UW News

Science


October 23, 2017

50 simulations of the ‘Really Big One’ show how a 9.0 Cascadia earthquake could play out

colored map of subduction zone

The largest number yet of detailed simulations for how a Cascadia Subduction Zone earthquake might play out provides a clearer picture of what the region can expect when the fault unleashes a 9.0 earthquake.


October 20, 2017

Mountain glaciers shrinking across the West

aerial view of Mount Rainier with red zones

A satellite technique provides a new way to monitor the status of more than 1,200 mountain glaciers in the lower 48 states.


October 18, 2017

For $1000, anyone can purchase online ads to track your location and app use

graphic of commute where someone could be tracked via ads

New University of Washington research finds that for a budget of roughly $1000, it is possible for someone to track your location and app use by purchasing and targeting mobile ads. The team hopes to raise industry awareness about the potential privacy threat.


October 17, 2017

Flexible ‘skin’ can help robots, prosthetics perform everyday tasks by sensing shear force

photo of robot arm with skin on finger

UW and UCLA engineers have developed a flexible sensor “skin” that can be stretched over any part of a robot’s body or prosthetic to accurately convey information about shear forces and vibration, which are critical to tasks ranging from cooking an egg to dismantling a bomb.


October 16, 2017

UW researchers mark first detection of gravitational waves from collision of two neutron stars

Neutron_stars_TILE

For the first time, scientists have detected gravitational waves from the merger of two neutron stars.


October 12, 2017

UW names second CSE building the Bill & Melinda Gates Center for Computer Science & Engineering

photo of Bill & Melinda Gates Center for Computer Science & Engineering under construction as of Oct. 5

The University of Washington Board of Regents on Thursday approved the naming of the new computer science building under construction on the Seattle campus as the Bill & Melinda Gates Center for Computer Science & Engineering. The naming of the building was made possible by gifts from Microsoft Corp. and a group of local business and philanthropic leaders who are longtime friends and colleagues of the couple.


October 9, 2017

Paul Bodin named interim director of Pacific Northwest Seismic Network

photo of Paul Bodin

Paul Bodin, a UW seismologist and manager of the Pacific Northwest Seismic Network, has been named interim director of the network that monitors earthquakes and volcanoes in Washington and Oregon.


October 6, 2017

3 UW researchers chosen for NIH High-Risk, High-Rewards program

Joshua Vaughan, Daniel Chiu and Jakob von Moltke

Three University of Washington faculty members are among those honored with an NIH High-Risk, High-Reward Research grant, which fund exceptionally creative scientists proposing to use highly innovative approaches to tackle major challenges in biomedical research.


October 5, 2017

Northwest climate science community gathers Oct. 9-11 in Tacoma

poster for town hall event

The eighth annual Northwest Climate Conference will take place in Tacoma, and begins with a free public discussion featuring UW experts on Monday evening.


October 4, 2017

Study points to win-win for spotted owls and forest management

spotted owls

A new study has found that cover in tall trees is the key habitat requirement for the spotted owl, not total canopy cover. It indicated that spotted owls largely avoid cover created by stands of shorter trees.


New portable blood analyzer could improve anemia detection worldwide

Nikita Taparia stands with a microfluidic card in her hand, next to the optical analyzer.

To reduce the burden of anemia worldwide, health officials need a portable and affordable way to analyze blood. Mechanical engineering researchers at the University of Washington developed a device smaller than a toaster that can detect the level of hemoglobin in whole blood samples using optical absorbance.


October 2, 2017

UW alumnus Jeffrey C. Hall awarded the 2017 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine

Nobel Medal

The Nobel Assembly at the Karolinska Institute has awarded the 2017 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine jointly to Jeffrey C. Hall — an alumnus of the University of Washington — along with Michael Rosbash and Michael W. Young “for their discoveries of molecular mechanisms controlling the circadian rhythm,” according to an announcement Monday morning.


September 28, 2017

Lisa M. Zurk named executive director of UW Applied Physics Laboratory

Lisa M. Zurk

Lisa Zurk, a UW aluma in electrical engineering, professor at Portland State University and program manager at DARPA, will become the eighth director of the UW’s Applied Physics Laboratory.


September 25, 2017

UW to host $15.6M NSF-funded center for innovation, education in materials science

Photo by Katherine Turner.

The University of Washington is home to a new national center of excellence for research, education and training in materials science. The Molecular Engineering Materials Center is funded by a $15.6 million, six-year grant from the National Science Foundation as part of its highly competitive Materials Research Science and Engineering Center (MRSEC) program.


Group project? Taking turns, working with friends may improve grades

A University of Washington study has found that social dynamics affect student performance on group projects. The more comfortable students are in the group, the better they perform.

  It has become an almost essential element of academic life, from college lecture halls to elementary classrooms: the group assignment. Dreaded by some, loved by others, group projects typically aim to build teamwork and accountability while students learn about a topic. But depending on the assignment and the structure of the groups, a project…


September 21, 2017

Scott Montgomery makes case for nuclear power in new book ‘Seeing the Light’

"Seeing the Light: The Case for Nuclear Power in the 21st Century," by the UW's Scott L. Montgomery with Thomas Graham Jr., was published in September by Cambridge University Press. Story is a Q and A with Montgomery.

Scott L. Montgomery of the UW Jackson School of International Studies discusses his new book, “Seeing the Light: The Case for Nuclear power in the 21st Century.”


Hacking a pressure sensor to track gradual motion along marine faults

closeup of instrument tip

University of Washington oceanographers are working with a local company to develop a simple new technique that could track seafloor movement in earthquake-prone coastal areas.


September 20, 2017

Wave Glider surfs across stormy Drake Passage in Antarctica

yellow board on ship deck

A hardy ocean drone made a first-ever attempt to surf across Antarctica’s stormy Drake Passage gathering data about ocean mixing.


September 18, 2017

Catching a diversity of fish species — instead of specializing — means more stable income for fishers

The industrial croaker fishery off the coast of Uruguay is one of the fisheries where management strategies are being implemented in strong cooperation among fishers, managers and scientists. Credit: Sebastián Jiménez /DINARA

Researchers analyzed nearly 30 years of revenue and permitting records for individuals fishing in Alaskan waters and tracked how their fishing choices, in terms of permits purchased and species caught, influenced their year-to-year income volatility.


September 14, 2017

Old fish few and far between under fishing pressure

head of old halibut fish

A new study by University of Washington scientists has found that, for dozens of fish populations around the globe, old fish are greatly depleted — mainly because of fishing pressure. The paper, published online Sept. 14 in Current Biology, is the first to report that old fish are missing in many populations around the world.


People of color exposed to more pollution from cars, trucks, power plants during 10-year period

In columns A and B, red identifies locations where NO2 concentrations were higher for nonwhites than whites; blue indicates that NO2 concentrations were higher for whites than nonwhites; and white means they were equal. In column C, red indicates that the absolute difference in NO2 concentration between nonwhites and whites increased over time; blue indicates that difference decreased over time; and white indicates no change.

A new nationwide study finds that the U.S. made little progress from 2000 to 2010 in reducing relative disparities between people of color and whites in exposure to harmful air pollution emitted by cars, trucks and other combustion sources.


September 13, 2017

Climate change challenges the survival of fish across the world

john day river

  Climate change will force many amphibians, mammals and birds to move to cooler areas outside their normal ranges, provided they can find space and a clear trajectory among our urban developments and growing cities. But what are the chances for fish to survive as climate change continues to warm waters around the world? University…


UW team shatters long-range communication barrier for devices that consume almost no power

In the long-range backscatter system developed by UW researchers, this sensor uses reflected radio waves to encode and communicate information using almost zero power. It can “talk” to a receiver up to 2.8 km away.

UW researchers have demonstrated for the first time that devices that run on almost zero power can transmit data across distances of up to 2.8 kilometers — breaking a long-held barrier and potentially enabling a vast array of interconnected devices.


September 7, 2017

Ship exhaust makes oceanic thunderstorms more intense

lightning over dark sea

More than a decade of lightning strikes over the Indian Ocean shows for the first time that ship exhaust along major shipping routes alters thunderstorm intensity.


Land-sea experiment will track earthquakes, volcanoes along Alaska Peninsula

map of Alaska Peninsula

The National Science Foundation is funding the largest marine seismic-monitoring effort yet along the Alaska Peninsula, a region with frequent and diverse earthquake and volcanic activity. Involving aircraft and ships, the new Alaska Amphibious Community Seismic Experiment will be led by Cornell University in Ithaca, New York, with partners at the University of Washington and…


September 6, 2017

PupilScreen aims to allow parents, coaches, medics to detect concussion, brain injuries with a smartphone

photo of pupilscreen in use

University of Washington researchers are developing a smartphone app that is capable of objectively detecting concussion and other traumatic brain injuries in the field, which could provide a new level of screening for athletes and accident victims.


Earth as hybrid planet: New classification scheme places Anthropocene era in astrobiological context

bwhi1apicaaamlo.jpg_large

A team of researchers including the UW’s Marina Alberti has devised a new classification scheme for the evolutionary stages of worlds based on “non-equilibrium thermodynamics” — a planet’s energy flow being out of synch, as the presence of life could cause.


August 31, 2017

Q&A: How Idaho, Montana, North Dakota and Yellowstone National Park are confronting climate change

barn with mountains in the back

A new book focuses on climate change risks in the Northern Rocky Mountains, and how managers of public lands can prepare.


Record-low 2016 Antarctic sea ice due to ‘perfect storm’ of tropical, polar conditions

map of Antarctica

This exceptional, sudden nosedive in Antarctic sea ice last year was due to a unique one-two punch from atmospheric conditions both in the tropical Pacific Ocean and around the South Pole.


August 28, 2017

New app could use smartphone selfies to screen for pancreatic cancer

BiliScreen is a new smartphone app that can screen for pancreatic cancer by having users snap a selfie. It’s shown here with a 3-D printed box that helps control lighting conditions to detect signs of jaundice in a person’s eye.

A new app could lead to earlier detection of pancreatic cancer simply by snapping a smartphone selfie. The disease kills 90 percent of patients within five years, in part because there are no telltale symptoms or non-invasive screening tools to catch a tumor before it spreads.


August 25, 2017

As Tolstoy noted (sort of), all unhappy microbiomes are unhappy in their own way

tie-dye-microbes

The bacterial communities that live inside each of our guts are relatively similar when times are good, but when stress enters the equation, those communities can react very differently from person to person.


August 24, 2017

Scientists to create digital encyclopedia of 3-D vertebrate specimens

snake scan

A $2.5 million National Science Foundation grant will daylight thousands of specimens from their museum shelves by CT scanning 20,000 vertebrates and making these data-rich, 3-D images available online to researchers, educators, students and the public. The University of Washington is a partner institution contributing most of the fish and bat scans.


August 23, 2017

Greetings from Earth: Documents that Changed the World podcast revisits Voyager’s ‘Golden Record,’ 1977

The Voyager spacecraft showcasing where the Golden Record is mounted.

  Forty years ago this month, Planet Earth said hello to the cosmos with the launch of the two Voyager probes that used gravity to swing from world to world on a grand tour of the solar system. Each bore a two-sided, 12-inch, gold-plated copper “Golden Record” of sights and sounds from Earth and its…


August 21, 2017

Native American youth launch high-altitude balloons for unique perspective on solar eclipse

balloon launch

While many people across the country donned viewing glasses and prepared to watch Monday’s solar eclipse, a group of 100 teenagers from tribes across the Pacific Northwest launched balloons thousands of feet into the air, gaining a novel perspective of the eclipse — and the chance to send meaningful artifacts to the edge of space during a memorable moment in history.


August 18, 2017

‘Be sure to look around you’: Tips on Seattle eclipse viewing

A fingernail-like edge of the sun will be visible in Seattle during the solar eclipse.

With many in Seattle are wondering what the Aug. 21 solar eclipse will be like in our city, Bruce Balick, UW professor emeritus of astronomy, shared a few thoughts.


August 16, 2017

Modern genetic sequencing tools give clearer picture of how corals are related

James Dimond snorkeling to collect coral in Belize. He collected 27 coral samples from different environments and with a range of branch thicknesses.

As corals face threats from warming oceans, a new study uses modern genetic-sequencing tools to help reveal the relationships between three similar-looking corals.


Computer scientists use music to covertly track body movements, activity

A person walking in a straight line.

Researchers at the University of Washington have demonstrated how it is possible to transform a smart device into a surveillance tool that can collect information about the body position and movements of the user, as well as other people in the device’s immediate vicinity. Their approach involves remotely hijacking smart devices to play music embedded with repeating pulses that track a person’s position, body movements, and activities both in the vicinity of the device as well as through walls.


UW professor Franziska Roesner named one of world’s top innovators under 35

A professor smiling

MIT Technology Review has named Franziska Roesner, University of Washington professor of computer science and engineering, one of 35 “Innovators Under 35” for 2017.


August 14, 2017

Probiotics help poplar trees clean up Superfund sites

trees in field

Researchers from the University of Washington and several small companies have conducted the first large-scale experiment on a Superfund site using poplar trees fortified with a probiotic — or natural microbe — to clean up groundwater contaminated with trichloroethylene, or TCE.


Tidally locked exoplanets may be more common than previously thought

Tidally locked bodies such as the Earth and moon are in synchronous rotation, meaning that each takes exactly as long to rotate around its own axis as it does to revolve around its host star or gravitational partner. New research from UW astronomer Rory Barnes indicates that many exoplanets to be found by coming high-powered telescopes also will probably be tidally locked — with one side permanently facing their host star, as one side of the moon forever faces the Earth.

Many exoplanets to be found by coming high-powered telescopes will probably be tidally locked — with one side permanently facing their host star — according to new research by UW astronomer Rory Barnes.



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