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Hot Water: The intersection of culture, politics, and ecology in India

Ethen Whattam, an undergraduate student in the UW School of Aquatic and Fishery Sciences, recently returned from India, where he spent 10 months studying as a recipient of the Boren Scholarship. Whattam, along with the other student awardees, was given the opportunity to immerse himself in the Hindi language and culture, while researching a topic of his choice critical to U.S. national security interests. Defined broadly, the scope of national security allows for varying areas of research including public health, disease prevention, human trafficking, and in Whattam’s case, hydropolitics.

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Exploring Our Watery World at UW’s Aquatic Science Open House

On May 4th, the University of Washington held its second annual Aquatic Science Open House. Seattle-area families, students, and teachers were invited to explore the institution’s marine and freshwater science programs and interact with researchers. The event was organized by the Students Explore Aquatic Sciences (SEAS) outreach group based in the School of Aquatic and Fishery Sciences (SAFS) and the Academic and Recreational Graduate Oceanographers (ARGO) outreach group based in the School of Oceanography.

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Dr. Jacqueline Padilla-Gamiño Honored at Latinx Faculty Recognition Event

Jackie Padilla-Gamiño

We are proud and thrilled to share the news that School of Aquatic and Fishery Science faculty member Dr. Jacqueline Padilla-Gamiño has been selected by the Latino Center for Health at UW to be recognized at the Latinx Faculty Recognition Event. This annual event honors the scholarly achievements of Latina and Latino faculty across the tri-campuses of the University of Washington for the academic year 2018-2019.

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Protected by Prawns

In rural communities across the tropics, a parasitic disease called schistosomiasis that is carried by freshwater snails currently infects more than 220 million people, rivaling malaria in its prevalence. Capable of residing in an infected human for more than 30 years, the Schistosoma parasite can cause debilitating and often-fatal health complications, including liver failure, bladder cancer, and an increased risk of AIDS. An estimated 280,000 people in Africa alone die each year from the disease. Despite 50 years of medical intervention and the availability of a relatively inexpensive and effective drug, the disease has stubbornly resisted eradication efforts, largely due to the ease with which the parasite reinfects its human hosts.

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The Ocean Modeling Forum presents Pacific herring research in Haida Gwaii, British Columbia

The Ocean Modeling Forum (OMF) is a University of Washington program run through the School of Aquatic and Fishery Sciences that aims to bring together interdisciplinary scientists, modeling experts, decision makers, and other people invested in ocean resources. The OMF helps managers frame questions, understand the strengths and limitations of different models, and learn how to incorporate models in their work. 

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Wisdom of Crowds: A Conversation with Andrew Berdahl

School of salmon staging at mouth of Sam Creek.

In 1906 while attending a livestock fair in Plymouth England, Sir Francis Galton witnessed an interesting contest where locals were trying to guess the correct weight of a slaughtered and dressed ox (think jellybeans in a jar, but for butchers). He examined all 800 guesses and calculated the median calling it the vox populi, or “voice of the people,” reasoning that this would cancel out outliers on either side of the true answer. Astonishingly, the median guess was extremely close–within .8%–of the weight measured by the judges and closer than any individual guess. “This started the idea of the wisdom of crowds, where if you have a whole bunch of independent guesses you can average them, cast off the errant guess on either side and hone in on the right answer,” said Dr. Andrew Berdahl one of the University of Washington School of Aquatic and Fishery Sciences’ newest faculty members.

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Helping bird science while walking along the beach: lessons from 17 years of the COASST project

Citizen science, where the nonexpert public joins in freely to produce useful science, has grown to more than 2100 projects on the SciStarter website alone. These projects range from online identification of astronomical objects, to gaming-like projects predicting how proteins will fold (Foldit), to seasonal bird counts. One long-running project is COASST (Coastal Observation and Seabird Survey Team) where members of the public conduct monthly surveys of beach areas from California to Alaska looking for bird carcasses. 

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