UW News

Department of Civil & Environmental Engineering


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…


November 20, 2019

Emissions from electricity generation lead to disproportionate number of premature deaths for some racial groups

A coal power plant in West Virginia.

UW researchers have found that air pollution from electricity generation emissions in 2014 led to about 16,000 premature deaths in the continental U.S. In many states, the majority of the health impacts came from emissions originating in other states.


November 5, 2019

Fall storms, coastal erosion focus of northern Alaska research cruise

freight shipping container in foreground and research ship in background

A University of Washington team is leaving to study how fall storms, dwindling sea ice and vulnerable coastlines might combine in a changing Arctic.


October 23, 2019

UW team sending autonomous surfboard to explore Antarctic waters

researchers on ship lowering large surfboard into water

This week a UW team is releasing a robotic surfboard to explore the surface ocean around Antarctica.


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 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 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.


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.


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 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.


March 11, 2019

Black and Hispanic Americans bear a disproportionate burden from air pollution

industry smokestacks at sunrise

Black and Hispanic Americans bear a disproportionate burden from air pollution generated mainly by non-Hispanic white Americans, according to new research from a team led by the University of Washington and the University of Minnesota.


February 4, 2019

Early spring rain boosts methane from thawing permafrost by 30 percent

The landscape surrounding a thaw bog in Alaska

A UW-led team has found that early spring rainfall warms up a thawing permafrost bog in Alaska and promotes the growth of plants and methane-producing microbes.


January 23, 2019

First-of-its-kind center hosts tools to analyze the effects of natural disasters

A researcher watches the z boat

A center housed at the University of Washington offers a new way for scientists to get their hands on state-of-the-art equipment to study the effects of natural disasters. The RAPID Facility, which is the first of its kind in the world, contains over 300 instruments that are available for researchers around the world to use.


December 19, 2018

Researchers develop a new houseplant that can clean your home’s air

a scientist puts a plant into a glass tube

Researchers at the University of Washington have genetically modified a common houseplant to remove chloroform and benzene from the air around it.


October 25, 2018

Urban Freight Lab will help UPS evaluate its new e-bike delivery service in Seattle

A UPS delivery person on an e-bike in front of the Space Needle

UPS announced today that it will be pilot-testing deliveries with cargo e-bikes in downtown Seattle. This test is expected to last a year, and the University of Washington’s Urban Freight Lab at the Supply Chain Transportation and Logistics Center will help UPS evaluate the study’s outcomes.


October 12, 2018

Could parcel lockers in transit stations reduce traffic congestion in Seattle?

The University of Washington’s Urban Freight Lab at the Supply Chain Transportation and Logistics Center has been looking for solutions to Seattle’s traffic congestion: Parcel lockers that aren’t owned by a specific company could alleviate the strain. Now the researchers have identified five viable locker locations at three different Seattle Link light rail stations for a future pilot test.


October 1, 2018

Engineering lecture series focuses on engineering for social good

This fall, the University of Washington’s annual engineering lecture series will feature three College of Engineering faculty whose research is accelerating positive impact here and around the world.


August 21, 2018

Bus battle: Do private shuttles affect the reliability of public transit?

a bus on the street stopped at a bus stop

Last year, King County Metro and the Seattle Department of Transportation started a pilot program that allowed Microsoft’s and Seattle Children’s Hospital’s private shuttles to pick up employees at a few public bus stops throughout Seattle. Now a recent study from researchers at the University of Washington suggests that public buses are unaffected by private shuttles most of the time.


March 7, 2018

Bike share programs: What do cyclists think?

bike

Researchers at the University of Washington Sustainable Transportation Lab want your input to learn why bike share programs — like Pronto, LimeBike, Spin or ofo — succeed or fail. The lab is conducting a short, voluntary survey of cyclists to find out what they’re looking for from a bike share program.


February 22, 2018

Reducing failed deliveries, truck parking time could improve downtown Seattle congestion, new report finds

truck parked curbside

If online shopping continues to grow at its current rate, there may be twice as many trucks delivering packages in Seattle’s city center within five years, a new report projects — and double the number of trucks looking for a parking space.


December 13, 2017

UW project seeks sustainable blueprint for hydropower dams

children fishing

A new NSF-funded project will use findings in the Mekong River basin as an example of how three critical issues — feeding people, generating energy and maintaining functioning ecosystems — can be addressed thoughtfully and progressively in the developing world.


November 14, 2017

2 UW engineering students make Forbes ’30 under 30 in Energy’ list

Two University of Washington engineering students were selected by Forbes magazine for its list of the top 30 people in the world under age 30 working in energy.


September 14, 2017

People of color exposed to more pollution from cars, trucks, power plants during 10-year period

A new nationwide study finds that the U.S. made little progress from 2000 to 2010 in reducing relative disparities between people of color and whites in exposure to harmful air pollution emitted by cars, trucks and other combustion sources.


May 30, 2017

Drone vs. truck deliveries: Which create less carbon pollution?

Photo of drone delivery

A new study finds that drone deliveries emit less climate-warming carbon dioxide pollution than truck deliveries in some — but not all — scenarios.


April 11, 2017

Technology to improve rockfall analysis on cliffs could save money, lives

image of a crumbling cliff seen via LIDAR

University of Washington civil engineers have developed a new, automated technology to analyze the potential for rockfalls from cliffs onto roads and areas below.


December 6, 2016

USDOT awards $14M for mobility research at UW-led transportation center

The U.S. Department of Transportation has awarded approximately $14 million over five years to a multi-university, regional transportation center led by the University of Washington to fund research aimed at improving the mobility of people and goods across the Pacific Northwest.


November 22, 2016

New grasses neutralize toxic pollution from bombs, explosives and munitions

Grass photo

UW engineers have developed the first transgenic grass species that can take up and destroy RDX — a toxic compound that has been widely used in explosives since World War II and contaminates military bases, battlegrounds and some drinking water wells.


October 24, 2016

Uber service faster in low income Seattle neighborhoods, initial study finds

Your wait time for an Uber ride in Seattle is shorter if you are in a lower income neighborhood. Alternatively, wait times are longer for an Uber in wealthier neighborhoods, according to a new University of Washington study that measures one dimension of whether TNCs are providing equitable access.


October 12, 2016

As online retailing booms, new Urban Freight Lab to work with industry, SDOT on delivery challenges

As online retailing booms, the new UW Urban Freight Lab will partner with UPS, Costco, Nordstrom and SDOT to research solutions for businesses delivering goods in urban settings and cities trying to manage limited street space.


October 5, 2016

$4M grant funds new UW RAPID Facility to investigate natural disasters worldwide

LIDAR scan of earthquake damaged home

A new UW disaster investigation center funded by a $4 million National Science Foundation grant will collect and analyze critical data that’s often lost in the immediate aftermath of hurricanes and earthquakes but that can help create more resilient communities.


October 3, 2016

Engineering lecture series focuses on building safe, resilient communities

Image of Seattle skyline

As the fourth-fastest growing city in the United States, Seattle faces important questions in its quest to remain a resilient and sustainable community. Can we build to withstand natural disasters, reduce environmental toxins as consumption rises, meet urban transportation challenges so food, supplies and consumer products can get where they need to go? Over the…


July 27, 2016

Carbon-financed cookstove fails to deliver hoped-for benefits in the field

Photo of women using cookstoves in India

A study of the the first clean cookstove intervention in India financed through the Kyoto Protocol’s Clean Development Mechanism found expected benefits from newer, more “efficient” stoves — based on their performance in lab tests — did not materialize in the field.


July 15, 2016

Joseph Wartman, David Montgomery honored for Oso landslide report

headshots of two researchers

The Geological Society of America has honored two UW professors and other authors of a 186-page report on the causes and consequences of the deadly March 2014 landslide in Oso, Washington.


May 2, 2016

UW-led team wins $10M EPA grant for air pollution research

To help address the nation’s pressing need for better air quality, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has awarded a research team co-led by a University of Washington civil engineer a $10 million Air, Climate and Energy (ACE) grant.


February 29, 2016

NASA data used to track groundwater in Pakistan

Picture of groundwater fieldwork

Pakistan’s water managers are using NASA satellites to more effectively monitor groundwater supplies, thanks to a partnership with UW civil and environmental engineers. It’s part of a larger effort to use the vast amount of data and observations collected by Earth-orbiting satellites to better quality of life in developing countries.


February 25, 2016

Driverless cars could increase reliance on roads

Photo of driverless car

Driverless vehicles could intensify car use — reducing or even eliminating promised energy savings and environmental benefits, a new study co-authored by a University of Washington researcher finds. If people can work, relax and even hold meetings in their fully automated vehicles, they may drive more.


January 20, 2016

Bluetooth and Wi-Fi sensing from mobile devices may help improve bus service

bus photo

UW transportation engineers have developed an inexpensive system to sense Wi-Fi and Bluetooth signals from bus passengers’ mobile devices and collect data to build better transit systems.


January 6, 2016

What motivates people to walk and bike? It varies by income

The built environment influences decisions to walk or bike differently for lower- and higher-income groups, UW researchers have found. Neighborhood density, accessible destinations and fewer vehicles were associated with more walking and biking in lower-income groups, while neighborhood attractiveness was relevant for higher-income groups.


December 21, 2015

Rivers, lakes impact ability of forests to store carbon

A river in Washington state.

Forests help remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere by storing it in trees, but a sizeable amount of the greenhouse gas actually escapes through the soil and into rivers and streams, a new paper finds.



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