UW News

Department of Civil & Environmental Engineering


June 17, 2022

Q&A: New children’s book shows how natural world inspired inventor to create medieval robots

Book cover showing a medieval robot

“Robots and Other Amazing Gadgets Invented 800 Years Ago,” a children’s book by the UW’s Faisal Hossain and Qishi Zhou, shares the inventions of Ismail Al-Jazari, a 12th-century polymath considered by many to be the “father of robotics.”


June 13, 2022

Is there snow in that tree? Citizen science helps unpack snow’s effect on summer water supplies

Trees in a forest. The trees are blanketed by heavy snow.

To investigate what happens to snow intercepted by trees, UW researchers created a citizen science project called Snow Spotter.


April 6, 2022

UW-housed RAPID Facility receives $6M renewal grant

Researchers looks at boat drone in water

The first-of-its-kind center has received a $6 million renewal grant from the National Science Foundation.


March 9, 2022

More air pollution present in areas with historical redlining

Cars on a road with houses and mountains in the background

A team of researchers at the UW and UC Berkeley has found that housing discrimination practices dating from the 1930s still drive air pollution disparities in hundreds of American cities today.


January 26, 2022

Air pollution from planes, roads infiltrates schools and can be dramatically reduced with portable air filters

Professor testing air quality

What started as a University of Washington-led project to measure air pollution near Sea-Tac International Airport has led to schools in the area installing portable air filters to improve indoor air quality. First, UW researchers found they were able to parse aircraft pollution from roadway pollution in the communities under Sea-Tac International Airport flight paths…


December 15, 2021

Despite cleaner air, pollution disparities for people of color remain across the US

A photo of a city skyline in a haze of smog

UW researchers investigated disparities in exposure to six major air pollutants in 1990, 2000 and 2010 by comparing models of air pollution levels to census data. While overall pollutant concentrations have decreased since 1990, people of color are still more likely to be exposed to all six pollutants than white people, regardless of income level, across the continental United States.


December 13, 2021

Video: Modeling how debris affects buildings during a tsunami

Researchers are modeling how tsunami debris pushes on a building — either by hitting it or getting lodged on it and creating a dam. They are also looking for patterns in the way floating debris moves around and against rigid shapes. The information may help in designing buildings in coastal communities that can better withstand damage by floating objects in tsunami events. 


November 22, 2021

Video: UW students build purifiers that can remove virus particles, other pollutants

A UW class that normally is about air pollution has pivoted to focus on another airborne health hazard — coronavirus aerosols. As part of the class project, students are designing and building air purifiers and testing how effective they are.


November 1, 2021

UW receives $2M from National Science Foundation to design an ‘adaptable society’

team photo

A team led by the University of Washington has received a nearly $2 million grant from the National Science Foundation to further research into how urban societal systems can be organized to be both efficient and resilient.


October 20, 2021

UW students designed a rover to inspect culvert conditions to help fish

A rover entering a pipe

UW students created a rover that can inspect sewer pipes or culverts for any damage that could prevent fish from using them during migration.


September 23, 2021

Video: Arsenic makes these south Puget Sound fish unsafe to eat

Big mouth bass close up

Researchers at the University of Washington and UW Tacoma have been studying arsenic levels in the mud, water and in creatures from lakes in the south Puget Sound area. Eating contaminated fish or snails from these lakes could lead to health risks.


September 2, 2021

UW engineer explains how the redesigned levee system in New Orleans helped mitigate the impact of Hurricane Ida

A graphic showing Hurricane Ida superimposed on top of a map

UW News asked Michael Motley, a UW associate professor of civil and environmental engineering, to explain how levees protect cities like New Orleans. 


July 9, 2021

‘We need to be patient’ — UW’s Dawn Lehman on the collapse of the Champlain Towers South

Dawn Lehman's headshot

While there is currently no explanation for why the Champlain Towers South building collapsed, Dawn Lehman, a University of Washington professor of civil and environmental engineering, has been studying photographs, videos, drawings, reports and permits to investigate this tragedy to understand what happened. UW News asked her to help us understand why buildings fail.


June 10, 2021

Cause, scope determined for deadly winter debris flow in Uttarakhand, India

A destroyed hydroelectric plant in the mountains

On Feb. 7, 2021, a wall of debris and water barreled down river valleys in India, destroyed two hydropower facilities and left more than 200 people dead or missing. A self-organized coalition of 53 scientists from 14 countries, including researchers from the University of Washington, worked nonstop following the disaster to investigate the cause, scope and impacts.


June 1, 2021

Regional survey reveals work, leisure habits during the pandemic

traffic on Interstate 5 through downtown Seattle at sunset

The COVID-19 Mobility Survey, a partnership of the University of Washington and the Puget Sound Regional Council, showed how remote workers’ transportation, work and other lifestyle habits changed over the first several months of the pandemic.


May 3, 2021

Genetically engineered grass cleanses soil of toxic pollutants left by military explosives, new research shows

Grasses growing in tubes in the foreground. Two people stand behind them. Another person standing to the right.

A team, which includes researchers from the University of Washington, demonstrated that over the course of three years, a genetically engineered switchgrass could break down an explosive chemical in plots of soil at a military range.


April 28, 2021

People of color hardest hit by air pollution from nearly all sources

A picture of power lines at sunset. Everything is hazy.

A new study from researchers at multiple universities, including the UW, shows that exposure disparities among people of color and white people are driven by nearly all, rather than only a few, emission source types.


January 27, 2021

$11.45 million federal grant will develop transit, mobility tech for underserved groups

As part of the Transportation Data Equity Initiative, the UW is developing technology that will allow underserved groups to use tools similar to Google Directions and OneBusyAway to get from place to place.


January 12, 2021

Video: Detecting COVID-19 in wastewater

Man in hard hat and gloves in small room holding large vial with clear light brown fluid in it.

When someone has the coronavirus, some of it is shed in their fecal matter. So what we flush has become useful to UW researchers developing a new testing method for COVID-19 in sewage. They’re looking at wastewater that flows from people’s homes, sampling it at manholes and neighborhood pump stations before it goes to sewage treatment plants.


December 14, 2020

Behold! UW-authored books and music for the good Dawgs on your shopping list

Here’s a quick look at some giftworthy books and music created by UW faculty and staff in 2020, and a reminder of some recent favorites.


December 3, 2020

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.


October 22, 2020

Simple actions can help people survive landslides, UW analysis shows

aerial view of mud and trees with building remains

Simple actions can dramatically improve a person’s chances of surviving a landslide, show records from 38 landslides in the U.S. and around the world. People who survived landslides tended to have moved upstairs or to higher ground, among other key actions.


October 7, 2020

UW books in brief: Children’s books on STEM professionals, a courageous personal memoir — and UW Press looks back at 100

New books by UW faculty members include children’s works profiling STEM researchers and a personal memoir of an immigrant’s journey to freedom. Also, UW Press remembers a century of publishing, and a book on British colonialism is honored.


October 5, 2020

Video: Using ‘Street View’ to track pandemic in Seattle over time

A 360 camera is mounted on top of a sedan

As the city of Seattle shut down in March 2020 to try to slow the spread of COVID-19, a group of University of Washington researchers decided to track how the city would react.


September 30, 2020

UW researchers driving around Seattle to track COVID-19 response over time

A panoramic view of a street corner. Cars and a pedestrian are labeled

UW researchers developed a project that scans the streets every few weeks to document how Seattle has reacted to the pandemic and what recovery looks like.


August 20, 2020

Faculty/staff honors: Public service award, endowed professorship, cybersecurity grant — and a UW professor among Talented 12

Jessica Ray, UW assistant professor of civil and environmental engineering, has been named a member of the 2020 Talented 12 list of young chemists working to solve world problems by the weekly newsmagazine Chemical & Engineering News, or C&EN.

Recent honors and grants to University of Washington faculty and staff have come from the American Chemical Society, the Carnegie Corporation of New York, the National Science Board and the family of engineers Ganesh and Hema Moorthy.


July 16, 2020

7 University of Washington researchers elected to the Washington State Academy of Sciences in 2020

Seven scientists and engineers at the University of Washington have been elected to the Washington State Academy of Sciences, according to an announcement July 15 by the academy.


June 17, 2020

Is the air getting cleaner during the COVID-19 pandemic?

San Francisco at sunset

Using air quality data from U.S. Environmental Protection Agency monitors across the U.S., a UW-led team looked for changes in two common pollutants over the course of 2020.


May 21, 2020

Survey follow-up: UW research team seeks campus input on continuing COVID-19 mobility impacts

Three professors are teaming for a study of the mobility impacts of the coronavirus — and they are inviting UW faculty, staff and students to complete a short online survey to assist the research.


May 11, 2020

EarthLab announces Innovation Grant recipients for 2020

Research projects funded for 2020 by EarthLab’s Innovation Grants Program will study how vegetation might reduce pollution, help an Alaskan village achieve safety and resilience amid climate change, organize a California river’s restoration with tribal involvement, compare practices in self-managed indigenous immigrant communities and more.


April 23, 2020

Smart farming via satellite: NASA profiles UW researcher Faisal Hossain’s tech-based irrigation advisory system for Earth Day

Faisal Hossain,who wrote two children's books on STEM

Noting the 50th anniversary of Earth Day, NASA has featured UW-led research by Faisal Hossain that uses satellite data to help farmers manage water more efficiently.


April 3, 2020

Watch videos of UW students’ ideas for public toilets, road safety and job matches in India

Students painting a wall a copper color

A UW study abroad program empowers students from all disciplines to apply their skills to real-life problems.


March 17, 2020

Survey: What blocks your bus?

A King County Metro bus in Seattle.

UW researchers are inviting the public to share their experiences on their regular commutes in a survey.


February 27, 2020

Video: Warming Arctic means less ice, bigger waves

ship surrounded by ice

Throughout the month of November 2019, a team of University of Washington researchers chased storms in the Arctic Ocean. The project, Coastal Ocean Dynamics in the Arctic, or CODA, is looking at how water currents shift and waves hit the coast with more open water, to provide better forecasts and predictions for the region’s future.


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.


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).


February 10, 2020

UW’s Steve Kramer elected to National Academy of Engineering

headshot

Steve Kramer, a professor of UW civil and environmental engineering, has been elected to the National Academy of Engineering. Kramer is among 87 members and 18 international members newly elected to the academy, one of the highest professional distinctions in engineering.


January 22, 2020

What’s in Puget Sound? New technique casts a wide net for concerning chemicals

A researcher works in a chemical hood

Using a new “non-targeted” approach, UW and UW Tacoma researchers screened samples from multiple regions of Puget Sound to look for potentially harmful compounds that might be present.


December 4, 2019

Warmer temperatures will increase arsenic levels in rice, study shows

closeup of rice grains on rice plants

UW researchers have found that warmer temperatures, at levels expected under most climate change projections, can lead to higher concentrations of arsenic in rice grains.


December 3, 2019

Communities around Sea-Tac Airport exposed to a unique mix of air pollution associated with aircraft

Communities underneath and downwind of jets landing at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport are exposed to a type of ultrafine particle pollution that is distinctly associated with aircraft, according to a new University of Washington study, the first to identify the unique signature of aircraft emissions in the state of Washington. The finding comes from the two-year…



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