Meet NW CASC’s 2020-21 Research Fellows!

The NW CASC is excited to welcome our 2020-2021 Research Fellows as they kick off their Fellowship activities this fall. These 13 Fellows represent each of our consortium universities across Washington, Oregon, Idaho and Montana. Throughout the Fellowship year, each Fellow will conduct research in close collaboration with regional natural resource managers and decision-makers to produce relevant science on climate change impacts and adaptation actions, while receiving training in the principles of actionable science. Through their innovative research, which includes investigating how receding glaciers are affecting fish habitat, exploring how local knowledge of rangelands can inform flexible management, and identifying forest management actions that enhance habitat and biodiversity while buffering climate impacts, these Fellows will help advance the mission of the NW CASC in delivering science to help fish, wildlife, water, land and people adapt to a changing climate.

Meet the Fellows and Learn About Their Research

This was originally published on the NWCASC news webpage.

Winners announced for the 2019 UW Student Film Contest

The 2nd UW Student Film Contest commenced in 2019 to bring together STEM (Science Technology Engineering and Maths) majors across the world to collaborate within the arts and humanities through film making. With this transdisciplinary approach, the contest centers around incorporating more art within the STEM field. In fact, the contest centers around STEAM (Science Technology Engineering ARTS and Maths).

As a sponsor of the award category Planet Earth, EarthLab would like to congratulate the winners of this category: Ocean State of Debris and Exist.

New student program focuses on sustaining freshwater services

From large lakes where fish populations thrive to running rivers that generate electricity, freshwater ecosystems supply our world with critical food, water, and power. With a changing climate and projected environmental changes, little is known about the potential impacts these changes may bring to communities. Enhancing the sustainability of these essential freshwater resources by developing a dynamic workforce is necessary in the face of change.

There is an urgent need for scientists from a range of disciplines to work together in innovative ways to solve problems. The Future Rivers Initiative, a new organization in EarthLab, aims to build a culturally-aware STEM workforce fluent in state-of-the-art quantitative approaches that will be necessary for sustaining food-energy-water (FEW) services in large river ecosystems. The Future Rivers training program will support up to 60 trainees as they prepare to effectively safeguard freshwater ecosystem services for a growing world population.

Graduate training that breaks down barriers

“How do we take the perspectives of all of these complementary but different disciplines here at the University of Washington?” asked Gordon Holtgrieve, associate professor for the School of Aquatic and Fishery Sciences. “We have engineering, forest science, fisheries, landscape architecture, geosciences, and more. How do we take those disciplines and use each of their strengths to solve problems around freshwater sustainability?”

To address this question, Holtgrieve recruited faculty from across the University to create Future Rivers. This National Science Foundation supported graduate training program at the University of Washington focuses on building collaborative bridges between disciplines to think outside-the-box when it comes to building a foundation of freshwater sustainability.

“The students here at the university really made this happen. Our students voiced that they want to gain skills around data science while connecting with people outside of their discipline,” says Holtgrieve. “These students want to learn more about communication and issues of inclusivity and culture in STEM. Future Rivers was designed and pursued in order to meet this request.”

Building a workforce of the future

Students accepted into the program will get to experience data science courses, science communication trainings, STEM inclusivity workshops, and social gatherings along with professional networking.

As an EarthLab initiative, students will learn to work in applied ways within career fields outside of academia. Future Rivers is creating a solid foundation that connects academic government and industry partners when addressing freshwater issues.

“Enduring solutions to complex environmental challenges usually come from multiple disciplines and sectors cooperating and using actionable science,” explains Ben Packard, EarthLab’s executive director. “EarthLab is thrilled to welcome Future Rivers and to help build the workforce of the future, competent in transdisciplinary work and prepared for careers in a variety of roles.”

As the program moves forward and prepares for its first cohort of students in Fall 2020, the team hopes this program will equip students with the skills and experiences needed to conduct science in an innovative way.

“The metric of success is coming up with new and interesting ways to do science with an interdisciplinary approach,” explains Holtgrieve. “This is the goal for each of our students to achieve and take with them throughout their careers.”

Application and program details

Graduate students interested in the Future Rivers program are encouraged to apply in January 2020. For more Future Rivers program details, please visit

Learn more

Games for Our Future Game Jam Re-cap

The Second Annual Games for Our Future Game Jam was a success! Presented by EarthLab, Seattle IndiesSeattle Serious and Social Impact Games and Pacific Science Center, the theme was Creating a Green Tomorrow. The Game Jam brought game developers and researchers together for a weekend to learn from each other and show the power of games to translate complex environmental research into a medium that is both fun and educational. 60 developers worked in teams to create over 13 games (11 uploaded). The day kicked off by having nine UW research mentors speak, three on topics about game design and six on topics of climate change and environmental science. Afterwards, teams formed and began creating games.

–> Check out the games our participants developed!

–> Read more about the event on the Seattle Indies blog.

Below are the award winners in each category from the Game Jam:

Theme: Social Solutions to Climate Change

Climate Utopia: Virtual Reality experience in which you explore a world in the future that is truly sustainable

Incorporated Research from UW Mentors

Seed Our Future: Augmented reality application to suggest social solutions to climate change in real places

Game Design and Game Play

2 Degrees!: Board game simulating building a city without increasing the global temperature to 2 degrees C

Art, Music and Aesthetics

Rising Tides: Game to combat sea level rise by investing in seawalls, moving to a new location, or responding to other disasters

Overall Judges’ Pick

2 Degrees!: Board game simulating building a city without increasing the global temperature to 2 degrees C

People’s Choice

Icebears Care: Save polar bears on melting ice caps by stapling icebergs back together

None of this would be possible without the tireless dedication of our mentors:

Jennifer Atkinson UW Bothell, English
Gary Handwerk UW, Comparative Literature
Dargan Frierson UW, Atmospheric Science
Isabel Zamanillo UW, College of Environment
Jason Lambacher UW Bothell, Political Science
Sarah Chase UW, Forestry
Rick Thomas UW, Forestry
Mark Chen UW Bothell, Game Studies
Theresa Horstman Microsoft (formerly, UW, Education)