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Research


January 16, 2019

Three awards from US Energy Department to fuel UW solar cell research

Photo by Katherine Turner.

Three teams led by University of Washington researchers — Scott Dunham, Hugh Hillhouse and Devin MacKenzie — have received competitive awards totaling more than $2.3 million from the U.S. Department of Energy Solar Energy Technologies Office for projects that will advance research and development in photovoltaic materials, which are an essential component of solar cells and impact the amount of sunlight that is converted into electricity.


For 35 years, the Pacific Ocean has largely spared West’s mountain snow from effects of global warming

snowy mountain

A new study has found that since the early 1980s, a pattern of ocean temperatures and atmospheric circulation has offset most of the impact of warming on the West’s mountain snowpack.


January 15, 2019

Researchers can predict childhood social transitions

A University of Washington-led study finds that children who socially transition to the gender "opposite" their sex at birth also demonstrate strong "cross-gender" identities before the transition. Photo of two children in silhouette.

A new University of Washington study suggests that the children most apt to socially transition to the gender “opposite” their sex at birth are those who already demonstrate the strongest “cross-gender” identities, and that the transitions don’t appear to alter a child’s gender identity or preferences.


January 14, 2019

UW, partners reach milestone in program using robots to monitor world’s oceans

researchers in lab

The UW is part of an international program that has revolutionized ocean measurements. This fall, the program made its 2 millionth measurement, reporting temperature and salinity in the top mile of the world’s oceans.


January 10, 2019

Astronomers find signatures of a ‘messy’ star that made its companion go supernova

An image of a galaxy in outer space, with a bright supernova visible at its outer edge.

On Jan. 10 at the 2019 American Astronomical Society meeting in Seattle, an international team of astronomers announced that they have identified the type of companion star that made its partner in a binary system, a carbon-oxygen white dwarf star, explode. Through repeated observations of SN 2015cp, a supernova 545 million light years away, the team detected hydrogen-rich debris that the companion star had shed prior to the explosion.


Evans School researchers study options for possible Washington public bank

Justin Marlowe, professor in the UW Evans School and co-author of new state-commissioned study about possibility of a cooperative state bank in Washington.

If Washington state were to establish a public bank, what type of bank might work best? One that can provide targeted products and services to local governments across the state, says a new report by UW researchers from the Evans School of Public Policy & Governance.


January 9, 2019

First smartphone app to detect opioid overdose and its precursors

Second Chance uses sonar to monitor someone's breathing rate

UW researchers have developed a smartphone app that uses sonar to monitor someone’s breathing rate and sense when an opioid overdose has occurred.


January 8, 2019

Triangulum Galaxy shows stunning face in detailed Hubble portrait

An image of a nearby galaxy called M33.

As part of a University of Washington-led project, NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope has produced a stunningly detailed portrait of the Triangulum Galaxy, displaying a full spiral face aglow with the light of nearly 25 million individually resolved stars.


January 2, 2019

The number of single male Magellanic penguins is rising at this breeding colony. Here’s why.

A curious Magellanic penguin looking into the camera lens

Female Magellanic penguins are more likely to die at sea as juveniles, which has caused a skewed sex ratio of nearly three adult males to every female, as well as population decline of more than 40 percent since 1987 at one of their largest breeding colonies — Punta Tombo in Argentina.


How economic theory and the Netflix Prize could make research funding more efficient

campus-TILE

In a paper published Jan. 2 in PLOS Biology, two scientists at the University of Washington and North Carolina State University use the economic theory of contests to illustrate how the competitive grant-application system has made the pursuit of research funding inefficient and unsustainable — and that alternative methods, such as a partial lottery to award grants, could relieve pressure on professors and free up time for research.


December 24, 2018

New global migration estimates show rates proportionally steady since 1990, high rate of return migration

People waiting at an airport

Two University of Washington scientists have unveiled a new statistical method for estimating migration flows between countries. They show that rates of migration are higher than previously thought, but also relatively stable, fluctuating between 1.1 and 1.3 percent of global population from 1990 to 2015. In addition, since 1990 approximately 45 percent of migrants have returned to their home countries, a much higher estimate than other methods.


December 19, 2018

Researchers develop a new houseplant that can clean your home’s air

a scientist puts a plant into a glass tube

Researchers at the University of Washington have genetically modified a common houseplant to remove chloroform and benzene from the air around it.


December 18, 2018

February’s big patch of open water off Greenland? Not global warming, says new analysis

map of open water

New analysis shows that odd winds, not warming, caused the unusual patch of open water north of Greenland last February.


Salmon may lose the ability to smell danger as carbon emissions rise

adult coho salmon

New research shows that the powerful sense of smell Pacific salmon rely on for migration, finding food and avoiding predators might be in trouble as carbon emissions continue to be absorbed by our ocean.


December 17, 2018

UW Evans School study of Fauntleroy ferry service proposes improvements to technology, engagement

ferryatsunset_FeaturedImage

Suggested upgrades to technology, training and communication — and funding them appropriately — lie at the heart of recommendations to the state from UW Evans School researchers after a study of service at the Fauntleroy Ferry Terminal in West Seattle.


How a workshop about getting along became a story stoking division

A University of Washington class meets outside of Mary Gates Hall on a sunny day. Photo of students in a circle under a tree.

A small study about a workshop to bring together students of different political persuasions found that workshop participants were able to better understand their fellow students as individuals, but their attitudes about opposing beliefs, in general, did not change.


December 14, 2018

UW glaciologist gets first look at NASA’s new measurements of ice sheet elevation

Antarctic map and blue line

UW glaciologist Ben Smith shared a first look at the NASA ICESat-2 satellite’s view of Greenland and Antarctic glaciers at the American Geophysical Union’s annual meeting in Washington, D.C.


December 13, 2018

Underwater sensors for monitoring sea life (and where to find them)

lowering the wave-powered AMP frame into the water

A team at the University of Washington created a mechanical eye under the ocean’s surface, called an Adaptable Monitoring Package, or AMP, that could live near renewable-energy sites and use a series of sensors to continuously watch nearby animals. On Dec. 13, the researchers put the newest version of the AMP into the waters of Seattle’s Portage Bay for two weeks of preliminary testing before a more thorough analysis is conducted in Sequim, Washington. Meanwhile, a different AMP is collecting data off the coast of Hawaii.


Hark! UW talents — on page and disc — for the good Dawgs on your holiday shopping list

collage of books and CD covers

As the year comes to a close and festivities abound, some UW faculty creations can make great gifts for the thinking Dawg on your giving list.


December 12, 2018

Teens get more sleep, show improved grades and attendance with later school start time, researchers find

Photo by Katherine Turner.

In 2016, Seattle Public Schools pushed back the start times for the district’s 18 high schools by 55 minutes, from 7:50 a.m. to 8:45 a.m. And as hoped, teenagers used the extra time to sleep in.


Attention, please! Anticipation of touch takes focus, executive skills

A study of 6- to 8-year-old children by the University of Washington and Temple University found that the anticipation of touch was associated with executive function skills such as selective attention and working memory. Photo of children's hands.

A study by the University of Washington and Temple University examines what happens in children’s brains when they anticipate a touch to the hand, and relates this brain activity to the executive functions the child demonstrates on other mental tasks.


December 11, 2018

What social stress in monkeys can tell us about human health

A University of Washington-led study found that social status in rhesus macaques affected how the animals responded to stress. Photo of monkey looking at camera.

A new University of Washington-led study examines one key stress-inducing circumstance — the effects of social hierarchy — and how cells respond to the hormones that are released in response to that stress.


Researchers create first sensor package that can ride aboard bees

the sensor backpack

Farmers can already use drones to soar over huge fields and monitor temperature, humidity or crop health. But these machines need so much power to fly that they can’t get very far without needing a charge. Now, engineers at the University of Washington have created a sensing system that is small enough to ride aboard a bumblebee.


December 10, 2018

Ancient whale named for UW paleontologist Elizabeth Nesbitt

person with bones

A new species of whale discovered in 33-million-year-old Oregon rock has been named for Elizabeth Nesbitt, a curator at the Burke Museum and faculty member in the UW’s Department of Earth and Space Sciences.


December 6, 2018

Two-dimensional materials skip the energy barrier by growing one row at a time

Picture of how small protein molecules interact with one another.

A new collaborative study led by a research team at the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, University of California, Los Angeles and the University of Washington could provide engineers new design rules for creating microelectronics, membranes and tissues, and open up better production methods for new materials.


Biggest extinction in Earth’s history caused by global warming leaving ocean animals gasping for breath

orange and red ocean with fossil images

New research from the University of Washington and Stanford University combines models of ocean conditions and animal metabolism with published lab data and paleoceanographic records to show that the Permian mass extinction in the oceans was caused by global warming that left animals unable to breathe. As temperatures rose and the metabolism of marine animals sped up, the warmer waters could not hold enough oxygen for them to survive.


November 30, 2018

UW professors Terrance Kavanagh, Jay Shendure elected as fellows of the AAAS

Photo by Katherine Turner.

Two University of Washington researchers, Terrance Kavanagh and Jay Shendure, are among the 416 new fellows of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, announced in November.


November 29, 2018

Forests, human health, Northwest outlook: UW researchers involved in Fourth National Climate Assessment

cover of Fourth National Climate Assessment Volume II showing wildfires

University of Washington researchers contributed to the Fourth National Climate Assessment that considers impacts, risks and adaptation across the United States.


Why culture is key to improving the ‘interpretive power’ of psychology

University of Washington

Three researchers from the University of Washington Department of Psychology say existing practices overlook the importance of culture, and suggest how individuals and institutions can be more inclusive.


November 28, 2018

UW-led philosophy team receives $1.5M grant to study the ethics of neurotechnology research

A UW postdoc works with Center for Neurotechnology Young Scholars Program participant on a sensory device.

University of Washington researchers in the Center for Neurotechnology are studying how brain-computer interfaces affect whether patients feel they are in charge of their own actions.


November 27, 2018

Threatened tropical coral reefs form complex, ancient associations with bacteria, researchers say

Fish swimming in a coral reef.

In a comprehensive study of healthy corals published Nov. 22 in the journal Nature Communications, a team of scientists from the University of Washington Bothell, Pennsylvania State University and Oregon State University report that coral bacteria are a surprisingly diverse bunch — and that different sections of the coral body can host unique communities of bacteria.


November 26, 2018

Papyrus scrolls to Kindle and beyond: UW professor pens meditation on ‘the book’

"The Book," by Amaranth Borsuk, published in 2018 by MIT Press, part of the publisher's Essential Knowledge series.

What is a “book” in the digital age — and what will it become? Amaranth Borsuk, assistant professor in the UW Bothell School of Interdisciplinary Studies, discusses the idea of “the book,” from clay tablets and papyrus scrolls to the hyperlinked, multimedia format of the digital age. She has her own new book out on the topic, titled “The Book.”


UW, Tableau create interactive tool to explore more than a century of Pacific Northwest weather observations

graph with upward trend

A new, free tool with temperature and precipitation records across Washington, Oregon, Idaho and western Montana as far back as 1881 lets users play around to discover significant trends. It also includes historical snow records for Washington state.


November 20, 2018

Study brings new climate models of small star TRAPPIST 1’s seven intriguing worlds

The small, cool M dwarf star TRAPPIST-1 and its seven worlds. New research from the University of Washington speculates on possible climates of these worlds and how they may have evolved.

Not all stars are like the sun, so not all planetary systems can be studied with the same expectations. New research from a University of Washington-led team of astronomers gives updated climate models for the seven planets around the star TRAPPIST-1.


November 19, 2018

UW’s Marina Alberti to lead new NSF-funded research network to study impact of cities on Earth’s evolutionary dynamics

The cycle of eco-evolutionary feedback -- the topic of a new research coordination network funded by the National Science Foundation.

Here in what is called the Anthropocene era, humans and our urban environments appear to be driving accelerated evolutionary change in plants, animals, fungi, viruses and more — changes that could affect key ecosystem functions and thus human well-being. These interactions between evolution and ecology are called “eco-evolutionary feedback.” The National Science Foundation has awarded…


The ‘Swiss Army knife of prehistoric tools’ found in Asia, independent of ancient African or European influence

These artifacts found in China are among the nearly four dozen that reflect the Levallois technique of toolmaking. In a paper published Nov. 19 in Nature, researchers date these artifacts to between 80,000 and 170,000 years ago. Photo of various stones, shaped by knapping.

A study by an international team of researchers, including from the University of Washington, determines that carved stone tools, also known as Levallois cores, were used in Asia 80,000 to 170,000 years ago. With the find — and absent human fossils linking the tools to migrating populations — researchers believe people in Asia developed the technology independently, evidence of similar sets of skills evolving throughout different parts of the ancient world.


November 14, 2018

First tally of U.S.-Russia polar bears finds a healthy population

polar bears on rocky beach

The first assessment of polar bears that live in the biologically rich Chukchi Sea region that spans the U.S. and Russia, finds that the population is healthy and not yet suffering from declining sea ice.


New resources support tribes in preparing for climate change

people on the coast

The University of Washington Climate Impacts Group and regional tribal partners have developed a collection of resources that may be useful to tribes at any stage in the process of evaluating their vulnerability to climate change. The project is a partnership among tribes, tribal associations, universities and the federal government.


November 13, 2018

Scientists engineer a functional optical lens out of 2D materials

An image of four lenses under a microscope.

In a paper published Oct. 8 in the journal Nano Letters, a team from the University of Washington and the National Tsing Hua University in Taiwan announced that it has constructed functional metalenses that are one-tenth to one-half the thickness of the wavelengths of light that they focus. Their metalenses, which were constructed out of layered 2D materials, were as thin as 190 nanometers — less than 1/100,000ths of an inch thick.


UW communication professor Ralina Joseph’s new book navigates minefield of ‘postracial racialism’

"Postracial Resistance: Black Women, Media, and the Uses of Strategic Ambiguity," by UW communication associate professor Ralina Joseph, was published in October by New York University Press.

Ralina Joseph, associate professor of communication, discusses here new book “Postracial Resistance: Black Women, Media, and the Uses of Strategic Ambiguity,” published this October by New York University Press.



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