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Research


February 4, 2016

‘Pushback’ against constant connectivity also reflected in images, study follow-up finds

In a follow-up to a 2014 study, Ricardo Gomez of the University of Washington Information School and co-authors have found that people's desire to retreat from a life of constant connectivity is expressed on the web in images as well and powerfully as in text.

People expressing the wish to resist constant online connectivity — dubbed “pushback” by University of Washington Information School researchers — is manifested as powerfully in images as in text, further study has found.


February 2, 2016

UW awarded private, public grants to develop earthquake early warning tool

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The UW is among West Coast universities awarded new funding to further develop ShakeAlert, an earthquake early warning system for the region.


Reflections on the habitability of — Planet Earth

Astronomers at the UW-based Virtual Planetary Laboratory have created an index to rank the habitability of exoplanets, or those outside the solar system.

We know the Earth is habitable because — well, here we are. But would it look like a good candidate for life from hundreds of light-years away?


Risk of lead poisoning from urban gardening is low, new study finds

Kids get creative with kale in Tacoma, Washington.

A University of Washington study looked at potential risks associated with growing vegetables in urban gardens and determined that the benefits of locally produced vegetables in cities outweigh any risks from gardening in contaminated soils.


February 1, 2016

UW seismologist speaking at White House earthquake preparedness summit

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UW seismologist John Vidale will participate in a White House summit focusing on national earthquake preparedness.


January 29, 2016

Moon’s tidal forces affect amount of rainfall on Earth

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Satellite data show that the moon’s gravity puts a slight damper on rainfall on Earth.


January 28, 2016

Study shows U.S. has greater link between low birth weight and inequality

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Health disparities are common in developed countries, including the U.S., but at what age those inequities take root and how they vary between countries is less clear. New research from the University of Washington compares the link between income, education and low birth weight in the United States with those in three comparable countries: the…


January 26, 2016

Mathematical model explains huge recurring rainstorms in the tropical Indian and Pacific oceans

person with weather balloon

A new model explains the fundamental features of the Madden-Julian Oscillation, which some scientists predict will be the “next El Nino.”


January 25, 2016

New handheld, pen-sized microscope could ID cancer cells in doctor’s offices and operating rooms

Microscope photo

UW mechanical engineers are developing a handheld microscope to help doctors and dentists distinguish between healthy and cancerous cells in an office setting or operating room.


January 20, 2016

Bluetooth and Wi-Fi sensing from mobile devices may help improve bus service

bus photo

UW transportation engineers have developed an inexpensive system to sense Wi-Fi and Bluetooth signals from bus passengers’ mobile devices and collect data to build better transit systems.


January 19, 2016

This smartphone technology 3-D maps your meal and counts its calories

NutriRay 3D

A new laser mapping technology and smartphone app developed by University of Washington electrical engineers allows you to point your phone at a plate of food and get an estimate of the total calories and nutrition.


January 15, 2016

Salsa dance, commerce explored in Juliet McMains’ book ‘Spinning Mambo into Salsa’

UW dance professor Juliet McMains' book "Spinning Mambo Into Salsa: Caribbean Dance in Global Commerce," was published in 2015 by Oxford University Press.

Dance professor Juliet McMains discusses her book “Spinning Mambo into Salsa: Caribbean Dance in Global Commerce,” published by Oxford University Press.


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

Quiet quasar has apparently eaten its fill

quasar and spectrum

Astronomers with the Sloan Digital Sky Survey (SDSS) announced that a distant quasar ran out of gas. Their conclusions, reported Jan. 8 at the American Astronomical Society meeting in Kissimmee, Florida, clarify why quasar SDSS J1011+5442 changed so dramatically in the handful of years between observations.


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.


December 29, 2015

#BestofUW: Top news stories of 2015

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From a new president and lasers cooling liquids to spotting rare sea creatures and major collaborations, great things have happened at the University of Washington in 2015. Here’s a look back at the top stories of the year. These stories were chosen based on the total number of views they received on our website and are not in any particular order….


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

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.


December 14, 2015

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

Culture wars, Christianity at heart of UW political scientist Mark Smith’s book ‘Secular Faith’

Mark A. Smith's "Secular Faith: How Culture Has Trumped Religion in American Politics" was published in September by University of Chicago Press.

Mark A. Smith is a University of Washington professor of political science and adjunct professor of comparative religion. He is the author of “Secular Faith: How Culture Has Trumped Religion in American Politics,” published in September by University of Chicago Press. He answered a few questions about his book for UW Today. What’s the concept…


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.



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