UW Today


August 17, 2016

Interscatter communication enables first-ever implanted devices, smart contact lenses, credit cards that ‘talk’ Wi-Fi

photo of three devices used in experiment

“Interscatter” communication developed by UW engineers allows power-limited devices such as brain implants, contact lenses, credit cards and smaller wearable electronics to talk to everyday devices such as smartphones and watches.

August 16, 2016

Big fish — and their pee — are key parts of coral reef ecosystems

The Almaco jack is a large predator fish, pictured here in the Caribbean.

Large, carnivorous fish excrete almost half of the key nutrients, phosphorus and nitrogen, that are essential for the survival of coral reefs.

August 15, 2016

Luna moth’s long tail could confuse bat sonar through its twist

moth on finger

A detailed look at how sound waves bounce off a flying moth’s body offers new clues for how its long, twisted tail might help it evade predatory bats.

UW research backs up ongoing efforts to protect the enigmatic Nautilus


University of Washington biologist Peter Ward’s body of research has helped policymakers recognize the impact nautiluses have on ocean ecosystems, as well as how they can — and cannot — replenish their numbers in the face of unrestricted, unregulated fishing. At a CITES meeting in September, Ward and his team hope nautiluses will get much-needed protections from trade and harvesting.

Unearthing trackers of the past: UW computer scientists reveal the history of third-party web tracking

security camera

At the USENIX Security Conference in Austin, Texas, a team of University of Washington researchers on Aug. 12 presented the first-ever comprehensive analysis of third-party web tracking across three decades and a new tool, TrackingExcavator, which they developed to extract and analyze tracking behaviors on a given web page. They saw a four-fold increase in third-party tracking on top sites from 1996 to 2016, and mapped the growing complexity of trackers stretching back decades.

August 12, 2016

Q&A: Phil Levin joins UW, The Nature Conservancy in new role

Phil Levin

Phil Levin, a former senior scientist at NOAA Fisheries, recently began a joint role at the University of Washington and The Nature Conservancy. UW Today sat down with Levin to find out why he took this job and what he hopes to accomplish.

August 9, 2016

Three UW Earth scientists elected as AGU fellows


Charles Eriksen, Deborah Kelley and Stephen Warren are among 60 newly elected fellows from U.S. and international institutions.

New book ‘Cities that Think Like Planets’ imagines urban regions resilient to change

Marina Alberti's book "Cities that Think Like Planets: Complexity, Resilience, and Innovation in Hybrid Ecosystems" was published in July by University of Washington Press. Photo is the cover illustration of the book.

What does it mean for a city to “think like a planet”? Marina Alberti of the UW College of Built Environments discusses her new book, “Cities that Think Like Planets,” published by UW Press.

August 4, 2016

UW geologist: Ancient Chinese flood is latest to match oral, geologic histories

Photo of Insights art

A Science commentary written by UW professor of Earth and space sciences David Montgomery discusses how recent geological findings support the historical basis for traditional tales about China’s Great Flood.

August 1, 2016

Twelve UW faculty elected to the Washington State Academy of Sciences


A dozen scientists and engineers from the University of Washington have been elected to the Washington State Academy of Sciences. According to a statement released by the organization, the new members were selected for “their outstanding record of scientific achievement and willingness to work on behalf of the academy in bringing the best available science…

July 27, 2016

Carbon-financed cookstove fails to deliver hoped-for benefits in the field

Photo of women using cookstoves in India

A study of the the first clean cookstove intervention in India financed through the Kyoto Protocol’s Clean Development Mechanism found expected benefits from newer, more “efficient” stoves — based on their performance in lab tests — did not materialize in the field.

Middle schoolers build underwater robot in science summer camp

Alexander Riley works on the ROV during summer camp.

Middle school students tried their hands at designing and building underwater robots this week during a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration science summer camp in Seattle. The ROV workshop was a joint project by UW-based Washington Sea Grant, NOAA and Atlantis STEAM.

July 25, 2016

Marine carbon sinking rates confirm importance of polar oceans

white dots on blue background

Polar oceans pump organic carbon down to the deep sea about five times as efficiently as subtropical waters, because they can support larger, heavier organisms. The finding helps explain how the oceans may function under climate change.

July 21, 2016

An engineered protein can disrupt tumor-promoting ‘messages’ in human cells

Cellular protein

A team of researchers from the University of Washington and the University of Trento in Italy unveiled an engineered protein that they designed to repress a specific cancer-promoting message within cells.

July 19, 2016

UW professor is digitizing every fish species in the world

fish scan

UW professor Adam Summers is scanning and digitizing all 25,000 species of fish that live on Earth. Each species soon will have a high-resolution, 3-D visual replica online, available to all and downloadable for free.

UW oceanographers grow, sequence genome of ocean microbe important to climate change

Marine microbes were collected from a low-oxygen fjord in Barkley Sound, off the coast of British Columbia.

A University of Washington team has shed new light on a common but poorly understood bacteria known to live in low-oxygen areas in the ocean. By culturing and sequencing the microbe’s entire genome, the oceanographers found that it significantly contributes to the removal of life-supporting nitrogen from the water in new and surprising ways.

July 15, 2016

Joseph Wartman, David Montgomery honored for Oso landslide report

headshots of two researchers

The Geological Society of America has honored two UW professors and other authors of a 186-page report on the causes and consequences of the deadly March 2014 landslide in Oso, Washington.

July 14, 2016

Cougars could save lives by lowering vehicle collisions with deer

A cougar stands over its prey.

A research team including University of Washington’s Laura Prugh has found that within 30 years of cougars recolonizing the Eastern U.S., large cats could thin deer populations and reduce vehicle collisions by 22 percent — each year preventing five human fatalities, 680 injuries and avoiding costs of $50 million.

July 11, 2016

UW researchers improve microscopy method to ‘swell’ cellular structures, bringing fine details into view

Proteins in a cell.

Scientists from the University of Washington recently reported a relatively simple method swell the tiny, complex structures within cells, bringing them within range of a common microscope’s resolving range.

July 7, 2016

Arctic sea ice volume, now tracking record low, stars in data visualization

four maps of Arctic Ocean

With Arctic sea ice roughly tied with previous record-low years, a University of Washington tool that tallies the total volume of ice in the Arctic Ocean is attracting attention.

July 6, 2016

Acid attack — can mussels hang on for much longer?


Scientists from the University of Washington have found evidence that ocean acidification caused by carbon emissions can prevent mussels attaching themselves to rocks and other substrates, making them easy targets for predators and threatening the mussel farming industry.

July 5, 2016

Long-term Pacific climate cycle linked to expansion of Antarctic sea ice

white continent on blue background

A long-term Pacific climate cycle may be driving the expansion of Antarctic winter sea ice since 2000, but a new study finds that the trend may soon reverse.

June 28, 2016

UW geologist wins early career award from American Geophysical Union


Alison Duvall, a UW assistant professor of Earth and space sciences, was selected for the Luna B. Leopold Award for early-career scientists.

June 24, 2016

UW’s Clean Energy Institute to participate in national smart manufacturing initiative


The University of Washington’s Clean Energy Institute will partner with regional industry and academic institutions as part of the new Smart Manufacturing Innovation Institute, according to an announcement June 20 by the White House.

June 22, 2016

Ocean forecast offers seasonal outlook for Pacific Northwest waters

colored maps of Pacific Northwest coast

A new study evaluates the performance of a seasonal forecast, developed by researchers at the UW and NOAA, that predicts conditions over the coming months in the Pacific Northwest marine environment.

June 21, 2016

UW-led team awarded $1M bioelectronics innovation prize

diagram of how device works

An international team led by researchers at the Center for Sensorimotor Neural Engineering (CSNE) based at the University of Washington is one of three finalists in a race to produce an implantable wireless device that can assess, stimulate and block the activity of nerves that control organs.

June 16, 2016

UW’s large research vessel, R/V Thomas G. Thompson, gets a midlife overhaul

graphic of boat

The R/V Thomas G. Thompson, the 274-foot-long research vessel operated by the University of Washington, has spent 25 years carrying researchers, students and teachers out to sea. The ship has collected material from the bottom of the deepest ocean trenches and braved storms near Antarctica. This week, the ship will begin a yearlong stay in…

June 15, 2016

Adam Summers advises Pixar on fish movements in new ‘Finding Dory’ film

dory and hank image

University of Washington fish biomechanist Adam Summers advised Pixar on animal movement for the animation company’s second movie about life under the sea.

Falling fish catches could mean malnutrition in the developing world


The world won’t be able to fish its way to feeding 10 billion people by midcentury, but a shift in management practices could save hundreds of millions of fish-dependent poor from malnutrition, according to a new analysis by researchers at Harvard, the University of Washington and other universities.

‘Bright spots’ shine light on the future of coral reefs

a photo of a sailfin tang fish

Researchers have discovered a handful of “bright spots” among the world’s embattled coral reefs, offering the promise of a radical new approach to conservation.

June 13, 2016

Arc volcano releases mix of material from Earth’s mantle and crust

black rock and green rock

Rock from a common type of volcano shows surprising evidence of the descending tectonic plate. Analyses show that magnesium atoms are somehow drawn out of the crust, deep below the surface.

Eastern U.S. needs ‘connectivity’ to help species escape climate change

map showing different migration scenarios across US

A new study has found that only 2 percent of the eastern U.S. provides the kind of climate connectivity required by species that will likely need to migrate, compared to 51 percent of the western U.S.

Success in second language learning linked to genetic and brain measures

students sitting in the quad at UW

A new study by researchers at the University of Washington shows that the final grades that college students received in a second-language class were predicted by a combination of genetic and brain factors.

June 10, 2016

Jackson School Space Security Initiative capstone event gathers students, area stakeholders

Saadia Pekkanen, Job and Gertrud Tamaki Professor and associate director of the UW's Jackson School of International Studies, chairs a capstone meeting for junior fellows of the school's Space Security Initiative Wednesday, June 8, at the University of Washington Club. From left, others are: Kristian Ulrichsen, affiliate professor of international studies; Alan Boyle, journalist with GeekWire; and John Thornquist, director of the Office of Aerospace for the Washington State Department of Commerce.

What are the policies of global rising powers regarding the use of orbital and outer space, and what are the implications of those policies for international cooperation? A capstone event for junior fellows of the Jackson School’s Space Security Initiative explored such questions in a recently with space industry, media and government representatives also on hand.

June 9, 2016

Jerry Franklin named 2016’s ‘Eminent Ecologist’ by leading ecological group

Jerry Franklin, far right, teaches a class in the forest.

The Ecological Society of America has named University of Washington professor Jerry Franklin its “Eminent Ecologist” of 2016. The award, considered the organization’s most prestigious accolade, honors a senior ecologist who has made significant, long-standing contributions to the field of ecology.

June 6, 2016

See, hear and study the deep sea: Ocean Observatories Initiative data now live

camera illuminating seafloor

Data is now streaming from the deep sea, thanks to an observatory installed in this region by the University of Washington as part of a larger National Science Foundation initiative to usher in a new age of oceanographic research.

June 3, 2016

Q&A: Peter Kahn on nature interaction, wildness in cities

photo of peter kahn

University of Washington professor Peter Kahn recently co-authored an opinion piece in the journal Science about the importance of interacting with nature in urban areas. UW Today asked Kahn a few more questions about the broader implications of his work.

Finding connections to nature in cities is key to healthy urban living

baby with sandy feet

The authors of a Science perspective piece discuss the growing tension between an arguably necessary role urban areas play in society and the numbing, even debilitating, aspects of cities that disconnect humans from the natural world.

June 1, 2016

UW researchers attend sea ice conference — above the Arctic Circle

three people in blue coats

University of Washington polar scientists are on Alaska’s North Slope this week for the 2016 Barrow Sea Ice Camp. Supported by the National Science Foundation, the event brings together U.S.-based sea ice observers, satellite experts and modelers at various career stages to collect data and discuss issues related to measuring and modeling sea ice. The…

May 31, 2016

Tiny probe could produce big improvements in batteries and fuel cells

image of nanoscale details seen by probe

A team led by University of Washington engineers has developed a new tool that could aid in the quest for better batteries and fuel cells. Although battery technology has come a long way since Alessandro Volta first stacked metal discs in a “voltaic pile” to generate electricity, major improvements are still needed to meet the…

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