UW News

News releases


May 12, 2022

Changes in cholesterol production lead to tragic octopus death spiral

After a mother octopus lays a clutch of eggs, she quits eating and wastes away; by the time the eggs hatch, she is dead. Some females in captivity even seem to speed up this process intentionally, mutilating themselves and twisting their arms into a tangled mess. The source of this bizarre maternal behavior seems to be the optic gland, an organ similar to the pituitary gland in mammals. For years, just how this gland triggered the gruesome death spiral was unclear. But in a new study published May 12 in Current Biology, researchers from the University of Washington, the University of Chicago and the University of Illinois Chicago show that the optic gland in maternal octopuses undergoes a massive shift in cholesterol metabolism, resulting in dramatic changes in the steroid hormones produced. Alterations in cholesterol metabolism in other animals, including humans, can have serious consequences on longevity and behavior, and the team believes this reveals important similarities in the functions of these steroids across the animal kingdom — in soft-bodied cephalopods and vertebrates alike.


May 7, 2022

Consensus approach proposed to protect human health from intentional and wild forest fires

Prescribed forest fire

All forest fire smoke is bad for people, but not all fires in forests are bad. This is the conundrum faced by experts in forest management and public health: Climate change and decades of fire suppression that have increased fuels are contributing to larger and more intense wildfires and, in order to improve forest health…


May 6, 2022

Four UW researchers elected to the National Academy of Sciences for 2022

Four faculty members at the University of Washington have been elected to the National Academy of Sciences for 2022: Elizabeth Buffalo, professor and chair of physiology and biophysics; Joseph Mougous, professor of microbiology; Dr. Jay Shendure, professor of genome sciences; and James Truman, professor emeritus of biology.


May 4, 2022

Astronomers discover a rare ’black widow’ binary, with the shortest orbit yet

The flashing of a nearby star drew the attention of a team of astronomers, who discovered that it is part of a rare and mysterious system. As they report in a paper published May 4 in Nature, the stellar oddity appears to be a “black widow binary” — a type of system consisting of a rapidly spinning neutron star, or pulsar, that is circling and slowly consuming a smaller companion star, as its arachnid namesake does to its mate.


April 26, 2022

Scientists find elusive gas from post-starburst galaxies hiding in plain sight

Scientists once thought that post-starburst galaxies scattered all of their gas and dust — the fuel required for creating new stars — in violent bursts of energy, and with extraordinary speed. Now, a team led by University of Washington postdoctoral researcher Adam Smercina reports that these galaxies don’t scatter all of their star-forming fuel after all. Instead, after their supposed end, these dormant galaxies hold onto and compress large amounts of highly concentrated, turbulent gas. But contrary to expectation, they’re not using it to form stars.


April 22, 2022

Former UW Dean of the College of Arts & Sciences Robert Stacey to deliver address for classes of 2020 and 2021 on June 12

man in coat and tie

Former UW Dean of the College of Arts & Sciences Robert Stacey will speak to the graduates of the classes of 2020 and 2021 when they return to Alaska Airlines Field at Husky Stadium for an in-person celebration on Sunday, June 12.


Heavens need environmental protection just like Earth, experts say

Space urgently needs special legal protection similar to that given to land, sea and atmosphere to protect its fragile environment, argues a team of scientists. The scientific, economic and cultural benefits of space should be considered against the damaging environmental impacts posed by an influx of space debris — roughly 60 miles above Earth’s surface — fueled by the rapid growth of so-called satellite mega-constellations. In a paper published April 22 in Nature Astronomy, the authors assert that space is an important environment to preserve on behalf of professional astronomers, amateur stargazers and Indigenous peoples.


April 20, 2022

Lasers trigger magnetism in atomically thin quantum materials

Researchers have discovered that light — from a laser — can trigger a form of magnetism in a normally nonmagnetic material. This magnetism centers on the behavior of electrons “spins,” which have a potential applications in quantum computing. Scientists discovered that electrons within the material became oriented in the same direction when illuminated by photons from a laser. By controlling and aligning electron spins at this level of detail and accuracy, this platform could have applications in quantum computing, quantum simulation and other fields. The experiment, led by scientists at the University of Washington, the University of Hong Kong and the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, was published April 20 in Nature.


April 14, 2022

Rosalie Fish, student, athlete and activist, selected as Truman Scholar

two people

University of Washington junior Rosalie Fish has been selected for the prestigious Truman Scholarship, the third consecutive year that students from the UW were recognized with this national award.


April 13, 2022

UW names Tamara Michel Josserand VP for Development

portrait of woman at desk

Tamara Michel Josserand has been named Vice President for Development at the University of Washington, Senior Vice President for University Advancement Mary Gresch announced today. Josserand’s appointment begins May 31.  


Tony Award-winning producer and actor Ron Simons to deliver 2022 Commencement address

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Four-time Tony Award-winning producer Ron Simons, a University of Washington alumnus who is well known for his work on Broadway and in Hollywood, will deliver the 2022 Commencement address for the 147th ceremony, which takes place at Alaska Airlines Field at Husky Stadium on June 11.


April 11, 2022

Even in a virtual classroom, preschoolers can gain reading skills

little boy lying on the floor reading a book

A new study by the University of Washington’s Institute for Learning & Brain Sciences finds that children can develop key reading skills in a virtual classroom with other students.


April 4, 2022

Researchers find patterns of handgun carrying among youth in rural areas, building foundation for injury prevention

The first results of research led by the University of Washington into handgun carrying by young people growing up in rural areas has found six distinct patterns for when and how often these individuals carry a handgun. The patterns, or “longitudinal trajectories,” suggest that youths in rural areas differ in some ways from their urban…


March 30, 2022

Video: New face mask guidance for UW’s 2022 spring quarter

With the start of spring quarter on March 28, face masks became optional — but still recommended — inside most UW facilities. In light of the policy change, UW News spoke with several experts about what to expect on campus, how the current science and transmission rates inform our policy, and emotions and feelings we may experience as a result of removing our face coverings.


March 29, 2022

Scientists identify overgrowth of key brain structure in babies who later develop autism

New research from the Infant Brain Imaging Study (IBIS) Network, which includes the University of Washington, finds that the amygdala, an area of the brain critical for interpreting emotions, grows too rapidly in infants who go on to develop autism.


UW announces John and Rosalind Jacobi Family Endowed Deanship in the College of Built Environments

building interior

The University of Washington today announced the establishment of the John and Rosalind Jacobi Family Endowed Deanship in the College of Built Environments, strengthening the school’s vision of a more just and beautiful world for all.


March 28, 2022

UW graduate and professional disciplines again place high in US News’ best graduate school rankings

campus shot

The University of Washington’s graduate and professional degree programs were widely recognized as among the best in the nation, according to U.S. News & World Report’s 2023 Best Graduate School rankings released Tuesday.


Sherri Berdine named UW’s Director of Tribal Relations

Sherri Berdine

Sherri Berdine has been named Director of Tribal Relations at the University of Washington, UW Vice President for External Affairs Randy Hodgins announced Monday. Berdine’s appointment is effective March 28.


Solar energy explains fast yearly retreat of Antarctica’s sea ice

Sea ice around Antarctica retreats more quickly than it advances, an asymmetry that has been a puzzle. New analysis shows that the Southern Hemisphere is following simple rules of physics, as peak midsummer sun causes rapid changes. In this respect, it seems, it’s Arctic sea ice that is more mysterious.


March 21, 2022

UW expert: Ketanji Brown Jackson confirmation hearings ‘will hold a mirror up to this nation’

LaTaSha Levy, assistant professor of American ethnic studies at the University of Washington, and Elizabeth Porter, interim dean of the UW School of Law, offer perspectives on the nomination and confirmation process of Ketanji Brown Jackson to the U.S. Supreme Court.


March 16, 2022

Tiny battery-free devices float in the wind like dandelion seeds

Inspired by how dandelions use the wind to distribute their seeds, a University of Washington team has developed a tiny sensor-carrying device that can be blown by the wind as it tumbles toward the ground.


March 14, 2022

UW Regents approve milestone development in new Portage Bay Crossing area on Seattle campus

digital rendering of a building

The University of Washington Board of Regents last week approved the development plan for the first major project in the UW’s newly named Portage Bay Crossing area on the west side of the Seattle campus. The Regents approved a ground lease of the property at Site W27 to Wexford Science + Technology and a lease of building space by the University.


March 10, 2022

UW welcomes community to view cherry blossoms; peak bloom expected mid-March

full bloom expected mid-march for cherry blossoms

The 29 cherry trees in the Quad usually reach peak bloom the third week of March, and this year is on track to meet that timing.


March 8, 2022

O-pH, a new UW dental tool prototype, can spot the acidic conditions that lead to cavities

Patient in dental exam

You and your dentist have a lot of tools and techniques for stopping cavities, but detecting the specific chemical conditions that can lead to cavities and then preventing them from ever getting started is much harder. Now, in a new study, University of Washington researchers have shown that a dental tool they created can measure…


March 7, 2022

How Black Lives Matter protests sparked interest, can lead to change

man holding a Black Lives Matter flag

A new study by the University of Washington and Indiana University finds that the growing use of anti-racist terms shows how Black Lives Matter has shifted the conversation around racism, raising awareness of issues and laying the foundation for social change.


March 3, 2022

Mindfulness meditation can reduce guilt, leading to unintended negative social consequences

man sitting meditating

Mindfulness meditation is a stress-management practice with ancient lineage that cultivates nonjudgmental awareness of the present moment, often by directing attention to the physical sensations of breathing. Initially inspired by centuries-old Buddhist practices consisting of philosophies and meditations together, today a secular version of mindfulness — consisting of meditations alone — is becoming increasingly popular.


Moon jellies appear to be gobbling up zooplankton in Puget Sound

pinkish-white jelly on green background

University of Washington-led research suggests moon jellies are feasting on zooplankton, the various tiny animals that drift with the currents, in the bays they inhabit. This could affect other hungry marine life, like juvenile salmon or herring — especially if predictions are correct and climate change will favor fast-growing jellyfish.


March 2, 2022

UW’s campuses in Seattle, Tacoma and Bothell announce the return of in-person commencement ceremonies

group photo

University of Washington’s 147th commencement ceremonies are scheduled to return this June to in-person celebrations in Alaska Airlines Field at Husky Stadium for the first time since 2019. Similar in-person commencement ceremonies are being planned for UW Bothell and UW Tacoma.


Counties that rely on the courts for revenue sentence more women to incarceration

Washington counties that rely more on revenue from court-imposed fines and fees also sentence more women to incarceration, a study by the University of Washington finds.


Multi-state study of monetary sanctions finds widespread inequities, far-reaching consequences

Alexes Harris, professor of sociology at the University of Washington, discusses her team’s five-year, eight-state study of legal financial obligations, and their findings that court-imposed fines and fees perpetuate inequality.


March 1, 2022

UW celebrates 50 years of the Samuel E. Kelly Ethnic Cultural Center

building

Visit the University of Washington’s Samuel E. Kelly Ethnic Cultural Center once, and you’ll be impressed by its size, the historic murals and the number of resources available to students.


February 25, 2022

Antibiotic used on food crops affects bumblebee behavior

Scientists at the University of Washington and Emory University report that an antibiotic sprayed on orchard crops to combat bacterial diseases slows the cognition of bumblebees and reduces their foraging efficiency. The study, published Feb. 9 in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B, focused on streptomycin, an antibiotic used increasingly in U.S. agriculture during the past decade.


February 24, 2022

Farms following soil-friendly practices grow healthier food, study suggests

An experiment conducted on 10 farms across the U.S. suggests that crops from farms following soil-friendly practices for at least five years have a healthier nutritional profile than the same crops grown on neighboring, conventional farms. Researchers believe soil microbes and fungi boost certain beneficial minerals, vitamins and phytochemicals in the crops.


February 23, 2022

Andreas Bohman selected as VP for UW-IT and UW’s chief information officer

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University of Washington President Ana Mari Cauce today announced the selection of Andreas Bohman as vice president for UW Information Technology and UW’s chief information officer. He is set to begin March 16.


A new upper limit on the mass of neutrinos

An international research team, including scientists from the University of Washington, has established a new upper limit on the mass of the neutrino, the lightest known subatomic particle. In a paper published Feb. 14 in Nature Physics, the collaboration — known as the Karlsruhe Tritium Neutrino Experiment or KATRIN — reports that the neutrino’s mass is below 0.8 electron volts, or 0.8 eV/c2. Honing in on the elusive value of the neutrino’s mass will solve a major outstanding mystery in particle physics and equip scientists with a more complete view of the fundamental forces and particles that shape ourselves, our planet and the cosmos.


February 16, 2022

Unexpected findings detailed in new portrait of HIV

Using powerful tools and techniques developed in the field of structural biology, researchers at the University of Washington and Scripps Research have discovered new details about the human immunodeficiency virus, HIV. The findings bring into focus the basic architecture of the virus just above and below its surface and may help in the design and…


Google’s ‘CEO’ image search gender bias hasn’t really been fixed

UW researchers showed that image search results for four major search engines from around the world, including Google, still reflect gender bias.


Faculty programs welcome most diverse cohort in recent UW history

head shots

Angélica Amezcua never thought she’d achieve a doctoral degree, never mind landing a tenure-track job at the University of Washington. Raised in Mexico, she moved to California when she was 11, and she’s the first in her family to earn a Ph. D. She once believed that a career in academia was unattainable due to the obstacles placed in society for people of color.


February 15, 2022

eDNA a useful tool for early detection of invasive green crab

green crab in the mud

As the green crab invasion in the state worsens, a new analysis method developed by University of Washington and Washington Sea Grant scientists could help contain future invasions and prevent new outbreaks using water testing and genetic analysis. The results show that the DNA-based technique works as well in detecting the presence of green crabs as setting traps to catch the live animals, which is a more laborious process. Results suggest these two methods could complement each other as approaches to learn where the species’ range is expanding.


February 14, 2022

DNA testing exposes tactics of international criminal networks trafficking elephant ivory

A team led by scientists at the University of Washington and special agents with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security has used genetic testing of ivory shipments seized by law enforcement to uncover the international criminal networks behind ivory trafficking out of Africa. The genetic connections across shipments that they’ve uncovered exposes an even higher degree of organization among ivory smuggling networks than previously known. The paper, published Feb. 14 in the journal Nature Human Behaviour, incorporates results from DNA testing of more than 4,000 African elephant tusks from 49 different ivory seizures made in 12 African nations over a 17-year period.



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