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Research


February 19, 2021

Vice Provost for Research Mary Lidstrom stepping down after 15 years

portrait of mary lidstrom

After more than 15 years serving as Vice Provost for Research, Mary Lidstrom will step down from her position on Aug. 31, 2021, with plans to return full time to the faculty, concentrate on her research, and establish mentoring and diversity, equity and inclusion programs.


February 16, 2021

UW books in brief: Historian Anand Yang explores British ‘penal transportation’; world music textbooks by Patricia Shehan Campbell

Historian Anand Yang writes about the British history of shipping of convicted criminals to other continents; and new world music education books from ethnomusicologist Patricia Shehan Campbell.


February 10, 2021

Online tool displays Pacific Northwest mountain snow depth

colored lines sloping upward to Feb. 1

How’s the snow on Northwest mountains this year? Overall a little deeper than normal, but it depends where you look. A new collaboration between the University of Washington, the Northwest Avalanche Center lets you see how the current snow depth compares to past years for nine sites in Washington and two in Oregon.


February 9, 2021

Limiting warming to 2 C requires emissions reductions 80% above Paris Agreement targets

Even if all countries meet their Paris Agreement goals for reducing emissions, Earth has only a 5% chance of staying below 2 C warming this century, a previous study showed. But reductions about 80% more ambitious, or an average of 1.8% drop in emissions per year rather than 1% per year, would be enough to meet the Paris Agreement’s temperature goal.


February 5, 2021

New nationwide survey shows MAGA supporters’ beliefs about the pandemic, the election and the insurrection

New data from the University of Washington, collected just before and after the Capitol riot, reveals fervent Trump voters’ opinions about race, gender, the pandemic and the 2020 election.


February 4, 2021

‘Audeo’ teaches artificial intelligence to play the piano

A hand pressing a piano key

A UW team created Audeo, a system that can generate music using only visual cues of someone playing the piano.


Global warming found to be culprit for flood risk in Peruvian Andes, other glacial lakes

rooftops in front of glacier

Human-caused warming is responsible for increasing the risk of a glacial outburst flood from Peru’s Lake Palcacocha, threatening the city below. This study is the first to directly link climate change with the risk of flooding from glacial lakes, which are growing in number and size worldwide.


February 2, 2021

‘Making Amends’ podcast explores remorse, intention among men at Oregon prison

outside of prison, surrounded by razor-wire fence

“Making Amends,” a new podcast by University of Washington professor Steve Herbert, explores themes of atonement among men incarcerated at the Oregon State Penitentiary.


February 1, 2021

Marine organisms use previously undiscovered receptors to detect, respond to light

magnified cells of various shapes arranged in a mosaic

Single-celled organisms in the open ocean use a diverse array of genetic tools to detect sunlight, even in tiny amounts, and respond. The discovery of these new genetic “light switches” could also aid in the field of optogenetics, in which a cell’s function can be controlled with light exposure.


UW books in brief: African American political theory, philosophy and migration, data science for health

Notable recent books written or edited by UW faculty include an exploration of African American political theory, a book on philosophy and migration and a textbook on health data science.


January 27, 2021

In Brazil, many smaller dams disrupt fish more than large hydropower projects

small dam in Brazil

A new University of Washington paper quantifies the tradeoffs between hydroelectric generation capacity and the impacts on river connectivity for thousands of current and projected future dams across Brazil. The findings confirm that small hydropower plants are far more responsible for river fragmentation than their larger counterparts due to their prevalence and distribution.


On nights before a full moon, people go to bed later and sleep less, study shows

picture of the moon

Sleep cycles in people oscillate during the 29.5-day lunar cycle: In the days leading up to a full moon, people go to sleep later in the evening and sleep for shorter periods of time. The team, led by researchers at the University of Washington, observed these variations in both the time of sleep onset and the duration of sleep in urban and rural settings — from Indigenous communities in northern Argentina to college students in Seattle, a city of more than 750,000. They saw the oscillations regardless of an individual’s access to electricity, though the variations are less pronounced in individuals living in urban environments.


Purported phosphine on Venus more likely to be ordinary sulfur dioxide, new study shows

An image of the planet Venus, showing its thick atmosphere.

A University of Washington-led team has revisited and comprehensively reinterpreted the radio telescope observations underlying a widely reported 2019 claim that phosphine gas was present in the atmosphere of Venus. In a paper accepted to the Astrophysical Journal, they report that sulfur dioxide, a common gas in the atmosphere of Venus, is likely what was detected instead of phosphine.


January 26, 2021

Anti-poverty policies can reduce reports of child neglect

parents with young child walking in a park

A University of Washington study analyzes how a state’s refundable Earned Income Tax Credit can lead to fewer reports of child neglect, by reducing the financial stress on families.


January 25, 2021

Ancient food scraps provide clues to past rainfall in Australia’s Northern Territory

palm-like trees on a dry landscape

A new study led by the University of Queensland and involving the University of Washington provides a glimpse into the Australia’s ancient climate and early human occupation.


January 22, 2021

The 7 rocky planets orbiting TRAPPIST-1 may be made of similar stuff

An image showing three illustrations of potential interiors of the exoplanets in the TRAPPIST-1 star system.

A study accepted by the Planetary Science Journal shows that the planets of the TRAPPIST-1 system share similar densities. That could mean they all contain roughly the same ratio of materials thought to be common to rocky planets, such as iron, oxygen, magnesium and silicon — though they appear to differ notably from Earth.


January 20, 2021

‘Oxford Handbook of Electoral Systems,’ co-edited by UW’s Robert Pekkanen, out in paperback, online

"The Oxford Handbook of Electoral Systems," published in 2018, is coming out in paperback in February from Oxford University Press. The entire book is already available online through UW Libraries.

A book co-edited by Robert Pekkanen of the UW’s Jackson School of International Studies brings together top scholars to study the origins and effects of electoral systems in the United States and other democracies.


January 18, 2021

Researchers use lasers and molecular tethers to create perfectly patterned platforms for tissue engineering

Image of a biological scaffold for tissue engineering that has had proteins tethered to it in a specific pattern, in this case the University of Washington's former logo

Researchers at the University of Washington have developed a technique to modify naturally occurring biological polymers with protein-based biochemical messages that affect cell behavior. Their approach, published the week of Jan. 18 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, uses a near-infrared laser to trigger chemical adhesion of protein messages to a scaffold made from biological polymers such as collagen, a connective tissue found throughout our bodies.


January 14, 2021

Astronomers document the rise and fall of a rarely observed stellar dance

An image of stars in the night sky, showing a particularly bright binary at the center called HS Hydra.

Astronomers have catalogued 126 years of changes to a binary star system called HS Hydrae. Analyzing observations from astro-photographic plates in the late 1800s to TESS observations in 2019, they show that the two stars in HS Hydrae began to eclipse each other starting around a century ago, peaking in the 1960s. The degree of eclipsing then plummeted over the course of just a half century, and will cease around February 2021.


Sexual harassment claims considered more credible if made by ‘prototypical’ women

A man and woman sitting across a desk. Only their hands are visible, using a tablet and notebook.

A new UW study reveals people’s perceptions that sexual harassment primarily affects young, feminine and conventionally attractive women. Women who fall outside that prototype not only are perceived as unharmed by harassment, but also have a harder time convincing others that they have been harassed.


January 12, 2021

New treatment allows some people with spinal cord injury to regain hand and arm function

A hand picking up a tiny bead

Using physical therapy combined with a noninvasive method of stimulating nerve cells in the spinal cord, University of Washington researchers helped six Seattle area participants regain some hand and arm mobility.


January 11, 2021

More management measures lead to healthier fish populations

Fish populations tend to do better in places where rigorous fisheries management practices are used, and the more measures employed, the better for fish populations and food production, according to a new paper published Jan. 11 in Nature Sustainability.


January 4, 2021

Faculty/staff honors: Distinguished educator, historic preservation planning award — and a film documentary appearance

Ann Bostrom, professor in the Evans School of Public Policy & Governance, has received the 2020 Distinguished Educator Award from the Society for Risk Analysis.

Recent honors to and awards for UW faculty and staff members include a documentary film appearance, a distinguished educator award and an honor for historic preservation planning.


December 28, 2020

Dueling pulpits: Book by Jackson School’s Taso Lagos explores rivalry between two charismatic early-20th century preachers

In a new book, Taso Lagos of the UW Jackson School studies the rivalry between Aimee Semple McPherson and Robert “Fighting Bob” Shuler, two California-based performer-preachers who had the country’s rapt attention in the 1920s.


December 23, 2020

Bait and switch: Mislabeled salmon, shrimp have biggest environmental toll

pink piece of salmon

A study co-authored by UW’s Sunny Jardine finds that farmed Atlantic salmon, often labeled and sold as Pacific salmon or rainbow trout, is the second-most-consumed mislabeled seafood product in the U.S. Although not the most frequently mislabeled seafood, salmon’s popularity means it has one of the biggest environmental impacts.


December 18, 2020

Coral recovery during a prolonged heatwave offers new hope

The pressing concerns of climate change have placed the long-term health of the world’s coral reefs in jeopardy. However, new research inspires hope as some corals managed to survive a recent and globally unprecedented heatwave.


December 15, 2020

A.I. model shows promise to generate faster, more accurate weather forecasts

globe split into gridded squares

A model based solely on the past 40 years of weather events uses 7,000 times less computer power than today’s weather forecasting tools. An A.I.-powered model could someday provide more accurate forecasts for rain, snow and other weather events.


December 9, 2020

Warm oceans helped first human migration from Asia to North America

colored map of North Pacific

New research reveals significant changes to the circulation of the North Pacific and its impact on the initial migration of humans from Asia to North America. It provides a new picture of the circulation and climate of the North Pacific at the end of the last ice age, with implications for early human migration.


December 8, 2020

Round 2 of Washington study underway to determine food, economic insecurity during pandemic

Dinner setting on wood table

Understanding Washington residents’ access to food and their economic well-being – or lack of it – during the COVID-19 pandemic is vital for state and community partners to identify those needs and allocate resources effectively. To help accomplish this goal, the University of Washington, Washington State University and Tacoma Community College, along with input from…


NSF-funded deep ice core to be drilled at Hercules Dome, Antarctica

closeup of ice in metal barrel

Antarctica’s next deep ice core, a 1.5-mile core reaching back to 130,000-year-old ice, will be carried out by a multi-institutional U.S. team led by UW’s Eric Steig. The site hundreds of miles from today’s coastline could provide clues to the most recent collapse of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet.


December 7, 2020

The Smellicopter is an obstacle-avoiding drone that uses a live moth antenna to seek out smells

A hawkmoth in the lower right hand corner of the photo with an out of focus drone behind it

A team led by the UW has developed Smellicopter: an autonomous drone that uses a live antenna from a moth to navigate toward smells. Smellicopter can also sense and avoid obstacles as it travels through the air.


Military flights biggest cause of noise pollution on Olympic Peninsula

path through a forested area

A new University of Washington study provides the first look at how much noise pollution is impacting the Olympic Peninsula. The paper found that aircraft were audible across a large swath of the peninsula at least 20% of weekday hours, or for about one hour during a six-hour period. About 88% of all audible aircraft in the pre-pandemic study were military planes.


December 3, 2020

Researchers discover how bean plants fend off famished foes

A photograph of a beet armyworm caterpillar crawling across the surface of a tobacco plant.

A team led by scientists at the University of Washington and the University of California, San Diego has discovered that cowpeas — a type of bean plant — harbor receptors on the surface of their cells that can detect a compound in caterpillar saliva and initiate anti-herbivore defenses.


Tire-related chemical is largely responsible for adult coho salmon deaths in urban streams

A team led by researchers at UW Tacoma, UW and Washington State University Puyallup has discovered a chemical that kills coho salmon in urban streams before the fish can spawn.


Leaving so soon? Unusual planetary nebula fades mere decades after it arrived

An image of the Stingray Nebula taken in 2016 by NASA's Hubble Space Telescope

The tiny Stingray Nebula unexpectedly appeared in the 1980s is by far the youngest planetary nebula in our sky. But a team of astronomers recently analyzed a more recent image of the nebula, taken in 2016 by Hubble, and found that it has faded significantly and changed shape over the course of just 20 years. If dimming continues at current rates, in 20 or 30 years the Stingray Nebula will be barely perceptible.


How a police contact by middle school leads to different outcomes for Black, white youth

A new University of Washington study finds that Black youth are more likely than white youth to be treated as “usual suspects” after a first encounter with police, leading to subsequent arrests over time. Even as white young adults report engaging in significantly more illegal behavior, Black young adults face more criminal penalties.


December 2, 2020

‘Performing Flight’: UW drama professor Scott Magelssen’s book studies aviation through perspective of performance studies

A talk with UW drama professor Scott Magelssen, who explores American aviation from the perspective of performance studies in his new book “Performing Flight.”


Scientists organize to tackle crisis of coral bleaching

bleached corals in the sea

At the current rate of global warming, mass coral bleaching is expected to become more frequent and severe worldwide. An international consortium of scientists, including a coral researcher from the University of Washington, has created the first-ever common framework for increasing comparability of research findings on coral bleaching.


November 24, 2020

Microbes help unlock phosphorus for plant growth

poplar trees along a river

A research team led by the University of Washington and Pacific Northwest National Laboratory has shown that microbes taken from trees growing beside pristine mountain-fed streams in Western Washington could make phosphorus trapped in soils more accessible to agricultural crops. The findings were published in October in the journal Frontiers in Plant Science.


Study shows plant extinction is more common than previously realized

A photograph of a museum specimen of a now-extinct plant species.

A new study reveals that 65 plant species have gone extinct in the continental United States and Canada since European settlement, more extinctions than any previous scientific study has ever documented.



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