UW News


June 14, 2018

‘Teachers are brain engineers’: UW study shows how intensive instruction changes brain circuitry in struggling readers

This illustration of the brain shows the arcuate fasciculus (green); inferior longitudinal fasciculus (blue) and posterior callosal connections (pink).

    The early years are when the brain develops the most, forming neural connections that pave the way for how a child — and the eventual adult — will express feelings, embark on a task, and learn new skills and concepts. Scientists have even theorized that the anatomical structure of neural connections forms the…


June 12, 2018

Anthropology professor focuses book on the bonds between humans, animals

Animal Intimacies cover

Radhika Govindrajan’s book “Animal Intimacies” started attracting attention before it was even available to readers. A University of Washington assistant professor of anthropology since 2015, Govindrajan specializes in animal studies, and in the politics and culture of the Central Himalayas, where much of the research for this book was conducted. “Animal Intimacies,” published in May…


June 6, 2018

Washington state Supreme Court takes up court-fee reform, considers UW data at sold-out Wednesday symposium

Monetary sanctions disproportionately affect the poor and people of color. A Washington State Supreme Court symposium will discuss the issue of legal financial obligations, with new data from the University of Washington.

  African-Americans in Washington state are 2.3 times more likely than whites to be sentenced to fines and fees, and carry about three times the debt in unpaid monetary sanctions. In all, said University of Washington sociology professor Alexes Harris, legal financial obligations represented nearly $2.5 billion in debt in Washington in 2014, the most…


May 25, 2018

Anthropologist explores China’s changing art scene in ‘Experimental Beijing’

Sasha Welland's book, "Experimental Beijing," was published by Duke University Press.

On a two-year stint teaching English in Beijing, Sasha Welland got her first glimpse of contemporary Chinese art. Not the antiquities so common in Western museums of Asian art, or the scroll paintings or ceramics or Buddhist sculptures, explains Welland, an associate professor in the University of Washington departments of anthropology and gender, women and…


May 18, 2018

Memorial Day events focus on veteran mental health, suicide

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    For the past three years, a striking visual statement has marked Memorial Day on the University of Washington campus: thousands of miniature flags dotting the HUB lawn. The first year, student veterans placed hundreds of flags as a solemn gesture to underscore the significance of the holiday. The next year, the office of…


May 17, 2018

Want to help your child succeed in school? Add language to the math, reading mix

A University of Washington-led study finds that a child's language skills in kindergarten predict his or her performance in other areas, including math and reading, throughout school.

    Research shows that the more skills children bring with them to kindergarten – in basic math, reading, even friendship and cooperation – the more likely they will succeed in those same areas in school. Hence, “kindergarten readiness” is the goal of many preschool programs, and a motivator for many parents. Now it’s time…


May 15, 2018

STEM for All Video Showcase features six UW projects

stem for all logo

  Family-focused science lessons, robotics for young children and touch-based programming for the visually impaired are among the University of Washington research videos featured in the STEM for All Video Showcase, funded by the National Science Foundation. The weeklong online event, in its fourth year, highlights more than 200 projects from universities around the country…


April 26, 2018

Community efforts to prevent teen problems have lasting benefits

A University of Washington study finds that a community-based approach to substance-abuse prevention, which can include after-school activities, can affect young people into adulthood.

  Want to prevent kids from using drugs and make it stick into young adulthood? Get the community involved and intervene before they’re teens, say researchers from the University of Washington. A new, longitudinal study from the UW Social Development Research Group shows that young adults who grew up in communities that used a coordinated,…


April 16, 2018

UW Jackson School researcher: Alternative energy is key to long-term health

Access to reliable electricity is critical to public health, argues UW geoscientist Scott Montgomery. And the best way to assure both is to pursue renewable energy.

  Halting the spread of disease involves a combination of health care and societal practices — from access to doctors and vaccines to clean water and adequate resources. Many of those solutions rely on electricity and transport fuels, whether for refrigeration, diagnosis and treatment, or distribution. But with two of the major energy sources the…


April 12, 2018

UW’s Kristina Olson wins NSF Waterman Award for studies of ‘how children see themselves and the world’

Kristina Olson

  The National Science Foundation today named Kristina Olson, University of Washington associate professor of psychology, winner of this year’s Alan T. Waterman Award. The Waterman Award is the U.S. government’s highest honor for an early career scientist or engineer, recognizing an outstanding scientist under the age of 40 or within 10 years of receiving…


April 4, 2018

‘Differences can be a part of their skills’: Pilot program at UW offers on-the-job training for young adults with autism

20180307_Alan Chen UWNews Denny_0186

A national program to boost the employment prospects of young adults with autism is piloting its approach at the UW this year. At 10 locations on campus over the course of the year, interns with the program have built databases, organized libraries and maintained facilities.


March 15, 2018

New minor recognizes, celebrates Pacific Islander community

Oceania and Pacific Islander Studies photo 3

The University of Washington’s new minor in Oceania and Pacific Islander Studies debuts spring quarter. The 25-credit, interdisciplinary program is the result of a longtime effort to elevate the history and culture of an underrepresented, and often misrepresented, community.


March 12, 2018

UW study offers help to soldiers with signs of PTSD

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The University of Washington is launching a study to identify soldiers experiencing post-traumatic stress symptoms and to determine whether free, confidential, over-the-phone counseling can help them navigate resources and spur them to seek further support.


March 9, 2018

How social networks help perpetuate the ‘Cycle of Segregation’

Kyle Crowder is co-author of "Cycle of Segregation."

  Think about the last time you looked for a new apartment or house. Maybe you asked your friends or colleagues about where they lived. You thought about your route to work, or that neighborhood you always drive through on your way to your kid’s soccer practice. Many of these places were familiar to you,…


March 7, 2018

Is there a glass ceiling in academic publishing?

Student researchers at the Molecular and Cellular Biology Lab

A University of Washington study finds that women authors are significantly under-represented in high-profile academic journals.


March 1, 2018

Tri-campus survey aims to identify student struggles with housing, food costs

The housing and food survey is open to any UW student age 18 or older.

    In a region as expensive as the Puget Sound, making ends meet affects college students, too. Rent, utilities and food can run into the hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars a month – and for students without the means, it’s a daunting and sometimes compromising challenge. Urban@UW is trying to learn more about…


February 27, 2018

Mining memories for stories of ‘real black grandmothers’

Black Grandmothers featured image

LaShawnDa Pittman, a UW assistant professor of American Ethnic Studies, is collecting stories of African-American grandmothers, past and present, on her Real Black Grandmothers website.


February 22, 2018

New curriculum prioritizes tribal sovereignty, cultural respect in scientific research of American Indian, Alaska Native communities

School shot

    When scientists have conducted research in Native American communities, the process and the results have sometimes been controversial. There have been a few well-known cases, such as the 1979 Barrow Alcohol Study, in which researchers examined substance use in the tiny Arctic Circle town and issued findings to the press, before briefing the…


January 31, 2018

Reconstructing an ancient lethal weapon

wound ballistics 2

    Archaeologists are a little like forensic investigators: They scour the remains of past societies, looking for clues in pottery, tools and bones about how people lived, and how they died. And just as detectives might re-create the scene of a crime, University of Washington archaeologists have re-created the weapons used by hunter-gatherers in…


January 30, 2018

Depression, anxiety affect more than one-fourth of state’s college students

A study of college students from around the state shows the prevalence of depression and anxiety. Suicide prevention advocates say this illustrates the need for more mental health resources on campuses.

  Nearly one-third of Washington college students have experienced depression in the last year, and more than 10 percent have had thoughts of suicide, according to a new survey of young adults attending schools around the state. The survey of more than 10,000 students at 13 of Washington’s two- and four-year institutions shows the need…


January 16, 2018

A ‘touching sight’: How babies’ brains process touch builds foundations for learning

A 7-month-old baby sits in the Magnetoencephalography machine at the UW Institute for Learning & Brain Sciences. An I-LABS study shows how babies' brains register "felt touch" and "observed touch."

  Touch is the first of the five senses to develop, yet scientists know far less about the baby’s brain response to touch than to, say, the sight of mom’s face, or the sound of her voice. Now, through the use of safe, new brain imaging techniques, University of Washington researchers provide one of the…


January 11, 2018

Can the president really do that? Two UW law professors give answers in new book

University of Washington law professors Lisa Manheim and Kathryn Watts have published a new book as the anniversary of President Trump's inauguration approaches. "The Limits of Presidential Power: A Citizen's Guide to the Law" is available on Amazon.

Can the president single-handedly toss out environmental rules designed to combat global warming? Force states like Washington to help enforce federal immigration laws? Fire Robert Mueller? No, no, and not directly, say Lisa Manheim and Kathryn Watts, professors of law at the University of Washington, in a new book. The answers, of course, are more complicated…


January 5, 2018

UW ranks No. 5 nationally for social science research funding

Snowy W

    The University of Washington is ranked fifth among more than 400 U.S. colleges and universities for social science research funding, according to a new report. The Consortium of Social Science Association’s 2018 College and University Rankings for Federal Social and Behavioral Science R&D was released this week. The UW, with $38.6 million in…


January 3, 2018

Popular exhibit on Latino music debuts as a book: A Q&A with UW faculty authors of ‘American Sabor’

"American Sabor: American Sabor Latinos and Latinas in US Popular Music" by Marisol Berríos-Miranda, Shannon Dudley and Michelle Habell-Pallán, was published in December. The authors also created an American Sabor playlist.

  When “American Sabor” opened at what was then the Experience Music Project a decade ago, its University of Washington creators saw it as a chance to celebrate the extensive Latino contribution to popular music. It was a product of years of interviews and research, and an often challenging exercise in collaboration and presentation. But…


December 21, 2017

Promoting self-esteem among African-American girls through racial, cultural connections

Ethnic identity photo 2

    For African-American students, data, alongside societal attitudes and stereotypes, often present a negative picture: a wide academic achievement gap separating them from their white peers. Higher rates of discipline and absenteeism. Discrimination by other students, teachers and the larger community. And just last summer, a study indicated that black girls, from an early…


December 6, 2017

Martin Luther, Steve Jobs and aspirational faith: Q & A with UW sociologist Steve Pfaff on ‘The Spiritual Virtuoso’

candle photo

Alongside the political polarization that has permeated seemingly every issue in American life, there is a similar dichotomy in religion.On one side are those who suggest religion is dying, that’s it’s irrelevant, a force for ill and oppression, explains University of Washington sociology professor Steve Pfaff. On the other are those who say religion is…


November 30, 2017

Explore India’s ‘informal economies’ at symposium Dec. 1-2

A symposium will examine the lives of workers in India's "informal economies." Here, a woman known as Aunty Mummy is considered a go-to person in her village.

The labor of India’s lower castes — in areas such as agriculture, transportation, construction and the sex trade — occupies about 90 percent of the country’s workforce. Many of these urban jobs draw workers from rural villages, people who struggle to make a living not only for themselves, but also for the relatives they’ve left…


November 27, 2017

UW’s Doorway Project kicks off services for homeless youth

The University District includes a significant portion of King County's homeless youth population. A new effort by the University of Washington aims to help homeless young people become more self-sufficient.

  Seattle’s homeless crisis isn’t confined to one part of town – nor does it hinge on one solution. The University District community includes as much as one-third of King County’s homeless youth over any given year. It’s a neighborhood where a food bank and youth shelter are available, and where young people on the…


November 22, 2017

Two UW professors named to the American Academy of Social Work and Social Welfare

2016 SPEP Thank You Photos

Edwina Uehara, dean of the University of Washington School of Social Work, and social work professor Karen Fredriksen Goldsen have been named fellows of the American Academy of Social Work and Social Welfare. The two are among 14 new fellows to be inducted by the organization, which honors scholarship, leadership and high-impact work in the…


November 21, 2017

Pitch imperfect? How the brain decodes pitch may improve cochlear implants

ear icon

    Picture yourself with a friend in a crowded restaurant. The din of other diners, the clattering of dishes, the muffled notes of background music, the voice of your friend, not to mention your own – all compete for your brain’s attention. For many people, the brain can automatically distinguish the noises, identifying the…


November 15, 2017

What counts as nature? It all depends

The environment we grow up with informs how we define "nature," UW psychology professor Peter Kahn says. Encounters with truly wild places inspire people to preserve them.

    Think, for a moment, about the last time you were out in nature. Were you in a city park? At a campground? On the beach? In the mountains? Now consider: What was this place like in your parents’ time? Your grandparents’? In many cases, the parks, beaches and campgrounds of today are surrounded…


November 2, 2017

How air pollution clouds mental health

A University of Washington study finds that people who live in areas with high levels of air pollution also report higher levels of psychological distress.

  There is little debate over the link between air pollution and the human respiratory system: Research shows that dirty air can impair breathing and aggravate various lung diseases. Other potential effects are being investigated, too, as scientists examine connections between toxic air and obesity, diabetes and dementia. Now add to that list psychological distress,…


October 16, 2017

Tweeting rage: How immigration policies can polarize public discourse

hashtag photo

  Before a border wall became a budget bargaining chip, before the presidential pardon of a controversial sheriff and before federal policies were announced on social media, there was Arizona Senate Bill 1070, the “show me your papers” law. And of course, there was Twitter. To René D. Flores, an assistant professor of sociology at…


October 12, 2017

Using Facebook data as a real-time census

social media screen

    Determining how many people live in Seattle, perhaps of a certain age, perhaps from a specific country, is the sort of question that finds its answer in the census, a massive data dump for places across the country. But just how fresh is that data? After all, the census is updated once a…


October 11, 2017

In Seattle, cost of meeting basic needs up $30,000 in a decade

map of washington state with county boundaires

A Seattle family of four must bring in $75,000 annually to pay for basic housing, food, transportation and health and child care – an increase of 62 percent since 2006, based on a new report from the University of Washington. The city’s escalating cost of living may not be a surprise. But across the state,…


October 4, 2017

Asking kids about drugs doesn’t prompt drug use, study finds

A University of Washington study has found that asking preteens about substance use doesn't prompt them to try alcohol, tobacco or drugs.

    It is an oft-repeated fear, particularly among parents: that discussing an undesirable behavior, or even an illegal or dangerous one, may encourage kids to try it. But when it comes to asking pre-teens about alcohol, drug and tobacco use, a University of Washington-led study finds no evidence that children will, as a consequence…


September 26, 2017

Scientists come to the aid of Puerto Rican community, research station

The Cayo Santiago Research Station in Puerto Rico was heavily damaged by Hurricane Maria, which destroyed the buildings, feeding corrals, and all but one of the water cisterns necessary to support a free-ranging population of monkeys. A University of Washington faculty member is among the researchers who study there and are mobilizing a relief effort for the community.

    Researchers from the University of Washington and seven other institutions are working together to restore a Puerto Rican research station and its nearby community following the damage wrought last week by Hurricane Maria. The research station known as Monkey Island is located on Cayo Santiago, off the southeast coast of mainland Puerto Rico,…


September 25, 2017

Group project? Taking turns, working with friends may improve grades

A University of Washington study has found that social dynamics affect student performance on group projects. The more comfortable students are in the group, the better they perform.

  It has become an almost essential element of academic life, from college lecture halls to elementary classrooms: the group assignment. Dreaded by some, loved by others, group projects typically aim to build teamwork and accountability while students learn about a topic. But depending on the assignment and the structure of the groups, a project…


September 13, 2017

Offhand comments can expose underlying racism, UW study finds

microaggressions photo 2

        Blatant racism is easy to identify — a shouted racial slur, a white supremacist rally, or the open discrimination, segregation and violence of the pre-civil rights era. But more subtle forms of bias, called microaggressions, emerge in the everyday exchanges among friends and strangers alike and can offend racial and ethnic…


September 7, 2017

Q&A | Sanne Knudsen: Consumers need more protection from chemicals and pesticides

Regulation of chemicals and pesticides effectively leave it to consumers to manage their own risk of exposure, writes Sanne Knudsen, a University of Washington associate professor of law.

  Sanne Knudsen was an undergraduate in Chicago when she got her first close-up look at environmental justice. As an environmental engineering student at Northwestern University, Knudsen answered an attorney’s call for volunteers to study several neighborhoods on Chicago’s South Side, communities that had endured more than their share of pollution and exposure to chemicals….



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