UW News

Science


June 21, 2019

New awards for UW research to probe solar cell defects, develop energy-boosting coatings

Photo by Katherine Turner.

The U.S. Department of Energy Solar Energy Technologies Office selected two University of Washington professors in the Department of Chemistry and the Clean Energy Institute to receive nearly $1.5 million in funding for two separate endeavors in solar photovoltaic research. The projects are led by Daniel Gamelin, director of the UW-based Molecular Engineering Materials Center, and David Ginger, chief scientist at the CEI and co-director of the Northwest Institute for Materials Physics, Chemistry and Technology, a partnership between the UW and the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory.


June 20, 2019

Looking for life: UW researchers, presentations abound at 2019 astrobiology conference in Bellevue

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A roundup of UW talents and presentations in AbSciCon2019, the national conference on astrobiology — the search for life in the universe — to be held in Bellevue, June 24-28.


Video: Surprising discoveries in coral reefs found in low-light waters

It uses a pincher like hand to grasp a piece of fan shaped coral.

Jacqueline Padilla-Gamiño, an assistant professor in the UW School of Aquatic and Fishery Sciences, spent up to eight hours at a time in the cramped quarters of a submersible watercraft, studying the largest known coral reef in the mesophotic zone, located in the Hawaiian Archipelago.


Mammals and their relatives thrived, diversified during so-called ‘Age of Dinosaurs,’ researchers show

Illustration of an extinct marsupial.

Old myths state that, during the time of the dinosaurs, mammals and their relatives were small and primitive. But new research shows that, during the time of the dinosaurs, mammals and their relatives actually underwent two large ecological radiations, diversifying into climbing, gliding and burrowing forms with a variety of diets.


June 19, 2019

Partnerships for Impact: NSF Awards an additional $4M to the West Big Data Innovation Hub co-led by the UW eScience Institute

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The National Science Foundation is awarding a second round of funding for the Regional Big Data Innovation Hubs — organizations launched in 2015 to build and strengthen data science partnerships across industry, academia, nonprofits and government to address scientific and societal challenges. The University of Washington, in collaboration with the University of California, Berkeley and the University of California, San Diego, will continue to coordinate the West Big Data Innovation Hub.


Abundance of gases in Enceladus’s ocean are a potential fuel — if life is there to consume it

This illustration shows NASA's Cassini spacecraft diving through the plume of Saturn's moon Enceladus, in 2015. New research from the University of Washington, to be presented at the coming AbSciCon2019 conference, indicates that the moon's subsurface ocean of probably has higher than previously known concentrations of carbon dioxide and hydrogen and a more Earthlike pH level, possibly providing conditions favorable to life.

The subsurface ocean of Saturn’s moon Enceladus probably has higher than previously known concentrations of carbon dioxide and hydrogen and a more Earthlike pH level, possibly providing conditions favorable to life, according to new research from planetary scientists at the UW.


Deep submersible dives shed light on rarely explored coral reefs

corals in the mesophotic zone

  Just beyond where conventional scuba divers can go is an area of the ocean that still is largely unexplored. In waters this deep — about 100 to at least 500 feet below the surface — little to no light breaks through. Researchers must rely on submersible watercraft or sophisticated diving equipment to be able…


‘Alexa, monitor my heart’: Researchers develop first contactless cardiac arrest AI system for smart speakers

An Amazon Alexa lights up

UW researchers have developed a new tool to monitor people for cardiac arrest while they’re asleep — all without touching them. The tool is essentially an app for a smart speaker or a smartphone that allows it to detect the signature sounds of cardiac arrest and call for help.


June 18, 2019

First book published on fishes of the Salish Sea

rockfish illustration

The first book documenting all of the known species of fishes that live in the Salish Sea is now available.


Of octopuses and astrobiology: Conference talk speculates on cognition beyond Earth

Dominic Sivitilli, UW doctoral student in behavioral neuroscience

Of the many papers and presentations scheduled for AbSciCon2019, the conference on astrobiology and the search for life in space happening in Bellevue the week of June 24, the UW’s Dominic Sivitilli’s is perhaps unique — he’ll discuss his research into how octopuses “think.”


June 10, 2019

Mysterious holes in Antarctic sea ice explained by years of robotic data

map of white ice with dark hole

Why did a giant hole appear in the sea ice off Antarctica in 2016 and 2017, after decades of more typical sea ice cover? Years of Southern Ocean data have explained the phenomenon, helping oceanographers to better predict these features and study their role in global ocean cycles.


June 5, 2019

Urgent action on climate change will prevent heat-related deaths in major U.S. cities

HeatMortalityMap_PerCity

The planet will warm by about 3 degrees Celsius (5.4 degrees Fahrenheit) above pre-industrial levels by the end of the century if the U.S. and other nations meet only their current commitments under the Paris climate agreement to reduce emissions of heat-trapping gases. According to a paper by U.S. and U.K. scientists published in Science Advances today, accelerating ambition to reduce global warming emissions to meet the Paris Agreement’s goal of limiting temperature rise to well below 2 degrees Celsius could prevent thousands of extreme heat-related deaths in cities across the U.S.


June 4, 2019

Early lives of Alaska sockeye salmon accelerating with climate change

sockeye salmon

An ample buffet of freshwater food, brought on by climate change, is altering the life history of one of the world’s most important salmon species.


May 30, 2019

Seismologists seek space on volunteers’ floors and lawns to study Seattle seismic risks

Seattle map shaded brown

A series of seismic experiments will take place this summer in the Seattle area. The researchers are looking for volunteer sites throughout the region.


May 29, 2019

Young herring ‘go with the older fish’ a key finding in Ocean Modeling Forum’s efforts

A school of herring.

A collaborative group led by the University of Washington has released a set of research papers, fact sheets and modeling tools to help agencies incorporate traditional knowledge and human dimensions into Pacific herring management.


New study identifies patterns of growth in chronic lymphocytic leukemia

Photo by Katherine Turner.

In a paper published May 29 in Nature, scientists report that the growth of chronic lymphocytic leukemia is apt to follow one of three trajectories: relentlessly upward, steadily level or something in between. The particular course the disease takes is tightly linked to the genetic makeup of the cancer cells, particularly the number of growth-spurring “driver” mutations they contain.


May 24, 2019

Origami-inspired materials could soften the blow for reusable spacecraft

a hand pointing to the paper model

University of Washington researchers used the paper folding art of origami to develop a novel solution to help reduce the forces associated with impact — like in car crashes, football helmets, landing spacecraft and more.


May 23, 2019

Hot spots in rivers that nurture young salmon ‘flicker on and off’ in Alaska’s Bristol Bay region

A spawning sockeye salmon.

Chemical signatures imprinted on tiny stones that form inside the ears of fish show that two of Alaska’s most productive salmon populations, and the fisheries they support, depend on the entire watershed.


May 21, 2019

Help by design: Art assists science at UW Design Help Desk

Karen Cheng

Sometimes when science gets stuck, art can come to the rescue. Such is the case, a new study shows, with the UW Design Help Desk, which guides faculty, students and staff in improving the more artistic aspects of presenting research or reports — figures, diagrams, posters and such.


May 20, 2019

Scientists use molecular tethers and chemical ‘light sabers’ to construct platforms for tissue engineering

Photo by Katherine Turner.

In a paper published May 20 in the journal Nature Materials, a team of researchers from the University of Washington unveiled a new strategy to keep proteins intact and functional in synthetic biomaterials for tissue engineering. Their approach modifies proteins at a specific point so that they can be chemically tethered to the scaffold using light. Since the tether can also be cut by laser light, this method can create evolving patterns of signal proteins throughout a biomaterial scaffold to grow tissues made up of different types of cells.


May 15, 2019

First smartphone app that can hear ear infections in children

a smartphone displaying the app

Researchers at the UW have created a new smartphone app that can detect fluid behind the eardrum by simply using a piece of paper and the phone’s microphone and speaker.


May 10, 2019

Chemists take a closer look at the spot where water meets air

A chemical structure of water molecules.

A study published April 18 in the journal Science by researchers at Yale University and the University of Washington provides the first direct measurement of the behavior of bonded oxygen and hydrogen atoms perched on the surface of water.


May 9, 2019

Former cleantech executive leads development of University of Washington energy research and technology center

A future building on the University of Washington campus.

The University of Washington and its Clean Energy Institute named Kevin Klustner executive director of the Center for Advanced Materials and Clean Energy Technologies, or CAMCET. When complete, CAMCET will be a 340,000-square-foot building that will bring together UW scientists and engineers with industry, civic and nonprofit partners to accelerate clean energy solutions for a healthy planet.


May 8, 2019

One-third of the world’s longest rivers remain free-flowing, new analysis finds

laird river

Just over one-third of the world’s 246 longest rivers remain free-flowing, according to a new study published May 8 in Nature. Dams and reservoirs are drastically reducing the diverse benefits that healthy rivers provide to people and nature across the globe.


May 3, 2019

Researchers take a bottom-up approach to synthesizing microscopic diamonds for bioimaging, quantum computing

Two people operating a laser to heat material and make nanodiamonds.

Researchers at the University of Washington, the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory and the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory discovered that they can use extremely high pressure and temperature to introduce other elements into nanodiamonds, making them potentially useful in cell and tissue imaging, as well as quantum computing.


May 2, 2019

Bats evolved diverse skull shapes due to echolocation, diet

A close-up image of a California leaf-nosed bat.

In a paper published May 2 in Nature Communications, a University of Washington team reports that two major forces have shaped bat skulls over their evolutionary history — echolocation and diet — generating a huge diversity of skull shapes across 1,300 bat species today.


May 1, 2019

Arsenic-breathing life discovered in the tropical Pacific Ocean

people working on deck of boat

In oxygen-poor parts of the ocean, some microorganisms survive by breathing arsenic. This holdover from the ancient Earth was not thought to still exist in the open ocean.


Atmospheric scientist Chris Bretherton elected to National Academy of Sciences

Chris Bretherton

Chris Bretherton, a professor of atmospheric sciences and of applied mathematics, has been elected to the National Academy of Sciences.


April 30, 2019

Flowering plants, new teeth and no dinosaurs: New study sheds light on the rise of mammals

Well-preserved fossils ― like this Yanoconodon allini (Specimen No.: NJU P06001; Formation: Yixian; Age: 122.2–124.6 million years ago; Provenance: China) ― enabled the team to infer ecology of these extinct mammal species and look at changes in mammal community structure during the last 165 million years.

A new study published April 30 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences identified three factors critical in the rise of mammal communities since they first emerged during the Age of Dinosaurs: the rise of flowering plants; the evolution of tribosphenic molars in mammals; and the extinction of non-avian dinosaurs, which reduced competition between mammals and other vertebrates in terrestrial ecosystems.


Explore and dive to the depths of Puget Sound May 4 with UW’s aquatic science open house

kids looking at tank of water animals

Families, students and children are invited to get their hands wet on Saturday with “Our Watery World,” the University of Washington’s second annual aquatic science open house.


April 26, 2019

Video: Kids have fun with science at Engineering Discovery Days

discovery days

Engineering Discovery Days is a yearly event that invites Washington state fourth- through eighth-graders to have fun leaning about STEM with the College of Engineering.


April 25, 2019

Public talks kick off study of ice loss, warming and coastal changes in northern Alaska

flat peninsula and water

A UW team will visit Alaska’s North Slope Borough the week of April 28 in preparation for a two-year study of how waves, ice loss and warming are affecting the low-lying region.


April 19, 2019

New space race: Essays from Jackson School symposium explore changing law, policy

Saadia Pekkanen, UW professor of international studies

A new space race is underway, characterized by the intersecting trends of democratization, commercialization and militarization. Saadia Pekkanen, UW professor of international relations, is lead guest editor for a group of essays addressing such issues and more published online this month in the American Journal of International Law.


April 18, 2019

Video: Soon, kidneys-on-a-chip will rocket to space station

ISS still

UW scientists are sending a kidney-on-a-chip experiment into space. At an altitude of 250 miles, astronauts will help study how reduced gravity in space affects kidney physiology.


April 15, 2019

Historic logging site shows first human-caused bedrock erosion along an entire river

orange trees by riverbank

Over many years, a University of Washington team has shown how logging on the Teanaway River in central Washington caused dramatic changes to the river channel.


Synthetic peptide can inhibit toxicity, aggregation of protein in Alzheimer’s disease, researchers show

a chemical structure of a peptide

A team led by researchers at the University of Washington has developed synthetic peptides that target and inhibit the small, toxic protein aggregates that are thought to trigger Alzheimer’s disease.


April 12, 2019

For 17 years, UW program has provided an interdisciplinary nexus for climate research and education

people in front of poster

Over 17 years, the program has evolved into a campuswide, interdisciplinary, student-driven program on climate change research, communication and action. A recent publication looks at the program history and current mission.


April 11, 2019

Stars and stories: UW astronomer Emily Levesque gathering material for book on ‘true tales of observational astronomy’

Emily Levesque, University of Washington assistant professor of astronomy, is gathering stories for a book to be titled "The Last Stargazers: True Tales of the Colorful and Vanishing World of Observational Astronomy," which will be published in 2020.

Emily Levesque, UW assistant professor of astronomy, is gathering material for a new book to be called “The Last Stargazers: True Tales of the Colorful and Vanishing World of Observational Astronomy.”


April 10, 2019

David Thouless — Nobel laureate and UW professor emeritus — dies at age 84

David Thouless in 2016.

David James Thouless, Nobel laureate and a professor emeritus at the University of Washington, died in Cambridge in the U.K. on April 6, 2019. He was 84 years old.


April 8, 2019

Water and wastewater disinfection can help prevent the spread of antibiotic resistant bacteria, but what about their genes?

vials exposed to UV light

A UW team tested how well current water and wastewater disinfecting methods affect antibiotic resistance genes in bacterial DNA. While these methods work well to deter bacterial growth, they had varied success in either degrading or deactivating a representative antibiotic resistance gene.



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