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Chair's Note

Newsletter issue:
David J.-Perkel

Dear UW Biology community,

I hope you had an enjoyable summer break and are returning to UW Biology well-rested and ready for a great quarter ahead. I’d like to extend a hearty welcome to our new undergraduate majors and our seventeen new graduate students – we are thrilled to have you join us.

While summer break is naturally a time for some much-needed R&R after the school year, our talented community here at UW Biology found time to continue their work. You may have also seen some of them in the news! If you spent any time in the Pacific Northwest at the end of June, the historic summer heat wave is probably an event that you will remember for years to come. Professor Emily Carrington was interviewed on CNN and wrote an opinion piece in The Guardian on the “heat dome” and its effects on sealife. Sharlene Santana and Jeff Riffell published work on the role of scent compounds in the coevolution of bats and pepper plants. Briana Abrahms opined on how climate change is increasing human-wildlife conflict. Adam Summers' group released work on 3D imaging of shark intestines. And Greg Wilson Mantilla's team spent a highly productive summer field season discovering 4 new dinosaur fossils. These are just a few of the new findings coming out of UW Biology research efforts.

In exciting news, our plants were moved back into the UW Biology Greenhouse from their temporary location in Redmond at the end of summer! We are looking forward to welcoming our students into the Greenhouse space to learn all that they can from our extensive plant collection. An official Greenhouse opening event will be held sometime in Spring 2022, so keep your eyes peeled for more information on that to come!

It is an understatement to say that this is an uncertain time. I know that this Autumn quarter will be a transition for us all. More than a year and a half ago, our worlds were turned upside down by the COVID-19 pandemic. As challenging as the move to remote learning was, it may be even more of a challenge adjusting to the return to campus. We understand that there will be a full spectrum of emotions about the move back to in-person instruction, but please know that we here at UW Biology are here to support you. The department has spent the summer actively preparing for a safe return to an in-person autumn quarter and we look forward to seeing our classrooms vibrant with students once again. We are also planning additional support for those students who have made the transition to university-level learning entirely remotely. My sincere thanks go to our faculty and staff who have been working hard behind the scenes to get the department as prepared as we can be going into this Autumn quarter.

We are all working side by side, doing our best to innovate, collaborate, and discover. I am inspired daily by our UW Biology community. I wish you all a wonderful start to the new school year.

Best wishes,

David Perkel
Professor and Chair, Department of Biology