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Research


January 5, 2017

Arctic sea ice loss impacts beluga whale migration

A beluga whale pod in the Chukchi Sea.

A new study led by the University of Washington finds the annual migration of some beluga whales in Alaska is altered by sea ice changes in the Arctic, while other belugas do not appear to be affected.


January 4, 2017

Eelgrass in Puget Sound is stable overall, but some local beaches suffering

An eelgrass bed near Bainbridge Island, Washington.

Eelgrass, a marine plant crucial to the success of migrating juvenile salmon and spawning Pacific herring, is stable and flourishing in Puget Sound, despite a doubling of the region’s human population and significant shoreline development over the past several decades.


January 3, 2017

Songbirds divorce, flee, fail to reproduce due to suburban sprawl

Dark-eyed junco, an "exploiter" species.

New research finds that for some songbirds, urban sprawl is kicking them out of their territory, forcing divorce and stunting their ability to find new mates and reproduce successfully, even after relocating.


University of Washington-led study shows new global evidence of the role of humans, urbanization in rapid evolution

A new multi-institution study led by the UW shows more clearly than ever that urbanization is affecting the genetic makeup of species that are crucial to ecosystem health and success.


December 21, 2016

Documents that Changed the World: Sir Ronald Fisher defines ‘statistical significance,’ 1925

Editions of Sir Ronald Fisher's 1925 work "Statistical Methods for Research Workers." Story is about an episode of Joe Janes' podcast "Documents that Changed the World"

Joe Janes’ latest Documents that Changed the World podcast is about Sir Ronald Fisher, the man who set the mark of “statistical significance” for ages afterward at 5 percent, no more no less.


Study: Children can ‘catch’ social bias through nonverbal signals expressed by adults

Little girl looking up with concerned look

Most conscientious adults tend to avoid making biased or discriminatory comments in the presence of children. But new research from the University of Washington suggests that preschool-aged children can learn bias even through nonverbal signals displayed by adults, such as a condescending tone of voice or a disapproving look. Published Dec. 21 in the journal…


December 20, 2016

Researchers model how ‘publication bias’ does — and doesn’t — affect the ‘canonization’ of facts in science

a bacterium

In an article published Dec. 20 in the journal eLife, researchers present a mathematical model that explores whether “publication bias” — the tendency of journals to publish mostly positive experimental results — influences how scientists canonize facts. Their results offer a warning that sharing positive results comes with the risk that a false claim could be canonized as fact. But their findings also offer hope by suggesting that simple changes to publication practices can minimize the risk of false canonization.


December 19, 2016

UW researcher pursues synthetic ‘scaffolds’ for muscle regeneration

Miqin Zhang, a professor of materials science and engineering at the University of Washington, is looking for ways to help the body heal itself when injury, disease or surgery cause large-scale damage to one type of tissue in particular: skeletal muscle. Her goal is to create a synthetic, porous, biologically compatible “scaffold” that mimics the normal extracellular environment of skeletal muscle — onto which human cells could migrate and grow new replacement fibers.


Investing in fisheries management improves fish populations

Fishing boats in coastal Peru.

Research published this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences suggests that successful fisheries management can be best achieved by implementing and enforcing science-based catch or effort limits.


December 16, 2016

What makes influential science? Telling a good story

laptop keyboard

Researchers from the University of Washington have found that scientific papers written in a more narrative style were more influential among peer-reviewed studies in the climate change literature. Their results were published Dec. 15 in the journal PLOS ONE.


December 15, 2016

Underwater volcano’s eruption captured in exquisite detail by seafloor observatory

instrument on black lava

The cracking, bulging and shaking from the eruption of a mile-high volcano where two tectonic plates separate has been captured in more detail than ever before. A University of Washington study published this week shows how the volcano behaved during its spring 2015 eruption, revealing new clues about the behavior of volcanoes where two ocean…


December 14, 2016

In Stockholm ceremony, UW professor emeritus David Thouless receives Nobel Physics Prize

The Nobel Prize Ceremony

On Dec. 10 in Stockholm, David James Thouless, University of Washington professor emeritus of physics, received the Nobel Prize in Physics from King Carl XVI Gustaf of Sweden.


Businesses shape international law through ‘astroturf activism,’ paper finds

The furor over the 2010 Citizens United decision drew intense scrutiny to the role of corporate money in U.S. politics and raised questions about the influence of businesses in American lawmaking. But corporate interests also play a powerful role in international legal processes, sometimes by covertly creating or co-opting non-governmental organizations to lobby lawmakers on…


December 13, 2016

Studies of vulnerable populations get a ‘bootstrapped’ boost from statisticians

a crowd of people in a building

In a paper published online Dec. 7 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, University of Washington researchers report on a statistical approach called “tree bootstrapping” can help social scientists study hard-to-reach populations like drug users.


December 12, 2016

Mountain glaciers are showing some of the strongest responses to climate change

mountain range with glaciers

A University of Washington study addresses controversies over the cause of mountain glacier retreat, and finds that for most glaciers the observed retreat is more than 99 percent likely due to climate change.


December 8, 2016

New study traces the marsupial origins in N. America, finds mammals during Age of Dinosaurs packed a powerful bite

an extinct mammal

A new study by paleontologists at the Burke Museum of Natural History & Culture and the University of Washington describes an early marsupial relative called Didelphodon vorax that lived alongside dinosaurs and had, pound-for-pound, the strongest bite force of any mammal ever recorded.


Frequently asked questions: odontoma in a gorgonopsian

Sketch of an extinct animal.

Answers to frequently asked questions about a 255-year-old tumor in a ‘pre-mammal.’


Fossilized evidence of a tumor in a 255-million-year-old mammal forerunner

A tumor next to a tooth.

University of Washington paleontologists have discovered a benign tumor made up of miniature, tooth-like structures embedded in the jaw of an extinct ‘mammal-like’ gorgonopsian. Known as a compound odontoma, this type of tumor is common to mammals today. But this animal lived 255 million years ago, before mammals even existed.


December 6, 2016

Put people at the center of conservation, new study advises

fishing boats off the coast of Thailand

People must be part of the equation in conservation projects to increase local support and effectiveness, according to a new study by the University of Washington and other institutions.


USDOT awards $14M for mobility research at UW-led transportation center

The U.S. Department of Transportation has awarded approximately $14 million over five years to a multi-university, regional transportation center led by the University of Washington to fund research aimed at improving the mobility of people and goods across the Pacific Northwest.


December 5, 2016

No peeking: Humans play computer game using only direct brain stimulation

UW researchers have published the first demonstration of humans playing a simple, two-dimensional computer game using only input from direct brain stimulation — without relying on any usual sensory cues from sight, hearing or touch.


December 1, 2016

For the first time, scientists catch water molecules passing the proton baton

Water conducts electricity, but the process by which this familiar fluid passes along positive charges has puzzled scientists for decades. But in a paper published in the Dec. 2 in issue of the journal Science, an international team of researchers has finally caught water in the act — showing how water molecules pass along excess charges and, in the process, conduct electricity.


November 30, 2016

What makes Bach sound like Bach? New dataset teaches algorithms classical music

MusicNet is the first publicly available large-scale classical music dataset designed to allow machine learning algorithms to tackle everything from automated music transcription to listening recommendations based on the structure of music itself.


November 29, 2016

In one-two punch, researchers load ‘nanocarriers’ to deliver cancer-fighting drugs and imaging molecules to tumors

Tiny particles that can deliver chemotherapy drugs.

In a paper published Sept. 27 in the journal Small, scientists at the University of Washington describe a new system to encase chemotherapy drugs within tiny, synthetic “nanocarrier” packages, which could be injected into patients and disassembled at the tumor site to release their toxic cargo.


November 28, 2016

Our closest worm kin regrow body parts, raising hopes of regeneration in humans

Five days after being cut. A rudimentary head, including the mouth and proboscis, has formed.

A new study of one of our closest invertebrate relatives, the acorn worm, reveals that regenerating body parts might one day be possible.


November 22, 2016

New grasses neutralize toxic pollution from bombs, explosives and munitions

Grass photo

UW engineers have developed the first transgenic grass species that can take up and destroy RDX — a toxic compound that has been widely used in explosives since World War II and contaminates military bases, battlegrounds and some drinking water wells.


November 21, 2016

Ocean acidification study offers warnings for marine life, habitats

Sea grass beds, like these off the coast of British Columbia, Canada, might buffer the impacts of ocean acidification

Acidification of the world’s oceans could drive a cascading loss of biodiversity in some marine habitats, according to research published Nov. 21 in Nature Climate Change.


How to monitor global ocean warming – without harming whales

map with stripes

Tracking the speed of internal tides offers a cheap, simple way to monitor temperature changes throughout the world’s oceans.


November 18, 2016

Q&A: Harry Stern discusses historical maps, the Northwest Passage and the future of Arctic Ocean shipping

Historic map with red markings

See also: “How Capt. James Cook’s intricate 1778 records reveal global warming today in Arctic” Seattle Times, Nov. 16 Harry Stern, a polar scientist at the University of Washington’s Applied Physics Laboratory, has been studying the Arctic Ocean for decades, and sailed part of the Northwest Passage in 2009. Stern’s latest work uses the earliest…


November 16, 2016

Large forest die-offs can have effects that ricochet to distant ecosystems

dead conifers on slope

Major forest die-offs due to drought, heat and beetle infestations or deforestation could have consequences far beyond the local landscape. Wiping out an entire forest can have significant effects on global climate patterns and alter vegetation on the other side of the world.


November 15, 2016

Study provides insight into children’s race and gender identities

Diverse group of children

Children’s knowledge and use of race and gender labels have been well-explored by researchers, but how kids think about their own identities in those contexts, especially before adolescence, is less clear. A new study from the University of Washington provides a rare glimpse into how children perceive their social identities in middle childhood. The research…


November 10, 2016

How lightning strikes can improve storm forecasts

Research shows that real-time lightning observations could significantly improve forecasts of large storm events.


November 8, 2016

Clues in poached ivory yield ages and locations of origin

Elephant tusks

More than 90 percent of ivory in large, seized shipments came from elephants that died less than three years before, according to a new study from a team of scientists at the University of Utah, the University of Washington and partner institutions. They combined a new approach to radiocarbon dating of ivory samples with genetic analysis tools developed by UW biology professor Sam Wasser.


November 7, 2016

Telephone-based intervention shows promise in combating alcohol abuse among soldiers

Alcohol abuse is pervasive in the military, where a culture of heavy drinking and the stress of deployment lead many soldiers down a troubled path. Almost half of active-duty military members in the United States — 47 percent — were binge-drinkers in 2008, up from 35 percent a decade earlier. Rates of heavy drinking also…


Mislabeled seafood may be more sustainable, new study finds

Fish labeled red snapper seen on ice in a fish market.

A University of Washington study is the first to broadly examine the ecological and financial impacts of seafood mislabeling. The paper, published online Nov. 2 in Conservation Letters, finds that in most cases, mislabeling actually leads people to eat more sustainably, because the substituted fish is often more plentiful and of a better conservation status than the fish on the label.


November 2, 2016

Devin Naar’s book ‘Jewish Salonica’ tells of city’s transition from Ottoman Empire to Greece

"Jewish Salonica: Between the Ottoman Empire and Modern Greece" was published in September by Stanford University Press.

Prof. Devin Naar of the Jackson School and the Department of History discusses his new book, “Jewish Salonica: Between the Ottoman Empire and Modern Greece,”


New study co-authored by UW geologists looks at what lies below Mount St. Helens

snow-capped mountain in fall

Research that peers below Mount St. Helens finds that the material below the western and eastern half of the mountain is different material and temperatures, and suggests that the source of explosive magma is coming from the east.


Tricking moths into revealing the computational underpinnings of sensory integration

moth

A research team led by University of Washington biology professor Tom Daniel has teased out how hawkmoths integrate signals from two sensory systems: vision and touch.


October 28, 2016

Interdisciplinary inspiration: Special journal edition honors multitalented UW alum, NOAA economist

In a tribute to a local natural resources economist’s life and career, former colleagues and collaborators — including several UW researchers and many alums — have contributed articles published this week in a special edition of the environmental science journal Coastal Management.


October 27, 2016

Book by political scientist Victor Menaldo debunks notion of ‘resource curse’

"The Institutions Curse: National Resources, Politics, and Development," by UW political scientist Victor Menaldo.

“The Institutions Curse,” a new book by UW political scientist Victor Menaldo, finds a new explanation for the “resource curse” problem — the idea that resource-rich countries tend to be burdened with corrupt governments and underdeveloped economies.



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