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Faculty Profile


Jay Johnson, Professor of Wood and Paper Science, joined the College of Forest Resources faculty in 1983. Jay uses mathematical models to gain insight into the performance of wood and paper products, and asks questions like: "Do tree rings tell us about the quality of the wood? Is the grain pattern around knots related to how strong the wood is? Paper, when held up to a strong light source, appears to be ‘clumpy’—almost ‘cloud-like’; so does this clumpiness affect paper strength? Does it interfere with printing high quality photos on the paper? Just how does one go about measuring ‘clumps’ or ‘clouds,’ anyway?"

Jay has been thinking about questions like these for a long time. He says, "As a kid running around in the northern Minnesota woods, I took pride in knowing the names of trees and I nurtured a general interest in the natural beauty of wood. After graduating from Biwabik High School in 1959, where I had some success on the swimming team, I attended the University of Minnesota on an athletic scholarship. During my stay at Minnesota, I took part in the 1960 Detroit Olympic trials and placed eighth in the 1500 meters freestyle. I entered the forestry school at Minnesota as a forest management major, but left in 1964 with a degree in forest products and a minor in mathematics.

With swimming as a serious undertaking behind him, Jay was drawn to the academic life. He received a master’s degree in wood products engineering from Syracuse University in 1971 and a Ph.D. from the University of Washington in 1973. Five years later, he left his first academic position at Virginia Tech to join a product development group at the Weyerhaeuser Company in Federal Way, WA. One morning in the late 1970s, Jay says, "I looked at myself in the mirror and said ‘I am a teacher.’ Shortly thereafter, I accepted a position at CFR and have been here ever since. Over the years I have taught courses in wood science but currently am teaching paper physics."

Asked to teach calculus for students in the biological sciences administered by the UW Center for Quantitative Sciences some 12 years ago, Jay still enthusiastically fills blackboards with the symbols of the craft and attempts to help students make sense of them. About 500 students later, he still proclaims to the next group: "Hey, this stuff is cool!"

Jay’s research has taken him all over the world. He has given papers in the French Alps, Singapore, Sweden, Slovakia, Ghana, Wales, and New Zealand. His family (wife, Chris Dinsdale, and son, Ian (14yrs)) spent six months in Vienna and Florence on a sabbatical in 1990. In addition to teaching and doing research, Jay has not ignored University-wide responsibilities. He is currently the chair for a council on academic standards and ten years ago chaired a council dealing with instructional quality. Over the past several years, he has been asked to participate in several state-wide conferences and workshops dealing with teaching science and mathematics in higher education institutions.

In addition to his family, Jay loves books. "Math books mainly," Jay says. "There are times when my two love affairs conflict. There is a quote from Marlow’s Faustus on the refrigerator in the our household: ‘O Faustus, lay that damn book aside, lest it corrupt thy soul and heap God’s wrath upon thy head!’"

Books and questions about the nature of things have a solid hold on this long-time member of the CFR community.

Faculty News

Jim Agee, Bob Edmonds, and Bob Gara are pleased to announce the publication of their textbook, Forest Health and Protection, the newest in the McGraw-Hill series in Forestry.

On October 4, 1999, Bruce Bare traveled to Darmstadt, Germany to present a paper before a group of forest economists gathered to honor Martin Faustmann, whose famous paper published in Darmstadt 150 years ago is widely recognized as one of the first correct uses of discounted cash flow analysis. Bruce appeared on Tom Brokaw’s NBC Nightly News, October 13, 1999 for eight (!) seconds, commenting on President Clinton’s plans to set aside an additional 40 million acres of National Forest lands. Bruce was also invited to participate on a panel assembled by the Secretary of Agriculture on October 20, 1999, in Portland, OR, where the USDA Private Lands Conservation Forum took testimony from the public concerning how the federal government can best assist private land owners to engage in better conservation practices. Bruce discussed the status of future timber supplies in Washington State when he appeared before the 16th Annual International Forest Products Marketing Conference on November 5, 1999, in Seattle. Powerpoint slides from Bruce’s panel presentations are available at:

Sally Brown, Chuck Henry, and Rob Harrison attended the October 31-November 4, 1999 Annual Meetings of the American Society of Agronomy, Crop Science Society of America, and Soil Science Society of America, held in Salt Lake City, UT.

Ivan Eastin presented the paper "A Technical Assessment of North American-style Residential Construction Systems in Japan" at the 3rd International Value-Added Wood Products Conference, held in Vancouver, BC in October 1999.

Jerry Franklin and Dave Peterson were among 19 scientists and policy analysts co-authoring a report for the Climate Impacts Group, a joint undertaking of the UW’s School of Marine Affairs and UW and NOAA’s Joint Institute for the Study of Atmosphere and Oceans.

The report, released November 9, 1999, concluded that climate change will have a major Northwest impact in the next 50 years. The public can request a summary of the report at http:/tao.atmos.washington.edu/PNWimpacts/report.html.

Don Hanley and Bob Edmond’s recently completed videotape entitled "The Rotten Truth: Control of Common Forest Root Rots of the Pacific Northwest," was given the "Outstanding Forestry Communication Award: Best Forestry Video for 1999" by the National Woodland Owners Association and the USDA Extension Service.

Bruce Lippke made a presentation to a public forum sponsored by the World Affairs Council on International Trade and the Environment: "Can we ‘Green’ the WTO?" on October 26, 1999, in Seattle. The forum was televised. He was also interviewed by Northwest Cable News on the topic of forest products trade and the environment. Bruce hosted the fall economic outlook meeting for the National Business Economic Issues Council, a group of chief economists from around the world. The meeting took place November 1-3, 1999, in McMinnville, OR. He also participated in an EPA-sponsored workshop on carbon sequestration possibilities hosted by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory in Golden, CO on November 8-9, 1999.

John Perez-Garcia attended a workshop on global change assessments in Belzig, Germany on November 9-12, 1999, where he presented current work on integrating ecological and economic models to assess the effects of climate change on the forest products sector. John also presented a paper on world players in the forest products industry at the 90th Pacific Logging Conference, December 6-8, 1999, in Kauai, HI.

Stew Pickford and Tom Waggener are both retiring in December 1999, after many years of service to the College. Stew jointed the faculty in 1975 and Tom in 1966.

John A. Wott led a 12-person "People-to-People Ambassador" intensive study program to South Africa in November 1999. The two weeks were spent visiting nurseries, garden centers, and botanical gardens; studying issues in the new South Africa; and establishing avenues of exchange. During Autumn 1999, he led a delegation of 40 international and state horticulturists on a 10-day tour of horticultural operations in the southeastern U.S. John also served as the executive secretary/treasurer of the International Plant Propagators’ Society at its annual meeting on October 3-6, 1999, in Mobile, AL.

Faculty Reports

Bruce Bare reports on new developments in the forest management undergraduate curriculum.

"The revised forest management curriculum was approved and takes effect Winter Quarter 2000. This major prepares students for employment in the forest industry, government agencies, and a wide variety of non-governmental organizations. The new curriculum offers five options for students to pursue specialized knowledge in an area of their choice and includes: intensive silviculture, ecosystem management, economics and business, conservation and environmental planning, and measurement and monitoring. In addition, the new program allows greater flexibility to permit students to substitute courses at the lower division.

A new minor in international forestry is now available, co-sponsored by the College of Forest Resources and the UW Jackson School of International Studies. The minor offers students an opportunity to gain specialized knowledge in both world forestry and the political/economic environments within which forestry is practiced."

Rob Harrison reports on his adventures using the Web for ESC 110, Environmental Science. The 108 enrolled students were required to submit their final projects on the Web. Rob says, "This is the first year I did not have anyone complain about the requirement of publishing on the Web ... not a single complaint! I’m sure a few tears were shed during the process (and maybe some blood), but everyone agreed that this was an important tool to learn. With the greater availability of tools and expertise, CFR has come a long way towards making it easier to use the Web to give student projects wide distribution.

Most students in the class completed individual projects and also elected to make use of the new UW peer review system to review each other’s projects. Initial projects were posted the first week of November, with a first review, subsequent reviews, and a final review after the final project submission. All projects and reviews are archived by the system.

If you’d like to see how this worked for ESC 110, you can check out the peer review front end at: http://depts.washington.edu/ctlt/catalyst/peer_review/frames.cgi?robh&ESC110—review_student_www_project. Note that the full (rather long) line must be in the location field of your browser. When you get the dialog ‘[Image],’ enter ‘ESC110’ and ‘Environment’ into the fields.

Although in some cases students got carried away with the capabilities of the Web (dancing frogs!), the projects are good. And the opportunity for students to do peer review and to be able to see each other’s reviews would have taken an inordinate amount of my (or the TA’s) time to do any other way. Please contact me if you’d like some pointers on how to make it work."

Al Wagar reports on a recent trip to Zimbabwe from November 8 to 26, 1999:

Outdoor class at the University of Zimbabwe's Institute of Environmental Studies

"Ostensibly to ‘help’ CFR doctoral candidate Jay Singh, I recently traveled to Zimbabwe where Jay is studying the social dynamics of creating a transboundary park in Zimbabwe and adjacent Mozambique. Characteristically, Jay has established an extensive network among officials, community members, and others relevant to the project and is quite on top of the situation. Several grad students—from Zimbabwe, the U.K., the U.S., and elsewhere—are dealing with social aspects of resource management in southern Africa and have become a collegial group that shares ideas, experiences, and insights. On November 23-24, 1999, several of them attended and Jay presented a paper at a conference devoted to these issues organized by the University of Zimbabwe’s Institute of Environmental Studies.

In addition to traveling with Jay by train and bus to rural areas in the Chimanimani area near the border with Mozambique to meet with a local Chief and attend a community meeting (both conducted in traditional formats and in Shona, the local language), I ‘helped’ by stopping en route to visit Kruger National Park in South Africa and then by visiting Victoria Falls and Hwange National Park in western Zimbabwe.

Animals in the Kruger National Park are, for the most part, willing to let themselves be photographed rather close up.

At Kruger National Park, a cancellation resulted in my having a personal guide and 4 x 4 for 3 1/2 days of morning and afternoon ‘game drives’ and seeing a great variety of creatures. At Hwange, the guide explained that, because rains had begun and animals could find water anywhere, they wouldn’t gather at water holes and probably rather few would be encountered. He was generally correct, but we managed to see a big herd of buffalo and a large pride of lions chasing each other back and forth in a big opening in otherwise brushy country. (Final score: 2-0 in favor of the lions!) While this was going on, a group of about ten elephants and a couple of jackals moved into the scene and, unlike the vultures gathering in nearby trees, were apparently oblivious to the drama. By early the next morning, the lions had moved on and the vultures were picking at nearly bare bones.

From Hwange to Victoria Falls, the bus passed through vast semi-arid areas of subsistence agriculture devoted mostly to maize. These contrasted with the Chimanimani area and its thousands of hectares of bananas (some clear to the top of rocky slopes) along with pineapples, papayas, sweet potatoes, oranges, maize, and other crops."

Al says, "As in my travels with Jay, my luck in getting great experiences from limited time was incredible!"

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