UW News

Science


August 10, 2017

Researchers, students on annual expedition to maintain internet-connected deep-sea observatory

student working on deck

The annual maintenance cruise for the Pacific Northwest’s deep-sea observatory continues through Aug. 29. Two dozen students will participate, and more than 120 ocean instruments will get their yearly checkup.


DNA sequencing tools lack robust protections against cybersecurity risks

UW researchers have demonstrated for the first time that it is possible to remotely compromise a computer using information stored in DNA. This test tube holds hundreds of billions of copies of the exploit code stored in synthetic DNA molecules, which has the potential to compromise a computer system when it is sequenced and processed.

A new UW study finds DNA sequencing tools lack robust cybersecurity protections. In a scientific first, the team also infected a computer with synthesized DNA molecules.


August 7, 2017

UW to host Interior Department’s Northwest Climate Science Center

center logo

The University of Washington is the new host for the federally funded Northwest Climate Science Center, a consortium that supports climate-adaptation research in the Northwest.


July 31, 2017

University of Washington’s Livable City Year program completes inaugural partnership with Auburn

photo of downtown auburn

University of Washington students have been working with city of Auburn staff and community members throughout the past year on a wide range of projects tackling challenges around livability and sustainability in the city. Livable City Year is continuing in the 2017-2018 year in partnership with the city of Tacoma. These projects were part of the UW…


Earth likely to warm more than 2 degrees this century

bar chart

A new UW statistical study shows only 5 percent chance that Earth will warm less than 2 degrees, what many see as a “tipping point” for climate, by the end of this century.


July 27, 2017

Six UW faculty elected to the Washington State Academy of Sciences

Suzzallo Library and Red Square on the University of Washington campus.

Six scientists and engineers from the University of Washington have been elected to the Washington State Academy of Sciences.


UW building underwater robots to study oceans around Antarctica

people looking at float

Oceanographers are building swimming robots to carry out an ambitious mission gathering climate data from one of Earth’s most challenging locations: the icy water that surrounds Antarctica.


July 25, 2017

Could spraying particles into marine clouds help cool the planet?

ship that sprays clouds

A first test of humans’ ability to modify clouds would help explain the behavior of clouds and aerosols, while also testing a possible future climate emergency measure.


July 24, 2017

Dark matter is likely ‘cold,’ not ‘fuzzy,’ scientists report after new simulations

the empty space between galaxies

Scientists have used data from the intergalactic medium — the vast, largely empty space between galaxies — to narrow down what dark matter could be.


July 20, 2017

Birds versus buildings: Rural structures pose greater relative threat than urban ones

Photo by Katherine Turner.

Large buildings in rural areas pose a greater threat to birds than if those same-sized buildings were located in an urban area, according to new research to which three University of Washington researchers contributed.


July 17, 2017

Bottom-trawling techniques leave different traces on the seabed

boat with net

Bottom trawling techniques are not all created equal. The most common, otter trawling, removes about 6 percent of the animal and plant life from the seabed, while other methods remove closer to one third.


Material from shellfish delivers a boost to bioassays and medical tests

A close-up view of a virus

Scientists at the University of Washington have discovered a simple way to raise the accuracy of diagnostic tests for medicine and common assays for laboratory research. By adding polydopamine — a material that was first isolated from shellfish — to these tests at a key step, the team could increase the sensitivity of these common bioassays by as many as 100 to 1,000 times.


UW team develops fast, cheap method to make supercapacitor electrodes for electric cars, high-powered lasers

A coin-cell battery

University of Washington researchers have developed a fast, inexpensive method to make electrodes for supercapacitors, with applications in electric cars, wireless telecommunications and high-powered lasers.


July 11, 2017

Lip-syncing Obama: New tools turn audio clips into realistic video

Reel of Obama photos

A new machine learning tool developed by UW computer vision researchers can create realistic videos from audio files alone – including speeches by President Barack Obama.


July 5, 2017

First battery-free cellphone makes calls by harvesting ambient power

UW engineers have designed the first battery-free cellphone that can send and receive calls using only a few microwatts of power

UW engineers have designed the first battery-free cellphone that can send and receive calls using only a few microwatts of power, which it harvests from ambient radio signals or light. It’s a major step forward in moving beyond chargers, cords and dying phones.


June 29, 2017

Study shows high pregnancy failure in southern resident killer whales; links to nutritional stress and low salmon abundance

A killer whale leaping from the water.

A multi-year survey of the nutritional, physiological and reproductive health of endangered southern resident killer whales suggests that up to two-thirds of pregnancies failed in this population from 2007 to 2014. The study links this orca population’s low reproductive success to stress brought on by low or variable abundance of their most nutrient-rich prey, Chinook salmon.


June 27, 2017

Brain signals deliver first targeted treatment for world’s most common movement disorder

A new closed-loop deep brain stimulation system (results at right) developed by the UW-based CNSE delivers relief from symptoms of essential tremor that cause patients hands to shake (left) as successfully as current DBS methods (middle), but using far less battery life.

For the first time, University of Washington researchers have delivered targeted treatment for essential tremor – the world’s most common neurological movement disorder – by decoding brain signals to sense when patients’ limbs are shaking.


Distant earthquakes can cause underwater landslides

flow diagram

New University of Washington research finds large earthquakes can trigger underwater landslides thousands of miles away, weeks or months after the quake occurs.


June 26, 2017

The New York Times recognizes UW student policy recommendations

photo of the four team members

Seeking to protect coastal communities from these devastating impacts, an interdisciplinary team of UW students authored a policy case for lawmakers. Their case won the inaugural APRU-New York Times Asia-Pacific Case Competition, besting submissions from 31 universities across the Americas, Asia and Australasia


Microscope can scan tumors during surgery and examine cancer biopsies in 3-D

Photo of Adam Glaser tweaking microscope

A new UW microscope could provide real-time results during cancer-removal surgeries, potentially eliminating the 20 to 40 percent of women who have to undergo multiple lumpectomy surgeries because cancerous breast tissue is missed the first time around.


June 20, 2017

UW-led scientists ‘closing the gap’ on malaria in India

A woman inspecting a mosquito net.

The National Institutes of Health has renewed a major grant that funds a University of Washington-led research center to understand malaria in India.


June 19, 2017

To connect biology with electronics, be rigid, yet flexible

Drawing of how chemicals can swell.

Researchers uncover design principles to make polymers that can transport both ions and electrons, which will help create new devices like biosensors and flexible bioelectronic implants


June 8, 2017

Wide-Open accelerates release of scientific data by automatically identifying overdue datasets

graph showing papers released after WideOpen

WideOpen is a new open-source tool developed at the UW to help advance open science by automatically detecting datasets that are overdue for publication. Already, more than 400 datasets have been made public as a result.


June 7, 2017

Scientists discover a 2-D magnet

A top-view depiction of a single layer of CrI3. Chromium atoms are depicted in grey, with iodine atoms in purple.

A team led by the University of Washington and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology has for the first time discovered magnetism in the 2-D world of monolayers, or materials that are formed by a single atomic layer. The findings, published June 8 in the journal Nature, demonstrate that magnetic properties can exist even in the 2-D realm — opening a world of potential applications.


June 6, 2017

Hiding in plain sight: new species of flying squirrel discovered

The newly-described Humboldt’s flying squirrel is the third-known species of flying squirrel in North America.

A new study published May 30 in the Journal of Mammalogy describes a newly discovered third species of flying squirrel in North America — now known as Humboldt’s flying squirrel, or Glaucomys oregonensis. It inhabits the Pacific Coast region of North America, from southern British Columbia to the mountains of southern California.


June 2, 2017

UW, UW Bothell scientists explain new discovery in gravitational wave astronomy

LIGO has discovered a new population of black holes with masses that are larger than what had been seen before with X-ray studies alone (purple).

The announcement that a third collision of black holes has been detected three billion light years away validates the work of hundreds of scientists, including teams at the University of Washington and UW Bothell.


June 1, 2017

Scientists launch global agenda to curb social and human rights abuses in the seafood sector

fishing boats in thailand

As the United Nations Oceans Conference convenes in New York, a new paper calls on marine scientists to focus on social issues such as human rights violations in the seafood industry


Video shows invasive lionfish feasting on new Caribbean fish species

the ember goby

Researchers from the University of Washington and Smithsonian Institution have reported the first observed case of lionfish preying upon a fish species that had not yet been named. Their results, published May 25 in PLOS ONE, may indicate an uncertain future for other fish found in the largely unexplored deep-ocean coral reefs.


May 31, 2017

Support for tidal energy is high among Washington residents

Puget Sound in Washington state.

A new University of Washington study finds that people who believe climate change is a problem and see economic, environmental and/or social benefits to using tidal energy are more likely to support such projects. Also, connecting pilot projects to the electricity grid is an important factor in garnering public support.


May 30, 2017

Drone vs. truck deliveries: Which create less carbon pollution?

Photo of drone delivery

A new study finds that drone deliveries emit less climate-warming carbon dioxide pollution than truck deliveries in some — but not all — scenarios.


May 25, 2017

UW engineers borrow from electronics to build largest circuits to date in living eukaryotic cells

An artist’s impression of connected CRISPR-dCas9 NOR gates.

UW synthetic biology researchers have demonstrated a new method for digital information processing in living cells, analogous to the logic gates used in electric circuits. The team built the largest circuits published to date in eukaryotic cells, using DNA instead of silicon and solder.


May 23, 2017

Wolves need space to roam to control expanding coyote populations

gray wolf

Wolves and other top predators need large ranges to be able to control smaller predators whose populations have expanded to the detriment of a balanced ecosystem, a new study in Nature Communications finds.


May 22, 2017

Weathering of rocks a poor regulator of global temperatures

river flowing through mountain valley

Evidence from the age of the dinosaurs to today shows that chemical weathering of rocks is less sensitive to global temperature, and may depend on the steepness of the surface. The results call into question the role of rocks in setting our planet’s temperature over millions of years.


Kepler telescope spies details of TRAPPIST-1 system’s outermost planet

The ultra-cool dwarf star TRAPPIST-1 and its seven planets. A UW-led team has learned details of TRAPPIST-1h, the system's outermost planet.

A University of Washington-led international team of astronomers has used data gathered by the Kepler Space Telescope to observe and confirm details of the outermost of seven exoplanets orbiting the star TRAPPIST-1.


May 18, 2017

Seattle seawall’s novel fish features are a potential model for the world

finished seawall

As tourists and residents visit Seattle’s downtown waterfront, it may not be immediately apparent they are walking on arguably the largest, most ambitious urban seawall project in the world that prioritizes habitat for young fish and the invertebrates they feed on.


May 17, 2017

Earth’s atmosphere more chemically reactive in cold climates

researcher in lab

A study of a Greenland ice core shows that during large climate swings, chemically reactive oxidants shift in a different direction than expected, which means we need to rethink what controls these molecules in our air.


Visiting astronomer at UW part of ‘Styrofoam’ planet discovery

An artist's rendering of KELT-11b, a "Styrofoam"-density exoplanet orbiting a bright star in the southern hemisphere.

David James, a visiting scientist with the UW Department of Astronomy, assisted in the just-announced Lehigh University-led discovery of an exoplanet 320 light-years away with a density so light it is being called a “Styrofoam planet.”


May 15, 2017

Code of conduct needed for ocean conservation, study says

fishermen in thailand

A diverse group of the world’s leading experts in marine conservation is calling for a Hippocratic Oath for ocean conservation ― not unlike the pledge physicians take to uphold specific ethical standards when practicing medicine.


May 10, 2017

Kids, parents alike worried about privacy with internet-connected toys

barbie-cropped

University of Washington researchers have conducted a new study that explores the attitudes and concerns of both parents and children who play with internet-connected toys. Through a series of in-depth interviews and observations, the researchers found that kids didn’t know their toys were recording their conversations, and parents generally worried about their children’s privacy when they played with the toys.


May 9, 2017

Shrubs, grasses planted through federal program crucial for sage grouse survival in Eastern Washington

closeup of bird

A federal program that pays farmers to plant agricultural land with environmentally beneficial vegetation is probably the reason that sage grouse still live in portions of Washington’s Columbia Basin, according to a new study by UW, state and federal researchers.



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