Total Solar Eclipse Q&A with Earth and Space Sciences’ Erika Harnett

Erika Harnett in the field.

The UW Department of Earth and Space Sciences’ Erika Harnett is a geophysicist who studies weather in space. She looks at how solar wind interacts with weakly magnetized planets, like the Moon or Mars. Among other things, Erika is also the is the Associate Director of the Washington NASA Space Grant Consortium. She’ll be in eastern Oregon for the upcoming Total Solar Eclipse on August 21, and in advance of the once-in-a-lifetime solar event, we caught up with her. 

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Genetic sequencing tools help UW scientists distinguish coral species

James Dimond snorkeling to collect coral in Belize. He collected 27 coral samples from different environments and with a range of branch thicknesses.

Corals are key to ocean health because they support the densest, most diverse ecosystems and harbor species from turtles and algae to reef fish. UW scientists from the School of Aquatic and Fishery Sciences are looking at the burgeoning field of coral genetics to better predict, and maybe even prepare for, future threats to coral. In a new study, Ph.D. student James Dimond and Professor Steven Roberts use modern DNA-sequencing tools to figure out the relatedness of three similar-looking corals. 

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Terryl Ross named College's Assistant Dean for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion

Terryl Ross, the College of the Environment's Assistant Dean for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion

The College is pleased to announce that Terryl Ross will come aboard as UW Environment’s inaugural Assistant Dean for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion effective September 11, 2017. At UW Environment, Terryl will provide leadership and coordination of diversity, equity and inclusion programs and services. He will represent the College at local, regional and national levels as a leader and innovator in diversity programming. 

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Probiotics help poplar trees clean up toxins in Superfund sites

The darker, taller poplar trees shown at the test site at the end of their third season were inoculated with microbes, while the shorter, lighter-green trees (center row) were not given the bacteria.

Trees have the ability to capture and remove pollutants from the soil and degrade them through natural processes in the plant. It’s a feat of nature companies have used to help clean up polluted sites, though only in small-scale projects. Now, a probiotic bacteria for trees can boost the speed and effectiveness of this natural cycle, providing a microbial partner to help protect trees from the toxic effects of the pollutants and break down the toxins plants bring in from contaminated groundwater. 

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