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About the Divison of Physical Sciences

From sub-atomic to astronomic scales, we are working on the frontiers of science. Founded by Nobel laureates and members of the National Academy of Sciences, our departments have all played a central role in UC San Diego’s rapid rise to national and international prominence.

A tradition of bridging boundaries long before interdisciplinary research became fashionable has allowed us to probe fundamental questions at the intersections different branches of science and mathematics and to create new fields of study. Because mathematics and the physical sciences are fundamental to many pursuits, including engineering, medicine and biology, we contribute to the education of most undergraduate students at UC San Diego.

News from the physical sciences

fragile X protein bound to ribosomeDiscovery could lead to novel therapies for Fragile X syndrome

Scientists studying the most common form of inherited mental disability—a genetic disease called “Fragile X syndrome”—have uncovered new details about the cellular processes responsible for the condition that could lead to the development of therapies to restore some of the capabilities lost in affected individuals.

In a paper to be published in Molecular Cell, a group led by Simpson Joseph, professor of chemistry and biochemistry shows how the fragile X mental retardation protein, which is in short supply in individuals with Fragile X, affects the protein-making structures of cells in the brain to cause the disease. Read more.

telescopeUnveiling the universe's earliest secrets

When a telescope trained on the Antarctic sky picked up swirling patterns of light believed to be the imprint of the violent expansion of the universe a trillionth of a second after it burst into being, excitement swept the scientific community, tempered by caution. If the signal is real, the discovery is the first evidence of an idea proposed three decades ago. But the finding must be confirmed by another instrument.

Brian Keating, an associate professor of physics at UC San Diego and a member of the team that made the discovery, also leads another project that could make those necessary observations, and more. Read more.

Kiran KedlayaMathematician awarded Guggenheim Fellowship

Professor Kiran Kedlaya has won a Guggenheim Fellowship, to further his work in number theory, one of the most classical branches of mathematics.

The award will support a project that explores computational aspects of the Langlands program, a grand unifying framework - akin to the Standard Model in particle physics - that incorporates much of the progress in number theory as in the late 20th century, The Langlands program is not always completely precise in its predictions, however. To address that shortcoming, Kedlaya will be leading a research program to develop new computational infrastructure for making and testing precise predictions in the context of the Langlands program at ICERM in fall 2015. One guiding example will be the relationship between elliptic curves and modular forms which went into the proof of Fermat's Last Theorem in the 1990s, Kedlaya says.

Some of Kedlaya's earlier research was on the topic of counting solutions of certain polynomial equations, in a setting relevant to cryptographic systems based on elliptic curves. This project uses some of those ideas again, but for a new purpose, he says. "Some of the insight gained by interacting with computer scientists is thus being plowed back into pure mathematics!"


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Public Lectures

Randy Schekman

2013 Nobel Laureate in Physiology or Medicine and Professor at UC Berkeley

Lecture and reception
Wednesday, May 7, 4:00-6:00 pm
Skaggs School of Pharmacy

Sponsored by Agilent Technologies


James R. Arnold Lecture

The Search for ET: An Investment in Our Long Future - Jill Tarter

Director of SETI, Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence

Friday, May 9, 4:00-6:30 pm
Sanford Consortium for Regenerative Medicine
2880 Torrey Pines Scenic Drive
Contact: physcievents@ucsd.edu