Physical Sciences alumni
The community of Physical Sciences alumni
The Division of Physical Sciences alumni are the pioneers, the explorers, the doers, and always have been.
These curious alumni have continuously asked “what if?” and because of this have found answers to some unbelievable and unthinkable problems not only in our world, but in our atmosphere, oceans, space, and planets. Our 36,000 alumni consistently showcase their work around the world in their perspective careers from research to academia to industry, they represent UCLA Division of Physical Sciences. We will always welcome them back to campus to participate in campus-wide events and special events hosted by Dean García-Garibay or the departments. Follow the links below or contact Brooke Sanders to learn more about staying connected with UCLA’s Division of Physical Sciences.
“UCLA has provided me with a long term stimulus for education and knowledge, for which I am eternally grateful. I am proud to claim it as my unofficial home for 28 years, first as an undergraduate, then a graduate and ultimately as a faculty member. So many wonderful memories!”
-Harlan Amstutz (BS ’53, MD ’56)
“As a proud Bruin, I can trace my success back to my chemistry education at UCLA, which was rewarding both personally and professionally. I would not have been able to create the various chemical systems that are the backbone of my company without my degree, but the greatest tool I acquired at UCLA was the ability to persevere. The valuable support and education I obtained helped me become the successful business owner and philanthropist I am today.”
-Myung Ki Hong (BS ’59)
John Sarrao (Ph.D. and M.S. in Physics) will serve as the Deputy Director Science, Technology, and Engineering at Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) and president of Triad, which is the Laboratory’s new managing and operating contractor.
Linda Spilker (pictured center; Ph.D., Earth, Planetary, and Space Sciences, 1992), project scientist of NASA’s Cassini mission, was part of the team that received an Emmy Award for Outstanding Original Interactive Program.
Rachel Smith (MS and Ph.D. in Cosmochemistry from UCLA) examines the chemical evolution of stars to help understand the beginning of life on Earth and possibly further into the universe.
Walter Cunningham (pictured right), who earned his BA and MA in Physics from UCLA, is honored for flying the Apollo 7 mission in 1968. He also joined the United States Marine Corps Reserve, during his time at UCLA.
Natalia Solomatova (B.S in Geology at UCLA, 2012) will receive 2018 Mineral and Rock Physics Graduate Research Award. She is currently a postdoctoral scholar doing research on spin and phase transitions in iron bearing-lower mantle minerals and more.
Dr. Phil Christensen (B.S in Geology, 1976; M.S in Geophysics, 1978; Ph.D in Space Physics, 1981) is the 2018 recipient of the Whipple Award, the highest honor given by the Planetary Sciences section of AGU. His instruments have been selected for eight solar system exploration missions so far.
Chris Russell, professor of geophysics and space physics in the Department of Earth, Planetary, and Space Sciences, celebrates fifty years since he received his PhD in December 1968 and hasn’t left UCLA since. Russell has published over 1,800 scientific papers and worked on ground-breaking space missions.
Jill Pipher, who received her BA, MA and Ph.D. from the UCLA Department of Mathematics, begins her term as President of the American Mathematical Society, a nationwide society aimed at funding, supporting, and publishing research and advocating for math education. In her term, Pipher hopes to promote more advocacy and communication.
Thomas C. Katsouleas (B.S. in ’79 and Ph.D. in physics in ’84) has been appointed the 16th president of the University of Connecticut. After graduating from UCLA, Katsouleas stayed as a faculty member and researcher for seven years. He is now a leading plasma scientist and engineer.
Sharon Glotzer (B.S. in Physics, ’87) has been recognized as a member of the National Academy of Engineering class of 2019. Glotzer moved on from Physics here at UCLA, to become a professor of chemical engineering at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. She is also a member of the National Academy of Sciences and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.
Anne White (MS and PhD in Physics, ’04 and ’08) has been named the head of the Department of Nuclear Science and Engineering at MIT. White is a tireless ambassador and advocate for the potential of nuclear fusion as an energy source, and inspires the MIT students and research community.
Brian Northrop (PhD in Chemistry and Biochemistry) was honored for his excellence in Teaching with the Binswanger Prize at Wesleyan. This prize is awarded to scholar-teachers, who are responsible for the University’s distinctive approach to liberal arts education.
Mercedes Cornelius (BS ’18, member of Paul Weiss group) appeared in an episode of the web series, Nerd Girl Nation, which features women in STEM. Mercedes discussed her work in bio nanotechnology and organ on a chip, her role models, and her career plans.
Recent graduate, Terry Liu (Ph.D., 2019), was awarded the AGU Fred L. Scarf award, for best PhD thesis among all solar-planetary physics students. Kiu’s work is based off the work done with THEMIS/ARTEMIS. Liu will give a talk at AGU. Read more about the award here.
Lora G. Weiss, Masters in Mathematics from UCLA, has been named senior vice president for research at Penn State. She is also a Regents’ Researcher for the University System of Georgia. She has a background in the design, development and implementation of robotics and unmanned systems.
Dr. Xiajing Chen-Murphy, Ph.D. in Mathematics from UCLA in 2014, is joining the faculty at Missouri University of Science and Technology this fall. Her research interests include global Torelli problem for projective manifolds.
Catherine Asaro, BS in Chemistry, is now an established author, often joining science and feminism in her pieces. Asaro is well known for “Saga of the Skolian Empire” where she combats stereotypical gender roles in science fiction, even though she didn’t initially intend to write hard science fiction.
Yao Yao, Ph.D. in mathematics from UCLA, has just been recognized as a 2020 Sloan Fellow. Yao is currently an assistant professor in the School of Mathematics at Georgia Tech, and focuses her research on partial differential equations that arise in fluid dynamics and mathematical biology.
Mathew Huber, Masters in Atmospheric Science from UCLA, is the new Editor in Chief of Paleoceanography and Paleoclimatology. He is currently a professor in the Department of Earth, Atmospheric, and Planetary Sciences at Purdue University. One of his goals as Editor in Chief is to enhance the diversity of voices heard in the journal.
Jiaxing Huang, PhD from UCLA in ’04 and part of the Kaner Group, has received funding to develop a new-self sanitizing medical face mask that deactivates viruses on contact. Huang is currently a professor at Northwestern University, and with his research team there have been provided the funding by a rapid response research grant from the National Science Foundation, to address the spread of COVID-19.
Alumni Day 2019 Photos
Connect with departments
Each Department within the Division of Physical Sciences offers a unique opportunity for alumni to stay connected through newsletters, featured news, and events. Find out how to connect with your department below:
UCLA Alumni Association
The UCLA Alumni Association offers a broad range of opportunities to connect with alumni and stay involved with UCLA.
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