At the Forefront

Our faculty and students continue to work at the forefront of our disciplines and at the intersection of our disciplines with the sciences, engineering, the humanities, the built environment, and our natural environment. Our learning, discovery, and engagement efforts are pushing the status quo in nearly all areas. Examples of our position at the forefront abound. Our water degree platform and faculty are a world-leading example of stretching the educational model across colleges, departments, and disciplines. Our work in cellulose nanomaterials is at the cutting edge of science and materials development. We are restoring endangered mussels to our rivers and streams. Our efforts to model the state’s natural resources and make predictions on their future sustainability stand at the frontier of natural resources stewardship and big data.

We are studying the toxicity of the environment and its resulting impacts on aquatic and terrestrial animals. We are studying humans, organizational effectiveness, and leadership as well as our impacts on the environment. We are using remote sensing and satellite imagery to see our landscape in new ways. We are helping to conserve big game species around the world. Our recently announced Sustainability Institute is setting the stage for students to develop a lens for decision making in the sustainability arena and will become another signature program in the college. We are literally working on the ground, in the water, and in the air across all platforms of the college.

In this issue we feature the visionary work of our geography faculty, students, and campus colleagues to visualize an EF5 tornado — something no one has done before — so we can help save lives. We introduce the new campus-wide Global Change Center, which brings together faculty and students from across campus to think big about looming global challenges.

The forefront is an exciting place to be. It challenges us, stimulates us, motivates us, and helps us become better in all things we do. And yet our biggest responsibility — and our greatest success and impact — is working with our students to help prepare them for the challenges ahead.

We reflect on the life and contributions of Professor Otis Hall, who passed away in January. Otis was a dedicated professional who made a real difference to many students and the forestry profession.

Spring commencement in the Moss Arts Center was our largest ever, with more than 180 students completing degree requirements. Congratulations to all of our graduates and their families! We are thankful that you chose the college as the place to set you on your professional journey.

Mark McNamee, university provost, was our keynote speaker at commencement. He will be retiring in the coming months, and all of us in the college thank him for his steadfast support over these past 14 years. I have personally enjoyed working closely with Dr. McNamee and have considered him my mentor these past five years. Thank you Mark and best wishes to you and Carole for the years ahead.

Finally, as we each strive for excellence in our own lives and in our professional endeavors, I am very happy for Dr. Janaki Alavalapati, who has accepted the position of dean of the School of Forestry and Wildlife Sciences at Auburn University. Janaki has led the Department of Forest Resources and Environmental Conservation for the past eight years and has been an exceptional colleague, professional, and friend. We have been very fortunate to have him serve with us. We wish Janaki and his wife, Renuka, the very best as they transition to Auburn this summer. You can send Janaki a note of congratulations at; I know he would enjoy hearing from you. We are proud to have a great colleague and an effective leader at a sister institution. The natural resources profession needs good leaders!

Best wishes for the summer ahead. We will be working on a realignment of our academic programs office over the summer so we can be more effective in our recruiting, advising, and career development efforts. Please stop by campus and the college if you are near.

Warm regards from our faculty, staff, and students,


Paul M. Winistorfer