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Myanmar goes mobile, with UW’s help

A reformist government speeded Myanmar’s transition to democracy three years ago, dramatically increasing access to information. In 2011, just four percent of the population had mobile phones. Now the figure is closer to eighty percent, with many people owning smartphones. But navigating the flood of online information can be problematic for new users with no experience assessing the trustworthiness of sites and sources. An initiative launched by UW faculty aims to change that.

The initiative, Information Strategies for Societies in Transition (ISST), is designed to build digital literacy, information literacy, and data literacy across Myanmar. Professors Mary Callahan and Sara Curran in the Jackson School of International Studies, Chris Coward, director of the Technology & Social Change Group in the Information School, and Michael Crandall, a principal research scientist in the Information School, lead the project in collaboration with USAID, Microsoft, and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

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Boosting global health partnerships for Chinese universities

Supported by the Global Innovation Fund, a landmark symposium hosted by the UW last week brought together leaders and faculty from five Chinese universities, across the UW campus and the Seattle community. “Collaborating with Chinese colleagues is a tremendously high priority, both personally for faculty and institutionally here at UW,” said Judy Wasserheit, chair of the Department of Global Health and symposium co-chair.

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Scientists crack the code of butterflies’ international journey

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 haveplummeted due to loss of their sole larval food source — milkweed. But amid this sad news, a research team believes they have cracked the secretof the internal, genetically encoded compass that the monarchs use to determine the direction — southwest — they should fly each fall.

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Study: Most tweets following fall Paris attacks defended Islam, Muslims

Researchers at the UW Information School and the Qatar Computing Research Institute analyzed 8.36 million tweets beginning seven hours after the November 13, 2015 terrorist attacks in Paris and continuing for 50 hours. Searching for words and hashtags relevant to the event, the team identified about 900,000 tweets relating to Islam and Muslims. They found that while anti-Islam and anti-Muslim sentiments arose on Twitter, most tweets in the huge stream following the Paris attacks actually condemned the negative hashtags and expressed support for Islam.

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In the Galapagos, UW researchers partner to map historic climate patterns

Together with colleagues from Australian National University, University of Washington oceanographers used clues from the Galapagos Islands — a dot in the middle of the Pacific Ocean — to trace El Niño patterns and seasonal tropical rains over the past 2,000 years. Evidence shows shifts that last for centuries, suggesting these tropical climate patterns have varied more radically and for longer durations than previously believed. The study is published the week of March 14 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

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Center for Global Health Nursing promotes ‘health that transcends borders’

Sarah Gimbel and Pam Kohler co-direct the UW School of Nursing Center for Global Health Nursing. The center pushes for the voices of nurses to be included in global health conversations. The center will support nursing students who want to learn and serve overseas, as well as international students who want to study at the UW. Likewise, a global health perspective allows nurses from the U.S. and abroad to learn from one another. “When we say ‘global,’” Gimbel said, “we’re talking about health that transcends borders.”

The Global Innovation Fund supports projects sponsored by the Center for Global Health Nursing.

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Solving the global problem of mental health illness

Professor Deepa Rao and her colleagues say stigma, poor mental health, and substance abuse drive many global health problems, including diabetes, preterm birth, trauma injuries, self-harm and motor vehicle deaths. More than one billion people suffer from a mental health illness or substance abuse problem. “Mental health has been a neglected disease in global health,” says Rao, co-director of the UW Global Mental Health Program.

The next step is improving treatment. The Global Mental Health Program seeks philanthropic support for faculty, pilot research projects, and student scholarships and fellowships. Rao and her colleagues are conducting research and training to address gaps in global mental health interventions. One successful example is Professor Debra Kaysen’s therapy work in the Democratic Republic of Congo, where women are traumatized from domestic violence and rape.

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UW trains Pakistan’s water managers to harness NASA data

NASA satellites are helping Pakistan’s water managers to more effectively monitor and manage scarce groundwater resources, thanks to a partnership with engineers and hydrologists at the University of Washington, supported in part by the Global Innovation Fund. After training at the UW, the Pakistan Council of Research in Water Resources began using satellite data from NASA’s Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment, or GRACE, mission to create monthly updates on groundwater storage changes in the Indus River basin. This will allow them to see where groundwater supplies are being depleted and where they are being adequately recharged, better supporting Pakistan’s agriculture-base economy.

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Student research named in El Salvador family’s reunification story

Jackson School students in the 2015 capstone course “Promoting Human Rights and Healing in the Wake of Civil War” made two documentary films aimed to reunite San Salvadoran parents of “disappeared children.” The videos went public in March 2015, and in April, King 5 news covered the story. By early 2016, at least one mother and child from the documentary had been reunited, as documented in this article by the Asociación Pro-Búsqueda. The article references the UW student-produced documentaries.

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