Spring celebration 2022

Each year, the College of the Environment recognizes the outstanding achievements of our community at Spring Celebration. Chosen through a College-wide nomination process, awardees are recognized by their colleagues for making unique, inspiring and meaningful contributions to our community during the academic year.

All College faculty, staff, students, postdocs, and their guests are invited to attend this year’s hybrid event, where Dean Maya Tolstoy will present the awards. The event will be livestreamed on the College’s YouTube channel.

UW College of the Environment Spring Celebration
Tuesday, May 3, 2022 | 3 – 5 p.m. (awards ceremony begins at 3:30 p.m.)

Distinguished Staff Member

Hettie Scofield, Atmospheric Sciences

From Hettie’s nominator(s):

  • “Hettie is an extraordinary leader in our department. We are deeply grateful to her, and we rely on her completely. She always delivers solutions to every problem. Every meeting or email ends with her offering to assist us in any way we need – even though she is busy with her own responsibilities.”
  • “Hettie is not only outstanding at her job, she goes beyond that by providing personalized care and attention to our community. There are over 130 graduate students, postdocs, staff and faculty in our department, and Hettie can tell you something special and unique about each one. She even knows most of the undergraduates, though we don’t know how. There is not a day that goes by when she is not attending to the needs of one or more individuals in the department. Her efforts and kindness are highly appreciated by everyone.”

Exceptional Mentoring of Undergraduates

José Guzman, Aquatic and Fishery Sciences

From José’s nominator(s):

  • “Through Marine Biology in the Field, Professor Guzman challenged my peers and I to use the knowledge we have gained these last four years to design our own open inquiry-based research question that related to the greater San Juan Island ecosystem, which is essential to our training as marine biologists.”
  • “Outside of the formal classroom setting, Professor Guzman always looks out for my marine biology peers and I by consistently encouraging us to take on new challenges and opportunities, especially within the research realm. The specific opportunity I would like to share with you is an encouragement to share our research with others while gaining science communication skills. My group, which consists of three other marine biology students and I, shy away from public presentations. Furthermore, we have never presented our research outside of the classroom setting. Because of Professor Guzman’s encouragement, direction, and guidance, my group and I applied to present at the School of Aquatic and Fishery Sciences Graduate Student Symposium, where we won best undergraduate poster presentation. No matter how many responsibilities Professor Guzman had, he always found time to help revise our abstract and research poster. He challenged us to critically think through the best ways to tell our research story and we would not have been able to succeed if it wasn’t for his help.”

Outstanding Community Impact

Bryce Lewis-Smith, Marine and Environmental Affairs

From Bryce’s nominator(s):

  • “Bryce Lewis-Smith is one of the most impressive, driven, proactive and intelligent students I have ever had the pleasure of working with. He immediately demonstrated a strong grasp of the nuances and challenges within the field of local-level climate resilience. It is rare to find individuals who can fully understand tree species selection or abiotic and biotic determinants of tree growth in harsh urban environments, and also communicate issues of environmental equity effectively and sensitively in community or policy settings. Bryce traversed these fields with ease and demonstrated a deep passion for environmental equity and community-centered climate resilience. I was most impressed by his ability to translate complex scientific research to the public to engage historically marginalized communities in sustainable city-building.”
  • “The Tree Ambassador Program represents a giant step forward for Los Angeles, and it simply would not have been possible without Bryce. In the last year, Bryce has spearheaded the writing and creation of the bilingual Tree Ambassador Toolkit – the core curriculum for the entire program. He also created agendas, presentations and outreach materials for monthly training sessions with our inaugural cohort of Tree Ambassadors and made sure all materials were translated into English and Spanish. Bryce played a pivotal role in implementing three training sessions for the program: “Community Organizing for a Green and Equitable Future,” “Overcoming Barriers to Urban Greening,” and “Native LA.” Bryce currently serves as a Tribal Liaison with City Plants, connecting our work with Indigenous leaders in the Los Angeles region and ensuring their voices are front and center in our urban forestry movement in Los Angeles. Bryce is a fierce, passionate and community-driven leader.”

Outstanding Diversity Commitment

Sarah Converse & Brian Harvey, Environmental and Forest Sciences (joint recipients)

From Sarah and Brian’s nominator(s):

  • “The efforts of both are worthy of individual recommendations, but in their capacity as DEIC leaders, we see their joint efforts as one amazing contribution accentuated by their individual efforts. They led the Committee and the School through tumultuous racial tensions and the stresses of a pandemic, while producing a standout DEI Plan among other tangible contributions toward making SEFS a more diverse and inclusive part of the UW community. Principles of diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging permeate in their labs, their mentorship, and their service as co-chairs of the SEFS DEIC.”
  • “Their commitment extends to improving DEI in fieldwork, which is a crucial aspect of environmental science that is often shown to be a barrier to entry for excluded and minoritized groups. In 2021, Brian led an extensive DEI-focused overhaul of his lab’s fieldwork recruiting and hiring practices, and he partnered with the Doris Duke Conservation Scholars Program to provide structured and supportive internships for students from historically marginalized groups.”

Outstanding Teaching Faculty

Mikelle Nuwer, Oceanography

From Mikelle’s nominator(s):

  • “Mikelle’s efforts have been central to the development of an environment within the College where both faculty and students can thrive. Teaching faculty positions are new within the University of Washington, and we have few faculty representing these positions within the College. Through her leadership, initiative, creativity and guidance, Mikelle has helped define a clear role for teaching faculty within our programs. She is an exemplar, and an exceptional mentor and role model for all instructors interested in improving their teaching. We believe that the College’s teaching mission has been the beneficiary of her talent and her dedication.”
  • “Mikelle’s contribution to the teaching effort in Oceanography and Marine Biology is central to the success of both of these programs. She is one of the first instructors that our students encounter and as such, her classes provide important foundational knowledge that our students rely on as they progress through their degrees. Mikelle has a strong conceptual foundation in oceanography and designs courses and curriculum that introduce and scaffold fundamental concepts in a way that highlight and reinforce the interdisciplinary nature of oceanography. Mikelle integrates environmental case studies, often including an environmental justice component, as a key way to engage and motivate students.”
  • “Mikelle has been instrumental in training and mentoring graduate TAs throughout the College of the Environment. She wrote the manual and designed the annual College TA training. The training covers topics such as how to write assessment questions, evaluate student learning, and lead effective discussions – effectively supporting all learners in the classroom. As a co-Instructor, I have found that delivering this training with Mikelle has been a highlight of my professional life. She brings so much joy to this work, cultivates a community of learners, and really harnesses the enthusiasm and knowledge of everyone in the room.”

Graduate Dean’s Medalist

Tyler Cox, Atmospheric Sciences

From Tyler’s nominator(s):

  • “Tyler Cox has an exceptional research record and is committed to advance Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (EDI) within the Department, College and wider community. His extensive efforts have made our community a better place and go far beyond the expectations for graduate student service. He is also an excellent student and his professors have expressed their gratitude for his contributions in the classroom including his willingness to share insights with other students and demonstrate curiosity.”
  • “Tyler was instrumental in conceptualizing, organizing, and teaching two new departmental seminar courses focused on EDI issues. Not only were the courses educational and engaging for participants, but they also played an important role in shaping our department’s approach to EDI issues amidst the nationwide dialog on race sparked by the murder of George Floyd in May 2020. Cecilia Bitz was the instructor of record and can say without hesitation that these two courses would not have happened without Tyler’s efforts (especially the second course). Beyond planning and teaching a large portion of the courses, Tyler was often the organizational glue that held together the rest of the planning committee. His enthusiasm, consistency, reliability, and willingness to dedicate time towards the course inspired significant efforts from others.”

Undergraduate Dean’s Medalist

Aina Hori, Marine Biology

From Aina’s nominator(s):

  • “Aina has been an exceptional student and community member throughout her career at the University of Washington. Our program has benefited substantially though her interests, engagement and talent – and we believe that she will be a wonderful role model for our College as she develops her career going forward.”
  • “In June of 2020, Aina was selected for the Student Ambassador program. In this role she represents the College of the Environment and connects with prospective and current students, sharing her Husky experience and answering questions about our college. Aina’s experience working with Housing & Food Services, helping new freshmen move into their dorms, leading educational programs in the residence halls, and her experience working at the Admissions front desk is a huge benefit to her in this role, and to the entire team of Ambassadors. Her broad knowledge of UW student life, along with her undergrad research experience, is extremely helpful when interacting with prospective students and their families. She’s mentioned she was drawn to the Ambassadors because “we give them a real and diverse look at what life at UW is like. It makes me feel great to share the info I wish I knew before coming to Seattle, to let them know, ‘hey there’s a community for you here.’ It’s extremely rewarding to ‘pay it forward.