Tale of the Tape

On Friday, September 26, two SEFS graduate students, Sean Jeronimo and Nichole Studevant, spent a few hours serving as judges in the first-ever Waskowitz Big Tree Contest. Their job was to take measurements of six Douglas-firs around Burien, Wash., to determine the biggest of the bunch. These weren’t just any trees, either. They were “Waskowitz Trees,” the fruits of a great tradition at Camp Waskowitz back in the 1960s, when campers would come home after a week with a seedling to plant. Learn more about the contest, and how busy the winning tree has been since it was planted in 1968!



New Faculty Intro: David Butman

Joining us from Yale University, Butman brings a strong background in aquatic biogeochemistry and remote sensing. Learn more about his research interests, and help welcome him to the SEFS community.


Director's Message: Autumn 2014

Reflecting on the 50th anniversary of the Wilderness Act, SEFS Director Tom DeLuca explores the meaning and power of wilderness, and how these protected lands have incalculable value in providing blueprints for sustainable land-management strategies.


UW Kicks Off New Crowdfunding Platform with SEFS Project

Last week, graduate students in the Predator Ecology Lab kicked off a campaign to raise $12,000 to fund radio collaring deer as part of an ongoing wolf study. The campaign is the first College of the Environment pilot project to test the effectiveness of USEED as a crowdfunding platform.


Dead Elk Society's Pumpkin-Carving Party!

This Friday, the fun starts at 5 p.m. in the Forest Club Room, and there will be music, carving (of course), the smashing of a pumpkin piñata, and plenty of beer (for those of age). All SEFS students, staff, faculty and friends are invited, so come join the Dead Elk Society for a howling good time!


Oct. 20, 2014:

Wildlife Science Seminar, 3:30 to 4:50 p.m., KANE 120

Oct. 22, 2014:

SEFS Seminar Series, 3:30 to 4:30 p.m., AND 223

Oct. 23, 2014:

Farm to Table Dinner, 6:30 p.m., CUH

Oct. 24, 2014:

Dead Elk Party, 5 p.m.-?, AND 207



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Two weeks ago in Salt Lake City, October 8-11, a strong SEFS contingent took part in the joint meeting of the Society of American Foresters (SAF) and the International Union of Forest Research Organizations (IUFRO), the first U.S.-hosted World Congress in 43 years. All told, we represented with more than a dozen faculty members, postdocs, staff and students, and we hosted a great alumni reception at the end of the convention on Thursday, October 11.

SEFS has signed separate memorandums of understanding with two universities: Chungnam National University in Korea, and Tuscia University in Italy. The partnerships—sponsored by Professors Soo-Hyung Kim and Tom DeLuca, respectively—aim to foster cooperation between our respective programs, facilitate educational and research collaboration, and encourage faculty and student exchange programs.

The UW’s Combined Fund Drive is under way, and from now through November 28 you can sign up to support a great cause or organization through payroll deduction! Last year, 4,395 individual donors at UW pledged $2,181,517 to support hundreds of different charities, and we’re hoping to push that number even higher this year. Contact Lisa Nordlund if you have any questions about the drive.

SEFS doctoral student Robert Tournay passed along news of an enticing study abroad opportunity in Costa Rica this winter. Organized through UW Tacoma, the month-long field course is open to undergraduates at any UW institution and will introduce students to issues in tropical ecology, focusing on sustainability and rainforest conservation. Deadline to apply is November 10, so check it out soon if you’re interested.

On Tuesday, October 14, the Elisabeth C. Miller Library hosted a rare book viewing featuring selections from the private library of Darrell Allen, a botanical book collector and member of the Seattle Book Club. Allen specializes in 17th and 19th century engraved, hand-colored plate editions of the great artists, engravers and painters of this period. He selected a sampling of these extremely rare volumes from his library, and he was on hand for the viewing from 1:30 to 3:30 p.m. Very cool!

This Friday, from 12:30-1:30 p.m. in the Forest Club Room, you are invited to a guest seminar, “Exploring the Big Wild of South America,” hosted by the Pacific Biodiversity Institute. Through short videos, maps and photos, you’ll get a glimpse of some of the wildest parts of South America, and you’ll get to meet a few of the scientists and conservationists working to study and protect these areas. Email Elliott Church for more information about the seminar.

On the IT front, Marc Morrison reminds us that October is Cyber Security Awareness Month, and the SEFS Helpdesk blog has some “Security Awareness 101” tips to help you keep your personal information safe.

SEFS doctoral candidate Jack DeLap was a registered presenter and attendee at the 2014 joint meeting of the American Ornithologists’ Union, the Cooper Ornithological Society, and the Society of Canadian Ornithologists, held in Estes Park, Colo., September 23-28. DeLap shared a portion of his doctoral research on birds and urbanization in a 12-minute presentation, “The Response of Bird Communities to Newly Establishing Human Communities.” Nice work, Jack!

Oh, and don’t forget about the “Farm to Table Dinner” the UW Farm is hosting at the Center for Urban Horticulture this Thursday, Oct. 23! You’ll be treated to a knockout meal—incorporating UW Farm produce—from the chefs at Chaco Canyon Café, and local microbrews from Hilliard’s will also be available for purchase. Tickets are $13 in advance or $15 at the door for students, and $20 in advance or $25 at the door for non-students. All proceeds go to the UW Farm, so get your tickets today.


Professor Sharon Doty’s Plant Microbiology Lab has been researching the use of naturally occurring microbes (endophytes) that live inside plants to remove serious pollutants from the environment, including at Gas Works Park in Seattle. It’s exciting research, and several members of the lab just published a paper in Environmental Science and Technology: “Degradation, Phytoprotection and Phytoremediation of Phenanthrene by Endophyte Pseudomonas putida, PD1.” In the paper, Research Scientist Zhareen Khan and co-authors David Roman, Trent Kintz, May delas Alas, Raymond Yap and Sharon Doty demonstrate the ability of willow trees and grasses, inoculated with a specific bacteria, to remove and degrade a pollutant from water and soil, removing this toxin from the environment. One of the coolest parts is that four of the authors—Roman, Kintz, delas Alas and Yap—were undergraduates in Doty’s lab while contributing to the project. Fantastic stuff, and we’ll have more on the paper soon!

On October 9, Professor John Marzluff published an essay in Aeon that eloquently summarizes the message in his recent book, Subirdia, concerning the value of suburban and urban lands for the conservation of birds. “Birdland: Human sprawl is usually a threat to wildlife, but birds buck the trend. Can we help biodiversity take wing in our suburbs?” is a first-person narrative about his research, and it’s well worth the read! (Sandra Hines at UW News put together a nice blog post about the essay, as well.)

Sarah Krueger, who is working toward a joint master’s with SEFS and the Evans School, is a contributor on a newly released book. Her short piece, “The North Cascades Ecosystem: Public Lands Designations," appears in The North Cascades: Finding Beauty and Renewal in the Wild Nearby, by William Dietrich. Nice work, Sarah!


Sandra Hines also put together a terrific piece about citizen science projects at UW, “Citizen science key to keeping pace with environmental change,” which includes examples from the Rare Plant Care and Conservation Program, and also SEFS alumna Hillary Burgess and her work on the Coastal Observation and Seabird Survey Team (COASST). The story is currently featured on the UW homepage!

In other news, SEFS Research Scientist Dave Peterson was featured in a two-part series by Daniel Chasan on Crosscut: “Only we can prevent costly forest fires. So why don't we?” on October 8, and then a day later, “In the war against wildfires, ecosystem restoration is the name of the game.”


A few weeks ago, Professor Emeritus Tom Hinckley organized a fall alumni hike to explore the Methow Valley, and he shared some photos of the spectacular mountain views and foliage for a slideshow!