UW Today

Science


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.


Engineering a better solar cell: UW research pinpoints defects in popular perovskites

The quality of the perovskite materials for electronic device applications improved after chemical treatment, remediating the “dark” areas.

A new UW study demonstrates that perovskite materials — superefficient crystal structures that have recently taken the scientific community by storm — contain previously undiscovered flaws that can be engineered to improve solar cells and other devices even further.


April 29, 2015

Antarctic ice core shows northern trigger for ice age climate shifts

closeup of ice

UW glaciologists were part of a team that used a new Antarctic ice core to discover which region triggered sudden global-scale climate shifts during the last ice age.


April 28, 2015

UW apparatus measures single electron’s radiation to try to weigh a neutrino

colorful block figure

UW researchers and their collaborators used an experiment in the physics building to measure the energy of a single electron emitted by radioactive decay, a key step in their strategy to measure the mass of the elusive neutrino.


April 27, 2015

Tidal tugs on Teflon faults drive slow-slipping earthquakes

diagram showing brown slab below grey slab

Teasing out how slow, silent earthquakes respond to tidal forces lets researchers calculate the friction inside the fault, which could help understand when and how the more hazardous earthquakes occur.


April 22, 2015

UW key player in new NASA coalition to search for life on distant worlds

The search for life beyond our solar system requires cooperation across scientific disciplines -- the way the UW-based Virtual Planetary Laboratory has been working since 2001. Now, NASA's NExSS collaboration will take a similarly interdisciplinary approach to the search for life. Participants include those who study Earth as a life-bearing planet (lower right), those researching the diversity of solar system planets (left), and those on the new frontier, discovering worlds orbiting other stars in the galaxy (upper right).

The NASA Astrobiology Institute’s Virtual Planetary Laboratory, based at the University of Washington, has long brought an interdisciplinary approach to the study of planets and search for life outside our solar system. Now, a new NASA initiative inspired by the UW lab is embracing that same team approach to bring together 10 universities and two research institutions in the ongoing search for life on planets around other stars.


April 20, 2015

Study shows early environment has a lasting impact on stress response systems

Children in an orphanage in Bucharest, Romania.

  New University of Washington research finds that children’s early environments have a lasting impact on their responses to stress later in life, and that the negative effects of deprived early environments can be mitigated — but only if that happens before age 2. Published April 20 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences,…


April 15, 2015

3-D printed blossoms a growing tool for ecology

A hawk moth probes a flower with its proboscis.

3-D printing has been used to make everything from cars to medical implants. Now, University of Washington ecologists are using the technology to make artificial flowers, which they say could revolutionize our understanding of plant-pollinator interactions.


Man with restored sight provides new insight into how vision develops

Mike May

California man Mike May made international headlines in 2000 when his sight was restored by a pioneering stem cell procedure after 40 years of blindness. But a study published three years after the operation found that the then-49-year-old could see colors, motion and some simple two-dimensional shapes, but was incapable of more complex visual processing….


April 14, 2015

UW among select universities to use investigational Medtronic device, advance research into brain activity

Jeffrey Herron reviews a circuit board he designed to allow for wireless and mobile experiments with the Activa PC+S Deep Brain Stimulation system.

Researchers from the University of Washington have teamed up with medical device manufacturer Medtronic to use the Activa® PC+S Deep Brain Stimulation (DBS) system with people who have essential tremor.


April 13, 2015

Violent methane storms on Titan may solve dune direction mystery

A view of Titan. Saturn's largest moon, with its ringed host in the background. New research from the University of Washington may solve a riddle of the direction of sand dunes on the moon's surface.

Titan, Saturn’s largest moon, has a hazy atmosphere and surface rivers, mountains, lakes and sand dunes. But the dunes and prevailing surface winds don’t point in the same direction. New research from UW astronomer Benjamin Charnay may have solved this mystery.


April 9, 2015

‘Warm blob’ in Pacific Ocean linked to weird weather across the U.S.

colored map

A patch of warm water off the West Coast, nicknamed “the blob” by a UW scientist, is part of a larger shift in the Pacific Ocean that may be responsible for widespread weather changes.


April 7, 2015

Common birds bring economic vitality to cities, new study finds

House finch

A new study finds the economic value of enjoying urban birds to be $120 million each year for Seattle residents and $70 million for people living in Berlin. Residents in both cities spend more than the average U.S. adult on bird-supporting activities, which then benefit the local economies as residents invest in bird food and conservation.


April 6, 2015

Fishing amplifies forage fish collapses

Pacific herring

A new study implicates fishing in the collapse of forage fish stocks and recommends risk-based management tools that would track a fishery’s numbers and suspend fishing when necessary.


April 2, 2015

UW, NASA prepare for effort to measure rain, snow on Olympic Peninsula

Clouds on the Olympic Peninsula's Hurricane Ridge.

The University of Washington and NASA are preparing for an effort next winter to measure rain in America’s rainiest place: Washington’s Olympic Peninsula. As part of the current gear-up phase, they are looking for volunteers to help track rain.


March 23, 2015

UW scientists build a nanolaser using a single atomic sheet

The ultra-thin semiconductor, which is about 100,000 times thinner than a human hair, stretches across the top of the photonic cavity.

University of Washington scientists have built a new nanometer-sized laser using a semiconductor that’s only three atoms thick. It could help open the door to next-generation computing that uses light, rather than electrons, to transfer information.


March 19, 2015

UW geologist, engineer reflect back one year later on nation’s deadliest landslide

An aerial photo of the Oso, Wash., mudslide.

A UW geologist and geotechnical engineer look back at what the past year has meant, personally and professionally, as they helped recovery efforts from the nation’s deadliest landslide in our own backyard.


March 18, 2015

New research suggests insect wings might serve gyroscopic function

A robber fly with a very large haltere (inside yellow box). Halteres are sensors that act like gyroscopes, providing information about the insect's body rotations during flight.

Gyroscopes measure rotation in everyday technologies, from unmanned aerial vehicles to cell phone screen stabilizers. Though many animals can move with more precision and accuracy than our best-engineered aircraft and technologies, gyroscopes are rarely found in nature. Scientists know of just one group of insects, the group including flies, that has something that behaves like…


New Air Force center at UW learns from animals for better flight

Yonatan Munk, a postdoctoral researcher in biology, studies how moths fly.

A new center at the University of Washington funded by the U.S. Air Force will focus on how elements in nature can help solve challenging engineering and technological problems related to building small, remotely operated aircraft.


March 17, 2015

First global review on the status, future of Arctic marine mammals

closeup of polar bear

A University of Washington scientist is lead author on the first census of all Arctic marine mammals, including whales, walruses, seals and polar bears. The multinational report assesses the current status of these populations and makes recommendations for conservation of these species under climate change.


March 12, 2015

Naturally acidic waters of Puget Sound surround UW’s Friday Harbor Labs

photo of dock in sunshine

For more than 100 years, marine biologists at Friday Harbor Laboratories have studied the ecology of everything from tiny marine plants to giant sea stars. Now, as the oceans are undergoing a historic shift in chemistry, the lab is establishing itself as a place to study what that will mean for marine life. And the…


March 11, 2015

‘Chaotic Earths’: Some habitable exoplanets could experience wildly unpredictable climates

ChaoticResonancePlanets04

New research by UW astronomer Rory Barnes and co-authors describes possible planetary systems where a gravitational nudge from one planet with just the right orbital configuration and tilt could have a mild to devastating effect on the orbit and climate of another, possibly habitable world.


March 10, 2015

An injectable UW polymer could keep soldiers, trauma patients from bleeding to death

a rendering of fibrin forming a blood clot using the polymer to bind.

University of Washington researchers have developed a new injectable polymer that strengthens blood clots, called PolySTAT. Administered in a simple shot, the polymer finds any unseen injuries and has the potential to keep trauma patients from bleeding to death before reaching medical care.



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