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Research


September 25, 2017

UW to host $15.6M NSF-funded center for innovation, education in materials science

Photo by Katherine Turner.

The University of Washington is home to a new national center of excellence for research, education and training in materials science. The Molecular Engineering Materials Center is funded by a $15.6 million, six-year grant from the National Science Foundation as part of its highly competitive Materials Research Science and Engineering Center (MRSEC) program.


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 21, 2017

Hacking a pressure sensor to track gradual motion along marine faults

closeup of instrument tip

University of Washington oceanographers are working with a local company to develop a simple new technique that could track seafloor movement in earthquake-prone coastal areas.


September 20, 2017

Wave Glider surfs across stormy Drake Passage in Antarctica

yellow board on ship deck

A hardy ocean drone made a first-ever attempt to surf across Antarctica’s stormy Drake Passage gathering data about ocean mixing.


September 18, 2017

Catching a diversity of fish species — instead of specializing — means more stable income for fishers

The industrial croaker fishery off the coast of Uruguay is one of the fisheries where management strategies are being implemented in strong cooperation among fishers, managers and scientists. Credit: Sebastián Jiménez /DINARA

Researchers analyzed nearly 30 years of revenue and permitting records for individuals fishing in Alaskan waters and tracked how their fishing choices, in terms of permits purchased and species caught, influenced their year-to-year income volatility.


September 14, 2017

Old fish few and far between under fishing pressure

head of old halibut fish

A new study by University of Washington scientists has found that, for dozens of fish populations around the globe, old fish are greatly depleted — mainly because of fishing pressure. The paper, published online Sept. 14 in Current Biology, is the first to report that old fish are missing in many populations around the world.


People of color exposed to more pollution from cars, trucks, power plants during 10-year period

In columns A and B, red identifies locations where NO2 concentrations were higher for nonwhites than whites; blue indicates that NO2 concentrations were higher for whites than nonwhites; and white means they were equal. In column C, red indicates that the absolute difference in NO2 concentration between nonwhites and whites increased over time; blue indicates that difference decreased over time; and white indicates no change.

A new nationwide study finds that the U.S. made little progress from 2000 to 2010 in reducing relative disparities between people of color and whites in exposure to harmful air pollution emitted by cars, trucks and other combustion sources.


September 13, 2017

Climate change challenges the survival of fish across the world

john day river

  Climate change will force many amphibians, mammals and birds to move to cooler areas outside their normal ranges, provided they can find space and a clear trajectory among our urban developments and growing cities. But what are the chances for fish to survive as climate change continues to warm waters around the world? University…


UW team shatters long-range communication barrier for devices that consume almost no power

In the long-range backscatter system developed by UW researchers, this sensor uses reflected radio waves to encode and communicate information using almost zero power. It can “talk” to a receiver up to 2.8 km away.

UW researchers have demonstrated for the first time that devices that run on almost zero power can transmit data across distances of up to 2.8 kilometers — breaking a long-held barrier and potentially enabling a vast array of interconnected devices.


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

Ship exhaust makes oceanic thunderstorms more intense

lightning over dark sea

More than a decade of lightning strikes over the Indian Ocean shows for the first time that ship exhaust along major shipping routes alters thunderstorm intensity.


Land-sea experiment will track earthquakes, volcanoes along Alaska Peninsula

map of Alaska Peninsula

The National Science Foundation is funding the largest marine seismic-monitoring effort yet along the Alaska Peninsula, a region with frequent and diverse earthquake and volcanic activity. Involving aircraft and ships, the new Alaska Amphibious Community Seismic Experiment will be led by Cornell University in Ithaca, New York, with partners at the University of Washington and…


September 6, 2017

PupilScreen aims to allow parents, coaches, medics to detect concussion, brain injuries with a smartphone

photo of pupilscreen in use

University of Washington researchers are developing a smartphone app that is capable of objectively detecting concussion and other traumatic brain injuries in the field, which could provide a new level of screening for athletes and accident victims.


Earth as hybrid planet: New classification scheme places Anthropocene era in astrobiological context

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A team of researchers including the UW’s Marina Alberti has devised a new classification scheme for the evolutionary stages of worlds based on “non-equilibrium thermodynamics” — a planet’s energy flow being out of synch, as the presence of life could cause.


September 5, 2017

How governments can maintain strong public-private partnerships: Guide from Evans School’s Justin Marlowe

Justin Marlowe's fourth -- and likely final -- guide to financial literacy was published in August by Governing magazine.

The biggest risk to public-private partnerships in governing is not financial or technical, but political, says UW Evans School professor Justin Marlowe in his fourth guide to financial literacy, published by Governing magazine.


August 31, 2017

Q&A: How Idaho, Montana, North Dakota and Yellowstone National Park are confronting climate change

barn with mountains in the back

A new book focuses on climate change risks in the Northern Rocky Mountains, and how managers of public lands can prepare.


Record-low 2016 Antarctic sea ice due to ‘perfect storm’ of tropical, polar conditions

map of Antarctica

This exceptional, sudden nosedive in Antarctic sea ice last year was due to a unique one-two punch from atmospheric conditions both in the tropical Pacific Ocean and around the South Pole.


August 28, 2017

Home prices up, supply down in second quarter of 2017

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Washington state’s housing market showed the continuing effects of high demand in the second quarter of 2017, according to the Washington Center for Real Estate Research at the University of Washington The statewide median sales price rose to $337,700 in the second quarter, 6.6 percent higher than the same time period last year. This represents…


New app could use smartphone selfies to screen for pancreatic cancer

BiliScreen is a new smartphone app that can screen for pancreatic cancer by having users snap a selfie. It’s shown here with a 3-D printed box that helps control lighting conditions to detect signs of jaundice in a person’s eye.

A new app could lead to earlier detection of pancreatic cancer simply by snapping a smartphone selfie. The disease kills 90 percent of patients within five years, in part because there are no telltale symptoms or non-invasive screening tools to catch a tumor before it spreads.


August 25, 2017

As Tolstoy noted (sort of), all unhappy microbiomes are unhappy in their own way

tie-dye-microbes

The bacterial communities that live inside each of our guts are relatively similar when times are good, but when stress enters the equation, those communities can react very differently from person to person.


August 24, 2017

Scientists to create digital encyclopedia of 3-D vertebrate specimens

snake scan

A $2.5 million National Science Foundation grant will daylight thousands of specimens from their museum shelves by CT scanning 20,000 vertebrates and making these data-rich, 3-D images available online to researchers, educators, students and the public. The University of Washington is a partner institution contributing most of the fish and bat scans.


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 23, 2017

Greetings from Earth: Documents that Changed the World podcast revisits Voyager’s ‘Golden Record,’ 1977

The Voyager spacecraft showcasing where the Golden Record is mounted.

  Forty years ago this month, Planet Earth said hello to the cosmos with the launch of the two Voyager probes that used gravity to swing from world to world on a grand tour of the solar system. Each bore a two-sided, 12-inch, gold-plated copper “Golden Record” of sights and sounds from Earth and its…


August 16, 2017

Modern genetic sequencing tools give clearer picture of how corals are related

James Dimond snorkeling to collect coral in Belize. He collected 27 coral samples from different environments and with a range of branch thicknesses.

As corals face threats from warming oceans, a new study uses modern genetic-sequencing tools to help reveal the relationships between three similar-looking corals.


Computer scientists use music to covertly track body movements, activity

A person walking in a straight line.

Researchers at the University of Washington have demonstrated how it is possible to transform a smart device into a surveillance tool that can collect information about the body position and movements of the user, as well as other people in the device’s immediate vicinity. Their approach involves remotely hijacking smart devices to play music embedded with repeating pulses that track a person’s position, body movements, and activities both in the vicinity of the device as well as through walls.


UW professor Franziska Roesner named one of world’s top innovators under 35

A professor smiling

MIT Technology Review has named Franziska Roesner, University of Washington professor of computer science and engineering, one of 35 “Innovators Under 35” for 2017.


August 15, 2017

Evans School’s Scott Allard notes poverty’s changing landscape in ‘Places in Need’

"Places in Need: The Changing Geography of Poverty" by Scott Allard was published by the Russell Sage Foundation.

The number of poor people living in America’s suburbs has more than doubled over the last 25 years, with little attention from academics or policymakers, says Scott W. Allard, a professor in the Evans School of Public Policy & Governance, in his new 2017 book “Places in Need: The Changing Geography of Poverty,”


August 14, 2017

Probiotics help poplar trees clean up Superfund sites

trees in field

Researchers from the University of Washington and several small companies have conducted the first large-scale experiment on a Superfund site using poplar trees fortified with a probiotic — or natural microbe — to clean up groundwater contaminated with trichloroethylene, or TCE.


Tidally locked exoplanets may be more common than previously thought

Tidally locked bodies such as the Earth and moon are in synchronous rotation, meaning that each takes exactly as long to rotate around its own axis as it does to revolve around its host star or gravitational partner. New research from UW astronomer Rory Barnes indicates that many exoplanets to be found by coming high-powered telescopes also will probably be tidally locked — with one side permanently facing their host star, as one side of the moon forever faces the Earth.

Many exoplanets to be found by coming high-powered telescopes will probably be tidally locked — with one side permanently facing their host star — according to new research by UW astronomer Rory Barnes.


August 10, 2017

Public has rare opportunity to view work on T. rex skull

A dinosaur fossil

Starting Aug. 12, the public can watch fossil preparation of the University of Washington Burke Museum’s Tyrannosaurus rex skull “live.”


Researchers, students on annual expedition to maintain internet-connected deep-sea observatory

student working on deck

The annual maintenance cruise for the Pacific Northwest’s deep-sea observatory continues through Aug. 29. Two dozen students will participate, and more than 120 ocean instruments will get their yearly checkup.


DNA sequencing tools lack robust protections against cybersecurity risks

UW researchers have demonstrated for the first time that it is possible to remotely compromise a computer using information stored in DNA. This test tube holds hundreds of billions of copies of the exploit code stored in synthetic DNA molecules, which has the potential to compromise a computer system when it is sequenced and processed.

A new UW study finds DNA sequencing tools lack robust cybersecurity protections. In a scientific first, the team also infected a computer with synthesized DNA molecules.


August 7, 2017

UW to host Interior Department’s Northwest Climate Science Center

center logo

The University of Washington is the new host for the federally funded Northwest Climate Science Center, a consortium that supports climate-adaptation research in the Northwest.


August 3, 2017

Evans School researchers analyze Seattle’s competing arena proposals

Photo by Katherine Turner.

Researchers at the UW’s Evans School of Public Policy & Governance have released a public finance analysis of two competing proposals to develop an NBA/NHL arena in Seattle.


August 1, 2017

English professor William Streitberger honored for book on Queen Elizabeth I’s Revels Office

William Streitberger

William Streitberger, UW professor of English, has been honored for his book “The Masters of Revels and Elizabeth I’s Court Theatre.” Decades in the making, the book was published in 2016 by Oxford University Press.


July 31, 2017

University of Washington’s Livable City Year program completes inaugural partnership with Auburn

photo of downtown auburn

University of Washington students have been working with city of Auburn staff and community members throughout the past year on a wide range of projects tackling challenges around livability and sustainability in the city. Livable City Year is continuing in the 2017-2018 year in partnership with the city of Tacoma. These projects were part of the UW…


Earth likely to warm more than 2 degrees this century

bar chart

A new UW statistical study shows only 5 percent chance that Earth will warm less than 2 degrees, what many see as a “tipping point” for climate, by the end of this century.


July 27, 2017

UW building underwater robots to study oceans around Antarctica

people looking at float

Oceanographers are building swimming robots to carry out an ambitious mission gathering climate data from one of Earth’s most challenging locations: the icy water that surrounds Antarctica.


Run-up to revolution: Early American history seen through the stage in Odai Johnson’s book ‘London in a Box’

"London in a Box: Englishness and Theatre in Revolutionary America" by UW drama professor Odai Johnson was published in late spring 2017 by University of Iowa Press. The cover shows actress Nancy Hallam as the character Imogen in Shakespeare's "Cymbeline," in a painting by Charles Willson Peale, 1771.

The true cultural tipping point in the run-up to the American Revolution might have been the First Continental Congress’s decision in late October of 1774 to close the theaters in British America, says University of Washington drama professor Odai Johnson in his new book, “London in a Box: Englishness and Theatre in Revolutionary America.”


July 25, 2017

Could spraying particles into marine clouds help cool the planet?

ship that sprays clouds

A first test of humans’ ability to modify clouds would help explain the behavior of clouds and aerosols, while also testing a possible future climate emergency measure.



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