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Urbanization causing ‘rapid evolutionary changes,’ says UW paper

 

A recent paper published in the journal Trends in Ecology & Evolution explores “rapid evolutionary changes” in the ecosystem caused by urbanization. 

The paper explains that these evolutionary changes are happening more quickly than originally thought and may “have significant implications for ecological and human well-being.”

Meet the poo-sniffin’ pooches of Conservation Canines Saving endangered species one scat at a time

Conservation Canines knows poop. In fact, its fridge is full of “poops” from all over the world. 

At a training facility tucked into a cool corner of UW’s Pack Forest near the foot of Mt. Rainier, the Conservation Canines team trains dogs to sniff out the scat of a variety of animals. Since 1997, they’ve been collecting a myriad of scat to study, ranging from that of local killer whales to tigers in Cambodia to the sesame-seed-sized pooh of Pacific pocket mice. 

Rolandi Research Group develops new water purification system

With the use of a biomaterial found in crustacean shells, the Rolandi Research Group at the UW is working to develop a water purification system for people in developing countries.

This biomaterial, chitin, can be extracted from most crustacean shells, though the research group is specifically working with crab and shrimp shells. Chitin acts as a filter: It absorbs dyes, metals, contaminants, pathogens, and microorganisms from water.

Planets in our galaxy may support life UW - researchers believe exoplanets could be habitable

Despite various claims of UFO sightings and countless movies and books written on the subject of alien life, there is no scientific proof planets in our solar system can support life. 

However, UW astronomy and astrobiology researchers Rodrigo Luger and Rory Barnes are theorizing that there are possibly hundreds of habitable planets, not in our solar system, but in our galaxy. 

UW medical community talks measles outbreak and promotes vaccinations

In 2014, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported 644 cases of measles — the largest resurgence of cases since the CDC declared measles eliminated from the United States in 2000.

Now, just six weeks into 2015, the trend continues with 125 reported cases of measles so far, the majority of which can be traced back to an outbreak at Disneyland earlier this year. Two of these cases are now in Washington state. 

Campus Pulse

‘Superbug’ MRSA found in more than half of fire stations tested

A team of UW researchers recently tested 33 local fire stations for Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, commonly known as MRSA, a dangerous yet common drug-resistant bacterium. 

READi lab detects autism spectrum disorder earlier

When an adult rolls a toy car back and forth, does the toddler imitate it? When the toddler gets a bag with a snake in it, do they pull it out and show it to the adult? These are the kind of play-based evaluations the UW Research in Early Autism Detection and Intervention (READi) Lab designed to assess behaviors indicative of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) in young children.

The UW READi Lab seeks to detect ASD in children before they are old enough to get an official diagnosis. 

Campus Pulse

Underwater robot measures effects of tidal, wave energy instruments on marine life 

A team of researchers from the UW’s Applied Physics Laboratory and the mechanical engineering department are building an underwater robot that measures the impact of marine life interaction with underwater instruments that harvest tidal and wave energy. Little is known about the effects of renewable marine energy instruments on marine life at this time, and researchers hope the robot will help identify potential hazards.

Despite opiate overdose trends, life-saving overdose reversal drug unavailable on UW campus

Drug overdoses cause more deaths than car accidents annually in the United States. 

The Center for Disease Control reported more than 43,000 drug overdose deaths in 2013, most of which were caused by opioid painkillers. In Washington state, deaths from opiate overdose, specifically heroin, are on the rise among adults younger than 30.

Opiates include prescription painkillers, like Vicodin and Oxycodone, and heroin. Each have a similar effect on the brain. 

Campus Pulse

UW scientists prepare region for earthquake, tsunami

More than 300 years ago, Washington experienced a major earthquake resulting in a tsunami. 

According to a press release from the Geological Society of America, there is a 10 percent chance of a similar earthquake occuring along the Cascadia fault in the next 50 years. UW scientists are preparing for this possibility.