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Science


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.


December 5, 2016

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

The UW researchers used a magnetic coil placed at the back of the skull to noninvasively stimulate test subjects’ brains. Players used the absence or presence of phosphenes — blobs of light that appear when researchers stimulate a specific region of the visual cortex — to guide them through a maze without actually seeing the maze.

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

The many worlds of UW astronomer — and astrobiologist — Woody Sullivan

Woody Sullivan

UW astronomer and astrobiologist Woody Sullivan discusses recent work and future plans in a multifaceted career that’s changing gears, but far from winding down.


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

water-drop-TILE

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 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.


2 UW scientists lead effort to craft ‘blueprint’ for holistic fisheries management

A herring fishing boat.

Two University of Washington professors are leading an effort to help U.S. fisheries consider the larger marine environment, rather than just a single species, when managing a fishery.


November 10, 2016

How lightning strikes can improve storm forecasts

flash-1043778_1920

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

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 3, 2016

Electrical engineering lecture series to explore compressed sensing

David Donoho

The Department of Electrical Engineering’s 2016 Lytle Lecture series will explore bridging theory and practice in compressed sensing, which has enabled speedups in medical imaging and scientific signal processing.


November 2, 2016

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

Mark Plummer, 1975

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 26, 2016

Completed boardwalk trail in Yesler Swamp offers access to wildlife, natural areas

The view from Yesler Swamp.

The UW’s Yesler Swamp, part of the Union Bay Natural Area along Lake Washington, has a newly completed, fully handicapped-accessible boardwalk trail that loops throughout the wetland, offering opportunities for birdwatching, exercise and a chance to experience nature in the heart of the city.


For the first time in humans, researchers use brain surface stimulation to provide ‘touch’ feedback to direct movement

CSNE M.D./Ph.D. student and GRIDLab member David Caldwell tests the hardware used for stimulating and recording a patient’s brain surface, along with a cyber glove to track hand joint angles and finger motions.

For the first time in humans, UW Center for Sensorimotor Neural Engineering (CSNE) researchers have used direct stimulation of the human brain surface to provide basic sensory feedback through artificial electrical signals, enabling patients to control movement while opening and closing their hand.


October 24, 2016

Nanometer-scale image reveals new details about formation of a marine shell

circular core with spikes radiating out

Oceanographers used tools developed for semiconductor research to view the formation of a marine shell in the most detail yet, to understand how organisms turn seawater into solid mineral.


Turning your living room into a wireless charging station

graphic of wireless power delivery system

A flat-screen panel that resembles a TV on your living room wall could one day remotely charge any device within its line of sight, according to new research from UW and Duke University engineers.


October 21, 2016

Research in complex computational problems snares Packard honors for UW’s Thomas Rothvoss

UW assistant professor Thomas Rothvoss.

The David and Lucile Packard Foundation has awarded a prestigious fellowship to University of Washington assistant professor Thomas Rothvoss to fuel his passion to balance precision and efficiency in complex mathematical calculations. The Packard Foundation Fellowships for Science and Engineering honor early-career academics pursuing innovative research in all fields of science and engineering. “It’s a…


October 19, 2016

Popular Science picks DNA data storage project for 2016 ‘Best of What’s New’ Award

Lee Organick, a UW computer science and engineering research scientist, mixes DNA samples for storage. Each tube contains a digital file, which might be a picture of a cat or a Tchaikovsky symphony.

A technique to store and retrieve digital data in DNA developed by University of Washington and Microsoft researchers is one of the most innovative and game-changing technologies of the year, according to Popular Science’s 2016 “Best of What’s New” Awards.


October 12, 2016

In new book, UW’s Estella Leopold revisits childhood at the family shack, described in Aldo Leopold’s best-seller ‘A Sand County Almanac’

Cover for "Stories from the Leopold Shack: Sand County Revisited" by Estella Leopold.

Estella Leopold, a University of Washington professor emeritus of biology, has written a new memoir of her formative years, “Stories from the Leopold Shack: Sand County Revisited.” She describes life on the land where her father, Aldo Leopold, practiced the revolutionary conservation philosophy described in his famous book of essays “A Sand County Almanac.”


As online retailing booms, new Urban Freight Lab to work with industry, SDOT on delivery challenges

In dense commercial neighborhoods with limited parking, large truck drivers may resort to parking in the center lane while they make deliveries

As online retailing booms, the new UW Urban Freight Lab will partner with UPS, Costco, Nordstrom and SDOT to research solutions for businesses delivering goods in urban settings and cities trying to manage limited street space.


October 11, 2016

Morel mushrooms pop up, cluster together after wildfires

morel mushroom

A new study finds that morel mushrooms cluster in groups across burned areas in the forest after a wildfire. It’s one of the only scientific studies to actually quantify morels’ abundance after a fire.


October 5, 2016

Atlantic Ocean’s slowdown tied to changes in the Southern Hemisphere

blue maps of oceans with colored arrows

Unlike in the movies, and in some theories of climate change, the recent slowdown of Atlantic Ocean circulation is not connected with the melting of the Arctic sea ice. Instead, it seems to be connected to shifts around the southern tip of Africa.


$4M grant funds new UW RAPID Facility to investigate natural disasters worldwide

LIDAR scan of earthquake damaged home

A new UW disaster investigation center funded by a $4 million National Science Foundation grant will collect and analyze critical data that’s often lost in the immediate aftermath of hurricanes and earthquakes but that can help create more resilient communities.


October 4, 2016

UW Professor Emeritus David J. Thouless wins Nobel Prize in physics for exploring exotic states of matter

An illustration of how “heavy water” within the Sudbury Neutrino Observatory detects neutrinos from the sun.

The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences announced Tuesday that David James Thouless, professor emeritus at the University of Washington, will share the 2016 Nobel Prize in physics with two of his colleagues. Thouless splits the prize with Professor F. Duncan M. Haldane of Princeton University and Professor J. Michael Kosterlitz of Brown University “for theoretical discoveries of topological phase transitions and topological phases of matter,” according to the prize announcement from the Academy. Half the prize goes to Thouless while Haldane and Kosterlitz divide the remaining half. Thouless is the UW’s seventh Nobel laureate, and second in physics after Hans Dehmelt in 1989.


Oct. 10 bioengineering lecture focuses on accelerating drug delivery

Kinam Park

Accelerating growth in effectively delivering new oral and transdermal drug delivery techniques will be the focus of the University of Washington Department of Bioengineering’s 2016 Allan S. Hoffman Lecture on Oct. 10.


October 3, 2016

New protein bridges chemical divide for ‘seamless’ bioelectronics devices

A top view of GrBP5 nanowires on a 2-D surface of graphene.

In a paper published Sept. 22 in Scientific Reports, engineers at the University of Washington unveiled peptides that could help bridge the gap where artificial meets biological — harnessing biological rules to exchange information between the biochemistry of our bodies and the chemistry of our devices.


September 30, 2016

CO2 record at Mauna Loa, the music video: The sounds of climate change

smokestacks and smoke

University of Washington scientists have put world’s longest-running measure of atmospheric carbon dioxide to music. The result is a 90-second rendition of human-induced climate change: The video project was done by Judy Twedt, a UW doctoral student in atmospheric sciences, and Dargan Frierson, a UW associate professor of atmospheric sciences and amateur musician. Their techno…


September 29, 2016

UW gets NOAA grant to begin testing new forecast for toxic shellfish

animation of model

UW oceanographers are working on a system that will act like a ‘weather forecast’ for Pacific Northwest harmful algal blooms.


Ocean conditions contributed to unprecedented 2015 toxic algal bloom

map with animal icons

A study led by researchers at the University of Washington and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration connects the unprecedented West Coast toxic algal bloom of 2015 to the unusually warm ocean conditions — nicknamed “the blob” — in winter and spring of that year.


September 27, 2016

NSF award to launch citizen science initiative across Pacific Rim

Marco Hatch works with native students to instrument mudflats of Puget Sound for environmental data collection.

A team of researchers led by the University of Washington believes creating a network of community-based science is possible with new support from the National Science Foundation.


Missing fish catch data? Not necessarily a problem, new study says

kompong-phluk-kompong-953388_1920

A new study by University of Washington scientists finds that in many cases, misreporting caught fish doesn’t always translate to overfishing. The study was published online this month in the journal Fish and Fisheries.


Secure passwords can be sent through your body, instead of air

photo of on body system

UW engineers have devised a way to send secure passwords through the human body, instead of over the air where they’re vulnerable to hacking.


September 23, 2016

How natural selection acted on one penguin species over the past quarter century

Adult Magellanic penguin and two chicks begging.

University of Washington biologist Dee Boersma and her colleagues combed through 28 years’ worth of data on Magellanic penguins to search for signs that natural selection — one of the main drivers of evolution — may be acting on certain penguin traits. As they report in a paper published Sept. 21 in The Auk: Ornithological Advances, selection is indeed at work on the penguins at the Punta Tombo breeding site in Argentina.



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