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Research


December 5, 2022

New blood test can detect ‘toxic’ protein years before Alzheimer’s symptoms emerge, study shows

stylized image of the human brain

Researchers at the University of Washington have detected “toxic” small aggregates of a particular protein in the blood of individuals with Alzheimer’s disease, as well as in individuals who showed no signs of cognitive impairment at the time the blood sample was taken, but who developed it at a later date. This blood test picks up oligomers — or small, misfolded aggregates — of the amyloid beta protein, which scientists believe triggers the development of Alzheimer’s.


November 29, 2022

Strongest Arctic cyclone on record led to surprising loss of sea ice

ship pointing into icy water

The strongest Arctic cyclone ever observed struck in January 2022. A new analysis led by the University of Washington shows that while forecasts accurately predicted the massive storm, models seriously underestimated its impact on sea ice. Results suggest how forecast models for a changing Arctic Ocean could improve.


November 16, 2022

More US adults carrying loaded handguns daily, study finds

New research led by the University of Washington finds that the number of U.S. adult handgun owners carrying a loaded handgun on their person doubled from 2015 to 2019, and that a larger proportion of handgun owners carried handguns in states with less restrictive carrying regulations.


November 4, 2022

Two College of the Environment faculty recognized by American Geophysical Union

block W

Two UW College of the Environment professors, Ginger Armbrust and Dennis Hartmann, will be honored at the 2022 American Geophysical Union Fall Meeting in December.


November 2, 2022

Study reveals how ancient fish colonized the deep sea

A new University of Washington-led study reports that throughout Earth’s ancient history, there were several periods of time when many fish actually favored the cold, dark, barren waters of the deep sea instead of shallow ocean waters that are warm and full of resources.


Infants less likely to contract COVID, develop severe symptoms than household caregivers

baby feet

In one of the first studies to explore how COVID-19 specifically affects older infants, researchers from the University of Washington and at institutions at four other locations in the Western and Southern U.S. found that the number of infected people in a household was the factor most closely linked with the infant’s likelihood of being infected.


Permanent daylight saving time would reduce deer-vehicle collisions, study shows

University of Washington researchers found that adopting permanent daylight saving time in the United States would reduce deer-vehicle collisions and likely prevent an estimated 36,550 deer deaths, 33 human deaths, 2,054 human injuries and $1.19 billion in costs each year. Deer-vehicle collisions would decrease under permanent DST because skies would be brighter later into the evening.


October 31, 2022

How low-cost earbuds can make newborn hearing screening accessible

A person holds a child, who is looking at the camera. Another person's arm holds a probe to the child's ear. The probe is connected to a smartphone, which the third person is holding.

A team led by researchers at the University of Washington has created a new hearing screening system that uses a smartphone and earbuds.


October 26, 2022

New study shows how voting methods affect group decision-making

Cartoon hand placing voting ballot in ballot box

Michael Johnson, professor of management in the University of Washington Foster School of Business, found in a new study that groups that used “multivoting” in unofficial votes were 50% more likely to identify the correct option than those that used plurality or ranked-choice voting.


October 21, 2022

UW’s Dianne Xiao receives Packard Fellowship for research on new materials for sustainable chemical synthesis

Headshot of smiling woman

Dianne Xiao, a University of Washington assistant professor of chemistry, has been awarded a 2022 Packard Fellowship for Science and Engineering for her research on creating new materials to make chemical reactions that are compatible with renewable energy sources and raw materials.


October 19, 2022

These factors have the biggest impact on influencer marketing effectiveness

Phone screen with social media apps

New research from the University of Washington professor Robert Palmatier examines how factors related to social media influencers, their posts and their followers impact marketing success. The study concluded that reallocating spending based on the study’s insights could result in a 16.6% increase in engagement.


October 17, 2022

Isotope data strengthens suspicions of ivory stockpile theft

A study led by Thure Cerling, a professor at the University of Utah, and co-authored by Sam Wasser, a University of Washington professor of biology, used carbon isotope science to show that tusks from a guarded government stockpile in Burundi have somehow made their way into the hands of illegal ivory traders.


October 13, 2022

Animals in national parks impacted by even just a few people

a brown bear walks by with water behind

A new University of Washington-led study has found that even in remote, rarely visited national parks, the presence of even just a few humans impacts the activity of wildlife that live there. Nearly any level of human activity in a protected area like a national park can alter the behavior of animals there.


October 12, 2022

Endangered fruit-eating animals play an outsized role in a tropical forest — losing them could have dire consequences

A new study by researchers at the University of Washington shows that losing a particular group of endangered animals — those that eat fruit and help disperse the seeds of trees and other plants — could severely disrupt seed-dispersal networks in the Atlantic Forest, a shrinking stretch of tropical forest and critical biodiversity hotspot on the coast of Brazil.


October 10, 2022

Engineering lecture series focuses on health care for the brain

Two people look at a slide on a microscope

The University of Washington’s annual Engineering Lecture Series will feature research with potential to transform brain therapeutics from infancy to late adulthood.


October 3, 2022

Study suggests La Niña winters could keep on coming

snowy scene with bare trees

Forecasters are predicting a “three-peat La Niña” this year. This will be the third winter in a row that the Pacific Ocean has been in a La Niña cycle, something that’s happened only twice before in records going back to 1950. A new study of temperature patterns in the tropical Pacific Ocean suggests that climate change is, in the short term, favoring La Niñas.


September 28, 2022

UW expert on tropical storms discusses Hurricane Ian

portrait with green scarf

Shuyi Chen, a UW professor of atmospheric sciences, was traveling to a conference in Boston as Hurricane Ian approached the Gulf of Mexico. During breaks at the conference, she provided her thoughts on the closely watched catastrophic storm system that made landfall in Florida on Sept. 28. Q: What are your thoughts on Hurricane Ian?…


UW-developed wave sensors deployed to improve hurricane forecasts

Person drops sensor from plane

Researchers dropped technology developed at the University of Washington off the coast of Florida this week to measure ocean waves in the path of Hurricane Ian. The test is one part of a broad effort to improve forecasts for these fast-moving and deadly systems.


September 26, 2022

Heat-related mortality risk is widespread across Washington state, study shows

W in sunshine

Heat-related deaths occur across Washington state, even in regions with typically milder climates. This is the most extensive study yet of heat-related mortality in Washington state, and the first to look beyond the major population to and include rural areas. Researchers used statistical methods to uncover “hidden” deaths that may have listed something else, like illness or a chronic disease, as the primary cause.


UW joins industry-academia alliance to accelerate research in neuroscience

An image of neurons under a microscope

The University of Washington has joined the Alliance for Therapies in Neuroscience (ATN), a long-term research partnership between academia and industry geared to transform the fight against brain diseases and disorders of the central nervous system. Launched in 2021 by the University of California, San Francisco, UC Berkeley, Genentech — a member of the Roche group — and Roche Holding AG, the ATN seeks to accelerate the development of new therapies for a broad range of brain and central nervous system conditions.


September 22, 2022

Deepest scientific ocean drilling effort sheds light on Japan’s next ‘big one’

White ship seen from below

A 2018 expedition that drilled farther into the seafloor than ever before — almost 2 miles — sought to take measurements of stress as close as possible to a tectonic fault off the coast of Japan. Surprisingly, the researchers found little built-up tectonic stress. The findings could help to better understand earthquakes in subduction zones around the world.


September 19, 2022

A smartphone’s camera and flash could help people measure blood oxygen levels at home

A hand holding a cellphone with one finger over the flash and the camera. The flash is shining through the finger and glowing red.

In a proof-of-principle study, University of Washington and University of California San Diego researchers have shown that smartphones are capable of detecting blood oxygen saturation levels down to 70%. This is the lowest value that pulse oximeters should be able to measure, as recommended by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.


September 13, 2022

Q&A: UW researchers develop a reactor that can destroy ‘forever chemicals’

Metal objects on a table. There are two tubes and also two other hexagonal shapes

UW researchers have created a reactor that can completely break down hard-to-destroy chemicals.


September 9, 2022

Pandemic federal programs helped kids in need get access to 1.5 billion meals every month

National Guard distributing food

  When schools closed during the first year of the pandemic, an immediate and potentially devastating problem surfaced: How would millions of children in struggling families get the school meals many of them depended on? The U.S. Congress responded by authorizing the Department of Agriculture to roll out two major programs. It launched the “grab…


September 7, 2022

These female hummingbirds evolved to look like males — apparently to evade aggression

1 in 5 adult female white-necked jacobin hummingbirds look like males. New research from the University of Washington shows that this is a rare case of “deceptive mimicry” within a species: Females with male-like plumage are trying to pass themselves off as males, and as a result receive a benefit in the form of reduced aggression from males.


August 29, 2022

Black-owned restaurants disproportionately impacted during pandemic

A new study led by the University of Washington uses cellphone location data to estimate the number of visits to Black-owned restaurants in 20 U.S. cities during the first year of the pandemic. The study finds that despite the “Black-owned” labelling campaign launched by companies such as Yelp, the number of visits to Black-owned restaurants dropped off after an initial spike and was inconsistent around the country.


August 25, 2022

‘Dangerous’ and ‘extremely dangerous’ heat stress to become more common by 2100

maps of globe colored orange and red

A new study projects the number of days with “dangerous” and “extremely dangerous” mixtures of heat and humidity by the end of this century. Even if global warming is limited to 2 degrees Celsius, results show that deadly heat waves will become much more common in the mid-latitudes, and many tropical regions will experience “dangerous” heat for about half the year.


August 23, 2022

Beach trash accumulates in predictable patterns on Washington and Oregon shores

yellow twine displayed on sand

Volunteers spent thousands of hours recording trash on beaches in Washington and Oregon to show that certain beaches, and certain areas of a single beach, are “sticky zones” that accumulate litter. Finding patterns for where litter lands could help to better prevent and remove trash in the marine environment.


August 17, 2022

New UW Photonic Sensing Facility will use fiber-optic cables for seismic sensing, glaciology and more

jumble of yellow cables

A University of Washington pilot project is exploring the use of fiber-optic sensing for seismology, glaciology, and even urban monitoring. Funded in part with a $473,000 grant from the M.J. Murdock Charitable Trust, a nonprofit based in Vancouver, Washington, the new UW Photonic Sensing Facility will use photons traveling through a fiber-optic cable to detect ground motions as small as 1 nanometer.


August 11, 2022

Bird behavior influenced by human activity during COVID-19 lockdowns

a bird flaps its wings on a branch

For birds that inhabit developed areas of the Pacific Northwest, the reduction in noise and commotion from COVID-19 lockdowns may have allowed them to use a wider range of habitats in cities, a new University of Washington study has found.


August 5, 2022

New study calculates retreat of glacier edges in Alaska’s Kenai Fjords National Park

As glaciers worldwide retreat due to climate change, managers of national parks need to know what’s on the horizon to prepare for the future. A new study from the University of Washington and the National Park Service measures 38 years of change for glaciers in Kenai Fjords National Park south of Anchorage. The study, published Aug. 5 in The Journal of Glaciology, finds that 13 of the 19 glaciers show substantial retreat, four are relatively stable, and two have advanced. It also finds trends in which glacier types are disappearing fastest.


July 28, 2022

How to help assembly-line robots shift gears and pick up almost anything

22 objects on a table top. Objects include white 3D printed shapes and also random household items such as a drill, a mustard container, a bowl and a tennis ball

A UW team created a new tool that can design a 3D-printable passive gripper and calculate the best path to pick up an object. The team tested this system on a suite of 22 objects — including a 3D-printed bunny, a doorstop-shaped wedge, a tennis ball and a drill.


July 25, 2022

New study challenges old views on what’s ‘primitive’ in mammalian reproduction

Which group of mammals has the more “primitive” reproductive strategy — marsupials, with their short gestation periods, or humans and other placental mammals, which have long gestation periods? For decades, biologists viewed marsupial reproduction as “more primitive.” But University of Washington scientists have discovered that a third group of mammals, the long-extinct multituberculates, had a long gestation period like placental mammals. Since multituberculates split off from the rest of the mammalian lineage before placentals and marsupials had even evolved, these findings question the view that marsupials were “less advanced” than their placental cousins.


July 22, 2022

Novel HIV combination therapies could prevent viral escape and rebound

New research by scientists at the University of Washington, the Max Planck Institute for Dynamics and Self-Organization and the University of Cologne indicates that carefully designed cocktails of broadly neutralizing antibodies could help treat HIV while minimizing the risk of the virus evolving to “escape” treatment.


July 12, 2022

UW study strengthens evidence of link between air pollution and child brain development

Seattle traffic

Air pollution is not just a problem for lungs. Increasingly, research suggests air pollution can influence childhood behavioral problems and even IQ. A new study led by the University of Washington has added evidence showing that both prenatal and postnatal exposure to air pollution can harm kids. The study, published in Environmental Health Perspectives, found…


July 11, 2022

ClearBuds: First wireless earbuds that clear up calls using deep learning

A hand holding up a 3D printed earbud

UW researchers created ClearBuds, earbuds that enhance the speaker’s voice and reduce background noise.


July 8, 2022

Sweetened beverage taxes produce net economic benefits for lower-income communities

Bottles and cans of soda on store shelves

New research led by University of Washington professors James Krieger and Melissa Knox found that sweetened beverage taxes redistributed dollars from higher- to lower-income households.


June 29, 2022

‘Safety in numbers’ tactic keeps Pacific salmon safe from predators

fish swim together in a fish tank

A new University of Washington study that leverages historical data has found unique support for a “safety in numbers” hypothesis by showing that Pacific salmon in larger groups have lower risk of being eaten by predators. But for some salmon species, schooling comes at the cost of competition for food, and those fish may trade safety for a meal.


June 27, 2022

Top predators could ‘trap’ themselves trying to adapt to climate change, study shows

A study led by University of Washington researchers shows that over a 30-year period, African wild dogs shifted their average birthing dates later by 22 days, an adaptation that allowed them to match the birth of new litters with the coolest temperatures in early winter. But as a result of this significant shift, fewer pups survived their most vulnerable period because temperatures during their critical post-birth “denning period” increased over the same time period, threatening the population of this already endangered species. It is the first study to show that large mammalian carnivores are making major changes to their life history in response to a changing climate.


June 21, 2022

New study: 2021 heat wave created ‘perfect storm’ for shellfish die-off

A pile of dead oysters with their shells open. There is water in the background.

A team led by the UW has produced the first comprehensive report of the impacts of the 2021 heat wave on shellfish.



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