College of Arts & Sciences
June 3, 2016
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.
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.
May 27, 2016
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 16, 2016
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
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
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.
April 20, 2016
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 14, 2016
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 6, 2016
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 4, 2016
In the maelstrom of information, opinion and conjecture that is Twitter, the voice of truth and reason does occasionally prevail, according to a new study from UW researchers. Tweets from “official accounts” — the government agencies, emergency responders, media or companies at the center of a fast-moving story — can slow the spread of rumors on Twitter and correct misinformation that’s taken on a life of its own.
February 23, 2016
Four faculty members at the University of Washington have been awarded early-career fellowships from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. The new Sloan Fellows, announced Feb. 23, include Bingni Brunton, assistant professor of biology; Christopher Laumann, assistant professor of physics; Matthew McQuinn, assistant professor of astronomy; and Emina Torlak, assistant professor of computer science and engineering….
February 18, 2016
Three members of the UW faculty have received the 2016 Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers, the highest honor given by the U.S. government to early-career scientists and engineers.
February 12, 2016
UW astronomers Breanna Binder and Ben Williams have identified a rare type of ‘supernova impostor’ in a nearby galaxy, with implications for how scientists look at the short, complex lives of massive stars.
University of Washington scientists have successfully combined two different ultrathin semiconductors — each just one layer of atoms thick and roughly 100,000 times thinner than a human hair — to make a new two-dimensional heterostructure with potential uses in clean energy and optically-active electronics.
February 11, 2016
For the first time, scientists have observed ripples in the fabric of spacetime called gravitational waves, arriving at the Earth from a cataclysmic event in the distant universe. This confirms a major prediction of Albert Einstein’s 1915 general theory of relativity and opens an unprecedented new window onto the cosmos.
February 8, 2016
P. Dee Boersma, a University of Washington professor of biology and Wadsworth Endowed Chair in Conservation Science, is one of six finalists for the prestigious Indianapolis Prize for conservation. Boersma is the first UW faculty member nominated for this prize — the highest honor for animal conservationists — which has been awarded every other year since 2006.
January 15, 2016
The University of Washington is home to 26 researchers included on Thomson Reuters’ list of “The World’s Most Influential Scientific Minds” for 2015, which was released Jan. 14. The distinction, based on an analysis of over a decade of research paper citations among 21 general scientific fields, is meant to recognize scientists who are most cited by their peers.
January 8, 2016
Astronomers with the Sloan Digital Sky Survey (SDSS) announced that a distant quasar ran out of gas. Their conclusions, reported Jan. 8 at the American Astronomical Society meeting in Kissimmee, Florida, clarify why quasar SDSS J1011+5442 changed so dramatically in the handful of years between observations.
December 15, 2015
On Dec. 3, the legislature for Argentina’s Chubut province established a new marine protected area off Punta Tombo, which would help preserve the feeding grounds for about 500,000 Magellanic penguins that make their home along this rocky stretch of Argentine coast. This is welcome news for the UW scientists who have studied these penguins for decades and advocated for their conservation.
December 10, 2015
Two University of Washington researchers have uncovered details of the radically divergent strategies that two common tree species employ to cope with drought in southwestern Colorado. As they report in a new paper in the journal Global Change Biology, one tree species shuts down production and conserves water, while the other alters its physiology to continue growing and using water.
November 23, 2015
Four University of Washington researchers are among 347 new fellows of the American Association for the Advancement of Science for 2015.
November 19, 2015
University of Washington scientists have sequenced the complete genetic makeup of a species of ecologically important algae, which may aid in biofuel production.
November 2, 2015
By age 5 children have a sense of self-esteem comparable in strength to that of adults, according to a new study by University of Washington researchers.
October 29, 2015
A nearby exoplanet has an atmosphere that might be similar to Earth’s before life evolved. In an attempt to simulate the structure of this exoplanet’s atmosphere, UW researchers became the first to simulate three-dimensional exotic clouds on another world.
October 20, 2015
A UW graduate student’s research paper is the first serious study of whether climate change is likely to cause human migration to the Puget Sound region.
October 19, 2015
A Nov. 7 concert in Seattle’s Benaroya Hall promises to offer the audience a decidedly stellar musical experience. The event, “Origins: Life and the Universe,” will pair live performances of new compositions with video and slideshow scenes depicting cosmic events like the Big Bang, as well as scenes from distant worlds and Earth’s own life-filled…
October 16, 2015
The David and Lucile Packard Foundation has named the University of Washington’s Brandi Cossairt, an assistant professor in the Department of Chemistry, as one of 18 Packard Fellows for 2015.
September 28, 2015
A team of scientists at the University of Washington and the biotechnology company Illumina have created an innovative tool to directly detect the delicate, single-molecule interactions between DNA and enzymatic proteins. Their approach provides a new platform to view and record these nanoscale interactions in real time. As they report Sept. 28 in Nature Biotechnology, this tool should provide fast and reliable characterization of the different mechanisms cellular proteins use to bind to DNA strands — information that could shed new light on the atomic-scale interactions within our cells and help design new drug therapies against pathogens by targeting enzymes that interact with DNA.
September 24, 2015
The Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory — or Fermilab — announced that a 680-ton superconducting magnet is secure in its new home and nearly ready for a new era of discovery in particle physics. This achievement follows the delicate, 3,200-mile transport of the magnet’s 17-ton, 50-foot-wide housing ring to the U.S. Department of Energy facility outside Chicago two years ago. The fully assembled magnet will drive high-energy particle experiments as part of an international partnership among 34 institutions, of which the University of Washington is a leading contributor.
September 14, 2015
New research from the University of Washington’s Friday Harbor Laboratories shows that a more acidic ocean can weaken the protective shell of a delicate alga. The findings, published Sept. 9 in the journal Biology Letters, come at a time when global climate change may increase ocean acidification.
August 25, 2015
In early August, biologist Peter Ward returned from the South Pacific with news that he encountered an old friend, one he hadn’t seen in over three decades. The University of Washington professor had seen what he considers one of the world’s rarest animals, a remote encounter that may become even more infrequent if illegal fishing…
August 17, 2015
Recent press and social media coverage have reminded residents of the Pacific Northwest that they live in a seismically active region. Stretching offshore from northern California to British Columbia, the Cascadia subduction zone could slip at any time, causing a powerful earthquake and triggering a tsunami that would impact communities along the coast. Scientists from…
August 13, 2015
A team of scientists has identified a new species of “pre-mammal” based on fossils unearthed in Zambia’s Luangwa Basin in 2009. The ancient, Dachshund-sized creature lived some 255 million years ago, in a time just before the largest mass extinction in Earth’s history. Its discoverers include Christian Sidor, professor of biology at the University of…
August 3, 2015
Crystals form through a variety of paths, with implications for biological, materials and environmental research
Crystals play an important role in the formation of substances from skeletons and shells to soils and semiconductor materials. But many aspects of their formation are shrouded in mystery. Scientists have long worked to understand how crystals grow into complex shapes. Now, an international group of researchers has shown how nature uses a variety of…
July 16, 2015
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
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 6, 2015
In a cosmic ‘call to arms,’ UW astronomer proposes new deep-space telescope to scan the sky for signs of life
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.
June 29, 2015
A team of UW biologists has identified a key mechanism plants use to decide when to release their floral scents to attract pollinators.
June 19, 2015
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
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.