From wiping out smallpox to saving the Pike Place Market to helping rescue Apollo 13 astronauts, here are some astonishing feats performed by UW alumni, faculty and staff.
Faster than a Speeding Bullet
Photo by Dane Penland, courtesy
National Air & Space Museum
Scott Crossfield, '49, '50, made aeronautical history on Nov. 20, 1953, when he became the first person to fly at Mach 2, twice the speed of sound (more than 1,320 miles per hour) in the D-558 II Skyrocket. Carried aloft in the supersonic, swept-wing research aircraft by a Boeing Superfortress, he dropped clear of the bomber at 32,000 feet and climbed to 72,000 feet before diving to 62,000 feet, when he broke the world speed record.
Tracking Down a Bloody Killer
Public Health Professor R. Palmer Beasley curtailed the spread of Hepatitis B by advocating the inoculation of newborns after discovering it can be transmitted from the mother to her unborn child, the cause of 95 percent of the world's Hepatitis B cases. He also proved that Hepatitis B causes the most common form of liver cancer, known as hepatocellular carcinoma. He continues to campaign for universal immunization, since the Hepatitis B vaccine is the only one that prevents a major human cancer.
The Ultimate Winner
Husky Media Relations
UW Football Coach Gilmour Dobie holds the all-time unbeaten streak in NCAA college football, 61 games (58-0-3, a .975 winning percentage). In addition to never losing a game as the Huskies' coach, his UW teams outscored opponents 1,930-118. Dobie led the Huskies from 1908 to 1916.
Artist Chuck Close, '62, continued to paint masterpieces of photorealism after becoming a quadriplegic in 1988 because of a spinal blood clot. Using a paint brush taped to a hand splint, he learned to paint tiny, 2x2 paintings that were later put together to create huge, frontal portraitsand won as much acclaim for his work after his tragedy as before.
Photo by Philip McCollum
Stamping Out Smallpox
As a medical missionary in Africa in 1966, William Foege, '61, developed a new technique for vaccinating populations against smallpox. By 1979, his strategy worked to perfection-smallpox vanished from the planet.
They Saved Lake Washington
The cleanup of desperately polluted Lake Washington (once known as "Lake Stinko") was a boon to the environment and a model for scientific and political communities to work together. After the alarm was sounded by Zoology Professor W. Thomas Edmondson, a political movement led by James Ellis, '48, and others prompted the creation of Metro, a government entity that funded new sewage treatment plants, helped curtail of algae and phosphate concentrations and restored the water quality.
Photo by Kathy Sauber
Women's Role Model
Athletic Director Barbara Hedges is the longest-serving woman athletic director at an NCAA Division 1-A university. In the 12 years since she joined the UW, Hedges has overseen the UW's 23 varsity sports, increased the number of women's sports, upgraded athletic facilities and guided the UW sports programs into the top 15 in the nation.
> More Great Feats....