Emeritus professor receives American Horticultural Society award

Congratulations to John Wott, an emeritus professor with the UW School of Environmental and Forest Sciences, recently received a national award from the American Horticultural Society.

Wott received the organization’s Professional Award for his significant influence on horticulture in the Pacific Northwest over the course of his career. He was appointed the director of the University of Washington Botanic Gardens in 1993, and over the course of his 13-year tenure, he helped plan and create the arboretum’s master plan.

The Professional Award is given to a public garden administrator whose achievements have cultivated widespread interest in horticulture. Wott and the other recipients of the society’s awards will be recognized at the American Gardeners Awards Ceremony and Banquet on June 21 in Virginia.

SEFS student featured in Crosscut story

Crosscut recently featured SEFS PhD student Clint Robins.

Clint Robins, a PhD student at the UW School of Environmental and Forest Sciences, was recently featured in Crosscut’s “I Am STEM,” a series that features diverse stories of people who work in STEM and adjacent fields in the Pacific Northwest.

Robins grew up in both Rwanda and Wisconsin. He told Crosscut that his interest in wildlife and the outdoors grew during his days in Africa. “I remember going on some game drives with my family, going to national parks, and playing with lizards in the yard,” he said.

Today, Robins’ fieldwork is focused in managed forests. His master’s degree focused on how urbanization of land affected cougars. Now he’s looking at the relationship between cougars and bears and how bears sometimes rely on cougar kills for food.

“I’m curious as to whether urbanization decouples that relationship and, instead, bears are foraging on Human Resources more,” he told the outlet. R

Read the full interview here.

Research team awarded grant to study ethnoforestry

Bear grass is one of the plants the research team will study.

Earlier this month, The University of Washington Population Health Initiative announced it would be awarding about $280,000 in grant funding to six teams at UW. The School of Environmental and Forest Sciences is proud to congratulate a team of three investigators from the school who were awarded some of this funding.

The team is comprised of Bernard Bormann, director of Olympic Natural Resources Center (ONRC), Marc Miller with Marine and Environmental Affairs, and Courtney Bobsin, a graduate student with SEFS. Their research project is titled, “Ethnoforestry: Applying Traditional Ecological Knowledge for Ecosystem Sustainability on the Olympic Peninsula.” Half of the funding for the group’s award was provided from a partnership with UW’s EarthLab, which works in partnership with others to co-produce and catalyze actionable science.

An excerpt of the project’s abstract reads:

“Across the Olympic Peninsula, widespread changes in forest management policy have altered rural communities over the last several decades. Many rural communities were hit hard by a decrease in available jobs due to a decline in timber supply from over-harvesting and spotted owl protections as well as mill modernization. Tribes have since suffered from a decline of some cultural keystone species adapted to early seral conditions precluded by efficient tree regeneration and late-seral reserves. In the aftermath of this, rural communities are left to rebuild with their primary sources of work and culture degraded.

“Through this grant, we will work will tribal and non-tribal communities on the Washington Coast to determine what plant species they would like to see us bring back in nearby ecosystems. We will develop a research proposal to test the growth and success of these species in permanent plots. This interdisciplinary approach will not only enhance the resilience and health of the local community, it will also benefit the local ecosystem.”

To learn more about the grants, read the full release here.

PEMCO Insurance to co-host special SEFS Seminar on March 27

During the break between winter and spring quarters, the University of Washington School of Environmental and Forest Sciences and PEMCO Insurance are holding a special SEFS Seminar Q&A on March 27! The seminar will welcome Harris Clarke, vice president of Operations at PEMCO Insurance, as a presenter and moderator of a panel of UW faculty, graduate students and insurance industry experts.

About the seminar: Panelists will discuss the important research being done to understand wildfire risks and mitigation strategies – they’ll look at the intersection of how researchers and the insurance industry both use their growing knowledge of the urban-wildland interface to protect and build our communities’ resilience for future generations to come. 


  • Dr. Brian J. Harvey – Assistant Professor, UW School of Environmental and Forest Sciences
  • Dr. Amy Snover – Director, UW Climate Impacts Group and NW Climate Adaptation Science Center
  • Dr. Yufei Zou – UW SEFS Post-Graduate student
  • Nick Lauria – Vice President, Wildfire Defense Systems

When: Wednesday, March 27, 3:30 to 5:30 p.m.

Where: UW Anderson Hall, Forest Club Room

Topic: Fired Up – Building Wildfire Resilient Communities in a Changing Climate

We invite you to come prepared with your questions and curiosity to learn about the impacts of wildfire in our region. A reception and discussion will follow the presentation.

Learn more about PEMCO Insurance and their commitment to environment at pemco.com

Spring 2019 SEFS Seminar Schedule


The schedule for our 2019 spring quarter SEFS Seminars is out! Each seminar is held at 3:30 p.m. on Wednesdays in the Forest Club Room of Anderson Hall. After each presentation, a reception and discussion time is held in the room. The SEFS Seminar Series is made possible with support from the Corkery Family Environmental and Forest Sciences Director’s Endowed Chair fund.

You can watch previous Seminars on the SEFS YouTube channel.

April 3 – Constraining terrestrial-aquatic exchanges of carbon and nutrients in coastal wetlands
Matt Bogard, post-doc, UW School of Environmental and Forest Sciences

April 17 – The role of Washington’s private forests in mitigating global warming
Indroneil Ganguly, associate director, CINTRAFOR, UW School of Environmental and Forest Sciences

April 24 – A social-ecological analysis of management of collective forest in nature reserves in China
Yi Xie, professor, Beijing Forestry University; visiting scholar, University of Washington

May 1– Aviation fuels from biomass
Fernando Resende, assistant professor, UW School of Environmental and Forest Sciences

May 8 – Structure, growth and mortality in giant sequoia forests spanning the 2012-2015 California drought
Robert Van Pelt, affiliate assistant professor, UW School of Environmental and Forest Sciences

May 15 – Science in the public service: Pathways to science policy
Yasmeen Hussain
Policy Analyst & Program Manager, University of Massachusetts Medical School

May 22 – Effects of 21st century climate, land use and disturbances on ecosystem carbon balance in California
Benjamin Sleeter, land use and climate change team lead, Western Geographic Science Center, United States Geological Survey

May 29 – Biodiversity maintenance and ecosystem effects of large mammalian seed dispensers
Taal Levi, Oregon State University

June 5 – The Social side of conservation
Kathayoon Khalil
Conservation Impact Manager, Oregon Zoo

2019 Sustaining Our World Lecture: Diversity and the environment

Dorceta Taylor

The 2019 Sustaining Our World Lecture welcomes Dorceta Taylor, the James E. Crowfoot Collegiate Chair and the Director of Diversity, Equality and Inclusion at the University of Michigan‘s School for the Environment and Sustainability (SEAS).

The lecture, hosted by the University of Washington’s School of Environmental and Forest Sciences and the College of the Environment, will be held at 7 p.m. on Thursday, April 11 at the University of Washington’s Kane Hall. Taylor will present, “Diversity in Environmental Organizations: Lack of Transparency and Inequities in Compensation.”

In addition to her role as director and chair, Taylor is a professor of environmental sociology, teaching courses in environmental history, environmental politics, environmental justice, climate change and sustainable development, sustainable food systems, gender and the environment, and sociological theory.

“I believe each person has the capacity to learn and get excited about environmental issues,” Taylor said, describing her approach to teaching. “I think a thorough understanding of the past informs present thinking and actions.”

Her research focuses on history of mainstream and environmental justice ideology and activism, social movements and framing, green jobs, diversity in the environmental field, urban agriculture and food justice. Taylor has published a number of books and received several national awards.

The lecture is free to attend, but seating is limited. Please RSVP here.

Wirsing, other researchers look at how deer responding to return of wolves

An adult gray wolf is caught on a wildlife camera in eastern Washington in 2015.University of Washington

As gray wolves continue to make a strong comeback in Washington state, their presence is impacting other animals, particularly the ones these large carnivores target as prey. So how do targets like deer respond to this increased threat?

That’s what Aaron Wirsing, associate professor with the UW School of Environmental and Forest Sciences, and other researchers from a variety of institutions looked at for a study recently published in Oecologia.

The researchers monitored the behavior and activity of wolves and deer in Washington for three years and found that mule deer exposed to wolves, in particular, are changing their behavior to spend more time away from roads, at higher elevations and in rockier landscapes.

“In any particular ecosystem, if you have a predator returning, prey are unlikely to all respond similarly,” Wirsing told UW News. “We show that wolves don’t have a uniform effect on different deer species.”

Read the full story here!

Hancock Forest Management Hosting Lunch Info Session for Students

Hancock Forest Management, the property management subsidiary of Hancock Timber Resource Group, is hosting an informational session with lunch for students from noon to 3 p.m. on Tuesday, March 5 in Anderson room 207. Students are invited to learn about internship programs and career opportunities during this time.

Hancock Forest Management provides land management in North America, Australia, New Zealand, Canada and Brazil. The organization employs foresters, engineers and wildlife biologists to provide the day-to-day, on-the-ground timberland management. In the Pacific Northwest, Hancock manages lands in Washington, Oregon, Idaho and Northern California.

Prugh contributes to paper that used NASA data to study wildlife, climate change

University of Washington’s School of Environmental and Forest Sciences associate professor Laura R. Prugh is a co-author of a paper that used NASA satellite data to study the movement of wildlife.

The paper, published in the journal Environmental Research Letters, looks at the issue of poor snow data in the Arctic and asks government agencies and other scientists to help make improvements so wildlife and its management can be better studied

The data used in the study was collected from NASA satellite tools, which helped the authors determine that Dall sheep prefer areas with low snow cover. But more specific information is needed to help wildlife scientists study animal behavior and how species are adapting to climate change.

Read more about the study on the University of Maryland’s website.

Harvey publishes paper on burn severity in Ecosphere

Courtesy of ESA
The cover of the Ecosphere journal that features Harvey’s article.

Brian Harvey, assistant professor with the School of Environmental and Forest Sciences, is one of three authors of a new article recently published in the Ecological Society of America‘s journal Ecosphere.

The article, titled “Incorporating Biophysical Gradients and Uncertainty into Burn Severity Maps in a Temperate Fire-Prone Forested Region,” discusses how satellite data and regression models can by improved by using biophysical information when tracking the changing patterns of burn severity that causes ecological changes.

The article is accessible to all and can be read here.