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Faculty Profile — David Briggs

David Briggs joined the CFR faculty as Assistant Professor in 1980. He currently is a Professor in the Management and Engineering Division, and also serves as Director of the Stand Management Cooperative.

Dave began his doctoral studies at the College in 1968, completing his Ph.D. in 1980. During that time he also worked as market researcher for Washington Iron Works, a major manufacturer of logging machinery. In 1974, he was appointed special assistant to then Dean Bethel and in that capacity served on a several projects, including the effects of herbicide spraying during the Vietnam War, the Consortium for Research on Renewable Industrial Materials (CORRIM), and a biomass-for-energy study for the U.S. Congress Office of Technology Assessment. He also began teaching an undergraduate class in computer programming. Dave says, “I’m amazed how many former students have walked up to me years later to say what an important job skill that class provided.” He also began teaching the math sequence in the UW’s Center for Quantitative Science.

Since joining the faculty, Dave has taught courses in wood science and forest products, wood and fiber identification, and engineering economics. He says, “I greatly enjoy teaching, particularly interacting with bright, young students and watching them progress. I think the greatest reward as a faculty member comes from feedback that former students found something they learned in one of my classes was valuable to them in their careers.”

Dave was born and raised in New Braintree, MA, a small dairy farming town in the center of the state. He spent a year after high school in the U.S. Air Force, where he got his first introduction to mountain climbing—which, he says, “has become a life-long addiction!” He did his undergraduate degree in forest management at the University of Massachusetts where he also took as many wood science courses as he could fit in. His next stop was a master’s degree in wood science at Yale. For his Ph.D., he applied to all of the forestry schools near big mountain ranges and finally ended up choosing the UW.

Dave says, “My research interests have always been associated with looking at how forestry, wood science, and forest products interact. I focused my doctoral study on management science and operations research, where I could combine things into systems, look at how they interact, and optimize them to provide better information for decision making. In my dissertation on the bucking process, I combined tree shape and geometry features with surface descriptions of knots and other wood quality characteristics to develop the optimal sequence of logs to cut. Today this is a trivial analysis for modern PCs, but then it took the UW’s mainframe several minutes per tree! This analysis also taught me how much measurement systems affect results; change the log-scaling rule and you get a completely different bucking solution for a tree. I had done similar work on sawing logs into lumber and again saw how measurement systems affect the results. I was beginning to go through a rite of passage—understanding the wide array of complex and confusing measurement systems involved in forestry and forest products. This led me to update Forest Products Measurements and Conversion Factors in 1994, and to my continuing work on that publication project for which I hope to create a Web-based calculator version.”

Although Dave thought his dissertation would lead him in the direction of optimization problems in wood products manufacturing, the growing interest in how plantation practices affect wood quality and product value led him instead in the direction of applying these models to problems of evaluating stands of timber, to predictions from growth and yield models, and to the tradeoffs among volume growth, quality, and economic return. During his early work on these issues, the Stand Management Cooperative (SMC) was formed. Dave has participated in the cooperative since it formed in 1985 and was appointed Director in 1996. “The cooperative’s work is really exciting to me,” Dave says, “because it integrates all of my research interests and because of the strong involvement of many companies and agencies in designing the program and ensuring that the results are relevant.”

On the personal side, Dave and his wife, Anne, are kept busy with a small herd of llamas, a menagerie of other pets, and Dave’s addiction for another rock climbing or peak bagging junket.

Faculty News

Jim Agee was cited in a Seattle Post-Intelligencer article on August 23, 2000 (http://seattlep-i.nwsource.com/local/fire233.shtml) entitled “‘No-burn’ policy reaping fiery destruction in forests.”

Graham Allan was an invited lecturer to the June 2000 International Pulp Bleaching Conference held in Halifax, Nova Scotia. He spoke on a new approach to the bleaching of pulp invented at the UW; some of the experimental data was gathered by CFR undergraduates. Graham also participated in the summer DO-IT program for disabled youngsters interested in science careers. Graham, along with CFR Affiliate Zinovy Royzen, taught a three-day summer Chatauqua course on “Creativity and Innovation”.

Susan Bolton’s commentary, “Riparian Areas: What are They and Why Do We Care about Them?”, was the lead article in the July/August 2000 issue of Western Forester devoted to riparian management issues. Susan also moderated a session on “Assessment” at the August 28-31, 2000 AWRA (American Water Resources Association) Conference in Portland, OR.

Jeffrey Braatne, Affiliate Assistant Professor, also spoke at the August 28-31, 2000 AWRA Conference, on “Modeling Riparian Vegetation Responses to Regulated Flows in Hells Canyon, ID.”

Linda Chalker-Scott has launched a new K-12 partnership, “Sustainable Community Landscapes,” to increase the number of sustainable landscapes in the Puget Sound region and public awareness of sustainable landscape management practices through collaboration among educators, professionals, and students in environmental horticulture. If you would like to learn more about this partnership, contact Gemma Alexander (gemalex@u.washington.edu) or Linda (lindacs@u.washington.edu).

Rick Edwards was appointed Affiliate Associate Professor in the Ecosystem Sciences Division, effective July 1, 2000.

Lorin Hicks was appointed Affiliate Associate Professor in the Ecosystem Sciences Division, effective August 1, 2000.

Tom Hinckley finished in the top ten of 101 faculty nominated for the UW Distinguished Graduate Mentor Award. Tom was nominated along with other Ecosystem Sciences faculty Linda Brubaker, Charlie Halpern, and John Marzluff. Tom also gave a talk on “Water Movement in Plants” at the Ecosystem Society of America’s annual meeting in Snowbird, UT. Tom recently made presentations at the Boyce Thompson Institute for Plant Research at Cornell University, Ithaca, NY, and at a graduate student colloquium at Colorado State University.

Phil Hurvitz attended the 20th annual ESRI (GIS) Conference in San Diego, CA, in June. This conference, the largest of its kind in history, was attended by 10,000 GIS professionals from around the world. Phil presented a paper titled “Securing UNIX Servers with the Secure Shell (ssh).” Notes can be viewed at http://lobo.cfr.washington.edu/~phurvitz/professional/ssh_ESRI_2000/.

Affiliate Professor Peter Kiffney moderated a session on “Forest Riparian Areas” at the August 28-31, 2000 AWRA (American Water Resources Association) Conference in Portland, OR.

Bruce Larson was appointed Acting Professor in the Management and Engineering Division, effective July 1, 2000.

Bob Lee was appointed Acting Associate Dean, effective July 1, 2000 through December 31, 2000.

Bruce Lippke provided guest commentary on “Economic Impacts Resulting from Buffers,” in the July/August 2000 issue of Western Forester devoted to riparian management issues. Bruce also made a presentation on the forest sector’s changing competitiveness at Rayonier’s recent international management retreat.

Dorothy Paun was appointed Acting Associate Dean, effective July 16, 2000 through December 31, 2000.

Dave L. Peterson was interviewed on KCPW-FM, National Public Radio affiliate in Salt Lake City, UT, on August 2, 2000. The 20-minute interview was heard live on the station’s “The Public Affairs Hour.” The interview focused on the symposium “Stressors in Mountain Ecosystems: Detecting Change and Its Consequences,” which Dave co-chaired with Lisa Graumlich (’85), August 6, 2000 at the Ecological Society of America meeting in Snowbird, UT. Dave discussed how climate change, air pollution, fire exclusion, exotic plants, and land-use activities are affecting natural resources in mountain ecosystems across the western U.S. Dave was also cited in a July 23, 2000 article in the Seattle Times magazine Pacific Northwest entitled “High Life,” on plant life in alpine and sub-alpine meadows of the Pacific Northwest. See the article on the Web at http://archives.seattletimes.nwsource.com/cgi-bin/texis/web/vortex/display?slug=palps23&date=20000723&query=alpine.

David W. Peterson’s last day at CFR was July 20, 2000.

Sarah Reichard traveled in June to Ft. Collins, CO to lead a discussion on rapid assessment of invasive potential in newly detected plants for a federal interagency workshop. Sarah also attended the World Botanic Gardens Congress in Asheville, NC, June 25-30, 2000, where she organized and led a symposium on conservation ethics for botanical gardens and spoke on risk assessment of invasive plants. In August, Sarah gave a paper at the Ecological Society of America meeting in Snowbird, UT, on integrating disciplines to answer invasive species trade issues and industry codes of conduct. She gave a paper at the American Phytopathological Society annual meeting, August 12-16, 2000 in New Orleans, LA, on risk assessment for invasive plant species and in September will lead discussion groups at a meeting of the Global Invasive Species Program of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature.

Marco Restani was appointed Affiliate Assistant Professor in the Ecosystem Sciences Division, effective July 1, 2000. Marco was previously a Research Associate.

Clare Ryan and Kathy Wolf presented papers at the 8th International Symposium on Society and Resource Management, June 17-22, 2000, in Bellingham, WA. The symposium, “Transcending Boundaries: Natural Resource Management from Summit to Sea,” included presentations on the dynamic interaction among humans, landscape, and decision-making in resource planning and management. Also presenting were graduate students Kim McDonald, Rebecca McLain, and Kim Waldron.

In light of his long-term service as Dean of the College of Forest Resources, David Thorud was awarded the title of Dean Emeritus, effective July 1, 2000.

Dan Vogt was appointed Associate Professor in the Ecosystem Sciences Division, effective September 16, 2000.

Faculty Reports

Steve West reports on recent research studying buffers left along both sides of streams when surrounding areas are clear-cut. Steve is the lead researcher for the Western WA portion of a $1 million study, begun in 1991 and funded largely by Washington State’s Timber, Fish, and Wildlife Program and the DNR, with some private sector support, that is comparing buffer sizes and their effects on birds, bats, small mammals, and terrestrial and stream amphibians. Other CFR participants in the study are Kathryn Kelsey and Dave Manuwal. Along with colleagues from Washington State University and Eastern Washington University, UW researchers have found that, two years after harvest, a 50-foot buffer of trees left along both sides of a stream may provide sufficient habitat to sustain a surprisingly large number of species.

The research is studying “type 3 and 4” streams in the state, mid-size streams, which are the most common kind of waterway in the region. Currently, a variety of buffer widths from 25 feet to 200 feet are used on state and private lands, depending on various criteria. State lands managed under Habitat Conservation Plans require buffers of 100 feet. Buffers provide shade, lessen erosion, and maintain cool, wet habitats for species that prefer or require them. Although preliminary, these results, says Steve, “may be good news for both the timber industry and wildlife. The research is not yet complete and it is too soon to tell whether these narrower buffers will retain species permanently. It takes about 18 to 20 years for the forest canopy to close, and additional surveys will be needed now, 10 years from now, and when the forest becomes reestablished.”

Although the study does not include fish, current decisions about buffer width must also focus on the needs of salmon that need shaded streams to maintain cooler water temperatures. Steve says, “Additional research is also needed on the relationship among species survival and both streamside and upland habitats; many species need both types of habitat to survive. I’m now getting ready for the next round of observations—which means a constant search for new grant funding.”

A copy of the complete report, “Effectiveness of Riparian Management Zones in Providing Habitat for Wildlife,” is available free of charge from WA DNR. For press coverage of the preliminary study results, see http://www.djc.com/news/enviro/11111106.html and http://depts.washington.edu/uweek/archives/2000.07.JUL_20/.


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