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Research


February 29, 2016

Life or illusion? Avoiding ‘false positives’ in the search for living worlds

New research from the University of Washington-based Virtual Planetary Laboratory will help astronomers better identify and rule out "false positives" in the ongoing search for life. Shown is a NASA illustration of Kepler 62E about 1,200 light-years away in the constellation Lyra.

New research from the UW-based Virtual Planetary Laboratory will help astronomers better identify — and thus rule out — “false positives” in the search for life beyond Earth.


Doctor, patient expectations differ on fitness and lifestyle tracking

Image of phones with running apps

With apps and activity trackers measuring every step people take, morsel they eat, and each symptom or pain, patients commonly arrive at doctor’s offices armed with self-tracked data. Yet health care providers lack the capacity or tools to review five years of Fitbit logs or instantaneously interpret data patients have been collecting about themselves, according to new UW research.


NASA data used to track groundwater in Pakistan

Picture of groundwater fieldwork

Pakistan’s water managers are using NASA satellites to more effectively monitor groundwater supplies, thanks to a partnership with UW civil and environmental engineers. It’s part of a larger effort to use the vast amount of data and observations collected by Earth-orbiting satellites to better quality of life in developing countries.


Statewide home sales, affordability up in fourth quarter of 2015

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Home sale prices were up fractionally in the fourth quarter of 2015 compared to the third quarter but up 9.7 percent compared with the previous year, according to the UW’s Runstad Center for Real Estate Studies.


February 26, 2016

Transgender children supported in their identities show positive mental health

Kristina Olson

Studies of mental health among transgender people in the United States have been consistently grim, showing higher rates of depression, anxiety and suicide. But almost nothing is known about the mental health of a new and growing generation of transgender Americans — prepubescent children who are living openly as transgender with the support of their…


February 25, 2016

Driverless cars could increase reliance on roads

Photo of driverless car

Driverless vehicles could intensify car use — reducing or even eliminating promised energy savings and environmental benefits, a new study co-authored by a University of Washington researcher finds. If people can work, relax and even hold meetings in their fully automated vehicles, they may drive more.


Documents that Changed the World: The Declaration of Independence’s deleted passage on slavery, 1776

The latest installment of Information School professor Joe Janes' podcast series Documents that Changed the World discusses the 168 powerful words condemning slavery that were removed from the Declaration of Independence.

The latest installment of Information School professor Joe Janes’ podcast series Documents that Changed the World discusses 168 powerful words condemning slavery that were excised from the Declaration of Independence at the last minute.


Herring fishery’s strength is in the sum of its parts, study finds

Pacific herring.

Just like a strong financial portfolio contains shares from different companies, the diverse subpopulations of herring from different bays and beaches around Puget Sound collectively keep the total population more stable, a new study finds.


February 24, 2016

University of Washington, Gonzaga University announce UW medical school partnership, launch initiative to advance medical education and research in Spokane region

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The University of Washington and Gonzaga University have signed an agreement to continue, enhance and expand medical education and research in Spokane.


Clean, efficient cookstoves from UW-industry partnership to be manufactured in Kenya

Photo of woman testing stove in Kenya

A more efficient and clean wood-burning cookstove — developed by Vashon Island’s BURN Design Lab and UW mechanical engineers — will reduce the amount of fuel families need to collect or buy by 55 percent. It will also reduce exposure to the harmful particulate pollution produced by traditional cooking flames.


February 23, 2016

For weather forecasting, precise observations matter more than butterflies

thunderstorm with butterflies

Small disturbances, like the flapping of a butterfly’s wings, don’t really matter for weather forecasts. More important is boosting the accuracy of observations at larger scales.


UW engineers achieve Wi-Fi at 10,000 times lower power

UW computer scientists and electrical engineers have generated "passive" Wi-Fi transmissions using 10,000 times less power.

With “Passive Wi-Fi,” UW computer scientists and electrical engineers have generated Wi-Fi transmissions using 10,000 times less power than conventional methods. The system can transmit Wi-Fi signals at rates up to 11 megabits per second — lower than maximum Wi-Fi speeds but 11 times faster than Bluetooth — that can be decoded on any of the billions of devices with Wi-Fi connectivity.


Four UW scientists awarded Sloan Fellowships for early-career research

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Four faculty members at the University of Washington have been awarded early-career fellowships from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. The new Sloan Fellows, announced Feb. 23, include Bingni Brunton, assistant professor of biology; Christopher Laumann, assistant professor of physics; Matthew McQuinn, assistant professor of astronomy; and Emina Torlak, assistant professor of computer science and engineering….


February 22, 2016

University of Washington named a ‘top producer’ of Fulbright students

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The University of Washington is one of the top producers of Fulbright students for 2015-16, according to lists released Monday in the Chronicle of Higher Education.


February 19, 2016

UW part of team that drilled first deep ice core at the South Pole

red tents on snow

UW glaciologists helped drill the first deep ice core at the South Pole, which will provide new clues to Antarctica’s climate history.


Dangerous fishing may be endangered, new study finds

Fishermen place Sablefish pots off the coast of Half Moon Bay, California

A new study of fishing practices found that the “risky” behavior that makes fishing one of the most dangerous lines of work dropped sharply following the adoption of catch shares management in the West Coast fixed gear sablefish fishery.


February 18, 2016

Three UW professors win Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers

Shwetak Patel, Luke Zettlemoyer, David Masiello (left to right)

Three members of the UW faculty have received the 2016 Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers, the highest honor given by the U.S. government to early-career scientists and engineers.


February 12, 2016

Caught in the act: UW astronomers find a rare supernova ‘impostor’ in a nearby galaxy

The galaxy NGC 300

UW astronomers Breanna Binder and Ben Williams have identified a rare type of ‘supernova impostor’ in a nearby galaxy, with implications for how scientists look at the short, complex lives of massive stars.


Rare beluga data show whales dive to maximize meals

Belugas observed among West Greenland sea ice.

As the Arctic continues to change due to rising temperatures, melting sea ice and human interest in developing oil and shipping routes, it’s important to understand belugas’ baseline behavior, argue the authors of a new paper.


UW scientists create ultrathin semiconductor heterostructures for new technological applications

An illustration of the strong valley exciton interactions and transport in a 2-D semiconductor heterostructure.

University of Washington scientists have successfully combined two different ultrathin semiconductors — each just one layer of atoms thick and roughly 100,000 times thinner than a human hair — to make a new two-dimensional heterostructure with potential uses in clean energy and optically-active electronics.


February 11, 2016

Male biology students consistently underestimate female peers, study finds

GirlInLab

Female college students are more likely to abandon studies in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) disciplines than their male classmates, and new research from the University of Washington suggests that those male peers may play a key role in undermining their confidence. Published this week in the journal PLOS ONE, the study found that…


Bellingham Bay buoy an opportunity to observe marine waters for Northwest Indian College, world

Preparing to launch the new buoy, named Se’lhaem, in Bellingham Bay.

The Center for Coastal Margin Observation and Prediction, through its education partner the University of Washington, is deploying an oceanographic observing buoy in Bellingham Bay this week that will allow Northwest Indian College students both hands-on experience with the technology as well as the ability to study the data from their computers, through the Northwest Association of Networked Ocean Observing Systems, NANOOS.


Gravitational waves detected 100 years after Einstein’s prediction

The LIGO facility in Hanford, Washington. Over 1,000 scientists from 15 countries make up the LIGO Scientific Collaboration.

For the first time, scientists have observed ripples in the fabric of spacetime called gravitational waves, arriving at the Earth from a cataclysmic event in the distant universe. This confirms a major prediction of Albert Einstein’s 1915 general theory of relativity and opens an unprecedented new window onto the cosmos.


February 8, 2016

UW biology professor is a finalist for top conservation prize

Dee Boersma

P. Dee Boersma, a University of Washington professor of biology and Wadsworth Endowed Chair in Conservation Science, is one of six finalists for the prestigious Indianapolis Prize for conservation. Boersma is the first UW faculty member nominated for this prize — the highest honor for animal conservationists — which has been awarded every other year since 2006.


UW’s Tom Anderson elected to National Academy of Engineering

Tom Anderson portrait

Tom Anderson, a University of Washington professor of computer science and engineering and alumnus, has been elected to the National Academy of Engineering. Also elected are UW civil engineering alumnus Jon Magnusson and computer science alumnus Albert Greenberg.


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

oscillating graph

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

photo illustration

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.



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