• Biomechanists use many high-tech tools such as MRI or CT scanning to visualize the connective tissues of specimens. But for Prof. Adam Summers, none of these methods provide the inspiration that clearing and staining does. Using a cocktail of chemicals, clearing and staining turns soft tissues transparent, while tinting bones and cartilage bright red and blue. Preparing gobies, stingrays, and sharks in this manner has revealed to Summers critical data while allowing him—and us—to appreciate the beauty of each fish’s form.

    Check out the video here.

    Photo credit: Adam Summers

    Tue, Apr 22 at 1 PM
  • The UW Institute of Neuroengineering (UWIN), led by co-directors Prof. Tom Daniel and Assoc. Prof. of Physiology and Biophysics Adrienne Fairhall, will be created by a major multi-year grant from the Washington Research Foundation (WRF). 

    The grant will allow UW to attract and retain elite faculty and post-doctoral researchers who work across multiple disciplines, with an emphasis on entrepreneurial researchers adept at advancing scientific discoveries from laboratory to society.

    Daniel says "[The grant] will connect these efforts by our program, industry, existing federally-funded research programs, and education, training, and discovery. By doing that, it’s creating not just an amazing post-doc program, but actually a fabric of interaction that the UW has never seen before.”

    The other three UW programs that will share in the approx. $30 million award are the eScience Institute (data science), the Clean Energy Institute, and the Institute for Protein Design.

    Learn more here.

    Fri, Apr 18 at 2 PM
  • The Alumnus Summa Laude Dignatus Award is the highest honor bestowed upon a University of Washington graduate and is presented annually by the UW and UW Alumni Association. Arthur Levinson graduated in 1972 with a Bachelor of Science in Biology and he went on to earn a doctorate in Biochemical Sciences from Princeton University. He is currently chairman of Genentech, Inc. and the Chief Executive Officer of Calico, a company focused on health, aging and well-being. He is also a member of the Roche Board of Directors and Chairman of the Board of Apple.
    The award is "designated for an outstanding alumnus or alumna, distinguished for service and achievement over a period of years since graduation from the University of Washington. It is emphasized that this award is not based on the individual's work for the preceding year, but rather on his or her lifetime record."
    Congratulations, Art!
    Check out the other 2014 Awards of Excellence recipients here.
    Fri, Apr 18 at 1 PM
  • Florian Muijres, Michael Elzinga, Johan Melis, and Michael Dickinson are co-authors on a paper recently published in Science. Their findings show that when evading a predator, fruit flies use their bodies and wings to alter course in less than one one-hundredth of a second (faster than what anyone had imagined!).

    Armed with this discovery, the next question the Dickinson lab would like to investigate is how the brain and muscles control these remarkably fast and accurate elusive maneuvers.

    Check out the video and the story.

    A fruit fly, Drosophila hydei, flaps its wings 200 times a second during normal flight and even faster when taking evasive action. Credit: F Muijres/F van Breugel/U of Washington

    Tue, Apr 15 at 1 PM
  • The Human Frontiers in Science Program Grant is an international award that allows collaboration between institutions in different countries. Jeff Riffell will work with Martin Guirfa (University of Toulouse) and Lars Chittka (University of London) to study the neural basis of learning and memory in bees with the goal of trying to understand how the insect (honeybee) brain - with a limited number of neurons compared to the mammalian brain - can perform higher-order cognitive tasks (like remembering a person's face). 

    Congrats Jeff!

    Tue, Apr 15 at 1 PM
  • Did you know that 75% of emerging infectious diseases that afflict humans are associated with other animals at some point in their life cycle? Studying the natural history of these pathogens - such as where they live and how they interact with their environment - provides great insight that allows researchers to formulate control strategies. Read more about the importance of utilizing natural history information here:

    UW co-authors on the BioScience paper include Josh Tewksbury, Kirsten Rowell, Jonathan Bakker, Timothy Billo, Peter Dunwiddie, Martha Groom, Noelle Machnicki and Liam Stacey.

    A natural historian’s field work sketches. Photo: Kirsten Rowell

    Fri, Mar 28 at 4 PM
  • Jeff Benca ('12) recently published a paper in the American Journal of Botany and his reconstruction of a new species of basal lycopsid (Leclercqia scolependra) from the Middle Devonian Period in Washington State made the cover of the accompanying issue. He made the illustration and carried out the research while he was an undergraduate researcher in Caroline Stromberg's lab.

    While at the UW Jeff fell in love with the Greenhouse, and even ended growing plants to support the collection and leading K-12 tours of the space.

    He is attending UC Berkeley working toward a Ph.D. in paleobotanist Cindy Looy's lab. Check out the image and paper here.

    Cover of the March 2014 issue of the American Journal of Botany. Vectored illustration: Jeff Benca.

    Fri, Mar 21 at 1 PM
  • Biology major Megan Kufeld was recently named as a President's Medalist in recognition of exceptional academic achievement during her sophomore year. She's also the goalkeeper for the UW Women's Soccer Team and is challenging misconceptions about student-athletes. Read more here.

    Fri, Mar 21 at 12 PM
  • The USFWS recently donated an African bull elephant skull to Prof. Sam Wasser, and it will be exhibited in the department to highlight the pioneering work he and his team are doing to combat the illegal ivory trade.

    Prof. Sam Wasser with the massive African elephant skull

    Thu, Mar 20 at 10 AM
  • Prof. Adam Summers discusses the incredible suction power of the Northern Clingfish. Click here to watch the video.

    Mon, Mar 3 at 2 PM
  • Biology undergraduate Ulyana Dashkevych has been awarded a Libraries Student Employee Scholarships of $1,000. As many as 12 scholarships are given each year to deserving student employees of the Libraries. The scholarships are funded through a variety of sources including individual donors, the Friends of the UW Libraries and the Allen Endowment.

    Congrats Ulyana!

    Wed, Feb 19 at 3 PM
  • Professor Emeritus Gordon Orians new book, Snakes, Sunrises, and Shakespeare (How Evolution Shapes Our Loves and Fears), is hitting the shelves in April. Learn more here.

    Tue, Feb 18 at 2 PM
  • A construction crew recently happened upon an ancient mammoth tusk in the South Lake Union neighborhood of Seattle. Christian Sidor, Professor of Biology and Burke Museum Curator of Vertebrate Paleontology, said the discovery offers a "rare opportunity to directly study Seattle's ancient natural history." The Burke Museum has offered excavate the tusk and provide access to scientists looking to study it. 

    Read more here.

    Photo courtesy of Transit Plumbing Inc.

    Wed, Feb 12 at 10 AM
  • Asst. Prof. Lauren Buckley is part of a working group that just published a new study in Nature that includes an innovative global map of where species are likely to succeed or fail in keeping up with a changing climate. Read more here.

    Tue, Feb 11 at 4 PM
  • Dee Boersma discusses the findings of her new paper in PLOS ONE, starting at minute 17 here.

    Mon, Feb 10 at 12 PM
  • Adj. Prof. Daniel Promislow is the lead author on a perspective published in Science. Check it out here.

    Wed, Feb 5 at 10 AM
  • How do fruit flies manage to locate meals? Post Doc Floris van Breugel and Prof. Michael Dickinson have the answer:

    Floris van Breugel
    A long-exposure photograph reveals the last few seconds of a fruit fly’s search – surging forward when it has the scent and casting when it loses the odor, all the while looking for fruit-shaped objects.
    Tue, Feb 4 at 3 PM
  • In the late 1990's, Prof. Michael Dickinson intitiated a project to build a robotic fly. Today, he's analyzing how the fruit fly processes and transforms information into actions while flying. Read more here.

    Kevin Ma and Pakpong Chirarattananon, Harvard Microbotics Lab

    Fri, Jan 31 at 11 AM
  • Dee will be featured on Science Friday with Ira Flatow tomorrow, live at 11:00-11:20 a.m. PST via 

    After the interview, you can access the audio from the interview on their website after 3 p.m. PST ( 

    Thu, Jan 30 at 5 PM
  • In a paper published in PLOS ONE, Dee Boersma and co-author Ginger Rebstock describe how climate change is directly tied to penguin chick deaths.

    Check out the NYT article here, and the UW Today article here. 

    Photo credit: Dee Boersma

    Wed, Jan 29 at 4 PM