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News releases


May 10, 2016

Brain pattern predicts how fast an adult learns a new language

Hello in different languages

Some adults learn a second language better than others, and their secret may involve the rhythms of activity in their brains. New findings by scientists at the University of Washington demonstrate that a five-minute measurement of resting-state brain activity predicted how quickly adults learned a second language. The study, published in the June-July issue of…


May 9, 2016

This five-fingered robot hand learns to get a grip on its own

This five-fingered robot hand can learn how to perform dexterous manipulation — like spinning a tube full of coffee beans — on its own, rather than having humans program its actions.

A University of Washington team of computer science and engineering researchers has built a robot hand that can not only perform dexterous manipulation – one of the most difficult problems in robotics – but also learn from its own experience.


Early Earth’s air weighed less than half of today’s atmosphere

swirly rocks

The idea that the young Earth had a thicker atmosphere turns out to be wrong. New research from the University of Washington uses bubbles trapped in 2.7 billion-year-old rocks to show that air at that time exerted at most half the pressure of today’s atmosphere. The results, published online May 9 in Nature Geoscience, reverse…


May 6, 2016

Academics, artists collaborate on UW book arts exhibit ‘Just One Look’

"Cupid and Psyche" by Mari Eckstein Gower of Redmond, Washington. Inspired by a work of the same name by Apulieus and suggested by Ashli Baker of Bucknell University.

Thirty-two colorful and creative artist books on display as part of the exhibit “Just One Look,” in University of Washington Libraries’ Special Collections department, in Allen Library. The exhibit co-curated by UW alumna Lauren Dudley with Sandra Kroupa, UW book arts and rare book curator.


May 5, 2016

Two-minute warnings make kids’ ‘screen time’ tantrums worse

picture of child using computer

Giving young children a two-minute warning that “screen time” is about to end makes transitions away from tablets, phones, televisions and other technological devices more painful, a new University of Washington study has found.


May 4, 2016

Urban planning symposium May 5 addresses ‘The Future City’

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What possible future scenarios lie ahead for urban design, and how will big data and new technologies affect science and decision-making? The UW Graduate School’s Interdisciplinary PhD Program in Urban Design and Planning will tackle such questions in a daylong symposium May 5.


May 2, 2016

New health sensing tool measures lung function over a phone call, from anywhere in the world

image of SpiroSmart being used in a Bangladesh clinic

University of Washington researchers have developed SpiroCall, a new health sensing tool that can accurately measure lung function from anywhere in the world over a simple phone call.


April 28, 2016

Wolf hunting near Denali, Yellowstone cuts wolf sightings in half

A wolf on the road in Denali.

Visitors to national parks are half as likely to see wolves in their natural habitat when wolf hunting is permitted just outside park boundaries, according to a new study.


April 27, 2016

‘Walk-DMC’ aims to improve surgery outcomes for children with cerebral palsy

Walk-DMC is a new, quantifiable measure of motor control in children with cerebral palsy. It relies on data from electromyography (EMG) shown in this demonstration, which uses electrodes to monitor muscle activity.

A UW mechanical engineer has developed a new assessment of motor control in children with cerebral palsy called Walk-DMC, which could help predict which patients are — or are not — likely to benefit from invasive surgical interventions.


April 25, 2016

Music improves baby brain responses to music and speech

Children playing with musical toys. Isolated on white background

Rock your baby in sync with music and you may wonder how the experience affects her and her developing brain. A new study by scientists at the University of Washington’s Institute for Learning & Brain Sciences (I-LABS) shows that a series of play sessions with music improved 9-month-old babies’ brain processing of both music and…


April 20, 2016

4 UW professors elected as fellows in the American Academy of Arts and Sciences

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Four University of Washington professors join 172 other academics as newly elected fellows of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the group announced Wednesday.


April 19, 2016

States with punitive justice systems have higher rates of foster care, study finds

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The number of children in foster care across the country is driven not solely by child abuse and neglect, but by states’ varying politics and approaches to social problems, a new University of Washington study finds. States with more punitive criminal justice systems tend to remove children from their homes far more frequently than those…


April 18, 2016

Board of Regents approves first University of Washington master’s program through Global Innovation Exchange

Shwetak Patel, chief technology officer for GIX.

The University of Washington Board of Regents has approved the Master of Science in Technology Innovation degree, a 60-credit interdisciplinary program developed by the Global Innovation Exchange.


Early analysis of Seattle’s $15 wage law: Effect on prices minimal one year after implementation

Photo by Katherine Turner.

Most Seattle employers in a UW-led study said in 2015 they expected to raise prices on goods and services to compensate for the city’s new $15 per hour minimum wage law — but a year after implementation such increases are not in evidence.


First Salish Sea-wide shoreline armoring study shows cumulative effects on ecosystem

A seawall along Harbor Avenue Southwest in West Seattle.

A new University of Washington study shows that impacts associated with shoreline armoring can scale up to have cumulative, large-scale effects on the characteristics of Salish Sea shorelines and the diversity of life they support.


April 14, 2016

Scientists crack secrets of the monarch butterfly’s internal compass

Monarch butterflies.

Each fall, monarch butterflies across Canada and the United States turn their orange, black and white-mottled wings toward the Rio Grande and migrate over 2,000 miles to the relative warmth of central Mexico. This journey, repeated instinctively by generations of monarchs, continues even as monarch numbers have plummeted due to loss of their sole larval food…


April 13, 2016

Sally Jewell, U.S. Secretary of the Interior, to be UW’s 2016 commencement speaker

Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell.

U.S. Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell, a 1978 graduate of the UW and a former member of the UW Board of Regents, will be the featured speaker at the University of Washington’s Commencement exercises Saturday, June 11.


April 8, 2016

UW-led research team wins $7.5M MURI grant to defend against advanced cyberattacks

photo of Radha Poovendran

A University of Washington-led research team has won a $7.5 million, five-year Multidisciplinary University Research Initiative (MURI) grant from the Department of Defense to better model and mount defenses against stealthy, continuous computer hacking attacks known as “advanced persistent threats.”


April 7, 2016

UW team stores digital images in DNA — and retrieves them perfectly

Lee Organick, a UW computer science and engineering research scientist, mixes DNA samples for storage. Each tube contains a digital file, which might be a picture of a cat or a Tchaikovsky symphony.

University of Washington and Microsoft researchers have developed one of the first complete systems to store digital data in DNA — allowing one to store data that today would fill a Walmart supercenter in a space the size of a sugar cube.


April 6, 2016

3 University of Washington professors recognized by Guggenheim Foundation

Photo by Katherine Turner.

Three University of Washington professors are among the 178 scholars, artists, and scientists from the U.S. and Canada recognized this year by the Guggenheim Foundation.


Marine preserve to help penguins in a ‘predictably unpredictable’ place

A Galapagos penguin.

New regulations by the government of Ecuador to protect the waters around the Galapagos Islands as a marine preserve, including main feeding areas for Galapagos penguins.


April 4, 2016

Scientists recommend immediate plan to combat changes to West Coast seawater chemistry

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Global carbon dioxide emissions are triggering troubling changes to ocean chemistry along the West Coast that require immediate, decisive actions to combat through a coordinated regional approach, a panel of scientific experts has unanimously concluded.


The Twittersphere does listen to the voice of reason — sometimes

WestJet tweet screenshot

In the maelstrom of information, opinion and conjecture that is Twitter, the voice of truth and reason does occasionally prevail, according to a new study from UW researchers. Tweets from “official accounts” — the government agencies, emergency responders, media or companies at the center of a fast-moving story — can slow the spread of rumors on Twitter and correct misinformation that’s taken on a life of its own.


Bilingual baby brains show increased activity in executive function regions

Institute for Learning & Brain Sciences, UW

Many brain studies show that bilingual adults have more activity in areas associated with executive function, a set of mental abilities that includes problem-solving, shifting attention and other desirable cognitive traits. Now new findings reveal that this bilingualism-related difference in brain activity is evident as early as 11 months of age, just as babies are…


April 1, 2016

To be sustainable, conservation needs to consider the human factor

The Salmon Dancer Canoe Family paddles along the shorelines of Swinomish.

The authors of a new paper in Science propose a set of social indicators that can be used to gauge how ecosystem management affects four essential factors in human lives: well-being, values, the ability to act purposefully and inequality. Considering such indicators, they note, serves not only to describe what exists but to define what is important in setting sustainability goals.


March 31, 2016

UW, gun-rights groups come together in new law to prevent suicide

ForefrontOlympiaDay

After her husband ended his life with a bullet in 2011, Jennifer Stuber went to the two Washington stores where he had bought guns to talk with the owners about suicide prevention. That bold move by Stuber, an associate professor at the University of Washington School of Social Work, eventually led to the passage of…


March 30, 2016

Tracking ‘marine heatwaves’ since 1950 – and how the ‘blob’ stacks up

Picture graph

A tally of Northern Hemisphere marine heatwaves since 1950 shows that prolonged warm periods have recurred regularly in the past, but are being pushed into new territory by climate change.


March 29, 2016

UW to create new real estate minor with gift from Windermere Real Estate founder John Jacobi

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The University of Washington will create an undergraduate minor in real estate studies thanks to a $5.4 million gift from retired Windermere Real Estate founder John Jacobi and his wife, Rosalind. The Jacobis’ gift will also support two new endowed faculty chairs at the Runstad Center for Real Estate Studies in the UW’s College of Built Environments.


March 25, 2016

Arboretum trail project underway will expand public access

A conceptual image of a bridge.

Construction started this month on the Washington Park Arboretum’s new Arboretum Loop Trail, one of the largest improvement projects to date in the Seattle public garden.


March 24, 2016

Study: Most tweets following fall Paris attacks defended Islam, Muslims

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The fall 2015 Paris terrorist attacks sparked heated social media debates about Islam. A researcher now with the UW Information School, with collaborators, analyzed millions of tweets after those attacks and found most tweets actually expressed support for Islam and Muslims.


March 21, 2016

Better safe than sorry: Babies make quick judgments about adults’ anger

Baby looks at people fighting, frightened

Adults often form fast opinions about each other’s personalities, especially when it comes to negative traits. If we see someone argue with another driver over a parking space, for instance, we may assume that person tends to be confrontational. Two new research studies with hundreds of 15-month-old infants demonstrate that babies form similar generalizations about…


March 17, 2016

Galapagos lakes reveal tropical Pacific climate since Biblical times

three people on water

University of Washington oceanographers track 2,000 years of El Niño history, showing that it can shift in strength for centuries at a time.


March 16, 2016

New technique tracks ‘heartbeat’ of hundreds of wetlands

Wetland in Douglas County, Washington.

UW researchers have developed a new method to track how wetlands in Eastern Washington behave seasonally, which will also help monitor how they change as the climate warms.


March 15, 2016

Medicine, nursing programs top national rankings; dozens more UW programs highly rated

Gerberding Hall on Red Square. Seattle campus, December 26th, 2013. Photo by Katherine B. Turner

For the 22nd time in the past 23 years, the University of Washington ranked as the No. 1 primary care medical school in the country, according to U.S. News & World Report’s 2017 Best Graduate School rankings released Tuesday. The rural medicine and family medicine programs have also led the nation since those rankings began in 1992. In a…


Smartwatches can now track your finger in mid-air using sonar

Photo of FingerIO on phone

A new sonar technology developed by University of Washington computer scientists and electrical engineers allows you to interact with mobile devices and smartwatch screens by writing or gesturing on any nearby surface — a tabletop, a sheet of paper or even in mid-air.


March 9, 2016

Quintard Taylor’s BlackPast.org history site gets redesign, first executive director

Chieko Phillips

BlackPast.org, the online reference guide to African-American history started by University of Washington history professor Quintard Taylor, is getting an executive director — Chieko Phillips — and a website redesign.


Darkening of Greenland ice sheet due mainly to older, melting snow

ice with dark patches

A study by the UW and others finds that the darkening of the Greenland ice sheet is not due to an increase in wildfires, but is a side effect of a warming climate.


March 8, 2016

Evans School, Ruckelshaus Center featured when public policy administrators gather in Seattle March 17-22

Photo by Katherine Turner.

The evolving nature of the public sector will be the topic when professionals and scholars from the UW’s Evans School for Public Policy & Governance and around the world gather in Seattle March 17-22 for the 77th annual conference of the American Society for Public Administration.


Family technology rules: What kids expect of parents

family photo

A new UW study is among the first to explore children’s expectations for parents’ technology use — revealing kids’ feelings about fairness and “oversharing,” the most effective types of household technology rules and families’ most common approaches.


March 3, 2016

$750,000 Mellon Foundation grant will fund research, collaboration in arts

bandaloop-2

The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation has awarded the University of Washington a three-year, $750,000 grant to support guest artists in developing new works, and to better integrate arts disciplines into the broader university curriculum.

The grant will support a Creative Fellowships Initiative, under which guest performing artist fellows will be recruited from around the world for one- to three-year residencies in dance, music and theater.



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