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Faculty Profile — Peter Schiess

Peter Schiess is Professor of Forest Engineering in the Management and Engineering Division. A native of Switzerland, Peter received his Forest Engineering Diploma from the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH), Zurich, Switzerland. After working as a research engineer in soil physics and as Assistant District Forest Engineer, he and his wife Tina decided to see more of the world and headed to the West Coast of the U.S. They arrived at the UW in 1969, where he did graduate work in micrometeorology and received his Ph.D. in 1975. Peter says, "One project led to another … always delaying a planned return to Switzerland. In 1977, I was appointed Assistant Professor in Forest Engineering here in the College."

Peter’s first research interests centered around small wood harvesting and mechanized operations. One of his concerns relates to the level of the training wood workers receive in relation to ever-increasing silvicultural and technological complexities faced in the woods. In 1994, he helped create the first training center in the U.S. (located in Forks, WA) dedicated to the training of harvester/forwarder operators.

His current research interests center around timber harvest planning as a subset of landscape-level analysis. He is interested in the trade-offs between environmental and economic concerns as they relate to logging operations and roading. For example, he is using GIS methodologies as a tool for quantification of sediment generation and delivery to streams.

Other interests relate to integrative undergraduate education at the senior level. He has managed the forest engineering curriculum’s Field Studies project (now called the Senior Capstone Design project) since 1982. Part of the original curriculum since 1910, Field Studies is a quarter-long course taught on-location, off-campus. The course provides a capstone experience in a professional environment, in which seniors develop a management and transportation plan for a land base in cooperation with a forest landowner.

The project has gained a new dimension in light of the on-going shift from a pure timber-production-oriented design paradigm to one driven by goals for superior land stewardship and environmental protection of streams and other resources. As such, it plays an important role in research and development of forest harvest and design methods and tools. Peter says, "Most, if not all, forest engineering graduates will remember that project as one of the highlights in their student career!"

In June 1999, Peter was appointed to the McMc Resources Endowed Professorship in Forest Engineering. He explains, "This honor allows me to work on an expanded model in integrative teaching, which hopefully will span the full senior year across curricula and culminate in a capstone design course. True integrative teaching and learning cannot be done ‘at the last minute’ in the last quarter of a student’s career; it ideally starts at least at the beginning of the senior year. The basis for such an approach is the creation of a common thematic thread through upper-division classes in an immersed learning environment culminating in a multi-disciplinary capstone design course."

A small, informal step has already been taken to realize such an approach. Throughout the 1998-1999 academic year, students in different CFR curricula and courses used the same environment, both in space (classrooms) and theme (data sets, watershed), and exchanged manipulated data sets among themselves. The material was then handed off to the students enrolled in the Spring 1999 Senior Capstone Design Course. Along with the forest engineers, the class included a forest management senior who participated as silvicultural specialist assisting the class in the task of developing an overall management and transportation plan for the North Hood Canal unit (see Student Reports for a description of this project).

Peter says, "This integrative approach is essential to keep pace with today’s (and tomorrow’s!) ever-increasing complexities of data, technologies, and social and environmental issues as they relate to natural resources."

Faculty News

Graham Allan gave a UW outreach lecture on creativity and innovation to the Edmonds Rotary Club, April 27, 1999. He also reports that student enrollment in his Creativity and Innovation class reached a new record of 210. He and other members of the Fiber & Polymer Group (A. Stoyanov, M. Ueda and A. Yahiaoui) had three publications in the March, April, and May issues of TAPPI Journal on the partial replacement of wood fiber in paper by simple sugars: "Sugar-cellulose composites I: The incorporation of simple saccharides into paper as cellulose substitutes"; "Sugar-cellulose composites II: The properties of paper containing monosaccharides"; and "Sugar-cellulose composites III: The incorporation of sucrose into paper as a cellulose substitute."

Bruce Bare presented an invited talk on the topic of forest certification to the Northwest Forestry Association’s 13th Annual Meeting on April 7, 1999 at Skamania Lodge in Stevenson, WA. He gave an overview of certification in the Pacific Northwest, outlining the expected costs and benefits of various proposed certification schemes. This is part of the work he and his colleagues are doing under sponsorship of his Rachel A. Woods Professorship, which is concentrating on the issue of forest sustainability in the region. A copy of his PowerPoint slides are available on his web page at weber.u.washington.edu/~cfrwww/bare.html if you are interested in more details. You can also download a copy of his notes and references, which accompany the slides.

Susan Bolton traveled to Taiwan during Spring 1999 to make presentations at the Soil Conservation and Stream Habitat Protection workshop and the Ecological Considerations in Hydraulic Engineering Projects workshop, both held in Taichung.

Gordon Bradley gave a talk on March 31, 1999 at the National Arbor Day Foundation conference in Nebraska City, NE, sponsored by the Arbor Day Foundation, the American Planning Association, and the National Association of HomeBuilders. Gordon spoke on "Opportunities for In-fill Development and Preserving Open Space." The conference center is located on the farm formerly owned by J. Sterling Morton, the founder of Arbor Day. Gordon says, "It was obvious why someone from Nebraska would be enamoured with the idea of planting trees!"

Linda Brubaker attended the Bureau of Land Management’s Science Advisory Board in May, held in Denver, CO. Linda reports that discussions and presentations at the meeting included recent work on invasive species issues and new methods for visualizing and planning forest growth – both areas in which the College is having a recognized impact.

Linda Chalker-Scott was elected President of UW’s Sigma Xi Chapter at its April 29, 1999 meeting. She also has an invited review on anthocyanins appearing in the July 1999 issue of Photobiology and Photochemistry.

Marcia Ciol was appointed as Lecturer, Part-Time in the Management and Engineering Division for Spring Quarter 1999.

Ivan Eastin received a Faculty Research Grant from the Canadian Consulate in Washington, DC to investigate the international competitiveness of the forest products industry in British Columbia.

Bob Edmonds received the Honorary Life Member Award from the Northwest Scientific Association at its annual meeting in March 1999.

Paul Flanagan was appointed Affiliate Assistant Professor in the Management and Engineering Division, effective April 1, 1999.

Bob Gara received a Fulbright grant to teach and do research in Ecuador. Bob is one of approximately 2,000 U.S. grantees who will travel abroad for the 1999-2000 academic year through the Fulbright Program.

Chuck Henry and students Maile Lono, Aaron Rose, and Yi-Fang Chu attended the Annual Washington State Recycling Association Convention at Ocean Shores, WA on May 2-5, 1999, where they received an award for best educational exhibit.

Kevin Hodgson and Dorothy Paun, along with graduate students Kyle Cunningham, Yihai Liu, Jeffrey Mathews, Mark Mead, Julie Nelson, Mark Swanson, and Olivier Trendel presented a research paper, "The Role of Capital Expenditures and Influence of Product Diversification on Firm Performance," at the Washington Pulp and Paper Foundation 1999 Annual Conference held at CFR in May.

Jim Marra and his research on forest soil was cited in an article entitled "Dirt," in the May 23, 1999 Seattle Times.

Edwin Miyata was appointed Affiliate Professor in the Management and Engineering Division, effective April 1, 1999.

Dorothy Paun has been appointed as Associate Professor, with tenure, effective September 16, 1999. Dorothy was also recently elected to the UW Faculty Senate for a two-year term.

Martin Raphael was appointed Affiliate Associate Professor in the Ecosystem Sciences Division, effective April 1, 1999.

Sarah Reichard was recently elected as Secretary of the Society of Conservation Biology.

Peter Schiess was appointed to the McMc Resources Endowed Professorship in Forest Engineering, effective June 1, 1999 [see Faculty Profile]. Peter, along with forest engineering graduate students Finn Krogstad, Weikko Jaross, and Luke Rogers, attended and gave presentations at the International Mountain Logging and PNW Skyline Symposium held in Corvallis, OR, March 31-April 2nd, 1999. The presentations were entitled, "Long-span versus conventional yarding, road densities, economics and silvicultural options," and "Comparing environmental impacts of long-span versus conventional skyline design." Peter also attended the Olympic Logging Congress in Victoria, B.C., April 28-May 1, 1999, where he gave a presentation on the Rural Technology Initiative, a project currently under development in the College. In May 1999 Peter assisted at a DNR Unit Foresters and Natural Resources Engineers training session held near Naches, WA. He spoke about alternative yarding systems and their impacts on the environment and economics.

James Stevens was appointed Affiliate Associate Professor in the Management and Engineering Division, effective April 1, 1999.

Sean Thomas, currently a Research Associate in Ecosystem Sciences, has accepted a position as Assistant Professor in Forest Ecology and Silviculture at the University of Toronto, beginning July 1, 1999. Congratulations and best wishes to Sean!

David Thorud participated in a tree-planting event in April near UW’s Parrington Hall. Two Mount Vernon holly trees, gifts of the National Society Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) and one of the oldest trees surviving from American Revolutionary times, were planted to commemorate the 200th anniversary of George Washington’s death.

Kathy Wolf was recently elected to the Executive Committee of the Washington Community Forestry Council. Organized by the Washington State DNR, the Council provides leadership and vision to help citizens preserve, plant, and maintain community trees and forests. The Spring 1999 issue of TreeLink, the Council’s quarterly publication, features an article by Kathy entitled, "Grow for the Gold: Trees in Business Districts."

John Wott published the following articles Spring 1999: "History’s Role in Collection Master Planning." The Public Garden 14 (1) 9-10, and cover, January 1999; three columns in Balls and Burlap, Washington State Nurserymen’s Newsletter; two columns in The International Plant Propagators; and three articles in the quarterly Arboretum Foundation Bulletin.

Faculty Reports

Linda Chalker-Scott reports that her EHUF 445 class (Landscape Plant Management) worked on a project at Garfield High School during Spring 1999. Choosing two sites for renovation, the class of twenty-five undergraduates came up with designs, completed the site preparation, and installed boulders and plants. The sites were a path that crossed to a local bus stop and a planting area that had become a tangle of weeds and rats’ nests. Students had complete responsibility for site analysis, plant selection, site preparation, budget preparation, and constructing a detailed management plan.

Participation from both students and parents was a project goal. Linda says that the Garfield High School staff, parents, and the community provided tremendous support for the project. Materials were donated by the school district, students’ parents, and Molbak’s, among other donors. The class presented a five-year management plan to Garfield during finals week. A web page attached to Linda’s home page (http://weber.u. washington.edu/~lindacs/) reports the project’s progress.

Chuck Henry reports that starting in March 1999, the UW and King County Department of Natural Resources joined efforts to provide a demonstration composting facility that serves educational, community outreach, research, and operational objectives. Two composting bays near the Center for Urban Horticulture can process up to 15 cubic meters of material in two months – the composted material generated will be used for research and education and as soil amendment for campus or community needs. The project was featured in a May 27, 1999 University Week story; funding is from the UW’s "Tools for Transformation" program, with additional funding from other UW departments, the City of Seattle, King County DNR, NW Biosolids Management Association, and Green Mountain Technology, a manufacturer of in-vessel composting systems.

Kevin Hodgson reports that he and colleagues Linda Chalker-Scott, Robert Edmonds, and Tom Hinckley were chosen to participate in the inaugural "Institute for Teaching Excellence (ITE)" from June 13-18, 1999. This weeklong workshop is sponsored by the UW Teaching Academy, and will be held at Fort Worden State Park in Port Townsend, WA. Faculty members submitted a proposal to the Teaching Academy for consideration; about twenty-five faculty were chosen from over one hundred proposals. The intent of the ITE is to attract the "best of the best" to a setting where they can concentrate on major revisions to existing courses, or new teaching methods, including the use of computer technology. The participants promise a follow-up report on the workshop.

Dave Manuwal reports that he and colleagues John Marzluff and Marco Restani led a group of fourteen students to Yellowstone National Park and the Birds of Prey Natural Area in Idaho during spring break, just prior to Spring Quarter. The class, ESC 459 (Wildlife Conservation in the Pacific Northwest) was designed to expose students to habitats and wildlife conservation issues outside Washington State. Highlights of the trip were seeing eleven gray wolves at kill-sites and observing the interactions among the various animals that rely on carrion to survive the harsh Yellowstone winter. Large numbers of elk, bison, and mule deer, as well as smaller numbers of bighorn sheep and coyotes, were observed. The class also linked up with a faculty member, Ken Dial from Montana State University, who assisted the class in trapping golden eagles and bald eagles near Livingston, MT. Students will prepare written reports and give an oral presentation on various aspects of wildlife conservation in Yellowstone.

Clare Ryan and John Marzluff report on their use of funding from the Rachel Woods Graduate Program fund. During Spring Quarter, they solicited proposals for research funding from graduate students in the field of urban ecology. Urban ecology involves the study of the dynamic interactions between urban and ecological systems in the interest of managing urban growth and achieving more sustainable urban development.

Three graduate student proposals were received and all were funded. Doctoral student Roarke Donnelly (Wildlife Science) will study changes in bird communities with urbanization intensity on sites spanning the urban gradient in the Puget Sound area. Master’s student Sara Jensen (Social Sciences) will assess existing policies and attitudes towards wildlife conservation and management in the Puget Sound Metro region. Master’s student David Landsman (Social Sciences) will evaluate the biological, political, and social dimensions affecting how decisions are made in determining initiation of stream restoration projects. The review committee was pleased with the high quality of each proposal. "Completion of these projects will increase our understanding of the biological and social aspects of urban ecology," say Clare and John.

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