faculty

Associate Professor Buck Banks (Environmental Science) is in Costa Rica this month to conduct further research into sustainable coffee production.

I spent Monday morning at the University of Costa Rica with a colleague on the biology faculty, Paul Hanson. He is a specialist in the taxonomy of hymenoptera (bees & their relatives), and has been helping out with identifying the specimens we have been collecting in the coffee fields of Tarrazú for the past few years. This type of collaboration is essential in such a project – without proper identification, it would be impossible to understand the critical ecological roles played by the various bees we’re investigating – and hence the relative importance of the forest fragments where we’re working.

Read the rest of Buck's post in the Notes from the Field blog

Associate Professor Buck Banks (Environmental Science) is in Costa Rica this month to conduct further research into sustainable coffee production.

We celebrated Earth Day in Tarrazú by planting a tree in the garden of one of our Earthwatch colleagues. Tree planting is, of course, a perfect activity to undertake on this day – and the whole idea of sequestering carbon, offsetting some of the carbon in the atmosphere that contributes to global climate change meshes nicely with the research we’re doing on forest fragments here in the valley.

Read the rest of Buck's post in the Notes from the Field blog

Associate Professor Buck Banks (Environmental Science) is in Costa Rica this month to conduct further research into sustainable coffee production.

Today was the third day working in the field with volunteers from Ernst and Young (EY). Coming from all over the U.S. and El Salvador, this group has energetically been continuing the work we started last week with the Fenway High School group. In addition to helping set up insect traps, pollinating coffee flowers by hand, observing & recording the frequency and type of pollinator visits to coffee plants, and assessing ground cover vegetation (as a proxy indicator for farmer practices such as herbicide use), the EY team has also been engaging in some great discussions with CoopeTarrazú about management issues. This morning they got a chance to check out commercial hives belonging to a local beekeeper (and coffee farmer); donning bee suits, the intrepid volunteers were treated to an up-close and personal introduction to the busy bees in their honeycombed home.

Read the rest of Buck's post in the Notes from the Field blog

Associate Professor Buck Banks (Environmental Science) is in Costa Rica this month to conduct further research into sustainable coffee production.

The rains have begun in earnest here in the Los Santos area (so named for the "saint" names of the towns - e.g., San Marcos, Santa Maria, San Lorenzo, etc.)! We have been treated to some spectacular thunder & lightning storms on a few afternoons (current one included) this week. Luckily we're doing most of our fieldwork in the mornings - but occasionally we have been caught in the downpour!

Read the rest of Buck's post in the Notes from the Field blog

If you're watching curling on NBC this week, UW Tacoma Associate Professor Bill Kunz may be responsible for what you see on TV. He's working at his eighth Olympics this month, leading a team of 30 producing the curling coverage. He's also taken four students along for the internship of a lifetime.

We're eagerly awaiting reading his thoughts on the spectacle in Vancouver, but that'll have to wait until the Games are over. In the meantime, here are a few photos of Bill in the middle of the action:

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Environmental Science faculty members John "Buck" Banks and Jim Gawel are in Kenya with undergraduates during the month of February to study sustainability and conservation in a developing country.

It's a peaceful Sunday morning here at Mwamba in Watamu – the Indian Ocean is calm & glassy as the sun starts to heat things up; birds are singing, and the Sykes monkeys are already scrambling through the trees, occasionally crashing noisily into the corrugated metal rooftops of the cabanas where we're staying. We've been in Watamu now for over a week; the last two days we made a few forays into nearby Arabuko-Sokoke Forest (ASF), setting up mist nets in order to capture some of the forest-dwelling bird species for which ASF is famous.

Read the rest of their post in the Notes from the Field blog

Environmental Science faculty members John "Buck" Banks and Jim Gawel are in Kenya with undergraduates during the month of February to study sustainability and conservation in a developing country.

We spent Monday morning exploring the Gede ruins, the remains of a Swahili city nestled in the forest just inland from where we're staying. Thriving for some thousand years as a trade center, Gede was mysteriously deserted around the 17th century (archaelogists speculate that a combination of disease, dwindling water resources, and attacks from neighboring cities did the population in). Inside the ruins monument we climbed up a tree platform that benefits the ASSETS program, which is a program that provides support for secondary school education for children of families surrounding the nearby Arabuko-Sokoke forest, as well as environmental education pertaining to sustainable use of forest resources.

Read the rest of their post in the Notes from the Field blog

Environmental Science faculty members John "Buck" Banks and Jim Gawel are in Kenya with undergraduates during the month of February to study sustainability and conservation in a developing country.

We're back from a few days at the western edge of Kenya, where we were on safari at Masai Mara, one of Kenya's most famous game reserves. Spread out over 1500 square kilometers and contiguous with the Serengeti in Tanzania, the park has vast expanses of grassland in which all manner of wildlife can be found – we were able to see lions, elephants, cheetahs, cape buffalo, giraffe, zebras, a leopard, and many varieties of antelope (and a tiny snake that found its way into Buck & Jim's cabin!). We're back at Lang'ata this evening to have our last dinner here, which we will share with Dr. Nick Oguge, a local scientist who is one of the founder members and president of the Ecological Society for East Africa (ESEA), who will talk with us about efforts by the Earthwatch Institute to integrate community sustainability and wildlife conservation in the Samburu region of Kenya. Next we're off to Mombasa and the coast!

Read the rest of their post in the Notes from the Field blog

Environmental Science faculty members John "Buck" Banks and Jim Gawel are in Kenya with undergraduates during the month of February to study sustainability and conservation in a developing country.

Lang'ata, Kenya—After a day at Green Belt's Lang'ata Centre getting acclimated and attending introductory lectures from Green Belt Movement (GBM) staff and faculty from University of Nairobi, we set off for a two-day homestay in a GBM community a few hours east of Nairobi. The GBM network we visited is called Matatani, located near the town of Kangundo in an area inhabited by the Kamba tribe. After a warm welcome from the entire community, the class split up into several different family homes and enjoyed the hospitality of home-cooked meals and cultural exchange.

Read the rest of their post in the Notes from the Field blog

Environmental Science faculty members John "Buck" Banks and Jim Gawel took 13 UW Tacoma graduates to Kenya in February 2010 to study sustainability and conservation in a developing country. The class will learn about tree restoration and food security, visit game and forest reserves and work with local efforts to improve urban planning and sustainable water management. Both the faculty and students studied Swahili in preparation for the trip. You can read about their adventures on their blog, Notes from the Field; we'll also post excerpts on Postcards.