Best & Brightests  
 



UW AWARDS 2008 HOMEPAGE

UWEEK.ORG HOMEPAGE

DISTINGUISHED TEACHING AWARD
Ben Kerr, Biology
Gowri Shankar, Business Administration
Jaime Olavarria, Psychology
Jamie Walker, Ceramics
Julia Parrish, Aquatic and Fishery Sciences / Biology
Rebecca Aanerud, Women Studies
Richard Knuth, Education Administration

EXCELLENCE IN TEACHING AWARD
Fernanda Oyarzun & Chris Himes , Biology
Rachel Goldberg, English

DISTINGUISHED LIBRARIAN AWARD
Theresa Mudrock, UW Libraries

DISTINGUISHED STAFF AWARD
Hendrik Simons, Nuclear Physics Laboratory
Mona Pitre-Collins, Undergraduate Scholarship Office
Philip Mote, Climate Impacts Group
Robin Bennett, Medical Genetics
Sue Park, Facilities Services

DISTINGUISHED CONTRIBUTIONS TO LIFELONG LEARNING AWARD
John Schaufelberger, Construction Management

OUTSTANDING PUBLIC SERVICE AWARD
Nancy Amidei, Social Work

JAMES D. CLOWES AWARD FOR THE ADVANCEMENT OF LEARNING COMMUNITIES
Lance Bennett, Political Science / Communication

S. STERLING MUNRO PUBLIC SERVICE TEACHING AWARD
Denise Wilson, Electrical Engineering

DAVID B. THORUD LEADERSHIP AWARD
Judy Mahoney, College of Engineering
Kathleen Woodward, Simpson Center for the Humanities

MARSHA L. LANDOLT DISTINGUISHED GRADUATE MENTOR AWARD
Tom Quinn, Aquatic and Fishery Sciences

ALUMNUS SUMMA LAUDE DIGNATA
Beverly Cleary, Children's Author

ALUMNI ASSOCIATION DISTINGUISHED SERVICE AWARD
Robb Weller, Television Producer and Host

PRESIDENT'S MEDAL
June Shujun Peng and Royce Anderson

"My guess is only a small minority of professors willingly agree to spend every weekend of the quarter traveling around the state in a 15-passenger van. But Julia did."


Julia Parrish


"And then you fan out those plumes, give your tail a few shakes and gargle at the sky -- you can just imagine how all the girls dig that." That's Julia Parrish re-enacting the mating ritual of a Brandt's cormorant, according to former student Jennifer Marsh. "Julia wouldn't be caught dead behind a lectern spouting off references to articles published before any of us were born," Marsh writes confidently.

Not so fast, Marsh. You weren't a student that very first quarter 16 years ago. That's when Parrish says she thought the whole point was to be serious, scientific and to cram as much material in as possible. The abysmal evaluations, and talking with students who said her style was boring and depressing, was a huge lesson on the importance of presentation.

While striving to make the material as relevant as possible, Parrish started to make it entertaining, calling in part on her earlier experiences in musical theater. Back then she always played the ingenue. Today, well, "I've impersonated a lot of organisms," she says.

These include a Brandt's cormorant and other seabirds. Parrish studies seabird populations, such as what causes them to increase or decrease. Ocean conditions off the west coast of the United States and Canada in recent years, for example, have led to a growing number of dead zones on the seafloor and more bird carcasses are washing ashore because of lack of food.

"The long-term consequences of birds dying earlier in the year than is normal is that, at the very least, the populations are having trouble grappling with what is going on and, at the worst, the cycle of successful breeding will be broken," Parrish says.

To track dead seabirds, Parrish created COASST (Coastal Observation and Seabird Survey Team) in 1998. To help the public learn about seabirds and give undergraduates special learning experiences, Parrish and her post-doc Todd Hass developed training materials to teach non-biologists how to identify beached birds. The program has grown from 12 volunteers to almost 500, stretching from northern California to Alaska. More than 50 UW student interns have helped train volunteers, entered survey data and helped on special projects, from new field guides to newsletters.

Parrish is a professor of aquatic and fishery sciences and of biology, as well as an adjunct in marine affairs. Her work and teaching take her into the field regularly. There are annual summer expeditions to study seabirds on Tatoosh Island off the northwestern tip of Washington's coast, a rugged place where Parrish quickly learned to leave her hip waders behind because they proved cumbersome when stepping mountain-goat-like over crevasses in the rocks.

Then there are the field trips with marine biology students.

"She never missed one," Marsh writes. "My guess is only a small minority of professors willingly agree to spend every weekend of the quarter traveling around the state in a 15-passenger van. But Julia did."

Another student, Anne Salomon, who earned her doctorate with Parrish and is now a research fellow at University of California, Santa Barbara, wrote that Parrish was the driving force behind the Bevan Lecture Series that, in addition to the lectures open to the public, is the basis of both undergraduate and graduate classes.

"By providing a forum for students to interact one-on-one with international leaders in the field of marine conservation and fisheries science, students are given the opportunity to engage with these experts and truly explore the depth and diversity of environmental issues facing marine ecosystems in the 21st century," Salomon writes. "Because the speakers span a breadth of disciplines and institutions, from academic, government and nongovernmental organizations, and because the class blends natural and social science students, the topics addressed cross institutional and disciplinary boundaries."

"Interdisciplinary" could be Parrish's middle name and so she has been tapped to help with a variety of initiatives.

"Julia has been a driving force behind the revisions in the curriculum in our school -- chairing the curriculum committee since 2000, establishing a minor in our school and helping create the popular marine biology class," says David Armstrong, director of the School of Aquatic and Fishery Sciences.

"She's also played leading roles in the Program on the Environment, where she is currently director, and in the universitywide movement to create a College of the Environment."