UW Today

News releases


January 13, 2016

Fewer than 1 in 25 Seattleites can really eat locally

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A new University of Washington study finds that urban crops in Seattle could only feed between 1 and 4 percent of the city’s population, even if all viable backyard and public green spaces were converted to growing produce.


Scientists solve long-standing ecological riddle

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Researchers have found clear evidence that communities rich in species are substantially healthier and more productive than those depleted of species, once complicating factors are removed.


January 12, 2016

UW computer scientists to make financial products better and more available for the poor

Photo of mPesa outlet

UW computer scientists, with a grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, are launching a new research group to develop technological solutions that will make financial products more available to the lowest-income people around the world.


January 11, 2016

Northwest winter weather: El Niño, coastal effects, no more ‘blob’

Map showing precipitation forecasts

What some have called the “Godzilla El Niño” is now lumbering ashore, right on schedule. El Niño tends to influence North American weather after the first of January, and indeed, we’re seeing warm temperatures in Alaska and much-needed rain in California. University of Washington researchers are tracking what the season will deliver to the Pacific…


West Coast study emphasizes challenges faced by marine organisms exposed to global change

Washington's northwest coast.

Along the West Coast, ocean acidification and hypoxia combine with other factors, such as rising ocean temperatures, to create serious challenges for marine life, a new study finds.


January 8, 2016

Stir no more: UW scientists show that draining speeds up bioassays

HeLa cells stained with an antibody against beta-tubulin.

Three scientists at the University of Washington have proposed a way to speed up common bioassays used in research and diagnostics. Their solution, reminiscent of the magic behind washing machines, could reduce wait times to a fraction of what they once were. As they report in the journal Small, biological assays that once took hours could instead take minutes.


January 6, 2016

What motivates people to walk and bike? It varies by income

New University of Washington research finds different factors in the built environment motivate higher-income and lower-income people to walk and bike.

The built environment influences decisions to walk or bike differently for lower- and higher-income groups, UW researchers have found. Neighborhood density, accessible destinations and fewer vehicles were associated with more walking and biking in lower-income groups, while neighborhood attractiveness was relevant for higher-income groups.


Politics, pioneers and ‘pandemonium’: 2016 History Lecture Series digs into Seattle history

The 2016 History Lecture Series, "Excavating Seattle's Histories: People, Politics, Place" will be held Wednesday evenings from Jan. 13 to Feb. 3, with an additional panel discussion, "The Future of Seattle" on Feb. 10.

Seattle’s past — from its earliest years to the turn of the 21st century — will be the topic of the Winter 2016 History Lecture Series, “Excavating Seattle’s Histories: People, Politics, Place,” running Wednesdays from Jan. 13 to Feb 3, with an additional panel discussion on Feb. 10.


January 5, 2016

Study: College graduates often challenged with life skills, motivation for ongoing learning

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Today’s college graduates tend to be highly trained and employable but often lack a key skill needed for post-college life: how to identify and ask their own questions, according to a new study.


December 29, 2015

No easy answers in UW study of legal marijuana’s impact on alcohol use

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Does legal marijuana tempt pot users to consume more alcohol — or are they likely to opt for cannabis instead of chardonnay? A University of Washington team of researchers sought to address those questions in the context of evolving marijuana policies in the United States. Their findings, published online Dec. 21 in the journal Alcoholism:…


December 28, 2015

UW center receives $16M to work on first implantable device to reanimate paralyzed limbs

Photo of CSNE researchers

The UW’s Center for Sensorimotor Neural Engineering has won a $16M NSF grant to develop the first implantable device to reanimate paralyzed limbs and restore motor function in stroke or spinal cord injury patients.


December 22, 2015

Dating historic activity at Oso site shows recurring major landslides

person standing in mud

The large, fast-moving mudslide that buried much of Oso, Washington in March 2014 was the deadliest landslide in U.S. history. Since then it’s been revealed that this area has experienced major slides before, but it’s not known how long ago they occurred. University of Washington geologists analyzed woody debris buried in earlier slides and used…


December 21, 2015

Rivers, lakes impact ability of forests to store carbon

A river in Washington state.

Forests help remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere by storing it in trees, but a sizeable amount of the greenhouse gas actually escapes through the soil and into rivers and streams, a new paper finds.


December 18, 2015

Oxygen provided breath of life that allowed animals to evolve

Earth, covered in ice.

It took 100 million years for oxygen levels in the oceans and atmosphere to increase to the level that allowed the explosion of animal life on Earth about 600 million years ago, according to a study co-authored by two University of Washington scientists and led by the University College London.


December 17, 2015

Study: Safety net fails impoverished grandmothers raising children

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Increasing numbers of grandmothers across the United States are raising their grandchildren, many of them living in poverty and grappling with a public assistance system not designed to meet their needs. LaShawnDa Pittman, an assistant professor in the University of Washington’s Department of American Ethnic Studies, interviewed 77 African American grandmothers living in some of…


December 16, 2015

UW Tacoma geoscientist tracked risks from deadly 2015 Nepal earthquake

The Annapurna Massif thrones above the city of Pokhara, and has shed several cubic kilometers of earthquake debris to form the city’s foundations.

When an earthquake struck Nepal in late April 2015, thousands of lives were lost in the initial disaster. But it was hard to assess the scale of the damage to rural areas, and still lurking were threats from unstable slopes and dammed glacier-fed lakes that could dislodge at any time to flood villages below. A…


Composting food waste remains your best option, says UW study

food scraps in compost bin

A new University of Washington study confirms that composting food scraps is better than throwing them away, and also calculates the environmental benefits associated with keeping these organic materials out of landfills.


December 15, 2015

UW conservationists celebrate new protected areas for Argentine penguins

Adult Magellanic penguin and two chicks begging.

On Dec. 3, the legislature for Argentina’s Chubut province established a new marine protected area off Punta Tombo, which would help preserve the feeding grounds for about 500,000 Magellanic penguins that make their home along this rocky stretch of Argentine coast. This is welcome news for the UW scientists who have studied these penguins for decades and advocated for their conservation.


Fuel economy improvements in US climate commitment on par with 1970s gains

Photo of 1970s Datsun ad

A new UW study finds that fuel efficiency improvements needed to meet U.S. climate commitments are on par with what the auto industry delivered in the 1970s and 1980s.


Forefront launches suicide prevention effort in three rural Washington counties

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Suicide is a tough issue to broach. How could an adult know if a child in the community might be suicidal and when to intervene? Is it appropriate to ask a friends or colleagues if they’re considering suicide? If someone is in crisis, what’s the best way to respond? Forefront: Innovations in Suicide Prevention hopes…


December 14, 2015

UW Board of Regents approves new Master of Science in Data Science for professionals

The northern and western provinces are divided into cells (the smallest administrative unit of the country), and the cell is shaded according to the average (predicted) wealth of all mobile subscribers in that cell. The southern province is overlaid with a Voronoi diagram that uses geographic identifiers in the call data to divide the region into several hundred thousand small partitions, which each may be as small as a household or a microvillage.

The UW will offer a new Master of Science in Data Science program to provide students with advanced technical expertise in managing, modeling and visualizing big data to meet the growing needs of industry and research.


Seattle’s Ballard is ripe for green-space restoration, new report says

A vacant lot at Northwest 65th Street and 7th Avenue Northwest in the West Woodland section of Ballard.

A University of Washington graduate student saw green-starved Ballard as an opportunity to call attention to areas in the neighborhood that have restoration potential. Her new report, the “Ballard Green Spaces Project,” identifies 55 sites that could be restored as natural areas for people and wildlife, increasing the neighborhood’s total amount of accessible green spaces.


History meets geography: James Gregory’s collaborative digital project tracks key 20th century social movements

James Gregory

UW historian James Gregory’s new collaborative digital project, “Mapping American Social Movements through the 20th Century” uses data visualization and interactive maps to depict the progress of various social movements — with more to come.


December 10, 2015

Trees either hunker down or press on in a drying and warming western U.S. climate

Trembling aspen.

Two University of Washington researchers have uncovered details of the radically divergent strategies that two common tree species employ to cope with drought in southwestern Colorado. As they report in a new paper in the journal Global Change Biology, one tree species shuts down production and conserves water, while the other alters its physiology to continue growing and using water.


December 9, 2015

Iceland volcano’s eruption shows how sulfur particles influence clouds

lava and big emission plume

The long, slow 2014 eruption of Iceland’s Bardarbunga volcano offers a testbed to show how sulfur emissions, from volcanoes or humans, act to brighten clouds and reflect more sunlight.


December 8, 2015

Treasured faculty member and theater professional, Sarah Nash Gates, loses battle with cancer

Sarah Nash Gates, former director of the UW School of Drama, died on Dec. 4.

The College of Arts & Sciences at the University of Washington is saddened to lose one of its most prominent faculty members and a longtime leader in the Seattle theater community, Sarah Nash Gates. Gates passed away on Friday evening, December 4, surrounded by family and close friends.


December 7, 2015

What makes Tom Hanks look like Tom Hanks?

UW researchers reconstructed have 3-D models of celebrities such as Tom Hanks from  Internet photo collections. The models can be controlled by photos or videos of another person.

UW researchers have reconstructed 3-D models of celebrities such as Tom Hanks from large Internet photo collections. The model can deliver speeches that the real actor never performed – one step toward developing fully interactive digital personas of people from family or historic photo collections.


December 4, 2015

UW project focuses on fines and fees that create ‘prisoners of debt’

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Criminals are meant to pay their debts to society through sentencing, but a different type of court-imposed debt can tie them to the criminal justice system for life and impact their ability to move forward with their lives. Though debtors’ prisons were eliminated in the United States almost two centuries ago, a modern-day version exists…


December 3, 2015

Citizen-science climate project adds logs from historic Arctic whaling ships

handwritten pages with whale sketches

A citizen science project that asks volunteers to transcribe historic ships’ logbooks to uncover data about past Arctic climate has added logbooks from hundreds of whaling ships. The hunters’ handwritten logs will provide new clues about the history of Arctic climate and sea ice.


December 2, 2015

Vessel speed biggest factor in noise affecting killer whales

Digital acoustic recording tags temporarily attached to killer whales measured vessel noise reaching the whales.

The speed of vessels operating near endangered killer whales in Washington is the most influential factor – more so than vessel size – in how much noise from the boats reaches the whales, according to a new study published today in the online journal PLOS ONE.


December 1, 2015

Washington state home prices up, sales down in third quarter of 2015

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Home sale prices increased but sales themselves were fewer in Washington state in the third quarter of 2015, according to the Runstad Center for Real Estate Studies in the UW’s College of Built Environments.


UW roboticists learn to teach robots from babies

photos of gaze experiments

A collaboration between University of Washington developmental psychologists and computer scientists has demonstrated that robots can “learn” much like babies – by experiencing the world and eventually imitating humans.


November 30, 2015

UW researchers estimate poverty and wealth from cell phone metadata

The northern and western provinces are divided into cells (the smallest administrative unit of the country), and the cell is shaded according to the average (predicted) wealth of all mobile subscribers in that cell. The southern province is overlaid with a Voronoi diagram that uses geographic identifiers in the call data to divide the region into several hundred thousand small partitions, which each may be as small as a household or a microvillage.

In developing or war-ravaged countries where government censuses are few and far between, gathering data for public services or policymaking can be difficult, dangerous or near-impossible. Big data is, after all, mainly a First World opportunity. But cell towers are easier to install than telephone land lines, even in such challenged areas, and mobile or…


November 25, 2015

University of Washington receives gold sustainability rating from STARS

STARS-gold

The University of Washington is among the most sustainable schools in North America, according to the Sustainability Tracking, Assessment and Rating System (STARS).


November 23, 2015

AAAS names four UW researchers as fellows

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Four University of Washington researchers are among 347 new fellows of the American Association for the Advancement of Science for 2015.


November 19, 2015

Sequencing algae’s genome may aid biofuel production

Chrysochromulina tobin

University of Washington scientists have sequenced the complete genetic makeup of a species of ecologically important algae, which may aid in biofuel production.


November 18, 2015

University of Washington signing White House climate pledge

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The University of Washington has joined schools across the country in signing on to a White House climate pledge. The pledge is part of the Nov. 19 White House and Higher Education Climate Day of Action. The White House and the State Department will bring together leaders from higher education institutions to call for action…


Popular Science names ‘Power Over Wi-Fi’ one of the year’s game-changing technologies

Photo of device

The Power Over Wi-Fi (PoWiFi) system developed by UW engineers is one of the most innovative and game-changing technologies of the year, according to Popular Science, which included it in the magazine’s annual “Best of What’s New” awards announced this week.


November 17, 2015

New report outlines Puget Sound region’s future under climate change

ferry with mountains

A new report by the University of Washington synthesizes all the relevant research about the future of the Puget Sound region to paint a picture of what to expect in the coming decades, and how to prepare.


November 16, 2015

UW team refrigerates liquids with a laser for the first time

Photo of crystal

Since the first laser was invented in 1960, they’ve always given off heat. University of Washington researchers are the first to solve a decades-old puzzle — figuring out how to make a laser refrigerate water and other liquids.



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