news-iconLocal News: Huxley

Below are sustainability-related news items throughout the Western Washington University and Bellingham-area. These items correspond to Huxley.

Despite mercury, South River activities are OK

June 2, 2015 |
News Leader
| huxley |
Landis said the assumption that mercury levels, when first discovered, would diminish with time was wrong. "That has not occurred," Landis said. "That was in the 1970s and 1980s. We pretty much understand pollution, especially — metal pollution — better than we did back then." Randy Benson, 70, of Waynesboro, said he frequently fishes in the South River, even though he knows the waterway is contaminated. Signs posted along the river warn those fishing to only eat trout that have been specially stocked. "I like to eat (what I catch), but you can't," Benson said. "Most of the time I catch and release because I like to fish." As part of the recent research involving the mercury contamination, the South River Science Team also studied levels of mercury in plant and wildlife, noting risks associated with eating more than four eight-ounce servings of turtle per year.

"We want people to know if you are going to eat things from the river, turtles are not a very good thing to be eating," said Don Kain, water monitoring and assessment program manager for the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality. The new research by the South River Science Team does say that most animals living around mercury-contaminated water are safe to eat. One category studied is waterfowl. They should be limited to 16 eight-ounce servings per year, still a large amount allowable. "There are varying levels," said Kain of wildlife contamination. "Things like deer have been found to be fine. Waterfowl are generally fine. But snapping turtles are somewhat at risk — they came up with the highest risks out there." Kain said the concentration of mercury in the river doesn't pose any direct risks to people unless they are eating the fish. "You could probably even drink the water as far as mercury goes, from a water content perspective, but eating fish is a risk unless it is stocked fish," he said.

Story of German renewable energy on display starting April 20

April 17, 2015 |
Western Today
Academic West at Western Washington University will be a hub for learning about the progress Germany has made with renewable energy beginning on April 20, 2015. “RENEWABLES: Made in Germany” is a 26-poster display detailing the innovative renewable energy practices Germany has used over the past decade. The WWU Institute for Energy Studies will be hosting the display in Academic West beginning on April 20, 2015 until May 7, 2015. An opening reception will be held from 3 to 5 p.m. April 24.

The full-color posters are on loan from the Consulate General of Germany. Information on solar, hydro, wind, geothermal, bioenergy and renewable energy in buildings and remote areas will be on the displays. Faculty from the Institute for Energy Studies will be at the opening reception to discuss modern renewable energy technologies, and explain the new courses and degrees in energy that will be coming to Western next fall. The Institute now offers a Bachelors in Arts in Energy Policy and Management, minors in Energy Science and Energy Policy, and an energy concentration in electrical engineering.

Ceremony introduces Flora building

March 13, 2015 |
Western Today
The new Charles J. (Jerry) Flora Marine Education Building at the Shannon Point Marine Center was officially introduced Thursday at a ceremony in Anacortes.Flora, who served as Western’s eighth president from 1967 to 1975, passed away late in 2013 at age 85. Flora was well-known in the Bellingham community for his children’s television series, “Tide Pool Critters,” which aired locally on KVOS. Flora also led regular beach walks in Whatcom County, on which he’d lead community members in hands-on explorations of area beaches and mudflats. After Thursday's ceremony, family and friends walked the beach looking for a few critters of their own. During his tenure as WWU president, Western’s enrollment grew from 6,240 to 10,000, and four colleges – Fairhaven College of Interdisciplinary Studies, Huxley College of the Environment, the College of Business and Economics and the College of Fine and Performing Arts – were established.

“When you consider his career as an exceptionally engaged scholar and educator, both at Western and in the community – not to mention his tremendous leadership for Western during a crucial time – naming the Marine Science Education Building after Jerry Flora makes perfect sense,” said WWU President Bruce Shepard on announcing the news back in December. “His instructive beach walks and children’s television series inspired many to share his love of our beautiful marine environment, and embrace the importance of protecting it. Preserving Jerry’s legacy at Shannon Point will inspire generations of students and educators, and remind us how powerful direct engagement with the environment can be.”

Sustainability Leadership Awards

March 1, 2015 |
Sustainable Seattle
Three WWU/Huxley grads were up for regional sustainability awards in Seattle. Brenna Davis, Huxley grad '98 was nominated for the top award for her sustainability work at Virginia Mason: Environmental Hero; Brandon Miles, Huxley grad '02 was nominated for the Creative Solution Award for his group's sustainability work with the City of Tukwila; Dave Bennink, Huxley grad '94 was nominated for the Creative Solution Award for his company's work finding sustainable alternatives to demolition while creating jobs for disadvantaged workers.

WWU Geologist Pete Stelling Researching Geothermal Power Sources in Alaska’s Aleutian Islands

February 25, 2015 |
Western Today
Akutan, a small island in Alaska’s Aleutian chain, needs 4.2 million gallons of diesel fuel a year to keep the lights on and the houses warm for its fewer than 400 year-round inhabitants, at a high cost both literally and in terms of environmental damage. Western Washington University assistant professor of Geology Pete Stelling is researching how to turn the island’s volcanic core into a geothermal power source that could not only cut the needed amount of imported fuel into a fraction of its current level but transform the quality of life for its inhabitants. Central to the landscape of the island is the 4,275-foot volcano, Mount Akutan, which last erupted in 1992. Beneath its surface, pockets of water are being superheated by the volcano’s magma; utilizing this superheated water and its steam to generate electricity could free the island from its need to import so much fuel, said Stelling.

“The majority of electrical generation today surrounds boiling water and using the steam to drive a turbine, which spins a generator and makes electricity. The fuel – coal, oil, or natural gas, for instance – is used to boil that water,” he said. “Geothermal sources skip the need for a fuel and go to the superheated water right at its source to make the electricity, and this could happen at places like Akutan to make them far more energy independent.” The perfect geothermal source, according to Stelling, occurs when the superheated water, over time, dissolves the surrounding rock and turns it into clay that acts as a cap, keeping the water and steam from escaping or losing pressure. Iceland, for example, is rife with these types of sources, one reason why the island nation is 80 percent powered by geothermal energy.

Elwha: A River Reborn' on campus Oct. 6 to Dec. 30

September 24, 2014 |
Western Today
Western Libraries and Western Washington University’s Huxley College of the Environment will host Elwha: A River Reborn, a new traveling exhibit from the Burke Museum of Natural History and Culture, from Oct. 6 through Dec. 30 in Western Libraries Special Collections on the 6th Floor of Wilson Library.

Based on a Mountaineers book of the same name by Seattle Times reporter Lynda Mapes and photographer Steve Ringman, the exhibit takes viewers to the Northwest’s legendary Elwha River Valley to discover the people, places, and history behind a remarkable regional story – and the largest dam removal project ever undertaken. Through first-person accounts, stunning photographs, and informative text printed on free-standing banners, follow the Elwha’s journey from abundant wilderness to economic engine – to an unprecedented experiment in restoration and renewal that has captured global attention.

Huxley Spatial Institute develops interactive map of rail lines used to ship crude oil in North America

June 4, 2014 |
Western Today
Western Washington University’s Huxley Spatial Institute recently completed a collaborative project with the organization Oil Change International. The Institute’s Jacob Lesser and Tyson Waldo spent months developing an online map that allows users to explore the rapid expansion of crude oil being shipped by North American rail lines.

The Crude-By-Rail map was created as an online companion to “Runaway Train: The Reckless Expansion of Crude-By-Rail in North America,” a report published by Oil Change International in May 2014.

WWU, Ecology team to train future cleanup experts

June 2, 2014 |
As a college student, Susannah Edwards toured the Everett Shipyard cleanup site on Port Gardner Bay. Now she's working on cleaning up the shipyard as an Ecology employee.

Susannah, a sediment specialist in training in the Toxics Cleanup Program, joined Ecology in October 2013. She graduated in 2012 from Western Washington University with a bachelor of science degree in environmental science with environmental toxicology emphasis.

Pipeline expansion concerns council member

May 13, 2014 |
The Western Front
A rising demand for power worldwide has resulted in a rapidly expanding industry of non-sustainable energy sourcing including fracking and extraction. Pipeline infrastructure, which allows for the movement of fuels such as oil and natural gas, is spread out like a flammable underground spider web across the country and is still growing.

Potential pipeline safety concerns and details of the industry, which moves resources around the country, were the topics of Thursday, May 8, Huxley College Speaker Series lecture.

Plants invade arboretum: Interns needed to map the intruders

May 9, 2014 |
The Western Front
Invasive plant species have been a problem in the Sehome Arboretum for several years and a summer student internship is being proposed to survey and map the invasive plant population.

In the Sehome Arboretum invasive plants including English Holly, Ivy and Vinca take over several native plants, such as ferns, by crowding them out of their native area and killing them.

Western leads largest-ever Salish Sea Ecosystem Conference

May 7, 2014 |
Western Today
This past week in Seattle, Western led the largest-ever Salish Sea Ecosystem Conference. The Conference brought more than 1,200 of the top professionals in marine science, shoreline management, fisheries and related fields, as well as policymakers, Tribal and First Nations leaders and industry stakeholders from around British Columbia and Washington state.

Western was well-represented at the conference, with 30-plus presentations and posters offered by WWU faculty and students. Ben Miner, as associate professor of biology, presented his research on Sea Star Wasting Syndrome and its effects on Sea Star populations along the West Coast of North America. He presented data on the patterns, lab experiments and genetic work that is being done on Sea Star Wasting Syndrome. The experimental work for Miner’s research is being done at Western, with collaborators at Cornell University and University of California, Santa Cruz.

Alumna gives advice to students seeking jobs within their major

May 6, 2014 |
The Western Front
Huxley College of the Environment in 2003. Today she is the green building and smart growth program manager at Sustainable Connections, a local non-profit focused on a healthy environment.

More than 4,000 students have graduated from Huxley since 1969 and have gone on to pursue careers in their field, including Lathrop. Lathrop’s environmental policy and urban planning degree from Western mixed with hard work has allowed her to get the job she wanted while staying in Bellingham.

U.S., Canadian, tribal leaders discuss Salish Sea's environmental, economic concerns

April 30, 2014 |
The Bellingham Herald
This isn't breaking news, but salmon and orcas don't stop at the border. They don't show passports and clear customs or shop at the duty-free store.

The environment doesn't stop at the border and neither does the economy. A healthy economy depends on a healthy environment and we must work across the border with our Canadian and tribal/First Nations partners to ensure both.

After 53 'remarkable' years, Mookherjee to retire

April 8, 2014 |
Western Today
In late December, the 12th Asian Urbanization Conference convened at Banaras Hindu University in Varanasi, India. Huxley College’s own Debnath Mookherjee, an expert in urban geography and planning, offered the keynote address, speaking about the need for a regional planning approach toward urban sustainability.

Debnath Mookherjee is retiring from Western after 53 years.

Student-assembled sculpture to be relocated to wetland March 12

March 12, 2014 |
Western Today
Western Washington University students participating in the Art and Ecology program will relocate a sculpture at 2 p.m. on Wednesday, March 12 to a boggy area outside of Western’s Fine Arts building.

Students spent a week assembling the sculpture under the guidance of Seattle artist John Grade. The sculpture, which is made of raw materials found in nature, was completed on March 4 and has been on display in the Western Gallery. It will be relocated to the boggy area to be observed over time as it decays as part of the exploration of the effect of time and the elements.

Western brings business bachelor’s program to Olympic College

March 6, 2014 |
The Western Front
Western Washington University will bring a four-year bachelor’s program to Kitsap County. Olympic College in Poulsbo, Wash. will feature a business management and administration degree next fall.

The program is offered through the Extended Education Department at Western. “We are really excited,” said Sandra Mottner, the associate dean of the College of Business and Economics.

Alumnus recognized for sustainable deconstruction

February 7, 2014 |
The Western Front
Western alumnus and graduate from Huxley College of the Environment Dave Bennink’s company, Re-Use Consulting, placed third at the Sustainability Leadership Award at Sustainable Seattle, on Friday, Jan. 31.

Re-Use Consulting was recognized at the award ceremony for its efforts to find sustainable ways to take apart buildings and use the resources that would typically go to landfills, Bennink said.

Western names new director of Shannon Point Marine Center

January 13, 2014 |
Western Today
Erika McPhee-Shaw has been hired as director of Western Washington University’s Shannon Point Marine Center.

McPhee-Shaw, who will start at Western on June 15, 2014, was hired following a national search. She succeeds longtime SPMC Director Steve Sulkin, who has retired.

Student's presentation deemed best at N.C. conference

January 8, 2014 |
Western Today
Western Washington University students have a reputation for contributing to scholarship, research, collaboration, and service, and we here at Western are particularly proud of how they exemplify Western’s motto of “active minds changing lives.” Recently, Western Libraries very own Learning Commons student liaison Kali Legg received recognition for her significant contribution to research and scholarship when she was awarded the title of “Best Student Presentation” at the 2013 International Society for the Scholarship of Teaching & Learning conference.

In memoriam: Jerry Flora, 1928 - 2013

December 23, 2013 |
Western Today
Western Washington University President Emeritus Charles J. (“Jerry”) Flora has passed away. He was 85.

Flora served as Western’s eighth president, from 1967 to 1975. During his tenure, Western’s enrollment grew from 6,240 to 10,000, and four colleges -- Fairhaven College of Interdisciplinary Studies, Huxley College of the Environment, the College of Business and Economics and the College of Fine and Performing Arts -- were established.

Strengthening STEM

December 4, 2013 |
Window Magazine
Engineering, Computer Science, Nursing and Energy Studies are among several new and expanding programs at Western Washington University meant to address the state's need for more highly trained graduates in science, technology, engineering and math fields.

"For years, many leaders in Washington have recognized that our state needed to address a widening deficit in science, technology, engineering and mathematics skills in our work force," says Western President Bruce Shepard.

Student wins $50,000 scholarship

December 3, 2013 |
The Western Front
Western Washington University student Roby Ventres-Pake recently won a $50,000 scholarship from the Environmental Protection Agency's 2013 Greater Research Opportunities Fellowship program.

The scholarship is for students who can relate their passions to solving problems, such as climate change, habitats or pollution, Ventres-Pake said.

Washington residents deck the halls with energy efficiency

November 13, 2013 |
Intelligent Utility
With the holiday season just around the corner, neighborhoods across the Northwest will glow with strings of lights. But whether residents choose more energy-efficient LEDs over traditional incandescent bulbs may depend on where they live, according to the PEMCO Insurance Northwest Poll.

The Seattle-based insurer found that, of those who say they decorated with outdoor lights last December, Washington residents were more likely than their Portland, Ore., neighbors to display energy-efficient LEDs. Half of Washington residents (51 percent) said they chose the more efficient LEDs, while just 43 percent of Portlanders say they did the same.

Students look twice at litter

November 1, 2013 |
The Western Front
This quarter, Western Washington University seniors are spreading litter awareness to the community in a new campaign called Double Take.

The campaign started when Western seniors majoring in environmental studies were asked to come up with ideas for their Environmental Stewardship class. The mission of the field-oriented capstone course is to encourage students to work in teams and apply their knowledge and skills in their projects to solve real-world problems over the course of a quarter.

Professor: As estuary health weakens, greenhouse gases increase

October 29, 2013 |
Western Today
At a pair of research projects in Snohomish County, Western Washington University Professor of Environmental Science John Rybczyk is looking to find out more about the relationship between river deltas and estuary systems and their ability to lock in carbon.

Carbon is a naturally occurring element found in all living things, and the soft, oxygen-free sediments of estuaries are natural sponges that lock in carbon. When these estuaries and river deltas are drained or impounded, that sediment becomes exposed to oxygen and combines with the newly-freed carbon to form carbon dioxide, perhaps the world's top cause of global warming, as it enters the atmosphere.

Energy institute gets $150K from Alaska Air

September 30, 2013 |
Western Today
Western Washington University's Institute for Energy Studies is receiving a $150,000 gift of support from Alaska Airlines and $100,000 in various gifts from the Ingersoll Rand Foundation and Trane, a leading global provider of indoor comfort solutions and services and a brand of Ingersoll Rand.

Western established its multi-disciplinary Institute for Energy Studies last spring. The Institute program, the first of its kind in the country, combines science, technology, economics, business and policy and is designed to prepare students to become the leaders, managers and entrepreneurs of the new energy economy.

Business and Sustainability bachelor's degree is Western's latest interdisciplinary offering

August 16, 2013 |
Western Today
Western's new bachelor's program in Business and Sustainability, which begins accepting students in fall 2013, may be the first of its kind in the nation.

The Bachelor of Arts in Business and Sustainability is a combined major offered by the College of Business and Economics' Department of Management and Huxley College of the Environment.

Western professor, students provide monitoring data for 70 of Washington's small lakes

August 13, 2013 |
Western Today
Western Washington University Professor of Environmental Science Robin Matthews, director of Western's Huxley College of the Environment Institute for Watershed Studies, is working with two student volunteers to provide water-quality monitoring data for 70 Washington lakes as part of the institute's Small Lakes Project.

"We started this project in 2006 as a way of getting student volunteers some top-notch field research experience," Matthews said. "And it has turned out to not only be just that, but also a very valuable community resource as well."

Professor, students map toxic-release trends

August 8, 2013 |
Western Today
Western Washington University associate professor of Environmental Studies Troy Abel and a pair of graduate students have worked, in conjunction with the Environmental Council of the States and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency data, to produce a new interactive web application that charts point sources for toxic air releases for the entirety of the United States.

The application is available for use at

Huxley's Institute for Watershed Studies renews its agreement to monitor Lake Whatcom

July 31, 2013 |
Western Today
Huxley's Institute for Watershed Studies finished its third year of the 2010-2012 Lake Whatcom Monitoring project and received a three-year renewal to provide lake and stream monitoring for 2013-2015.

The new contract includes an expanded emphasis on storm event sampling to help the city of Bellingham model phosphorus and sediment loading into Lake Whatcom.

Huxley grad student develops a risk assessment model for policy makers

July 31, 2013 |
Western Today
The thesis research of recent Huxley master's degree graduate Eleanor Hines, funded by the Bullitt Foundation, was designed to help regional and local policy makers achieve Puget Sound restoration goals.

Working in Huxley's Institute of Environmental Toxicology, Hines developed an Ecological Risk Assessment Model to examine the potential effectiveness of low-impact development as a management tool in the Puyallup River watershed.

WWU, OC announce partnership in West Sound

July 18, 2013 |
Western Today
Western Washington University and Olympic College are partnering to offer baccalaureate degrees with the creation of the Western Washington University Center at Olympic College in Poulsbo.

The collaboration between Olympic College and Western Washington University is expanding as Western plans on having tenure track faculty located in Poulsbo to provide undergraduate and graduate programs on the Kitsap and Olympic Peninsulas. This expansion is part of a joint vision to serve the community and businesses on the Peninsulas.

Department pushes for new engineering geology major: Western produces high number of licensed geologists

June 7, 2013 |
The Western Front
A new bachelor's degree in engineering geology, which uses geologic data when developing infrastructure, was proposed by Western Washington University geology professor Robert Mitchell.

"I think it's a good idea," said Bernie Housen, chair of the geology department. "It's something the state should support."

WWU student, alumna awarded 'Best Cleantech Idea' in UW Business Plan Challenge

June 5, 2013 |
Western Today
Western Washington University student Joe Meyer (Economics and Environmental Studies, Seattle) was a member of a team that won "Best Cleantech Idea" and $2,500 in the University of Washington's Business Plan Challenge.

"The project is a lot of what Huxley [College of the Environment] has been teaching in classes on making environmental and social benefits," Meyer said. "It shows promise that business leaders are taking time out of their day to review and judge these plans as potential business models."

New major pairs sustainability and business

May 24, 2013 |
The Western Front
A new business and sustainability major will be available at Western Washington University in the fall, combining business courses with environmental interests. The degree can be used in fields such as environmental advising or directing energy services.

The sequence will be 104-106 credits, with only seven credits of electives. The major will require courses from both the College of Business and Economics and Huxley College of the Environment. The major can be declared at either college.

Students in BTC's fisheries program can now seamlessly transfer to WWU

May 2, 2013 |
Western Today
Bellingham Technical College's Fisheries and Aquaculture Sciences program has announced an articulation (transfer) agreement with Western Washington University's Huxley College of the Environment. This partnership will continue BTC and WWU efforts to prepare stewards of the environment and resources.

Students will now have the opportunity for a seamless transition by earning BTC's Associated in Applied Science Transfer degree in Fisheries & Aquatic Science and transferring to WWU/Huxley to pursue a bachelor of arts in Environmental Studies or Geography.

Western students pitch updates to Bellingham street

March 15, 2013 |
The Western Front
Seniors from Western Washington University's winter 2013 planning studio class presented their ideas for suggested urban developments to State Street on Thursday, March 14.

The students presented their ideas to members of the community, city planners and councilmembers using PowerPoint presentations in Bellingham's Federal Building Courtroom.

WWU Professor Part of Global Research Team Shedding New Light on the Changing Arctic

March 11, 2013 |
Western Today
An international team of 21 authors from 17 institutions in seven countries, including Western Washington University's Andy Bunn, has just published a study in the journal "Nature Climate Change" showing that, as the cover of snow and ice in the northern latitudes has diminished in recent years, the temperature over the northern land mass has increased, causing a reduction in temperature and vegetation seasonality in this area.

Environmental discussion spurs Huxley College expansion

January 29, 2013 |
The Western Front
Western's Huxley College of the Environment is extending its program from two years to four years, and may also add an area of study focused on energy.

"One of the things Huxley is doing is moving more toward a four-year program for [Huxley] students instead of just a two-year program in the junior and senior year," said Steven Hollenhorst, the dean of Huxley College. "We'll be engaged with students from the very first quarter they come on to campus and have a curriculum that goes across the full four years."

Huxley Speaker Series URLs

November 13, 2012 |
Gigi Berardi

Myers, Russell write chapters in new book on environmental and conservation psychology

November 7, 2012 |
Western Today
Western Washington University professors Gene Myers (Environmental Studies) and Keith Russell (PEHR) wrote separate chapters in the recently published "The Oxford Handbook of Environmental and Conservation Psychology" from Oxford University Press. Myers' chapter, titled "Children and nature," runs from page 113 to page 127. Russell's chapter, "The therapeutic use of nature," runs on pages 428 through 445.

Students In Ecological Restoration

October 22, 2012 |
The AS Review
Within Western there are numerous ways in which students may pursue hands-on experiential learning. One popular class, modeled around volunteer projects on campus, is Topics in Ecological Restoration.

New 'energy studies' minor

October 9, 2012 |
The Western Front
Starting this quarter, students can now minor in energy policy, economics and business through Western's new Institute for Energy Studies.

The institute's director, Andy Bunn, said understanding these subjects are some of the most important issues facing society this century because not enough universities provide an in-depth education on energy.

Rybczyk writes chapter in book on estuarine ecology

September 27, 2012 |
Western Today
John Rybczyk, professor and chair of the Department of Environmental Science, published a chapter titled "Global Climate Change and Estuarine Systems" in the book "Estuarine Ecology, 2nd Edition."

The second edition includes new chapters covering phytoplankton, seagrasses, coastal marshes, mangroves, benthic algae, Integrated Coastal Zone Management techniques and the effects of global climate change. It also features an entirely new section on estuarine ecosystem processes, trophic webs, ecosystem metabolism, and the interactions between estuaries and other ecosystems such as wetlands and marshes.

WWU students release environmental impact study for Birch Bay shoreline project

August 6, 2012 |
The Northern Light
Five Western Washington University (WWU) students, after studying the possible impacts of the proposed Birch Bay shoreline enhancements, have concluded the most serious impacts will come during construction.

The students completed an environmental impact assessment of the Birch Bay Drive and Pedestrian Facility as part of a class taken through WWU's Huxley College of the Environment. The assessment looked at numerous possible impacts of the project, which will add a beach berm to nearly the entire length of Birch Bay, remove beach groins and riprap and improve stormwater treatment structures.

Huxley Speaker Series explores global and local environmental issues

July 3, 2012 |
Western Today
The Huxley College Speaker Series brings together the environmental-science community and other interested members of the WWU and Bellingham communities to explore topics of contemporary environmental concern in the region and the world.

Steven Hollenhorst is next Huxley dean

May 29, 2012 |
Western Today
Steven Hollenhorst will assume the deanship of Huxley College of the Environment at Western Washington University effective Sept. 1, Provost Catherine Riordan announced May 25.

"From an exceptionally strong pool of candidates, we have identified a national leader in the field of environmental research and policy to assume the deanship of the Huxley College. Western is committed to our legacy of leadership on environmental issues, and Dr. Hollenhorst is well positioned to advance that into the future," Riordan said.

Huxley to open major to 1st, 2nd-years

May 22, 2012 |
The Western Front
The Huxley Department of Environmental Studies will admit first and second-year students into the environmental studies major. This will accompany a reconfigured major and curriculum starting fall quarter.

Photos: Bellingham students visit Gordon Carter Conservation Site

May 16, 2012 |
The Bellingham Herald
Why this is relevant: Western Washington University environmental education students have been teaching Bellingham sixth graders for the past few days at the District's Gordon Carter environmental ed site at the south end of Lake Whatcom Reservoir. Five teams of Huxley students taught more than 200 middle schoolers a two-day program there, emphasizing ecology, water quality, stewardship, natural history and teamwork.

Get amped

May 7, 2012 |
The AS Review
On March 29, 2012, three Western students from Huxley College of the Environment competed in the University of Washington Environmental Innovation Challenge. The team, named Amped Aquatics, developed the Nexus Buoy, a promising renewable energy prototype that converts wave energy into electricity. Although Amped Aquatics and the Nexus Buoy did not walk away with the cash prizes offered to the top five contenders, they took away in life and team experience that was just as valuable.

WWU Huxley College students' prototype converts wave energy into electricity

April 19, 2012 |
University Communcations
BELLINGHAM – A team of three students in Western Washington University's Huxley College of the Environment competed in the University of Washington Environmental Innovation Challenge at the Seattle Center Exhibition Hall on March 29, where they demonstrated their self-designed prototype of a renewable energy technology, called Nexus Buoy. The device converts wave energy into electricity and could be a promising money-saving alternative to burning fossil fuels as an energy source in coastal communities.

Seniors Aaron Ellig of Kennewick, Andrew Wells of Mukilteo and junior Carolyn Wise of Northfield, Minn., who collectively call themselves "Amped Aquatics," went up against 31 other teams in the UW competition that challenges students to design and develop a solution to an environmental problem and produce a prototype and business pitch that demonstrates the market opportunity for a chance to win $10,000.

Western receives grant to create new energy courses

April 10, 2012 |
The Western Front
The Ingersoll Rand Foundation has donated $25,000 to Western in order to help fund an energy program for the university, according to a university press release.

Brian Sibley, campaign communications manager for the division of university advancements, said he believes this program is "quintessentially Western."

The program, intended to teach students how to develop new companies and work in the modern energy industry, is a collaborative effort from Western's College of Business and Economics, the College of Sciences and Technology and Huxley College of the Environment, according to the press release.

Ingersoll Rand Foundation donates $25,000 to WWU Energy Program

April 2, 2012 |
Western Today
BELLINGHAM –Western Washington University has received a gift of $25,000 from the Ingersoll Rand Foundation. Ingersoll Rand is a world leader in creating and sustaining safe, comfortable and efficient environments and includes Trane, a leading global provider of indoor comfort systems and services, among its family of brands. The grant from the Ingersoll Rand Foundation will help fund the development of an energy program at WWU.

"We are pleased to help WWU pioneer this program," said Warren Michelsen, district general manager of Northwest-Hawaii Trane district. "As a company we are committed to helping our customers reach their goals for sustainability and energy conservation. This program will prepare its graduates to be leaders in the clean energy economy. We're honored to support the innovation and initiative they've demonstrated and pleased to collaborate in helping guide the launch of this ambitious program."

Huxley farm documentary appears on The Joe Show

March 9, 2012 |
Western students Eliza Evans and Joe Marsh were interviewed along with faculty member Gigi Berardi about Huxley College of the Environment's recent documentary on the plight of family farms.

Short film tells plight of family-owned farms

February 24, 2012 |
Western Today
The Resilience Institute at Western Washington University's Huxley College of the Environment has released "Our Farms are at Risk," a short film detailing the key threats to the region's family farms.

The two-and-a-half-minute film was made by Bellingham's Hand Crank Films and recently won a prestigious ADDY award from the American Advertising Federation in the category of best interactive web videos. It can be viewed online at

Smith steps down

February 6, 2012 |
The AS Review
For the past 18 of 41 years since the creation of Huxley College of the Environment, a crucial Western institution that has helped pave the way in the field of environmental science and studies, Bradley Smith has served as dean. This past month, Smith announced his retirement from the position in order to pursue other facets of environmental work both on campus and in his leisure time.

"Brad gave the Office of Sustainability its first home in Huxley College and he has been a key in helping our campus progress to both set and meet its sustainability goals," Campus Sustainability Manager Seth Vidana said. "He has been a great supporter of our efforts and other people's efforts and he has been the co-chair of our Sustainability Committee and done a great job there. We're lucky that he wants to stick around [to help]."

New map offers interactive look at campus

January 24, 2012 |
Western Today
Western Washington University's new interactive campus map, created by students working with Huxley College's Institute for Spatial Information and Analysis, is now online.

Originally released in a "beta" version this fall, the map recently has been revised and updated. Among the recent enhancements are drop down menus to locate each of the buildings, departments and services on campus as well as a construction projects layer and building links to individual web pages for the different buildings on campus.

An app that makes a difference

November 29, 2011 |
Herald Argus
La PORTE — His senior project involved the location of abandoned uranium mines on Navajo land and the protection of residents from contaminated drinking water. And this won him recognition from the Environment Protection Agency in its Apps for the Environment competition.

Rob Sabie, Jr., a student at Western Washington University, and formerly of La Porte, placed runner up for best student app in the competition, which recognized apps that increased understanding or protection of the environment.

Student's Web app earns Environmental Protection Agency award

November 15, 2011 |
Western Today
Robert Sabie, a recent graduate of Western Washington University's Huxley College of the Environment, recently won runner-up in the student category of the Environmental Protection Agency's "Apps for the Environment Challenge." This national contest challenged app developers to create new ways to display and use environmental information.


The Best Apps for the Environment: Bringing EPA Data to the Masses

November 8, 2011 |
The Atlantic
From Light Bulb Finder to EarthFriend, the best of the entries submitted to a contest organized by the Environmental Protection Agency

The federal Environmental Protection Agency has announced winners of a contest to create the best "Apps for the Environment." After a solicitation earlier this year, the agency drew 38 entries and 2,000 votes on them from website users. The main prerequisite was that entrants base the program at least in part on publicly available EPA data.

Runner-up, student app: Environmental Justice Participatory Mapping by Robert Sabie, Jr. of Western Washington University. This program maps potentially hazardous areas within or near the Navajo Nation, based on data from EPA's atlas of abandoned uranium mines.

Huxley College of the Environment releases book, 'Green Fire,' chronicling its first 40 years

May 26, 2011 |
Western Today
Western Washington University's Huxley College of the Environment will unveil "Green Fire: A History of Huxley College," a chronicle of the pioneering institution's first 40 groundbreaking years, June 11 at the Huxley graduation ceremony.

"The book's profiles of 40 Huxley alumni is eloquent testimony to the college's effectiveness and historic importance," said William Dietrich, the book's lead author and an assistant professor at the college. "They range from the director of SeaTac Airport to organic farmers, and from the man leading the world campaign to save Asian tigers to the woman who is the project director for the United Nations' World at 7 Billion Project."

WWU Graduate Students Honored With United States Forest Service Award

May 23, 2011 |
Western Today
Western Washington University graduate students Justin McWethy (Virginia Beach, Va.), David Strich (Irvine, Calif.) and Teresa Mealy (Seattle) were recently awarded the 2011 Urban Communities Conservation Award by the U.S. Forest Service for their work with the North Cascades Institute.

WWU Graduate Students Honored With United States Forest Service Award

May 17, 2011 |
Western Today
BELLINGHAM –Western Washington University graduate students Justin McWethy (Virginia Beach, Va.), David Strich (Irvine, Calif.) and Teresa Mealy (Seattle) were recently awarded the 2011 Urban Communities Conservation Award by the U.S. Forest Service for their work with the North Cascades Institute.

National forests proposal would weaken protections

May 15, 2011 |
The Bellingham Herald
The Obama administration recently proposed a new rule to direct planning and management of U.S. national forests. The rule should matter to people in our region. National forest lands provide clean drinking water for most of Whatcom County. They are the river sources for most of the county's salmon, they provide inspiration and recreation to many through hiking, fishing, snowsports and river running and they support thousands of local jobs in the outdoor recreation industry. The future value of national forests will only increase as other water sources degrade, growing populations seek respite, more species become imperiled and our society recognizes forests as sponges that absorb carbon.

Why this is relevant: This opinion piece was written by Environmental Science's John McLaughlin.

New courses help Western save green by going green

April 12, 2011 |
The Western Front
Huxley College of the Environment developed Sustainability Literacy, a three-part series of classes to train students to approach sustainability as activists.

Seth Vidaña, coordinator of the Office of Sustainability at Western, teaches the Sustainability Literacy III studio course. Vidana took a similar class as an undergraduate at Western and returned to the class as a co-teacher while pursuing his master's degree. After graduating, he took over teaching the class full time.

Environmental journalism turns down new majors

March 11, 2011 |
The Western Front
One of the only environmental journalism majors in the nation offered by Western's Huxley College of the Environment is in a state of moratorium; the program is no longer accepting new majors, according to the 2011-12 catalog published by the college.

WWU students sweep awards at environmental competition

December 1, 2009 |
Western Today
Students from Western Washington University's Huxley College of the Environment swept first and second place honors at the recent Environmental Challenge held in Cle Elum Nov. 3 to 6.

The Environmental Challenge is a competition where student teams prepare and present an optimal solution to a complex true-to-life environmental problem. Before the event, the students submit a proposal for how to solve the problem; at the event, the students attend technical sessions, meet with role players, and modify their proposal. They are judged on their written proposal, an oral presentation, technical feasibility, comprehensive approach to the solution, and creativity.

A Postcard from the Pleistocene

July 24, 2009 |
New York Times
I recently learned about the Polaris Project, a fascinating scientific and educational expedition under way on one of the more remote, unusual rivers on the planet, the Kolyma in eastern Siberia. It is the largest river in the world that is completely underlain by permafrost. The region, like most of the Arctic, has seen substantial warming, and the expedition, among other things, is aiming to measure how much carbon dioxide and methane could be liberated if the permafrost thaws in a big way. About 30 researchers and students from the United States and Russia are traveling the river on a barge.

WWU Professors Participate in International Workshop on Sustainable Community Development

April 15, 2008 |
University Communications
BELLINGHAM - Nicholas Zaferatos and Gigi Berardi, professors in Western Washington University's Huxley College of the Environment, and James Loucky, professor in WWU's Department of Anthropology, participated as expert contributors at an international workshop March 24-28 at the Rockefeller Foundation Conference Center in Bellagio, Italy.

WWU Professor to Lead International Effort on Building Sustainable Economies

February 25, 2008 |
University Communications
BELLINGHAM - Western Washington University associate professor Nicholas Zaferatos has been named the principal investigator of the EuroMed Sustainable Communities project, an effort sponsored by the European Union to build sustainable economies across cultural and political boundaries.

"We're working to revitalize ancient economic trade ties throughout the Mediterranean," said Zaferatos, a faculty member at WWU's Huxley College of the Environment. "Rural areas that did vigorous trade for thousands of years have seen those trade links evaporate as walls - some literal, some figurative - have been built between Christian and Muslim communities. We want to tear those walls down and help get these communities focused on sustainable economies that benefit all partners."