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April 2010 | Return to issue home
Welcome from the Interim Director
Three-quarters of the way through the academic year, I have to catch my breath to review the whirlwind of activities and projects initiated in our first months in the UW’s College of the Environment (CoEnv). Organizational change is a challenge, in both negative and positive ways. It takes time, something that all of us in this resource-scarce era have less of, and so can be frustrating. But it also compels us to think in new and different ways that will yield positive results in the months and years ahead.
Reading this newsletter will give you a view of these challenges, our successful initiatives in research and education, and sadly, of our community’s losses with the passing of emeritus faculty members Barney Dowdle, ’57, and Bjorn Hrutfiord, adjunct faculty member Dick Walker, and longtime Forest Resources friend and supporter Evelyn Brockman. As a graduate student, I took courses from Barney, Bjorn and Dick, and Dick was a major member of my Ph.D. committee.
Newsletter stories include new projects in woody biomass research on the Olympic Peninsula in collaboration with our Olympic Natural Resources Center, a summary of our school’s contributions over the years to the UW’s recent designation as a “Tree Campus USA,” and some fun and interesting facts about the Wind River Canopy Crane.
Noteworthy events include the tremendous synergy created by our co-sponsorship in March, along with the CoEnv and the UW Alumni Association, of the UW’s "Sustaining Our Northwest World" lecture on "Climate, Forests and Future: A View from Treeline." Professor Dave Peterson, U.S. Forest Service biologist and SFR faculty member presented an insightful and compelling case for interdisciplinary and inter-agency collaboration. The challenge of climate change, with its effects on forest health and forest fuels that will impact us all in the Pacific Northwest, is so great that only by meaningful cooperation among scientists across the spectrum and public and private land managers can there be hope for a solution and an adaptive response. This interdisciplinary approach, is, in essence, the rationale for the new College’s creation; our lecture series, which became the inaugural lecture in CoEnv’s Dean’s Lecture Series, was a cogent statement of the challenge and the promise of interdisciplinarity.
Also in March, SFR co-sponsored a UW-wide Conservation Colloquium, made possible with funding from CoEnv. Assistant Professor Jon Bakker chaired the symposium, which provided an opportunity for faculty, staff, students and alumni to speak about a wide range of conservation issues. SFR was well represented, with talks ranging from Washington forest stewardship education to traditional ecological knowledge and its relation to wildland fire science.
We were also pleased to have alumnus Gary Machlis, ’75, give our 2010 Distinguished Alumni Seminar this month. A University of Idaho professor of conservation and the first-ever science adviser to the National Park Service, Gary has wide ranging research interests, and his presentation on "An Interdisciplinary Life in Conservation, Science and Politics" demonstrated the wide set of skills and knowledge needed in the natural resource and environmental professions. Gary is also a researcher into the ecology of warfare, and his UW visit included participation in the Department of Global Health-sponsored International Conference on War and Global Health.
The intersection of global health and global environmental challenges will become ever more critical, and SFR is pleased to be a part of the Global Health Initiative, a joint endeavor by the College of the Environment and the Department of Global Health. Using substantial funding from both groups, faculty from SFR and across the campus will explore health-environment connections in the areas of food and water security. SFR Professor Susan Bolton, MPH graduate student Anna Talman and Dr. Judd Walson of the Department of Global Health, have just completed a visit to Kenya and have authored the report, "Interactions between HIV/AIDS and the Environment: A Review of the Evidence and Recommendations for Next Steps."
Looking to the future, May 18 has been set as the next Denman Forestry Issues event. The topic will be "Forests and the Health of Puget Sound," with speakers representing perspectives ranging from industrial forest owners, small private landowners, the tribes, NGOs and public and federal agencies. Be sure to check the Upcoming Events section of this newsletter for more detailed information. This date will also be the 30th anniversary of the eruption of Mount St. Helens—an event and its subsequent impacts that have been studied by faculty and graduate students from SFR.
Also looking to the future, two potential changes are underway. Our faculty continue their discussion on a name change, carrying out this task with thoughtful deliberation and mindful of the context of responsible strategic planning for the future of our school. And, this month we participated in the campus visit of three candidates for the deanship of the CoEnv.
Challenges, changes, collaboration…these are the certainties, and how we meet them, with your help and inspiration, will be the measure of our success.
April 2010 | Return to issue home