UW News

June 23, 2016

UW is top producer of earth and environment research

UW News

image of a wooded path

The University of Washington published the most earth and environmental science research last year, outpacing all other universities worldwide, according to a new report from Nature Index.

Nature Index is a database compiled by the journal Nature that tracks nearly in real time the number of research articles per institution published in 68 selective, high-quality journals. Two panels of scientists select the journals included in the index.

Researchers in the UW’s College of the Environment as well as the UW’s Applied Physics Laboratory were lead or co-authors on 126 journal articles that lifted the university to the top spot in this category in 2015. Papers on topics including sustainable forestry, invasive species, climate, earthquakes, volcanoes and tsunamis landed in journals such as Science, Ecology, Nature, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences and Geology.

“You clearly see the depth of our disciplinary expertise in all aspects of earth, atmosphere and ocean sciences. But if you look deeper, there’s a lot of collaboration and boundary-crossing going on. There are key papers in which faculty from several different disciplines are working together to understand the coupled dynamics of the entire earth system,” said UW College of the Environment Dean Lisa Graumlich.

“It doesn’t stop at the physical sciences. The index includes papers on the ecology of old-growth forests and salmon as well as ecological impacts of global nitrogen deposition. It’s a testament to our faculty’s keen ability to identify leading-edge scientific problems and to assemble the teams to tackle these problems.”

Article output is counted in several ways and Nature Index, updated monthly, provides information on research output at the institutional, national and regional level.

The other schools in the top five for earth and environmental science research are the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zurich; the University of California, San Diego; the California Institute of Technology and the University of Colorado Boulder.

The UW’s College of the Environment has more than 20 degree programs and receives about $126 million in annual funding.