Faculty awards within Physical Sciences

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UCLA wins $3 million NSF award for graduate education in modeling human behavior

UCLA professors have received a $3 million grant from the National Science Foundation to develop and implement a graduate education program to help train the next generation of scientific leaders to use “big data” analysis to tackle complex societal problems.

“By harnessing big data, we have an unprecedented opportunity to advance the understanding of human conditions, behaviors and their underlying mechanisms and social outcomes,” said Andrea Bertozzi, one of the leaders of the initiative, and a UCLA distinguished professor of mathematics and mechanical and aerospace engineering.

The new UCLA initiative, which is funded through the NSF Research Traineeship program, was conceived by Wei Wang, who is the Leonard Kleinrock Professor of Computer Science in the UCLA Samueli School of Engineering. Click here to read more.

Ellen Sletten receives prestigious $1.5 million New Innovator Award from National Institutes of Health

The NIH Director’s New Innovator Award supports unusually innovative research from early career investigators. Sletten, assistant professor in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, received the award for her proposal on new methods to image and treat diseases that have distinct metabolic features.

The High-Risk, High-Reward Program, created to support the work of exceptionally creative scientists, is supported by the NIH Common Fund. 58 New Innovator Awards were made in 2018 and a total of 89 grants were awarded across the program.

“This program supports exceptionally innovative researchers who have the potential to transform the biomedical field,” said NIH Director Francis S. Collins, M.D., Ph.D. “I am confident this new cohort will revolutionize our approaches to biomedical research through their groundbreaking work.” Click here to read more.

Physicist awarded the Oliver E. Buckley Condensed Matter Prize

Elihu Abrahams, distinguished adjunct professor of physics and astronomy at UCLA, has been awarded the 2019 Oliver E. Buckley Condensed Matter Prize by the American Physical Society in recognition of his contributions to condensed matter physics.

Abrahams is a fellow of the American Physical Society and of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. He was elected to the National Academy of Sciences in 1987 and to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1999. Click here to read more about his latest accolade.

Atmospheric & Oceanic Sciences professor leads project to improve weather and climate models

David Neelin, a professor of atmospheric and oceanic sciences, is leading a new multi-institutional research project that has been awarded a $1.63 million grant by NOAA Research’s MAPP Program to create a one-stop shop of diagnostic tools for scientists to help streamline the process for improving their weather and climate models. Click here to read more.

Psychologist, mathematician awarded NSF grant to study social network dynamics

UCLA professors Carolyn Parkinson and Mason Porter have been awarded a three-year, $977,000 grant from the National Science Foundation to analyze the complexities of a social network based on its members’ relationships and their interactions with one another.

Parkinson, an assistant professor of psychology, and Porter, professor of mathematics, will combine methods from cognitive neuroscience with cutting-edge research in network science to gain insights into how our social networks shape the way that people process the world around them, and vice versa. They will also test how the brain shapes and is shaped by its social context. Click here to read more.

UCLA shares National Science Foundation grant to diversify STEM faculty nationally

UCLA is among six collaborating institutions that were together awarded $10 million over five years from the National Science Foundation to develop new educational models and programs that will increase diversity in science, technology, engineering and mathematics fields and careers. Click here to read more.

Professor of biochemistry wins Biophysical Society’s Founders Award

Juli Feigon, a distinguished professor of biochemistry, has been selected to receive the Biophysical Society’s 2019 Founders Award.

Feigon will be recognized for her “courageous and creative work in the structural biology of DNA and RNA … and recent landmark studies on the structure and function of the telomerase complex,” according to the society. She will be honored at the society’s annual meeting in Baltimore on March 5, 2019. Click here to read more.

American Meteorological Society lauds two professors in the Department of Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences

Jasper Kok (left) received the American Meteorological Society’s Henry G. Houghton Award – Early Career for “novel approaches to studying the physics of dust emissions into the atmosphere and the interactions of dust aerosols with Earth’s climate system and beyond”.

David Neelin (right) was awarded the Jule G. Charney Medal for his fundamental contributions to understanding tropical climate dynamics and the impact of anthropogenic forcing on precipitation, drying, circulation, and extremes.

The awards will be presented at the 99th American Meteorological Society meeting in January 2019.

Chemistry professors receive five-year, $1.8 million grants from National Institutes of Health

Hosea Nelson and Jose Rodriguez, assistant professors in the Department of Chemistry & Biochemistry, have each been awarded a highly prestigious Maximizing Investigators’ Research Award (MIRA) R35 Grant from the National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS), a part of the National Institutes of Health.

Nelson and Rodriguez will each receive more than $1.8 million over five years to support their research.

The MIRA grant program supports investigators’ overall research programs through a single, unified grant rather than individual project grants. The goal is to provide investigators with greater stability and flexibility, thereby enhancing scientific productivity and the chances for important breakthroughs.

Click here to read more.

Neil Garg and Jorge Torres win 2019 American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology awards.

The American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (ASBMB) has named Neil Garg and Jorge Torres, professors in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, as recipients of two of their 2019 awards.

Garg won the ASBMB Award for Exemplary Contributions to Education. This award includes a cash prize of $3,000 and is given annually to a scientist who encourages effective teaching and learning of biochemistry and molecular biology through his or her own teaching, leadership in education, writing, educational research, mentoring or public enlightenment.

Torres won the Ruth Kirschstein Diversity in Science Award. This award was established to honor an outstanding scientist who has shown a strong commitment to encouraging underrepresented minorities to enter the scientific enterprise and who has offered effective mentorship of those within it.

The winners were nominated by colleagues and other leaders in their fields for making significant contributions to biochemistry and molecular biology and the training of emerging scientists. The recipients will give talks about their work at the society’s 2019 annual meeting, which will be held in conjunction with the Experimental Biology conference April 6–9 in Orlando.

UCLA’s Department of Chemistry & Biochemistry is the only department to have two faculty members selected to receive 2019 ASBMB awards.

Click here to read the full ASBMB announcement.

Two UCLA chemists selected as 2018 Pew scholars

Chemistry & Biochemistry professors Hosea Nelson and Jose Rodriguez are among 22 Pew scholars in the biomedical sciences selected out of 184 nominations to receive four-year, $300,000 grants from the foundation.

This honor provides funding to outstanding young researchers whose work is relevant to the advancement of human health, and the grants will advance their explorations of biological mechanisms underpinning human health and disease.

Click here to read more.

Richard Kaner wins Royal Society of Chemistry’s 2018 Centenary Prize

Richard Kaner, a UCLA distinguished professor of chemistry and biochemistry, and of materials science and engineering, has won the Royal Society of Chemistry’s 2018 Centenary Prize.

The award is for “outstanding contributions to solid-state synthesis, energy storage materials and super hard materials.”

Kaner also holds the Dr. Myung Ki Hong Endowed Chair in Materials Innovation within the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry. Click here to read more.

Andrea Bertozzi elected to National Academy of Sciences

Andrea Bertozzi – professor of Mathematics and Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, Betsy Wood Knapp Chair for Innovation and Creativity, and director of Applied Mathematics – has been named a new member of the National Academy of Sciences in recognition of her distinguished and continuing achievements in original research.

Bertozzi is an applied mathematician with expertise in nonlinear partial differential equations and fluid dynamics. She also works in the areas of geometric methods for image processing, crime modeling and analysis, and swarming/cooperative dynamics.

Click here to read the official release from the National Academy.

Statistics professor honored as a leading woman in STEM

Jingyi “Jessica” Li, a UCLA assistant professor of statistics, has been selected as one of six inaugural winners of the Johnson & Johnson Women in STEM2D Scholars Award, which supports outstanding women researchers in their careers in the disciplines of science, technology, engineering, mathematics, manufacturing and design.

Li conducts research at the intersection of statistics and biology. She and her research team, which is called the Junction of Statistics and Biology, develop new statistical methods for understanding biological questions, especially those related to large-scale genomic data.  Click here to read more.

Paul Hamilton wins 2018 DARPA Young Faculty Award

Department of Physics and Astronomy Assistant Professor Paul Hamilton has been awarded a prestigious DARPA Young Faculty Award, which provides high-impact funding to elite researchers early in their careers to develop innovative new research directions in the context of enabling transformative DoD capabilities.

Hamilton’s group focuses on exploring a new direction for the field of Atomic, Molecular, and Optical (AMO) physics using atom interferometry to probe the properties of dark matter and dark energy using laser-cooled atoms. Click here to read more.

Jeff ZinkJeffrey Zink wins Tolman Medal

Jeffrey Zink, a distinguished professor in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, has been awarded the Tolman Medal by the Southern California Section of the American Chemical Society (SCALACS).

The Tolman Medal is awarded each year by SCALACS in recognition of outstanding contributions to chemistry. These contributions may include achievements in fundamental studies; achievements in chemical technology; significant contributions to chemical education; or outstanding leadership in science on a national level.

SCALACS and UCLA Department of Chemistry & Biochemistry will host a medal presentation dinner on Tuesday, May 1 at the UCLA Faculty Center. Click here for more details.

Four Physical Sciences faculty selected for 2018 Sloan Fellowships

Five young UCLA professors – four 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.

Alex Spokoyny named a 2018 Cottrell Scholar

Professor Alex Spokoyny of the Department of Chemistry & Biochemistry has been selected for the Cottrell Scholar program, which champions the very best early career teacher-scholars in chemistry, physics, and astronomy by providing significant discretionary awards.

Click here to read a UCLA Newsroom story about the award and recent publication in the journal Nature Materials, explaining how Alex and colleagues have devised a new way to create molecular interconnections that can give a certain class of materials important new properties, including improving their ability to catalyze chemical reactions or harvest energy from light.

Stanley Osher elected to National Academy of Engineering

Distinguished professor of mathematics Stanley Osher is one of three UCLA faculty elected to the National Academy of Engineering, among the highest professional honors that can be accorded to an American engineer.

The academy announced its 2018 class of 83 members and 13 foreign members on Feb. 7, 2018. Click here to read more.

UCLA’s Neil Garg wins country’s leading teaching award and its $250,000 prize

California Professor of the Year Neil Garg is the 2018 recipient of the prestigious Robert Foster Cherry Award for Great Teaching. The award, which is given once every two years, was announced today by Baylor University.

The Cherry Award honors outstanding professors who are extraordinary, inspiring teachers with a positive, long-lasting effect on students and a record of distinguished scholarship. Click here to read more, and click here to view the public lecture that Neil delivered as a finalist for the award.

Professor of cosmochemistry receives 2018 J. Lawrence Smith Medal from Council of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences

Earth, Planetary, and Space Sciences professor Kevin McKeegan is being awarded the Smith medal in recognition of his “contributions to understanding of the processes and chronology of the early solar system as recorded by primitive meteorites, for innovation in analytical instrumentation, and for showing that the oxygen isotopic compositions of the Earth and rocky planets and meteorites are distinctly different from that of the Sun.”

Click here to read more.

Team led by Edward Wright shares 2018 Breakthrough Prize in Fundamental Physics

The award – which honors major insights into the deepest questions of the universe and offers a $3 million prize – is being shared by the 27-member NASA Wilkinson Microwave Anisotropy Probe experimental team.

Edward L. (Ned) Wright, David Saxon Presidential Chair in Physics, helped develop key data analysis techniques for WMAP. Click here to read more.

Kuo-Nan LiouKuo-Nan Liou named foreign member of Chinese Academy of Sciences

Liou, a distinguished professor of Atmospheric & Oceanic Sciences, was recently elected to serve as a foreign member of China’s science academy (CAS).

Aradhna Tripati receives Geological Society of America’s 2017 Bromery Award for Minorities

The lauded professor in the Department of Earth, Planetary, and Spaces Sciences was recognized for having made significant contributions to research in the geological sciences and for being instrumental in opening the geoscience field to other minorities. Click here to read her acceptance speech.

Hosea NelsonUCLA chemistry professor honored as 2017 Packard fellow

Hosea Nelson is one of 18 outstanding young scientists in the U.S. to be awarded Packard Fellowships for Science and Engineering. His lab is focused on the discovery of new chemical reactions that will enable the efficient and environmentally benign syntheses of fuels, materials and medicines. Read more.

UCLA Physicist wins 2017 Feynman Theory Prize

Giovanni Zocchi was awarded the 2017 Foresight Institute’s prize, which is in honor of physicist Richard Feynman and celebrates a researcher whose work has most advanced the achievement of Feynman’s goal for nanotechnology. Read more.

Atmospheric scientist given highest award from the American Meteorological Society

UCLA atmospheric scientist Kuo-Nan Liou is receiving the 2018 Carl-Gustaf Rossby Research Medal. The American Meteorological Society’s highest honor recognizes outstanding contributors in the weather, water, and climate community. Read more.

Heather Maynard wins American Chemical Society Award

Maynard, a professor of chemistry and biochemistry and associate director of the California NanoSystems Institute, will receive the American Chemical Society’s 2018 Arthur C. Cope Scholar Award honoring excellence in organic chemistry. Read more.

Steve Clarke lauded for research excellence and commitment to student training

Chemistry & Biochemistry professor Steve Clarke is receiving the 2018 William C Rose Award by the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, recognizing his outstanding biochemical and molecular biological research and commitment to the training of younger scientists. Read more.

UCLA professor, UC center win national awards for promoting laboratory safety

The University of California Center for Laboratory Safety received a 2017 CSHEMA Innovation Award of Honor. Craig Merlic, an associate professor of chemistry at UCLA, is the center’s executive director. Read more.

Professor of Atmospheric & Oceanic Studies wins environmental change award

The American Geophysical Union has named David Neelin the recipient of its Bert Bolin Global Environmental Change Award. Read more.

NASA presents Earth, Planetary, and Space Sciences professor with its highest honor

EPSS Professor Christopher Russell, principal investigator for NASA’s first detailed exploration of a celestial body inside the main asteroid belt, was awarded the NASA Distinguished Public Service Medal. Read more.

EPSS Professor Emerita wins American Astronomical Society’s 2017 Gerard P. Kuiper Prize

Margaret Kivelson, professor emerita in UCLA’s Department of Earth, Planetary, and Space Sciences, has received the highest award presented by the society to a planetary scientist. Read more.

Neil Garg wins Royal Society of Chemistry Higher Education Teaching Award

The world’s leading chemistry organization lauded the UCLA professor of chemistry for his outstanding teaching skills and the development of innovative materials and methods resulting in a strong positive impact on students. Read more.

The Protein Society lauds chemistry and biochemistry professor for her research

Professor of Chemistry and Biochemistry Juli Feigon received the 2017 Dorothy Crowfoot Hodgkin Award in recognition of exceptional contributions in protein science which profoundly influence our understanding of biology. Read more.

Chemistry & Biochemistry’s Jose Rodriguez named a 2017 Searle Scholar

Prof. Rodriguez develops and applies new scientific methods in bio-imaging to solve cellular and molecular structures and reveal undiscovered structures that influence chemistry, biology and medicine. Read more.