At the University of Washington, a world-renown hub of medical innovation, researchers team up across departments to find answers to some of health care’s most pressing problems. Programmers solve. Engineers build. Physicians treat. Patients win. But buried inside this collaborative approach to medicine are questions that science can’t answer: When does a physical impairment become a “problem”? Do all problems need to be fixed? How much input should patients have?
It's a quiet afternoon in summer quarter, and Gary Hsieh is wearing shorts and a T-shirt. He rode his bike to work this morning — for the first time — and now he's sitting across from a 3-foot-tall package from Amazon. "This is an under-desk elliptical," he says, slapping the top of the bulky box. He’ll pedal it beneath his feet as he types, burning calories with each keystroke. Hsieh, an assistant professor in Human Centered Design & Engineering (HCDE), is trying to solve a problem. "I’ve gained too much weight,” he says.
In the first article of this two-part series on sugar, we looked at the history and science of natural sweeteners. Sugar is an energy source, so it burns off easily in moderate doses — less than 10 teaspoons a day, says the American Heart Association — but most of us consume way more than that. This surplus sugar often sticks around in our bodies, enlisting in the fat reserves instead of the energy infantry. But what if we could stop sugar from sticking around?
It's probably better to skip dessert, you tell yourself as the waiter brings the check, but let's just take a peek at the menu. Soon you're three spoonfuls into a bowl of vanilla ice cream, and there's a triple-fudge brownie waiting patiently for your attention. You smile in delight with each bite, then twinge with regret for your poor belly. Months from now you'll curse yourself as you sink into a dentist's chair and grasp an armrest with trembling fingers.
It’s the kind of trip you find on bucket lists. In two weeks, Taso Lagos and 29 students will fly to Athens, Greece, where they’ll stroll through ancient streets and watch the sun set over the Mediterranean Sea. "Walking in the same place as Aristotle, Plato, and Socrates is a great thrill," said Lagos, the director of the Greece study abroad program. “Saint Paul and some of the early Christians were there, as well.”
It took almost 15 years, but Charlotte Coté finally got her answer. Where do all of us hang out? She first asked the question when she arrived at the UW in 2001. "Nobody really knew what to say," recalled Coté, a member of the Nuu-chah-nulth Nations in British Columbia. "We're on Native land — Duwamish had villages here — and yet, you could walk down this campus and that wasn't visible."
Those 20-minute showers are lavish, but how much water did it take to make your favorite pair of shoes? How about the beans in your morning coffee? The fuel in your gas tank? Water that goes into producing consumer goods is called virtual water, and it flows through your closet, your kitchen, and your daily commute. Virtual water accounts for over 95% of our water footprint, but we don't talk about it much. Rob Turner wants to change that.
Stand up straight, keep your head up, and take pride in yourself. That's what a man named Luther used to tell my dad, a slouching 19-year-old, when they served in the military together. It was 1973, at Clark Air Force Base in the Philippines, and Luther didn't put with poor posture.
Tucked in a sleepy corner of the UW Quad, Smith Hall is as peaceful as it gets on the Seattle campus. But walk inside and you’ll find torture, incarceration, and assassinations. “We work with organizations and individuals on the front lines of human rights challenges,” said Angelina Godoy, the director of the UW Center for Human Rights, which is based on the mezzanine level of Smith. “Those challenges could be here in Seattle or anywhere in the world, and they can be anything from the right to health to the right to free speech to tackling genocide.”
When Joe Lott taught a course about black and brown men in higher education, students from departments all over campus signed up — sociology, political science, engineering. "For many of them, it was one of the first classes where they talked about race," said Lott, an associate professor in the College of Education. “I found that shocking."
Earlier this spring, UW professor Ken Tadashi Oshima became the president of the Society of Architectural Historians, an international organization based in Chicago. He's the first president from the University of Washington, and the first who specializes in non-Western architecture.