UW News

Science


June 10, 2019

Mysterious holes in Antarctic sea ice explained by years of robotic data

map of white ice with dark hole

Why did a giant hole appear in the sea ice off Antarctica in 2016 and 2017, after decades of more typical sea ice cover? Years of Southern Ocean data have explained the phenomenon, helping oceanographers to better predict these features and study their role in global ocean cycles.


June 5, 2019

Urgent action on climate change will prevent heat-related deaths in major U.S. cities

The planet will warm by about 3 degrees Celsius (5.4 degrees Fahrenheit) above pre-industrial levels by the end of the century if the U.S. and other nations meet only their current commitments under the Paris climate agreement to reduce emissions of heat-trapping gases. According to a paper by U.S. and U.K. scientists published in Science Advances today, accelerating ambition to reduce global warming emissions to meet the Paris Agreement’s goal of limiting temperature rise to well below 2 degrees Celsius could prevent thousands of extreme heat-related deaths in cities across the U.S.


June 4, 2019

Early lives of Alaska sockeye salmon accelerating with climate change

sockeye salmon

An ample buffet of freshwater food, brought on by climate change, is altering the life history of one of the world’s most important salmon species.


May 30, 2019

Seismologists seek space on volunteers’ floors and lawns to study Seattle seismic risks

Seattle map shaded brown

A series of seismic experiments will take place this summer in the Seattle area. The researchers are looking for volunteer sites throughout the region.


May 29, 2019

Young herring ‘go with the older fish’ a key finding in Ocean Modeling Forum’s efforts

A collaborative group led by the University of Washington has released a set of research papers, fact sheets and modeling tools to help agencies incorporate traditional knowledge and human dimensions into Pacific herring management.


New study identifies patterns of growth in chronic lymphocytic leukemia

In a paper published May 29 in Nature, scientists report that the growth of chronic lymphocytic leukemia is apt to follow one of three trajectories: relentlessly upward, steadily level or something in between. The particular course the disease takes is tightly linked to the genetic makeup of the cancer cells, particularly the number of growth-spurring “driver” mutations they contain.


May 24, 2019

Origami-inspired materials could soften the blow for reusable spacecraft

a hand pointing to the paper model

University of Washington researchers used the paper folding art of origami to develop a novel solution to help reduce the forces associated with impact — like in car crashes, football helmets, landing spacecraft and more.


May 23, 2019

Hot spots in rivers that nurture young salmon ‘flicker on and off’ in Alaska’s Bristol Bay region

A spawning sockeye salmon.

Chemical signatures imprinted on tiny stones that form inside the ears of fish show that two of Alaska’s most productive salmon populations, and the fisheries they support, depend on the entire watershed.


May 21, 2019

Help by design: Art assists science at UW Design Help Desk

Sometimes when science gets stuck, art can come to the rescue. Such is the case, a new study shows, with the UW Design Help Desk, which guides faculty, students and staff in improving the more artistic aspects of presenting research or reports — figures, diagrams, posters and such.


May 20, 2019

Scientists use molecular tethers and chemical ‘light sabers’ to construct platforms for tissue engineering

In a paper published May 20 in the journal Nature Materials, a team of researchers from the University of Washington unveiled a new strategy to keep proteins intact and functional in synthetic biomaterials for tissue engineering. Their approach modifies proteins at a specific point so that they can be chemically tethered to the scaffold using light. Since the tether can also be cut by laser light, this method can create evolving patterns of signal proteins throughout a biomaterial scaffold to grow tissues made up of different types of cells.


May 15, 2019

First smartphone app that can hear ear infections in children

a smartphone displaying the app

Researchers at the UW have created a new smartphone app that can detect fluid behind the eardrum by simply using a piece of paper and the phone’s microphone and speaker.


May 10, 2019

Chemists take a closer look at the spot where water meets air

A chemical structure of water molecules.

A study published April 18 in the journal Science by researchers at Yale University and the University of Washington provides the first direct measurement of the behavior of bonded oxygen and hydrogen atoms perched on the surface of water.


May 9, 2019

Former cleantech executive leads development of University of Washington energy research and technology center

A future building on the University of Washington campus.

The University of Washington and its Clean Energy Institute named Kevin Klustner executive director of the Center for Advanced Materials and Clean Energy Technologies, or CAMCET. When complete, CAMCET will be a 340,000-square-foot building that will bring together UW scientists and engineers with industry, civic and nonprofit partners to accelerate clean energy solutions for a healthy planet.


May 8, 2019

One-third of the world’s longest rivers remain free-flowing, new analysis finds

laird river

Just over one-third of the world’s 246 longest rivers remain free-flowing, according to a new study published May 8 in Nature. Dams and reservoirs are drastically reducing the diverse benefits that healthy rivers provide to people and nature across the globe.


May 3, 2019

Researchers take a bottom-up approach to synthesizing microscopic diamonds for bioimaging, quantum computing

Two people operating a laser to heat material and make nanodiamonds.

Researchers at the University of Washington, the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory and the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory discovered that they can use extremely high pressure and temperature to introduce other elements into nanodiamonds, making them potentially useful in cell and tissue imaging, as well as quantum computing.


May 2, 2019

Bats evolved diverse skull shapes due to echolocation, diet

A close-up image of a California leaf-nosed bat.

In a paper published May 2 in Nature Communications, a University of Washington team reports that two major forces have shaped bat skulls over their evolutionary history — echolocation and diet — generating a huge diversity of skull shapes across 1,300 bat species today.


May 1, 2019

Arsenic-breathing life discovered in the tropical Pacific Ocean

people working on deck of boat

In oxygen-poor parts of the ocean, some microorganisms survive by breathing arsenic. This holdover from the ancient Earth was not thought to still exist in the open ocean.


Atmospheric scientist Chris Bretherton elected to National Academy of Sciences

Chris Bretherton

Chris Bretherton, a professor of atmospheric sciences and of applied mathematics, has been elected to the National Academy of Sciences.


April 30, 2019

Flowering plants, new teeth and no dinosaurs: New study sheds light on the rise of mammals

Well-preserved fossils ― like this Yanoconodon allini (Specimen No.: NJU P06001; Formation: Yixian; Age: 122.2–124.6 million years ago; Provenance: China) ― enabled the team to infer ecology of these extinct mammal species and look at changes in mammal community structure during the last 165 million years.

A new study published April 30 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences identified three factors critical in the rise of mammal communities since they first emerged during the Age of Dinosaurs: the rise of flowering plants; the evolution of tribosphenic molars in mammals; and the extinction of non-avian dinosaurs, which reduced competition between mammals and other vertebrates in terrestrial ecosystems.


Explore and dive to the depths of Puget Sound May 4 with UW’s aquatic science open house

kids looking at tank of water animals

Families, students and children are invited to get their hands wet on Saturday with “Our Watery World,” the University of Washington’s second annual aquatic science open house.


April 26, 2019

Video: Kids have fun with science at Engineering Discovery Days

Engineering Discovery Days is a yearly event that invites Washington state fourth- through eighth-graders to have fun leaning about STEM with the College of Engineering.


April 25, 2019

Public talks kick off study of ice loss, warming and coastal changes in northern Alaska

flat peninsula and water

A UW team will visit Alaska’s North Slope Borough the week of April 28 in preparation for a two-year study of how waves, ice loss and warming are affecting the low-lying region.


April 19, 2019

New space race: Essays from Jackson School symposium explore changing law, policy

Saadia Pekkanen, UW professor of international studies

A new space race is underway, characterized by the intersecting trends of democratization, commercialization and militarization. Saadia Pekkanen, UW professor of international relations, is lead guest editor for a group of essays addressing such issues and more published online this month in the American Journal of International Law.


April 18, 2019

Video: Soon, kidneys-on-a-chip will rocket to space station

UW scientists are sending a kidney-on-a-chip experiment into space. At an altitude of 250 miles, astronauts will help study how reduced gravity in space affects kidney physiology.


April 15, 2019

Historic logging site shows first human-caused bedrock erosion along an entire river

orange trees by riverbank

Over many years, a University of Washington team has shown how logging on the Teanaway River in central Washington caused dramatic changes to the river channel.


Synthetic peptide can inhibit toxicity, aggregation of protein in Alzheimer’s disease, researchers show

a chemical structure of a peptide

A team led by researchers at the University of Washington has developed synthetic peptides that target and inhibit the small, toxic protein aggregates that are thought to trigger Alzheimer’s disease.


April 12, 2019

For 17 years, UW program has provided an interdisciplinary nexus for climate research and education

people in front of poster

Over 17 years, the program has evolved into a campuswide, interdisciplinary, student-driven program on climate change research, communication and action. A recent publication looks at the program history and current mission.


April 11, 2019

Stars and stories: UW astronomer Emily Levesque gathering material for book on ‘true tales of observational astronomy’

Emily Levesque, University of Washington assistant professor of astronomy, is gathering stories for a book to be titled "The Last Stargazers: True Tales of the Colorful and Vanishing World of Observational Astronomy," which will be published in 2020.

Emily Levesque, UW assistant professor of astronomy, is gathering material for a new book to be called “The Last Stargazers: True Tales of the Colorful and Vanishing World of Observational Astronomy.”


April 10, 2019

David Thouless — Nobel laureate and UW professor emeritus — dies at age 84

David Thouless in 2016.

David James Thouless, Nobel laureate and a professor emeritus at the University of Washington, died in Cambridge in the U.K. on April 6, 2019. He was 84 years old.


April 8, 2019

Water and wastewater disinfection can help prevent the spread of antibiotic resistant bacteria, but what about their genes?

vials exposed to UV light

A UW team tested how well current water and wastewater disinfecting methods affect antibiotic resistance genes in bacterial DNA. While these methods work well to deter bacterial growth, they had varied success in either degrading or deactivating a representative antibiotic resistance gene.


April 4, 2019

April ‘Weather Madness’: UW wins top team, individual prizes in national forecasting contest, now enters tournament round

three people in front of gray sky

A University of Washington team placed first in a national weather forecasting contest that began in September. A UW graduate student also developed a model that for the first time beat out all human competitors.


March 29, 2019

North Dakota site shows wreckage from same object that killed the dinosaurs

cartoon of waves and animal images

A new excavation site in North Dakota shows evidence from the day a giant meteor struck Earth, marking the beginning of the end for the dinosaurs and 75 percent of animal life.


March 26, 2019

Air quality agencies can breathe easier about current emissions regulations

researchers in plane

A University of Washington-led study provides a fuller picture of the relationship between nitrogen oxides — the tailpipe-generated particles at the center of the Volkswagen scandal, also known as NOx, — and PM2.5, the microscopic particles that can lodge in lungs.


New tool maps a key food source for grizzly bears: huckleberries

huckleberry leaves turning red

Researchers have developed a new approach to map huckleberry distribution across Glacier National Park that uses publicly available satellite imagery. Tracking where huckleberry plants live now — and where they may move under climate change — can help biologists predict where grizzly bears will also be found.


March 21, 2019

UW, Microsoft, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory establish new Northwest Quantum Nexus for a quantum revolution in science, technology

Portraits of two people

The University of Washington, the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory and Microsoft Quantum announced this week that they have joined forces in a new coalition, the Northwest Quantum Nexus, to bring about a revolution in quantum research and technology.


Hundreds of bubble streams link biology, seismology off Washington’s coast

map with red stars

The first survey of methane vent sites off Washington’s coast finds 1,778 bubble columns, with most located along a north-south band that is in line with a geologic fault.


With a ‘hello,’ Microsoft and UW demonstrate first fully automated DNA data storage

Blue DNA strand cartoon

UW and Microsoft researchers have demonstrated the first fully automated system to store and retrieve data in manufactured DNA — a key step in moving the technology out of the research lab and into commercial data centers.


March 13, 2019

New method to assess platelet health could help ER doctors

a hand holding the new device

UW researchers have created a novel system that can measure platelet function within two minutes and can help doctors determine which trauma patients might need a blood transfusion upon being admitted to a hospital.


March 12, 2019

Eight postdoctoral researchers at the University of Washington receive awards from the Washington Research Foundation

Eight researchers at the University of Washington have been named 2019 Washington Research Foundation Postdoctoral Fellows.


March 11, 2019

When coyote parents get used to humans, their offspring become bolder, too

coyotes in grass

When coyote parents are habituated to humans, their offspring are more habituated, too — potentially leading to negative interactions between coyotes and humans.



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