UW News


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….


September 5, 2017

Gun dealers, suicide-prevention advocates partner to save lives

Forefront logo

  With 80 percent of firearms deaths in Washington related to suicide, the scenario isn’t hard to imagine: A person thinking of ending their life enters a gun store to buy the means to do it. Unfortunately, other scenarios play out, as well: A person filling a lethal dose of a prescription medication at a…


August 28, 2017

How reading and writing with your child boost more than just literacy

Reading with your child can boost not only literacy but also study skills later in school.

  Children who read and write at home — whether for assignments or just for fun — are building long-term study and executive function skills, according to a paper from the University of Washington. And while home literacy activities have already been associated with higher test scores, the new study shows these activities also provide…


August 24, 2017

Lesbian, gay and bisexual older adults suffer more chronic health conditions than heterosexuals, study finds

A new University of Washington study funds that lesbian, gay and bisexual older adults are more likely than heterosexuals to suffer chronic health conditions.

  Lesbian and bisexual older women are more likely than heterosexual older women to suffer chronic health conditions, experience sleep problems and drink excessively, a new University of Washington study finds. In general, lesbian, gay and bisexual (LGB) older adults were found to be in poorer health than heterosexuals, specifically in terms of higher rates…


August 17, 2017

Q & A: Sarah Quinn lifts the curtain on the ‘hidden state’

The general public is often confused about what the government is and does, University of Washington Sarah Quinn writes in a new anthology published by Cambridge University Press.

  Given today’s political climate, one might assume that terms like “administrative state” and “deep state” are merely examples of polarized rhetoric. But the wariness underlying those terms goes back much further, said Sarah Quinn, an assistant professor of sociology at the University of Washington. Try colonial America. “Some historians will say this is something…


July 31, 2017

Heavier Asian Americans seen as ‘more American,’ study says

A University of Washington-led study has found that for Asian Americans, those who appear heavier not only are perceived to be more "American," but also may be subject to less prejudice directed at foreigners than Asian Americans who are thin.

  What makes people look “American”? The way they dress? Maybe their hairstyle, or mannerisms? How much they weigh? A University of Washington-led study has found that for Asian Americans, those who appear heavier not only are perceived to be more “American,” but also may be subject to less prejudice directed at foreigners than Asian…


July 27, 2017

Even babies can tell who’s the boss, UW research says

Videos featuring puppets introduced to toddlers the concept of social dominance.

This video acquaints the viewer with the puppets and introduces the idea of which is socially dominant.   The charismatic colleague, the natural leader, the life of the party – all are personal qualities that adults recognize instinctively. These socially dominant types, according to repeated studies, also tend to accomplish and earn more, from accolades…


July 24, 2017

From volunteer to decision-maker: how parents can play a greater role in schools

A new study by the University of Washington suggests schools need to partner with parents, rather than offer them limited volunteer roles. In this photo, parent volunteers read to a class of students.

  Most schools offer parents specific ways to help out: Join the PTA, chaperone a field trip, grade papers for a teacher or assist on a classroom art project. Those volunteer opportunities, however, not only reinforce the top-down power structure of schools, but also cater to mostly white, privileged families, maintaining the institutionalized racism that…


July 19, 2017

Artifacts suggest humans arrived in Australia earlier than thought

These three axeheads and a square grinding stone were among the finds at Madjedbebe. A team that included researchers from the University of Washington dated artifacts from the dig site in Australia's Northern Territory.

  When and how the first humans made their way to Australia has been an evolving story. While it is accepted that humans appeared in Africa some 200,000 years ago, scientists in recent years have placed the approximate date of human settlement in Australia further and further back in time, as part of ongoing questions…


July 3, 2017

Q & A: Janelle Taylor on ‘exemplary friends’ of people with dementia

Janelle Taylor

Dementia affects millions of people around the world; the World Health Organization estimates 9.9 million new cases each year, and the total number of people with dementia is expected to nearly triple by 2050. And for every person with dementia, there are family members and friends who also experience their loved one’s decline. University of…


June 29, 2017

As metro areas grow, whites move farther from the city center

suburb 2

    In the middle of the 20th century, cities began to change. The popularity of the automobile and the construction of interstate highways fueled the growth of suburbs, while discriminatory housing policies segregated neighborhoods and helped create the phenomenon of “white flight” away from downtowns. Decades later, the average white person still lives farther…


June 16, 2017

What the bond between homeless people and their pets demonstrates about compassion

Spirit lives in Los Angeles with his two dogs. He is one of the homeless people featured in the My Dog is My Home exhibit.

A video camera captures an interview with a man named Spirit, who relaxes in an outdoor plaza on a sunny afternoon. Of his nearby service dogs, Kyya and Miniaga, he says, “They mean everything to me, and I mean everything to them.” In another video, three sweater-clad dogs scamper around a Los Angeles park, while…


June 13, 2017

Tribal gaming certificate addresses economic reality of Indian reservations

roulette wheel 2

Managing a casino might not be the first career path envisioned with a degree from the University of Washington. But 22 tribes across Washington state depend on tribal casino resorts to provide jobs, generate revenue to operate tribal governments and promote economic development. So for UW students who call those reservations home – or simply…


June 1, 2017

Why pot-smoking declines — but doesn’t end — with parenthood

Becoming a parent doesn't necessarily deter adults from smoking marijuana, a University of Washington study has found. Marijuana has been legal in Washington state since 2012.

  Adults who smoke marijuana often cut back after becoming parents — but they don’t necessarily quit. The influence of a significant other and positive attitudes toward the drug overall, in addition to the onset of parenthood, also are factors in whether someone uses marijuana. It’s a changing landscape for marijuana use, as laws ease…


May 25, 2017

UW anthropologist: Why researchers should share computer code

Bronze W

For years, scientists have discussed whether and how to share data from painstaking research and costly experiments. Some are further along in their efforts toward “open science” than others: Fields such as astronomy and oceanography, for example, involve such expensive and large-scale equipment and logistical challenges to data collection that collaboration among institutions has become…


May 15, 2017

Where you live may impact how much you drink

Neighborhoods with greater poverty and disorganization may play a greater role in problem drinking than the availability of bars and stores that sell hard liquor, a University of Washington-led study has found.

    Neighborhoods with greater poverty and disorganization may play a greater role in problem drinking than the availability of bars and stores that sell hard liquor, a University of Washington-led study has found. While there is evidence for the link between neighborhood poverty and alcohol use, the new twist — that socioeconomics are more…


May 11, 2017

Suicide prevention messages are top priority for UW’s Forefront

Sylvan Grove columns

University of Washington advocates for suicide prevention were busy pushing for legislation in Olympia, working on programs with more than a dozen local high schools and organizing the fourth annual Husky Help & Hope walk when an online TV show about suicide suddenly captivated a teenage audience. To the staff of UW-based Forefront: Innovations in…


May 9, 2017

Early human fossils found in South African cave system

This skull, part of a skeleton that scientists have named Neo, was found in the Lesedi Chamber of the Rising Star Cave system in South Africa. Most of the bones in the middle of the face are intact, unlike another skull found in a nearby chamber of the cave system.

  An international team of scientists, including one from the University of Washington, has announced the discovery of additional remains of a new human species, Homo naledi, in a series of caves northwest of Johannesburg, South Africa. The find includes the remains of two adults and a child in the Lesedi Chamber of the Rising…


May 3, 2017

UW School of Social Work to host May 9 event ‘How Shifting Federal Priorities Impact the Poor’

Photo by Katherine Turner.

For social service agencies, pinning down funding is par for the course. But there is heightened interest in the new administration’s priorities, and whether services to the poor will be among them. That lack of certainty — and a need to share information — prompted the University of Washington School of Social Work and the…


April 28, 2017

Class on Black Lives Matter examines ideas behind the slogan

UW January 2017 Campus Shots

At first, La TaSha Levy was worried her class on Black Lives Matter would be almost out of date. After all, who hasn’t seen the signs, heard the slogans, watched — or perhaps even participated in — marches to protest racism and violence against African Americans? But that was just it, realized Levy, a new…


April 27, 2017

Can early experiences with computers, robots increase STEM interest among young girls?

A young girl takes notice of a robot project at a college event promoting science to children.

Girls start believing they aren’t good at math, science and even computers at a young age — but providing fun STEM activities at school and home may spark interest and inspire confidence. A study from the University of Washington’s Institute for Learning & Brain Sciences (I-LABS) finds that, when exposed to a computer-programming activity, 6-year-old…


April 25, 2017

With autism diagnoses on the rise, UW establishes clinic for babies

Research scientist Tanya St. John works with a baby at the University of Washington Autism Center.

To new parents, a baby’s every gurgle and glance are fascinating, from a smile at mom or dad to a reach for a colorful toy. But when a baby doesn’t look at parents and caregivers, imitate gestures and sounds, or engage in play, parents have questions. And a growing number are bringing their babies to…


April 24, 2017

UW Law School hosts ‘How We Police in America: A Case for Reform’ May 4

Law School event

Officer-involved shootings. Federal investigations. Body cameras. Civilian review boards. Black Lives Matter. Blue Lives Matter. In cities around the country, the relationship between police and community is fraught with tension — sometimes the direct result of violent incidents, sometimes the reverberations of problems elsewhere. And almost always, talk of police reform is in the air….


Military service boosts resilience, well-being among transgender veterans

trans-flag-featured

  Transgender people make up a small percentage of active-duty U.S. military personnel, but their experience in the service may yield long-term, positive effects on their mental health and quality of life. A study from the University of Washington finds that among transgender older adults, those who had served in the military reported fewer symptoms…


April 19, 2017

More than recess: How playing on the swings helps kids learn to cooperate

boy swinging

A favorite childhood pastime — swinging on the playground swing set — also may be teaching kids how to get along. The measured, synchronous movement of children on the swings can encourage preschoolers to cooperate on subsequent activities, University of Washington researchers have found. A study by the UW’s Institute for Learning & Brain Sciences…


April 13, 2017

Married LGBT older adults are healthier, happier than singles, study finds

rainbow flag

  Same-sex marriage has been the law of the land for nearly two years — and in some states for even longer — but researchers can already detect positive health outcomes among couples who have tied the knot, a University of Washington study finds. For years, studies have linked marriage with happiness among heterosexual couples….



Next page