UW News

December 27, 2016

Year in review: 2016 news from the University of Washington

UW News

The research happening here at the University of Washington — across all three campuses — is exceptional and selecting only a handful of stories to feature from the hundreds, if not thousands, that came out this year is a monumental task.

Using UW Today’s page view data, social media reach and news coverage, we have narrowed it down to these highlights showcasing the impact and ambition of the UW’s work regionally and around the world — listed here in chronological order.

UW, Gonzaga University announce medical school partnership

February 24, 2016


The UW and Gonzaga University signed an agreement to continue, enhance and expand medical education and research in Spokane.

The agreement makes Gonzaga a partner in the UW’s regional, community-based medical education program and sets in motion plans to advance health related research, entrepreneurship and interdisciplinary health sciences teaching in Spokane.

UW team stores digital images in DNA — and retrieves them perfectly

April 7, 2016
Photo of DNA

All the movies, images, emails and other digital data from more than 600 basic smartphones (10,000 gigabytes) can be stored in the faint pink smear of DNA at the end of this test tube.Tara Brown Photography/ University of Washington

Technology companies routinely build sprawling data centers to store all the baby pictures, financial transactions, funny cat videos and email messages its users hoard.

But a new technique developed by UW and Microsoft researchers could shrink the space needed to store digital data that today would fill a Walmart supercenter down to the size of a sugar cube. The team of computer scientists and electrical engineers has detailed one of the first complete systems to encode, store and retrieve digital data using DNA molecules, which can store information millions of times more compactly than current archival technologies.

Appeal of ‘genetic puzzles’ leads to National Medal of Science for UW’s Mary-Claire King

May 19, 2016
Mary-Claire King

Mary-Claire KingSteven Dewall/Komen Foundation

In a White House ceremony May 19, President Barack Obama presented the National Medal of Science to Mary-Claire King, UW professor of genome sciences and medicine.

The award, the nation’s highest recognition for scientific achievement, honors King’s more than 40 years dedicated to research in evolution and the genetics of human disease, as well as to teaching and outreach endeavors that have supported human rights efforts on six continents and reunited families.

UW professor is digitizing every fish species in the world

July 19, 2016

Nearly 25,000 species of fish live on our planet, and UW professor Adam Summers wants to scan and digitize them all.

Adam Summers was an expert for the new “Finding Dory” film.

That means each species will soon have a high-resolution, 3-D visual replica online, available to all and downloadable for free. Scientists, teachers, students and amateur ichthyologists will be able to look at the fine details of a smoothhead sculpin’s skeleton, or 3-D print an exact replica of an Arctic alligatorfish.

UW researchers studying effects of Seattle minimum wage hike

July 25, 2016

Seattle skyline

The City of Seattle passed its $15 minimum wage ordinance in June 2014, and that December commissioned a UW team to conduct a five-year study of the law’s impacts.

Check back for updates on the team’s research.

The ongoing research is led by professors Jacob Vigdor and Mark Long with Jennifer Romich, associate professor in the UW School of Social Work, and other co-authors from the Evans School, the School of Public Health and the Washington Employment Security Department.

Twins, especially male identical twins, live longer

August 18, 2016

Twins not only have a bestie from birth — they also live longer than singletons. And those two factors may be related, according to new UW research.

While twins have been subjects in countless studies that try to separate the effects of nature from nurture, this UW study is the first to actually look at what being a twin means for life expectancy. Analysis shows that twins have lower mortality rates for both sexes throughout their lifetimes.

Paleontologists with the UW’s Burke Museum discover major T. rex fossil

August 18, 2016
Paleontologists prepare to remove a Tyrannosaurus rex skull from a fossil dig site in northern Montana and transport it to the Burke Museum at the University of Washington.

Paleontologists prepare to remove a Tyrannosaurus rex skull from a fossil dig site in northern Montana and transport it to the Burke Museum at the University of Washington.Dave DeMar/Burke Museum/UW

Paleontologists with the UW’s Burke Museum of Natural History and Culture have discovered a Tyrannosaurus rex, including a very complete skull.

Update: Paleontologists have begun removing the protective plaster from the skull. T-rex jaw

The find, which paleontologists estimate to be about 20 percent of the animal, includes vertebrae, ribs, hips and lower jaw bones. The team, led by UW biology professor Greg Wilson, discovered the T. rex during an expedition to the Hell Creek Formation in northern Montana — an area that is world-famous for its fossil dinosaur sites.


Is divorce seasonal? UW research shows biannual spike in divorce filings

August 21, 2016

Hand with wedding ring

To everything, there is a season — even divorce, new research from UW sociologists concludes.

Associate sociology professor Julie Brines and doctoral candidate Brian Serafini found what is believed to be the first quantitative evidence of a seasonal, biannual pattern of filings for divorce. The researchers analyzed filings in Washington state between 2001 and 2015 and found that they consistently peaked in March and August, the periods following winter and summer holidays.

UW Professor Emeritus David J. Thouless wins Nobel Prize in physics for exploring exotic states of matter

October 4, 2016

“Professor Thouless’ work is a perfect example of why curiosity-driven basic science is so vital,” said UW President Ana Mari Cauce. “Not only did his discoveries open up entirely new fields of research, but they also have had implications for the electronic devices that power our world today and those that may do so in the future — everything from advanced superconductors to quantum computers to other applications we can hardly imagine. We are tremendously proud of this recognition of the seminal importance of his work.”

UW launches historic $5 billion philanthropic campaign

Silhouette of hand making the W shape.

The UW launched the public phase of its most ambitious philanthropic campaign in history, with a goal of raising $5 billion by the year 2020.

The campaign, called “Be Boundless — For Washington, For the World,” focuses on four key priorities: transforming the student experience, expanding the impact of the UW’s research, empowering possibility through innovation, and driving the public good. The earliest phases of the campaign began in 2010, and the UW has already received more than $3 billion toward its goal.

UW Population Health Initiative receives transformative gift from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

October 25, 2016

Rainier horizon

In May, the UW launched the Population Health Initiative, which aims to bring together the research and resources of the UW and partners around the Puget Sound and beyond to improve the health and well-being of people around the world.

In December, Bill Gates named UW President Ana Mari Cauce one of his ‘favorite fanatics’ of 2016, in part because of her vision for the Population Health Initiative.

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation in October awarded a $210 million gift that will serve as a catalyst for the vision, funding construction of a new building to house several UW units working in population health, as well as serving as a place for faculty, students and collaborators from the many university departments and global partners that are part of the effort to come together in their work.

The initiative’s goal is to develop a 25-year vision to improve population health locally and globally by focusing on three key areas: human health, environmental resiliency, and social and economic equity.

UW’s beloved Denny Hall officially reopened after restoration

October 27, 2016

Denny Hall — the UW’s oldest and now newest building — reopened in October after a 16-month restoration. Take a look at the journey the building and its patrons have taken in the last 121 years.

#ShoulderToShoulder: UW Bothell students denounce hate, Islamophobia with viral video

December 14, 2016

From UW Bothell Interdisciplinary Arts & Sciences:

Our class of 43 students created this response to the #MannequinChallenge as our final project. On December 8, 2016 we stood shoulder-to-shoulder, alongside, other classmates, deans, faculty and staff of the UW Bothell campus to denounce hate and Islamophobia. #HumanityOverHate #HuskiesStandStrong

For more UW stories, check out #BestofUW on social media.