Our departments

Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences

The Department of Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences (AOS) is researching challenges of climate change, greenhouse warming, and air pollution. AOS has been at the forefront of atmospheric research and education since 1940, when it was under the leadership of the late professor Jacob Bjerknes, originator of the polar-front theory of cyclones,. Now ranked No. 1 in the nation by the National Research Council, the department taps some of the best and brightest minds in the world as it teaches interdisciplinary approaches to innovation in four major areas — climate and weather, chemistry and radiation, oceanography, and space physics.

Read the AOS annual magazine
UCLA AOS website

Chemistry & Biochemistry

The UCLA Chemistry & Biochemistry Department has a tradition of excellence and is ranked among the best in the country due to the quality of its programs, the caliber of its faculty, and the excellence of its students. The Department is a leader in innovative educational programs and cutting-edge research in all areas of chemistry and biochemistry, from synthesizing complex natural products and new nano-materials required to solve the many health and environmental crises facing our planet, to illuminating the molecular mechanisms that regulate the decoding of genetic information.

Faculty within the Department of Chemistry & Biochemistry play key roles at the forefront of multiple interdepartmental research units at UCLA, including the California Nanosystems Institute, the Molecular Biology Institute, the Stem Cell Institute, the Institute for Genomics and Proteomics, and the Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center.

Read the Chemistry & Biochemistry magazine
UCLA Chemistry & Biochemistry website

Earth, Planetary, and Space Sciences

The Department of Earth, Planetary, and Space Sciences (EPSS) at UCLA seeks to understand how planets like ours form and evolve, how life on our planet developed, and whether life exists elsewhere. Students, faculty, and researchers within EPSS study the physical and chemical conditions that prevailed 4.6 billion years ago when the planets formed, the processes that shape planetary bodies, and interactions with the space environment.

Using data from the lab, field, spacecraft, and telescopes, EPSS studies a wide range of important questions about the Earth, the Solar System, and beyond. The department also characterizes natural hazards to better protect humanity from earthquakes, tsunamis, space weather, and asteroid impacts.

Read the EPSS annual magazine
UCLA EPSS website

Environmental Science/Institute of the Environment and Sustainability

The Division of Physical Sciences is home to UCLA’s Institute of the Environment and Sustainability. From its bachelor’s degree to its doctorate, IoES academic programs share a common ethos. The institute breaks down barriers between areas of study, fosters community and uses Los Angeles as a testbed for global solutions—achieving real-world results in the process. Community, real-world practice, and a diverse education are the cornerstones of the institute’s bachelor’s degree in environmental science. The institute’s graduate programs offer a diverse education that empowers specific, expert focus on today’s complex problems. As jobs in sustainability boom, the institute prepares students to take on all aspects of the world’s complex environmental issues.


UCLA’s renowned Mathematics Department explores the frontiers of pure and applied mathematical research. Pure mathematics provides us the foundation and key ideas for the application of mathematics in real-world issues. Through applied math, our faculty is discovering innovative solutions to some of today’s most pressing issues. From detecting and predicting crime hot spots to virtual surgery using computational geometry, the UCLA Mathematics department is working to shape the world of tomorrow. The department has pioneered many of the most remarkable advances in the applied mathematics, propelling the applied math research group to #2 in the nation (US News). UCLA Math also has a reputation for cracking the most difficult pure math challenges, including a proof of the Serre Conjecture and the Twin Prime Conjecture. Overall, the UCLA Mathematics Department ranks 6th worldwide (Academic Ranking of World Universities).

Read the Mathematics annual magazine
UCLA Mathematics website

Physics & Astronomy

The areas embraced by UCLA physics research span the range from the well-established disciplines of “big science” – such as the search for the Higgs boson at the Large Hadron Collider – and frontier plasma science underpinning fusion energy, to newly emerging fields such as the physics of hearing and neuroscience.

In astronomy, UCLA faculty are pioneers in the areas of extra-solar system planets, galactic astronomy, and cosmology. This effort is uniquely enabled by the world-renowned capabilities in design and construction of infrared instrumentation by our Infrared Laboratory. The creation of cutting-edge instruments that open the door to scientific discovery is a common theme here. UCLA faculty were central to the development of the X-ray free-electron laser, and are now among the first users of this revolutionary imaging tool.

First-rate experiments are always complemented by theory, and the department has an impressive effort that encompasses condensed matter physics, elementary particles, biophyiscs, and plasma physics. In the complex context of modern research problems, the reach of theory is necessarily extended by the use of extreme computing power. UCLA Physics and Astronomy is a historic leader in high-end scientific computing.

The list of research topics addressed within the department includes experimental hard and soft condensed matter, atomic-molecular-optical physics, collider based nuclear physics, astroparticles, plasma accelerators and biophysics. Cooperation extends beyond the department on the UCLA campus, with collaborations between department faculty and chemists, biologists and engineers encouraged by the UCLA California Nanosystems Institute. There are also joint investigations between department members and their counterparts in the world-class medical school at UCLA.

Read the Physics & Astronomy annual magazine
UCLA Physics & Astronomy website


The field of Statistics is continuing to change in response to the remarkable increase in demand for statistical thinking and methodology in research, industry and business. UCLA’s Department of Statistics was founded in 1998 to meet this demand. By building on the traditional strengths in probability, mathematical statistics and applications of the UCLA Mathematics, Biomathematics and Biostatistics Departments, the Department of Statistics has become a leader in the development of statistical methodology that exploits the increasing power of computers.

Research in the department focuses on statistical learning, computer vision, computational biology, social sciences, and environmetrics. We also have faculty whose research is dedicated to improving the quality of statistics education. Master of science, Ph.D., undergraduate major, and undergraduate minor programs are offered along with training in statistics for graduate students from other departments and undergraduates from throughout the College. As the value of statistical ideas and methodologies has become more appreciated, the department’s classes have increased in number and student quality.

Due to the nature of Statistics as an interdisciplinary field, the department keeps close collaborative ties with other sciences, including the physical, social and life sciences and public health.

Read the Statistics annual magazine
UCLA Statistics website

Institutes and centers affiliated with UCLA Physical Sciences

California Nanosystems Institute (CNSI)

Center for Biological Physics (CBP)

Center for Climate Science

Curtis Center for Mathematics & Teaching

Center for Vision, Cognition, Learning, and Autonomy

Center for Diverse Leadership in Science

Center for Quantum Science & Engineering

Congo Basin Institute

Galactic Center Group 

Institute of the Environment & Sustainability (IoES)

Institute for Planets & Exoplanets (IPLEX)

Institute for Pure & Applied Mathematics (IPAM)

Joint Institute for Earth Systems Science and Engineering (JIFRESSE)

Mani L. Bhaumik Institute for Theoretical Physics

UCLA Molecular Biology Institute

Molecular Instrumentation Center

Plasma Science Technology Institute