News

  • Associate Prof. of Biology Jennifer Nemhauser and Associate Prof. of EE Eric Klavins co-authored a paper on cell-cell communication in baker's yeast, published in the American Chemical Society's Synthetic Biology journal. Using auxin, they engineered yeast cells that can "talk" to one another!

    Read more here

    UW researchers have produced cell-to-cell communication in baker’s yeast, a first step in building multicellular organisms from scratch. The red yeast cells produce a plant hormone, which “tells” the green cells to express a gene differently.University of Washington
     

    Thu, Jul 2 at 1 PM
  • Former undergraduate research student in the Bergstrom Lab, Ben Althouse, was featured in the New York Times for his modeling work on whooping cough. After getting a PhD in epidemiology at Johns Hopkins and doing a prestigious Omidyar Postdoc at the Santa Fe Institute, he has just started a research scientist position at the local Institute for Disease Modeling.

     

    Wed, Jul 1 at 12 PM
  • Associate Prof. Takato Imaizumi and Assistant Prof. Jeff Riffell, along with collaborators throughout the Department, published their findings on the connection between the production and release of fragrant chemicals in petunias. Their innate circadian rhythms prompt the release of aromatic, sweet-smelling fragrance in the evening to attract insect pollinators. 

     

    PC// Kiley Riffell

    ABSTRACT:

    Flowers present a complex display of signals to attract pollinators, including the emission of floral volatiles. Volatile emission is highly regulated, and many species restrict emissions to specific times of the day. This rhythmic emission of scent is regulated by the circadian clock; however, the mechanisms have remained unknown. In Petunia hybrida, volatile emissions are dominated by products of the floral volatile benzenoid/phenylpropanoid (FVBP) metabolic pathway...

    Tue, Jun 30 at 8 AM
  • Prof. Horacio de la Iglesia is a the lead author on a paper published in the Journal of Biological Rhythms on the effects of light and electricity on sleep in traditional hunter-gatherer communities in Argentina. 

    Read more here.

     

    ABSTRACT:

    Access to electric light might have shifted the ancestral timing and duration of human sleep. To test this hypothesis, we studied two communities of the historically hunter-gatherer indigenous Toba/Qom in the Argentinean Chaco. These communities share the same ethnic and sociocultural background, but one has free access to electricity while the other relies exclusively on natural light. We fitted participants in each community with wrist activity data loggers to assess their sleep-wake cycles during one week in the summer and one week in the winter. During the summer, participants with access to electricity had a tendency to a shorter daily sleep bout (43 ± 21 min) than those living under natural light conditions. This difference was due to a later daily bedtime and sleep onset in the community with electricity, but a similar sleep offset and rise time in both communities. In the winter, participants without access to electricity slept longer (56 ± 17 min) than those with access to electricity, and this was also related to earlier bedtimes and sleep onsets than participants in the community with electricity. In both communities, daily sleep duration was longer during the winter than during the summer. Our field study supports the notion that access to inexpensive sources of artificial light and the ability to create artificially lit environments must have been key factors in reducing sleep in industrialized human societies.

    Fri, Jun 19 at 12 PM
  • Prof. Sam Wasser published in Science for pioneering work using DNA evidence to trace the origin of illegal ivory. This technique will be used to help police the international trade that is decimating African elephant populations. 

    Read the paper in Science.

    More news coverage: UW Today article, Seattle Times feature

     

    ABSTRACT:

    Poaching of elephants is now occurring at rates that threaten African populations with extinction. Identifying the number and location of Africa’s major poaching hotspots may assist efforts to end poaching and facilitate recovery of elephant populations. We genetically assign origin to 28 large ivory seizures (≥0.5 tons) made between 1996-2014, also testing assignment accuracy. Results suggest that the major poaching hotspots in Africa may be currently concentrated in as few as two areas. Increasing law enforcement in these two hotspots could help curtail future elephant losses across Africa and disrupt this organized transnational crime.

    Thu, Jun 18 at 2 PM
  • Prof. Keiko Torii and her collaborators in the Biology and Materials Science and Engineering Departments at UW were published in Nature for their study of stomatal patterning, identifying the signals that control where they are placed on plant surfaces. 

    ABSTRACT:

    During development, cells interpret complex and often conflicting signals to make optimal decisions. Plant stomata, the cellular interface between a plant and the atmosphere, develop according to positional cues, which include a family of secreted peptides called epidermal patterning factors (EPFs). How these signalling peptides orchestrate pattern formation at a molecular level remains unclear. Here we report in Arabidopsis that Stomagen (also called EPF-LIKE9) peptide, which promotes stomatal development, requires ERECTA (ER)-family receptor kinases and interferes with the inhibition of stomatal development by the EPIDERMAL PATTERNING FACTOR 2 (EPF2)–ER module. Both EPF2 and Stomagen directly bind to ER and its co-receptor TOO MANY MOUTHS. Stomagen peptide competitively replaced EPF2 binding to ER. Furthermore, application of EPF2, but not Stomagen, elicited rapid phosphorylation of downstream signalling components in vivo. Our findings demonstrate how a plant receptor agonist and antagonist define inhibitory and inductive cues to fine-tune tissue patterning on the plant epidermis.

    Wed, Jun 17 at 2 PM
  • Prof. Tom Daniel, in collaboration with Asst. Prof. Simon Sponberg of Georgia Tech, was published in Science for research on the visual processing of hovering moths. Read the UW Today article here.

    From the Abstract:

    "Using freely hovering moths tracking robotic moving flowers, we showed that the moth’s visual processing does slow in dim light. These longer response times are consistent with models of how visual neurons enhance sensitivity at low light intensities, but they could pose a challenge for moths feeding from swaying flowers."

    A hawkmoth clings to a robotic flower used to study the insect’s ability to track the moving flower under low-light conditions.Rob Felt, Georgia Tech

    Thu, Jun 11 at 2 PM
  • Prof. Emeritus Ray Huey and co-authors from Oceanography were published in Science for their study on global warming and its effects on oxygen levels in marine habitats.

    Read the UW Today article here.

    Great white sharks require plenty of oxygen as metabolic fuel, and even more in warmer waters. They are among marine animals whose distributions will likely shift to meet their oxygen needs under climate change.Terry Goss / Wikimedia

    Fri, Jun 5 at 8 AM
  • Congratulations to David Perkel, who has been selected as a Bloedel Scholar by the Virginia Merrill Bloedel Hearing Research Center at the UW!  David’s research on song learning in birds, and auditory processing in mice, has been recognized with this 3-year award, which will provide David with additional resources to pursue his research program.

    Tue, Jun 2 at 1 PM
  • Professor Billie Swalla, Director of Friday Harbor Labs, received recognition for her outstanding diversity work by the College of the Environment.  She was one of four honorable mentions for the College's inaugural Outstanding Diversity Commitment award.  Congratulations Billie!

    Here is a link to the nominations page.

    Mon, Jun 1 at 7 AM
  • Biology's own Shirley Malcom (BS, 1969) has been named to the US News STEM Leadership Hall of FameShirley was last year’s Mindlin Lecturer in Biology and delivered a truly inspiring recounting of her life story.  Many thanks to Katherine Reinleitner for sponsoring the Mindlin Lecture series and congratulations to Shirley! We are so proud to have such wonderful alumni!

     

    Fri, May 29 at 12 PM
  • Profs. Carl Bergstrom and Ben Kerr were recently published in a News & Views piece in Nature, entitled "Microbiology: Taking the bad with the good". Their research reveals that interactions between antibiotic production and antibiotic degradation are key to maintaining diversity in microbial communities. 

    Figure 1: Cyclical dynamics in a 'rock–paper–scissors' game with public goods.

    Fri, May 22 at 3 PM
  • Biology Prof. Christian Sidor and graudate student Brandon Peecook were published in PLOS One for their discovery of Washington State's first (and only?) dinosaur! Congratulations guys!

    Check out the coverage they have received: PLOS One publication, UW Today article, NW News coverage, KUOW article, Seattle Times article

    Thu, May 21 at 3 PM
  • From Department Chair, Toby Bradshaw: 

    Please join me in congratulating Professor Bill Moody, who has won this year’s Mortar Board Excellence in Teaching Award from the UW’s Tolo Chapter.  As the Director of UW’s undergraduate Neurobiology program, Bill continues to teach a lab-intensive course that students find immensely rewarding.  I find it especially impressive that this award comes almost 30 years after Bill won the campus-wide Distinguished Teaching Award (1986) — a sustained record of outstanding teaching and mentorship to which we can all aspire.  Well done, Bill!

    Wed, May 13 at 10 AM
  • Another example of art + science: Deed of Gift was one outcome from the sabbatical year of Associate Professor Jennifer Nemhauser, who recently received funding from NSF that will support an artist residency in her lab each of the next three years.

    In collaboration with her partner, Matt Offenbacher, an artist who recently won the $25,000 Neddy at Cornish, Nemhauser began a conceptual artwork piece called Deed of Gift that consisted of buying works by women and queer artits for the Seattle Art Museum (SAM). The process of collecting the art is art in itself. 

    Check out their feature in a recent issue the Stranger and a conversation piece in Vignettes.

    “So good it could have been made by a man” is something a man told artist Victoria Haven, who is half of Daft Kuntz.

    Mon, May 11 at 11 AM
  • Young penguin lover, Zachary Touger spoke at a TEDxYouth event about how he became interested in learning more about penguins and the unique penguins that live north of the equator. His fundraising efforts, Pennies for a Penguin, will go to support Biology's Center for Penguins as Ocean Sentinels.

    Check out the video here.

    Thu, May 7 at 4 PM
  • Associate Prof. Janneke Hille Ris Lambers is featured in a Perspectives piece in Science, highlighting a paper on extinction risk due to climate change. 

    Read the full paper here

    In addition to climate change, habitat transformation, invasive species, and pathogens also threaten amphibians like the Cascades frog, Rana cascadae (811). PHOTO: BRAD MITCHELL/ALAMY

    Fri, May 1 at 9 AM
  • Prof. Keiko Torii has won the prestigious Saruhashi Prize, awarded annually to an outstanding female scientist who also has distinguished herself as a mentor of early-career women.  Keiko’s innovative research on the development and patterning of differentiating plant cells has garnered worldwide recognition (e.g., 2008 JSPS Prize, HHMI-GBMF Investigator).  The Saruhashi Prize additionally honors Keiko’s skillful and supportive mentoring of postdoctoral researchers, particularly her guidance in maintaining a healthy work-life balance for new mothers. 

    Congratulations Keiko! This news was picked up by UW Today!

    Mon, Apr 27 at 9 AM
  • Prof. Bille Swalla, Director of Friday Harbor Labs, was recently featured on KPLU's Sound Effect, Episode 14: Creatures. Check out the audio here (about 31 minutes in) 

    The ancestors of comb jellies such as Mnemiopsis leidyi may have been among the earliest creatures in the animal kingdom. PC: William Browne/Univ. of Miami 

    Mon, Apr 13 at 4 PM
  • Prof. Keiko Torii was selected by the American Society of Plant Biologists (ASPB) to receive a 2015 Fellow of ASPB Award! Additionally, Keiko is currently serving on the ASPB Early Career Award Committee. Congratulations Keiko!

    The full award announcement can be found here.

    Dr. Keiko Torii, Howard Hughes Medical Institute and University of Washington, Seattle For the past 15 years, Keiko has been studying the role of receptor-like kinases in plant development and the mechanisms controlling stomata formation. Her research on stomata formation has greatly improved our understanding of how plant cells coordinate proliferation and differentiation to generate specific patterns during organ morphogenesis. In addition to her research accomplishments, she is a monitoring editor for PlantPhysiology and editor-in-chief of The Arabidopsis Book (TAB).

    Thu, Apr 9 at 9 AM