UW Today

Science


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…


May 30, 2016

Deep, old water explains why Antarctic Ocean hasn’t warmed

global map red at top, blue at bottom

The waters surrounding Antarctica may be one of the last places on Earth to experience human-driven climate change, because of its unique ocean currents.


May 27, 2016

UW researchers illuminate ways to heal defects in solar cells

Microscopic image of a crystal

Electrical energy fuels our modern lives, from the computer screen that keeps us up after sunset to the coffee maker that greets us at sunrise. But the electricity underlying our 21st century world, by and large, is generated at a cost — through the unsustainable expenditure of fossil fuels. For decades this demand for cheap,…


May 26, 2016

Ray Hilborn receives international fisheries science prize

photo of ray hilborn

Ray Hilborn, a UW professor of aquatic and fishery sciences, this week will receive the 2016 International Fisheries Science Prize at the World Fisheries Congress in Busan, South Korea.


May 25, 2016

UW, NOAA deploy ocean robot to monitor harmful algal blooms off Washington coast

The box surround by purple contains an automated laboratory that will analyze seawater for algal species and toxin. Researchers deployed it May 23 about 13 miles off Washington's coast.

Oceanographers from the UW and NOAA deployed a new tool that will automatically test for harmful algal blooms and help warn of when they could hit local beaches.


May 24, 2016

Chickens on campus and a mood shift at EPA: Relevant projects are nature of environmental studies capstone

moving a new chicken coop at uw farm.

A cohort of UW Environmental Studies majors will present projects and research findings at at symposium from 1:30-5:30 p.m. May 25 at Alder Hall and Wallace Hall.


May 23, 2016

Study shows disparities in treatment for children with traumatic brain injuries

Young boy in brain scanning machine

Children who suffer traumatic brain injuries can face a difficult road to recovery, requiring services such as physical therapy and mental health treatment for months or years to get their young lives back on track. When those children come from low-income households with limited English proficiency, there can be significant barriers in getting them the…


May 20, 2016

Lingcod meet rockfish: Catching one improves chances for the other

A lingcod fish

In a new study, scientists found that selectively fishing for lingcod in protected areas actually avoided hampering the recovery of other fish, including rockfish species listed as overfished.


Bacteria in branches naturally fertilize trees

Young poplar and willow trees along the Snoqualmie River.

A University of Washington team has demonstrated that poplar trees growing in rocky, inhospitable terrain harbor bacteria within them that could provide valuable nutrients to help the plant grow.


May 19, 2016

Burke Museum breaks ground on new building for Washington state museum

The New Burke

More than 500 people gathered May 18 on the University of Washington campus to celebrate the start of construction on the New Burke Museum. The Burke is Washington’s oldest museum and since 1899 has been the State Museum of Natural History and Culture; soon it will be Washington’s newest museum. Opening in 2019, the New…


Appeal of ‘genetic puzzles’ leads to National Medal of Science for UW’s Mary-Claire King

Mary-Claire King

In a White House ceremony May 19, President Barack Obama presented the National Medal of Science to Mary-Claire King, University of Washington professor of genome sciences and medicine. The award, the nation’s highest recognition for scientific achievement, honors King’s more than 40 years dedicated to research in evolution and the genetics of human disease, as well as to teaching and outreach endeavors that have supported human rights efforts on six continents and reunited families.


UW to host first of four White House public workshops on artificial intelligence

Self-driving Google car

From self-driving vehicles to social robots, artificial intelligence is evolving at a rapid pace, creating vast opportunities as well as complex challenges. Recognizing that, the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy is co-hosting four public workshops on artificial intelligence — the first of them May 24 at the University of Washington. Subsequent events…


Using static electricity, insect-sized flying robots can land and stick to surfaces

Image of flying insect robot

A new study co-authored by a University of Washington mechanical engineer demonstrates how flying insect-sized robots can land and stick to surfaces, which conserves energy and extends flight times.


Will more snow over Antarctica offset rising seas? Don’t count on it

person in red coat pointing at ice

Heavier snowfall over Antarctica was supposed to be one of the few brakes on sea-level rise in a warming world. But that prediction is not reliable, says a new study of Antarctic snowfall over the past 31,000 years.


May 16, 2016

US-India collaboration finds molecular signatures of severe malaria

Malaria parasites infecting a red blood cell.

The malaria parasite can cause unusually severe cases of the eponymous disease in patients, leading to higher mortality and poorer health outcomes among survivors. But scientists have long struggled to understand why some patients develop severe malaria. The University of Washington’s International Center of Excellence for Malaria Research in South Asia — along with partners…


May 13, 2016

Proton-conducting material found in jelly that fills organs of sharks, skates and rays

Image of the ampullae of Lorenzini found in sharks, skates and rays.

The jelly found in the electrosensory organs of sharks, skates and rays is a remarkable proton-conducting material, with the highest proton conductivity ever reported for a biological material, UW researchers have found.


UW researchers unleash graphene ‘tiger’ for more efficient optoelectronics

Image of one of the graphene-based devices

In traditional light-harvesting methods, energy from one photon only excites one electron or none depending on the absorber’s energy gap, transferring just a small portion of light energy into electricity. The remaining energy is lost as heat. But in a paper released May 13 in Science Advances, Wu, UW associate professor Xiaodong Xu and colleagues at four other institutions describe one promising approach to coax photons into stimulating multiple electrons. Their method exploits some surprising quantum-level interactions to give one photon multiple potential electron partners.


May 11, 2016

Skull specializations allow bats to feast on their fellow vertebrates

Skull of a fish-eating bat.

Over their 52-million-year history, a few bats have evolved a taste for their fellow vertebrates. Now biologists at the University of Washington and the Burke Museum of History and Culture are shedding light on how these so-called “carnivorous bats” adapted to the daunting task of chowing down their backboned prey.


UW researchers secure prestigious MURI grants for self-cooling lasers and fluid mechanics

campus-TILE

University of Washington professors Peter Pauzauskie and Alberto Aliseda are part of two U.S. Department of Defense Multidisciplinary University Research Initiative (MURI) grants to develop innovative approaches to cutting-edge fields of engineering.


May 10, 2016

UW part of NOAA-led cruise to study West Coast ocean acidification

colored map shwoing the 16 stops

University of Washington students, faculty and staff are part of the fifth West Coast Ocean Acidification Cruise that will investigate changes to ocean chemistry from Baja to British Columbia. The ship left Thursday from San Diego to begin sampling on Mexico’s northern coast. It will stop May 21 at San Francisco’s Exploratorium Pier, then travel…


May 9, 2016

Early Earth’s air weighed less than half of today’s atmosphere

swirly rocks

The idea that the young Earth had a thicker atmosphere turns out to be wrong. New research from the University of Washington uses bubbles trapped in 2.7 billion-year-old rocks to show that air at that time exerted at most half the pressure of today’s atmosphere. The results, published online May 9 in Nature Geoscience, reverse…


April 28, 2016

Wolf hunting near Denali, Yellowstone cuts wolf sightings in half

A wolf on the road in Denali.

Visitors to national parks are half as likely to see wolves in their natural habitat when wolf hunting is permitted just outside park boundaries, according to a new study.


April 21, 2016

UW’s Jerry Franklin honored for lifetime of forest research, policy

Jerry Franklin displaying his Pinchot Medallion award.

Jerry Franklin, a professor of environmental and forest sciences, was honored by the Pinchot Institute for Conservation for his lifelong work in forest ecology, conservation and policy.


April 20, 2016

4 UW professors elected as fellows in the American Academy of Arts and Sciences

nighttime

Four University of Washington professors join 172 other academics as newly elected fellows of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the group announced Wednesday.


UW experts call Paris climate agreement ‘bold,’ ‘encouraging’

Eiffel Tower with 'Paris Climate 2015'

As the U.S., China and other countries sign the Paris Agreement to reduce emissions and limit climate change, UW experts talk about the possibilities and risks in what could be a turning point for global economies.


April 18, 2016

First Salish Sea-wide shoreline armoring study shows cumulative effects on ecosystem

A seawall along Harbor Avenue Southwest in West Seattle.

A new University of Washington study shows that impacts associated with shoreline armoring can scale up to have cumulative, large-scale effects on the characteristics of Salish Sea shorelines and the diversity of life they support.


April 14, 2016

Author, reporter Lynda V. Mapes discusses year with 100-year-old ‘Witness Tree’ in April 21 talk

Lynda V. Mapes

Local author and Seattle Times reporter Lynda V. Mapes is the featured speaker in this year’s School of Environmental and Forest Sciences annual Sustaining Our World Lecture, 6 to 7 p.m. Thursday, April 21.


Scientists crack secrets of the monarch butterfly’s internal compass

Monarch butterflies.

Each fall, monarch butterflies across Canada and the United States turn their orange, black and white-mottled wings toward the Rio Grande and migrate over 2,000 miles to the relative warmth of central Mexico. This journey, repeated instinctively by generations of monarchs, continues even as monarch numbers have plummeted due to loss of their sole larval food…


April 12, 2016

UW undergrads to present at national science festivals in D.C.

people around silver tank

Two national celebrations of science are happening this week in D.C., and University of Washington undergraduates will be in the spotlight at both events. Clara Orndorff, a pre-engineering undergraduate in the UW Honors Program, will travel with two fellow underwater roboticists to compete in Wednesday’s White House Science Fair. She will be among more than 100…


UW undergraduate team wins $10,000 Lemelson-MIT Student Prize for gloves that translate sign language

These "SignAloud" gloves developed by UW students contain sensors that record hand position and movement and transmit data wirelessly to a central computer, which uses algorithms to recognize and translate sign language gestures.

Two University of Washington undergraduates have won a $10,000 Lemelson-MIT Student Prize for their “SignAloud” invention — gloves that can translate American Sign Language into text or speech.


April 7, 2016

UW team stores digital images in DNA — and retrieves them perfectly

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.

University of Washington and Microsoft researchers have developed one of the first complete systems to store digital data in DNA — allowing one to store data that today would fill a Walmart supercenter in a space the size of a sugar cube.


April 6, 2016

UW-led field project watching clouds from a remote island off Antarctica

penguins in front of research station

From a tiny island halfway between New Zealand and Antarctica, scientists hope to learn more about the physics of clouds above the stormy, inhospitable Southern Ocean.


Marine preserve to help penguins in a ‘predictably unpredictable’ place

A Galapagos penguin.

New regulations by the government of Ecuador to protect the waters around the Galapagos Islands as a marine preserve, including main feeding areas for Galapagos penguins.


April 5, 2016

UW joins public-private partnership for flexible electronics

An example of flexible hybrid electronics.

The University of Washington has joined NextFlex, a consortium of 30 academic institutions and industrial partners to develop the next generation of flexible electronic devices. As a founding member of this alliance, the UW will seek local and regional partners in the electronics and manufacturing industries to develop and produce flexible electronics for applications from…


April 4, 2016

Scientists recommend immediate plan to combat changes to West Coast seawater chemistry

IMG_0656

Global carbon dioxide emissions are triggering troubling changes to ocean chemistry along the West Coast that require immediate, decisive actions to combat through a coordinated regional approach, a panel of scientific experts has unanimously concluded.


Bilingual baby brains show increased activity in executive function regions

Institute for Learning & Brain Sciences, UW

Many brain studies show that bilingual adults have more activity in areas associated with executive function, a set of mental abilities that includes problem-solving, shifting attention and other desirable cognitive traits. Now new findings reveal that this bilingualism-related difference in brain activity is evident as early as 11 months of age, just as babies are…


April 1, 2016

To be sustainable, conservation needs to consider the human factor

The Salmon Dancer Canoe Family paddles along the shorelines of Swinomish.

The authors of a new paper in Science propose a set of social indicators that can be used to gauge how ecosystem management affects four essential factors in human lives: well-being, values, the ability to act purposefully and inequality. Considering such indicators, they note, serves not only to describe what exists but to define what is important in setting sustainability goals.



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