UW News

Science


January 22, 2018

Lab-made hormone may reveal secret lives of plants

Chemical structure of a plant hormone

By developing a synthetic version of the plant hormone auxin and an engineered receptor to recognize it, University of Washington biology professor Keiko Torii and her colleagues are poised to uncover plants’ inner workings, raising the possibility of a new way to ripen fruits such as strawberries and tomatoes.


Small hydroelectric dams increase globally with little research, regulations

example of small hydropower

University of Washington researchers have published the first major assessment of small hydropower dams around the world — including their potential for growth — and highlight the incredibly variability in how dams of varying sizes are categorized, regulated and studied.


January 19, 2018

University Faculty Lecture to highlight screening newborns for genetic diseases

Michael_Gelb

For this year’s University Faculty Lecture, University of Washington chemistry professor Michael Gelb will discuss the science behind screening newborns for treatable — but rare — genetic diseases.


January 18, 2018

Temporary ‘bathtub drains’ in the ocean concentrate flotsam

white plastic drifter on ship deck

An experiment using hundreds of plastic drifters in the Gulf of Mexico shows that rather than simply spread out, as current calculations would predict, many of them clumped together in a tight cluster.


Q&A: Forgotten fish illustrator remembered through first publication

Large Scaled Gurnard

More than three centuries ago, a French monk made thousands of drawings of plants and animals, traveling under the authority of King Louis XIV to the French Antilles to collect and document the natural history of the islands. These drawings were often the first ever recorded for each species and were completed in remarkable detail….


How the Elwha dam removals changed the river’s mouth

Elwha River - Olympic National Park

A new study in the Journal PLOS ONE details what removing the two dams on the Elwha River meant for the nearshore marine ecosystem.


Civil War-era U.S. Navy ships’ logs to be explored for climate data, maritime history

soldiers on shore

A new grant will let a University of Washington-based project add a new fleet to its quest to learn more about past climate from the records of long-gone mariners. The UW is among the winners of the 2017 “Digitizing Hidden Special Collections and Archives” awards, announced Jan. 4 by the Washington, D.C.-based Council on Library…


January 17, 2018

Scale-eating fish adopt clever parasitic methods to survive

scan

A small group of fishes — possibly the world’s cleverest carnivorous grazers — feeds on the scales of other fish in the tropics. A team led by biologists at the University of Washington’s Friday Harbor Laboratories is trying to understand these scale-feeding fish and how this odd diet influences their body evolution and behavior.


January 16, 2018

Researchers program biomaterials with ‘logic gates’ that release therapeutics in response to environmental triggers

four people in a laboratory

Drug treatments can save lives, but sometimes they also carry unintended costs. After all, the same therapeutics that target pathogens and tumors can also harm healthy cells. To reduce this collateral damage, scientists have long sought specificity in drug delivery systems: A package that can encase a therapeutic and will not disgorge its toxic cargo…


January 8, 2018

UW Reality Lab launches with $6M from tech companies to advance augmented and virtual reality research

One goal of the UW Reality Lab — funded with initial investments from Facebook, Google and Huawei — is to achieve telepresence, allowing one to have a lifelike conversation with a person in a remote location.

The UW Reality Lab is launching with $6 million from Facebook, Google, and Huawei to accelerate innovation in augmented and virtual reality and educate the next generation of researchers and practitioners.


January 3, 2018

Space dust, not aliens: Two UW astronomers assist in new research on ‘mysterious’ star

Bronze W fall

UW astronomers Brett Morris and James Davenport assisted in new research on “Tabby’s Star,” named for Louisiana State University astronomer Tabetha Boyajian.


December 21, 2017

UW a leader in supporting Washington’s STEM students

scholar solomon Muche

Now serving its sixth cohort of students, the Washington State Opportunity Scholarship has helped more than 8,400 students attend the state’s universities and colleges. The UW has the largest number of scholarship recipients — 1,679 across all three campuses — and has seen more than 1,300 scholars graduate.


December 18, 2017

Partnership will use robotic network to explore Antarctic ice shelves

yellow instrument in dark water

A new partnership between the UW and Paul G. Allen Philanthropies will use a network of robots to observe conditions beneath a floating Antarctic ice shelf.


Fish to benefit if large dams adopt new operating approach

dam

Recognizing that many large dams are here to stay, a University of Washington team is investigating an emerging solution to help achieve freshwater conservation goals by re-envisioning the ways in which water is released by dams.


December 14, 2017

Loose skin and slime protect hagfishes from sharks

A hagfish, left, is pursued by a predator.

Researchers from the University of Washington, Chapman University and University of Guelph have published new research showing how hagfishes survive an initial attack from predators before they release large volumes of slime to defend themselves.


December 13, 2017

UW project seeks sustainable blueprint for hydropower dams

children fishing

A new NSF-funded project will use findings in the Mekong River basin as an example of how three critical issues — feeding people, generating energy and maintaining functioning ecosystems — can be addressed thoughtfully and progressively in the developing world.


December 11, 2017

Q&A: UW’s Shuyi Chen on hurricane science, forecasting and the 2017 hurricane season

satellite image of three hurricanes

New faculty member Shuyi Chen answers some questions about hurricane science, hurricane forecasting and the 2017 storm season.


December 7, 2017

A literary view of the human era: ‘Anthropocene Reading’

"Anthropocene Reading: Literary History in Geologic Times" was published in October by Penn State Press. It was co-edited by Jesse Oak Taylor, UW associate professor of English.

The Anthropocene epoch — the proposed name for this time of significant human effect on the planet and its systems — represents a new context in which to study literature. A new book of essays co-edited by Jesse Oak Taylor, UW associate professor of English, argues that literary studies, in turn, also can help us better understand the Anthropocene.


New research shows hydropower dams can be managed without an all-or-nothing choice between energy and food

A women fishes in Tonle Sap Lake in Cambodia.

The University of Washington, Arizona State University and other collaborators have proposed a method in the Dec. 8 issue of Science that allows hydroelectric dam operators to generate power in ways that protect — and possibly improve — food supplies and businesses throughout the Mekong river basin in Southeast Asia.


December 5, 2017

Living cell membranes can self-sort their components by ‘demixing’

A vacuole in a yeast cell.

Scientists at the University of Washington show for the first time that the complex distribution of molecules within a membrane of a living yeast cell arises through demixing.


Making humanity’s challenges smaller and smaller: UW launches Institute for Nano-Engineered Systems

A ribbon cutting ceremony.

The University of Washington has launched a new institute aimed at accelerating research at the nanoscale: the Institute for Nano-Engineered Systems, or NanoES. The institute will pursue impactful advancements in a variety of disciplines — including energy, materials science, computation and medicine. Yet these advancements will be at a technological scale a thousand times smaller than the width of a human hair.


Rooftop wiretap aims to learn what crows gossip about at dusk

crows above campus building

An interdisciplinary team is using a covert sound-based approach, worthy of an avian CSI, to study the link between crows’ calls and their behavior.


In first, 3-D printed objects connect to WiFi without electronics

UW engineers have developed the first 3-D printed plastic objects that can connect to WiFi without electronics. The attachment above can sense when your laundry soap is running low — and automatically order more.

UW engineers have developed the first 3-D printed plastic objects that can connect to other devices via WiFi without using any electronics, including a laundry bottle that can detect when soap is running low and automatically order more.


December 3, 2017

Kim Nasmyth — a UW postdoctoral alumnus — wins Breakthrough Prize in Life Sciences for discoveries in cell biology, genetics

Kim Nasmyth

Kim Nasmyth, a professor of biochemistry at the University of Oxford and former postdoctoral researcher at the University of Washington, is one of five recipients of the 2018 Breakthrough Prize in Life Sciences. Nasmyth and other prize recipients were honored by the Breakthrough Prize Foundation at a ceremony December 3 at NASA’s Ames Research Center in Mountain View, California.


December 1, 2017

UW astrobiologists to discuss work, introduce IMAX film ‘The Search for Life in Space’ Dec. 6 at Pacific Science Center

"The Search for Life in Space" is now playing at the IMAX theater at the Pacific Science Center.

Three University of Washington astrobiologists will discuss their research and introduce the new 3-D IMAX movie “The Search for Life in Space” at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 6, in the PACCAR Theater of the Pacific Science Center.


November 30, 2017

Giant black hole pair photobombs Andromeda Galaxy

blackhole_binary-TILE

A cosmic photobomb found as a background object in images of the nearby Andromeda galaxy has revealed what could be the most tightly coupled pair of supermassive black holes ever seen.


November 28, 2017

There’s a deeper fish in the sea

snailfish

The ocean’s deepest fish doesn’t look like it could survive in harsh conditions thousands of feet below the surface. Instead of giant teeth and a menacing frame, the fishes that roam in the deepest parts of the ocean are small, translucent, bereft of scales — and highly adept at living where few other organisms can….


UW students win Amazon’s inaugural Alexa Prize for most engaging socialbot

The UW Sounding Board team (left to right: Hao Fang, Hao Cheng, Ari Holtzman, Mari Ostendorf, Maarten Sap, Elizabeth Clark, Yejin Choi) wins Amazon's first Alexa Prize.

A team of University of Washington students and faculty has won Amazon’s inaugural Alexa Prize, a university competition designed to produce an artificial intelligence agent capable of coherent and sustained conversation with humans.


Two UW professors elevated to IEEE Fellows

IEEE-2018

Two faculty members in the University of Washington College of Engineering have been elected as 2018 fellows of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers. Tom Furness, professor of industrial and systems engineering, was honored for “leadership in virtual and augmented reality” and Siddhartha “Sidd” Srinivasa, professor in the Paul G. Allen School of Computer Science & Engineering, was recognized for “contributions to robotic manipulation and human-robot interaction.”


November 27, 2017

Less life: Limited phosphorus recycling suppressed early Earth’s biosphere

As Earth's oxygen levels rose to near-modern levels over the last 800 million years, phosphorus levels increased, as well, according to modeling led by the UW's Michael Kipp and others. Accordingly, Kipp says, large phosphate deposits show up in abundance in the rock record at about this time. This is a Wyoming portion of The Phosphoria Formation, a deposit that stretches across several states in the western United States and is the largest source of phosphorus fertilizer in the country. The photo shows layers of phosphorus that are 10s of meters thick, shales the contain high concentrations of organic carbon and phosphorus. Kipp said many such deposits are documented over time but are rare in the Precambrian era. "Thus, they might represent a conspicuous temporal record of limited phosphorus recycling."

The amount of biomass – life – in Earth’s ancient oceans may have been limited due to low recycling of the key nutrient phosphorus, according to new research by the University of Washington and the University of St. Andrews in Scotland.


November 22, 2017

AAAS names 8 UW researchers as fellows in 2017

Drumheller Fountain and Gerberding Hall on the UW campus.

Eight University of Washington researchers are among the 396 new fellows of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, announced this week.


November 17, 2017

When to fish: Timing matters for fish that migrate to reproduce

Alaska sockeye salmon.

A new University of Washington study points to yet another human factor that is hampering the ability of fish to reproduce: the timing of our fishing seasons. The study considers how the timing of fishing efforts might disproportionately target certain fish and change the life history patterns of entire populations.


November 16, 2017

UW receives top honors from CleanTech Alliance for research and support in energy innovation, industry partnerships

People posing at an award ceremony

The CleanTech Alliance has presented the University of Washington with the organization’s 2017 CleanTech Achievement Award. The honor recognizes the UW’s dedication to research and development of transformative clean energy technologies, facilities, pipelines for startups and industry partnerships. The award was announced on Nov. 8 at the annual meeting and 10th anniversary of the CleanTech…


November 15, 2017

Salt pond in Antarctica, among the saltiest waters on Earth, is fed from beneath

pond in bare valley with blue sky

One of the saltiest bodies on Earth, an analog to how water might exist on Mars, shows signs of being one piece of a larger aquifer.


Are petite poplars the future of biofuels? UW studies say yes

small poplars

A University of Washington team is trying to make poplar a viable competitor in the biofuels market by testing the production of younger poplar trees that could be harvested more frequently — after only two or three years — instead of the usual 10- to 20-year cycle.


November 14, 2017

2 UW engineering students make Forbes ’30 under 30 in Energy’ list

Double photo

Two University of Washington engineering students were selected by Forbes magazine for its list of the top 30 people in the world under age 30 working in energy.


With launch of new night sky survey, UW researchers ready for era of ‘big data’ astronomy

ZTF-firstlight-band

The first astronomers had a limited toolkit: their eyes. They could only observe those stars, planets and celestial events bright enough to pick up unassisted. But today’s astronomers use increasingly sensitive and sophisticated instruments to view and track a bevy of cosmic wonders, including objects and events that were too dim or distant for their…


November 13, 2017

New tool quantifies power imbalance between female and male characters in Hollywood movie scripts

graphic showing power comparisons between Anna and Elsa from the movie Frozen with Cinderella

UW researchers who used machine learning tools to analyze language in 800 Hollywood movie scripts found subtle but widespread gender bias in the way male and female characters are portrayed.


November 7, 2017

With climate change, Mount Rainier floral communities could ‘reassemble’ with new species relationships, interactions

Wildflowers growing on a mountain.

An unseasonably warm, dry summer on Mount Rainier in 2015 caused subalpine wildflowers to change their bloom times and form ‘reassembled’ communities, with unknown consequences for species interactions among wildflowers, pollinators and other animals.


November 6, 2017

‘Smart’ paper can conduct electricity, detect water

This "smart" paper produced at the University of Washington can conduct electricity and transmit information about its surrounding environment wirelessly to a receiver. The following images show how the paper is made.

A University of Washington team wants to simplify the process for discovering detrimental water leaks by developing “smart” paper that can sense the presence of water.



Next page