NEWS FROM UCLA PHYSICAL SCIENCES
Click here to read the latest announcements about awards received by our faculty
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.
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.
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 Cell. Click 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
New 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.
Chemistry 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.
‘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.
Andrea 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.
Discovery 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.
The 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.
Physical 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 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.
Work 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.