Thesis Defense: Katrina Mendrey!

Katrina Mendrey
Mendrey canoeing on Lake Sawyer with her dog Jude.

That dullness you’re experiencing—that listless and rudderless feeling at the start of Summer Quarter—has an easy diagnosis: thesis withdrawal.

Lucky for you there’s an easy remedy coming up at 10 a.m. this Monday, July 1, when Katrina Mendrey will be defending her Master’s Thesis in Anderson 22!

“Metal Response of Douglas-fir: A Comparison of Metal Uptake and Phytochelatin Production in Trees Planted in Soil Amended with Biosolids or Metal Salts”

Mendrey’s research explores the relationship between metal uptake in needles of Douglas-fir trees and phytochelatin production to determine if phytochelatin measures are an accurate indicator of metal stress in forest ecosystems. In addition, metal response in trees planted with similar concentrations of metals in the form of biosolids or metal salts are also compared.

If you’re around campus, join us in Anderson 22 at 10 a.m.!

Photo © Katrina Mendrey.

Thesis Defense: Katherine Wyatt!

Katherine WyattWhat better way to end the academic year and kick off the graduation celebrations than with one more thesis defense!

You are invited to join Katherine Wyatt as she defends her research, “Riparian Vegetation Structure and Composition in the Fire-Dependent Ecosystem of Eastern Washington,” on Thursday, June 13, at 11 a.m. in Bloedel 292.

Centered in the fire-dependent ecosystem of Eastern Washington, this study explores patterns of riparian vegetation structure and composition as well as the relative role of natural and anthropogenic processes. Interior Columbia Basin Ecosystem Management Project photo-interpreted resource aerial photos, Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and Permutational Multivariate Analysis of Variance (PERMANOVA) were used to compare riparian to upland areas, summarize the range of vegetation conditions present in the second half of the 20th century, and correlate vegetation with processes on the landscape. The spatial extent of the study was the Tapash Sustainable Forest Collaborative, offering multiple agencies the local best science needed for effective management. This field of work contributes not only to our understanding of a historically fire-dependent ecosystem, but also to the role of riparian areas within them.

Wyatt’s committee chair is Professor Ernesto Alvarado, and her other members are David Peterson and Richard Harrod.

Photo © Katherine Wyatt.

Thesis Defense: Rosemary Baker!

At 9:30 a.m. tomorrow on Tuesday, June 11, Rosemary Baker will be presenting her Master of Environmental Horticulture research in the Douglass Classroom at the Center for Urban Horticulture (CUH): “Elwha Revegetation Project: 2012 Lake Aldwell Seeding Trials.”

Rosemary Baker
Lake Aldwell/Elwha River, 2012

Landmark restoration of the Elwha River by the Olympic National Park and Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe began in 2011 and involves planting native woody trees, shrubs, grasses and forbs throughout two recently exposed reservoirs. Revegetating by direct seed application supplements these efforts and is intended to speed ecosystem processes by quickly adding organic matter and building soils on fine and coarse glacial sediments. Revegetation efforts are expected to reduce sediment erosion on valley walls and terraces and assist in the natural succession process within the context of restoring relatively pristine riparian habitat for the return of salmonids following a 100-year absence from the Elwha River.

Practical seeding methods and several species mixes were tested on the shoreline of former Lake Aldwell in 2012 and monitored for successful germination, initial growth and resulting stand densities through the summer drought period. Colonization by priority weeds and native tree and shrub recruitment was also assessed.

So make your way to CUH to hear Baker talk about her work during the past two years and its context within the restoration of the Elwha River. All are welcome!

Image © Rosemary Baker.

Thesis Defense: Kristen Richardson!

As part of the Wildlife Seminar this Monday, June 3, Kristen Richardson will be defending her Master’s Thesis, “Using non-invasive techniques to examine patterns of black bear (Ursus americanus) abundance in the  North Cascades Ecosystem.”

Her talk begins at 3:30 p.m. in Kane 130 and is open to the public, so come support the culmination of her research at SEFS!

And what will Richardson be talking about?

Kristen Richardson
Kristen Richardson removing survey sites on her last trip to the field.

From 2008 to 2011 a large, multi-agency project deployed barbed-wire hair-snag corrals to collect DNA samples from black bears (Ursus americanus) in the North Cascades Ecosystem (NCE) of Washington State. Using the genetic and detection data, Richardson examined the influence of human activities and habitat characteristics on bear abundance across heterogeneous landscapes of the NCE.

No other research to date in Washington State has examined the influence of habitat and anthropogenic variables on black bears across such a large geographic expanse, and the results of her study should help guide management of black bear populations in the NCE. This research is especially important given the challenge of maintaining viable populations of a long-lived species with relatively low fecundity.

Richardson’s committee chair is Professor Aaron Wirsing, and the other members are Bill Gaines and Josh Lawler.

Photo © Kristen Richardson.

Thesis Defense: Maria Sandercock!

Maria Sandercock
Sandercock stream sampling with her helper Josie.

As part of a delightful deluge of defenses today, the first of three comes at 1 p.m. in Anderson 107 when Maria Sandercock gives the public portion of her Master’s Defense, “The Role of Patterns of Urban Development on Stream Benthic Index of Biotic Integrity Scores.”

Sandercock’s committee includes SEFS Professors Daniel Vogt and Susan Bolton, along with Marina Alberti.

Come out and support Sandercock, and get excited for an afternoon of graduate student excellence!

Photo © Maria Sandercock.

Thesis Defense: Joshua Simpson!

Originally from Illinois, Joshua Simpson served in the Illinois Army National Guard from 1999 to 2005, including a 12-month tour in Iraq. He was awarded the Purple Heart and an Army Commendation Medal. He then studied GIS and environmental science at Northern Illinois University and graduated in 2007. He moved to Seattle immediately after and, before enrolling at UW to study applied economics and GIS, he built hiking trails, mapped hiking trails and restored environments in the Puget Sound area.

For the past couple years, Simpson has been completing his graduate study at SEFS, and the public is invited to see him present his thesis tomorrow, May 30, at 2:30 p.m. in Anderson 22: “An Econometric Analysis of Sewer Backup Claims in Seattle.”

Joshua SimpsonAbout Simpson’s Research:
Seattle is known for its high occurrence of rainfall events, and most of them are low-intensity events. When it rains heavily, sewer backups occur and, by all accounts, that’s bad news. Damage claims are filed and, in some cases, the city will cover the amount of damage. Sewer backups caused $8 million of damage from August 2004 to March 2011. Most of the damage claims were due to three major storms that occurred within that timeline.

For his thesis, Simpson examined factors that explain the damage caused by those three storms using a rare events logistic regression model. Sewer backups are rare events in Seattle, as the highest claim-producing storm in the city produced 147 claims, while there are more than 180,000 parcels in Seattle. Simpson used the claims from the three storms and a random stratified sample of parcels throughout Seattle to explain the causes of the backups.

Rainfall and soil saturation variables explain most of the damage that occurred, but other factors such as demographic and sewer system variables explain the cause of backups. Simpson used a spatial econometric model to measure the causes of various levels of sewer backup damage. Rainfall, soil saturation, demographic and sewer system variables, as well as tree density, explain the various levels of damage that occurred within the stated time line.

The results of both models were combined together to produce an expected sewer backup damage amount for the sample parcels. This data, along with the separate results of both models, were used to create three maps that represent probabilities of backups (given the results of a particular storm), potential damage and Expected Sewer Backup Damage.

These maps and data can be used to prioritize preventative maintenance before a storm season. There are many other risks that face utility customers in Seattle, but focusing on this risk allows for the application of two econometric models. Such an approach has not been utilized to analyze the occurrence of sewer backups to date. With the results of Salathe et al. (2010) and Zhu (2012) that suggest that higher frequency and higher intensity storms will affect the Puget Sound area, the accumulation of data and the use of the best information can mitigate future damage caused by these storms.

Simpson’s committee chair is Professor Sergey Rabotyagov, and the other members are John Perez-Garcia, Robert Halvorsen and Terry Martin. So come out and support him tomorrow at 2:30 p.m. as he completes his latest chapter in life!

Map graphic © Joshua Simpson.

Thesis Defense: Megan McPhaden!

Megan McPhadenAre you interested in local agriculture? Salmon? Clean water? Want to hear about ditches?! Then come out to Megan McPhaden’s Master’s Thesis Defense this Wednesday: “Effects of Agricultural Drainage Ditch Maintenance on Water Quality in the Snoqualmie River Valley.”

McPhaden’s research is in partnership with the King Conservation District and contributes to the question of how agricultural waterways can be managed to support the needs of both local farmers and endangered salmon. There will be refreshments and treats from farms in the Snoqualmie River valley.

McPhaden’s talk begins at 10 a.m. in Anderson 22 on Wednesday, May 29; Professors Darlene Zabowski and Susan Bolton are co-chairs of her committee.

Rally your friends and classmates to give her a proper send-off from SEFS!

Photo © Megan McPhaden.

Thesis Defense: Lindsey Hamilton!

Lindsey HamiltonThere’s a thesis doubleheader this Tuesday, May 28, so after Lauren Grand kicks things off at 8:30 a.m., head over to the Center for Urban Horticulture to see Lindsey Hamilton present her Master of Environmental Horticulture research at 10:30 a.m. in the Isaacson Classroom!

“Skokomish Savanna Fire Restoration and the Effects on Bracken Fern (Pteridium aquilinium) and Salal (Gaultheria shallon), Olympic National Forest, Wash.”

All along western Washington, fire has been used for thousands of years by Native American tribes in order to maintain open landscapes that in effect promote particular plant communities and grazing habitat. This study takes place in the southeast Olympic Peninsula, on land that was traditionally burned, likely every 2 to 10 years by the Skokomish Tribe. In this moist Mediterranean climate, a fire regime not imposed by humans would have occurred only every 90 to 300 years. With fire suppression beginning in the late 1800s, a Douglas fir – salal (Pseudotsuga menziesii – Gaultheria shallon) forest established in a once prairie/savanna/ woodland matrix. In 2002, the Olympic National Forest began to restore a 32-acre portion with the intent to enhance landscape and biological diversity and to restore a culturally significant ecosystem.

Bracken fern (Pteridium aquilinium) and salal plants were once managed by the use of fire by the Skokomish Tribe in this matrix ecosystem, because of their important food value. Studies suggest that they can co-dominate a fire-managed system in the Pacific Northwest. The objective of Hamilton’s research is to understand how restoration efforts using controlled fires have affected the distribution of bracken fern and salal with respect to environmental factors in order to better understand how to manage for a savanna with a co-dominant understory of both.

Hamilton’s committee chair is Professor Kern Ewing, and other members include James Fridley and David Peter.

Photo © Lindsey Hamilton.

Thesis Defense: Lauren Grand!

Lauren Grand
One of the red-legged frogs Grand found in the field.

This coming Tuesday, May 28, fresh off the holiday weekend, you should leap at the chance to hear Lauren Grand give the public defense of her Master’s Thesis, “Identification of Habitat Controls on Amphibian Populations: The Northern Red-Legged Frog in the Pacific Northwest.”

Join Grand, her committee chair Kristiina Vogt, and committee members Daniel Vogt and Marc Hayes to discuss Rana auroa‘s population controls and habitat needs in an urbanizing landscape.

Her talk begins at 8:30 a.m. in Anderson 22. Refreshments will be served, so come with a hungry tummy!

Photo © Lauren Grand.

Thesis Defense: Colton Miller!

Colton Miller
Miller and one of his Douglas-fir seedlings.

This Thursday, May 23, at 10 a.m. in Winkenwerder 107, Colton Miller will be defending his Master’s Thesis: “Reforesting Surface Coal-Mined Land Using Douglas-fir Seedlings in Washington State.”

Land productivity can be substantially degraded by surface mining, which introduces such problems as erosion, landslides, floods and loss of habitat. Previous research has focused on methods for improving tree seedling establishment on surface mines in the Appalachian region. Miller’s research investigated modified treatments for improving seedling performance in the Pacific Northwest. He also quantified the response of seedling foliar nutrients to post-planting fertilization.

While you let these thoughts take root, go ahead and mark your calendar and come out and join Miller’s committee chair Darlene Zabowski and other committee members Rob Harrison, Eric Turnblom and Dan Vogt!

Refreshments will be served!

Photo © Colton Miller.