Latest in Human Elements

How otters can save the sea

Dr. Shawn Larson spends her days in the field watching her favorite fuzzy sea mammal ride the waves of the Pacific Ocean. The curator of conservation research at the Seattle Aquarium has studied sea otters for 27 years. She’s fascinated by the unique properties that allow them to survive in ice cold waters and how they help recover some of our most imperiled ecosystems in the sea.

Video games for a cure

University of Washington computer scientist Zoran Popovic wants to revolutionize the way people learn. He teamed up with biochemist David Baker to create a video game that enables tens of thousands of people to contribute to scientific research by folding three-dimensional protein configurations on their home computers. Users help advance how scientists understand and predict the structure of proteins that cause and advance diseases like cancer, HIV/AIDS and Alzheimer’s.

My ancestors were scientists

Rosa Hunter, lab manager at the Salish Sea Research Center, wants aspiring young scientists to know it’s never too late. Hunter dropped out of high school in the 10th grade and worked every job, from digging ditches to housekeeping, before jumping head first into college at age 32. It was there that she found her love for ancient organisms like tardigrades, trying to reveal their secrets. Her studies led to her work in the sea, where she realized that her grandmother’s guidance clamming as a child could inform her work identifying toxic shellfish in our oceans. “I was like, holy moly, my ancestors were scientists. I come from a line of scientists. That blew my mind,” Hunter said.