UW News

Science


October 17, 2018

UW atmospheric scientists to study most extreme storms on Earth, up close

Flash of lightning on black background

UW atmospheric scientists leave next week for a six-week field campaign in South America to study the most intense storms on the planet.


October 12, 2018

New UW-authored children’s book offers a robot’s-eye view of the deep ocean

Book cover showing cartoon robot in ocean

In a new UW-authored book, a cartoon robot takes young readers on a School of Oceanography voyage to explore the deep ocean.


October 11, 2018

UW professor of global health a lead author on new climate report

IPCC 30th anniversary logo.

Kristie Ebi, a UW professor of global health, was a lead author on the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s “Special Report on Global Warming of 1.5 C” that compares the effects of 1.5 versus 2 degrees Celsius of global warming.


October 10, 2018

Prescience: Helping doctors predict the future

Prescience on a computer screen

Researchers at the University of Washington have developed a new machine-learning system, called Prescience, which uses input from patient charts and standard operating room sensors to predict the likelihood that a patient will develop hypoxemia — a condition when blood oxygen levels dip slightly below normal. Prescience also provides real-world explanations behind its predictions.


October 9, 2018

Researchers develop 3D printed objects that can track and store how they are used

An e-NABLE hand with the bidirectional sensor on it

Engineers at the University of Washington have developed 3D printed devices that can track and store their use — without using batteries or electronics. Instead, this system uses a method called backscatter, through which a device can share information by reflecting signals that have been transmitted to it with an antenna.


Polar bears gorged on whale carcasses to survive past warm periods, but strategy won’t suffice as climate warms

four male bears eating a whale

A new study led by the University of Washington found that while dead whales are valuable sources of fat and protein for some polar bears, this resource will likely not be enough to sustain most bear populations in the future when the Arctic becomes ice-free in summers.


October 8, 2018

Awards to UW affiliate professor recognize career of conservation and research on penguins

two people standing on a stage

Pablo García Borboroglu, president of the Global Penguin Society and a UW affiliate associate professor of biology, has won the Whitley Gold Award and the National Geographic/Buffett Award for Leadership in Conservation, as well as accolades from the Argentine National Congress, for his research and advocacy for penguin conservation.


High-res data offer most detailed look yet at trawl fishing footprint around the world

trawling boat

A new analysis that uses high-resolution data for 24 ocean regions in Africa, Europe, North and South America and Australasia shows that 14 percent of the overall seafloor shallower than 1,000 meters (3,280 feet) is trawled. The paper shows that the footprint of bottom-trawl fishing on continental shelves and slopes across the world’s oceans often has been substantially overestimated.


October 4, 2018

Q&A with Harold Tobin, director of the Pacific Northwest Seismic Network

mug shot

Harold Tobin, who joins the UW this fall as a faculty member in Earth and space sciences and director of the regional seismic sensing network, discusses earthquake early warning, seismic risks and the Pacific Northwest’s “big one.”


October 2, 2018

Former Interior Secretary Sally Jewell brings leadership to UW community, new EarthLab initiative

people on the beach

Former Interior Secretary Sally Jewell brings a lifetime of experience in business, nonprofits, government and the outdoors to the University of Washington, where one of her tasks is to help shape the future of EarthLab, a new university-wide institute that seeks to connect scholars with community partners to solve our most difficult environmental problems.


October 1, 2018

High CO2 levels cause plants to thicken their leaves, which could worsen climate change effects, researchers say

A tree canopy in a tropical rainforest.

When levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere rise, most plants do something unusual: They thicken their leaves. Now two University of Washington scientists have shown that this reaction by plants will actually worsen climate change by making the global “carbon sink” contributed by plants was less productive.


September 24, 2018

Burst of morning gene activity tells plants when to flower

Arabidopsis thaliana plants flowering outside under natural light.

For angiosperms — or flowering plants — one of the most important decisions facing them each year is when to flower. It is no trivial undertaking. To flower, they must cease vegetative growth and commit to making those energetically expensive reproductive structures that will bring about the next generation. Knowledge of this process at the…


September 19, 2018

DNA testing of illegal ivory seized by law enforcement links multiple ivory shipments to same dealers

African elephants examining a bone from another elephant

The international trade in elephant ivory has been illegal since 1989, yet African elephant numbers continue to decline. In 2016, the International Union for Conservation of Nature cited ivory poaching as a primary reason for a staggering loss of about 111,000 elephants between 2005 and 2015 — leaving their total numbers at an estimated 415,000….


NSF awards contract to carry OOI into the next decade and beyond

map of Pacific coast

The National Science Foundation will support a state-of-the-art marine facility that continues delivering data and new insight to the ocean science community, policymakers and the public worldwide.


UW offers new concurrent graduate degree program for nurses with focus on population, global health

aerial of UW campus

Nurses and nurse-scientists interested in advanced multi-disciplinary training for population and global health practice can now apply for a new University of Washington degree program.


September 18, 2018

UW historian Margaret O’Mara discusses famous 1968 computer mouse ‘demo’ — and the start of Silicon Valley — for new podcast by The Conversation

Margaret O'Mara, UW professor of history, is interviewed for a podcast by The Conversation

Margaret O’Mara, UW professor of history, explores the impact of a December 1968 computer presentation that came to be called “the mother of all demos” in an essay and podcast from the news website The Conversation.


September 17, 2018

Shift in large-scale Atlantic circulation causes lower-oxygen water to invade Canada’s Gulf of St. Lawrence

red and blue swirls on map

Rapid deoxygenation in the Gulf of St. Lawrence is caused by shifts in two of the ocean’s most powerful currents: the Gulf Stream and the Labrador Current. A detailed model shows that large-scale climate change is causing oxygen to drop in the deeper parts of this biologically rich waterway.


September 12, 2018

Three UW teams receive TRIPODS+X grants for research in data science

Drumheller Fountain on a Sunny Day

The National Science Foundation announced on Sept. 11 that it is awarding grants totaling $8.5 million to 19 collaborative projects at 23 universities for the study of complex and entrenched problems in data science. Three of these projects will be based at the University of Washington and led by researchers in the College of Engineering and the College of Arts & Sciences.


September 10, 2018

UW polar scientists advised NASA on upcoming ICESat-2 satellite

instrument on dark sky above Earth

Two UW polar scientists were among a dozen experts who advised NASA on its upcoming ICESat-2 mission to monitor the 3D surface of the Earth. The mission is scheduled to launch Sept. 15 from California.


September 6, 2018

Volcano under ice sheet suggests thickening of West Antarctic ice is short-term

animation of straight blue line over bumpy base

Evidence left by a volcano under the ice sheet suggests that the observed bulging of ice in West Antarctica is a short-term feature that may not affect the glacier’s motion over the long term.


September 4, 2018

NSF to fund new $25M software institute to enable discoveries in high-energy physics

A simulation of a particle physics experiment.

On Sept. 4 the National Science Foundation announced the creation of the Institute for Research and Innovation in Software for High Energy Physics, or IRIS-HEP. The institute is a coalition of 17 research institutions, including the University of Washington, and will receive $25 million from the NSF over five years.


August 30, 2018

Climate change projected to boost insect activity and crop loss, researchers say

Image of ears of wheat

In a paper published Aug. 31 in the journal Science, a team led by scientists at the University of Washington reports that insect activity in today’s temperate, crop-growing regions will rise along with temperatures. Researchers project that this activity, in turn, will boost worldwide losses of rice, corn and wheat by 10-25 percent for each degree Celsius that global mean surface temperatures rise.


August 23, 2018

Hack week: Study supports collaborative, participant-driven approach for researchers to learn data science from their peers

Scientists working together on computer projects.

A team from the University of Washington, New York University and the University of California, Berkeley has developed an interactive workshop in data science for researchers at multiple stages of their careers. The course format, called “hack week,” blends elements from both traditional lecture-style pedagogy with participant-driven projects.


August 21, 2018

Policy pivot: A new emphasis on restoration to protect Puget Sound

The Qwuloolt restoration project in 2016.

University of Washington researchers have found policies are shifting toward restoration projects that include input from more groups and offer a range of benefits to Puget Sound, including flood control, salmon recovery, recreation and habitat protection.


August 20, 2018

California plain shows surprising winners and losers from prolonged drought

wildflowers on hill

Meticulously tracking of 423 species before, during and after the worst droughts to hit California in more than a thousand years shows surprising patterns. Key prey species plummeted in the third year of the drought, and carnivores were hardest hit in later years.


August 14, 2018

Diving robots find Antarctic winter seas exhale surprising amounts of carbon dioxide

Antarctic sea ice

A new study led by the University of Washington uses data gathered by floating drones in the Southern Ocean over past winters to learn how much carbon dioxide is transferred by the surrounding seas. Results show that in winter the open water nearest the sea ice surrounding Antarctica releases significantly more carbon dioxide than previously believed.


August 9, 2018

For UW physicists, the 2-D form of tungsten ditelluride is full of surprises

Two monolayers interacting

In a paper published online July 23 in the journal Nature, a UW-led research team reports that the 2-D form of tungsten ditelluride can undergo “ferroelectric switching.” Materials with ferroelectric properties can have applications in memory storage, capacitors, RFID card technologies and even medical sensors — and tungsten ditelluride is the first exfoliated 2-D material known to undergo ferroelectric switching.


August 7, 2018

NIH awards University of Washington, partner institutions $6.5M for reusable, reproducible biomedical modeling

Photo by Katherine Turner.

The NIH has awarded a $6.5 million, five-year grant to the University of Washington and partner institutions to establish the Center for Reproducible Biomedical Modeling. The center’s primary goal is to develop more effective predictive models of biological systems, which are used in research and medicine.


August 3, 2018

UW, PNNL to host energy research center focusing on bio-inspired design and assembly

Photo by Katherine Turner.

The U.S. Department of Energy has awarded an expected $10.75 million, four-year grant to the University of Washington, the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory and other partner institutions for a new interdisciplinary research center to define the enigmatic rules that govern how molecular-scale building blocks assemble into ordered structures and give rise to complex hierarchical materials.


August 1, 2018

Harmful dyes in lakes, rivers can become colorless with new, sponge-like material

the dye starts to become clear

A team led by the University of Washington has created an environmentally friendly way to remove color from dyes in water in a matter of seconds.


July 30, 2018

Sea-level rise report contains best projections yet for Washington’s coasts

Google Map of Washington

A University of Washington report provides the best projections yet for sea-level rise due to climate change at 171 sites along Washington’s coasts.


July 25, 2018

And then there was (more) light: Researchers boost performance quality of perovskites

an image of an experimental disk

In a paper published online this spring in the journal Nature Photonics, scientists at the University of Washington report that a prototype semiconductor thin-film has performed even better than today’s best solar cell materials at emitting light.


July 23, 2018

Study shows why eastern U.S. air pollution levels are more stagnant in winter

hazy city from above

Observations over the eastern U.S. show why emissions reductions haven’t achieved the same results in winter as they have in summer.


July 18, 2018

Atlantic Ocean circulation is not collapsing – but as it shifts gears, global warming will reaccelerate

Depiction of Atlantic circulation with red arrows pointing north and blue arrows pointing south.

New research suggests the Atlantic Ocean is transitioning back to its slower phase, which means average global air temperatures will go back to rising more quickly.


July 9, 2018

Oxygen levels on early Earth rose and fell several times before the successful Great Oxidation Event

The Jeerinah Formation in Western Australia, where a UW-led team found a nitrogen isotope "excursion." “Nitrogen isotopes tell a story about oxygenation of the surface ocean, and this oxygenation spans hundreds of kilometers across a marine basin and lasts for somewhere less than 50 million years," said lead author Matt Koehler.

Earth’s oxygen levels rose and fell more than once hundreds of millions of years before the planetwide success of the Great Oxidation Event about 2.4 billion years ago, new research from the University of Washington shows.


July 2, 2018

Study identifies which marine mammals are most at risk from increased Arctic ship traffic

aerial view of whales surrounded by ice

Regions of Arctic water are becoming ice-free in late summer and early fall. A new study is the first to consider potential impacts on the marine mammals that use this region and identify which populations will be the most vulnerable to ships.


June 28, 2018

UW professor and Clean Energy Institute director Daniel Schwartz wins highest U.S. award for STEM mentors

Photo by Katherine Turner.

Daniel Schwartz, a University of Washington professor of chemical engineering and director of the Clean Energy Institute, received the Presidential Award for Excellence in Science, Mathematics and Engineering Mentoring (PAESMEM) from the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy and the National Science Foundation this week.


June 27, 2018

To tell the sex of a Galápagos penguin, measure its beak, researchers say

A Galapagos penguin.

In a paper published April 5 in the journal Endangered Species Research, scientists at the University of Washington announced that, for a Galápagos penguin, beak size is nearly a perfect indicator of whether a bird is male or female.


June 25, 2018

UW part of NASA network coordinating search for life on exoplanets

This image is an artist’s conception of what life could look like on the surface of a distant planet.

Researchers with the UW-led Virtual Planetary Laboratory are central to a group of papers published by NASA researchers today in the journal Astrobiology outlining the history — and suggesting the future — of the search for life on exoplanets, or those orbiting stars other than the sun.


June 21, 2018

NASA, NSF expedition to study ocean carbon embarks in August from Seattle

satellite view of ocean and land

More than 100 scientists and crew from more than 20 U.S. research institutions, including the UW, will depart in August for a month-long expedition to study how the ocean absorbs carbon from the atmosphere.



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