School News

SFR Becomes SEFS

The UW School of Forest Resources became the School of Environmental and Forest Sciences on January 1, 2012.

A name change has been under consideration for more than 15 years as the School's programs changed from traditional forest engineering and management to include conservation and stewardship and the need for a more integrative interdisciplinary approach.  This has been a path followed by all forestry schools in the country, a response to new challenges in natural resources management throughout the world, and the need to educate professionals to meet these challenges. Formal consideration of a name change began in 2006, when the highest priority at the annual strategic planning retreat was “a new name that accurately reflects all we do.” The new name was developed in 2010 through a faculty, staff, and student exercise, facilitated by an ad hoc committee, from which a short list of names emerged.  On April 20, 2010, the faculty selected from this list and voted to change the name to School of Environmental and Forest Sciences.  See article on the name change in this newsletter.


The SEFS Director Search Committee has announced four finalists for the position who will participate in interviews on the UW campus in April. The candidates are:

Gary Machlis, Science Advisor to Director, National Park Service, and Professor of Conservation, College of Natural Resources, University of Idaho. Campus interview scheduled for April 2-3, 2012.

Thomas DeLuca, Professor and National Environmental Research Council (NERC)-University Joint Chair in Environmental Sciences, School of Natural Resources and Geography, Bangor University, Wales, and Adjunct Professor, University of Montana.
Campus interview scheduled for April 5-6, 2012.

Dean Glawe, Professor, Plant Pathology, Washington State University; Professor (without tenure) University of Washington. Campus interview scheduled for April 10-11, 2012.

Edward "Ned" Kirby, Professor of Plant Biology, Rutgers University, Newark. Campus visit scheduled for April 12-13, 2012

The position was advertised widely on job lists and in publications nationwide; nominations were sought from throughout the SEFS community; and personal contact was made with prominent individuals in the environmental and natural resources disciplines. Every effort was made to assemble a diverse pool of applicants.

The interviews will include meetings with SEFS faculty, students, and staff;, UW collaborators,, and external partners. Each candidate will give a public presentation in Anderson 207 at 3:30 p.m. on the second day of their respective visit.


To help celebrate the conclusion of the United Nations-declared International Year of the Forest, SEFS collaborated with the University of British Columbia (UBC) Faculty of Forestry to sponsor an international graduate student symposium, "Future Forestry Leaders," held at UBC in Vancouver on February 24-25th, 2012. The symposium highlighted graduate student research at both universities, with special emphasis on Native American and First Nations forestry issues. SEFS participants included students Chris Beatty, Brooke Cassell, Jake Grossman, Laurel James, Daisuke Sasatani, John Simeone, and Sebastian Tramon; alumnus Jane Atkins (MS 2010); and faculty Ivan Eastin.

The symposium opened with a poster session and reception hosted by the UBC Graduate Student Association that was attended by over 100 students, faculty and forestry professionals.Three plenary sessions—Forests/Environment, Products/Technology, and Markets/Policy— featured research presentations by the students. The first day closed with a lecture by United Nations REDD Senior Officer Tiina Vahanen presenting information on the REDD initiative, a collaborative partnership between UN development and environmental programs to reduce emissions from deforestation and forest degradation. The next day, a field trip to the Squamish First Nation provided an overview of Squamish history, land use planning, forest stewardship, and forestry business activities. Students were treated to traditional venison stew for lunch followed by an interactive session with a traditional wood carver.

The student presentations will be included in a special edition of The Forestry Chronicle and the presentations were videotaped and will be made available on the School's Center for International Trade in Forest Products website.

in memoriam, orin soest

The Soests celebrating the 15th anniversary of the Soest Herbaceous Display Garden.

Orin Hazen Soest, stalwart benefactor and friend to SEFS through his gifts to the UW Botanic Gardens, passed away on February 14, 2012.  For the past 15 years, the generosity of Orin and Althea, his wife of 59 years, has graced the UW Botanic Gardens and its many visitors with the colorful and ever-changing Orin and Althea Soest Herbaceous Display Garden at the Center for Urban Horticulture.  Dedicated in 1998, the garden was originally envisioned by a graduate student for her thesis project to show how plants grow in differing soils, light exposure, and watering regimes.  However, it was the Soests who made this beloved garden come to life.  Their annual gifts and a bequest for perpetuity have provided for the garden’s initial construction, its ongoing maintenance,  and for special features like the lovely central stone fountain.

The Soests also created a planned endowment to help support in perpetuity the UW Botanic Garden's Director’s position.  Their generosity will live on beyond them to be enjoyed by generations to come.


In faculty news, new postdoctoral research associate appointments include Jennifer Duggan, Jennifer McGuire, and Chad Wilsey, who will be working with Josh Lawler; and Jeff Richardson, who will be working with L. Monika Moskal. Susan Bolton was part of a UW team including colleagues from the Departments of Landscape Architecture and Global Health that won an award from the Social Economic Environmental Design (SEED)'s 2012 competition; the UW project was a sustainable school and schoolyard design in Lima, Peru.

The Pacific Northwest Cooperative Ecosystem Studies Unit held its annual partners meeting on November 16, 2011 at the UW Botanic Gardens. The meeting featured presentations on the Northwest Climate Science Center; the North Cascadia Adaptation Partnership, a Forest Service-National Park Service collaboration; and regional Landscape Conservation Cooperatives, a network facilitated by the USDI to ensure the sustainability of America's land, water, wildlife, and cultural resources.

SEFS participated in the November 16, 2011 GIS Day at the UW with videos by Jeff Richardson, '08, '11, post-doctoral Research Associate, who spoke on using lasers (LiDAR) for ecological research, "A Laser of Love"; and by Research Scientist Luke Rogers on biofuels research," The Biofuels Bandwagon." Also participating was the UW Geospatial Club (spearheaded by SEFS graduate student Meghan Halabisky in collaboration with the College of the Environment) that established five permanent geocaches on the UW campus to commemorate the first UW GIS Day.

The Northwest Flower and Garden Show on
February 8-12, 2012, at the Washington State
Convention and Trade Center in Seattle, featured a display garden by the Washington Park Arboretum and Seattle Audubon. The garden, "Birdsong,"
which celebrated the diverse bird habitat and species found in the Washington Park Arboretum, won three top awards— a judges’ Gold Medal, the American Horticultural Society Environmental Award, and the Pacific Horticultural Society Award.

The 2012 Silviculture Challenge, an annual collaboration by SEFS and the University of British Columbia took place this year (in rain and snow) on March 2-3, 2012. The teams' challenge was to formulate management prescriptions for tree stands within the Darrington Ranger District of the Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest. The challenge was hosted by the Darrington District, and by the North Puget Sound Chapter of the Society of American Foresters, the Darrington Area Business Association, and the Darrington Library, which stayed open extra hours so the students could use the Internet.

The students presented their forest management plans to a panel of judges, who scored the teams on their ability to express the ideas in language the general public can understand and to demonstrate how they used the information gathered in the woods as a basis for their management plans. And the winner this years was—SEFS! The team included Hunter Decker, Paul Fischer, Rachel Larsen, John Simeone, Eric Snoozy, and Andrea Watts, with faculty leadership by Greg Ettl and David Ford.

SEFS graduate student Hunter Decker uses a bore to remove a small section of wood that will tell him the tree's age, as part of the 2012 UW/UBC Silviculture Challenge.. Photo: Sarah Weiser, The (Everett) Herald.