UW News

Science


February 13, 2019

Parents don’t pick favorites, at least if you’re a Magellanic penguin

A penguin feeding one of its chicks.

Researchers at the University of Washington wanted to know how Magellanic penguin parents in South America balance the dietary demands of multiple chicks. As they report in a paper published Jan. 23 in the journal Animal Behaviour, when a Magellanic penguin parent returns to its nest with fish, the parent tries to feed each of its two chicks equal portions of food, regardless of the youngsters’ differences in age or size.


February 12, 2019

Assessing riverside corridors — the ‘escape routes’ for animals under climate change — in the Northwest

river through brown canyon

A study led by the University of Washington pinpoints which riverside routes in Washington, Oregon, Idaho and western Montana will be the most important for animals trying to navigate a changing climate.


February 11, 2019

Many Arctic lakes give off less carbon than expected

lakes in yukon flats

New research by the University of Washington and U.S. Geological Survey suggests many lakes pose little threat to global carbon levels, at least for now.


February 8, 2019

‘Underwater forecast’ predicts temperature, acidity and more in Puget Sound

colored cross-section of Puget Sound

A new University of Washington computer model can predict underwater conditions in Puget Sound and off the coast of Washington three days into the future.


February 7, 2019

All the data in the sky, alerted via UW eyes

An image of a galaxy.

The Zwicky Transient Facility, based at the Palomar Observatory, has identified over a thousand new objects and phenomena in the night sky, including more than 1,100 new supernovae and 50 near-Earth asteroids. University of Washington scientists are part of the ZTF team and led the development of the collaboration’s alert system, which informs science teams of possible new objects or changes to known objects in the sky.


February 4, 2019

Early spring rain boosts methane from thawing permafrost by 30 percent

The landscape surrounding a thaw bog in Alaska

A UW-led team has found that early spring rainfall warms up a thawing permafrost bog in Alaska and promotes the growth of plants and methane-producing microbes.


January 31, 2019

Iguana-sized dinosaur cousin discovered in Antarctica, shows how life at the South Pole bounced back after mass extinction

An illustration of a forest in Antarctica 250 million years ago, showing reptiles that lived there.

Scientists have just discovered a dinosaur relative that lived in Antarctica 250 million years ago. The iguana-sized reptile’s genus name, Antarctanax, means “Antarctic king.”


January 30, 2019

UW-based group launches national challenge to recreate first moon landing — with drones and Lego robots

robot with lunar lander

A UW-based group is launching a national student challenge to mark the 50th anniversary of the historic Apollo moon landing.


January 23, 2019

One year into the mission, autonomous ocean robots set a record in survey of Antarctic ice shelf

yellow instrument with ice in background

A team of ocean robots developed at the UW is the first group of self-guided ocean instruments to travel under an ice sheet and come back to report long-term observations.


First-of-its-kind center hosts tools to analyze the effects of natural disasters

A researcher watches the z boat

A center housed at the University of Washington offers a new way for scientists to get their hands on state-of-the-art equipment to study the effects of natural disasters. The RAPID Facility, which is the first of its kind in the world, contains over 300 instruments that are available for researchers around the world to use.


January 16, 2019

Three awards from US Department of Energy to fuel UW solar cell research

Photo by Katherine Turner.

Three teams led by University of Washington researchers — Scott Dunham, Hugh Hillhouse and Devin MacKenzie — have received competitive awards totaling more than $2.3 million from the U.S. Department of Energy Solar Energy Technologies Office for projects that will advance research and development in photovoltaic materials, which are an essential component of solar cells and impact the amount of sunlight that is converted into electricity.


For 35 years, the Pacific Ocean has largely spared West’s mountain snow from effects of global warming

snowy mountain

A new study has found that since the early 1980s, a pattern of ocean temperatures and atmospheric circulation has offset most of the impact of warming on the West’s mountain snowpack.


January 14, 2019

UW, partners reach milestone in program using robots to monitor world’s oceans

researchers in lab

The UW is part of an international program that has revolutionized ocean measurements. This fall, the program made its 2 millionth measurement, reporting temperature and salinity in the top mile of the world’s oceans.


January 10, 2019

Astronomers find signatures of a ‘messy’ star that made its companion go supernova

An image of a galaxy in outer space, with a bright supernova visible at its outer edge.

On Jan. 10 at the 2019 American Astronomical Society meeting in Seattle, an international team of astronomers announced that they have identified the type of companion star that made its partner in a binary system, a carbon-oxygen white dwarf star, explode. Through repeated observations of SN 2015cp, a supernova 545 million light years away, the team detected hydrogen-rich debris that the companion star had shed prior to the explosion.


January 8, 2019

Triangulum Galaxy shows stunning face in detailed Hubble portrait

An image of a nearby galaxy called M33.

As part of a University of Washington-led project, NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope has produced a stunningly detailed portrait of the Triangulum Galaxy, displaying a full spiral face aglow with the light of nearly 25 million individually resolved stars.


January 2, 2019

The number of single male Magellanic penguins is rising at this breeding colony. Here’s why.

A curious Magellanic penguin looking into the camera lens

Female Magellanic penguins are more likely to die at sea as juveniles, which has caused a skewed sex ratio of nearly three adult males to every female, as well as population decline of more than 40 percent since 1987 at one of their largest breeding colonies — Punta Tombo in Argentina.


How economic theory and the Netflix Prize could make research funding more efficient

campus-TILE

In a paper published Jan. 2 in PLOS Biology, two scientists at the University of Washington and North Carolina State University use the economic theory of contests to illustrate how the competitive grant-application system has made the pursuit of research funding inefficient and unsustainable — and that alternative methods, such as a partial lottery to award grants, could relieve pressure on professors and free up time for research.


December 24, 2018

New global migration estimates show rates proportionally steady since 1990, high rate of return migration

People waiting at an airport

Two University of Washington scientists have unveiled a new statistical method for estimating migration flows between countries. They show that rates of migration are higher than previously thought, but also relatively stable, fluctuating between 1.1 and 1.3 percent of global population from 1990 to 2015. In addition, since 1990 approximately 45 percent of migrants have returned to their home countries, a much higher estimate than other methods.


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 UW team created a mechanical eye under the ocean’s surface that could live near renewable-energy sites and use a series of sensors to 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.


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

collage of books and CD covers

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.



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