May 10, 2013

News Digest: Underwater robot competition Saturday, Honors: Cecilia Bitz, Anthony Greenwald and Patricia Kuhl

Two operators stand on deck operating an underwater robot in a swimming poolUW underwater robot team competes Saturday
University of Washington students and researchers will join teams from middle school through college for the Pacific Northwest underwater robot competition, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, May 11. The free event will take place at the Weyerhaeuser King County Aquatic Center in Federal Way. Teams from all over Washington state have designed and built remote-controlled vehicles to complete underwater challenges.

This year’s challenges involve installing, operating and maintaining a cabled ocean observing system, similar to the one being installed by the UW this summer off the Washington and Oregon coasts.

The UW team will attempt to qualify for the international contest, as will Western Washington University and Skagit Valley’s 4H club. Middle- and high-school teams from Seattle, Tacoma, the Kitsap Peninsula and the San Juan Islands will compete and see who will advance to the next round.

The weekend event is one of 22 regional contests held in the U.S., Canada, Japan, China, Egypt and Scotland. Winners of the regional contests will advance to the 12th annual international competition, which will take place June 20-22 in Federal Way.

Head shot of Cecilia BitzCecilia Bitz recognized for decade’s worth of work
Cecilia Bitz, a UW associate professor of atmospheric sciences, was awarded the University of Miami’s Rosenstiel Award. The $10,000 award honors early- to mid-career ocean scientists who have made significant and growing impacts during the previous decade.

Bitz’s research focuses on modeling climate change in snow- and ice-covered regions. She is an author on the last three assessments of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, and in March she briefed U.S. Congress members on Arctic sea-ice loss. Bitz, a UW graduate with a master’s in physics and doctorate in atmospheric sciences, currently chairs the advisory board of the National Science Foundation’s Office of Polar Programs.

Greenwald, Kuhl among 25 honored as part of 25th anniversary

As part of Association for Psychological Science ‘s 25th anniversary celebration, the board of directors has named 25 distinguished scientists – including UW’s Anthony Greenwald and Patricia Kuhl – who have had a profound impact on the field of psychological science over the past quarter century.

Greenwald is a psychology professor and Kuhl is co-director of UW’s Institute for Learning and Brain Sciences and a UW professor of speech and hearing sciences.

In announcing the awards, the association noted that Greenwald’s work with unconscious and automatic thought processes has changed “what had once been a pariah of psychological science — subliminal perception — and turned it into a respectable area of research and even a gold mine for others to excavate.”

The association wrote that Kuhl is “widely known” for research showing how babies’ ability to discriminate speech sounds becomes increasingly specific to their native language as they age and that social skills play a critical role in language learning.