10 news posts from April 2021

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Plant parenting 101: starting with soil

Plant parenting graphic

Plant parenthood has boomed since the onset of the pandemic, with many people frequenting local plant stores to find companionship during a time of social isolation or even trying their hand at growing produce. New and novice gardeners find themselves doting and caring for these plants only for them to stagnate or even (gasp) die. How can we prevent untimely death in our plants and encourage growth? 

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Simons Foundation funds fundamental questions in biology

A graphic view of tens of millions of bases of DNA extracted from a marine microbial community found in Puget Sound (photo: Vaughn Iverson)

How do environmental scientists unearth new discoveries about our planet? Many of us might imagine scientists observing the world around them, wading through tide pools or digging up soil. But what about questions surrounding the origins of life on Earth, or questions about microbes deep, deep within the ocean? Big questions like these require big investments, and the Simons Foundation is supporting University of Washington (UW) researchers to find some of the answers. 

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An oasis for scholars: the Helen Riaboff Whiteley Center 

Sailing into Friday Harbor, you can’t miss the set of long, low-slung buildings along the water’s northern edge. They are home to the famed Friday Harbor Laboratories (FHL), a research outpost housed within the larger University of Washington College of the Environment. The labs have operated over one hundred years, first gaining notoriety for their impact in evolutionary and neuroscience. Over the decades, the labs have added marine ecology, seawater chemistry, biomechanics and all flavors of oceanography to their research repertoire. 

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Thicker-leaved tropical plants may flourish under climate change, which could be good news for climate

A rainforest on Panama's Barro Colorado Island

How plants will fare as carbon dioxide levels continue to rise is a tricky problem and, researchers say, especially vexing in the tropics. Some aspects of plants’ survival may get easier, some parts will get harder, and there will be species winners and losers. The resulting shifts in vegetation will help determine the future direction of climate change. To explore the question, a study led by the University of Washington looked at how tropical forests, which absorb large amounts of carbon dioxide, might adjust as CO2 continues to climb. 

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