Latest news

Vladimir Vassiliev and the gamma-ray telescope

UCLA Physics and Astronomy professor leads development of first-of-its-kind telescope for gamma-ray astronomy

Vladimir Vassiliev has served as principal investigator on this project since 2012, it is part of the Cherenkov Telescope Array project that will construct the world’s largest and most sensitive gamma-ray observatory with 118 telescopes.

This telescope, Schwarszchild Couder Telescope, will be the workhorse of the array. It has the ability to study gamma rays in the sky with 10 times better sensitivity than current telescopes. It will help give insight to extreme environments in the universe.

Click here to read more on UCLA’s contribution, and click here for information on the construction of the telescope.

Palu Earthquake aftermath

UCLA study classifies Indonesia’s devastating 2018 earthquake as a rare ‘supershear’

Lingseng Meng, Physics and Geophysics professor, and a team of UCLA scientists have spent months analyzing the speed, timing, and extent of the Palu earthquake. They ultimately found that the earthquake was unusually fast, and they, thus, identified it as a supershear.

A supershear earthquake is one that creates seismic shear waves, a wave recognized by the rupture in the earth’s crust moving very fast along a fault, causing the up-and-down or side-to-side waves that shake the ground. This immense shaking ultimately caused the multitude of landslides and liquefactions. This research was done by measuring the delays between various seismic sensors.

Click here to read more more.

Quasar Image

Two UCLA astronomers use split images to understand how fast the universe is expanding

Tommaso Treu, Physics and Astronomy professor, and Simon Birrer, a UCLA postdoctoral scholar, have used split images of quasars to understand the Hubble constant, a number that relates the distances to the redshifts of galaxies. This is a question that has been disputed for nearly a century by astronomers.

Treu and Birrer turned to quasars as a light source to measure that hasn’t been used in other science calculations. The team is continuing to search for more quasars to include their precision. Meanwhile their work has been published in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society.

Read more about the research here.

Click here to read more news stories from UCLA’s Division of Physical Sciences


Research Week Graphic
May 20-24: Undergraduate Research Week

UCLA Undergraduate Research Week consists of over 1,000 students presenting their research and creative work in Pauley Pavilion, Powell Library, the Luskin Conference Center, and many other venues throughout the week! Tuesday, May 21 is Research Poster Day from 12-5 pm, in Pauley Pavilion. Thursday, May 23rd is Humanities, arts, and social sciences oral presentations, reception, and awards ceremony from 10am – 6pm in Powell Library. Friday, May 24th is Science, engineering, and mathematics reception and Dean’s Prize ceremony from 2-4pm in Powell Library. For more information, click here.

Small child at Exploring Your Universe free science event in November 2018.November 3, 2019: Exploring Your Universe: UCLA Centennial Celebration

Our free day of hands-on science fun and learning for the whole family will help celebrate UCLA’s centennial in 2019. We are excited to welcome more visitors than ever to the beautiful UCLA campus for this major celebration.

Mark your calendars for Sunday, Nov. 3, 2019. Details about the event’s activities, speakers, and schedule will be posted throughout the year at

Click here to read about more events from UCLA Physical Sciences


UCLA ranked #1 public university

UCLA was named #1 among U.S. public universities in two significant lists: the 2019 U.S. News & World Report “Best Colleges” rankings, and the Wall Street Journal/Times Higher Education survey.

Qualities highlighted by the publications include UCLA’s commitment to top-quality education, fostering a sense of community, and prioritizing inclusion. Click here to read the news announcements.

Student Spotlight: Research on seafloor has great implications for sea levels

Pine Island Glacier

Ken Zhao, a PhD candidate in the department of Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences published phenomenal research in the Journal of Physical Oceanography. This research focuses on the effects of seafloor sills on melting glaciers.

Ultimately, the research may help scientists create a better approach to mitigate rising sea levels.

Click here to read Zhao’s account of this research and its implications.

The DIYnamics school outreach program

Earth, Planetary, and Space Sciences (EPSS) professor Jon Aurnou leads the Simulated Planetary Interiors Laboratory or SPINLab, which studies how the rotation of planets shapes the flow of fluids in their atmospheres and cores.

Fun, hands-on experiments developed by SPINLab students and postdocs are visiting local middle and high schools to teach younger students how Earth’s rotation impacts our day-to-day weather.

Click here to read more about the program and how to bring it to a school near you.

Alumni Spotlight: Christopher Snead, EPSS

Earth, Planetary, and Space Sciences alumnus Christopher Snead (Ph.D. 2016) is continuing his passion for research with the Astromaterials Curation Facility at NASA’s Johnson Space Center.

“The research I conducted [at UCLA] on cosmic dust particles prepared me to participate in high-level decisions about how future samples will be collected, curated, and analyzed in a way that maximizes scientific yield,” he says.

Click here to read more about how his time at UCLA and why he encourages students to consider a major within EPSS.

Physical Sciences faculty named 2018 Sloan Fellows

Four young professors from the division of Physical Sciences were among 126 scientists and scholars from 53 colleges and universities in the United States and Canada selected to receive 2018 Sloan Research Fellowships.

UCLA is tied for third — behind the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and UC Berkeley — in the number of faculty honored this year by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, which selects early-career scientists and scholars who are rising stars of science.

Click here to read more about Daniele Bianchi, Jingyi Li, Hosea Nelson, and Ellen Sletten’s work and plans for their Sloan Fellowships.

Four Physical Sciences faculty named 2018 fellows by the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS)

2018 AAAS Fellows

Among six UCLA faculty members total, four from the of Physical Sciences were named AAAS 2018 Fellows for their scientifically or socially distinguished work to advance science.

We asked Heather Maynard, Neil Garg, Xiangfeng Duan, and Carla Koehler – all professors of Chemistry & Biochemistry – how they got to where they are and what this fellowship means to them for their future endeavors. Click here to read more about what this recognition means for their career, their students, and their research.