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Research


October 15, 2019

Deaf infants more attuned to parent’s visual cues, study shows

Baby looking at something not seen by the camera.

A University of Washington-led study finds that Deaf infants exposed to American Sign Language are especially tuned to a parent’s eye gaze, itself a social connection between parent and child that is linked to early learning.


UW’s Ashleigh Theberge receives Packard Fellowship for research on cell communication signals

Person looking at camera

Ashleigh Theberge, a University of Washington assistant professor of chemistry, has been named a 2019 Packard Fellow for her research on cell signaling. Every year since 1988, the David and Lucile Packard Foundation has awarded Packard Fellowships in Science and Engineering to early-career scientists to pursue the types of innovative projects that often fall outside…


Piranha fish swap old teeth for new simultaneously

ct scan of a piranha fish

With the help of new technologies, a team led by the University of Washington has confirmed that piranhas — and their plant-eating cousins, pacus — lose and regrow all the teeth on one side of their face multiple times throughout their lives. How they do it may help explain why the fish go to such efforts to replace their teeth.


First smart speaker system that uses white noise to monitor infants’ breathing

A baby in a basket in a living room

UW researchers have developed a new smart speaker skill that lets a device use white noise to both soothe sleeping babies and monitor their breathing and movement.


October 14, 2019

Fishing for the triple bottom line: profit, planet — and people

fish swimming

In a new study, an interdisciplinary group of researchers used Pacific herring in Haida Gwaii, British Columbia, as a case study for modeling the implicit tradeoffs within the triple bottom line that result from various fisheries management decisions.


October 8, 2019

New paper explores race, representation in campaign finance

Jake Grumbach, UW political science professor with new research on race and campaign giving

In American politics, the question of “Who donates?” is linked to the crucial question of “Who governs?” Most campaign donations historically have come from white voters. But new UW-led research indicates that if more candidates of color ran for office, donations from individuals of color would likely increase as well.


Genes contribute to dog breeds’ iconic traits

A new study by a research team that included the University of Washington offers new evidence to support what scientists have long suspected about dogs: that some dog behaviors that help characterize breeds — a drive to chase, for example, or aggression toward strangers — are associated with distinct genetic differences among them.


October 7, 2019

How bike sharing in Seattle rose from the ashes of Pronto’s failure

Docked Pronto bikes along Seattle's waterfront

University of Washington transportation researchers looked into why the docked bike-share program Pronto failed while dockless bike sharing has been so successful.


October 4, 2019

Health disparities, strong social support among state’s LGBTQ community

Two gender nonbinary people sit on steps outside and talk.

A report released Oct. 4, the Washington State Equity and Diversity Project, is the first study of its kind to examine the health of LGBTQ people of all ages throughout the state.


New metasurface design can control optical fields in three dimensions

An image showing how the optical element focuses light to a specific point in 3D space above the element's surface.

A team led by scientists at the University of Washington has designed and tested a 3D-printed metamaterial that can manipulate light with nanoscale precision. As they report in a paper published Oct. 4 in the journal Science Advances, their designed optical element focuses light to discrete points in a 3D helical pattern.


October 2, 2019

Inspired by Northern clingfish, researchers make a better suction cup

clingfish in water

A University of Washington team inspired by the clingfish’s suction power set out to develop an artificial suction cup that borrows from nature’s design. Their prototype actually performed better than the clingfish.


October 1, 2019

Engineering lecture series focuses on future of food

Future of food banner. Purple text over a picture of people harvesting rice

This fall the University of Washington’s annual engineering lecture series will feature three UW engineers and scientists who are working across disciplines to manage the quality and quantity of the food we eat and grow.


September 26, 2019

Pay, flexibility, advancement: They all matter for workers’ health and safety, study shows

Food delivery cyclist

The terms and conditions of your employment — including your pay, hours, schedule flexibility and job security — influence your overall health as well as your risk of being injured on the job, according to new research from the University of Washington. The analysis takes a comprehensive approach to show that the overall pattern of…


Galaxy found to float in a tranquil sea of halo gas

A graphic showing a fast radio burst leaving its host galaxy and arriving at Earth.

An international team of astronomers has analyzed the signal from a fast radio burst — an enigmatic blast of cosmic radio waves lasting less than a millisecond — to characterize the diffuse gas in the halo of a massive galaxy.


September 20, 2019

Two UW ice researchers to participate in year-long drift across Arctic Ocean

ship surrounded by sea ice and dark skies

Two UW researchers — Bonnie Light, a principal physicist at the UW’s Applied Physics Laboratory and an affiliate associate professor of atmospheric sciences, and Madison Smith, a recent UW graduate who is now doing her postdoctoral research at the UW — will join for the fifth of the six two-month legs, in summer 2020.


September 19, 2019

Introducing VPLanet: A virtual planet simulator for modeling distant worlds across time

Image is illustration of several possibly habitable worlds

UW astrobiologist Rory Barnes and co-authors have created software that simulates multiple aspects of planetary evolution across billions of years, with an eye toward finding and studying potentially habitable worlds.


Plasma flow near sun’s surface explains sunspots, other solar phenomena

orange sun with spots

A new model for plasma flow within the sun provides novel explanations for sunspots, the 11-year sunspot cycle, solar magnetic reversals and other previously unexplained solar phenomena.


September 16, 2019

Americans would rather drive themselves to work than have an autonomous vehicle drive them, study says

A traffic jam on a huge freeway at night

Are you willing to ride in a driverless car? Researchers at the University of Washington studied how Americans’ perceived cost of commute time changes depending on who’s driving.


KATRIN cuts the mass estimate for the elusive neutrino in half

A large piece of scientific equipment being moved through a town

An international team of scientists has announced a breakthrough in its quest to measure the mass of the neutrino, one of the most abundant, yet elusive, elementary particles in our universe. At the 2019 Topics in Astroparticle and Underground Physics conference in Toyama, Japan, leaders from the KATRIN experiment reported Sept. 13 that the estimated range for the rest mass of the neutrino is no larger than 1 electron volt, or eV.


September 10, 2019

Tides don’t always flush water out to sea, study shows

Dawn in Willapa Bay in 2015, showing oysters on a tidal flat.

Researchers at the University of Washington and the University of Strathclyde report that, in Willapa Bay in Washington state, the water washing over the tidal flats during high tides is largely the same water that washed over the flats during the previous high tide. This “old” water has not been mixed in with “new” water from deeper parts of the bay or the open Pacific Ocean, and has different chemical and biological properties, such as lower levels of food for creatures within the tide flats.


September 9, 2019

Breakthrough Foundation honors UW researcher studying ‘exotic’ states of matter

Picture of Lukasz Fidkowski, assistant professor of physics at the University of Washington.

Lukasz Fidkowski, an assistant professor of physics at the University of Washington, is one of the winners of a 2020 New Horizons in Physics Prize from the Breakthrough Foundation. The prize to early-career scientists, announced Sept. 5, recognizes Fidkowski and his three co-recipients “for incisive contributions to the understanding of topological states of matter and the relationships between them.”


Lightning ‘superbolts’ form over oceans from November to February

Flash of lightning on black background

A study of superbolts, which release a thousand times more electrical energy in the low-frequency range than regular lightning bolts, finds they occur at very different times and places than regular lightning. Superbolts tend to strike over particular parts of the oceans, while regular lightning strikes over land.


September 5, 2019

Study shows exposure to multiple languages may make it easier to learn one

Man writes on whiteboard.

A new study from the University of Washington finds that, based on brain activity, people who live in communities where multiple languages are spoken can identify words in yet another language better than those who live in a monolingual environment.


September 4, 2019

New study tracks sulfur-based metabolism in the open ocean

researchers on ship

UW oceanographers used lab experiments and seawater samples to learn how photosynthetic microbes and ocean bacteria use sulfur, a plentiful marine nutrient.


August 29, 2019

Crowdsourced archaeology shows how humans have influenced Earth for thousands of years

Regions of the map turn purple as the time-lapse counter advances, showing the spread of agriculture over time.

A new map synthesized from more than 250 archaeologists worldwide, including from the University of Washington, argues that the human imprint on our planet’s soil goes back much earlier than the nuclear age.


August 27, 2019

Pregnant women of color experience disempowerment by health care providers

Study finds health care providers need more training in power differentials, informed consent and providing respectful care.

A new study finds that women of color perceive their interactions with doctors, nurses and midwives as being misleading, with information being “packaged” in such a way as to disempower them by limiting maternity health care choices for themselves and their children.


August 22, 2019

UW books in brief: Tribal sovereignty and the courts, mentoring through fan fiction, UW Press paperback editions

Recent notable books by UW faculty members explore the legal history of Indigenous nations and the mentoring benefits of fan fiction. Plus, a UW anthropologist’s book is honored, a former English faculty member is remembered in a biography, and UW Press brings out paperback editions of three popular titles.


August 21, 2019

3 UW graduate students earn NASA fellowships, continue legacy of success

rainier vista

Three University of Washington graduate students are among this year’s recipients of a prestigious NASA fellowship that funds student research projects in the fields of Earth and planetary sciences and astrophysics.


August 20, 2019

New tools to minimize risks in shared, augmented-reality environments

A person holding up an iPad that shows a digital world over the real world.

UW security researchers have created ShareAR, a toolkit that lets developers build collaborative and interactive features into AR apps without sacrificing their users’ privacy and security.


August 19, 2019

USGS awards $10.4M to ShakeAlert earthquake early warning system in the Pacific Northwest

The U.S. Geological Survey announced $10.4 million in funding to the Pacific Northwest Seismic Network, based at University of Washington, to support the ShakeAlert earthquake early warning system. Some $7.3 million of the two-year funding total will go to the UW.


‘Hidden’ data exacerbates rural public health inequities

The SHARE-NW project is a five-year effort to identify, gather and visualize data in four Northwest states to help rural communities more effectively address health disparities and achieve health equity.


How ergonomic is your warehouse job? Soon, an app might be able to tell you

A factory ceiling with low hanging lights

Researchers at the UW have used machine learning to develop a new system that can monitor factory and warehouse workers and tell them how ergonomic their jobs are in real time.


August 13, 2019

James Webb Space Telescope could begin learning about TRAPPIST-1 atmospheres in a single year, study indicates

New research from UW astronomers models how telescopes such as the James Webb Space Telescope, will be able to study the planets of the intriguing TRAPPIST-1 system.

New research from astronomers at the UW uses the intriguing TRAPPIST-1 planetary system as a kind of laboratory to model not the planets themselves, but how the coming James Webb Space Telescope might detect and study their atmospheres, on the path toward looking for life beyond Earth.


Air pollution can accelerate lung disease as much as a pack a day of cigarettes

Air pollution over Los Angeles.

Air pollution—especially ozone air pollution which is increasing with climate change—accelerates the progression of emphysema of the lung, according to a new study led by the University of Washington, Columbia University and the University at Buffalo.


August 12, 2019

First cells on ancient Earth may have emerged because building blocks of proteins stabilized membranes

Scientists have discovered that the building blocks of proteins can stabilize cell membranes. This finding may explain how the first cells emerged from the primordial soup billions of years ago: The protein building blocks could have stabilized cell membranes against salt and ions that were present in ancient oceans. In addition, membranes may have been a site for these precursor molecules to co-localize, a potential mechanism to explain what brought together the ingredients for life.


First evidence of human-caused climate change melting the West Antarctic Ice Sheet

white snow and ocean

A new study by U.S. and U.K. scientists finds that in addition to natural variations in winds that drive warmer water to the West Antarctic Ice Sheet, which last about a decade, there has been a longer-term change in the winds that can be linked with human activities.


August 9, 2019

Scientists can now control thermal profiles at the nanoscale

Scientists have designed and tested an experimental system that uses a near-infrared laser to actively heat two gold nanorod antennae — metal rods designed and built at the nanoscale — to different temperatures. The nanorods are so close together that they are both electromagnetically and thermally coupled. Yet the team measured temperature differences between the rods as high as 20 degrees Celsius and could change which nanorod was cooler and which was warmer, even though the rods were made of the same material.


Artificial intelligence could yield more accurate breast cancer diagnoses

Researchers at UW and UCLA have developed an artificial intelligence system that could help pathologists read biopsies more accurately, and lead to better detection and diagnosis of breast cancer.


August 8, 2019

UW, UC San Diego, UC Berkeley receive $5M NSF award to simplify researcher access to public clouds

The National Science Foundation has awarded a five-year, $5 million grant to the University of California, San Diego, the University of Washington and the University of California, Berkeley to develop CloudBank, a suite of managed services to simplify public cloud access for computer science research and education.


Study shows gun shops can aid in preventing suicides

Man behind the counter of a gun shop talks to a customer.

Firearm retailers throughout Washington are willing to learn about suicide prevention but are reluctant to talk to customers about mental health issues, according to a new study by Forefront Suicide Prevention at the University of Washington.



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