NEWS OUT OF UCLA’S PHYSICAL SCIENCES

 

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.


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.


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.


Alex Spokoyny named a 2018 Cottrell Scholar

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


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

Electron microscope image of a prion nanocrystal. Photo 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, 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.


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

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


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.


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

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


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.


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

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


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.


Hosea NelsonUCLA chemistry professor honored as 2017 Packard fellow

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


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 Physicist wins 2017 Feynman Theory Prize

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


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.


Heather Maynard wins American Chemical Society Award

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


Steve Clarke lauded for research excellence and commitment to student training

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


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.


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

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


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.


Professor of Atmospheric & Oceanic Studies wins environmental change award

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


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.


Neil Garg wins Royal Society of Chemistry Higher Education Teaching Award

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


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.


The Protein Society lauds chemistry and biochemistry professor for her research

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


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

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


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.