UW Today

Science


July 29, 2015

Healthier Puget Sound depends on healthy people, report finds

man jumping into the water in puget sound

The Puget Sound Partnership on Wednesday adopted new targets that seek to quantify aspects of the natural environment that boost our collective happiness and wellness. These people-focused benchmarks will help inform restoration plans and assess future progress in cleaning up Puget Sound.


July 27, 2015

Babies’ brains show that social skills linked to second language learning

an example of gaze shifting

New findings by researchers at the Institute for Learning & Brain Sciences (I-LABS) at the University of Washington demonstrate for the first time that an early social behavior called gaze shifting is linked to infants’ ability to learn new language sounds.


July 22, 2015

Distinguished faculty to be inducted into Washington State Academy of Sciences

Detail from the Turing exhibit at a science museum

In recognition of their outstanding records of scientific achievement, 12 University of Washington professors will be inducted this fall into the Washington State Academy of Sciences. The professors will be honored for their “willingness to work on behalf of the academy” to bring top-quality scientific methods to research issues pertaining to Washington state. The induction ceremony will be…


July 20, 2015

The Next MacGyver will be a woman — and a UW engineering student may invent her

Concept art for "The Mind" television proposal

Astronautics doctoral student Nao Murakami wants to invent the heir to Angus MacGyver — the 1980s television hero who inspired a generation of engineers by foiling criminals with household items like cooking oil, a shop vac or a tube sock. Only this time the engineering heroine will be a woman.


July 17, 2015

Marine plankton brighten clouds over Southern Ocean

an image showing clouds and sun.

New research led by the University of Washington and the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory suggests tiny ocean life in vast stretches of the Southern Ocean plays a significant role in generating brighter clouds overhead.


July 16, 2015

UW researchers show that the mosquito smells, before it sees, a bloody feast

A female mosquito feeding on a host.

A team of biologists from the University of Washington and the California Institute of Technology has cracked the cues mosquitoes use to find us.


July 15, 2015

Students, researchers at sea working on recently erupted deep-sea volcano

Students onboard the R/V Thompson collect velella velella (by-the-wind-sailors) off the starboard side during the first leg of the expedition.

A team of researchers, engineers and students is now at sea to check the equipment in a massive seafloor laboratory, where underwater stations off the Pacific Northwest coast collect data and provide a real-time, virtual eye on the deep sea for people on shore.


UW chemists help develop a novel drug to fight malaria

Malaria parasites infecting a red blood cell.

An international team of scientists — led by researchers from the University of Washington and two other institutions — has announced that a new compound to fight malaria is ready for human trials.


July 13, 2015

Robotics and the law: When software can harm you

An artist's concept of a NASA robotic refueling mission. Shown here, cameras light the way as a tool from a robotic refueling mission approaches a satellite to cut wire, one of the steps to remotely accessing a satellite's triple-sealed fuel valve.

Twenty years in, the law is finally starting to get used to the Internet. Now it is imperative, says Ryan Calo, assistant professor in the UW School of Law, that the law figure out how to deal effectively with the rise of robotics and artificial intelligence.


July 8, 2015

Seafloor hot springs a significant source of iron in the oceans

seafloor topography with colored water above

A two-month voyage tracking a deep current flowing from one of the most active underwater volcanoes proves that iron released from hydrothermal vents travels thousands of miles, providing a significant source of iron to support life in the broader oceans.


July 6, 2015

In a cosmic ‘call to arms,’ UW astronomer proposes new deep-space telescope to scan the sky for signs of life

Artist's rendition of the planet Kepler-69c.

On July 6, a team of astronomers proposed a new type of mission to crack some of the universe’s most intriguing mysteries and search for life on distant worlds.


Risk of interbreeding due to climate change lower than expected

light brown baby bear

Despite worries about interbreeding due to climate change, a new study finds that only about 6 percent of closely related species in the Americas are likely to come into contact by the end of this century.


June 30, 2015

UW team programs solitary yeast cells to say ‘hello’ to one another

UW researchers have produced cell-to-cell communication in baker's yeast, a first step in learning to build multicellular organisms from scratch. The red yeast cells have been engineered to produce the plant hormone auxin, which "tells" the green cells to express a gene differently.

UW researchers have produced cell-to-cell communication in baker’s yeast — a first step in learning to build multicellular organisms or artificial organs from scratch.


June 29, 2015

Researchers discover how petunias know when to smell good

Image of the common garden petunia

A team of UW biologists has identified a key mechanism plants use to decide when to release their floral scents to attract pollinators.


June 25, 2015

UW researcher helping pinpoint massive harmful algal bloom

researcher looking into microscope

A UW research analyst who monitors harmful algae in Washington state is aboard a federal research vessel surveying a massive bloom that stretches from California up to Canada.


June 23, 2015

Visualizing the cosmos: UW astronomer Andrew Connolly and the promise of big data

UW astronomy professor Andrew Connolly at TED2014 at the Vancouver, B.C., convention center.

A conversation with UW astronomer Andrew Connolly on the coming Large Synoptic Survey Telescope and the promise of big data to the study of the universe.


June 22, 2015

Spectrum of life: Nonphotosynthetic pigments could be biosignatures of life on other worlds

Laguna Colorada is a shallow salt lake in the southwest of Bolivia. One of several places on Earth whose colors are dominated by nonphotosynthetic pigments. Eddie Schwieterman of the University of Washington has research on how such nonphotosynthetic biosignatures might appear on exoplanets, or those outside our solar system.

To find life in the universe, it helps to know what it might look like. If there are organisms on other planets that do not rely wholly on photosynthesis — as some on Earth do not — how might those worlds appear from light-years away?


June 19, 2015

Access to electricity is linked to reduced sleep

A Toba/Qom child sleeps.

New research comparing traditional hunter-gatherer living conditions to a more modern setting shows that access to artificial light and electricity has shortened the amount of sleep humans get each night.


June 18, 2015

UW and Tsinghua University create groundbreaking partnership with launch of the Global Innovation Exchange

GIX Exterior Rendering

In pursuit of solutions to some of the biggest global challenges, two of the world’s leading research universities, the University of Washington and Tsinghua University, are partnering to create the Global Innovation Exchange (GIX), an institute dedicated to educating the next generation of innovators. With $40 million in foundational support from Microsoft, GIX will bring…


Evidence from ivory DNA identifies two main elephant poaching hotspots

elephants socializing

University of Washington biologist Samuel Wasser uses DNA evidence to trace the origin of illegal ivory and help police an international trade that is decimating African elephant populations. New results show that over the past decade, ivory has largely come from just two areas in Africa.


Saharan silver ants use hair to survive Earth’s hottest temperatures

A Saharan silver ant offloading heat on top of dry vegetation.

An international team of researchers that includes a University of Washington electrical engineer has discovered two key strategies that enable Saharan silver ants to survive in one of the hottest terrestrial environments on Earth.


June 17, 2015

Plants make big decisions with microscopic cellular competition

A picture of stomata.

A team of University of Washington researchers has identified a mechanism that some plant cells use to receive complex and contradictory messages from their neighbors.


June 15, 2015

Genetic switch lets marine diatoms do less work at higher CO2

green cylinder on black background

Oceanographers found the genetic ‘needles in a haystack’ to gain the first hints at how diatoms — tiny drifting algae that carry out a large part of Earth’s photosynthesis — detect and respond to increasing carbon dioxide from burning of fossil fuels.


June 11, 2015

How the hawkmoth sees, hovers and tracks flowers in the dark

A hawkmoth clings to a robotic flower used to study the insect’s ability to track the moving flower under low-light conditions.

What researchers have discovered about the hummingbird-sized hawkmoth could help the next generation of small flying robots operate efficiently under a broad range of lighting conditions. The research is published in the June 12 edition of Science.


June 8, 2015

Atmospheric signs of volcanic activity could aid search for life

An eruption of the Calbuco Volcano in southern Chile. A team led by the UW's Amit Misra used data from volcanic eruptions on Earth to predict what an Earth-like exoplanet might look like during such eruptions.

Planets with volcanic activity are considered better candidates for life than worlds without such heated internal goings-on.
Now, graduate students at the UW have found a way to detect volcanic activity in the atmospheres of faraway planets when they transit, or pass in front of their host stars.


June 4, 2015

Warmer, lower-oxygen oceans will shift marine habitats

shark in the water

Warming temperatures and decreasing levels of dissolved oxygen will act together to create metabolic stress for marine animals. Habitats will shift to places in the ocean where the oxygen supply can meet the animals’ increasing future needs.


June 3, 2015

‘Stable beams’ achieved: Large Hadron Collider at CERN research facility begins recording data

Scientists at the European Organization for Nuclear Research are dwarfed by the Atlas particle detector, part of the Large Hadron Collider.

The Large Hadron Collider has started recording data from the highest-energy particle collisions ever achieved on Earth. This new data, the first recorded since 2012, will enable an international collaboration of researchers — including many from the UW — to study the Higgs boson, search for dark matter and develop a more complete understanding of the laws of nature.


Ocean Modeling Forum to bring human element to herring fishery, others

An albatross catches a herring.

The Ocean Modeling Forum is trying something very rare — bringing together multiple science models and people who care about a particular ocean resource or fishery to decide what’s most important for its vitality and the communities it serves.


June 2, 2015

UW psychology professor Yuichi Shoda honored for famous long-term study on delayed gratification

Yuichi Shoda, UW professor of psychology and recipient of 2015 Golden Goose Award from AUP.

University of Washington psychology professor Yuichi Shoda has been honored for his ongoing participation in a well-known — and perhaps slightly misunderstood — long-term study about delayed gratification.


UW researchers scaling up fusion hopes with DOE grant

UW researchers will attempt to create a self-sustained and controlled fusion reaction with a scaled-up version of this Z-pinch device.

UW researchers are scaling up a novel plasma confinement device with a DOE grant, in hopes of producing a self-sustaining reaction to create fusion energy.


May 28, 2015

Physicists conduct most precise measurement yet of interaction between atoms and carbon surfaces

An illustration of atoms sticking to a carbon nanotube, affecting the electrons in its surface.

UW physicists have conducted the most precise and controlled measurements yet of the interaction between the atoms and molecules that comprise air and the type of carbon surface used in battery electrodes and air filters — key information for improving those technologies.


May 27, 2015

Invisible helpers of the sea: Marine bacteria boost growth of tiny ocean algae

mosaic made out of different shaped diatoms

Using seawater collected in Seattle, Whidbey Island and other sites, UW oceanographers show that just as with plants on land, a common species of ocean diatom grows faster in the presence of helpful bacteria.


May 20, 2015

Burke Museum paleontologists discover the first dinosaur fossil in Washington state

The first dinosaur fossil from Washington state (left) is a portion of a femur leg bone (full illustration right) from a theropod dinosaur.

Burke Museum of Natural History and Culture paleontologists have documented the first dinosaur fossil from Washington state. The fossil was collected by a Burke Museum research team along the shores of Sucia Island State Park in the San Juan Islands.


May 19, 2015

UW’s Deborah Kelley publishes atlas of seafloor volcanoes and deep-ocean life

book cover with photo of tall pillars

Oceanographer Deborah Kelley is one of the lead authors of a first-of-its-kind atlas of the deep sea, titled “Discovering the Deep.”


May 15, 2015

Washington Sea Grant’s Ed Melvin wins presidential award for seabird-saving streamer lines

A pollock fishing boat.

A Washington Sea Grant staff scientist is sharing top honors for developing gear that nearly eliminates seabird bycatch in long-line fisheries from the West Coast to South Africa.


Chemical tags in ear bones track Alaska’s Bristol Bay salmon

Chinook-TILE

A chemical signature recorded on the ear bones of Chinook salmon from Alaska’s Bristol Bay region could tell scientists and resource managers where they are born and how they spend their first year of life.


May 6, 2015

Fishermen, communities need more than healthy fish stocks

A typical day at the fish market in Dakar, Senegal.

The Fishery Performance Indicators are the most comprehensive, global tool that considers social factors in addition to the usual biological measures when gauging a fishery’s health.


May 4, 2015

Puget Sound’s clingfish could inspire better medical devices, whale tags

Northern clingfish.

Researchers at the University of Washington’s Friday Harbor Laboratories are looking at how the biomechanics of clingfish could be helpful in designing devices and instruments to be used in surgery and even to tag and track whales in the ocean.


April 30, 2015

Seafloor sensors record possible eruption of underwater volcano

sensor on ocean floor

Sensors on the ocean’s floor installed by UW researchers show that late on April 23, a seismic event took place on the 3,000-foot underwater volcano off Oregon’s coast.


Sustainability progress should precede seafood market access, researchers urge

A fish market in the Solomon Islands, near Papua New Guinea.

A team of researchers has evaluated fishery improvement projects, which are designed to bring seafood from wild fisheries to the certified market while promising sustainability in the future. In a policy paper appearing May 1 in Science, they conclude these projects need to be fine tuned to ensure that fisheries are delivering on their promises.



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