UW Today


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


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.

Week-long exhibit in La Conner joins climate scientists, artists

river valley and water

UW scientists worked with artists for an exhibit at the Museum of Northwest Art focusing on climate change impacts on coastal communities.

September 22, 2016

5 UW professors among HHMI’s inaugural class of Faculty Scholars

Photo by Katherine Turner.

Amid a decline in funding for scientific research, the Howard Hughes Medical Institute is partnering with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the Simons Foundation to launch a new Faculty Scholars program. Announced Sept. 22 by HHMI, the inaugural crop of early-career scientists includes 5 faculty members from the University of Washington.

September 21, 2016

UW jumps to No. 2 in the world for clinical medicine, pharmacy; remains No. 6 in life sciences

A globe in Suzzallo library

The University of Washington moved up to No. 2 in the world for clinical medicine and pharmacy in the 2016 Academic Ranking of World Universities by Broad Subject Fields.

UW team to study baby teeth in effort to identify autism risk factors

Close-up of child's teeth

University of Washington researchers are part of a national team that will study the baby teeth of children who have siblings with autism to determine if prenatal exposure to chemicals increases their risk of developing the disorder. The study will involve testing children’s teeth for levels of environmental chemicals that they might have been exposed…

UW receives $500,000 from Boeing to enhance STEM training, opportunities for local students

Junior Ann Margaret Stompro leads a discussion about wildlife ecology as part of the UW's Alternative Spring Break program.

Boeing announced Wednesday it is awarding $6 million in grants to more than 50 nonprofit organizations and education institutions across Washington, including $500,000 to the University of Washington.

September 19, 2016

UW wins national nanotechnology startup challenge for breast cancer treatment


Researchers at the University of Washington are among the winners of a startup challenge to shorten the transition time from lab bench to patient. The team, including members of professor Suzie Pun’s research group in the UW Department of Bioengineering, was selected based on its proposal and business plan to develop a targeted drug delivery system for breast cancer.

Award for genetic tracking to rein in pangolin poaching

A pangolin in the grass.

A team of conservationists at the University of Washington is among the Grand Prize Winners of the Wildlife Crime Tech Challenge for a proposal to identify poaching hotspots for pangolins, one of the most trafficked group of mammals in the world.

Microbes help plants survive in severe drought

Poplars given microbes survived better in drought conditions

Plants can better tolerate drought and other stressors with the help of natural microbes, University of Washington research has found. Specifically, plants that are given a dose of microbes stay green longer and are able to withstand drought conditions by growing more leaves and roots and using less water.

September 15, 2016

Floating DNA reveals urban shorelines support more animal life

A view of downtown Seattle.

Researchers are now able to capture the cells of animals, sequence their DNA and identify which species were present at a point in time. A new University of Washington study is the first to use these genetic markers to understand the impact urbanization has on the environment — specifically, whether animal diversity flourishes or suffers.

September 14, 2016

All polar bears across the Arctic face shorter sea ice season

polar bear on ice

A new University of Washington study finds a trend toward earlier Arctic sea ice melt in the spring and later ice growth in the fall across all 19 polar bear populations, which can negatively impact the feeding and breeding capabilities of the bears.

September 13, 2016

Westerly winds have blown across central Asia for at least 42 million years

Buddhist flags blowing in wind

The winds that gust across the Tibetan Plateau have done so for far longer than previously believed, showing they are resilient to the formation of mountains and changes in carbon dioxide and temperature.

September 12, 2016

Graduate education in clean energy due for ‘big data’ overhaul

A sunset

Jim Pfaendtner, University of Washington associate professor of chemical engineering, is leading a new endeavor funded by the National Science Foundation to bring big data to graduate education in clean energy research at the UW.

UW scientist helping direct NASA field study of clouds off Namibia

plane on tarmac

UW atmospheric scientists are part of a month-long NASA effort to learn how smoke and clouds interact.

September 8, 2016

How do shark teeth bite? Reciprocating saw, glue provide answers

A tiger shark.

A recent University of Washington study sought to understand why shark teeth are shaped differently and what biological advantages various shapes have by testing their performance under realistic conditions.

Life after Fitbit: Appealing to those who feel guilty vs. free

Is life better or worse after sticking your Fitbit in a drawer? UW researchers surveyed hundreds of people who had abandoned self-tracking tools and found emotions ranged from guilt to indifference to relief that the tracking experience was over.

Is life better or worse after sticking your Fitbit in a drawer? UW researchers surveyed hundreds of people who had abandoned self-tracking tools and found emotions ranged from guilt to indifference to relief that the tracking experience was over.

September 7, 2016

HemaApp screens for anemia, blood conditions without needle sticks

Photo of HemaApp illuminating a patient's finger

UW engineers have developed HemaApp, which uses a smartphone camera to estimate hemoglobin concentrations and screen for anemia without sticking patients with needles.

September 2, 2016

Invasive green crab found on San Juan Island by citizen science volunteers

a green crab

Earlier this week in Westcott Bay, San Juan Island, a team of volunteer monitors caught an invasive green crab, marking the first confirmation of this global invader in Washington’s inland waters.

August 29, 2016

Plants’ future water use affects long-term drought estimates

farmers in field

Many popular long-term drought estimates ignore the fact that plants will be less thirsty as carbon dioxide goes up. Plants’ lower water use could roughly halve some current estimates for the extent of future drought, especially in central Africa and temperate Asia.

New discovery Proxima b is in host star’s habitable zone — but could it really be habitable?

Artist's impression of the planet orbiting the red dwarf star Proxima Centauri.

The world’s attention is now on Proxima Centauri b, a possibly Earth-like planet about 4.22 light-years away. It’s in its star’s habitable zone — but could it in fact be habitable? If so, the planet evolved very different than Earth, say researchers at the University of Washington-based Virtual Planetary Laboratory.

August 26, 2016

Interactive map shows where animals will move under climate change

animated map of U.S.

The University of Washington and The Nature Conservancy have created an animated map showing where mammals, birds and amphibians are projected to move in the Western Hemisphere in response to climate change.

August 18, 2016

From White House to Tacoma, WA, urban agriculture is growing

Sally Brown

UW professor Sally Brown and collaborators have published the most extensive compilation to date explaining how to grow urban agriculture, and how doing so could save American cities.

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