UW News

Research


February 18, 2020

Campus podcasts: UW Tacoma, architecture, science papers explained

statue of George Washington on UW campus

It’s the year 2020, and where two or more are gathered, it seems, there is a podcast. Given the level of creativity among University of Washington faculty and staff, it’s no surprise that many high-quality podcasts are now being produced on campus. Here’s a look at three podcasts being created by UW departments or people,…


Simple, fuel-efficient rocket engine could enable cheaper, lighter spacecraft

A rocket takes off

UW researchers have developed a mathematical model that describes how rotating detonation engines work.


February 14, 2020

Earth’s cousins: Upcoming missions to look for ‘biosignatures’ in the atmospheres of nearby worlds

Artist's depiction of the TRAPPIST-1 star and its seven worlds.

Victoria Meadows, professor of astronomy at the University of Washington and director of the UW’s Virtual Planetary Laboratory, talks about how upcoming missions like the James Webb Space Telescope will be able to characterize the atmospheres of potentially Earth-like exoplanets and may even detect signs of life. Meadows is delivering a talk on this subject on Feb. 15, 2020 at the American Association for the Advancement of Science annual meeting in Seattle.


February 13, 2020

Researchers at AAAS to discuss latest science on Cascadia earthquake hazards

earthquake damage to brick building

At a Saturday afternoon session, researchers from the University of Washington and federal agencies will discuss the emerging research on Pacific Northwest megaquakes.


Effectiveness of travel bans – readily used during infectious disease outbreaks – mostly unknown, study finds

While travel bans are frequently used to stop the spread of an emerging infectious disease, a new University of Washington and Johns Hopkins University study of published research found that the effectiveness of travel bans is mostly unknown.


Hydropower dams cool rivers in the Mekong River basin, satellites show

A river in the foreground while children run on the beach in the background

Using 30 years of satellite data, UW researchers discovered that within one year of the opening of a major dam in the Mekong River basin, downstream river temperatures during the dry season dropped by up to 3.6 degrees F (2 degrees C).


Immune cells consult with neighbors to make decisions

An illustration showing immune system cells migrating to a wound site.

Scientists and physicians have long known that immune cells migrate to the site of an infection, which individuals experience as inflammation — swelling, redness and pain. Now, researchers at the University of Washington and Northwestern University have uncovered evidence that this gathering is not just a consequence of immune activation. Immune cells count their neighbors before deciding whether or not the immune system should kick into high gear.


February 12, 2020

Polar bears in Baffin Bay skinnier, having fewer cubs due to less sea ice

polar bear walking

Satellite tracking of adult females and visual monitoring of polar bears in Baffin Bay show changes from the 1990s to the period from 2009 to 2015. Bears in Baffin Bay are getting thinner and adult females are having fewer cubs than when sea ice was more available.


February 10, 2020

UW study reveals gender, racial disparities in evictions

Photo of closed door with eviction notice on the front

A new University of Washington study of eviction filings from each of Washington’s 39 counties illustrates where, and to whom, evictions hit hardest.


Increases in minimum wage may not have anticipated positive health effects, study shows

Coins spilled from jar

  In the decade-long absence of federal action, many states, counties and cities have increased minimum wages to help improve the lives of workers. While political debate over these efforts has long been contentious, scientific research on the health effects of raising the minimum wage is relatively new. Some studies have found higher minimum wages…


February 4, 2020

First-of-its-kind hydrogel platform enables on-demand production of medicines and chemicals

a water-based gel that is used in molecular biology research

A team of chemical engineers has developed a new way to produce medicines and chemicals and preserve them using portable “biofactories” embedded in water-based gels known as hydrogels. The approach could help people in remote villages or on military missions, where the absence of pharmacies, doctor’s offices or even basic refrigeration makes it hard to…


Altruistic babies? Study shows infants are willing to give up food, help others

Toddler offers bowl of raspberries to camera.

New research by the University of Washington’s Institute for Learning & Brain Sciences finds that altruism may begin in infancy. In a study of nearly 100 19-month-olds, researchers found that children, even when hungry, gave a tasty snack to a stranger in need.


February 3, 2020

Not just ‘baby talk’: Parentese helps parents, babies make ‘conversation’ and boosts language development

Parent and baby sit facing each other, playing patty-cake.

A study by the Institute for Learning & Brain Sciences at the University of Washington finds the value of using “parentese,” an exaggerated speaking style that conveys total engagement with a child.


The one ring — to track your finger’s location

A close up of the ring with the wristband in the background

UW researchers have created AuraRing, a ring and wristband combination that can detect the precise location of someone’s index finger and continuously track hand movements.


January 30, 2020

UW’s new WE-REACH center to accelerate development of the ‘most exciting’ biomedical discoveries

Logo for new UW center

With $4 million in matching funds from the National Institutes of Health, the University of Washington has created a new integrated center to match biomedical discoveries with the resources needed to bring innovative products to the public and improve health. “The University of Washington and regional partner institutions produce some of the most exciting biomedical…


January 28, 2020

Rethinking land conservation to protect species that will need to move with climate change

high alpine landscape in washington state

Researchers from the UW and Evergreen found that many species of animals and plants likely will need to migrate under climate change, and that conservation efforts will also need to shift to be effective.


January 24, 2020

Rural kids carrying handguns is ‘not uncommon’ and starts as early as sixth grade

Rural setting

Roughly one-third of young males and 1 in 10 females in rural communities have carried a handgun, reports a new University of Washington study. And, the study found, many of those rural kids started carrying as early as the sixth grade. “This is one of the first longitudinal studies of rural adolescent handgun carrying across…


Tiny, ancient meteorites suggest early Earth’s atmosphere was rich in carbon dioxide

shiny black balls on red background

Tiny meteorites that fell to Earth 2.7 billion years ago suggest that the atmosphere at that time was high in carbon dioxide, which agrees with current understanding of how our planet’s atmospheric gases changed over time.


January 23, 2020

UW research expands bilingual language program for babies

Toddlers stand in a circle, clapping. Adults stand nearby.

A study by the University of Washington’s Institute for Learning & Brain Sciences (I-LABS) shows that a bilingual language program for babies can reach more families, and instructors, through online training for teachers.


January 22, 2020

Community-based counselors help mitigate grief, stress among children orphaned in East Africa

Group of people pose outside a building.

The University of Washington led a clinical trial involving more than 600 children in Kenya and Tanzania, in which community members were trained to deliver mental health treatment, showed improvement in participants’ trauma-related symptoms up to a year after receiving therapy.


January 21, 2020

Mosquitoes are drawn to flowers as much as people — and now scientists know why

Despite their reputation as blood-suckers, mosquitoes actually spend most of their time drinking nectar from flowers. Scientists have identified the chemical cues in flowers that stimulate mosquitoes’ sense of smell and draw them in. Their findings show how cues from flowers can stimulate the mosquito brain as much as a warm-blooded host — information that could help develop less toxic repellents and better traps.


January 16, 2020

Mobile protected areas needed to preserve biodiversity in the high seas

black bird with blue sky

Leaders are updating the laws for international waters that apply to most of the world’s ocean environment. This provides a unique opportunity, argues a UW Bothell marine scientist, to anticipate new techniques that allow protected zones to shift as species move under climate change.


January 15, 2020

‘The blob,’ food supply squeeze to blame for largest seabird die-off

dead common murre

When nearly one million common murres died at sea and washed ashore from California to Alaska in 2015 and 2016, it was unprecedented. Scientists from the University of Washington, the U.S. Geological Survey and others blame an unexpected squeeze on the ecosystem’s food supply, brought on by a severe and long-lasting marine heat wave known as “the blob.”


January 13, 2020

Fisheries management is actually working, global analysis shows

a fishing vessel in california

Nearly half of the fish caught worldwide are from stocks that are scientifically monitored and, on average, are increasing in abundance. Effective management appears to be the main reason these stocks are at sustainable levels or successfully rebuilding, according to a new study led by the University of Washington.


January 9, 2020

At gun safety events, 40% of gun owners reported not locking all household guns — even around kids

Gun with locked storage devices

While waiting for free firearm storage devices at gun safety events held in sporting goods stores across Washington, nearly 3,000 people filled out a one-page survey asking how they stored guns at home and other household information. What the participants reported emphasizes the need for these public events, Seattle Children’s and University of Washington researchers…


December 30, 2019

Life could have emerged from lakes with high phosphorus

A lake in Africa with flamingoes and zebras along its shore.

Life as we know it requires phosphorus, which is scarce. So, how did a lifeless environment on the early Earth supply this key ingredient? A new UW study, published Dec. 30 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, finds an answer to this problem in certain types of carbonate-rich lakes.


December 19, 2019

Mindful travel, Silicon Valley’s evolution, Schumann on viola, Seattle history — UW-authored books, music for the Husky on your list

A list of several UW-authored books and cds that might make good holiday gifts.

  A teacher discusses respectful world travel, a historian explores Silicon Valley’s evolution, a professor and violist plays the music of Robert Schumann and a late English faculty member’s meditation on Seattle returns … Here’s a quick look at some gift-worthy books and music created by UW faculty in the last year — and a…


December 16, 2019

Resident orcas’ appetite likely reason for decline of big Chinook salmon

orca chasing chinook salmon

Large, old Chinook salmon have mostly disappeared from the West Coast. A new University of Washington and NOAA study points to the recent rise of resident killer whales, and their insatiable appetite for large Chinook salmon, as the main driver behind the decline of the big fish.


December 12, 2019

Barrels of ancient Antarctic air aim to track history of rare gas

snow and tents

An Antarctic field campaign last winter led by the U.S. and Australia has successfully extracted some of the largest samples of air dating from the 1870s until today. Researchers will use the samples to look for changes in the molecules that scrub the atmosphere of methane and other gases.


December 10, 2019

UW scientist to lead NASA field study of East Coast snowstorms

professor in office

To better understand large, disruptive snowstorms, a University of Washington atmospheric scientist will lead a NASA field campaign this winter to fly through major snowstorms along the East Coast. The multi-institutional team will observe snow as it forms in clouds to help with satellite monitoring of snowfall and ultimately improve forecasts.


December 6, 2019

Astronomy fellowship demonstrates effective measures to dismantle bias, increase diversity in STEM

a person smiling and looking at the camera

Joyce Yen — director of the University of Washington’s ADVANCE Center for Institutional Change, an NSF-funded body to promote female STEM faculty on campus — recently worked with the Heising-Simons Foundation to dismantle bias and promote diversity in a prominent grant that the Foundation awards to postdoctoral researchers in planetary science. In this Q&A, Yen shares the many, sometimes counterintuitive ways bias can work against goals toward greater diversity, equity and inclusion in STEM fields.


December 4, 2019

Outlook for the polar regions in a 2 degrees warmer world

four male bears eating a whale

With 2019 on pace as one of the warmest years on record, a new international study reveals how rapidly the Arctic is warming and examines global consequences of continued polar warming.


Better wildfire and smoke predictions with new vegetation database

ponderosa pine forest

Researchers from the University of Washington and Michigan Technological University have created the first comprehensive database of all the wildfire fuels that have been measured across North America. Ultimately, it can help scientists make more informed decisions about fire and smoke situations.


December 3, 2019

For some corals, meals can come with a side of microplastics

microplastics seen in a water tank

A new experiment by the University of Washington has found that some corals are more likely to eat microplastics when they are consuming other food, yet microplastics alone are undesirable.


December 2, 2019

Carpentry Compiler helps woodworkers design objects that they can actually make

A wooden birdhouse

UW researchers have created Carpentry Compiler, a digital tool that allows users to design woodworking projects. Once a project is designed, the tool creates optimized fabrication instructions based on the materials and equipment a user has available.


November 27, 2019

A method with roots in AI uncovers how humans make choices in groups and social media

Woman holding a smart phone

Using a mathematical framework with roots in artificial intelligence and robotics, UW researchers were able to uncover the process of how a person makes choices in groups. And, they also found they were able to predict a person’s choice more often than more traditional descriptive methods.


November 26, 2019

Six UW faculty members named AAAS fellows

The American Association for the Advancement of Science has named six faculty members from the University of Washington as AAAS Fellows, according to a Nov. 26 announcement. They are part of a cohort of 443 new fellows for 2019, all chosen by their peers for “scientifically or socially distinguished efforts to advance science or its applications.”


Dads in prison can bring poverty, instability for families on the outside

A new University of Washington study finds that families with a father in prison tend to live in neighborhoods with higher poverty.


November 18, 2019

Among transgender children, gender identity as strong as in cisgender children, study shows

Photo of two children, in silhouette, on a beach

New findings from the largest study of socially-transitioned transgender children in the world, conducted by researchers at the University of Washington, show that gender identity and gender-typed preferences manifest similarly in both cis- and transgender children, even those who recently transitioned.


November 15, 2019

UW aerospace engineer part of $1.7M grant to study corals

A healthy reef in Indonesia teems with life.

An interdisciplinary team of researchers from multiple institutions — including the University of Washington — has received a two-year $1.7 million National Science Foundation grant to study coral growth.



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