Earlier this month, a team from Oceanography with expertise in informatics published their successful isolation of the genetic code of a marine microbe that made up less than 10% of the Puget Sound water sample. Vaughn Iverson, PhD student in Ginger Armbrust’s research lab, utilized metagenomics and his background in computer science to devise their new method and characterized the genome of marine group II Euryarchaeota.  The genome provided clues to suggest that the microbe has a tail, and sticks to phytoplankton while it looks for fats and proteins to degrade. Further, the technique they developed can be used in other fields to understand microbial communities through data mining.

Another way in which we’re using big data is to visualize and analyze the relationships between food systems and climate variability. Informing this conundrum, last week Atmospheric Sciences’ David Battisti presented findings at the annual AAAS meeting that climate variability will take a greater toll on food security than current models predict. These kinds of insights are only available from big data: in this case, climate records from around the globe, spanning the past 10,000 years.

And next month, as part of the Engage Science Speaker Series, a UW-wide grad student initiative in science communication that is now being hosted at Town Hall, Earth and Space Sciences PhD student Karl Lang will use his interpretation of million-year records of erosion, from some of the world’s most dynamic mountains, to answer “how to build a mountain range”.

The acquisition and use of large, multidimensional data sets allows us to both deepen our disciplinary excellence and to identify and develop interdisciplinary initiatives. This is why I find big data to be so compelling, and why I am committed to making sure that our faculty, staff and students have the tools and skillsets for working with these data sets and with associated technologies: so that we can continue to ask the big environmental questions science and society at large pose and which are best answered with big data.

Lisa Graumlich Signature

Lisa Graumlich
Dean, UW College of the Environment



UW Continues to be a Global Powerhouse for Research and Academics

The University of Washington is clearly a leader when it comes to our teaching, research, and impact in the world.  The new Academic Rankings of World Universities is out, and UW ranked 16th among the top 100 universities globally, and 14th in the United States.  In addition, the UW was ranked 12th worldwide for Nature and Science papers, 7th for the Science Citation Index Expanded, and 13th for Highly Cited Researchers.  This comes as no surprise to those who know UW and the College of the Environment's superb research strengths, and speaks volumes about the caliber of our students, faculty, and staff.  To see these rankings, click here.

EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson visits UW

Lisa JacksonLisa Jackson – the Administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency – visited the UW campus in late January to talk about economic and environmental recovery, and how the two can go hand-in-hand. College of the Environment Dean Lisa Graumlich hosted Jackson, participating in a green business roundtable discussion and moderating a packed student town hall. For more about her visit, including a video of the town hall, click here.


Faculty and Alumni Selected for Forest Health Group

DNR Logo

Two faculty members from the School of Environmental and Forest Sciences – Bob Gara and Dave Peterson – and three SEFS alums – Bill Gaines (PhD ‘02), Reese Lolley (MS ‘05), and Connie Mehmel (MS ‘02) – have been appointed to a Washington Department of Natural Resources Forest Health Technical Advisory Group. Convened by WA Commissioner of Public Lands Peter Goldmark, the November 2011 initiative launched the state’s Forest Health Hazard Warning system, calling for formation of a technical committee of foresters, scientists, and other experts. The committee’s charge is to advise Goldmark on the severity of the threats, areas of the state where corrective actions would be best prioritized, and what kind of actions would be most effective. Click here for the press release announcing the committee.


Winter “Conversations on Defining Diversity” Features Graduate Students 

Defining Diversity Logo The College of the Environment continued its new series of open panels on diversity with the Winter Quarter Conversations on Defining Diversity event on February 7th, focused on Recruitment and Retention in the Graduate Community. Thank you to the three graduate students who described their experience as prospective, and now current, underrepresented minority students in the college and shared their ideas for how the CoEnv can effectively attract and retain more underrepresented graduate students: Charles Plummer (Earth and Space Sciences), Daniel Hernandez (Aquatic and Fishery Sciences), and Diana Pietri (Environmental and Forest Sciences).  Each quarterly Conversations on Defining Diversity will focus on a particular aspect of diversity and feature CoEnv faculty, staff, and students speaking about their experiences, often from very different points of view.  To be added to the e-mail contact list for the series, please e-mail coenvaad@uw.edu.


New Name! School of Environmental and Forest Sciences

SEFS Logo What was formerly named the School of Forest Resources is now officially the School of Environmental and Forest Sciences, a change that has been 15 years in the making and reflects the expanded scope of curricular and research initiatives underway. Over the past decade, the school has shifted towards an emphasis on integrated knowledge in natural resource and environmental science and management, and since 2006 has recruited numerous new faculty to bring expertise in cutting edge environmental and natural resource disciplines.



Save the Date

NOAA Fishery Science Symposium

Science Symposium

NOAA's Northwest Fisheries Science Center is hosting its 3rd Science Symposium on March 14-15 at NOAA's Sand Point facility, Building 9 Auditorium, in Seattle.
The goals of this event are to foster communication and collaboration among scientists, as well as to showcase new and exciting areas of NOAA fisheries science in the Pacific Northwest and beyond. The 2-day symposium will consist of oral presentations and posters contributed by NOAA's Northwest Fisheries Science Center scientists. Click here for additional information.


World Wildlife Fund Chief Scientist to Speak on Innovative Conservation Approaches

Eric DinersteinThe College of the Environment and the School of Environmental and Forest Sciences are hosting a lecture on March 1 featuring SEFS alumnus Eric Dinerstein, World Wildlife Fund’s Chief Scientist and Vice President of Conservation Science. His talk is titled All Together Now: linking ecosystem services, endangered species conservation, and local livelihood and will address an innovative market-based approach to conserving species. For more information, click here.


Microsoft Tools Workshop for the Environmental Research Community

Microsoft Research’s “Earth, Energy, and Environment” group is hosting a workshop in Redmond on April 4-6 to showcase and provide tutorials in the latest Microsoft technologies for sharing, analyzing, and presenting environmental research data. Microsoft will also introduce their Environmental Informatics Framework, a new strategy for engaging with the environmental research community. For more information about the event and how to attend, please click here.


Dawg Days

Dawg Days in the Desert

Will you be in the Palm Springs area in early March?  If so, join us on March 7 for a Lunch and Learn in the Desert presentation entitled "Off the Menu: How Prey Animals Avoid Becoming a Predator’s Lunch” featuring faculty member Aaron Wirsing (Environmental and Forest Sciences).  For more information and to reserve your spot, please click here. 



CoEnv Events Calendar

Don’t forget the many on-going series of seminars happening throughout the College and elsewhere, including the Bevan Series on Sustainable Fisheries, The Water Seminar, Engage: The Science Speaker Series, and The Beyond the Ivory Tower science communication series, to name a few. You can stay current through our events calendar or by subscribing to our weekly events bulletin here.



For & About Students

GRE Prep and Basic Math Refresher Courses

The Lifelong Learning program administered by the University of Washington Women's Center is offering a great opportunity for GRE Prep and Basic Math Refresher Courses on campus.

  • GRE Prep: March 3-24, Saturdays 1-5pm
  • Basic Math Refresher: March 6-27, Tuesdays 6-8pm

Check out the website for more information on courses and instructors, and feel free to contact the University of Washington Women's Center with any questions or concerns you may have.


Winter “Meet, Greet, Teach” Event Tackles Environmental Pessimism

Meet, Greet, Teach
On January 30, faculty, postdocs, graduate students, and staff attended Meet, Greet, Teach: Envisioning Ecopocalypse in the Program on the Environment Commons in Wallace Hall. Panelists David Battisti (Atmospheric Sciences), Joyce Cooper (Mechanical Engineering and Civil and Environmental Engineering), Lauren Hartzell Nichols (Program on Values in Society, Philosophy, and Program on the Environment), and Michael Kucher (History of Technology and the Environment, UW Tacoma) discussed the balancing act of how to engage students with environmental problems with both optimism and realism, how much time to spend on the hopeful solutions, and how to inspire students to be agents of change. Meet, Greet,Teach offers graduate students and postdoctoral fellows with an interest in interdisciplinary, environmental education a chance to interact with faculty from across campus who are willing to share their enthusiasm and their experience. Attendees have a chance to mix and mingle before settling down to a 30-minute "fast panel."  To be added to the e-mail contact list for the series, please e-mail coenvaad@uw.edu.


UW Environmental Innovation Challenge

EI challengeIf you have a passion for clean technology, the smarts to play in the emerging green economy, and desire to make an impact, the UW Environmental Innovation Challenge is your opportunity... and chance to win $10,000!  Time is running short though, as the required Business Summary is due on February 28th, 2012.  The Challenge itself is held on March 29th. For information on deadlines for submitting entries, click here


UW Business Plan Competition

UW Business Plan Competition Do you have the next big idea for a successful green business?  If so be sure to check out the UW Business Plan Competition (BPC), a great opportunity to make serious headway on putting that idea into action! Now in its 15th year, the UW BPC is designed to bring interdisciplinary teams of students together to promote student start-up ideas and venture creation. Any degree-seeking college or university student in the state of Washington can submit his/her 5- to 7-page executive summary to the BPC.  Deadline to enter is Tuesday, April 3, 2012.  For more information, click here.



Making a Difference - Private Support

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


Brooks and Suzanne Ragen establish Friday Harbor Laboratories Endowed Scholarship
Through the Ragens’ generosity, the Ragen Friday Harbor Laboratories Endowed Scholarship will support students engaged in laboratory research or enrolled for a class or workshop in marine sciences.  Expenses associated with this type of coursework can be prohibitive for many students, and the Ragens recognized the need to support these crucial activities which give students excellent experience pursuing marine research in a unique array of ecosystems that surround the San Juan Islands.  Brooks and Suzanne have long been part of the Friday Harbor Laboratories (FHL) and San Juan Island communities, and have not only supported FHL students with gifts, but have also provided research sites on their island property and friendship during their time on the island. 

Lockwood Foundation completes $250,000 pledge to School of Environmental and Forest Sciences

The Byron and Alice Lockwood Endowed Fund for Faculty Support in the School of Environmental and Forest Sciences established in 2008 and fully funded as of December 2011, will provide support for recruiting and retaining distinguished faculty in the field of forest resources.  With recognition of the dynamic global forces affecting forests and natural resource management, the Foundation specifically directed the endowment towards faculty who are experts in sustainable forest practices.  With the pledge now completed, the newly-named School of Environmental and Forest Sciences looks forward to using the endowment in support of its first recipient. 

Tamaki Foundation pledges $150,000 in support of critical climate change and food security research

Farmers across the globe worry about two aspects of global warming:  increased heat and heat waves, and further crop loss due to increased pest pressure.  Recognizing this as a critical issue, the Tamaki Foundation recently awarded $150,000 to Atmospheric Sciences Professor and Tamaki Endowed Chair David Battisti to support further research into quantifying the primary impacts of global warming on food production due to changing heat extremes and pest pressure. Dr. Battisti’s findings will be disseminated to help policymakers better evaluate the human and environmental ramifications of climate change, and to inform developing nations and national and international agricultural organizations so that they will be better prepared to deal with the consequences of global warming on global food security.



Career Services

Opportunity: Global Marine Intern – Conservation International

The Global Marine division of Conservation International is looking for three part-time graduate student interns.  The interns will learn about a major new project, the Ocean Health Index, through research.  The internship will also give interns exposure to senior scientists, development of a sophisticated website, and experience in research and writing. Interns will be asked to research various aspects of ocean health as the informational basis for the website development teams. Each intern will take certain topics to explore using computer research and telephone inquiries. For additional information, click here.


College Hosts UW Environmental Career Fair 2012

Description: Macintosh HD:Users:jjmeyer:Desktop:Career Fair crowd 5.jpg Over 600 students attended the 2012 UW Environmental Career Fair sponsored by the College of the Environment on February 15 in Mary Gates Hall. The fair featured nearly 40 employers including the Army Corps of Engineers, Environmental Protection Agency, Port of Seattle, Puget Sound Energy, Seattle Aquarium, Snoqualmie Tribe, 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.




Funding Opportunities

Please contact Chris Thompson, CoEnv's Associate Director for Corporate and Foundation Relations, for more information about any of the opportunities below, at 206-221-6372 or csthomp@uw.edu.

Scholar Award in Studying Complex Systems
The James S. McDonnell Foundation announces new application guidelines for its 21st Century Science Initiative Scholar Awards in Complex Systems. The 21st Century Scholar Awards in Studying Complex Systems (Scholar Awards-CS) are intended to support research programs judged to be original and important to advancing the state of knowledge of the field. Scholar Awards-CS provide largely unrestricted funding over a sufficient time period to allow investigators to pursue and develop new directions to their research programs. Deadline: 3:59pm CT on Wednesday, March 14. For more information, click here.

Postdoctoral Fellowship Program in Studying Complex Systems
The James S. McDonnell Foundation (JSMF) announces updated application guidelines for its postdoctoral fellowship opportunity in the area of Complex Systems research. The JSMF Fellowships are intended to provide students in the final stages of completing a Ph.D. degree additional leeway in identifying and securing postdoctoral training opportunities in complex systems research (as defined on the JSMF website). Deadline: 3:59pm CT on Friday, June 15.  For more information, click here.

TogetherGreen Accepting Applications for Conservation Fellowships and Innovation Grants
TogetherGreen, a conservation alliance between the National Audubon Society and Toyota, is accepting applications for its 2012 class of Conservation Fellows and Innovation grantees.  Conservation Fellowship grants of $10,000 and Innovation grants of up to $80,000 will be awarded to nonprofits and National Audubon Society organizations working to support conservation action in their communities.  Deadline: Various.  For more information, click here.

The Bullitt Foundation – LOI Deadline

The Bullitt Foundation invites letters of inquiry for its May 1 proposal deadline.  The mission of The Bullitt Foundation is to safeguard the natural environment by promoting responsible human activities and sustainable communities in the Pacific Northwest. The Foundation invites inquiries from nonprofit organizations that serve Washington, Oregon, Idaho, British Columbia, western Montana (including the Rocky Mountain range), and south-central Alaska.  LOI deadline: March 15.  For more information, click here.

Conservation Partners
Conservation Partners is a partnership between the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF), and other regional/initiative specific partners. The purpose of this program is to provide grants on a competitive basis to support field biologists and other habitat conservation professionals (ecologists, foresters, range cons, etc.) working with NRCS field offices in providing technical assistance to farmers, ranchers, foresters and other private landowners to optimize wildlife habitat conservation on private lands.  Deadline: March 13.  For more information, click here.

National Fish and Wildlife Foundation—Keystone Initiatives
Keystone Initiatives are a core portfolio of multi-year initiatives through which the Foundation and its partners seek to achieve measurable outcomes. Specific goals and strategies are identified for each Initiative. Outcomes are continuously evaluated and objectives refined as the Initiative evolves. Keystone Initiatives are selected by the Foundation's board of directors, based on recommendations from staff.  Deadline: June 1.   For more information, click here.

NSF CREATIV grant opportunity

NSF recently initiated a pilot program to support interdisciplinary research (CREATIV) that is an excellent opportunity for researchers in the College of the Environment, and reflects some of the College’s research priorities.  The program is distinguished from the typical NSF proposal process by:

You can find out more about the NSF CREATIV grant opportunity here.





Congratulations to Bob Houze (Atmospheric Sciences), who has just been elected a Fellow of the American Geophysical Union in 2012! AGU Fellows must have attained acknowledged eminence in the Earth and space sciences, and the primary criteria for evaluation in scientific eminence are major breakthrough/discovery and paradigm shift. This designation is conferred upon not more than 0.1% of all AGU members in any given year.

David Stahl (Civil and Environmental Engineering) has recently being elected to the National Academy of Engineering! Professor Stahl has been elected for his work with the application of molecular microbial ecology to environmental engineering. Election to the NAE is among the highest professional distinctions accorded to an engineer.


Robert Winglee (Earth and Space Sciences) is featured in Success Magazine’s Big Ideas for 2012 for his ideas on space travel – congratulations!


Congratulations to Kiki Jenkins (Marine and Environmental Affairs) on her essays being selected within the top 50 of Science Magazine’s call to answer "how will the practice of science change in your lifetime"!


Distinguished Staff AwardUW staff make great things happen at the University of Washington—by supporting a commitment to excellence in educating tomorrow's leaders, making new discoveries, creating new technologies, and enriching lives through the arts and athletics. Since 1997, the University has been recognizing extraordinary accomplishments with the Distinguished Staff Award.  Congratulations to the following staff members affiliated with the CoEnv on being nominated this year!

Team Award
FHL Office Administrative Team
Friday Harbor Laboratories



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