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  • Faculty/staff honors: Distinguished contributions to Asian studies, social equity award, Swedish physical geography honor (Dave Montgomery), new Cascade Public Media director
    Wednesday, May 6, 2020

    Recent honors to University of Washington faculty and staff have come from the Association of Asian Studies, the American Society of Public Administration, the Swedish Society for Anthropology and Geography and Cascade Public Media.

    Historian Patricia Ebrey receives Association of Asian Studies’ top award for 2020

    The Association of Asian Studies has given UW historian Patricia Buckley Ebrey its 2020 Award for Distinguished Contributions to Asian Studies. The award, the highest the association bestows, honors outstanding scholarship in the field.

    Patricia Ebrey

    The Association of Asian Studies has given UW historian Patricia Buckley Ebrey its 2020 Award for Distinguished Contributions to Asian Studies. The award, the highest the association bestows, honors outstanding scholarship in the field.

    Ebrey is the Williams Family Endowed Professor of History. She has written or edited many works on China and East Asia as well as a sourcebook on China for undergraduate teaching. She has written over 70 journal articles and book chapters and her works have been translated into several other languages.

    Praising Ebrey for groundbreaking efforts in several areas, the association said in a news release: “By editing or co-editing volumes of scholarly work, and by providing translations and reproductions of primary materials, she has dedicated herself to developing the historical study of China both in terms of research and teaching.”

    Read more and watch a video of Ebrey’s thanks for the honor at the Association of Asian Studies website.

    * * *

    UW political scientist Christopher Parker joins Cascade Public Media board of directors

    Christopher Parker, UW professor of political science, has been chosen to join the board of directors for Cascade Public Media, the nonprofit home of KCTS 9 television and Crosscut.

    Christopher Parker

    Christopher Parker, UW professor of political science, has been chosen to join the board of directors for Cascade Public Media, the nonprofit home of KCTS 9 television and Crosscut.

    Parker has taught at the UW since 2006 and is the author of two books, “Change They Can’t Believe In: The Tea Party and Reactionary Politics in Contemporary America” (with Matt Barreto, 2013) and “Fighting for Democracy: Black Veterans and the Struggle Against Supremacy in the Postwar South” (2009). His next book, planned for this year, is “The Great White Hope: Donald Trump, Race, and the Crisis of American Democracy.”

    Parker was one of two new directors named, along with Holly Mesrobian, a UW alumna who is a director of engineering at Amazon Web Services. The appointments were announced April 28. Also on the Cascade Public Media board is Anita Ramasastry, UW professor of law.

    “Not only is the world of media changing rapidly, the world itself is changing at a breakneck pace,” Robert Dunlop, CEO of Cascade Public Media, said of the two new directors. “Their insights will be extremely valuable as we continue to bring the people of our region news and programming that informs and inspires.”

    * * *

    Terryl Ross receives 2020 social equity award from American Society of Public Administration

    The American Society of Public Administration has given Terryl Ross, assistant dean of diversity, equity and inclusion in the UW College of the Environment, its 2020 Gloria Hobson Nordin Social Equity Award for 2020.

    Terryl Ross

    The American Society of Public Administration has given Terryl Ross, assistant dean of diversity, equity and inclusion in the UW College of the Environment, its 2020 Gloria Hobson Nordin Social Equity Award for 2020.

    The award recognizes lifetime achievement in the cause of social equity. Candidates are evaluated on the consistency, level and duration oftheir work on social equity as well as the impact of their efforts. The society’s 8,000-some members are practitioners, academics and students.

    Ross came to the UW in 1992 as a doctoral student in the Educational and Communication Technology Program housed in the College of Education and later created the group Multicultural Organization of Students Actively Involved in Change, or MOSAIC.

    “Ross continues to work in diversity and inclusion today as he collaborates with college stakeholders to envision diversity, equity and inclusion efforts across the college,” the association wrote.

    The award, established in 2003, is named for a longtime employee of the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity.

    * * *

    David Montgomery honored by Swedish Society for Anthropology and Geography

    David Montgomery

    David Montgomery

    The Swedish Society for Anthropology and Geography has awarded David Montgomery, UW professor of Earth and space sciences its 2020 Vega Medal for achievements in physical geography. He was honored his work in the field of geomorphology -- the study of the origin and evolution of landforms.

    Montgomery has written several popular science books as well as teaching materials and over 200 articles. The society praised his impact on the research community. His last book was “Growing a Revolution: Bringing Our Soil Back to Life,” published in 2017.

    “He has studied everything from the ways that landslides and glaciers influence the height of mountain ranges, to the way that soils have shaped human civilizations now and in the past,” the society wrote in its award announcement.

    The society was founded in 1878 and is supported mainly by the King of Sweden. Its objective is to promote the development of anthropology, geography and closely related sciences in Sweden and serve as a link between scientists in these disciplines, and the public.

    The award, one of two informally referred to as the Nobel prize of geography, is named for the ship of Swedish explorer Adolf Erik Nordenski?ld, who discovered the Northwest Passage in 1881.

    Read more on the College of the Environment website.

    * * *

    In other faculty news:

    Openness letter: Marina Alberti, UW professor of urban design and planning in the College of Built Environments, was one of 31 scientists to sign an open letter to the journal Science calling for more openness in coronavirus modeling. “Call for transparency of COVID-19 models” was published in Science on May 1.

    “A hallmark of science is the open exchange of knowledge, the cosigners wrote. “We strongly urge all scientists modeling the coronavirus disease 2019 pandemic and its consequences for health and society to rapidly and openly publish their code ... so that it is accessible to all scientists around the world.”

    Seattle Channel meets Indigo Mist: The Seattle Channel recently filmed a visit with the UW School of Music faculty members who comprise the improvisational music group Indigo Mist: professors Juan Pampin, Cuong Vu, Ted Poor and Richard Karpen, the school’s director -- Steve Rodby, artist in residence (and longtime Pat Metheny Group bassist). The school took note in its April newsletter.

    “You just let go and let your creativity do its thing,” Vu said in the video, describing the group’s creative approach. Whatever art comes out of that, he said, is “going to make sense - and it’s going to be uniquely your expression.”

    Watch the Youtube video:

    Read More
  • New data from martian meteorite hints at conditions for early life | Forbes
    Thursday, April 30, 2020
    Japanese researchers have found tantalizing traces of ancient organic molecules containing nitrogen in an Antarctic meteorite known to have come from Mars. David Catling, a professor of earth and space sciences at the UW, is quoted. Read More
  • First results from NASA's ICESat-2 map 16 years of melting ice sheets
    Thursday, April 30, 2020

    Using the most advanced Earth-observing laser instrument NASA has ever flown in space, a team of scientists led by the University of Washington has made precise measurements of how the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets have changed over 16 years.

    colored map of Antarctica

    This shows the amount of ice gained or lost by Antarctica between 2003 and 2019. Dark reds and purples show large average rates of ice loss near the Antarctic coast, while blues show smaller rates of ice gain in the interior. The ice lost near the coasts, especially West Antarctica and the Antarctic Peninsula, vastly outweigh gains in the interior. Thwaites and Crosson ice shelves (seen just below the peninsula) have thinned the most. The two ice shelves have lost 5 meters (16 feet) and 3 meters (10 feet) of ice per year, respectively, between 2003 and 2019. The circle in the middle is over the South Polewhere the instrument does not collect data.Smith et al./Science

    In a new study published April 30 in the journal Science, researchers found the net loss of ice from Antarctica, along with Greenland's shrinking ice sheet, has been responsible for 0.55 inches (14 millimeters) of sea level rise to the global ocean since 2003. In Antarctica, sea level rise is being driven by the loss of the floating ice shelves melting in a warming ocean. These ice shelves help hold back the flow of land-based ice.

    red lines on surface

    This shows a rift, or crack, on the surface of Ross Ice Shelf in Antarctica using data collected by ICESat-2 between Sept. 19, 2018, and April 30, 2019.Susheel Adusumilli/Scripps Institution of Oceanography

    The findings come from the Ice, Cloud and land Elevation Satellite 2 (ICESat-2), which was launched into orbit in fall 2018 and began taking detailed global elevation measurements, including over Earth's frozen regions. By comparing the new data with measurements taken by the original ICESat from 2003 to 2009, researchers have generated a comprehensive portrait of the complexities of ice sheet change -- and insights into the future of Greenland and Antarctica.

    "If you watch a glacier or ice sheet for a month, or a year, you're not going to learn much about what the climate is doing to it," said lead author Benjamin Smith, a glaciologist at the UW Applied Physics Laboratory. "We now have a 16-year span between ICESat and ICESat-2 and can be much more confident that the changes we're seeing in the ice have to do with the long-term changes in the climate. And ICESat-2 is a really remarkable tool for making these measurements. We're seeing high-quality measurements that carpet both ice sheets, which let us make a detailed and precise comparison with the ICESat data."

    Previous studies of ice loss or gain often analyze data from multiple satellites and airborne missions. The new study takes a single type of measurement -- height as measured by an instrument that bounces laser pulses off the ice surface -- providing the most detailed and accurate picture of ice sheet change to date.

    illustration of green lasers above large ice sheet

    ICESat-2 uses its six laser beams (green) to measure elevations over an ice sheet,as illustrated in this artist's rendering. By comparing height measurements from ICESat-2 with similar measurements from the original ICESat, which operated from 2003 to 2009, scientists can determine how much ice has been lost.NASA, ICESat-2/SCAD Collaborative Student Project

    The researchers took tracks of ICESat measurements and overlaid the denser tracks of ICESat-2 measurements from 2019. Where the two data sets intersected -- tens of millions of sites -- they ran the data through computer programs that accounted for the snow density and other factors, and then calculated the mass of ice lost or gained.

    "The new analysis reveals the ice sheets' response to changes in climate with unprecedented detail, revealing clues as to why and how the ice sheets are reacting the way they are," said co-author Alex Gardner, a glaciologist at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California.

    The study found that Greenland's ice sheet lost an average of 200 gigatons of ice per year, and Antarctica's ice sheet lost an average of 118 gigatons of ice per year. One gigaton of ice is enough to fill 400,000 Olympic-sized swimming pools.

    Of the sea level rise that resulted from ice sheet meltwater and iceberg calving, about two-thirds of it came Greenland, the other third from Antarctica, Smith said.

    "It was amazing to see how good the ICESat-2 data looked, right out of the gate," said co-author Tom Neumann at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. "These first results looking at land ice confirm the consensus from other research groups, but they also let us look at the details of change in individual glaciers and ice shelves at the same time."

    colored map of Greenland

    This shows the amount of ice gained or lost by Greenland between 2003 and 2019. Dark reds and purples show large rates of ice loss near the coasts. Blues show smaller rates of ice gain in the interior of the ice sheet. The ice sheets together have lost enough ice into the ocean to raise global sea level by about 14 millimeters (0.55 inches) between 2003 and 2019. Of the global sea level rise from ice sheet meltwater and calving icebergs, about two-thirds came from Greenland, and the rest from Antarctica.Smith et al./Science

    In Greenland, there was a significant amount of thinning of coastal glaciers, Smith said. The Kangerlussuaq and Jakobshavn glaciers, for example, have lost 14 to 20 feet (4 to 6 meters) of elevation per year. Warmer summer temperatures have melted ice from the surface of the glaciers and ice sheets, and in some places warmer ocean water erodes away the ice at their fronts.

    In Antarctica, the dense tracks of ICESat-2 measurements showed that the ice sheet is getting thicker in parts of the continent's interior, likely as a result of increased snowfall, Smith said. But the loss of ice from the continent's margins, especially in West Antarctica and the Antarctic Peninsula, far outweighs any gains in the interior. In those places, the ocean is also likely to blame.

    "In West Antarctica, we're seeing a lot of glaciers thinning very rapidly," Smith said. "There are ice shelves at the downstream end of those glaciers, floating on water. And those ice shelves are thinning, letting more ice flow out into the ocean as the warmer water erodes the ice."

    These ice shelves, which rise and fall with the tides,can be difficult to measure, said co-author Helen Amanda Fricker, a glaciologist at Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the University of California, San Diego. Some of them have rough surfaces, with crevasses and ridges, but the precision and high resolution of ICESat-2 allows researchers to measure overall changes, without worrying about these features skewing the results.

    This is one of the first times that researchers have measured loss of the floating ice shelves around Antarctica simultaneously with loss of the continent's ice sheet.

    Ice that melts from ice shelves doesn't raise sea levels, since it's already floating -- just like an ice cube melting in a full cup of water doesn't overflow the glass. But the ice shelves do provide stability for the glaciers and ice sheets behind them.

    "It's like an architectural buttress that holds up a cathedral," Fricker said. "The ice shelves hold the ice sheet up. If you take away the ice shelves, or even if you thin them, you're reducing that buttressing force, so the grounded ice can flow faster."

    The researchers found ice shelves in West Antarctica, where many of the continent's fastest-moving glaciers are located, are losing mass. Patterns of thinning show that Thwaites and Crosson ice shelves have thinned the most, an average of about 5 meters (16 feet) and 3 meters (10 feet) of ice per year, respectively.

    The study was funded by NASA. Other co-authors are Johan Nilsson and Fernando Paolo at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory; Brooke Medley, Thorsten Markus and H. Jay Zwally at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center; Nicholas Holschuh at Amherst College; Susheel Adusumilli at the University of California, San Diego; Kelly Brunt at the University of Maryland; Bea Csatho at the University of Buffalo; Kaitlin Harbeck at KBR; and Matthew Siegfried at the Colorado School of Mines. Smith and Neumann are both affiliate faculty members in the UW Department of Earth & Space Sciences.


    For more information contact Smith at, Fricker at, Gardner at and Neumann at

    This article is adapted from a NASA press release.

    NASA grants: NNX15AE15G, NNX15AC80G, NNX16AM01G, NNX17AI03G

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  • Confidence Erupts from a Camp at a Volcano: Summer camp at Mount Saint Helens empowers girls with science, confidence, and fun.
    Tuesday, April 28, 2020
    GeoGirls is a 5-day, 4-night volcanology and technology summer camp run by the Mount St. Helens Institute. Featuring Elizabeth Urban and Kate Allstadt, from ESS & PNSN Read More
  • Marc Hirschmann elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences
    Monday, April 27, 2020
    Along with UW president Ana Mari Cauci, and a number of other prominent scientists, artists, and other leaders, experimental petrologist Marc M. Hirschmann was made a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences for 2020. Marc teaches at the University of Minnesota. He was a graduate student in Geological Sciences (now ESS) at UW, completing his PHD in 1992. Congratulations, Marc! Read More
  • How to move 'hands on' classes online
    Thursday, April 16, 2020

    Every spring, Laura Prugh teaches a wildlife research techniques class at the University of Washington. Her students spend much of their time outside, complementing their lecture notes with actual experience. They learn to identify and properly handle animals -- frogs, salamanders and bushy-tailed woodrats, for example -- and they practice using equipment for tracking animals and estimating populations.

    A person with binoculars

    Every spring, Laura Prugh teaches a wildlife research techniques class where students learn to identify animals and practice using equipment for tracking animals and estimating populations. Here Prugh is birding in her neighborhood.Evelyn Rousmaniere

    But when the UW announced it was moving its spring quarter 2020 classes entirely online to combat the novel coronavirus, Prugh and other instructors across campus faced a new,unchartered challenge.

    “During our faculty meeting on Zoom to discuss what to do with field courses, I burst into tears, much to my surprise,” said Prugh, an associate professor of environmental and forest sciences. “I love teaching this course. It’s great getting the students out into the field and getting to know them really well.”

    Prugh initially considered canceling the class, which is a requirement for some students majoring in environmental sciences and resource management.

    “I had to go through a mourning period before I could readjust my expectations and accept that the students are going to need to learn about some of the techniques just in the lecture component,” Prugh said. “But then maybe we can come up with a plan for the rest of the content.”

    Prugh decided to mail each enrolled student a kit that includes a camera trap, an acoustic recorder, a compass and binoculars. Students will usetheir kits to complete independent research projects from home. The class will also participate in timely citizen-science projects that aim to understand how stay-at-home orders across the world have affected urban wildlife.

    Contents of a kit on a table

    Laura Prugh mailed each enrolled student a kit containing a camera trap (shown here in a camouflage lockbox), a python cable lock to lock the camera to a tree, an Audiomoth acoustic recorder, a pair of binoculars, a compass and a ziplock bag with other items such as batteries, SD cards, a card reader and usb connecting cable. Prugh included return mailers in each box so that students can easily return the equipment at the end of the quarter.Laura Prugh/University of Washington

    Prugh wasn’t the only instructor who initially felt their stomach drop when the UW announced the switch to remote instruction. Professors and lecturers across the university take pride in providing hands-on opportunities for their students, but also felt reluctant to outright cancel their courses this quarter, often citing graduation or major requirements.

    Of the approximately 7,000 courses the UW typically offers across its three campuses during spring quarter, about 400 have been canceled two weeks into the quarter -- many of which were one-on-one instruction and practical training, according to Philip Reid, UW's vice provost for academic and student affairs. In addition, about 200 classes were added to spring quarter and the enrollment caps were increased in an effort to limit impacts to student academic progress.

    See how one instructor moved his lab class online

    Watch video

    UW instructors have taken a variety of approaches to give students as close to an in-person experience as possible. Like Prugh, many have figured out ways for students to be hands on at home. But others took different approaches -- such as using online platforms to promote student engagement or having students analyze datasets from a previous quarter.

    Student enrollment also remains high. As of the start of the quarter, 52,845 students were registered for at least one course, compared to 51,884 students last spring. Two weeks into the quarter, about 930 students had withdrawn, compared to 600 at the same time last spring -- a difference of about 330.

    “It’s heartening that even in this unprecedented time, we still see the resiliency of our community through our innovative instructors and our students who are eager to learn,” Reid said.

    Labs at home

    In the move to online courses, many instructors joinedPrugh in devising ways to shift in-class projects to activities students can do at home.

    A student in a lab watching a bike wheel on a track

    During fall quarter, students in Brian Johnson’s e-bike class designed and built a circuit board that could supply power to an e-bike. Shown here Cole Ballard tests a power circuit during lab in fall quarter.Ryan Hoover/University of Washington

    Brian Johnson, a UW assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering, has been restructuring a power electronics course into a year-long series of classes where students design and build electric bikes. This school year was the first full run of the sequence. In fall 2019, students designed the electronics necessary to power an e-bike. Then, over winter quarter, they shifted gears to develop the code that would regulate the system. Spring quarter was supposed to be the “Tour de France,” where the students put the pieces together to power and control actual e-bikes that they would race at the end of the quarter.

    “I did my best to distill everything into something they can build at home,” Johnson said. “Instead of using a battery to power an e-bike motor, their circuits will transfer energy from a small power supply to resistors which will warm up slightly. It will be a great learning experience and it will require students to carefully plan their builds.”

    A TA looks at a laptop on a table. Also on the table, equipment for a kit.
    hands with gloves on them sort wires for kits
    wires divided into kits
    Students organizing materials for kits

    Introduction to Engineering Design is a hands-on course where students learn how to go from thinking of an idea to actually building something. This class normally takes place in the MILL makerspace so that students learn how to use tools such as laser cutters, 3D printers and soldering equipment. This quarter, students will build devices -- a “smart” lamp that can turn on depending on the time of day, for example -- using materials in kits that the instructors are sending home. Then students will usesoftware to design and model updated versions. Shown here are TAs for this course, Suvesha Chandrasekaran, brown shirt, and Gorkem Caylak, preparing kits to be packaged and shipped to students. Credit: Dennis Wise/University of Washington

    Instructors from other College of Engineering courses are having their students complete lab work at home as well. After modifying experiments so that they would be safe to perform at home, instructors prepared and sent more than 300 kits for six different courses to students across the state -- including to Spokane, Yakima, Bellingham, Chehalis and Aberdeen -- and around the globe to students in China, India, Uganda and Brazil, among other countries.

    In the College of the Environment, Jonathan Bakker, an UW professor of environmental and forest sciences, sent kits -- including seeds, pots and media -- to students so they can grow plants at homefor hisNative Plant Production course. This course also normally involves tours of local nurseries. This quarter, Bakker has invited nurseries around the state and the country to give virtual tours to the students.

    Virtual options abound

    Other instructors across the UW are taking advantage of the plethora of virtual options to try to make their previously hands-on courses more engaging.

    Terry Swanson, a principal lecturer in Earth and space sciences, teaches Introduction to Geology and Societal Impacts, a course for mostly nonscience majors. Swanson’s class typically includes labs, field trips and movie nights in addition to a lecture component.

    “This quarter, the difficult thing is trying to bring the excitement of the class -- the rocks and the hands-on, tactile feel of this -- through a screen,” Swanson said.

    Swanson has opted tolivestream his lectures on both Twitch and Zoom, saying that students learn better when he can appear more human on camera, sometimes correcting himself if he makes a mistake live.

    The class still “gathers” for movie nights, too, though this year they watched “Chasing Ice” on Zoom instead of in Kane Hall. Swanson plans to take the students on virtual field trips across the state, using an assortment of cameras to allow him to focus on the fine-grain details he wants his students to pay attention to.

    Julian Yamaura, a lecturer in civil and environmental engineering, is teaching a construction materials class this quarter. This class has a major lab component so Yamaura is filming video modules that students can watch and then discuss in an interactive Zoom class each week. This week, Yamaura is filming how to make concrete. In one of the videos, Yamaura is including mistakes that students may encounter on real job sites after they graduate.
    Credit: Kiyomi Taguchi/University of Washington

    Despite a variety of tools available for moving classes online, professors and lecturers have to be thoughtful about what their students have access to, instructors said. Sara Gonzalez, an associate professor of anthropology, is teaching a contemporary archeology course, which was supposed to have field trips around the UW and city of Seattle. Gonzalez has shifted it to a course where students will be engaging with each other and archeologists around the world through a class Twitter account, a class hashtag and public blog posts.

    “One of the initial reasons I was hesitant to move online is our students face a digital divide: I see a lot of students relying on using only their cellphones to access our course Canvas pages or to complete their work,” Gonzalez said. “I think this approach of using several different platforms gives everyone an opportunity to be able to engage regardless of whether or not they can download huge files. It’s as easy as using their cellphone to check in on the class Twitter feed and see what’s happening for the class.”

    Learning from the past

    Virtual tools, however helpful for keeping students engaged, can still fall short of replacing the full experience that many UW classes aim to offer.

    “Nothing out there is going to give you the same hands-on experience as being in a general chemistry lab,” said Andrea Carroll, a senior lecturer of chemistry. “Performing dilutions, trying to figure out how some of the glassware and instrumentation work, and making some of those typical mistakes students make -- that piece is going to be gone when the courses are moved online.”

    Regardless, Carroll and the general chemistry team will continue teaching labs this quarter. TAs will develop a “tour” of each lab activity that walks students through the entire procedure -- from a full explanation of lab safety to photos and videos of each of the steps, and what students would see if they were performing their own experiment.

    Then students will receive a dataset from previous quarter’s version of the lab to work through their lab report assignments.

    “It’s all real data,” Carroll said. “Some of it will have common errors that people often see in these experiments, and these students will have to explain what might have happened. We’ve tried to keep this as realistic as possible.”

    While instructors across the UW expressed relief and pride at being able to transition their classes online for this quarter, they’re already looking forward to future quarters when they can hold their classes in person again. Many instructors are using this time as an opportunity to find new ways to enhance their in-person classes. For example, Gonzalez has always been interested in having her students engage with a larger public audience around issues of archeology’s relevance -- in this case, she decided to try using Twitter.

    “Right now is the perfect opportunity to be able to demonstrate the importance of public scholarship to my students while also creating an online community for them,” Gonzalez said. “The saddest part of not being able to meet in class is that we miss out in a lot of community building. But that doesn’t mean that we can’t be creative and find community in other spaces.”

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  • The hunt for hydroxyl radicals in Antarctica could reveal the secrets of our future climate
    Wednesday, April 8, 2020
    In every sense, gazing into an Antarctic time tunnel is a chilling experience. You lean over an icy entrance about the size of a dinner plate being exceptionally careful not to drop anything in. It's hard to tell how far you are seeing. Five or 50 metres? A year, a decade, a century or more? As your eyes adjust they see beyond the snap-frozen present and deeper into the decades gone by. The colour shifts from blinding white to electric blue and eventually to a darkness so unfathomable it could be a tunnel into deep space. A core barrel is lowered into the cylindrical shaft, hanging on a cable. It travels at first through layers of hard-packed snow that still retain a connection to the atmosphere above. Go deeper and those pore spaces close off under the weight of snow pushing down from above. The sheer compressive force compacts fluffy snowflakes into solid ice, trapping a tiny bubble of atmosphere from that moment. Each bubble becomes a time capsule. The drill drops through the centuries, reaching for our pre-industrial past. To solve one of the enduring climate change riddles, we're going to need a lot of air from an awful lot of these bubbles. Read More
  • Earthquake felt across inland northwest | KREM
    Wednesday, April 1, 2020
    While an earthquake in Idaho was felt far and wide, the damage should not be extensive. Paul Bodin, UW research professor of earth and space sciences and network manager of the UW-based Pacific Northwest Seismic Network, is interviewed. Read More
  • 6.5 Idaho earthquake rattles Washington and 5 other states | KING 5
    Wednesday, April 1, 2020
    At 5:52 p.m. Tuesday, Idaho and states throughout the Northwest were rattled by a 6.5 magnitude earthquake, according to the USGS. Paul Bodin, UW research professor of earth and space sciences and network manager of the UW-based Pacific Northwest Seismic Network, is quoted. Read More
  • UW-created podcasts: 'Crossing North' by Scandinavian Studies -- also College of Education, Information School's Joe Janes, a discussion of soil health
    Wednesday, April 1, 2020

    With faculty and staff so challenged during the coronavirus shutdowns, podcasts are a way of remotely engaging with a department or school’s work. Also, it looks like we have the time.

    Here's a look at a few podcasts being produced University of Washington departments or people -- and an appearance by a faculty member on the podcast “Undark.”

    Crossing North

    Logo for podcast "Crossng North," by UW Dept of Scandinavian StudiesThis podcast launched in January 2019 and is produced and hosted by Colin Gioia Connors with Kristian Naesby.

    Connors is a lecturer, and Naesby a visiting lecturer of Danish, both in the Department of Scandinavian Studies. With 13 completed episodes, “Crossing North” is about Nordic and Baltic society and culture, and features interviews with authors, performers and leaders from Scandinavia and the Baltic, plus faculty from Scandinavian Studies and the Baltic Studies Program.

    Episodes include “Myth & Fairytale in Frozen 2,” “The Nordic Languages of Middle Earth” and “The Bermuda Triangle of Music,” which asks: What does it mean to be a folk musician in a country with no folk instruments?

    UW Notebook asked a few questions to catch up with this podcast’s journey so far.

    What got this podcast started?

    Colin G. Connors: There are so many incredible stories coming out of the Nordic and Baltic countries that can help us to better understand the world abroad and here at home. We have some amazing faculty in the Department of Scandinavian Studies, and we wanted to be able to sharetheir research and what inspires them directly with the public.

    The department serves a lot of different communities: Our focus is of course on the students in our classrooms, but we also serve the public interest as well. The department sees a lot of artists, ambassadors, and business leaders visiting from Scandinavia, so we wanted to share that direct connection with the public, and especially those in the Pacific Northwest with an interest in Scandinavia.

    Other UW podcasts: In February UW Notebook profiled podcasts by UW Tacoma, architecture professor Vikram Prakash and doctoral students James Rosenthal and Charlie Kelly, “The Paper Boys.”
    Read here.

    The world is looking to the Scandinavian countries right now for inspiration on how to approach all sorts of issues,including climate change, affordable health care, effective education systems and gender equality in the workplace. We hope that the podcast is an entry point for a lot of people, and a place where listeners can hear what type of work is being done, right now, here and in Scandinavia.

    How long does it take you to record and produce a single episode?

    C.C.: I probably spend between 40 and 50 hours per episode. Many people don't realize all the skills and expertise required to make a quality podcast, but when you listen you know the difference. That’s why we put so much effort into research, editing, production value, and sound design.

    We believe “Crossing North” is a reflection of the university, and we want it to reflect the world-class education one can receive in the Department of Scandinavian Studies.

    Who is your audience? Is the podcast finding its audience?

    C.C.: Honestly, the show is for anyone who enjoys learning. All the episodes touch on relevant issues in our world. There are lessons to be learned, both good and bad, from the Nordic and Baltic countries. Sometimes those lessons come from unexpected directions because of how distant those countries are from Seattle and the Pacific Northwest, but the podcast also digs into some surprisingly deep connections that reveal how close we really are.

    Colin Gioia Connors

    Different audiences have found different ways of engaging with individual episodes. A good example a recent episode, #11, which was an interview with assistant professor Tim Frandy of Western Kentucky University about sustainability, green colonialism and Indigenous ecologies. For a lot of our listeners, this episode was the first time they were exposed to the idea of treaty rights and Indigenous sovereignty, especially in the Nordic countries, but for the S?mi-American community here in Seattle (the S?mi are the Indigenous people of Scandinavia), the episode was an affirmation of their identities and experiences.

    That piece also spoke to larger conversations happening around the world and here in Washington about the rights of Indigenous peoples, so I know the episode was shared by different Indigenous advocacy groups as well. I think that’s the mark of a successful piece of work, that people are able to bring something to it and also take something new and meaningful away.

    What is your favorite episode so far? Which might be the best for a newcomer to listen to first?

    C.C.: You can’t go wrong with starting at the beginning. Episode 1, “Werewolves on Campus,” is about the power of music and explores how Latvia’s folk songs helped its people to end the Soviet occupation. The episode has some great music and folk stories.

    People might also enjoy episode 10, “Myth and Fairytale in ‘Frozen 2.'” I interviewed Marc Smith, Disney Animation’s director of story for “Frozen 2” and we talked about how their research trip to Finland, Norway, and Iceland inspired the film. The answer goes way beyond costume design, and our conversation was a once-in-a-lifetime peek behind the scenes at Disney Animation Studios.

    How many downloads have you had so far?

    C.C.: We have reached between 200 and 750 listeners with each episode. Listeners these days are more likely to binge a series than to tune in every month, so download numbers are less representative of overall appeal in podcasting than in traditional broadcasting.

    With 13 episodes, “Crossing North” is still in its infant stage right now, so we are less concerned with numbers than with continuing to produce quality content, because we know that the more episodes we publish, the more likely we are to get new listeners.

    For more information, contact Connors at

    * * *

    Other ongoing UW podcasts:

    Documents that Changed the World

    Produced and hosted by Joe Janes, associate professor, Information School

    Janes studies the cultural impact of documents and documentation and the future of libraries. The title phrase for his podcast came to him in 2012 and he has been producing occasional episodes ever since. In 2017, Janes published a book based on the series titled “Documents that Changed the Way We Live.” Topics across 54 episodes have included the Declaration of Independence’s deleted passage on slavery, Sen. Joseph McCarthy and his nonexistent “list” of communist conspirators in government, an early map of cholera contamination and more. A recent, all-too-timely episode was about the articles of impeachment against President Andrew Johnson in 1868. Over 500,000 downloads. Read more at UW News. For more information, contact Janes at

    * * *

    College of Education podcasts on coronavirus, early learning, climate change and more

    Dustin Wunderlich, marketing and communications director for the college, produces podcasts with faculty members and students to discuss their research or publications.

    He has produced podcasts about college sports, disability studies, climate science education, culturally sustaining pedagogies and education priorities in the Washington state Legislature, and other topics. Find all of the podcasts here. The college also has published a list of its top nine most popular podcasts of 2019.

    A recent episode, released in mid-March, was an interview with Soojin Oh Park, UW assistant professor of education, about the coronavirus threatening to increase inequalities in early learning.

    For more information, contact Wunderlich at


    Events and lectures as podcasts: Jackson School’s Ellison Center

    Some UW units are recording events and lectures and making them available in podcast form.

    Among these is the Ellison Center for Russian, East European and Central Asian Studies in the Jackson School of International Studies. Their most recent recording among dozens of such taped events, is about “Russian Grassroots Activism for the Environment and Beyond.”

    For more information, write to


    ‘Don’t disturb the soil’: UW’s David Montgomery discusses ‘regenerative farming’ on ‘Undark’

    David Montgomery, UW professor of earth and space sciences, was part of a discussion of soil health and “regenerative farming” on the podcast “Undark.” In each episode, the series explores a topic at the intersection of science and society. This episode was titled “A Reality Check on Regenerative Agriculture.”

    David Montgomery

    David Montgomery

    The discussion in January with podcast host Lydia Chain and Seattle-based journalist Eilis O’Neill focused on how regenerative farming practices can improve the health of soil on farms. Scientists, policymakers and manufacturers, they noted, not only disagree on what regenerative farming can accomplish, they even disagree on its exact meaning.

    Montgomery defined it with three central rules. First, he said, “Stop tilling, stop plowing. ...When you plow a field, it’s highly disruptive. Think, you know, if only of what it does to the worms in the soil to plow them up.”

    Second, he suggested farmers should always be growing something, to keep a living root in the soil. Finally, they should plant diverse crops, either in rotation or all at once.

    “That combination is the recipe for buildingup soil organic matter, building up life in the soil,” Montgomery said.

    His last book, on the same subject, “Growing a Revolution: Bringing Our Soil Back to Life,” was published in 2017.

    For more information, contact Montgomery at

    UW Notebook is a section of the UW News site dedicated to telling stories of the good work done by faculty and staff at the University of Washington. Read all posts here.

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