UW News

Science


December 19, 2018

Researchers develop a new houseplant that can clean your home’s air

a scientist puts a plant into a glass tube

Researchers at the University of Washington have genetically modified a common houseplant to remove chloroform and benzene from the air around it.


December 18, 2018

February’s big patch of open water off Greenland? Not global warming, says new analysis

map of open water

New analysis shows that odd winds, not warming, caused the unusual patch of open water north of Greenland last February.


Salmon may lose the ability to smell danger as carbon emissions rise

adult coho salmon

New research shows that the powerful sense of smell Pacific salmon rely on for migration, finding food and avoiding predators might be in trouble as carbon emissions continue to be absorbed by our ocean.


December 14, 2018

UW glaciologist gets first look at NASA’s new measurements of ice sheet elevation

Antarctic map and blue line

UW glaciologist Ben Smith shared a first look at the NASA ICESat-2 satellite’s view of Greenland and Antarctic glaciers at the American Geophysical Union’s annual meeting in Washington, D.C.


December 13, 2018

Underwater sensors for monitoring sea life (and where to find them)

lowering the wave-powered AMP frame into the water

A team at the University of Washington created a mechanical eye under the ocean’s surface, called an Adaptable Monitoring Package, or AMP, that could live near renewable-energy sites and use a series of sensors to continuously watch nearby animals. On Dec. 13, the researchers put the newest version of the AMP into the waters of Seattle’s Portage Bay for two weeks of preliminary testing before a more thorough analysis is conducted in Sequim, Washington. Meanwhile, a different AMP is collecting data off the coast of Hawaii.


Hark! UW talents — on page and disc — for the good Dawgs on your holiday shopping list

collage-books-2

As the year comes to a close and festivities abound, some UW faculty creations can make great gifts for the thinking Dawg on your giving list.


December 12, 2018

Teens get more sleep, show improved grades and attendance with later school start time, researchers find

Photo by Katherine Turner.

In 2016, Seattle Public Schools pushed back the start times for the district’s 18 high schools by 55 minutes, from 7:50 a.m. to 8:45 a.m. And as hoped, teenagers used the extra time to sleep in.


December 10, 2018

Ancient whale named for UW paleontologist Elizabeth Nesbitt

person with bones

A new species of whale discovered in 33-million-year-old Oregon rock has been named for Elizabeth Nesbitt, a curator at the Burke Museum and faculty member in the UW’s Department of Earth and Space Sciences.


December 6, 2018

Two-dimensional materials skip the energy barrier by growing one row at a time

Picture of how small protein molecules interact with one another.

A new collaborative study led by a research team at the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, University of California, Los Angeles and the University of Washington could provide engineers new design rules for creating microelectronics, membranes and tissues, and open up better production methods for new materials.


Biggest extinction in Earth’s history caused by global warming leaving ocean animals gasping for breath

orange and red ocean with fossil images

New research from the University of Washington and Stanford University combines models of ocean conditions and animal metabolism with published lab data and paleoceanographic records to show that the Permian mass extinction in the oceans was caused by global warming that left animals unable to breathe. As temperatures rose and the metabolism of marine animals sped up, the warmer waters could not hold enough oxygen for them to survive.


November 30, 2018

UW professors Terrance Kavanagh, Jay Shendure elected as fellows of the AAAS

Photo by Katherine Turner.

Two University of Washington researchers, Terrance Kavanagh and Jay Shendure, are among the 416 new fellows of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, announced in November.


November 29, 2018

Forests, human health, Northwest outlook: UW researchers involved in Fourth National Climate Assessment

cover of Fourth National Climate Assessment Volume II showing wildfires

University of Washington researchers contributed to the Fourth National Climate Assessment that considers impacts, risks and adaptation across the United States.


November 28, 2018

UW-led philosophy team receives $1.5M grant to study the ethics of neurotechnology research

A UW postdoc works with Center for Neurotechnology Young Scholars Program participant on a sensory device.

University of Washington researchers in the Center for Neurotechnology are studying how brain-computer interfaces affect whether patients feel they are in charge of their own actions.


November 27, 2018

Threatened tropical coral reefs form complex, ancient associations with bacteria, researchers say

Fish swimming in a coral reef.

In a comprehensive study of healthy corals published Nov. 22 in the journal Nature Communications, a team of scientists from the University of Washington Bothell, Pennsylvania State University and Oregon State University report that coral bacteria are a surprisingly diverse bunch — and that different sections of the coral body can host unique communities of bacteria.


November 26, 2018

UW, Tableau create interactive tool to explore more than a century of Pacific Northwest weather observations

graph with upward trend

A new, free tool with temperature and precipitation records across Washington, Oregon, Idaho and western Montana as far back as 1881 lets users play around to discover significant trends. It also includes historical snow records for Washington state.


November 20, 2018

Study brings new climate models of small star TRAPPIST 1’s seven intriguing worlds

The small, cool M dwarf star TRAPPIST-1 and its seven worlds. New research from the University of Washington speculates on possible climates of these worlds and how they may have evolved.

Not all stars are like the sun, so not all planetary systems can be studied with the same expectations. New research from a University of Washington-led team of astronomers gives updated climate models for the seven planets around the star TRAPPIST-1.


November 19, 2018

UW’s Marina Alberti to lead new NSF-funded research network to study impact of cities on Earth’s evolutionary dynamics

The cycle of eco-evolutionary feedback -- the topic of a new research coordination network funded by the National Science Foundation.

Here in what is called the Anthropocene era, humans and our urban environments appear to be driving accelerated evolutionary change in plants, animals, fungi, viruses and more — changes that could affect key ecosystem functions and thus human well-being. These interactions between evolution and ecology are called “eco-evolutionary feedback.” The National Science Foundation has awarded…


November 14, 2018

First tally of U.S.-Russia polar bears finds a healthy population

polar bears on rocky beach

The first assessment of polar bears that live in the biologically rich Chukchi Sea region that spans the U.S. and Russia, finds that the population is healthy and not yet suffering from declining sea ice.


New resources support tribes in preparing for climate change

people on the coast

The University of Washington Climate Impacts Group and regional tribal partners have developed a collection of resources that may be useful to tribes at any stage in the process of evaluating their vulnerability to climate change. The project is a partnership among tribes, tribal associations, universities and the federal government.


November 13, 2018

Scientists engineer a functional optical lens out of 2D materials

An image of four lenses under a microscope.

In a paper published Oct. 8 in the journal Nano Letters, a team from the University of Washington and the National Tsing Hua University in Taiwan announced that it has constructed functional metalenses that are one-tenth to one-half the thickness of the wavelengths of light that they focus. Their metalenses, which were constructed out of layered 2D materials, were as thin as 190 nanometers — less than 1/100,000ths of an inch thick.


November 8, 2018

Common allergen, ragweed, will shift northward under climate change

ragweed against blue sky

The first study of common ragweed’s future U.S. distribution finds the top allergen will expand its range northward as the climate warms, reaching new parts of upstate New York, Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine, while retreating from current hot spots.


November 7, 2018

After a bad winter in the ocean, female Magellanic penguins suffer most, study shows

A view of South America from space.

Researchers from the University of Washington have shown how Magellanic penguins fare during the winter months when they spend months at sea feeding. They have discovered that oceanographic features are more likely to negatively impact the body conditions of Magellanic penguin females, but not males, when the penguins return to their nesting grounds in spring.


November 6, 2018

Updated book compiles 45 years of changes in Pacific Northwest flora

Flora_Book_Cover

Botanists at the University of Washington’s Burke Museum of Natural History & Culture have created a much-needed second edition of the “Flora of the Pacific Northwest.”


November 2, 2018

‘Ocean memory’ the focus of cross-disciplinary effort by UW’s Jody Deming

Jody-Deming-528x528

UW oceanographer Jody Deming is a leader of a new, interdisciplinary effort that addresses the theme of “ocean memory.”


Racial, ethnic minorities face greater vulnerability to wildfires

firefighting in oregon 2018

Massive wildfires, which may be getting more intense due to climate change and a long history of fire-suppression policies, have strikingly unequal effects on minority communities, a new study shows.


October 30, 2018

Suicide more prevalent than homicide in US, but most Americans don’t know it

A study led by the University of Washington shows that public perception of gun violence and homicide risk is far from the reality of the data. Photo of firearm lying on the ground.

First-of-its kind research, led by the University of Washington, Northeastern University and Harvard University, delves into public perceptions of gun violence and the leading causes of death in the U.S.


October 25, 2018

Q&A: Provost Mark Richards’ welcome lecture asks: ‘What really killed the dinosaurs?’

Mark Richards in front of brick building

Provost Mark Richards answers questions surrounding the topic of his welcome lecture, Tuesday afternoon in the HUB Lyceum.


October 24, 2018

UW physicist Jiun-Haw Chu named Packard Fellow for research on quantum materials

A person standing in a lab.

Jiun-Haw Chu, a University of Washington assistant professor of physics and faculty member at the UW’s Clean Energy Institute, has been named a 2018 fellow by the David and Lucile Packard Foundation for his research on quantum materials — substances that exhibit novel combinations of quantum-mechanical properties that could one day transform information technology.


A dose of nature: New UW initiative to spearhead research on health benefits of time outside

abigail-keenan-27292-unsplash

A new University of Washington initiative seeks to advance research on the health benefits of time spent in nature, connecting academic researchers with pediatricians, childcare providers, mental health practitioners and others who work with various populations on critical health issues.


October 23, 2018

Sockeye carcasses tossed on shore over two decades spur tree growth

sockeye in alaska

In a 20-year study, UW researchers and colleagues have found that nearly 600,000 pounds of sockeye salmon carcasses tossed to the left side of a small, remote stream in southwest Alaska, helped trees on that side of the stream grow faster than their counterparts on the other side.


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.



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