Thoughts & Doings

Monitoring Northwest Lakes with IWS

Each summer Huxley College’s Institute for Watershed Studies (IWS) employs several students to perform field work. This summer three Environmental Science students are sampling lakes throughout Western Washington for two separate IWS projects: The Heart Lake Project and the Northwest Small Lakes Monitoring Project.

The first of these projects involves Heart Lake, a small, shallow lake located in the Community Forest Lands of Anacortes that has been experiencing significant algae blooms, some of which are toxic. The lake is also overrun by a hybrid milfoil that is a cross between a native milfoil species (Myriophyllum sibiricum) and an invasive non-native species (Myriophyllum spicatum).

Given... Continue reading

Report on the 2015-16 Huxley College Diversity Committee

At the Huxley College Fall Retreat in October 2015, our faculty and staff made a commitment to address issues of diversity and inclusion within the college. The first step in meeting this commitment was to form an Ad Hoc Diversity Committee made up of faculty, staff, and student volunteers. Upon formation of the committee, the dean provided a written charge to review the college climate, recruitment and retention systems, curriculum, and hiring and professional development practices, in order to develop a comprehensive diversity plan that will ultimately lead to a Huxley College community that reflects the diverse society of which we are a part.

To accomplish these goals, the committee met regularly throughout the 2015-16 academic year. At the first meeting, committee members elected Dr. Nabil Kamel from the Environmental Studies department to chair the committee. Other early steps included coming up with a definition of “diversity” that matches Huxley’s culture; accumulating baseline diversity statistics for the college; assessing the college climate with regards to issues of diversity and inclusion; and meeting with... Continue reading

VIDEO: Graduation Celebration 2016 Highlights on YouTube

Members of the class of 2015-16 celebrated graduation in the usual style at the PAC on June 11. Brenna Davis '98 gave the alumni address while the Huxley House Band treated the crowd to a bluegrass interlude, complete with dancing on the PAC stage. Video highlights of the event are on YouTube and in the playlist below. Enjoy!

2015-16 Huxley College Awards

Each year, Huxley College hands out student and faculty awards at our spring graduation celebration. For 2015-16, the awardees are as follows:

Presidential Scholar Award

Dylan Simpson, Environmental Sciences

Outstanding Senior Huxley College on the Peninsulas

Alanna Staab, Environmental Studies

Outstanding Departmental Graduating Seniors 

Chris Trinies, Environmental Sciences | Patrick Hutchins, Environmental Studies

Departmental Outstanding Environmental Applications Experience Award

Ben Maki, Environmental Sciences | Melinda Vickers, Environmental Studies

Departmental Community Service Award

Caroline Dallstream, Environmental Sciences | Julianna Fischer, Environmental Studies

National Council for Geographic Education Award

Alison Lubeck, Environmental... Continue reading

Huxley Alumni Summer Mixer: June 30, 5:30-8:30pm at Fremont Brewery in Seattle

Huxley College Dean's Advisory Board is pleased to announce a summer meet-up on June 30 at Fremont Brewery from 5:30 to 8:30 PM. This informal networking event is connects Seattle-area alumni to discuss their personal and professional environmental interests. Dean Hollenhorst will be in attendance.

Planners, educators, policy folks, and scientists are welcome because everyone is needed to tackle the complex environmental issues we face. Please join us for smiles, thought-provoking discussions, and to connect with other alumni.

Also, please consider carpooling, biking, or using public transportation to get to the event. Hope you can make it!

Huxley Speaker Series 6/2: Dr. Leah Bendell on the Baynes Sound Shellfish Industry

As part of the 2015-16 Huxley College of the Environment Speaker Series, Dr. Leah Bendell from Simon Fraser University will discuss the impact of the shellfish industry on Baynes Sound at 4 p.m. on Thursday, June 2 in Communications Facility 110 on the Western Washington University campus. The presentation is free and open to the public.

Baynes Sound/Lambert Channel, on the east coast of Vancouver Island halfway between Nanaimo and Campbell River, is one of the most important ecologically sensitive regions along the Pacific Northwest Coast. However, currently it is under increasing pressure from an aggressive shellfish industry, seaweed harvesting and urban development. Although 50 percent of British Columbia’s shellfish comes from Baynes Sound, the industry is afflicted by ocean acidification, warming oceans, an increase in red tide events, high cadmium levels in farmed oysters, and the presence of high numbers of microplastics within water and... Continue reading

Huxley Speaker Series 5/26: Dr. Carl Schmitt on Air Pollution and Glacier Runoff

As part of the 2015-16 Huxley College of the Environment Speaker Series, Dr. Carl Schmitt from the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) will discuss the impact of air pollution on glacier runoff at 4 p.m. on Thursday, May 26 in Communications Facility 110 on the Western Washington University campus. The presentation is free and open to the public.

Increases in human activities often leads to increases in air pollution and airborne dust. These light absorbing particles can be transported long distances and can be deposited on snow and glacier ice. Once on snow surfaces, they reduce the albedo leading to faster melting thus affecting the local water supply. In his Speaker Series talk titled “Measurements and Impacts of Light Absorbing Particles on Tropical Glaciers,” Dr. Schmitt will show results of ongoing measurements in the Peruvian Andes where glacier runoff can account for up to 80 percent of the dry season water supply.

... Continue reading

Huxley Speaker Series 5/19: Dean Steve Hollenhorst on Renewable Aviation Fuels

As part of the 2015-16 Huxley College of the Environment Speaker Series, Dr. Steve Hollenhorst, dean of Huxley College of the Environment, will discuss aviation biofuel alternatives at 4 p.m. on Thursday, May 19 in Communications Facility 110 on the Western Washington University campus. The presentation is free and open to the public.

Aviation requires energy-dense liquid fuels, currently derived exclusively from petroleum. This fossil energy dependence poses tremendous challenges to carbon emissions reductions. In the Pacific Northwest, considerable research is focused on developing viable biofuel alternatives from existing waste streams like forest harvest residues and municipal solid waste. In his Speaker Series talk titled "The Race for Renewable Aviation Fuels and Environmentally Preferred Co-Products," Steve will discuss the proposition that biofuel... Continue reading

5th Annual Graduate Student Conference: May 21, Miller Hall

Huxley graduate students and The GIST of Earth and Life Sciences grad student club invite you to join the 5th Annual Graduate Student Conference on Saturday, May 21 in Miller Hall. Come support WWU’s graduate community and learn about research that is taking place right here at Western. Undergraduate and graduate students, faculty, and staff are all encouraged to attend. A light breakfast and lunch will be provided for all attendees. Attendance is free, but pre-registration is encouraged.

Online registration for the event and an abstract submission form can be found at

Speaking of Maps: Andy Bach to Discuss Environmental History of the Ozette Prairies

From The News @ Western Libraries: Western Washington University Associate Professor of Environmental Geography Andy Bach will discuss his research exploring the relationship between historical vegetation changes in the Ozette Prairies, Olympic National Park, and human use of this region. “Archival Evidence for Historical Changes in Lowland Wilderness Meadows, Ozette Prairies, Olympic National Park,” will be held in the Map Collection (Wilson Library 170) at Western Libraries from 4:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. on Wed., May 11, 2016. This presentation is free and open to the public.

Using a multi-media archival approach to understand the environmental history of the area, examining repeat air and ground photography, maps, and written records, Bach determined that the prairies originally began as natural wetlands... Continue reading


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