UW News


February 13, 2019

Parents don’t pick favorites, at least if you’re a Magellanic penguin

A penguin feeding one of its chicks.

Researchers at the University of Washington wanted to know how Magellanic penguin parents in South America balance the dietary demands of multiple chicks. As they report in a paper published Jan. 23 in the journal Animal Behaviour, when a Magellanic penguin parent returns to its nest with fish, the parent tries to feed each of its two chicks equal portions of food, regardless of the youngsters’ differences in age or size.


February 7, 2019

All the data in the sky, alerted via UW eyes

An image of a galaxy.

The Zwicky Transient Facility, based at the Palomar Observatory, has identified over a thousand new objects and phenomena in the night sky, including more than 1,100 new supernovae and 50 near-Earth asteroids. University of Washington scientists are part of the ZTF team and led the development of the collaboration’s alert system, which informs science teams of possible new objects or changes to known objects in the sky.


January 10, 2019

Astronomers find signatures of a ‘messy’ star that made its companion go supernova

An image of a galaxy in outer space, with a bright supernova visible at its outer edge.

On Jan. 10 at the 2019 American Astronomical Society meeting in Seattle, an international team of astronomers announced that they have identified the type of companion star that made its partner in a binary system, a carbon-oxygen white dwarf star, explode. Through repeated observations of SN 2015cp, a supernova 545 million light years away, the team detected hydrogen-rich debris that the companion star had shed prior to the explosion.


January 2, 2019

The number of single male Magellanic penguins is rising at this breeding colony. Here’s why.

A curious Magellanic penguin looking into the camera lens

Female Magellanic penguins are more likely to die at sea as juveniles, which has caused a skewed sex ratio of nearly three adult males to every female, as well as population decline of more than 40 percent since 1987 at one of their largest breeding colonies — Punta Tombo in Argentina.


How economic theory and the Netflix Prize could make research funding more efficient

campus-TILE

In a paper published Jan. 2 in PLOS Biology, two scientists at the University of Washington and North Carolina State University use the economic theory of contests to illustrate how the competitive grant-application system has made the pursuit of research funding inefficient and unsustainable — and that alternative methods, such as a partial lottery to award grants, could relieve pressure on professors and free up time for research.


December 24, 2018

New global migration estimates show rates proportionally steady since 1990, high rate of return migration

People waiting at an airport

Two University of Washington scientists have unveiled a new statistical method for estimating migration flows between countries. They show that rates of migration are higher than previously thought, but also relatively stable, fluctuating between 1.1 and 1.3 percent of global population from 1990 to 2015. In addition, since 1990 approximately 45 percent of migrants have returned to their home countries, a much higher estimate than other methods.


December 12, 2018

Teens get more sleep, show improved grades and attendance with later school start time, researchers find

Photo by Katherine Turner.

In 2016, Seattle Public Schools pushed back the start times for the district’s 18 high schools by 55 minutes, from 7:50 a.m. to 8:45 a.m. And as hoped, teenagers used the extra time to sleep in.


November 27, 2018

Threatened tropical coral reefs form complex, ancient associations with bacteria, researchers say

Fish swimming in a coral reef.

In a comprehensive study of healthy corals published Nov. 22 in the journal Nature Communications, a team of scientists from the University of Washington Bothell, Pennsylvania State University and Oregon State University report that coral bacteria are a surprisingly diverse bunch — and that different sections of the coral body can host unique communities of bacteria.


November 7, 2018

After a bad winter in the ocean, female Magellanic penguins suffer most, study shows

A view of South America from space.

Researchers from the University of Washington have shown how Magellanic penguins fare during the winter months when they spend months at sea feeding. They have discovered that oceanographic features are more likely to negatively impact the body conditions of Magellanic penguin females, but not males, when the penguins return to their nesting grounds in spring.


October 24, 2018

UW physicist Jiun-Haw Chu named Packard Fellow for research on quantum materials

A person standing in a lab.

Jiun-Haw Chu, a University of Washington assistant professor of physics and faculty member at the UW’s Clean Energy Institute, has been named a 2018 fellow by the David and Lucile Packard Foundation for his research on quantum materials — substances that exhibit novel combinations of quantum-mechanical properties that could one day transform information technology.


October 8, 2018

Awards to UW affiliate professor recognize career of conservation and research on penguins

two people standing on a stage

Pablo García Borboroglu, president of the Global Penguin Society and a UW affiliate associate professor of biology, has won the Whitley Gold Award and the National Geographic/Buffett Award for Leadership in Conservation, as well as accolades from the Argentine National Congress, for his research and advocacy for penguin conservation.


October 1, 2018

High CO2 levels cause plants to thicken their leaves, which could worsen climate change effects, researchers say

A tree canopy in a tropical rainforest.

When levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere rise, most plants do something unusual: They thicken their leaves. Now two University of Washington scientists have shown that this reaction by plants will actually worsen climate change by making the global “carbon sink” contributed by plants was less productive.


September 24, 2018

Burst of morning gene activity tells plants when to flower

Arabidopsis thaliana plants flowering outside under natural light.

For angiosperms — or flowering plants — one of the most important decisions facing them each year is when to flower. It is no trivial undertaking. To flower, they must cease vegetative growth and commit to making those energetically expensive reproductive structures that will bring about the next generation. Knowledge of this process at the…


September 19, 2018

DNA testing of illegal ivory seized by law enforcement links multiple ivory shipments to same dealers

African elephants examining a bone from another elephant

The international trade in elephant ivory has been illegal since 1989, yet African elephant numbers continue to decline. In 2016, the International Union for Conservation of Nature cited ivory poaching as a primary reason for a staggering loss of about 111,000 elephants between 2005 and 2015 — leaving their total numbers at an estimated 415,000….


August 30, 2018

Climate change projected to boost insect activity and crop loss, researchers say

Image of ears of wheat

In a paper published Aug. 31 in the journal Science, a team led by scientists at the University of Washington reports that insect activity in today’s temperate, crop-growing regions will rise along with temperatures. Researchers project that this activity, in turn, will boost worldwide losses of rice, corn and wheat by 10-25 percent for each degree Celsius that global mean surface temperatures rise.


August 23, 2018

Hack week: Study supports collaborative, participant-driven approach for researchers to learn data science from their peers

Scientists working together on computer projects.

A team from the University of Washington, New York University and the University of California, Berkeley has developed an interactive workshop in data science for researchers at multiple stages of their careers. The course format, called “hack week,” blends elements from both traditional lecture-style pedagogy with participant-driven projects.


August 9, 2018

For UW physicists, the 2-D form of tungsten ditelluride is full of surprises

Two monolayers interacting

In a paper published online July 23 in the journal Nature, a UW-led research team reports that the 2-D form of tungsten ditelluride can undergo “ferroelectric switching.” Materials with ferroelectric properties can have applications in memory storage, capacitors, RFID card technologies and even medical sensors — and tungsten ditelluride is the first exfoliated 2-D material known to undergo ferroelectric switching.


August 3, 2018

UW, PNNL to host energy research center focusing on bio-inspired design and assembly

Photo by Katherine Turner.

The U.S. Department of Energy has awarded an expected $10.75 million, four-year grant to the University of Washington, the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory and other partner institutions for a new interdisciplinary research center to define the enigmatic rules that govern how molecular-scale building blocks assemble into ordered structures and give rise to complex hierarchical materials.


July 25, 2018

And then there was (more) light: Researchers boost performance quality of perovskites

an image of an experimental disk

In a paper published online this spring in the journal Nature Photonics, scientists at the University of Washington report that a prototype semiconductor thin-film has performed even better than today’s best solar cell materials at emitting light.


June 27, 2018

To tell the sex of a Galápagos penguin, measure its beak, researchers say

A Galapagos penguin.

In a paper published April 5 in the journal Endangered Species Research, scientists at the University of Washington announced that, for a Galápagos penguin, beak size is nearly a perfect indicator of whether a bird is male or female.


May 7, 2018

Stomata — the plant pores that give us life — arise thanks to a gene called MUTE, scientists report

A microscopy image of the surface of a plant.

New research in plants shows that a gene called MUTE is required for the formation of stomata — the tiny pores that are critical for gas exchange, including releasing the oxygen gas that we breathe.


May 3, 2018

Atomically thin magnetic device could lead to new memory technologies

A depiction of the crystal structure of chromium triiodide (CrI3), with chromium atoms shown in purple and iodine atoms in yellow. The black arrows represent the electron "spins," which are analogous to tiny bar magnets.

In a study published online May 3 in the journal Science, a University of Washington-led team announced that it has discovered a method to encode information using magnets that are just a few layers of atoms in thickness. This breakthrough may revolutionize both cloud computing technologies and consumer electronics by enabling data storage at a greater density and improved energy efficiency.


May 2, 2018

Researchers develop an app for crowdsourced exercise plans, which rival personal trainers in effectiveness

Image of a person walking

Researchers at the University of Washington and Seattle University have created CrowdFit, a platform for exercise planning that relies on crowdsourcing from nonexperts to create workout regimens guided by national exercise recommendations and tailored around user schedules and interests.


March 29, 2018

Stellar break-up likely behind ‘runaway’ star’s fast pace, researcher says

An image of a galaxy taken from Earth.

During a recent survey of supermassive stars, an international team of astronomers discovered a star that is in quite a hurry. As they report in a new paper, the team tracked one yellow supergiant star cruising along at about 300,000 miles per hour, a velocity that would get you from the Earth to the Moon in about 48 minutes.


March 15, 2018

With new ‘shuffling’ trick, researchers can measure gene activity in single cells

A drawing of cells being sorted.

Researchers at the University of Washington and the Allen Institute for Brain Science have developed a new method to classify and track the multitude of cells in a tissue sample. In a paper published March 15 in the journal Science, the team reports that this new approach — known as SPLiT-seq — reliably tracks gene activity in a tissue down to the level of single cells.


Democratizing science: Researchers make neuroscience experiments easier to share, reproduce

Depiction of the left hemisphere of the human brain

Researchers at the University of Washington have developed a set of tools to make MRI studies of our central nervous system easier to share.


February 20, 2018

Using a laser to wirelessly charge a smartphone safely across a room

Five people posing

Engineers at the University of Washington have for the first time developed a method to safely charge a smartphone wirelessly using a laser.


February 12, 2018

Hybrid optics bring color imaging using ultrathin metalenses into focus

A portion of the team’s experimental setup for capturing an image using a metalens. The researchers capture an image of flowers through a metalens (mounted on a microscope slide) and visualize it through a microscope.

In a paper published Feb. 9 in Science Advances, scientists at the University of Washington announced that they have successfully combined two different imaging methods — a type of lens designed for nanoscale interaction with lightwaves, along with robust computational processing — to create full-color images.


January 31, 2018

University of Washington, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory team up to make the materials of tomorrow

pnnl-UW-mashup

The Department of Energy’s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory and the University of Washington announced the creation of the Northwest Institute for Materials Physics, Chemistry and Technology — or NW IMPACT — a joint research endeavor to power discoveries and advancements in materials that transform energy, telecommunications, medicine, information technology and other fields.


January 19, 2018

University Faculty Lecture to highlight screening newborns for genetic diseases

Michael_Gelb

For this year’s University Faculty Lecture, University of Washington chemistry professor Michael Gelb will discuss the science behind screening newborns for treatable — but rare — genetic diseases.


January 16, 2018

Researchers program biomaterials with ‘logic gates’ that release therapeutics in response to environmental triggers

four people in a laboratory

Drug treatments can save lives, but sometimes they also carry unintended costs. After all, the same therapeutics that target pathogens and tumors can also harm healthy cells. To reduce this collateral damage, scientists have long sought specificity in drug delivery systems: A package that can encase a therapeutic and will not disgorge its toxic cargo…


December 3, 2017

Kim Nasmyth — a UW postdoctoral alumnus — wins Breakthrough Prize in Life Sciences for discoveries in cell biology, genetics

Kim Nasmyth

Kim Nasmyth, a professor of biochemistry at the University of Oxford and former postdoctoral researcher at the University of Washington, is one of five recipients of the 2018 Breakthrough Prize in Life Sciences. Nasmyth and other prize recipients were honored by the Breakthrough Prize Foundation at a ceremony December 3 at NASA’s Ames Research Center in Mountain View, California.


November 16, 2017

UW receives top honors from CleanTech Alliance for research and support in energy innovation, industry partnerships

People posing at an award ceremony

The CleanTech Alliance has presented the University of Washington with the organization’s 2017 CleanTech Achievement Award. The honor recognizes the UW’s dedication to research and development of transformative clean energy technologies, facilities, pipelines for startups and industry partnerships. The award was announced on Nov. 8 at the annual meeting and 10th anniversary of the CleanTech…


November 14, 2017

With launch of new night sky survey, UW researchers ready for era of ‘big data’ astronomy

ZTF-firstlight-band

The first astronomers had a limited toolkit: their eyes. They could only observe those stars, planets and celestial events bright enough to pick up unassisted. But today’s astronomers use increasingly sensitive and sophisticated instruments to view and track a bevy of cosmic wonders, including objects and events that were too dim or distant for their…


November 7, 2017

With climate change, Mount Rainier floral communities could ‘reassemble’ with new species relationships, interactions

Wildflowers growing on a mountain.

An unseasonably warm, dry summer on Mount Rainier in 2015 caused subalpine wildflowers to change their bloom times and form ‘reassembled’ communities, with unknown consequences for species interactions among wildflowers, pollinators and other animals.


October 16, 2017

UW researchers mark first detection of gravitational waves from collision of two neutron stars

Neutron_stars_TILE

For the first time, scientists have detected gravitational waves from the merger of two neutron stars.


October 2, 2017

UW alumnus Jeffrey C. Hall awarded the 2017 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine

Nobel Medal

The Nobel Assembly at the Karolinska Institute has awarded the 2017 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine jointly to Jeffrey C. Hall — an alumnus of the University of Washington — along with Michael Rosbash and Michael W. Young “for their discoveries of molecular mechanisms controlling the circadian rhythm,” according to an announcement Monday morning.


September 25, 2017

UW to host $15.6M NSF-funded center for innovation, education in materials science

Photo by Katherine Turner.

The University of Washington is home to a new national center of excellence for research, education and training in materials science. The Molecular Engineering Materials Center is funded by a $15.6 million, six-year grant from the National Science Foundation as part of its highly competitive Materials Research Science and Engineering Center (MRSEC) program.


September 18, 2017

Catching a diversity of fish species — instead of specializing — means more stable income for fishers

The industrial croaker fishery off the coast of Uruguay is one of the fisheries where management strategies are being implemented in strong cooperation among fishers, managers and scientists. Credit: Sebastián Jiménez /DINARA

Researchers analyzed nearly 30 years of revenue and permitting records for individuals fishing in Alaskan waters and tracked how their fishing choices, in terms of permits purchased and species caught, influenced their year-to-year income volatility.


August 16, 2017

Computer scientists use music to covertly track body movements, activity

A person walking in a straight line.

Researchers at the University of Washington have demonstrated how it is possible to transform a smart device into a surveillance tool that can collect information about the body position and movements of the user, as well as other people in the device’s immediate vicinity. Their approach involves remotely hijacking smart devices to play music embedded with repeating pulses that track a person’s position, body movements, and activities both in the vicinity of the device as well as through walls.



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