Latest news

UCLA professor plays key role in historic mission to the sun

UCLA space physicist Marco Velli is about to take his place in history as part of the monumental Parker Solar Probe mission, scheduled to launch on Aug. 11. The aim of the expedition, which has been 60 years in the making, is to take the Parker Solar Probe into the the sun’s outer atmosphere, or corona, to collect data that will help scientists better understand the corona and solar wind, which directly affects Earth.

Velli’s role as observatory scientist was to ensure that all the instruments work effectively in the harsh solar environment. Faculty and students at UCLA will be among the first to receive and analyze data from the probe. Click here to read more.

New climate science degree extends UCLA’s commitment to environmental research and teaching

A new bachelor’s degree will prepare UCLA students to lead in this critical field. Housed in UCLA’s Department of Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences — which was tied for the No. 1 department of its kind in rankings by the National Research Council — the program will be among the world’s very first major programs in climate science worldwide.

“It’s critical to educate the next generation of scientists to understand how and why our climate is changing, and what measures must be taken to adapt,” said Professor Alex Hall. Click here to read more.

Researchers discover finding that may lead to new ways to convert petroleum waste into useful compounds

Professors and students in the department of Chemistry and Biochemistry have discovered a chemical reaction in which non-classical carbocations play key roles. This reaction might someday be used to process petroleum into useful compounds.

The results, published July 27 in the journal Science, underscore the importance of non-classical cations — ions with fewer electrons than protons, and thus a positive charge. The findings also offer a new reaction to process alkanes, chemicals found in methane and propane gases that are notoriously hard to convert to other products. Click here to read more.

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


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.

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.

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.

Student Spotlight: Translating Research Into Public Policy

This spring, UCLA students in the Physical Sciences traveled to the U.S. and state capitols to describe their research and how it may inform public policy for the benefit of many. Click here to one student’s account of these travels and the leaders that he met with.


August 16, 2018: The Green Bundle: Pairing the market with the planet, presented by UCLA’s Institute of the Environment and Sustainability (IoES)

Join UCLA environmental economist Magali A. Delmas, writer David Colgan, Environmental Media Association President & CEO Debbie Levin, and Elizabeth Drake of Fetzer Vineyards to learn ways companies can reach a largely untapped consumer market. Actor and activist Olesya Rulin will moderate.

Delmas and Colgan’s new book, The Green Bundle, offers communication techniques for pushing consumers in a sustainable direction. The event includes a panel discussion, premiere screening of mini-documentary on organic wine, and reception. Click here to read more details and RSVP.

November 4, 2018: Exploring Your Universe

UCLA’s free all-day science festival for the whole family returns for its 10th year. Mark your calendar and stay tuned to as more details are announced.

Click here to read about more events from UCLA Physical Sciences


Our world-changing research is helped by your gifts. Read about the ways your donation to the Division of Physical Sciences can further discoveries and student opportunities by clicking here.

Latest giving news:

UCLA surpasses $4.2 billion Centennial Campaign goal; fundraising will continue through 2019

Professor endows UCLA faculty chair in mathematics

Division of Physical Sciences receives $2 million from physicist–philanthropist Mani Bhaumik