Click here to read the latest announcements about awards received by our faculty

UCLA physics professor Troy CarterUCLA physics professor part of White House energy summit

Troy Carter, physics professor and director of the Plasma Science and Technology Institute at UCLA, will participate in a White House summit on the commercialization of fusion energy on March 17. The summit brings together fusion energy leaders to discuss an updated fusion strategy for the United States.

Fusion, which is the same reaction that powers the sun, has the potential to help the United States achieve net-zero emissions by 2050, increase energy security and enhance U.S. technology, the White House said in its announcement of the summit.

The summit follows recent fusion energy strategic planning exercises and a report Carter led for the U.S. Department of Energy.

UCLA awarded DOE grant to increase access for students to study nuclear physics

The UCLA Department of Physics and Astronomy has received federal government funding for a pilot program designed to help low-income, first-generation, and historically underrepresented undergraduate students from across California pursue graduate degrees and careers in nuclear physics, with the aim of increasing the diversity of scientists in this field. Associate professor of physics Zhongbo Kang is heading the program at UCLA.

Trainees will have the unique opportunity to conduct research related to the DOE’s new Electron-Ion Collider in New York (pictured), where scientists hope to determine the structure of quarks and gluons, the building blocks of matter.

New research study compares methods of analyzing RNA sequencing

Sequencing RNA is a critical tool in biological research. As the cost of sequencing has declined, commonly relied upon statistical methods meant for much smaller data sets may not work well for much larger sets.

A new study by scientists from UCLA and UC Irvine, including UCLA Professor of Statistics Jingyi “Jessica” Li, discovered that these older statistical methods have extremely high false discovery rates (FDR). The study also found that only one test could control the FDR and achieve good power.

Physical Sciences faculty among 2022 Sloan Research Fellows

Four faculty from the Division of Physical Sciences have been selected to receive this year’s fellowships, which are among the most prestigious and competitive awards available to early-career researchers.

The faculty are (clockwise from top left): Seulgi Moon of Earth, Planetary, and Space Sciences; Mikhail Solon of Physics and Astronomy; Chong Liu of Chemistry and Biochemistry; and Guido Montufar of Mathematics.

Eight faculty from UCLA were selected to receive two-year, $75,000 fellowships from the Sloan Foundation, making UCLA No. 1 among U.S. and Canadian colleges and universities in the number of new fellows.

Japanese scientific drilling ship

New research discovers surprising activity among organisms thriving in harsh deep-sea conditions

At 1200 meters beneath the seafloor, temperature increases steeply – up to 120 °C, a temperature suggested close to the limit for life. A new study led by Tina Treude, UCLA professor of marine geomicrobiology, has shed light on the survival strategies of organisms living in this harsh environment. Treude and her collaborators analyzed samples collected by a group of international scientists who set out on the Japanese scientific drillship Chikyu in 2016 to study the temperature limit of the deep subseafloor biosphere. The study was published on January 25 in the journal Nature Communications.

Children wearing costumes in the Photonbooth by UCLA professor of chemistry Ellen Sletten

Professor’s invention is a kid-friendly introduction to the chemistry of light

The Photonbooth gives L.A. students a picture-perfect lesson in fluorescence – the fascinating ability of certain molecules to absorb light in one colored wavelength and emit it in another.

The unique, traveling booth was devised by UCLA professor of chemistry Ellen Sletten and her former graduate student Rachael Day. It has delighted hundreds of children at local parties and educational events, including Exploring Your Universe, UCLA’s annual hands-on science fair.

Members of Derek Urwin’s firefighting crew battle a blaze in Inglewood. (Urwin, not pictured, was on the roof.)

A UCLA student is working to protect firefighters from cancer

Firefighters die of cancer at a rate much higher than the public at large. Derek Urwin, a longtime firefighter completing his Ph.D. in chemistry at UCLA, is using his expertise to bring those cancer rates down.

The UCLA Newsroom reported on the very personal reason behind Derek’s goal.

An illustration of Kepler-444, one of the planetary systems identified by the Kepler Space Telescope. Tiago Campante/Peter Devine via NASA.UCLA astronomers discover more than 300 possible new exoplanets

UCLA astronomers have identified 366 new exoplanets, thanks in large part to an algorithm developed by a UCLA postdoctoral scholar. Among their most noteworthy findings is a planetary system that comprises a star and at least two gas giant planets, each roughly the size of Saturn and located unusually close to one another. Read the UCLA Newsroom story to learn more.

A Northern California wildfire photographed from the International Space Station in 2019.

Research co-led by UCLA scientists finds links frequent wildfires to human-caused climate change

The researchers applied artificial intelligence to climate and fire data in order to estimate the roles that climate change and other factors play in determining the key climate variable tied to wildfire risk: vapor pressure deficit. Read the UCLA Newsroom story to learn more.

Geologists solve half-century mystery of a two billion-year-old rock holding animal traces

Quartzine, a rock as hard as concrete and impossible for burrowing animals to penetrate, was found in Western Australia with traces of animal fossils and burrows. The rock was formed about 1.7 billion years ago, long before the appearance of the first animals in the fossil record which was less than 0.6 billion years ago. So how did these fossils come about? Research co-authored by Bruce Runnegar, UCLA professor emeritus in the Department of Earth, Planetary, and Space Sciences, has resolved this mystery. Read our news story to learn more.

STROBE nano-imaging center receives $22.5 million renewal from NSF

UCLA helps lead the Science and Technology Center on Real-Time Functional Imaging, which is helping solve challenges in the sciences and engineering using new imaging technologies. STROBE has been awarded a five-year grant renewal from the National Science Foundation for about $22.5 million. The center is developing new microscopes that allow researchers to observe and characterize structures at the nano and atomic scale.

Innovations in imaging science spur scientific discoveries and technological advances that enable the United States to maintain its global competitiveness. Trailblazing discoveries have been in the areas of energy, quantum science, and disordered and biological materials. The center’s scientists are determining the unanswered phenomena of how the three-dimensional structure of materials at the atomic scale determine the function and understanding how atoms rearrange themselves during transitions from liquid to glass.

Click here to read more.

Image: UCLA physics professor Jianwei “John” Miao is STROBE’s deputy director and co–principal investigator.

Diffuse auroras and the Big Dipper in Fairbanks, Alaska. Photo by Emmanuel V. Masongsong.

Earth can make its own auroras

New results from NASA’s THEMIS-ARTEMIS spacecraft – led by scientists in UCLA’s Department of Earth, Planetary, and Space Sciences – show that a type of Northern Lights called “diffuse auroras” comes from our own planet without the aid of solar storms, as is the case with more commonly known auroras.

A story about this news appeared on Space Weather. Click here to read more.

Image: Diffuse auroras and the Big Dipper in Fairbanks, Alaska. Photo by Emmanuel V. Masongsong.

Will missions to Mars be safe?

Sending humans to the red planet brings up many questions and potential risks. UCLA research geophysicist Yuri Shprits says that it is feasible to send humans to Mars as long as the roundtrip is under four years. A longer journey would expose astronauts to a threatening amount of radiation. 

Trips to Mars pose a risk because of particle space radiation caused by the sun, stars and other galaxies. This risk can be mitigated with spacecraft shielding and leaving when solar activity is at its peak. Leaving at solar maximum would mean that the most dangerous particles from other galaxies are deflected by increased solar activity. 

Shprits and other scientists compared particle radiation models with models that show how radiation affects spacecrafts and the human body. These models help predict when it is best to leave to the red planet, how thick a spacecraft’s shield should be, and how long humans can be in outer space. 

Click here to learn more.

UCLA Professor explains benefits and uses of machine learning  

Machine learning is a new tool that is being used more and more everyday across different disciplines. Professor of Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences Jacob Bortnik illustrates the diverse ways to apply machine learning to Earth and space sciences in his Eos publication. Machine learning uses large and complex data steps to reveal unanticipated patterns and relationships. By revealing these patterns, scientists can learn what parameters affect the output most and work to change this. 

Because machine learning is fairly new, young scientists may not know how to apply it to their discipline. Professor Bortnik explains the applications of machine learning in Earth and space science data and how it can catalyze new and creative uses. Hopefully this inspires scientists to use machine learning, whether it be to create global climate models or to predict the evolution of hurricanes. 

Click here to learn more.

Lack of atmospheric moisture escalates wildfire threats in Southwest United States

A UCLA study led by climate scientist Karen McKinnon has found that since 1950, the humidity across the Southwest United States has dropped by 22%. In California and Nevada, the impact of climate change was a striking 33% decrease in humidity. 

Lower humidity on hot days worsens wildfire risk by increasing the number of high-risk fire weather days and by creating parched, dry vegetation that fuels wildfires. An increase in summer rain could help mitigate this issue, but the issue of climate change needs to be addressed. Reducing carbon emissions and atmospheric carbon dioxide could help mitigate climate change and possibly increase the moisture in the atmosphere. Wildfire mitigation measures such as clearing dry vegetation are also being explored in order to lessen the impact of wildfires.

Click here to learn more.

UCLA Professor named Principal Investigator in exciting new collaboration

The Simons Foundation has announced the establishment of the Simons Collaboration on Global Categorical Symmetries. This group brings together physics and mathematicians from around the world in order to crack the mysteries of symmetry in its most general form. Professor of Physics and Astronomy Thomas Dumitrescu has been named a principal investigator in this new collaboration. 

Recently, symmetry has brought new perspectives to these disciplines and can continue to alter their framework. Professor Dumitrescu’s work utilizes symmetry to develop new theoretical tools for analyzing quantum field theories. This new group will explore symmetry and its new characteristics to reveal the powerful effects of symmetry on physical systems.

Read more about the exciting collaboration here.

Professors distinguished by the UCLA Academic Senate

The UCLA Academic Senate has awarded two professors from the Physical Sciences Division for their incredible performance. Professor of Chemistry and Biochemistry Alexander Spokoyny was honored with the 2020-21 Distinguished Teaching Award, specifically for his undergraduate research mentorship. Spokoyny’s research program focuses on exploring inorganic and organic materials to help reveal useful solutions to issues in science and technology, including: new reaction development and energy storage.

Additionally, Professor and Vice Chair for Astronomy and Astrophysics Alice Shapley was granted the 2020-21 Faculty Research Lectureship award for being the 132nd Faculty Research Lecturer. Shapley’s research interests include galaxy formation and evolution and feedback processes in starburst galaxies. 

Read more about the awards here.

Continuing the fight against COVID-19

UCLA scientists from the Physical Sciences Division have utilized the mechanisms and research they specialize in to create tools to help combat COVID-19. Although the United States has fully vaccinated more than 150 million people against the virus, our scientists’ findings can mitigate the spread of the virus, support those recovering from COVID-19, promote awareness, and help other scientists around the world.

From chemistry to statistics, our scientists have implemented new mechanisms that will contribute to the fight against COVID-19 and other diseases in the future.

Click here to learn more.

Mars: Has there ever been life? Will there ever be life?

UCLA’s contributions to the Mars exploration could help crack the question that has been asked for years— is there life on Mars? The Curiosity and Perseverance NASA rovers are currently exploring Mars and collecting soil samples to discover whether life was supported by Mars and if it could support life again. The data that comes back from the rovers also allows NASA to create more durable rovers for the future.

Some scientists believe that Mars can give us the golden opportunity to start again because of its similar characteristics to Earth. The rovers can find organic molecules that may answer questions on why Mars lost its Earth-like climate.

“It is important to find out enough about Mars so we can understand our impact on our own planet,” says David Paige, UCLA professor of planetary science and deputy principal investigator on the Perseverance RIMFAX.

UCLA scientists and new space technology will continue exploring the planet to help solve the mysteries surrounding Mars.

Click here to learn more.

UCLA physicists crack mystery about aurora borealis

The aurora borealis’ striking colors are emitted when electrons collide with oxygen and nitrogen molecules. The electrons become excited and must emit light to return to their relaxed state.

It is unknown how electrons move at high speeds through the magnetic field to produce these fascinating lights. In order to find this out, UCLA physicists created an experiment based on a popular theory that electrons hitch a ride on Alfvén waves— a type of electromagnetic wave that travels Earthward along magnetic field lines above auroras.

Physicists conducted experiments at UCLA’s Basic Plasma Science Facility to mimic the conditions of Earth’s auroral magnetosphere and see whether Alfvén waves produce accelerated electrons. They found that electrons “surf” on the electric field, causing the energy of the wave to transfer to the accelerated particle and generate the captivating colors we see.

The new finding further explains the physics behind the northern lights and shows how scientists around the world work together to solve ongoing questions in science.

Click here to learn more.

Do giant planets reside in other solar systems?

Jupiter and Saturn are giant planets that make up our outer solar system while planets like Earth make up the inner region. Planet hunters have wondered if the arrangement of our solar system is similar to the arrangement of other stars in the Milky Way Galaxy. In order to find this out, UCLA scientists have implemented the California Legacy Survey— a randomized planetary census that gathers the locations of giant planets.

“One of the things I love about studying exoplanets is how quickly the field evolves. Every few years, new types of planets are found that challenge our notions of what nature is capable of. Yet this census of exo-Jupiters and exo-Saturns was only possible thanks to decades of diligent and systematic study of several hundred nearby stars conducted by multiple generations of astronomers,” said Erik Petigura, a UCLA professor of physics and astronomy who contributed to this discovery.

The California Legacy Survey helped gather information on a wide range of planets— 177 planets were found, including 14 that were newly discovered. Scientists learned that giant planets tend to reside between 1 and 10 astronomical units (AU) from their star. An AU is the distance between Earth and the sun.

“In my 11 years with the California Planet Search, I’ve been fortunate to work on a bunch of projects, many of which, thankfully, did not take decades to complete. But I’m glad that whatever else we’ve been working on, we’ve always found time to observe this sample of nearby stars. When I’m observing at Keck and slew the telescope to one of them at 4 a.m., I feel like I’m dropping in on an old friend.”

This new information reveals characteristics about other solar systems and ways in which they formed. Additionally, the new data can tell us new aspects about our own solar system.

Click here to learn more.

UCLA-led study explains how much damage is caused by treated sewage

UCLA researchers found that nitrogen in treated sewage is causing a large growth of oceanic algae, which could have permanent effects on the ocean’s ecosystem. Although human sewage is treated and injected deep below the ocean’s surface, the study showed that phytoplankton growth was 79% higher than it would have been without the nitrogen from the sewage. Phytoplankton use nitrogen to grow and they consume oxygen when decomposing. This leaves the ocean with low oxygen levels which can lead to trouble for marine life. The UCLA study led by Fayçal Kessouri, a UCLA postdoctoral researcher, can help improve nitrogen treatment in wastewater.

Click here to learn more.

UCLA women Leaders in environmental science

Women revolutionize environmental science around the world by conducting research with a unique perspective on what it’s like to be a woman in the environmental movement.

Aradhna Tripati, from UCLA’s Institute of the Environment and Sustainability, is breaking barriers while addressing environmental challenges. She founded the Center for Diverse Leadership in Science to make sure that women and others in underrepresented groups are welcomed to the environmental realm.

Marilyn Raphael, professor of geography, played an important role to the creation of the Institute of the Environment and Sustainability. Raphael’s plans include renewing the institute’s commitment to bringing in and keeping diverse students and professors.

Stephanie Pincetl, the founding director of the California Center for Sustainable Communities at UCLA, creates inclusive communities that promote equality, respect and care for all individuals. She wants to reduce human impacts on the environment and urges policymakers to understand how under-resourced communities will be affected by renewable energy resources.

Danielle Hoague, a second-year doctoral student at UCLA, researches the exchange between scientific knowledge and community activism. She says, “We need to change gender norms, and eliminate the binary and the notion that environmental science has to be a boys club.”

It is important for women to be taken seriously in this field and for negative stereotypes to be eliminated.

Click here to learn more.

Mitigating climate change through carbon sequestration

Carbon is one of the driving factors for climate change in our atmosphere. Carbon sequestration— removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere — can help limit global warming. Establishing a carbon capture and sequestration program can instead put CO2 into geologic formations, biological systems or industrial products.

In order to establish carbon sequestration, oil recovery must be regulated. Oil recovery accounts for 88% of global CO2 use since oil companies inject CO2 during extraction to increase the amount of oil.

Direct air capture, carbon taxes, requirements for companies to sequester carbon, and converting waste carbon dioxide from the atmosphere into solids, can all be solutions to the carbon crisis.

“We need to work with policymakers, with capital providers to not only get your solutions commercialized, but actually deployed,” Camly Tran, director for UCLA’s Institute for Carbon Management, said.

Passing equitable and effective policies could push carbon sequestration forward and help make climate change less severe.

Click here to learn more.

UCLA postdocs honored with Chancellor’s Award for Postdoctoral Research

Several of our amazing postdoctoral researchers in the Physical Sciences Department have received Chancellor’s Awards because of their important contributions made to UCLA’s research mission. The awardees are granted a plaque and stipend of $7,500.

The Physical Sciences recipients for 2020-21 are: Adeyemi Adebiyi, Atmospheric & Oceanic Sciences; Lucia Fernandez del Rio, Chemistry & Biochemistry; and Shu Zhang, Physics & Astronomy.

Click here to learn more.

UCLA scientist honored MIT Technology Review Innovators Under 35 Award

Assistant professor of Statistics, Jingyi Jessica Li was honored for being an outstanding innovator. She has solved an ongoing question about the Central Dogma— the process of DNA making mRNAs and mRNAs making proteins. The Central Dogma is foundational to biological sciences because it determines how many proteins are in a cell.

Li used the statistical ANOVA method to find the correlation between transcription, translation, and protein making. She found that transcription plays a larger role than translation in the Central Dogma— a discovery that previous studies have not addressed. Li’s work displays how transcriptional research is important and how interdisciplinary work can help biological scientists when statistical methods are used correctly.

Click here to learn more.

UCLA Professor cracks mysteries about Venus

Some of Venus’ most basic properties have remained unknown for many years, making it difficult to understand the planet most close to Earth. UCLA professor of Earth, planetary and space sciences– Jean-Luc Margot — led a research study that examines the fundamental characteristics that make up the planet.

Margot and his team found that an average day on Venus is about 243 days on Earth. His trailblazing work provides insight on the structure of Venus to help scientists understand the planet’s formation, changes in the surface, and movement patterns. This study will serve to help future landing attempts.

Click here to learn more.

UCLA Professor elected to American Academy of Arts and Sciences

One of the nation’s most honorary societies, American Academy of Arts and Sciences, elected Professor Marilyn Raphael to the academy. Raphael is a professor of geography and director of the UCLA Institute of the Environment and Sustainability. Her research focuses on global climate change, the winds of Santa Ana, atmospheric dynamics, and Arctic sea ice. She also works with undergraduate students by introducing them to the world of climatology and guides graduate students through their research.

Learn more here.

Sinkholes bring the Sciences and Arts together

Mackenzie Day, Professor of Earth, Planetary, and Space Sciences, had a unique discussion about sinkholes and songwriting with British singer-songwriter, Fenne Lily. The conversation started with Lily asking how far a sinkhole can go and if the Earth could possibly become a donut. Dr. Day responded that the deepest sink hole is about 2,000 feet deep, but a sinkhole can never become deep enough to create a hole in the middle of the Earth. Lily went on to talk about how the pandemic has affected her songwriting. She mentions some of the obstacles she faces such as the pressure to keep pace with her previous self and difficulty finishing songs.

Dr. Day and Fenne Lily’s conversation shows how the arts and sciences can come together during a difficult time. Although the two disciplines are different, Dr. Day and Lily discussed hardships they have faced during the pandemic and how they have coped with them.

Click here to learn more.

First-ever 3D atomic imaging of an amorphous solid

A UCLA study led by Jianwei “John” Miao, professor of physics and astronomy, announces the first depiction of the 3D atomic structure of an amorphous solid. Miao’s research will provide higher levels of precision when working with amorphous solids. Understanding their atomic structure will help engineers create better versions of appliances and begin to apply them at a larger scale.

In order to determine the 3D atomic structure of an amorphous solid, Miao and his colleagues used electron tomography images of a material —  metallic glass. When stitched together, the images created a 3D map of approximately 18,000 atoms that make up the nanoparticle. Scientists previously believed the solid’s arrangement of atoms are completely random, but they discovered some atoms in ordered clusters.

This groundbreaking research resulted from scientists in different disciplines working together.

Click here to learn more.

UCLA Professor develops 2D semiconductors for future transistor scaling

Xiang Duan, Professor of Biochemistry and Chemistry, focuses his research on creating 2D transistors that will change future technology. Transistors, a semiconductor device, are the foundation for modern electronics, so new 2D transistors will contribute to future models of high performing products. Duan and his colleagues have used new techniques such as direct van Der Walls contact to make sure that these 2D materials meet certain requirements including contact resistance.

Some advantages of 2D semiconductors include production at lower temperatures than silicon, more flexibility, and the ability to be free-standing. Duan’s work on 2D transistors will shape the future of device architecture for upcoming electronics.

Click here to learn more.

How building layouts affect an urban area’s air pollution

Suzanne Paulson, chair of the department of Atmospheric and Oceanic sciences, has co-authored a UCLA air quality study explaining the impact of building layouts in urban areas. The study simulated the effect that wind blowing through different building layouts would have on the flow of air pollution.

Paulson says, “It turns out that the most important factor for determining how severe street level pollution will be is whether there is space between buildings.” Open spaces around buildings allow air to circulate and clear up. The study found that pollution levels are highest at street-level and lowest in a checkerboard pattern.

Paulson’s research can help urban planners arrange buildings in a fashion that help air pollution circulation.

Click here to learn more.

A photograph of Alex Kusenko, UCLA professor of physics and astronomyA new approach to investigating the origin of some black holes

A new study published in Physical Review Letters advances a decisive test to investigate the origin of solar-mass black holes. UCLA Professor of Physics and Astronomy Alexander Kusenko contributed to the test, which was led by Volodymyr Takhistov, the Kavli Institute for the Physics and Mathematics of the Universe Fellow, along with George M. Fuller, distinguished professor of physics and director of the Center for Astrophysics and Space Science at the University of California, San Diego. Kusenko is a visiting senior scientist with the Kavli Institute for the Physics and Mathematics of the Universe.

In 2017, the same international team of researchers also demonstrated that disruption of neutron stars by small primordial black holes can lead to a rich variety of observational signatures and can help us understand such long-standing astronomical puzzles as the origin of heavy elements like gold and the 511 keV gamma-ray excess observed from the center of our Galaxy.

Click here to learn more.

UCLA professor on team awarded funding by new NASA initiative

UCLA professor of planetary science Tina TreudeNASA recently awarded funding to select research teams for a variety of astrobiology projects, one of which includes participation by Tina Treude, who is a professor in both the Department of Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences and the Department of Earth, Planetary, and Space Sciences.

The project, entitled “Alternative Earths – How to Build and Sustain a Detectable Biosphere,” was one of only eight selected for funding by NASA’s new Interdisciplinary Consortia for Astrobiology Research. It will be led by Prof. Timothy Lyons of University of California, Riverside, with whom Treude will collaborate closely.

Treude’s work focuses on geomicrobiological processes in marine environments. “My research group is looking forward to this collaborative project, which will allow us to link what we learn about simple lifeforms on today’s Earth with processes in Earth’s past and potentially on other planets,” she said. The funding from NASA will support a graduate student in Treude’s research group.

“Bringing together so many different areas of expertise will be key to understanding processes that lead to the rise of certain life forms and the development of element cycles on planets,” Treude added.

Click here to read NASA’s press release about the award.

Professor of Chemistry named associate editor of the Journal of the American Chemical Society

Heather Maynard, professor of chemistry, was named an associate editor of the Journal of the American Chemical Society. The Journal of the American Chemical Society publishes high-quality chemical research from top authors around the world. Their resources help scientists continue their research and careers.

Maynard works on protein-polymer conjugates and polymeric drugs in order to develop therapeutics for numerous diseases. She works on precision medicine by creating specific polymers to ensure their stability. She is also the director of the National Institutes of Health and associate director for the California NanoSystems Institute at UCLA.

Click here to learn more.

Galaxy: Stellar orbits. Photo courtesy of NCSA, UCLA / Keck.Alumni gift will fund renovation of UCLA’s Remote Observing Facility

The Division of Physical Sciences has received a gift from alumni Astrid and Howard Preston to renovate and expand the facility that allows prominent UCLA astronomers and research scientists to observe distant galaxies and stars without leaving campus. The facility in Knudsen Hall provides remote access to the Keck telescopes in Hawaii and the Lick telescope in Northern California, and, when completed, will also link to the Thirty Meter Telescope in Hawaii.

The Preston Remote Observing Facility is used by four leading astronomy UCLA research groups, including the Galactic Center Group, led by 2020 Physics Nobel Laureate Andrea Ghez. Click here to learn more about the Remote Observing Room and the Prestons’ commitment to excellence in astrophysics.

Drought restrictions lead to the decline of mosquito-borne disease

A study lead by UCLA scientists has shown that reducing the amount of shallow water pools also reduces the amount of mosquitoes available to spread the West Nile virus. The outdoor water use restrictions during California’s statewide drought from 2012 to 2016 suppressed the amount of mosquitoes that carry viruses. The scientists centered their research in Los Angeles and Orange County to find that mosquito populations would have been 44% higher in Los Angeles County and 39% higher in Orange County without water restrictions.

Mosquitoes have adapted to finding hard-to-find pools of water in order to lay their eggs. Water restrictions help cut back on outdoor water use, which in turn leads to less infectious mosquitos. The study’s findings help with decisions over water management and to remind others that water conservation can lead to many benefits including less infectious mosquitoes.

Click here to learn more.

UCLA Faculty member awarded 2021 Sloan Research Fellowship

Assistant professor of mathematics, Pavel Galashin, is one of 128 scientists and scholars to receive the 2021 Sloan Research Fellowship. Awardees receive $75,000 for two years in order to support their ongoing research. This will serve to boost Galashin’s career in mathematics.

Galashin studies algebraic combinatorics, with a focus on total positivity and cluster algebras. He recently received an award from the National Science Foundation for his research in statistical mechanics and knot theory in algebraic combinatorics.

Click here to learn more.

Chemistry & Biochemistry faculty receive Maximizing Investigators’ Research Awards

The National Institute of General Medical Sciences – part of the National Institutes of Health – has awarded prestigious Maximizing Investigators’ Research Awards to two Physical Sciences faculty: Neil Garg, the Kenneth N. Trueblood Endowed Chair in Chemistry and Biochemistry, and Jorge Torres, a professor in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry.

Garg, who is also chair of the chemistry and biochemistry department, was awarded $2.8 million over five years to support his research on exploiting unconventional building blocks in chemical synthesis.

Garg’s laboratory focuses on the development of synthetic strategies and methods that enable the synthesis of complex bioactive molecules. The lab also explores new tools in chemical education that use modern technologies to improve the learning experience of undergraduate students.

Torres will receive $1.95 million to support research focused on investigating the human cell division machinery.

His lab will take multidisciplinary approaches to advance current knowledge on the repertoire of enzymes, and their mechanistic functions, that are critical for human cell division. These studies will also advance the understanding of how dysregulation of these enzymes can lead to human developmental and proliferative diseases.

These significant awards provide critical stability and flexibility to recipients in order to increase scientific productivity.

Click here to learn more.

California NanoSystems Institute at UCLA makes hands-on STEM learning accessible

California NanoSystems Institute at UCLA has changed its outreach programs during the pandemic in order to continue educational events. CNSI has held exciting nanoscience programs for students and teachers to allow them to learn more through experiments. Due to the pandemic, CNSI has transitioned some of their programs such as, “Applications of Nanoscience,” online.

Sarah Tolbert, faculty education director at CNSI and a UCLA professor of chemistry and biochemistry and Rita Blaik, director of education at CNSI worked together to create experiments that could be safely recreated by students at home. Additionally, they created video tutorials and provided teachers with supplies to carry out experiments. The online transition has showed CNSI that learning about nanoscience can be made more accessible to a wider audience.

Click here to learn more.

UCLA physicist honored with 2021 Simons Fellows in Mathematics and Theoretical Physics

UCLA professor and physicist, Alexander Kusenko, was awarded the 2021 Simons Fellows in Theoretical Physics in order to extend his academic leave from one term to an entire academic year. This award allows recipients to primarily focus on their research.

Kusenko’s research includes information about conditions in the early universe, the Higgs boson, and black holes. His research group, Theory of Elementary Particles, Astroparticle Physics, and Phenomenology (TEPAPP), has focused on explaining characteristics of distant blazars and measurements of magnetic fields.

Click here to learn more.

Professor awarded the IUPAC 2021 Distinguished Women in Chemistry/Chemical Engineering 

Professor Anne Andrews — UCLA professor of chemistry and biochemistry — was awarded the IUPAC 2021 Distinguished Women in Chemistry or Chemical Engineering award. It was presented to her on International Day of Women and Girls in Science in order to promote women who have advanced chemical science. The 12 awardees around the world were chosen because of their acts of leadership and community service. Recipients addressed obstacles they have encountered in their career and how they have overcome these obstacles. Their stories serve as motivation and support for other women in chemical science.

Professor Andrew’s research focuses on anxiety and depression where she utilizes both neuroscience and nanoscience. Andrews and her team aim to develop neurotransmitter monitoring approaches to understand how neurotransmitters lead to specific emotions.

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UCLA professor of chemistry and biochemistry Bill Gelbart

Professor William Gelbart’s influence on physical virology 

Professor of Chemistry and Biochemistry, William Gelbart has contributed to the field of physical virology. Gelbart is an inspiration to scientists who are also understanding viruses through experiments and theories. He is collaboratively working on a COVID-19 vaccine that includes two particles, the “B particle” and “T particle.” Professor Gelbart and his colleague began researching simple viruses and found new measurements in early results. Their work has contributed to the beginning of the field of physical virology.

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Andrea Ghez, professor of astronomy at UCLA

Dr. Andrea Ghez explains the rarity of women in STEM

Dr. Andrea Ghez spoke to Ms. Magazine after being awarded the 2020 Nobel Prize for Physics. Being only the fourth woman to receive this prize, she understands the challenges that marginalized groups such as people of color and women face.

In the interview, Ghez addresses the obstacles that she faced as a woman. She believes that STEM should not be dominated by one group and instead needs the perspectives of other communities.

Ghez continues to change the conditions in STEM so that all students have the tools and support they need. Click here to learn more.

Matt Malkan, professor of physics and astronomy at UCLA.

Professor of astronomy and physics appointed to National Science Board

Matthew Malkan, professor of astronomy and physics, was appointed to the National Science Board by the president. He will be on the board for six years and assist the White House and Congress on issues that concern science and engineering.

Malkan’s research focuses on the power and energy that black holes produce. He attempts to trace the cosmic history of the black holes by doing this.

Click here to learn more.

Astrophysicists publish new results on the Galactic Bulge

R. Michael Rich and his colleagues used two of the most powerful telescopes, the Gemini South space telescope and the Hubble Space Telescope, to find a new class of stellar systems.

The structure, Lillier1, was thought to be a structure made up of stars of the same age, but the astrophysicists found that the cluster is much more complex. With the telescopes, the scientists discovered that Lillier1 is a cluster with different stellar populations from different time periods. This contributes to research about the formation of the Milky Way.

Click here to learn more.

UCLA-led research finds that rising water temperatures and acidification interact to threaten coral reefs

Warming waters and acidification have become a threat to the world’s coral reefs. Carbon emissions and rising temperatures create ocean heat waves that make it difficult for corals to maintain their nutrients. Coral reefs have adapted a defense against acidification, but the temperature stress does not allow the reefs to defend themselves. UCLA scientists are researching the effects of interactions between different stressors in order to find meaningful ways to conserve corals.

Click here to learn more.

Tribal leader Clara Pratte wins Pritzker Award for young environmental innovators

Clara Pratte was awarded the 2020 Pritzker Emerging Environmental Genius Award. The Pritzker Award is open to anyone who is working to solve environmental challenges through any lens.

Pratte is a Navajo advocate for tribal communities and advises tribes in the U.S. on economic development issues. She has aimed to serve the environmental needs of Native communities with the goal to advance tribal sovereignty.

Click here to learn more.

UCLA graduate and astronaut selected for the NASA Artemis program to return explorers to the Moon

Astronaut, Jessica Watkins, who earned her Ph.D. in geology from UCLA in 2015, has been selected for the NASA Artemis program to return explorers to the Moon by 2024. The Artemis program’s purpose is to learn to live and work on another world for the benefit of humanity. The Artemis program includes the first woman and next man to walk on the moon.

Watkins and the Artemis team will help NASA prepare for the coming Artemis missions by working with the agency’s commercial partners as they develop human landing systems, assisting in the development of training, defining hardware requirements, and consulting on technical development. They also will engage the public and industry on the Artemis program and NASA’s exploration plans. They are working to establish a sustainable human presence on the Moon that will prepare NASA to send astronauts to Mars.

Click here to learn more.

Clarivate names 37 UCLA scientists among the world’s most influential researchers

UCLA Physical Sciences faculty Xianfeng Duan, David Eisenberg, Richard Kaner, Edward Wright, Wotao Yin, and Jeffrey Zink were among the 37 UCLA scientists recognized as the world’s most influential researchers.
The data comes from the Institute for Scientific Information at Clarivate. Each of these researchers wrote publications that were ranked in the top 1% by citations within their field.

Click here to read more.

Four UCLA faculty members named 2020 fellows of the American Association for the Advancement of Science

Four UCLA professors are being honored for their body of work with membership in the American Association for the Advancement of Science.
Within the Division of Physical Sciences, Rong Fu, professor and vice-chair of atmospheric and oceanic studies, is being honored for her work on Earth’s climate science and its application to regional decision making. Graciela Gelmini, professor of physics and astronomy, is being honored for her research and contributions regarding the knowledge of dark matter.

Click here to read more.

#BlackinChem crowdfunding campaign launches to celebrate and empower Black chemists at UCLA

Chemistry graduate student Samantha Mensah launches #BlackinChem x UCLA, a SPARK crowdfunding campaign aimed towards fostering and encouraging Black scientists.
The campaign currently has a participation goal of 50+ donors, signifying the importance of sharing and uplifting this project through as many supporters as possible. The ultimate goal is to raise $100K that will endow an annual lectureship series at UCLA.
Learn more about supporting this important initiative at

For the first time, over 250 million stars in our galaxy’s bulge have been surveyed in near-ultraviolet, optical, and near-infrared light. This image shows a countless number of these stars.Astronomers apply new methods to survey millions of stars in spectacular detail

For the first time, over 250 million stars in our galaxy’s bulge have been surveyed in near-ultraviolet, optical, and near-infrared light, opening the door for astronomers to reexamine key questions about the Milky Way’s formation and history.

A team co-led by UCLA professor of astronomy R. Michael Rich was able to measure the chemical composition of tens of thousands of stars spanning a large area of the bulge.

“The completed survey is novel in two ways. First, it measures the metal content of millions of stars. The metals are formed in stellar explosions, or supernova, so that’s how we know that the bulge formed in a single burst. Second, it gives us a glimpse into the powerful datasets of the future, especially from the 8m Rubin Telescope in Chile, that will see its first light in 2022,” said Rich.

Click here to read the press release from the National Science Foundation’s NOIRLab. Click here to read an article by UCLA’s Daily Bruin about the discovery. In addition, SyFy’s popular science blog Bad Astronomy helps to explain how the survey was done and its impact on the future of astronomy.

UCLA researchers develop breakthrough in non-invasive medical imaging

Chemistry professor Ellen Sletten’s group, in collaboration with scientists in Germany, jointly developed new imaging tools to allow non-invasive imaging of distinct structures like blood vessels in multicolor and in real-time. The new imaging system is based on an approach widely used in other industries and allows the monitoring of multiple parameters, which could unlock potential for improved medical diagnoses and interventions.

A paper on the research was published in Nature Chemistry.

Click here to read more.

Astronomy professor Erik Petigura featured in Daily Bruin’s “Professors 101”

Astronomy professor Erik Petigura reflects on his passion for the universe and space, while advocating the importance of life balance in the Daily Bruin’s new series, “Professors 101”.

Leading by example, the professor of the popular general education course Astronomy 3: “Nature of Universe,” and Cluster 70: “Evolution of the Cosmos and Life”, says that much of the benefit in teaching non-STEM students a science class lies in the opportunity to increase their science literacy.

Click here to read more.

Electron microscope image of semiconductors for world's smallest refrigerator.UCLA scientists create world’s smallest ‘refrigerator’

A team led by UCLA physics professor Chris Regan has succeeded in creating thermoelectric coolers that are only 100 nanometers thick — roughly one ten-millionth of a meter — and have developed an innovative new technique for measuring their cooling performance. A greater understanding of how thermoelectric coolers work at the atomic and near-atomic level could lead to a revolution in refrigeration and energy production.

A paper on the research was published recently in the journal ACS Nano.

Click here to read more.

UCLA #1 on Royce Hall

UCLA ranked No. 1 public university for fourth straight year

UCLA once again sits atop the list of the nation’s public universities in U.S. News & World Report’s annual “Best Colleges.”

This is the fourth consecutive year UCLA has captured this honor.

Click here to read more, including additional high rankings bestowed on UCLA.

Olga Radko, founder of the UCLA Math CircleLos Angeles Math Circle renamed the UCLA Olga Radko Endowed Math Circle

Pioneering UCLA mathematics professor Olga Radko was the founder of the Math Circle, a highly successful, free math enrichment program for K-12 students. She died of ovarian cancer in June 2020 at the age of 45.

In her honor, every gift made to the newly renamed UCLA Olga Radko Endowed Math Circle up to $250,000 will be matched one-to-one through June 30, 2021.

Click here for more information.

Richard Kaner, professor of Chemistry & Biochemstry at UCLAProfessor named Fellow of the American Physical Society

Distinguished Professor Richard Kaner has been named a Fellow of the American Physical Society. The APS Fellowship Program was created to recognize members who may have made advances in physics through original research and publication, or made significant innovative contributions in the application of physics to science and technology.

Kaner is the Dr. Myung Ki Hong Endowed Chair in Materials Innovation in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry. Work in the Kaner lab spans a range of topics within a materials science and inorganic chemistry focus. Current active research topics include graphene, energy storage, superhard materials, water filtration and purification, and conducting polymers.

Each year, no more than one half of one percent of the Society’s membership is recognized by their peers for election to the status of APS Fellow. Click here to read the full list of 2020 fellows and their citations.

In memoriam: Robert Finkelstein, 104, physicist and professor emeritus

Robert “Bob” Finkelstein, professor emeritus in the department of physics and astronomy, died peacefully Aug. 27 in Los Angeles. He was 104 years old.

Finkelstein conducted pioneering research in elementary particle theory, calculating the decay rates of the pi-meson and muon particles. During his long career, he contributed to general relativity, the theory of weak interactions and models for elementary particles based on the mathematical description of knots.

Click here to read more.

Photo of Professor John WassonIn memoriam: John Wasson, 86, cosmochemist and co-creator of the UCLA Meteorite Collection

John Wasson, a world-renowned expert in meteorites and lunar rocks who had a mineral named after him, died at home in Los Angeles on Sept. 7. He was 86. The professor emeritus of Earth, Planetary, and Space Sciences helped devise modern chemical classifications for the space debris that can fall to Earth as brief fireballs or “bolides” big enough to create an impact crater.

Wasson co-created the UCLA Meteorite Collection — the largest collection on the West Coast.

Click here to read more.

Marilyn Raphael takes helm at UCLA Institute of the Environment and Sustainability

Marilyn Raphael, professor of geography, is the new interim director of UCLA Institute of the Environment and Sustainability. Raphael has been at UCLA since the 1990s and has been part of the Institute of the Environment and Sustainability since its formation more than 20 years ago.

Raphael is an expert in climate change, sea ice variability and atmospheric dynamics around Antarctica — including the Amundsen Sea Low, a low pressure system named after the first explorer to reach the South Pole.

Click here to read more.

A new American Chemical Society national award honors boron research pioneer UCLA Professor Emeritus M Frederick Hawthorne

To honor M. Fredrick Hawthorne, UCLA professor emeritus, the M. Frederick Hawthorne Award in Main Group Inorganic Chemistry has been created. The idea for the award was formulated in 2017 by several former Hawthorne group members, who petitioned the ACS to establish the award that would permanently honor Hawthorne’s legacy and expand the ACS inorganic chemistry awards.

The inaugural M. Frederick Hawthorne Award in Main Group Inorganic Chemistry has been awarded to Professor Karl Christe (USC) who will present the Hawthorne Award address at the 2021 Spring ACS meeting and participate in the awards banquet.

Click here to read more.

Aurora Mysteries Unlocked with NASA’s THEMIS Mission

Computer models combined with observations from NASA’s Time History of Events and Macroscale Interactions during Substorms (THEMIS) mission have revealed evidence of the events in space that lead to the appearance of auroral beads, a light that glows across the night sky like a pearl necklace, which were previously a mystery.

Vassilis Angelopoulos, principal investigator of THEMIS and professor of EPSS, says “this is an important new piece of the puzzle.” Another EPSS researcher, San Lu was a co-author and instrumental team member in modeling the THEMIS spacecraft data to deduce this mechanism.

Click here to read more.

Chemist to lead new NSF Center for Integrated Catalysis

The National Science Foundation has announced a five-year, $1.8 million award to establish the NSF Center for Integrated Catalysis, or CIC, effective Sept. 1. The center will be led by Paula Diaconescu, a UCLA professor of chemistry and biochemistry.

The center will develop the fundamental chemistry needed to prepare synthetic plastics in a novel way. The research could lead to new materials that are sustainable, degradable and of high enough complexity for commercial uses.

Click here to read more.

Ph.D. Student co-organizes #BlackinChem week

Samantha Mensah, a Ph.D. candidate in the chemistry department, co-founded #BlackinChem with six other students, postdocs, and professionals nationwide. The movement was started to create dialogue and amplify the work of other Black researchers on Twitter.

The week between August 10 and 16 will elevate Black voices in chemistry, as well as engage others through themed discussions on Twitter and other platforms. Mensah will join the other five co-organizers in leading these events and discussions.

Click here to read more.

Institute of Pure and Applied Mathematics awarded $25 million renewal from NSF

UCLA’s Institute for Pure and Applied Mathematics, through which mathematicians work collaboratively with a broad range of scholars of science and technology to transform the world through math, has received a five-year, $25 million funding renewal from the National Science Foundation, effective Sept. 1.

The new award represents the latest investment by the NSF, which has helped to support IPAM’s innovative multidisciplinary programs, workshops and other research activities since the institute’s founding in 2000.

Click here to read more.

Physics professor wins Newton Award for Transformative Ideas

Seth Puttterman, physics & astronomy professor, has been selected to receive a $50,000 Newton Award for Transformative Ideas during the COVID-19 Pandemic from the U.S. Department of Defense.

The award, named in honor of Isaac Newton’s achievements, sought “transformative ideas” to resolve challenges, advance frontiers, and set new paradigms in research of immense potential benefit to the country during the COVID-19 pandemic. Putterman’s research project concerns nuclear fusion, which is a safe, nearly limitless energy source.

Click here to read more.

UCLA & UCSB received $23.7 million grant to study biologically based polymers

Efforts from the California NanoSystems Institutes at UCLA and researchers at UCLA to advance the use of microbes for sustainable production of new plastics has been supported by a $23.7 million grant from the National Science Foundation Materials Innovation Platforms program.

Current synthetic polymers (plastic and its chemical cousin) are used widely now, however they have an extensive negative impact on the environment, which is why these researchers are working to develop new high-performance alternatives to petroleum-based polymers that can be produced sustainably.

Click here to read more.

UCLA physicists overcome challenges to make new materials with optimized properties

Ni Ni, a UCLA associate professor of physics, and her research team reported the discovery of the first intrinsic ferromagnetic topological insulator. They also reported in Nature Communications their discovery of an intrinsic magnetic topological insulator early this year.

“We are quite excited about these two sequential discoveries, which provide new material systems to explore new topological phenomena, such as quantized anomalous Hall effect, quantized magnetoelectric effect, and Majorana fermions,” she said.

Click here to read more.

UCLA study finds that if physical distancing measures are relaxed too soon, efforts may have been all for naught

Andrea Bertozzi, distinguished professor of mathematics, joined a team of other mathematicians and scientists to compare the results of three mathematical models of disease transmission that they used to analyze data from local and national governments. The models all highlight the dangers of relaxing public health measures too soon.

The study, published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, showed that if physical distancing measures in the United States are relaxed while there is still no COVID-19 vaccine or treatment, the number of resulting infections could be about the same as if distancing had never been implemented.

Click here to read more.

UC to lead group awarded $25 million by NSF to launch quantum computing institute

Eric Hudson, UCLA professor of physics and astronomy

Eric Hudson, professor of physics and co-director of the new institute, will join researchers at UCLA, UC Berkeley, and other universities to create the NSF Quantum Leap Challenge Institute for Present and Future Quantum Computation. It will design advanced, large-scale quantum computers to employ scientific algorithms.

Unlike conventional computers, quantum computers seek to harness the mysterious behavior of particles at the subatomic level to boost computing power. Once fully developed, they will be capable of solving large, extremely complex problems far beyond the capacity of today’s most powerful supercomputers.

Read more here.

Department of Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences to receive $4.1 million

UCLA’s Department of Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences will receive a $4.1 million gift commitment—the largest in the department’s history—from adjunct professor Lawrence W. Harding, Jr. (“Larry”) to establish the Lawrence Harding Endowed Chair, which will support a faculty member with expertise in oceanography. In addition to Harding’s generous commitment, a $1 million endowed matching fund will be established to augment resources for the chair holder, including funds for postdoctoral researchers and graduate students, bringing the total investment to $5.1 million.

The Harding Chair honors the memory of Harding’s father, Lawrence “Wayne” Harding, who passed away in 2018. Harding’s gift will further enhance the stature of UCLA’s ocean sciences program, which was tied for the No. 1 department of its kind in the National Research Council’s most recent rankings released in 2010.

Read more here.

Physics professor awarded the 2020 Maxwell Prize

Warren Mori, professor of physics, has been awarded the 2020 APS Maxwell Prize for outstanding contributions to the field of plasma physics. Mori is the current leader of the UCLA Plasma Simulation Group. The group continues to do pioneering work in high-performance computing of complex plasma phenomena.

The prize was established in 1975 by the Maxwell Technologies, Inc., in honor of the Scottish physicist, James Clerk Maxwell and is currently sponsored by General Atomics.

Read more here.

UCLA research discovers that full moon may not be protected by Earth’s magnetic field after all

Previous simulations suggested that lunar satellites and astronauts on the surface could be considered safe during a full moon while it resides within the magnetosphere. Now, a study published in the Journal of Geophysical Research: Space Physics using the UCLA-led THEMIS-ARTEMIS lunar probes shows that the magnetosphere can flap across the moon much like a windsock, exposing it to hazardous solar wind particles.

One side of the moon always faces Earth due to synchronization with ocean tides, so understanding the effects of the solar wind at the full moon’s surface is critical for manned activity.

Read more here.

Geophysicists discover new evidence of long-term volcanic, seismic risks in Northern Europe

Paul Davis, UCLA research professor of geophysics and a senior author on this study, recently uncovered that an ancient European volcanic region may pose both a greater long-term volcanic risk and seismic risk to northwestern Europe than scientists had realized.

The study revealed that this area is much more seismically active than many of the faults in Europe between the Eifel volcanic region of Germany and the Alps. However, they scientists do not predict that a volcanic eruption or earthquake is imminent.

Read more here.

In Memoriam: Olga Radko, 45, Mathematician

Olga Radko, professor of mathematics, passed away June 29, 2020, she was 45, and fought a hard battle against ovarian cancer for the past 2.5 years. Radko was a huge asset to the UCLA community and was known for her pioneering work on the complete classification of two-dimensional Poisson structures.

Radko also made a huge impact on the mathematics community in Los Angeles, she founded the Los Angeles Math Circle in 2007 and inspired many young schoolchildren to pursue mathematics in the future.

Read more here.

Four Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences Students awarded Future Investigator Awards

Sarah Worden, Ken Zhao, Laura Thapa, and Zoe Pierrat – all students in the Department of Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences – were awarded the Future Investigators in NASA Earth and Space Science and Technology Award. Out of over 300 research proposals reviewed, these four were among only 62 who were selected.

The program accepts research proposals from graduate students that are designed in line with and contribute to the Science Mission Directorate’s goals. The students proposals were about moisture sources, glacial melting rates, and forecasting wildfire emissions.

EPSS Professor joins team in the National Academy to survey what is needed for the next decade of Earth Sciences

Carolina Lithgow-Bertelloni, professor of Earth, Planetary, and Space Sciences, joined a committee of the National Academy to write the 2020-2030 survey that will advise the National Science Foundation’s Division of Earth Science in how to invest in new initiatives for the coming decade.

Some of the new initiatives include increasing access and funding for technical facilities and addressing gaps between existing and needed infrastructure in earth sciences. This and other projects in the coming decade are as a result of how so much future research will rely more than ever on integrating emerging technology and data analysis into the workplace.

Read more here. 

Society for Advancement of Chicanos/Hispanics and Native Americans in Science honors chemistry professor

Jorge Torres, professor of chemistry & biochemistry, has been involved with SACNAS (Society for Advancement of Chicanos/Hispanics and Native Americans in Science) for many years, is a Lifetime member and was named the June Mentor of the Month.

Torres finds meaning with SACNAS in being “able to utilize his own skills to aid and encourage students who may be in a similar position as he was growing up.”

Read more here. 

Successful remote learning efforts creates meaningful physics labs

After UCLA announced that the entirety of spring quarter would be taught remotely because of COVID-19, professors in the physics and astronomy department including Katsushi Arisaka, made great efforts to create meaningful physics labs virtual.

Students in the Physics 4AL, 4BL, or 5CL classes were able to order affordable equipment to allow them to get started with designing their own programming and robotics experiments from their bedrooms and over Zoom. Professor Arisaka has always tried to find new ways to prepare students for future success, and the restructuring of this class was just one of them.

Read more here. 

Winners of DataFest at UCLA tackled data sets about COVID-19

In May of 2020 UCLA had the 10th annual DataFest competition, virtually. This consisted of hundreds of students from UCLA and other universities worldwide coming together to analyze rich, complex data sets about COVID-19.

The winners of the 2020 DataFest challenge were honored for their insight, creativity, and visualization of data sets that tackled all sorts of data about COVID-19. All of the 2020 presentations are available to view, as well as the winners’ presentations.

Watch the award presentation here.

Influential UCLA space physicist receives trio of honors

Margaret Kivelson

Margaret Kivelson, Earth, Planetary, and Space Sciences distinguished professor emeritus, has earned three prestigious honors in recent weeks: election to the Royal Society, Harvard’s Graduate School of Arts and Sciences Centennial Medal, and Kivelson was recognized with an honorary doctor of science degree from the University of Leicester.

Kivelson joined UCLA in 1967 as an assistance research geophysicist, and continued on as a professor and later department chair for EPSS. These honors recognize Kivelson’s work in shaping our understanding of Earth and other planets.

Read more hereWatch her video here.

In Memoriam: Robert Peccei, 78, particle physicist

Robert Peccei was a internationally renowned particle physicist who served as UCLA’s vice chancellor for research from 2000 to 2010. Peccei died June 1 following a hip fracture, he was 78 and had Parkinson’s disease.

Peccei made a huge impact on UCLA’s Physics and Astronomy department, he taught both undergraduate and graduate classes, and was the dean of the division of physical sciences from 1993 to 2001.

Read more here.

UCLA study shows domestic violence rates are up during COVID-19

Andrea Bertozzi, UCLA professor of mathematics, is the co-author of a UCLA led study that found an increase in the incidence of domestic violence reports in two cities, Los Angeles and Indianapolis, since stay-at-home restrictions were implemented in March in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Bertozzi and the rest of the team applied mathematics to interpret and make sense of police data, they predict that it should gradually decrease as people return to normal routines and stay at home orders are lifted.

Click here to read more.

UCLA physicists develop world’s best quantum bits

Eric Hudson, UCLA professor of physics and astronomy

A team of researchers at UCLA has set a new record for preparing and measuring the quantum bits, or qubits, inside of a quantum computer without error.

The techniques they have developed make it easier to build quantum computers that outperform classical computers for important tasks, including the design of new materials and pharmaceuticals.

Click here to read more.

UCLA researchers develop chemistry needed to create marijuana breathalyzer

Neil Garg, UCLA’s Kenneth N. Trueblood Professor of Chemistry and Biochemistry and chair of UCLA’s department of chemistry and biochemistry, is the senior author on the UCLA research that has discovered the key chemistry behind the creationof an electronic marijuana breathalyzer.

While Evan Darzi, former postdoc in Garg’s lab, and Garg have developed the chemistry that would be at the heart of a marijuana breathalyzer, they have not created an actual device. “We have established the fundamental proof of concept,” said Garg. The device is the next step.

Click here to read more.

Physics and Astronomy professor helps start project to make ventilators amid COVID-19

Dr. Hanguo Wang, professor of physics & astronomy, helped start a project to build ventilators to fight COVID-19 disease using common off-the-shelf parts. The large number of people affected by COVID-19 has created an urgent demand for ventilators on a global basis, a demand that exceeds the capacity of the existing supply chains.

This need has motivated the development of the mechanical ventilator (Mechanical Ventilator Milano, MVM) – a reliable, fail-safe, and easy to operate mechanical ventilator that can be produced quickly, at large scale, based on readily-available parts

Click here to read more.

Physics and Astronomy research team predict a new ferromagnetic order

Supid Chakravarty, professor of physics & astronomy, Angela Kopp, then-grad student, and Amit Ghosal, postdoc, have predicted a surprising ferromagnetic order in superconductors.

They found this experimentally and have published their paper in Science Magazine. This surprising result suggests that the overdoped
cuprates are strongly influenced by electron correlations.

Click here to read more.

Miguel Garcia-Garibay

Dean Miguel García-Garibay elected to the American Academy of Arts & Sciences

Dean of Physical Sciences Miguel García-Garibay, along with 276 other scholars and scientists, was elected to the American Academy of Arts & Sciences for his amazing work in UCLA’s Chemistry & Biochemistry Department.

“The members of the class of 2020 have excelled in laboratories and lecture halls, they have amazed on concert stages and in surgical suites, and they have led in board rooms and courtrooms,” said Academy President David W. Oxtoby.

Click here to read more.

UCLA team finds more efficient way to make gene therapies to attack cancer & genetic disorders

A UCLA led-research team, with co-senior author, Paul Weiss, a UCLA distinguished professor of chemistry and biochemistry, has developed a new method for delivering DNA into stem cells and immune cells safely, rapidly and economically.

The method, described in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, could give scientists a new tool for manufacturing gene therapies for people with cancer, genetic disorders and blood diseases.

Click here to read more.

UCLA Astronomer observed disintegration of a comet

In images captured in recent days by the Hubble Space Telescope, UCLA professor of Physics & Astronomy, David Jewitt observed a comet breaking into more than two dozen fragments.

The observation provides evidence that comet fragmentation is probably common, and may even be the dominant mechanism by which the solid, icy nuclei of comets die. Because comets’ deaths tend to occur unpredictably, reliable observations of their demise are rare, and astronomers are largely uncertain about what causes them to fragment.

Click here to read more.

Mathematics professors earn NSF grant to calculate COVID-19 transmission rates

UCLA mathematics professors Andrea Bertozzi and Mason Porter will use mathematical modeling, incorporating the specific features of COVID-19, to provide insights to those who are developing strategies to mitigate the spread of the disease.

Bertozzi and Porter have been awarded a $200,000 rapid-response research grant from the National Science Foundation, which has called for proposals with the potential to address the spread of COVID-19.

To learn more on their research, click here.

Earth’s atmosphere far dustier than previously believed

UCLA scientists,  Adeyemi Adebiyi, a postdoctoral researcher in UCLA’s Department of Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences, and Jasper Kok, a UCLA associate professor of atmospheric and oceanic sciences, report that there is four times the amount of coarse dust in Earth’s atmosphere than is currently simulated by climate models.

Knowing precisely how much coarse dust is in the atmosphere is essential for understanding not only the atmospheric phenomena that dust influences but also the degree to which dust may be warming the planet. Their findings appear in the journal Science Advances.

To learn more on their research, click here.

National Science Foundation tours UCLA’s Basic Plasma Facility

The National Science Foundation recorded an episode of their Youtube series “Passport to Discovery” about UCLA’s Basic Plasma Facility. They used this episode to explain “What’s up With Plasma?” and how UCLA’s facility uses a vacuumed sealed tube to create super-heated gas.

Click here to watch the video.

Keriann Backus

Chemistry professor named to the Alexander and Renee Kolin Endowed Professorship of Molecular Biology and Biophysics

Keriann Backus, professor of chemistry and biochemistry has been named to the  Alexander and Renee Kolin Endowed Professorship of Molecular Biology and Biophysics Term Chair for five years. Backus received a prestigious 2019 Young Faculty Award and was named a 2019 Bechman Young Investigator, she joined the UCLA faculty in 2018.

Backus’ research focuses on the development of new chemical tools and chemical proteomics methods to study and manipulate the human immune system.

Click here to read more.

Chemistry & Biochemistry students receive 2020 NSF Graduate Research Fellowship Awards

2020 NSF Graduate Research Fellowships (GRFP) were awarded to graduate students Cesar Garcia (Sletten group), Andrew Kelleghan (Garg group), Nicole Lynn (Torres group), Milauni Mehta (Garg group), Angel Mendoza (Harran group), and Cameron Movassaghi (Andrews group) and undergraduate researcher Jack Tulyag (Tolbert group).

Also a significant national academic achievement, 2020 Honorable Mentions by NSF were accorded to graduate students Grace Kunkel (Maynard group), Matthew McVeigh (Garg group), Mikayla Tan (Maynard group) and Samantha Zink (Rodriguez group) and undergraduate researcher Jenna Molas (Kaner group).

Click here to read more.

AI Researchers work on teaching robots to explain themselves

Mark Edmonds and Yixin Zhu, part of Professor Song-Shun Zhu’s research team at UCLA, have been studying and developing artificial intelligence systems in the Center for Vision, Cognition, Learning, and Autonomy at UCLA.

In their latest research they experimented with various ways a robot could explain its actions to a human. The forms of explanation that humans trusted the most did not always correspond to the best task performance. They said that this reveals performance and explanation are not inherently dependent on each other.

Click here to read more.

Chemistry alumnus given grant to develop self-sanitizing medical mask in light of COVID-19

Jiaxing Huang, who earned his PhD from UCLA in 2004 and was part of the Kaner Group, has received funding to develop a new-self sanitizing medical face mask that deactivates viruses on contact. Huang’s team will investigate anti-viral chemicals that can be safely built into masks to self-sanitize the passing respiratory droplets.

Huang is currently a professor at Northwestern University. His research team there received the funding via a rapid response research grant from the National Science Foundation, which has called for immediate proposals that have potential to address the spread of COVID-19.

Click here to read more.

Neil Garg has made Organic Chemistry a beloved subject at UCLA

Neil Garg, Kenneth N. Trueblood Professor of Chemistry and Biochemistry & recipient of the Robert Foster Cherry Award for Great Teaching, has made Organic Chemistry a beloved subject at UCLA. From simply learning students names, to assigning music videos that will teach students organic chemistry, his innovative ways of teaching has increased students interest in organic chemistry for years.

Students will often wait years in order to have Garg as their professor. He focuses much of his teaching on problem-solving, critical thinking, and creativity, rather than memorization. He has also created an educational app and online resources to help students better understand chemistry.

Read more by clicking here.

UCLA scientists explain why a glass of wine cries

Andrea Bertozzi and other researchers in the department of Mathematics at UCLA, were most recently featured in Nature, for their research on the ‘tears of wine’. Bertozzi and her colleagues have identified shock waves that help explain why thin drops of liquid continuously creep up the side of our wine glasses.

As surface tension and gravity battle, they create these unstable shock waves in the thin wine film that push the liquid into large droplets. In the most recent Nature article, they explain how to test and see this interaction at home!

For more on Bertozzi’s “tears of wine” research, click here. 

Researchers produce most accurate 3D images of so-called 2D materials

A UCLA led research team, including Jianweir Miao, a UCLA professor of physics and astronomy, as a corresponding author, developed innovative technique to pinpoint coordinates of single atoms allowing them to produce accurate 3D images. They produced in unprecedented detail, experimental three-dimensional maps of the atoms in a so-called 2D material.

Using 2D materials in real-world applications would require a greater understanding of their properties, and the ability to control those properties. The new study, which was published in Nature Materials, could be a step forward in that effort.

Read more by clicking here.

Two Astronomy Professors named to first class of American Astronomical Society

Andrea Ghez and Ian McLean, both professors of astronomy at UCLA, have been selected to the first class of Legacy Fellows of the American Astronomical Society, the premier organization of professional astronomers in North America, for their achievements and service.

Ghez is being awarded for her and her research team conducted the most comprehensive test of Albert Einstein’s iconic general theory of relativity near the supermassive black hole at the center of our galaxy. McLean is the director of UCLA’s Infrared Laboratory for Astrophysics, and built the world’s first infrared camera for wide use by astronomers in 1986. Since then, he has built several increasingly sophisticated infrared cameras and spectrometers.

Read more by clicking here.

William Schopf has uncovered gaps in knowledge of Earth’s earliest years

J. William Schopf, professor of Earth, Planetary, and Space Sciences, has spent the past sixty years researching and uncovering information on Earth’s first four billion years, once he found virtually nothing about it in his textbooks during his undergraduate textbooks.

Since then Schopf has published multiple books on these missing years and what he and an international team of scientists have discovered from those years. In his most recent book, “Life in Deep Time: Darwin’s ‘Missing’ Fossil Record,” he recounts the first living organisms, the modern food chain, photosynthesis, development of the atmosphere and oceans, and so much more.

Click here to read more.

Two Physical Sciences faculty awarded Sloan Research Fellowships

Erik Petigura, assistant professor of physics and astronomy, and Jose Rodriguez, assistant professor of chemistry and biochemistry, are among the four UCLA professors who received the Sloan Research Fellowships this year.

A Sloan Research Fellow is described as someone whose drive, creativity, and insight make them a researcher to watch. With Petigura’s research in exoplanets, planets orbiting stars other than the sun, and Rodriguez’s interests in developing and applying new scientific methods in bio-imaging, they both have done just that.

Read more by clicking here.

Smadar Naoz, assistant professor in the department of physics and astronomy.

Physics & Astronomy professor receives American Astronomical Society Award

Smadar Naoz, professor of physics & astronomy, was awarded the Helen B. Warner Prize for Astronomy for her many contributions to theoretical astrophysics, especially her influential and creative studies in cosmology and dynamics. The AAS presents awards and prizes for outstanding contributions to astronomical research, instrumentation, writing, and service.

Naoz has devised compelling explanations of the unexpected orbital properties of hot Jupiters and more. She is one of only three women to ever receive this award, since 1954.

Read more by clicking here.

Astronomers discover new class of strange objects near our galaxy’s black hole

Astronomers from UCLA’s Galactic Center Orbits Initiative discovered a new class of bizarre objects at the center of our galaxy, not far from the supermassive black hole called Sagittarius A*. Andrea Ghez, professor of physics and astronomy at UCLA and the director of the UCLA Galactic Center Group, is the co-author of the study that discovered these new objects, with Anna Ciurlo, a UCLA postdoctoral researcher, as the lead author.

Ghez says, “These objects look like gas and behave like stars.” The new objects look compact most of the time, but stretch out when their orbits bring them closest to the black hole.

Click here to read more.

William Newman appointed to lead group on climate in the American Physical Society

Dr. William Newman has been appointed as Vice Chairman of the American Physical Society’s (APS) Topical Group on the Physics of Climate (TGPC). A professor of earth, planetary, & space sciences, physics & astronomy, and mathematics, Newman will be  promoted to Chair Elect and Chair of the group over the next two years.

With this position, Newman’s primary mission is to broaden the public’s knowledge of climate change and possible responses to it. “I plan to take a proactive role in making clear to the broader public that climate change is real and largely of human origin,” he said.

Read the story by clicking here.

Brain mimicking device may revolutionize computers

Alongside Japan’s National Institute for Materials Science, a UCLA team including James Gimzewski, chemistry professor at UCLA, and Adam Stieg, associate director of CNSI, developed a device with the ability to mimic certain characteristics of the brain.

The device is ten square millimeters, made of tiny nanometers. The nanometers go through a process of self-assembly to produce the networks that are then able to make millions of connections that pose similarities to structures in the brain. Steig predicts that it may be a more energy-efficient alternative to conventional methods of artificial intelligence.

Read more here.

Space weather happens closer to home than previously thought

Solar wind, swirling clouds of energized particles, happens just beyond Earth’s atmosphere in the magnetosphere. Similar to the way winds and storms create weather in our atmosphere, strong gusts of solar wind can generate magnetic storms with currents that can impact our lives. A study now reveals that storms can originate much closer to Earth than previously thought.

This study, by the NASA THEMIS mission team, led by Vassilis Angelopoulos (professor space physics), found that space weather overlaps with the orbits of critical weather, communications, and GPS satellites.

Read more here.

Physical Sciences’ alumni becomes NASA astronaut

Jessica Watkins, earth, planetary, and space sciences alumni, graduated as a NASA astronaut. Watkins has worked at NASA’s Ames Research Center, the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, and collaborated on NASA’s Mars Science Laboratory rover, Curiosity.

She joined ten other NASA candidates as the first class of astronaut candidates to graduate under the Artemis program. They are now eligible for spaceflight, including assignments to the International Space Station, Artemis missions to the Moon, and ultimately, missions to Mars.

Read more here.

Statisticians discover potential for artificial intelligence robots to earn the trust of humans

A team of UCLA computer scientists, statisticians and psychologists found that robots powered by artificial intelligence are able to learn how to open bottles after a few rounds of human demonstration, and it can explain its behaviors in multiple ways in real time.

In the past, artificial intelligence machines were not able to explain their decisions to human users, and this has impeded the advancements of AI and robotics, but in this study researchers set out to find away to allow roots to earn trust by explaining their behaviors.

Read more here.

Two Physical Sciences faculty receive 2020 National Science Foundation CAREER Awards

Justin Caram, assistant professor of chemistry and biochemistry, and Selugi Moon, assistant professor of earth, planetary, and space sciences, are each recipients of a Faculty Early Career Development award. This is the NSF’s most prestigious award in support of early-career faculty who have the potential to serve as academic role models in research and education. For Caram, the award will support his development of new spectroscopic measurement methods to study the emission of short-wave infrared light from quantum dots. Moon will integrate research and teaching efforts through the incorporation of landslide studies in undergraduate courses.

Read about Moon’s work here and Caram’s story here.

New image reveals more about first observed interstellar comet

David Jewitt, physics and astronomy professor, leads analysis of data of the first interstellar comet astronomers have seen in our solar system. Using the NASA Hubble Space Telescope, Jewitt and researchers from the University of Hawaii, found that the nucleus has a radius measuring only about half of a kilometer.

Jewitt explained that the size is important because it helps “determine the total number, and mass, of other similar objects in the solar system and Milky Way.”

Read more here.

Researchers uncover ghostly dark matter by cosmic magnifying glasses

A group of researchers working with NASA on the Hubble Telescope that is currently in space, includes three UCLA researchers and faculty: Tommaso Treu, physics and astronomy professor; Anna Nierenberg, UCLA Alumna; and Daniel Gilman, a current UCLA graduate student. This group has detected dark matter clumps much smaller clumps than previously known, around large- and medium-sized galaxies.

Knowing that dark matter forms much smaller than known before, confirms one of the fundamental predictions of the widely accepted “cold dark matter” theory.

Read more here.

AOS Professor delivers Turco lecture to American Geophysical Union

Alex Hall, professor of atmospheric and oceanic sciences at UCLA, has recently presented the American Geophysical Union’s 2019 Turco Lectureship by the American Geophysical Union.

The annual lecture, which recognizes significant interdisciplinary scientific research, discoveries or advancements in climate science, was established by Richard Turco, founding director of the UCLA Institute of the Environment and Sustainability. Hall’s talk was titled “Why and How Climate Science Must Change,” and addressed how society and science must respond to climate change.

Read more here.

Image of new feature in galaxyAstronomers reveal new image of candy cane-shaped feature in the center of our galaxy

A team of astronomers, including Mark Morris of physics and astronomy who discovered the new structure, have produced a new image of an arc-shaped object in the center of our Milky Way galaxy.

Morris discovered the structure in 1983, but he could not produce such a clear colorful image of it then. The new image shows the inner part of our galaxy, which is home to the largest densest collection of giant molecular clouds in the Milky Way.

Read more here.

Researchers observe brain-like behavior in nanoscale device

An international research team, with UCLA Scientists James Gimzewski (of chemistry & biochemistry) and Adam Steig, has taken a step toward creating thinking machines. This team has developed a device that can learn, memorize, forget, wake, and sleep, all analogous to that of the human brain.

The ultimate goal in this research and development would be to eventually have computers that physically and functionally resemble the brain and are capable of solving problems that today’s computers struggle with. This device that was developed has an average diameter of just 360 nanometers and is made of a tangle of silver nanowires.

Read more here.

Supermassive black hole in our galaxy may have a friend

Smadar Naoz, Associate Professor of Physics & Astronomy, recently published a paper with her colleagues at UCLA, including Andrea Ghez, that suggests our galaxy’s supermassive black hole may be part of a pair.

The paper discusses how the nature of how supermassive black holes are created in our galaxies, by merging and colliding with one another, these collisions should result in pairs of supermassive black holes. Using their prior understanding of gravitational interactions between black holes and surrounding stars, scientists have narrowed down the size of this possible supermassive black hole pair.

Read more here.

Water tower study reveals the world’s most vulnerable

Thomas Painter, UCLA Visiting Associate Researcher with Joint Institute for Regional Earth System Science and Engineering (UCLA JIFRESSE), co-authored a new study on Earth’s 78 mountain glacier-based water systems. The paper ranked them in order of their importance to adjacent lowland communities, and evaluated their vulnerability to future environmental and socioeconomic changes.

The paper, published in Nature, concluded that the most important water towers are also among the most vulnerable, and that climatic and socio-economic changes will affect them profoundly. This could negatively impact 1.9 billion people living in mountain areas.

Read more here.

Terence TaoMathematics professor to receive inaugural Riemann Prize

Professor Terence Tao, the James and Carol Collins Chair at the UCLA College, has been selected to receive the first Riemann Prize in Mathematics. This is the first year of the Riemann Prize, and it will be awarded every three years to an outstanding mathematician selected by an international committee.

The Riemann International School of Mathematics promotes fundamental mathematical research and education and located in Italy. The prize has the patronage of all public and private universities of Lombardia, and will honor great mathematicians, like Tao, in the coming years.

Read more here.

Development of new statistical method likely to produce insights into human diseases

Jingyi “Jessica” Li’s UCLA research group, the Junction of Statistics and Biology (JSB), developed a new statistical method, called AIDE, to recover full-length sequences of messenger RNA (mRNA) molecules from data generated by the second-generation RNA sequencing (RNA-seq) technology, which in the last decade has revolutionized the study of transcriptome — the collection of all mRNA molecules in a biological sample.

Li, a UCLA associate professor of statistics, and colleagues published their new research as the cover story in the December issue of Genome Research, a major international journal of genomics.

Read more here.

Terence TaoNew mathematical equation simplifies a previously long calculation of an eigenvector

Physics team of Peter Denton, Stephen Parke, and Xining Zhang, were working on a problem with subatomic particle behavior, the problem included using a mathematical statistic called an eigenvector. Until now the calculation of an eigenvector was long and complicated. However, while solving this problem the team found a new mathematical equation to calculate an eigenvector, which Terrence Tao, a UCLA mathematics professor, helped them prove.

The three physicists and Tao submitted a paper delineating the new mathematical equation in August, and it is currently under review by Communications in Mathematical Physics, a peer-reviewed academic journal.

Read more here.

Two Chemistry Professors named AAAS Fellows for 2019

Out of six UCLA Professors named as American Association for the Advancement of Science Fellows this year, two of them were from the Physical Sciences Division. The two 2019 fellows are Paula Diaconescu, professor of chemistry and biochemistry, and Thomas Mason, professor of physical chemistry and physics.

Diaconescu is being honored for “seminal contributions to the field of catalysis, particularly for applications of switchable catalytic systems to block copolymer synthesis.” While, Mason is being honored for “distinguished contributions to the field of soft matter, particularly for creating and developing thermal-entropic passive microrheology, and for advances in emulsification and nanoemulsions.”

Read more here.

UCLA Scientists rank among world’s most-cited researchers

In the 2019 list of the world’s most influential scientific researchers, 47 UCLA scholars are listed. Out of these 47, many of them are Physical Sciences faculty, including: Xiangfeng Duan, Kendall Houk, Richard Kaner, Peter Langfelder, Zhaoyang Lin, Ni Ni, Stanley Osher, Jeffrey Zink, Wotao Yin, Edqard Wright, and Terrence Tao.

In its annual list, the Web of Science Group, which is a Clarivate Analytics company, names the most highly cited researchers — those whose work was most often referenced by other scientific research papers published from 2008 through 2018 in 21 fields across the sciences and social sciences.

Read the full list here.

Questions about space chorus waves answered

Chorus waves in Earth’s space consist of two distinct frequency bands: high and low. Researchers at UCLA, including Jinxing Li and Jacob Bortnik, of the atmospheric and oceanic sciences department, have answered a 50-year old question about the origin of the gap between the frequency band of the chorus waves.

NASA’s Van Allen Probes has collected a multitude of data on these chorus waves, by analyzing this data and constructing computer models, Bortnik and Li found that the waves have two separated unstable electron populations. This research has been published and featured in Nature.

Read the article by Jinxing Li here.

UCLA Study predicts the Arctic Ocean could be ice free for part of the year as soon as 2044

Alex Hall and Chad Thackeray, professors of Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences, published a new study in Nature, that states that the Arctic Ocean is likely to be ice free, due to human caused climate change, sometime between 2044 to 2067.

With many varying predictions tossed around about when the Arctic Ocean may actually start to become ice free, Hall and Thackeray set out to narrow down the time frame by using the most realistic models available. The Arctic Ocean’s ice is a very important topic in climate change science because it plays a role in temperatures around the world.

Read more here.

Statistics group focused on bringing data science to younger generations, mentioned in Freakonomics podcast

Introduction to Data Science, IDS, is a statistics group here at UCLA, focused on bringing data science into high school curriculum, and making data science accessible to more people, was mentioned in Freakonomics podcast, titled “America’s Math Curriculum Doesn’t Add Up.”

IDS, has a curriculum for the LAUSD to implement more data science into the math departments in school, in hope to teach more statistical thinking. The program includes everything from “creating a data set, cleaning, visualizing it, and analyzing it,” and students “use a mix of large data sets and data sets generated by themselves.” They even developed an app “that allowed students to go and collect data about their life.”

Read more about IDS here. Listen here.

New research says galaxies collide frequently

Collisions of galaxies are ubiquitous, reports research astronomer R. Michael Rich, whose new survey provides details on outskirts of galaxies. Michael Rich, a UCLA research astronomer and adjunct professor of physics and astronomy, University of California, Los Angeles, led an international team of astronomers that has completed the largest survey ever of the faint outskirts of nearby galaxies.

The researchers have also successfully tested a low-cost system for exploring these local stellar systems. Rich’s Haloes and Environments of Nearby Galaxies (HERON) collaboration has published research in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society. The team reports that the diameters of the galactic outskirts — the haloes — appear to correlate with the brightness and type of galaxy.

Read more here.

Two chemistry professors receive the Distinguished Teaching Award

Anastassia Alexandrova and Jennifer Casey, professors of chemistry and biochemistry, are recipients of the Distinguished Teaching Awards, UCLA’s highest honor for teaching. The winners are chosen based on impacts of students, their efforts to create a learning environment in which diverse students can succeed, using innovative teaching methods, involvement in community outreach activities, and teaching rates.

Alexandrova’s lab focuses on computational and theoretical design and multi-scale description of new materials. While Casey specializes in computational chemistry and physical chemistry. She also conducts chemical education research under the advisement of Arlene Russell, a professor of chemistry.

Read more here.

Ancient stars tell us about Earth’s similarities to other planets

Edward Young, UCLA professor of geochemistry and cosmochemistry, co-authored a new study that has told scientists that Earth-like planets may be common in the universe. Alexandra Doyle, a UCLA graduate student of geochemistry and astrochemistry, developed a new method to analyze in detail the geochemistry of planets outside of our solar system.

This new method has allowed chemists to study the geochemistry in rocks from other stars. It has raised the “probability that many rocky planets are like Earth, and there’s a very large number of rocky planets in the universe,” said Young.

Read more here.

Physics alumnae bike ride around the world to encourage female interest in science

Rachel Woods-Robinson and Elizabeth Case, physics alumnae, founded Cycle for Science, long distance bike rides for female scientists in an effort to promote environmental awareness and sustainable transportation.

Cycle for Science has had four rides since 2015, reaching more than 2,000 students and demonstrating the importance of sustainable transportation and advocating against the use of fossil fuels. They started with a trip across the entire US, then had trips across California’s Central Valley, New York, and even the Netherlands.

Read more here.

UCLA Astronomer gets a look at the first interstellar comet

David Jewitt, UCLA professor planetary science and astronomy, has captured the sharpest look at a comet from outside of our solar system.

On October 12th, using NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope, which captured images of the comet when it was about 260 miles away, this became the first interstellar comet observed by astronomers. The news of this sighting has been covered in the Washington Post, Forbes, Baltimore Sun,, and many others.

Read more here.

UCLA chemistry professor named a Packard Fellow

Jose Rodriguez, assistant professor of chemistry and biochemistry in the UCLA College, was today named among 22 outstanding young scientists in the United States to be awarded Packard fellowships for Science and Engineering by the David and Lucile Packard Foundation.

Packard fellowships enable the nation’s most promising young professors to pursue science and engineering research early in their careers with few funding restrictions, providing them with the freedom to take risks.

Read more here.


UCLA Astronomer in the news

A team including UCLA Astronomer David Jewitt has found twenty new moons around Saturn. The team behind this discovery also includes Scott Sheppard from the Carnegie Institution for Science and Jan Kleyna from the University of Hawaii.

Each of Saturn’s new moons measures between three to four kilometers in diameter. Their relatively small size explains why it has taken so long to discover them.

Read articles about the discovery in Gizmodo and Popular Mechanics.

Jean-Luc Margot

The New Yorker recognizes EPSS professor

Jean Luc Margot, professor of Earth, Planetary, and Space Sciences at UCLA, was mentioned in a New Yorker article titled, “Intelligent Ways to Search for Extraterrestrials.” The article covers many engineers, physicists, space scientists, and their accomplishments.

The author discusses the work of Jason Wright, an astrophysicist at Pennsylvania State University, and his colleagues including Jean-Luc Margot, and the nine papers submitted last year about researching life in the universe.

Read more here.

Observe the Moon Night

International Observe the Moon Night at UCLA

International Observe the Moon Night was October 5, 2019. Hundreds joined some of the Earth, Planetary, and Space Sciences Department faculty and students on the roof of the Math & Science building to join in the festivities.

There were six different telescopes to view the Moon, Jupiter, and Saturn, as well as other artifacts from various missions and a large lunar meteorite. The audience ranged from a few years old to around 80.

Read more here.

New organic chemistry website hopes to be engaging, interactive student resource

Neil Garg, professor of chemistry and biochemistry, and his lab team, part of the Garg Lab, announced this new website, R/S Chemistry, at the beginning of August. It focuses on teaching students principles of organic chemistry. It has three difficulties and two different modes that students can use to practice their skills.

The goal of the website is to make organic chemistry more engaging for students. The team met monthly to work on this interactive model for chemistry!

Read more here.

American Physical SocietyTwo Physics Professors elected 2019 fellows of the American Physical Society

Andrea Ghez, director of the UCLA Galactic Center Group and UCLA’s Lauren B. Leichtman and Arthur E. Levine Professor of Astrophysics, and Eric Hudson, professor of physics in the UCLA College, have been elected 2019 fellows of the American Physical Society. They are two of four UCLA professors elected this year.

This fellowship honors their exceptional contributions to physics research, important applications of physics, leadership in physics or significant contributions to physics education.

Read more here.

Tim+AustinMathematician selected for 2020 New Horizons Prize

Tim Austin, UCLA associate professor of mathematics, has been selected to receive the 2020 New Horizons Prize for his research. His research focuses on harmonic analysis, probability theory, rigorous statistical mechanics and ergodic theory, which is a branch of mathematics whose development was inspired by problems of statistical physics.

He will be honored  with the $100,000 prize at the eighth annual Breakthrough Prize awards ceremony on Nov. 3, at NASA Ames Research Center in Mountain View, California.

Read more here.

Solving a puzzle of unconventional superconductivity

The phenomenon of superconductivity is one of the most fascinating properties of electrons in solids. Among known superconductors, the material Sr2RuO4 is one of the most important, it is the cleanest superconductor yet discovered.

New research published in the journal, Nature, has solved one of the puzzles around this material. The research is a collaboration among Stuart Brown’s research group; Eric Bauer, a staff scientist at Los Alamos National Laboratory; and Andrew Mackenzie, director of physics of quantum materials at the Max Planck Institute for the Chemical Physics of Solids in Germany.

Read more here.

Dust Particles New process of analysis helps scientists understand planet formation

Ming-Chang Liu, a researcher in the Department of Earth, Planetary, and Space Sciences (EPSS), along with his postdoc Andreas Hertwig and other collaborators, discovered a new way to analyze how planets have formed from smaller particles.

The research focuses on how fast dust-particles had the ability to turn into much larger solids. They found that the dust coagulation was a very efficient process, and it was the first time these samples could be analyzed at such high precision.

Read more here.

Terence Tao, professor of mathematics at UCLATerence Tao praised as one of the greatest mathematicians

Terence Tao, UCLA mathematics professor, is praised as “one of the greatest mathematicians of our time”, while his blog is described as “a modern-day da Vinci’s notebook”, by Popular Mechanics.

The article focuses on Tao’s most recent blog post about the Collatz Conjecture. Tao’s research on the Collatz Conjecture says that any counterexamples to the rule are going to be incredibly rare, but this doesn’t mean the problem is solved.

Read more about the Collatz Conjecture and Tao’s great research here.

Andrea+Ghez+black+hole+artBlack hole at the center of our galaxy appears to be getting hungrier

Andrea Ghez, UCLA professor of physics and astronomy, is the co-senior author on the newest research on our galaxy’s black hole. It appears to be taking in an unusually large amount of interstellar gas and dust, making it much brighter than usual, and researchers are trying to figure out why.

The paper about the study was led by the UCLA Galactic Center Group, which Ghez leads, explains how the researchers analyzed more than 13,000 observations of the black hole. The paper was published in Astrophysical Journal Letters and covered by many news channels: CNN, USA Today, CBS News, Popular Science, etc.

Read more here.

James Rosenzweig

UCLA Physicist honored with a research award from the Department of Energy

James Rosenzweig,  UCLA distinguished professor of physics, has been selected to receive one of 13 research awards from the U.S. Department of Energy for work in particle accelerator science and technology.

Rosenzweig’s project, will be supported by a grant of $2.8 million over three years, concerns theoretical and experimental studies in accelerator physics, with applications touching a wide variety of interdisciplinary science.

Read more here.


UCLA Physicist honored by the Department of Energy

Thomas Dumitrescu, assistant professor of Physics and Astronomy, has been awarded the Department of Energy Office of Science Early Career Award. The award provides university researchers with about $150,000 per year in funding to cover summer salary and research expenses for five years.

Dumitrescu’s research focuses on several aspects of quantum field theory, including applications to particle and condensed matter physics, supersymmetry, string theory and mathematical physics.

Read more here.

Eric Scerri

UCLA expert on the Periodic Table featured in New York Times

Eric Scerri, professor of chemistry and biochemistry and expert of the periodic table, was involved in the conversations around upending the periodic table.

Scerri, and some of his colleagues interested in the history of chemistry, recently held a symposium at the national meeting of the American Chemical Society in order to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the discovery of the periodic table. This meeting, as well as the philosophical underpinnings of periodic classification, were recently the focus of an in-depth feature article in the New York Times that has been reprinted in newspapers and websites across the world.

Read the article here.

Chemistry professor wins 2019 American Chemical Society Award

Hosea Nelson, assistant professor of chemistry and biochemistry, has been named the recipient of the 2019 American Chemical Society’s Arthur C. Cope Scholar Award. This award honors excellence in organic chemistry.

Neslon’s research focuses on the discovery of chemical reactions that will enable the efficient and environmentally benign syntheses of fuels, materials, and medicines. Nelson will be presented the award next August at the society’s fall meeting, where he will present a research lecture.

Read more here.

T-FLO for membrane filtration

New technique for membrane filtration

Richard Kaner, UCLA Chemistry and Biochemistry professor, is the senior author on a new study that may improve treating wastewater, desalination processes, and conducting kidney dialysis. All of these processes use a membrane filter that separates unwanted substances from important ones. UCLA researchers have developed a new technique called thin-film liftoff.

This new technique will offer a more effective and energy efficient membrane production. This is the first major improvement for this process in over 30 years.

Read more here.

Clarke and Warmack

New insights on Alzheimer’s from UCLA Biochemists

UCLA Chemistry and Biochemistry professors and students, David Eisenberg, Rebeccah Warmack, Steven Clarke, Tamir Gonen, and Jose Rodriguez, have made leeway on what goes on inside a brain as Alzheimer’s progresses. There is a small protein beta amyloid, known as a peptide, that plays a role in Alzheimers. Warmack found that a specific version of this peptide contains a second molecular zipper that was not known to exist before this study. This second zipper is very hard to pry apart and forms a kink, which they believe plays a role in the development of Alzheimer’s disease.

The great thing about this discovery is that with the knowledge of what goes on, researchers can now think about ways to solve it!

Read more here.

Kuo-Nan Liou changing the world of climate projection

Kuo-Nan Liou, a Distinguished professor in the Department of Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences, has spent his career conducting forward-thinking and future-focused research on climate change and projection. From his work with colleagues in the Joint Institute for Regional Earth System Science and Engineering (JIFRESSE) which Dr. Liou founded in 2006, he and his associates have been awarded a three year, $2.1 million grant from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Climate Program Office to improve climate models.

Other than this recent work, Dr. Liou has had ground breaking research published in various research journals over the past few years including for his work on man-made aerosols effecting ice clouds, and ways to improve China’s poor air conditions.

Read more here.

Eric ScerriNBC News and UCLA Chemistry professor look into the history of the periodic table

Eric Scerri, professor of Chemistry and Biochemistry, shares the insights of the history of the periodic table with NBC news as the periodic table celebrates the 150th anniversary of the discovery of the periodic table. The periodic table provides an organized way to study the facts of chemistry.

Scerri will also be speaking at the 4th International Conference on the Period Table, which he helped organize, this month.

Click here to read more.

Andrea Ghez

Andrea Ghez questions Einstein’s general theory of relativity with a star orbiting a black hole

Andrea Ghez, professor of Physics & Astronomy, and her research team tested Einstein’s theory of relativity with a comprehensive test of general relativity near the monstrous black hole at the center of our galaxy as a star orbited it. They found that the theory of relativity stands true for now, but shows some vulnerability, as it cannot explain gravity inside a black hole.

This research has been featured in CNN, Forbes, NBC,, National Geographic, and many more!

Click here to read more.

CNSI Photo

American Chemical Society honors UCLA Nanoscience

As UCLA celebrates its’ centennial year, the American Chemical Society celebrated some of the great achievements of UCLA researchers and partners nationwide in a special issue of ACS Nano. UCLA Chemistry & Biochemistry faculty Professors Anne Andrews, Sarah Tolbert, Jeffrey Zink, and Paul Weiss were among the co-authors of the editorial titled “Nanoscience and Nanotechnology at UCLA”.

The editorial highlights UCLA’s California NanoSystems Institute (CNSI) and the interdisciplinary work UCLA does here and even within the entertainment industry of Los Angeles.

Click here to read more.

Iron Platinum Nanoparticle

Atomic motion is captured in 4D for the first time

A UCLA-led team, with physics professor, Jianwei Miao, as the senior author, gained a never-before-seen view of nucleation. As they saw the atoms rearrange at 4D atomic resolution, they discovered something that proved the classical theory of nucleation wrong. The researchers observed that the nuclei formed irregular shapes, unlike stated in the classical theory. They also found that there was no sharp boundary, as explained by the classical theory, and more!

The findings were published in the journal Nature, after collaboration with researchers nationwide from Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, to University of Colorado at Boulder, University of Buffalo, and University of Nevada, Reno.

Click here to read more.

Dimitri Professor discusses the importance of mathematics with BBC News

Dimitri Shylakhtenko, UCLA math professor and the Director of UCLA’s Institute of Pure and Applied Mathematics, discusses both the importance of teaching and learning mathematics. He admits there is a flaw in how it is taught, he states “if you see math as a style of thinking instead of memorization, it becomes a life skill that enables everything.”

This BBC article, titled “What’s the right age to quit maths?” was based on recent rebellions from New York art students as they are forced to take math classes until they leave school. However, professors like Shylakhtenko were brought together here to prove that math is important for any career, and as long as it is taught in a less abstract way, it will be a vital tool to any person.

Click here to read more.

X-ray binary

New discovery about binary star systems was featured by the American Astronomical Society

UCLA physics and astronomy graduate student, Alexander Stephan, recently published research featured by the American Astronomical Society. He shows that when binary stars are under the influence of a nearby supermassive black hole, two things can happen: they may be torn apart or become closer than ever.

Ultimately, the researchers found that after a few hundred million years, 75% of binary systems have been torn apart by gravitational interactions, and of the remaining 25% they either merge or become very close binary systems.

Click here to read more

UCLA Math video wins National Science Foundation competition

At the 2019 National Math Festival, the National Science Foundation announced the winners of its NSF We are Mathematics  Video Competition, and UCLA was one of them! Marcus Roper’s Lab submitted MycoFluidics: The Math of Fungal Adaptation, depicting how researchers use mathematical models to show how fungi build “highways” that solve the problems of congestion.

The competition was an opportunity for the research community to showcase mathematical sciences research using video storytelling that is accessible to a broad audience.

To watch the video, click here. 

William Duke

Math Conference to honor William Duke

While any birthday is an exciting time for many, UCLA Department of Mathematics professor William Duke will be honored on his 61st by the Forschungsinstitut für Mathematik (FIM), also known as the Institute of Mathematical Research, with a conference bringing more than 200 mathematicians from around the world together.

Arithmetic, geometry, and modular forms: a conference in honour of Bill Duke will be held from June 17-21, 2019 at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich to celebrate not only Duke’s birthday, but also his everlasting contributions in arithmetic of modular forms that many mathematicians have used as a basis for their own research.

Click here to read more. 


UCLA research outlines the evolution of math and physics of the geosciences

Michael Ghil, Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences faculty member, has provided the world of science with a paper on “A century of nonlinearity in the geosciences.” Ghil points out a small selection of the key nonlinear achievements from math and physics in the geosciences, from fluid dynamics to applications related to geophysical turbulence.

This paper was chosen to be part of AGU’s “Research Spotlight” section for bringing a broad overview of the development and application of such concepts that have brought researchers from numerous disciplines to the geosciences.

Click here to read more. 

Michael Jung

UC Investments honor chemistry professor for innovative life saving drug

Michael Jung, professor of Chemistry and Biochemistry, is the researcher at the forefront of the largest-ever technology transfer deal involving a University of California invention. UCLA sold the royalty rights to Jung’s compound that has created a drug for treatment of prostate cancer to Xtandi for $1.14 billion.

The annual UC Investments report, Innovate, honored Jung for this achievement and gave a glimpse of exciting research developments for the future. Jung mentioned his most recent life-changing project, a small molecule that promotes hair growth.

Click here to read more in Innovate


Inspired by spider webs, UCLA researchers create water vapor capture system

UCLA engineers and mathematicians designed an effective water vapor capture system that could be used to produce clean, fresh water, or to recycle industrial water. This method could also be used to produce clean water from the evaporation of high salinity wastewaters or from the steam escaping from cooling towers.

The researchers reported that this method has 200% increase in efficiency compared to existing technologies designed to capture water vapor. The study was published in Science Advances.

Click here to read more and see it in action. 

Lowry Christofk and Jung

UCLA licenses technology to combat hair loss to company founded by faculty

UCLA professors Heather Christofk, William Lowry, and Michael Jung discovered a compound that, while testing in research mice, enabled hair follicle stem cells to promote lactate production, and thus, hair growth.

With this discovery, the technology and compounds have been licensed by UCLA to Pelage Pharmaceuticals, a startup company founded by the three professors. Here they plan to improve and develop new drugs for people with baldness or alopecia.

Click here to read more. 

Graphic of carbon simulations

New insights help clarify inner workings of Earth

Two new studies show that carbon and ice take exotic forms that could help scientists understand the composition of Earth’s core and other planet’s cores across the galaxy. Craig Manning, Natalia Solomatova, and other researchers found that high pressure deep inside the Earth may have driven vast stores of carbon into the core while setting the stage for diamonds to form. Until now it was not clear whether or not Earth had locked away even more carbon than is in the atmosphere.

Researchers from around the nation came together for this discovery. It led to two new papers published in the journal of Nature and one in Nature Communications.

Click here to read more. 

Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences students discover an elegant explanation for electrostatic structures

Postdoctoral AOS students Xin An and Jinxing Li, with Jacob Bortnik as their faculty adviser, recently found an explanation to the unknown phenomenon of electrostatic structures. These structures are only seen in the electric field and have an effect on particles, which accelerates them in a chain to high energy radiation belts.

With the technology, research, and colleagues at UCLA, plus funding from NASA/H- TIDeS program, An and Li discovered parallels in these structures to whistler-mode chorus waves. This explanation has enlightened the science community by finding a connection between two structures that previously were not known to be related. 

Click here to read more. 

Casey Jennifer

Chemistry faculty sweep 2019 teaching awards

From teaching assistants to Senate Faculty to Non-Senate Faculty, three UCLA Chemistry & Biochemistry faculty members were lauded by Distinguished Teaching Awards.

Professor Anastassia Alexandrova was recognized with the award for Senate Faculty. Alexandrova brings the utmost respect and admiration to the scholarship of teaching. She is known for her ability to capture a student’s attention and make them enthusiastic about theoretical chemistry. Read more here.

Graduate student Katherine Winchell was selected for the 2019 Distinguished Teaching Award for Teaching Assistants. After graduating in 2015, Winchell developed and taught a course on teaching students about the available clean and renewable energy and volunteers with the California NanoSystems Institute’s nanoscience outreach program. She hopes to continue to teach at undergraduate institution to improve the chemistry curricula. Read more about her amazing accomplishments here.

Most recently, Jennifer Casey, who received her Ph.D. in Chemistry in 2014, joined these astounding women with the 2019 Distinguished Teaching Award for Non-Senate Faculty for her active-learning techniques that help engage students and foster their confidence. She has taken a large role in the Chemistry 192A class which is a stepping stone for aspiring science high school teachers, showing her admiration for education. She has a commitment not only to education but also growth and excellence. Click here to read more.

Alex Arnold receives award

Climate Science student awarded UC President’s Award for Outstanding Student Leadership

Alex Arnold, a graduate student studying climate science in the Department of Atmospheric & Oceanic Sciences, was given this honor for her exceptional leadership in student mentorship and building pathways to STEM higher education for underrepresented students. She has been a huge part of the creation of Environmental Justice and First Nations, an inclusive academic collaboration with Navajo Technical University.

Arnold also plays a large part in both the Organization for Cultural Diversity in Science and the Center for Diverse Leadership in Science at UCLA. Janet Napolitano, the University of California President, chose Arnold along with one student from UCSD for embodying what the UC system stands for: student activism and public service.

Click here to read more. 

Liu, Rodriguez, and Sletten

Chemistry teams discover a novel use for perfluorocarbons

Chong Liu, an assistant professor of Chemistry, is a pioneer in artificial photosynthesis, a concept which mimics natural photosynthesis in order to synthesize chemicals from water and air – all generated by renewable electricity through solar panels.

Liu, graduate student Roselyn Rodrigues, and Chemistry & Biochemistry professor Ellen Sletten combined their knowledge in order to overcome some of these limitations. The Sletten group had discovered the use of perfluorocarbons and a polymer to create nanoemulsions. Liu brought this idea to bacteria, and it worked, converting carbon dioxide to a useful chemical.

Click here to read more.

Michael Jung

UCLA Professor named UC Presidential Chair in Medicinal Chemistry

Michael Jung, professor of Chemistry and Biochemistry, was named UC Presidential Chair in Medicinal Chemistry. A leader in the field of synthetic organic and medicinal chemistry, Jung was bestowed with the prestigious chair created by the Chancellor’s office to honor UCLA’s most accomplished faculty.

Jung has developed two molecules that are being used to treat thousands of men who have serious forms of prostate cancer. In 2017, Jung and his wife, Alice, endowed the Michael and Alice Jung Chair in Medicinal Chemistry and Drug Discovery to enable UCLA to hire a faculty member who will conduct drug discovery research with the goal of producing effective new pharmaceuticals.

Click here to read more.

Blue Dawn Team

UCLA students touch space with a microgravity experiment

The Bruin Spacecraft Group aims to solve questions of space science and foster a community of space scientists at UCLA.  The students used their passion and knowledge to create an efficient fluid pump without moving parts. This type of pump is ideal for moving various liquids on the International Space Station.

The students created a magnetic pump, with a weight of less than one pound, and tested it both on ground and in space. Their pump was aboard Blue Origin’s reusable rocket when it launched on May 9, making it the first space payload developed and built entirely by a UCLA student group.

Click here to read more.


Organization for Diverse Leadership in Science pioneering outreach and inclusivity

In the efforts to diversify the STEM fields of universities all across the nation, OCDS was created almost ten years ago in the Chemistry and Biochemistry department, but has since become a wide-spread STEM organization to promote multiculturalism and inclusion in the field, especially at the graduate level.

OCDS is led by graduate students who are in turn advised by a long-time faculty mentor, professor of Chemistry and Biochemistry Miguel García-Garibay, who is also dean of the UCLA Division of Physical Sciences.

Click here to read more about OCDS.

Snow falling

UCLA scientists create new device that generates electricity from snowfall

The device is the first of its kind, is inexpensive, small, thin, and flexible. The device provides its own power, and can tell you how much snow is falling, the direction it is falling, and the direction and speed of the wind. And it was developed by UCLA Chemistry & Biochemistry professor Richard Kaner and his research group.

The technical name of the device is a snow-based triboelectric nanogenerator, or a snow TENG. It generates a charge through static electricity and produces energy from the exchange of electrons. Since snow is positively charged and gives up electrons, when it comes in contact with silicone, a negatively charged material, it produces a charge that the device captures and then produces electricity.

Click here to read more.


UCLA graduate student discovers the farthest inbound long-period comet ever detected at record distance from the sun

UCLA Earth, Planetary, and Space Sciences (EPSS) Graduate Student Man-To Hui has discovered the farthest active comet ever, at 25.8 times the distance from the Earth to the sun (which is the definition of an astronomical unit, or AU). Hui’s research on Long Period Comet C/2010 U3 (Boattini), , breaks the previously held record by Hui in a collaboration with UCLA Professor David Jewitt — Hui’s Ph. D adviser — in their 2017 research for distant active comet C/2017 K2 (PANSTARRS) at 23.7 AU.

“The most profound implication is that the direction of the comet’s tail is totally unexpected without the inclusion of the third additional force, the Lorentz Force,” Hui said. The other two are conventional solar radiation pressure and the local solar gravity. The Lorentz force is a combined force between the electric and magnetic fields acting on a point charge that is moving. As the solar wind pushes against the materials liberated from the surface of a comet, we experience an ion tail which is one of the two tails comets typically have; the other is the dust tail.

Hui’s research utilized data from telescopes that had imaged the same field Boattini was in.“Comets truly are time capsules and icy remnants from the early formation of the solar system and an important component for planetary scientists is to understand why they become active at such large distances,” said Dave Milewski, a fourth year Ph.D student in Earth, Planetary, and Space Sciences.

The accompanying archival image is of comet C/2010 U3 (Boattini), taken by UCLA Professor David Jewitt at the W. M. Keck Observatory on Maunakea, Hawaii Island with the 10-meter telescope in Hawaii on January 30, 2011. The Keck Telescope is  operated by a partnership between the University of California, Caltech and the University of Hawaii.

Read the article published in The Astronomical Journal here.

Alireza Moshaverinia and Paul Weiss

UCLA researchers develop new class of membranes to regenerate tissue and bone

A team of UCLA  researchers, including Paul Weiss of chemistry and biochemistry, as a co-lead author, have created a reliable method of therapy for bone regeneration with biological and mechanical features that can be adjusted based on treatment needs.

This method is proven to be a reliable therapy for periodontal disease, a disease that affects nearly half of Americans ages 30 or over. This is a chronic, destructive disease that can lead to bone and tooth loss.  These membranes have the ability to prolong the delivery of useful drugs, it is also expanding beyond periodontitis treatment to other wound healing needs.

Click here to read more and read the published study here.

Sensor on glove

UCLA scientists develop fire-retardant sensors for safety gear in harsh environments

Richard Kaner, a professor of chemistry and biochemistry was the lead researcher on this study. Kaner worked with other UCLA researchers and faculty at two other universities to design this self-extinguishing motion sensor and power generator. The device is no bigger than a quarter, may be embedded in shoes or clothing worn by workers in harsh environments.

The device, called the fire-retardant triboelectric nanogenerator, can detect when wearers are in danger or disabled because it can sense the difference between various movements, like walking, running, jumping, and stillness. Current triboelectric nanogenerators cannot withstand harsh environments, thus this one is made of a carbon aerogel that is light weight and stable in high temperatures.

Click here to read more.

Galactic chimneys in Milky Way

UCLA astronomer discovers exhaust vents for vast energies produced at Milk Way’s center

Mark Morris, UCLA professor of astronomy and astrophysics, was a co-author of a study that found two exhaust channels,they called “galactic center chimneys”, that seem to funnel matter and energy away from the cosmic fireworks in the Milk Way’s center. The researchers used a satellite that detects cosmic X-rays because X-rays are emitted by extremely hot gas, they are useful for mapping energetic environments in space.

These discoveries may provide insight for why some galaxies are bursting with star formation whereas others are dormant. Although, our galaxy is not that extreme, the Milk Way’s center provides an up close look at what might be happening in galaxies that are more energetic. This recent research study is posted in the Journal Nature.

Click here to read more.

Big Bang Theory cast and UCLA students join in an 8-clap

‘The Big Bang Theory’ to support twice as many UCLA students

As the popular television show ‘The Big Bang Theory’ nears its final season on air, the Big Bang Theory Scholarship Endowment, that funds scholarships for low-income UCLA students who are pursuing degrees in the STEM fields, has announced that they will be doubling the amount of students they award each year, from five to ten.

The first group of Big Bang scholars, who will graduate this spring, were given the opportunity to visit the set of ‘The Big Bang Theory’ and meet the cast. The cast recognized the students’ hardwork and achievements. Mayim Balik, who plays Amy on the show, is a UCLA alumna and was especially proud of this class and the connection she has to them.

Click here to read more.

Putnam Logo

UCLA math students rank 3rd nationwide in Putnam Math Competition

The William Lowell Putnam Mathematical Competition is an annual math competition for undergraduates that challenges the problem solving skills of the prestigious mathematics students. The questions cut across various disciplines and make students think outside the box. UCLA offers courses such as Math 100 that prepares its’ students for such a challenge.

The UCLA 2018 Putnam team ranked 3rd out of 568 institutions, one of the best results in UCLA history, matching that of 1968 and 2012. Twelve of the top 500 students nationwide were UCLA student competitors. This includes Xiaoyu Huang and Kaiqi Zhu, who each received a prize for ranking in the top 27 nationwide. Huang will also receive the Basil Gordon Prize, as the top scorer among UCLA students.

Click here to read more.

Adeyami Adebiyi

UCLA Postdoctoral Researcher received the UC President’s Postdoctoral Fellows Award

Dr. Adeyemi Adebiyi, a postdoctoral researcher at UCLA, who received his PhD from the University of Miami in 2016, was just selected as University California President’s Postdoctoral Fellow. Over 900 people applied to this award and only 32 across all of the UC campuses were selected.

Adebiyi’s current research focuses on the impact of atmospheric dust on regional and global climate and this Fellows Award honors the hard work he has put in. The President’s Postdoctoral Fellowship Program aims to advance excellence through faculty diversity, and Adebiyi exemplifies that excellence!

Click here to read more about the Fellowship Program.

Gavin and Ignacio

Local eighth grade student wins science fair with the help of UCLA’s Molecular Instrumentation Center

Gavin Loughran, eighth grader at a nearby middle school, contacted Dr. Ignacio Martini, the director of the MIC here at UCLA, who gave Gavin access to a UV/vis spectrometer, which ultimately helped him win his science fair.

Gavin was interested in whether or not colored glass would absorb UVA rays and, if so, which color worked best. He realized his experiment would need more advanced instruments than were provided at his school, which is when he reached out to Dr. Martini for the help.

Click here to read more.

Palu Earthquake aftermath

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

Earth, Planetary, and Space Sciences professor Lingseng Meng and a team of UCLA scientists have spent months analyzing the speed, timing, and extent of the 2017 Palu earthquake. They ultimately found that the earthquake was unusually fast and identified it as a supershear – recognized by the rupture in the earth’s crust moving very fast along a fault, causing up-and-down or side-to-side waves that shake the ground. This immense shaking ultimately caused a multitude of landslides and liquefactions.

Click here to read more more.

Guillaume Chanfreau

UCLA Chemistry professor awarded $1.97 million to study gene regulation

Guillaume Chanfreau, professor of chemistry and biochemistry, received the Maximizing Investigators’ Research Award from the National Institute of General Medical Sciences for his research.

The funding will go toward his research on how genes regulate after transcription, how cells mediate RNA quality control, and how dysfunction of enzymes in RNA degradation can lead to human diseases.

Click here to read more more about this work.


UCLA Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences group spearhead a study on oil dispersion in the ocean

Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences professor Marcelo Chamecki and his research group have been working with the Gulf of Mexico Research Initiative for five years on a study about the chemical dispersants during the Deepwater Horizon oil leak in 2010. The team has produced a simulation model to follow patterns of the total oil mass, which seems to indicate vertical mixing and biodegradation.

Click here to read more.

Vladimir Vassiliev and the gamma-ray telescope

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

Since 2012, Physics & Astronomy professor Vladimir Vassiliev has served as principal investigator on the Schwarszchild-Couder Telescope, which 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.

The Schwarszchild-Couder  is part of the Cherenkov Telescope Array project that will construct the world’s largest and most sensitive gamma-ray observatory with 118 telescopes. Click here to read more on UCLA’s contribution, and click here for information on the construction of the Schwarszchild-Couder Telescope.

Quasar Image

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

Physics and Astronomy professor Tommaso Treu 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.

Margaret Kivelson

Margaret Kivelson wins Royal Astronomical Society 2019 Gold Medal

Kivelson, professor of earth, planetary, and space sciences, is awarded this gold medal for her  “lifetime of outstanding achievement in understanding planetary magnetospheres and their connections to the planets they surround,” according to the society.

Kivelson has accomplished a lot for the space science community that has set her apart; she discovered the ocean inside Europa and the magnetic field around Ganymede — Jupiter’s largest moon; she also co-authored a book that is now educating large communities of young space scientists, and much more.

Read more about this amazing accomplishment here.

DIYnamics Project

UCLA’s DIYnamics group create affordable and fun science education instrument

Jonathan Aurnou, a UCLA professor of earth, planetary and space sciences and founder of the project, noted that part of his hope in this project was to make science accessible for all, and make younger students realize that science is not beyond their abilities.

The device is a do-it-yourself tool to help students of all ages learn about geophysical fluid dynamics in the climate, atmosphere, and ocean. All of the parts can be bought for about fifty dollars and the group has put together a website and YouTube channel to instruct teachers and students how to put it together and provides lesson plans.

Read more here. 

Wirtanen Comet (Credit: NASA)

UCLA Physics and Astronomy Professors observe comet with newly developed technology

Ian McLean and Michael Fitzgerald, Physics and Astronomy faculty, are among those observing the comet Wirtanen from the W.M Keck Observatory in Hawaii.

McLean was the principal investigator of the original Near-Infrared Spectrograph in 1999. Fitzgerald is currently the principal investigator of the observatory’s improved Near-Infrared Spectrograph that provides crisp and clear images of the comet that have never been seen before.

Read more here. 

InSight lander illustration

NASA’s InSight landing brings first piece of UCLA to the surface of Mars

Three UCLA researchers had reason to celebrate heartily as NASA’s Insight lander touched down on Mars.

Department of Earth, Planetary, and Space Sciences professor Chris Russell and his team built the first magnetometer to touch down on Mars. He and fellow EPSS professor Caroline Beghein along with EPSS researcher Peter Chi are also part of the data analysis team studying Marsquakes.

Click here to read more

2018 AAAS Fellows

Four Physical Sciences faculty named American Association for the Advancement of Science Fellows

Six UCLA faculty members- four from the division of Physical Sciences were named AAAS 2018 Fellows for their scientifically or socially distinguished work to advance science.

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

Read more here. 

UCLA Chemistry Lab

Physical Sciences faculty ranked among the worlds most influential scientific researchers

In Clarivate Analytics list of the most highly cited researchers, 41 are from UCLA, and 10 of them are Physical Sciences faculty.

Jeffrey Zink, Edward Wright, Terence Tao, Stanley Osher, Saveeha Merchant, Peter Kareiva, Richard Kaner, Wotao Yin, Kendall Houk, and Xiangfeng Duan were ranked in the top one percent in their fields for producing widely cited studies.

Click here to read more.

Christopher Russell

Chris Russell celebrates 50 years since receiving his PhD from UCLA

Russel, professor of geophysics and space physics in the Department of Earth, Planetary, and Space Sciences, 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, including Apollo 15 and 16; the Pioneer Venus Orbiter; Galileo; Cassini; and the recent Mars InSight Mission. He is also the principal investigator on Dawn, NASA’s mission to the dwarf planet of Ceres and the asteroid, Vesta.

Read more here.

Ellen Sletten

Ellen Sletten is awarded National Institutes of Health Director’s New Innovator Award

Ellen Sletten, assistant professor of chemistry and biochemistry, awarded a $1.5 million five year grant from the National Institutes of Health.

Sletten utilizes physical organic chemistry to find new therapeutic and diagnostic technologies, the research she was awarded for is titled “Bioorthogonal host guest chemistry for tandem imaging and therapy.” This research focuses on creating new methods to treat diseases with specific metabolic features.

Click here to read more.

Researchers: Nelson, Gonen, Martynowycz, Jones, and Rodriguez

UCLA Scientists develop new technique that could accelerate drug discovery

A group of UCLA scientists developed a new technique that will allows researchers to use small molecule samples in order to determine the structures of organic molecules.

This team is led by Christopher Jones, a chemistry and biochemistry graduate student, and a team of 4 other UCLA chemistry and biochemistry researchers: Hosea Nelson, Tamir Gonen, Michael Martynowycz, and Jose Rodriguez.

This new development could speed up the processes for drug development and manufacturing.

Read more here.

Aradhna Tripati pictured center

Aradhna Tripati speaks at East Los Angeles College Ribbon Cutting Ceremony

Tripati, an Associate Professor of UCLA’s Institute of the Environment and Sustainability; Earth, Planetary, and Space Sciences; and Director and Founder of UCLA’s Center for Diverse Leadership in Science, was honored as the keynote speaker in the Ribbon Cutting Ceremony for East Lost Angeles College’s new Physics and Earth Sciences building on November 13th.

Professor Tripati encouraged those present to strive in STEM. She aimed to inspire them to transfer to complete STEM courses at the upper-graduate level and ultimately use these skills in the growing job market.

Read more here.

Professor Juli Feigon

UCLA Researchers discover drug that could fight brain cell death for those with Alzheimer’s disease

Many biochemistry students and faculty, including professor Juli Feigon, have worked with other UCLA researchers to discover a drug that could block the protein that kills brain cells in Alzheimer’s disease.

The drug ALI6 was the most promising drug the researchers found in shielding the brain cells from the protein that attaches to and kills them. The team cultured mouse brain cells and exposed them to the toxic b-amyloid proteins, then treated some cells with ALI6 and compared levels of cell death between groups. This is a step in the right direction for Alzheimer’s disease prevention.

Click here to read more.

Lingsen Meng

Lingsen Meng and other UCLA scientists are improving our understanding of earthquakes

Current research by UCLA scientists is groundbreaking for understanding how the earth moves below us. Lingsen Meng, assistant professor of Geophysics, proposes a new system of forecasting earthquakes.

Meng offers a new system of in-ground sensors that would warn us of possible earthquake activity and connect researchers to a network that would alert them of motion in populated urban areas.

Read the recent publication on the Evolution of Earthquakes and the studies being done to improve our safety here.

Chris Regan

Chris Regan leads research on previously invisible electronic activity of devices

Chris Regan (Professor in Physics and Astronomy) is developing technology that may allow scientists and engineers to watch molecule activity inside electronic devices, i.e. smartphones, and computers. This information would ultimately help improve functionality of such devices.

Previously, electron microscopes did not have the ability to see this electronic activity. This breakthrough was published in Physical Review Applied.

Click here to read more about this discovery.

Daniele BianchiDaniele Bianchi co-authors study on deoxygenation of northwest Atlantic waters that has Canada concerned

Professors worldwide joined Bianchi (Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences Faculty) to produce the recent Nature Climate Change study, focusing on deoxygenation in the northwest Atlantic because of changing ocean currents. Due to this, the Gulf of St. Lawrence is warming and losing oxygen faster than almost any other ocean.

This research has raised great concerns in Canada about species ecosystems and other environmental effects. This area of the Gulf Stream is rich in biodiversity, but these discoveries show risks to many of the bottom dweller animals and may soon displace them as the oxygen levels worsen over time.

Click here to read the article about Bianchi’s Nature Climate Change study.

Click here to read Canada’s reaction to this discovery.

UCLA-led physics-chemistry team wins $2.7 million award for quantum computing

A research team from UCLA, USC, Caltech and Harvard, led by Wesley Campbell, UCLA associate professor of physics, has been awarded a three-year $2.7 million U.S. Department of Energy Quantum Information Science Research Award.

The emerging, multidisciplinary field of quantum information science is expected to lay the foundation for the next generation of computing and information processing, as well as many other innovative technologies. With this funding, faculty in chemistry and physics will develop and study “molecules functionalized with optical cycling centers,” accelerating research into next-generation chemical systems for quantum information storage and processing.

The grant to the UCLA-led team was one of 27 grants awarded by the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science to develop new quantum materials. The awards were made in conjunction with the White House Summit on Advancing American Leadership in Quantum Information Science. Click here to read more.

Margaret Kivelson and her pioneering planetary science profiled in The New York Times

The breakthrough research and discoveries by Earth, Planetary, and Space Sciences professor Margaret Kivelson were put in the spotlight by a recent profile in The New York Times entitled, “How Do You Find an Alien Ocean? Margaret Kivelson Figured It Out”.

Kivelson’s many accolades include election to the National Academy of Sciences and receiving the Kuiper Prize from the American Astronomical Society’s Division for Planetary Sciences, which recognizes and honors outstanding contributors to planetary science. Most recently, Kivelson was announced as the recipient of the European Geosciences Union’s 2019 Jean Dominique Cassini Medal, “bestowed to scientists who have achieved exceptional international standing in planetary and space sciences, defined in their widest senses, for their merit and their scientific achievements.”

Click here to read the article about Kivelson on The New York Times website (which offers a limited number of free articles per month per reader).

Click here to watch a video of Kivelson delivering a distinguished lecture for EPSS this spring.

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.

First satellites built entirely at UCLA are now in orbit

Click below to read two stories about the ELFIN cubesats, which successfully launched aboard the Delta II rocket on Sept. 15. The satellites were built by more than 250 undergraduates over five years and will be contributing important data to the study of space weather.

We have liftoff of student-built satellites (includes a video of the successful rocket launch on Sept. 15)

UCLA students launch project that’s out of this world (includes video of the making of the satellites and some of the students behind the project)

Neil Garg named inaugural Kenneth N. Trueblood Professor of Chemistry and Biochemistry

Award-winning educator and researcher Neil Garg has been selected as the first professor to hold UCLA’s Kenneth N. Trueblood Endowed Chair in Chemistry and Biochemistry.

The Trueblood chair was established in 2017, funded by a gift from the estate of the late Kenneth and Jeanie Trueblood, with matching funds from the department of chemistry and biochemistry and the office of Miguel García-Garibay, dean of the division of physical sciences in the UCLA College.

Click here to read more about this and other endowed chairs within the Physical Sciences.

Zeeshan ParvezUCLA Marine veteran and materials chemistry student will help make soldiers safer

Zeeshan Parvez plans to use his studies in materials chemistry to help protect others against improvised explosive devices.

Parvez mentioned how these improvised explosive devices are some of the most dangerous things on the battlefield, and regardless of what war is going on these explosives will remain. He has come back to UCLA to study material chemistry in hope to keep the military safer in the future.

Read more here.

UCLA-led team develops new system for tracking chemicals in the brain

UCLA and Columbia University researchers have developed a new method for tracking the activities of small molecules in the brain, including the neurotransmitters serotonin and dopamine.

“Understanding the fundamentals of how neurotransmission occurs will help us understand not only how our brains work, but what’s going on in psychiatric disorders,” said Anne Andrews, the study’s lead author, a UCLA professor of psychiatry and chemistry.

The research, which was published in the journal Science, is part of the BRAIN Initiative, a collaboration among government, private industry, nonprofits, and colleges and universities. Click here to read more.

UCLA ranked No. 1 public university by U.S. News & World Report

UCLA tops the list of U.S. public universities in the 2019 U.S. News & World Report “Best Colleges” rankings, which were published Sept. 09.

UCLA also shined in category-specific rankings published as part of the report. UCLA was ranked No. 1 for economic diversity among the top 25 universities, based on the number of undergraduate students receiving Pell Grants (36 percent at UCLA). In addition, the publication chose UCLA as the No. 1 public institution among the “best colleges for veterans” and No. 4 among all universities, which is up one spot from 2018.

Click here to read more.

UCLA is No. 1 U.S. public university in Wall Street Journal/Times Higher Education survey

2018 marks the second consecutive year UCLA was rated the top U.S. public university by the WSJ/THE analysis.

According to the report, UCLA “offers opportunities for inquiry, discovery, and
education — and yet is a close community that provides a sense of belonging.”

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 in Physics & Astronomy quoted in PC Magazine

Professor Paul Hamilton is quoted in an article spotlighting the 60th birthday of U.S. Department of Defense agency DARPA.

Hamilton received a DARPA Young Faculty Award from the agency to further his research on matter wave interferometry, which may find a future in applications to detect gravitational waves and navigation alternatives to the Global Positioning System.

Click here to read more.

Chemistry & Biochemistry professor Jose Rodriguez named one of C&EN’s Talented Twelve

Jose Rodriguez picked up structural biology first as a hobby. In his free time while working on a Ph.D. in molecular biology at UCLA, he collaborated with a physics professor on a problem critical to how biologists process X-ray crystallography data.

Now, as a UCLA Chemistry & Biochemistry professor, Rodriguez is using a relatively new structural biology technique to investigate proteins that clump together. These aggregating proteins are associated with diseases such as Alzheimer’s, and he hopes that understanding their atomic-level details will pave the way to treatments.

C&EN’s Talented 12 program identifies and celebrates young chemists who are just beginning to put their innovative and transformative ideas into practice. Being recognized can serve as a launching pad for the Talented 12 to gain recognition for their ideas, find funding and collaborators, and become the leaders of the future. Click here to read more.

UCLA professor plays key role in historic mission to the sun

UCLA space physicist Marco Velli took his place in history as part of the monumental Parker Solar Probe mission, which successfully launched on Aug. 12. 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.

UCLA scientists explain principles behind the superpowers of Ant-Man and the Wasp

In the latest episode of the new Marvel University web series, scientists from the UCLA California NanoSystems Institute discuss whether amazing powers like changing size or emitting bio-electric energy blasts can be explained by science versus science fiction. Click here to read more and watch the episode.

Three UCLA scientists contribute to study that could change perception of how early universe evolved

University of California astronomers, including three from UCLA, have resolved a mystery about the early universe and its first galaxies.

Astronomers have known that more than 12 billion years ago, about 1 billion years after the Big Bang, the gas in deep space was, on average, much more opaque than it is now in some regions, although the opacity varied widely from place to place. But they weren’t sure about what caused those variations.

Research by UC scientists addressing this question has been published in the Astrophysical Journal. Click here to read more.

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 study by UCLA EPSS researcher illuminates behavior of chorus waves

Observations of Jupiter’s magnetosphere in the 1990s provided a unique opportunity to understand how magnetic fields interact with particles and how moons of Jupiter can change the environment of the gas giant. One of the most surprising and fascinating discoveries about the moons of Jupiter was made by UCLA’s Margaret Kivelson – a professor emerita in the Department of Earth, Planetary, and Space Sciences – and her team, who found the internal magnetic field on Jupiter’s moon Ganymede in the 1990s.

Now, a researcher at UCLA has led a study expanding upon those discoveries with new relevance for the science behind understanding plasma waves. Click here to read more.

Dean of Physical Sciences shares his student experience at conference preparing underrepresented students for graduate school

Dean Miguel García-Garibay was one of several presenters at the National McNair Scholars Conference, which was recently held at UCLA for the first time and drew 250 students from across the country who have been selected for the competitive program. At the conference, the dean spoke about his years as a truck driver and other unexpected avenues that led him to becoming a professor of chemistry and biochemistry.

The McNair Research Scholars program provides research and application preparation resources for first-generation college students with financial need or members of groups that are underrepresented in graduate education. Click here to read more.

UCLA professor’s research finds that understanding how animals perceive space may have implications for diagnosing and treating neurological diseases

Mayank Mehta and colleagues in his laboratory are pioneering the use of virtual reality to determine how neurons make mental maps of space and the cellular basis of learning and memory.

Mehta – a professor in the Department of Physics & Astronomy as well as of  neurology and neurobiology – believes that if scientists better understood how the hippocampus perceives space and time, they could figure out how to better diagnose and treat debilitating neurological diseases that impair many forms of learning and memory. 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.

A tribute to UCLA professor emeritus and Nobel Prize laureate Paul Boyer

Click here to read the tribute in Science magazine, which was written by distinguished professor of biochemistry David Eisenberg, who was a longtime colleague of Boyer at UCLA.



Researchers discover natural product that could lead to new class of commercial herbicide

Using a technique that combines data science and genomics, the team found the new herbicide by searching the genes of thousands of fungi for one that might provide immunity against fungal poisons. The study, which was published in Nature, also points to the potential for this genomics-driven approach to be used in medicine, with applications ranging from new antibiotics to advanced cancer-fighting drugs.

Yi Tang, the study’s co-principal investigator, is a UCLA professor of chemical and biomolecular engineering, and of chemistry and biochemistry. Click here to read more.

UCLA researchers discover potential reason for unusual atmospheric wave on Venus

The Daily Bruin reported on research by Thomas Navarro, a postdoctoral scholar in the Department of Earth, Planetary, and Space Sciences (EPSS) and Gerald Schubert, professor emeritus in EPSS. The two co-authored a paper on their research behind a huge, bow-shaped wave on Venus that has puzzled planetary scientists for years.

The researchers’ findings were recently published in the journal Nature Geoscience.  Click here to read more.

UCLA-led center receives $9.75 million to improve rechargeable batteries

An energy research center led by UCLA has been chosen by the U.S. Department of Energy as one of its Energy Frontier Research Centers and awarded a four-year grant of $9.75 million. The center’s director is Professor of Chemistry and Biochemsitry Sarah Tolbert, who is also a professor of materials science and engineering at UCLA Samueli School of Engineering. With the funding, the new UCLA-led Synthetic Control Across Length-scales for Advancing Rechargeables center will help accelerate research on new types of chemistry and materials for rechargeable batteries. Click here to read more.

UCLA research finds warming temperatures have a negative effect on fertility, birth rates

According to research by UCLA environmental economist Alan Barreca, hot weather reduces chances of getting pregnant — and the problem is expected to get worse because of global warming. Click here to read more.

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.

Team of UCLA students places fifth in the annual Putnam examination

UCLA placed fifth in the country on the most recent round of the annual William Lowell Powell Putnam Mathematics Competition. In December, 35 UCLA students participated in the grueling six-hour test. Five students – Ni Yan, Emre Girgin, Alex Pascadi, Konstantin Miagkov and Xiaoyu Huang – received honorable mentions for placing in the top 100 students in the country. Yan received the Elizabeth Lowell Putnam award for the highest ranked female in the country and Girgin received the Basil Gordon Prize for the top scorer among UCLA students.

According to the students, their success can be attributed in large part to Ciprian Manolescu, UCLA professor of mathematics who chooses the team each year. Click here to read more about the dynamic teamwork between students and their professor.

Study by UCLA professor and team unlocks the inner workings of telomerase, which plays key roles in aging, cancer

Chemistry & Biochemistry professor Juli Feigon is senior author of a study illuminating the deepest scientific understanding yet of the once-mysterious enzyme telomerase, whose catalytic core — where most of its activity occurs — can now be seen in near atomic resolution. The report was published in the journal CellClick here to read more.

In memoriam: Paul Boyer, 99, Nobel laureate in chemistry

UCLA Professor Emeritus of Biochemistry Paul Boyer, who won the 1997 Nobel Prize in chemistry for his pioneering research on how adenosine triphosphate, or ATP — the cellular energy that drives all biological reactions — is formed, died June 2 at age 99. Read more about Boyer’s trailblazing work in the UCLA Newsroom, the Los Angeles Times, Chemistry World, the New York Times, and the Washington Post.

On Hawaiian research trip, UCLA students got early look at Kilauea eruption

The trip was the beginning of a quarter-long capstone course for students in the Department of Earth, Planetary, and Space Sciences, and the culmination of a geophysics degree at UCLA. In the past, students have also been to the San Andreas Fault on the Carrizo Plain in central California; Long Valley Caldera, near Yosemite; an area that stretches from Acapulco on the Pacific coast to Tampico on the Gulf coast of Mexico; the Andes in Peru; and Mount Etna in Sicily, trips partly funded by generous donations.

This spring, students were able to put all of their theoretical knowledge into practice as they traversed volcanoes and hiked through the Hawaiian forests to gather data. Click here to read more.

Study co-authored by Earth, Planetary, and Space Sciences researchers shows evidence of water vapor plumes on one of Jupiter’s moons

A paper published in Nature Astronomy offers the clearest evidence to date that there are “plumes” —eruptions of water vapor — venting from the surface of on an icy moon called Europa. Two UCLA scientists are co-authors of the study: Margaret Kivelson, professor emerita in the Department of Earth, Planetary, and Space Sciences (EPSS), and researcher Krishan Khurana, also in EPSS. The new research provides further support for the possibility of such an ocean, as well as evidence that there are the types of energy sources in the moon’s interior that would be required if life were to develop on the moon. 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. Click here to read the official release from the National Academy.

UCLA research predicts dramatic shifts between extreme dry and extreme wet weather by end of 21st century

Research by UCLA climate scientists, published today in Nature Climate Change, projects that the state will experience a much greater number of extremely wet and extremely dry weather seasons — especially wet — by the end of the century. Click here to read more.

New technique using cryo-electron microscopy should help scientists better understand disease-causing proteins

A team led by Todd Yeates, a UCLA professor of chemistry and biochemistry, reports results that hold the promise of using cryo-electron microscopy to better understand many important proteins. The research is published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Click here to read more.

Bacteria can pass on memory to descendants, UCLA-led team discovers

Led by scientists at UCLA – including Gerard Wong, a professor chemistry and biochemistry – an international team of researchers has discovered that bacteria have a “memory” that passes sensory knowledge from one generation of cells to the next, all without a central nervous system or any neurons. Click here to read more.

Astronomers pinpoint the farthest star ever seen

Tommaso Treu, a professor of physics and astronomy, is the co-author of research on an enormous blue star nicknamed Icarus. A quirk of nature tremendously amplifies the star’s feeble glow, allowing astronomers using NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope to pinpoint this celestial object more than halfway across the universe. Their study was published in Nature Astronomy. Click here to read more.

UCLA research reveals a climate future that will have wide-ranging consequences

Researchers in UCLA’s Center for Climate Science spent the past three years projecting how climate change will affect the Sierra Nevada. On April 2, the final report was released. Click here to read more.

Professor endows UCLA faculty chair in mathematics

The Department of Mathematics received a $1 million gift from Professor Emeritus Masamichi Takesaki to endow a new faculty chair in his specialty. The Yuki, Kyoko and Masamichi Takesaki Endowed Chair in Operator Algebras will enhance UCLA’s long-standing strength in the field by enabling the department to recruit and retain top professors, strengthen teaching and support collaborative research. Click here to read more.

UCLA scientists merge statistics, biology to produce important new gene computational tool

Assistant professor of Statistics Jingyi “Jessica” Li and Wei “Vivian” Li, a statistics doctoral candidate, have come up with a computational tool that increases the reliability of measuring how strongly genes are expressed in an individual cell, even when the cell is barely reading certain genes. The research was published last month in the journal Nature Communications. Click here to read more.

New study by AOS professor offers framework for how human activities may affect ocean life

Daniele Bianchi, assistant professor in the Department of Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences, published a study in Nature Geoscience which tightens the link between ocean biogeochemistry and marine microbiology by suggesting more widespread activity of anaerobic microbes than previously thought. This activity is fundamental in the ocean by controlling the cycling of nitrogen, an element that is essential to marine life.

Anaerobic metabolism is usually thought to be confined in sediments and small pockets of anoxic waters, where oxygen is completely absent. “We suggest instead that anaerobic microbes may also thrive in vast swaths of the oxygenated ocean, within sinking organic aggregates – “marine snow” – that become anoxic, as many disparate observations have suggested. This changes the way we think of the nitrogen cycle and more generally anaerobic metabolism in the ocean, and suggests that both could respond to climate change in ways that challenge our current understanding,” Bianchi says.

An essential part of the study was developing a quantitative framework to connect microbiological processes that take place at the scale of sinking particles, and the bulk chemistry of seawater. This should be a useful step to develop more realistic models of marine life and geochemical cycles, and their response to human activities. Click here to read the paper.

New drug by Michael Jung’s group extends the lives of men with prostate cancer

Apalutamide – marketed as Erleada – was created in the lab of Chemistry & Biochemistry professor Michael Jung. It was approved by the FDA Feb. 14, 2018 for treating men who have an earlier form of prostate cancer called nonmetastatic castration-resistant prostate cancer. This follows the success of another Jung lab molecule, enzalutamide or Xtandi, which has been used since 2012 to treat prostate cancer in thousands of men. Click here to read more.

Chris Russell works with NASA on exploring Chris Russellwhat science can tell us about the past

Christopher Russell, professor in UCLA’s Department of Earth, Planetary & Space Sciences, joined the Psyche expedition. An expedition looking at the 16th asteroid discovered. This Psyche asteroid, is believed to be made of metal. Russell will join scientists in the UCLA community and one member from MIT to build a magnetometer that will measure the strength and direction of the asteroid’s magnetic field.

Houk Group deciphers rare enzymatic cope rearrangement

In a recent publication in Nature Chemical Biology, Kendall Houk, distinguished professor in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, and his group elucidated how a novel enzyme catalyzes a reaction that was heretofore known only in the lab and not known to happen in nature. Click here to read more.

UCLA scientists introduce an aurora named STEVE

Distinguished Professor Larry Lyons of the Department of Atmospheric & Oceanic Sciences is quoted in a story in The Atlantic about a new type of aurora affectionately – and now scientifically – known as STEVE. A paper on the phenomenon has been published in the journal Science Advances; recent AOS Ph.D. graduate Bea-Gallardo-Lacourt and associate researcher Yukitoshi Nishimura are authors on the paper.

UCLA led-research shows Earth may be approaching a carbon dioxide threshold for melting ice in the Arctic

A study led by UCLA Earth, Planetary, and Space Sciences professor Aradhna Tripati, published in the journal Nature Communications, sheds light on how global climate may change as people continue emitting greenhouse gases and reveals a potential tipping point. Click here to read more.

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

A new bachelor’s degree within the Department of Atmospheric & Oceanic Sciences is among the world’s very first major programs in climate science and will prepare UCLA students to be leaders in this critical field. Click here to read more.

UCLA receives $2 million from physicist–philanthropist Mani Bhaumik

The gift from physicist and former UCLA postdoctoral fellow Mani Bhaumik to the UCLA Division of Physical Sciences will give students new resources to advance their education. Half of the gift will help establish the Mani L. Bhaumik Graduate Fellowship in Theoretical Physics; the other half names a dedicated study and collaboration space in Young Hall. Click here to read more.

Chemistry pioneer Joan Valentine reflects on her work and career

Joan Valentine, the first female faculty member in UCLA’s Department of Chemistry & Biochemistry, was recently featured in a video by her alma mater, Princeton University, where she was the first female Ph.D. recipient from its Department of Chemistry. Click here to read more.

UCLA Physical Sciences visits Mexico

Faculty from the departments within Physical Sciences were invited to present at an event hosted by El Colegio Nacional in Mexico City. The event was covered by Mexican press including El Punto Crítico, La Crónica de Hoy, and El Universal.

UCLA astronomers attempting to validate Einstein’s theory of gravity

Physics & Astronomy professor Andrea Ghez and other UCLA astronomers in her Galactic Center Group recently published a study with results that may allow the researchers to test Einstein’s theory of gravity as it approaches a black hole. Graduate student Devin Chu is the lead author of the study. Click here to read the announcement in the UCLA Newsroom, and click here to read about it on the Keck Observatory website.

Remodeled chemistry course allows for student research and publishing

The Daily Bruin reported on a revamped chemistry course which allows undergraduate students to conduct independent research and publish a paper in a science journal. The class is taught by Alex Spokoyny, an assistant chemistry professor. Click here to read more.

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.

UCLA professor to lead environmental bike expedition along California’s coast

Alex Hall, a professor in the Department of Atmospheric & Oceanic Sciences, is hitting the road for a three-week, 1,000-mile trek to educate, learn, and engage with the public on climate change. UCLA is partnering with the nonprofit organization OnePulse for the California Climate Expedition, offering forty riders the chance to cruise the coastline, meet top environmental experts, and visit locations affected by climate change. Click here to read more.

Pulsating aurora mysteries uncovered with help from NASA’s THEMIS Mission

New research using data from NASA’s THEMIS mission has captured the missing link thought responsible for this phenomenon, and the findings are featured in the Feb. 14 issue of the journal Nature. THEMIS’s principal investigator is Vassilis Angelopoulos, a professor in the Department of Earth, Planetary, and Space Sciences. Click here to read more.

New study by mathematics professor opens doors for new investigations into nonlinear phenomena

Nature Communications has just published a study by professor of mathematics Mason Porter. In the paper, Porter explains, “We conduct direct measurements of superdiffusive energy transport in disordered granular chains. Our work represents an important and timely contribution to the study of disordered systems and nonlinear phenomena, with important ramifications more broadly in condensed-matter and statistical physics.”

The study taps into the “Anderson localization” discovered in 1958 by Phillip Anderson and explained by Physics Today as, “What began as a prediction about electron diffusion has spawned a rich variety of theories and experiments on the nature of the metal–insulator transition and the behavior of waves — from electromagnetic to seismic — in complex materials.”

In the subsequent 60 years, most work on Anderson phenomena — the effect of disorder on wave propagation — has been on linear systems. The variety of scenarios in which Anderson localization occurs is staggering: it ranges all the way from electromagnetism and acoustics to areas such as quantum chromodynamics. But the investigation of such phenomena in strongly nonlinear settings is almost untouched. Porter’s study opens a panorama of both theoretical and experimental possibilities for future work. Click here to read the paper.

UCLA scientists develop low-cost way to build gene sequences

DropSynth makes it possible to produce thousands of genes at once, which could revolutionize scientists’ use of gene sequences to screen for gene’s roles in diseases and important biological processes. The approach, which was pioneered by UCLA assistant professor of chemistry and biochemistry Sriram Kosuri, is described in the January issue of the journal Science. Click here to read more.

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. Click here to read more.

In memoriam: Roberts Smith, one of UCLA’s first professors of biochemistry

Smith, who died Jan. 25, established a vigorous research program in biochemistry that focused on cancer biology and the biological uses of phosphorous-nitrogen linkages. Upon his induction into the Comox Valley Walk of Achievement in British Columbia in 2008, he was cited for helping to save thousands of lives over the years by pioneering the anti-viral field with the discovery of the broad spectrum nucleoside analog ribavirin now used to treat respiratory syncytial virus, hepatitis C and viral hemorrhagic fever. Click here to read more.

UCLA Meteorite Gallery acquires rare lunar meteorite

Named “La’gad,” the 185-gram meteorite was blasted off the moon by the impact of a large meteoroid and eventually made its way to the Earth, landing in North Africa’s western Sahara Desert. “This lunar meteorite is probably the most spectacular lunar meteorite in a museum anywhere in the world,” said John Wasson, the gallery’s curator and a professor of geochemistry and chemistry in the UCLA College. 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.

Electron microscope image of a prion nanocrystal by Callie Glynn

Researchers determine atomic structure of defective prions

The Daily Bruin reported news of the latest discovery by Jose Rodriguez, a professor in the Department of Chemistry & Biochemistry.

Using a molecular imaging technique that Rodriguez helped to pioneer, the team has determined the atomic structure of part of a protein that causes certain neurodegenerative diseases. Visualizing the prion allows other researchers to understand the basis behind prion diseases and develop therapies toward preventing and treating them.

The group’s study was published in Nature. Click here to read more.

Solar probe led by Earth, Planetary, and Space Sciences professor prepares for launch

Principal Investigator Marco Velli is preparing for the launch of NASA’s Parker Solar Probe, a mission 15 years in the making and one that will get us closer to our sun than ever before. Click here to read more.

UCLA researchers’ study of apocalyptic entertainment reveals lack of science

A new paper from UCLA researchers took a look at the history of such stories and compared them to the real, existential threats facing life on Earth to show how the gap between fiction and reality could have dangerous consequences.

“We need to change our narratives because for all the damage greed and human malfeasance might do, in the end ignorance may be our worst enemy — especially when it comes to climate shocks, which we have only just begun to understand,” said Peter Kareiva, director of UCLA’s Institute of the Environment and Sustainability. Click here to read more.

Gyroscope molecules by García-Garibay and HoukNew type of molecular machine designed by UCLA researchers could have wide-ranging applications in technology and science

Led by Chemistry & Biochemistry professor and dean of Physical Sciences Miguel García-Garibay, UCLA researchers have formed a crystal out of molecules with a solid exterior and containing moving parts. The new crystal, described in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, is the first proof that a single material can be both static and moving, or amphidynamic. Click here to read more.

DropSynth by Sri KosuriChemistry professor introduces new method for building thousands of defined gene-length constructs

Science magazine has published a study by Sri Korsuri, assistant professor of Chemistry & Biochemistry, announcing the success of his group’s new method DropSynth. When coupled with multiplexed functional assays, DropSynth allows for rational exploration of sequence-function relationships at unprecedented scale. Click here to read the publication in Science, and visit Kosuri’s blog here for more detailed explanation and a video illustrating the method.

RZ Piscium winking star rendering‘Winking’ star 550 light-years away may be devouring wrecked planets

A team of astronomers including UCLA Physics & Astronomy professor Benjamin Zuckerman has found evidence suggesting that the strange, unpredictable actions of a star 550 light-years away may be caused by the destruction of planets. Click here to read more.

Supermassive black hole rendering by NASAAndrea Ghez featured on new NOVA broadcast, “Black Hole Apocalypse”

Physics & Astronomy professor Andrea Ghez is featured in the new NOVA special “Black Hole Apocalypse”, which debuts at 9 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 10, on PBS. Click here to read more.

UCLA professor’s research on ancient fossil microorganisms indicate that life in the universe is common

Earth, Planetary, and Space Sciences professor J. William Schopf led a study published in PNAS announcing how new analysis of the oldest known fossil microorganisms provides strong evidence to support an increasingly widespread understanding that life in the universe is common. Click here to read more.

UCLA experts explain why California is burning in December

Earth, Planetary, and Space Sciences professor Aradhna Tripati, along with IOES research colleagues, how the current fires came about and why they will become more common in the future. Click here to read more.

Neil Garg and students develop a new organic chemistry app

Continuing his commitment to making organic chemistry accessible and fun to learn, Chemistry & Biochemistry professor Neil Garg and a group of his former undergraduate students have created a app called Backside Attack that teaches users while they play games. Click here to read more.

UCLA chemists synthesize narrow ribbons of graphene using only light and heat

UCLA chemists have developed a new method to produce nanoribbons of graphene, next-generation structures that many scientists believe will one day power electronic devices. The research was published online in the Journal of the American Chemical Society. 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.

Earth nitrogen atmosphere illustrationDiscovery about rare nitrogen molecules offers clues to makeup of other life-supporting planets

Using state-of-the-art UCLA instrumentation, a team of scientists led by Earth, Planetary, and Space Sciences Professor Edward Young has measures how atmospheric nitrogen gives us a clue about what signatures of other planets might look like, especially if they are capable of supporting life as we know it. Click here to read more.

Miguel Garcia-GaribayThe Music and Motion of Molecular Machines: A Featured Lecture at SACNAS 2017

As a featured speaker at the 2017 SACNAS Diversity in STEM Conference, Dean Miguel García-Garibay spoke to thousands of students, faculty, and researchers about his work with molecular machinery. With careful orchestration and collaboration, these molecules – like music – can turn noise into something beautiful.

Most Cited ResearchersPhysical Sciences faculty named to list of most cited researchers

Xiangfeng Duan, David Eisenberg, Peter Kareiva, Ni Ni, Stanley Osher, Terence Tao, Edward Wright, Omar Yaghi, and Jeffrey Zink were selected by Thomson Reuters for its 2017 Highly Cited Researchers list. The Rankings and methodology behind them can be read about here.

Miguel Garcia-Garibay labMiguel García-Garibay named to NSF Advisory Committee

The dean of Physical Sciences has been appointed to the National Science Foundation’s Directorate for Mathematical & Physical Sciences Advisory Committee (MPSAC). Information about the committee’s work can be found here.

Physical Sciences dean quoted in article about minorities in academia

Dean of Physical Sciences Miguel García-Garibay spoke to Chemical & Engineering News about issues facing minority chemistry professors. Read more.

UCLA study finds that relocating bus stops would cut riders’ pollution exposure

Professor of Atmospheric Sciences Suzanne Paulson found that moving bus stops away from intersections would substantially reduce the amount of pollution bus riders are exposed to. Read more.

Journal of Physical ChemistryWork by chemistry professors selected to honor Marie Curie’s 150th birthday

Publications by Anastassia Alexandrova and Sarah Tolbert, professors of Chemistry & Biochemistry, were selected by The Journal of Physical Chemistry as part of its celebration of Marie Curie’s 150th birthday. Read more.

UCLA professor part of exhibit at LA’s Broad Museum

Earth, Planetary, and Space Sciences Associate Professor Aradhna Tripati is featured in “#infiniteLA,” a video series produced in conjunction with acclaimed artist Yayoi Kusama’s Infinity Mirrors exhibit at the Broad Museum in downtown Los Angeles. Watch the video here.

Studies of Saturn moon could lead to new insights about the impact of climate change

New research on Saturn’s largest moon Titan was published Oct. 9 in the journal Nature Geoscience by co-senior authors Jonathan Mitchell and Seulgi Moon, both professors of Earth, Planetary, and Space Sciences. Read more.

Team led by UCLA astrophysicist observes primitive comet 1.5 billion miles from the sun

Led by UCLA professor David Jewitt, the team has observed a comet at a greater distance than ever before. Read more.

Chong Liu selected as one of the 2017 SN 10 by Science News

The assistant professor of chemistry is one of ten early- and mid-career scientists, age 40 and under, who stand out to mentors and peers as people who will make a difference. Read more.

Nobel Laureate J. Fraser Stoddart Returns to UCLA

The UCLA Department of Chemistry & Biochemistry presented its annual Norma Stoddart Award ceremony and lectures on Oct. 2, 2017. Sir J. Fraser Stoddart, who received the 2016 Nobel Prize in Chemistry, was in attendance to tell a standing room only-crowd about the remarkable woman who was his wife. Read more.

$2 million gift from alumnus establishes UCLA faculty chairs in chemistry and biochemistry

Hong came to the U.S. from South Korea in 1954 as an exchange student and graduated from UCLA in 1959 with a degree in chemistry. His gift of the two chairs will support scientific research with applications ranging from regenerative medicine to environmental sustainability. Read more.

UCLA, Japanese scientists discover new way to speed up chemical reactions

A team of scientists and engineers from UCLA and Japan’s University of Shizuoka has discovered a new mode of enzyme catalysis, the process that speeds up chemical reactions. Read more.

UCLA physicists create a new type of molecule, atom by atom

Physics & Astronomy Professor Eric Hudson and his team have pioneered a method for creating a unique new molecule that could eventually have applications in medicine, food science and other fields. Read more.

UCLA physicists propose new theories of black holes from the very early universe

Alexander Kusenko, a UCLA professor of physics, and Eric Cotner, a UCLA graduate student, developed a simple new theory suggesting that black holes could have formed very shortly after the Big Bang, long before stars began to shine. 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.

Physics & Astronomy professor profiled in Quanta Magazine

The interview discusses Andrea Ghez’s pioneering use of adaptive optics to observe the center of the galaxy and asks what other discoveries she is tackling now. Read more.

New UCLA program trains students on sustainable food, energy and water management

Chemistry & Biochemistry Professor Paula Diaconescu co-leads the five-year initiative funded by a $3 million grant from the National Science Foundation’s Research Traineeship program. Read more.

Astronomers find that the sun’s core rotates four times faster than its surface

Roger Ulrich, a UCLA professor emeritus of astronomy, has studied the sun’s interior for more than 40 years and co-authored the study in the journal Astronomy and Astrophysics. Read more.

Pediatric physician-scientist from Paul Weiss Group wins childhood cancer research award

Steven J. Jonas, a member of professor of Chemistry & Biochemistry Paul Weiss’ group, was awarded a Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation Young Investigator Grant. It’s the first such award to a UCLA pediatric physician-scientist in over 15 years. Read more.

AOS professor’s study shows that the Amazon triggers its own rainy season

Work by Rong Fu, professor of Atmospheric & Oceanic Studies, has led to a new study on the rainforest’s ecosystem and its relationship to deforestation. Read more.

UCLA launches first university-based center for diversity in environmental science

Aradhna Tripati – associate professor of Earth, Planetary, and Space Sciences – is leading the new group dedicated supporting scholars and professionals at all levels in the field. Read more.

Physics professor contributes to breakthrough in quantum computing

By creating a way to measure and control the energy differences of electron valley states in silicon quantum dots, HongWen Jiang and his team could bring quantum computing one step closer to reality. Read more.

Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences Professor in The New York Times

Alex Hall, professor of Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences, shares his expertise on California’s extreme heat with The New York Times. Read more.

Chemistry professor and his wife give $1 million to UCLA

Michael Jung, a distinguished professor of chemistry and biochemistry, and his wife, Alice, have donated $1 million toward the establishment of the Michael and Alice Jung Endowed Chair in Medicinal Chemistry and Drug Discovery. 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.

Chemistry professor pioneers new molecular imaging technique

Jose Rodriguez, assistant professor in chemistry and biochemistry, is working with the Howard Hughes Medical Institute on a low-cost approach to his revolutionary method for greater disease research around the world. 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.

Award to mathematics professor will help UCLA create new math nanosystems initiative

Mathematics professor Andrea Bertozzi’s Simons Foundation’s Math + X Investigator award will help create UCLA’s new Simons Mathematical NanoSystems Initiative. Read more.

NASA selects UCLA Geology alumna for 2017 astronaut candidate class

Jessica Watkins, who earned her Ph.D. in geology from UCLA in 2015, has been selected by NASA to join the 2017 astronaut candidate class. Read more.

Mathematics major – and one of UCLA’s youngest grads – heads to Google

Graduating senior Luke Vellotti leaves UCLA with two bachelor’s degrees, one in mathematics and one in computer science. The 18-year-old is headed to Google as a software developer. Read more.

New chemical reaction developed at UCLA could yield new fuels and medications

Work by a UCLA Chemistry & Biochemistry lab has resulted in exciting and more efficient chemical bonds that open the door for broad future applications. Read more.

Physical Sciences Celebrates First-Ever Emeriti Luncheon

Emeriti faculty from each of the Physical Sciences’ six departments were celebrated at a luncheon in their honor. Read more.

UCLA-led team discovers new way of probing hypothetical fifth force of nature

The work by UCLA’s Galactic Center Group, which studies stars at the center of our galaxy, has opened up a new method of looking at how gravity works. Read more.

UCLA innovator gets creative with applied mathematics

Andrea Bertozzi, professor of mathematics and director of applied mathematics at UCLA, uses math to solve real-world problems such as predicting when and where crime will happen. Read more.

Discovery of an alga’s ‘dictionary of genes’ could lead to advances in biofuels, medicine

Plant biologists and biochemists from UCLA, UC Berkeley and UC San Francisco have sequenced the genome of Chromochloris zofingiensis, a green alga with biofuel and medicinal applications. Read more.

Institute of Pure and Applied Mathematics names new director

Dimitri Shlyakhtenko, UCLA professor and former chair of mathematics, has been named the new director of the National Science Foundation funded institute strengthening ties between mathematics and other sciences. Read more.

UCLA team helps design biological supercapacitor

UCLA and University of Connecticut scientists have designed a battery-free implantable medical device that could make pacemakers and other instruments safer and more durable. Read more.

UCLA physicist elected to National Academy of Sciences

Claudio Pellegrini, professor emeritus of physics at UCLA, was honored with membership for his “distinguished and continuing achievements in original research.” Read more.

UCLA weather expert tests link between extreme events and hotter temperatures

New research by Daniel Swain of UCLA’s Institute of the Environment and Sustainability clarifies how climate change influences severe weather. Read more.

UCLA Chemistry professor is finalist for Robert Foster Cherry Award for Great Teaching

California Professor of the Year Neil Garg, who has been getting large numbers of UCLA students to love organic chemistry for years, has been selected as one of three finalists for the Robert Foster Cherry Award for Great Teaching. Read more.

UCLA astronomer observes a dying red giant star’s final act

UCLA professor of physics and astronomy Mark Morris and an international team of astronomers have observed a striking spiral pattern in the gas surrounding a red giant star. Read more.

UCLA astrophysicists get rare peek at a baby solar system 300 light-years away

Physics and Astronomy professors Smadar Naoz and Michael Fitzgerald co-authored a study resulting from a rare glimpse into planetary evolution. Read more.


Peter KareivaPeter Kareiva shares environmental reasons to be thankful

Peter Kareiva, the director of the Institute of the Environment and Sustainability at UCLA, shared reasons to be thankful this year. Some of these reasons include: Global energy related carbon dioxide emissions held constant in 2014, the use of coal is decreasing, and U.S residents have been driving less and less since 2004! Read more here.

UCLA chemistry professor selected as the 2015 Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching

Neil Garg, professor of UCLA’s department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, was selected as the 2015 Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching California Professor of the Year. This honors a few of the most outstanding  teaching and positive influence professors have on their students careers and lives.

Charles Knobler

Chemistry professor selected as American Chemical Society Fellow

Charles Knobler, UCLA Research Professor and a former chair of the department of Chemistry and Biochemistry has been selected as a member of the 2013 class of the American Chemical Society’s Fellows. Read more. 

Peter KareivaNine environmental myths everyone needs to unlearn

Peter Kareiva, director of the UCLA Institute of the Environment and Sustainability, shared on his blog nine myths about the environment that his students always seem to bring to the first lecture in his environmental science lectures each year. Read the 9 Myths here.

Andrea GhezAstronomers solve puzzle about a bizarre object in our Galaxy

Andrea Ghez, Physics & Astronomy professor, studied this unknown object in our galaxy very closely during its’ closest interaction with our black hole. It was thought to be hydrogen gas, but now Ghez believes it is a pair of binary stars that the black hole forced into one. Read more here.

Ric KanerScientists grow organic semiconductor crystals vertically for the first time

Ric Kaner and his team of materials scientists from the California NanoSystems Institute at UCLA have discovered a way to improve smartphones, tablets, and computers with rapidly increasing the efficiency of semiconductors. This comes with creating an improved structure for one type of organic semiconductor, using Tetraaniline. Read more here.

Jon ChristensenAdjunct Professor discusses going carbon-neutral ‘at scale’

Jon Christensen, adjunct professor in the UCLA Institute of the Environment and Sustainability, discussed the UC wide goal of becoming carbon neutral by 2025. This would mean that by 2025 the hundreds and thousands of people involved within the UC system would not be contributing to climate change while at campus. Read his thoughts here.

Eric Scerri

Chemistry lecturer releases new book

Eric Scerri, professor of Chemistry and Biochemistry, published third book by Oxford University Press, “A Tale of Seven Elements”. Read more. 

Edson Smith

UCLA Math professor finds rare prime number

Edson Smith and his colleagues are awarded a 100,00 cash prize for finding a long sought after thirteen million digit prime number! This is the 46th Mersenne prime number, and the Electronic Frontier Foundation has funded the award. Read more here.