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From sub-atomic to astronomical scales, we are working on the frontiers of science. A tradition of bridging boundaries has allowed us to probe fundamental questions at the intersections of 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.

Recent News


Here from the start

George FeherGeorge Feher, professor emeritus of physics, uncovered the basic mechanisms for how bacteria use photosynthesis to convert light into chemical energy.

Feher was a founding member of the physics department.

He shares memories with the campus newsletter on how UC San Diego began 54 years ago.


Space dust

Karin SandstromKarin Sandstrom, assistant professor of physics, studies the interstellar medium - the dust and gas in galaxies and between stars, and especially how ultraviolet light interacts with soot-like polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons.

That, she says, is key to everything - how stars (and planets) form, how galaxies evolve, and perhaps how life emerged. Watch video.


Molecular Avalanche

Oleg ShpyrkoPalladium, unlike any other element, takes up hydrogen at room temperature and pressure.

Oleg Shpyrko's group and colleagues have determined how uptake of hydrogen changes the atomic structure of the palladium through an 'avalanche' of strain and identified key properties of how this form of hydrogen storage could work in the future. They report their work in Nature Communications.


Star role models

Shelley Wright, Quinn Konopacky and Karin SandstromShelley Wright, Quinn Konopacky and Karin Sandstrom, astrophysicists recently hired as assistant professors of physics in the Division of Physical Sciences and the Center for Astrophysics and Space Sciences, are giving humanity a view of the universe as it’s never been seen before.

They’ve joined four other female physics professors—Alison Coil, Eva-Maria Collins, Olga Dudko and Elizabeth Jenkins—as important mentors and role models. Read more.

Rising stars

Emily PayneAt a time when women remain underrepresented in the sciences and a student can still complete a physics degree without taking a class in her major led by a female professor, UC San Diego welcomed nearly 200 students to a conference for undergraduate women in physics.

"We wanted to provide an opportunity to make connections," said Emily Payne, a fourth-year physics major who led the local organizing committee. "What I mean by that is not so much networking to find jobs, but to create a community." Read more.


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Faculty Award

Francesco PaesaniFrancesco Paesani, associate professor of chemistry and biochemistry, will receive the 2016 Early-Career Award in Theoretical Chemistry from the American Chemical Society at the national meeting in August. Paesani models chemical processes at complex interfaces, especially processes important to the environment, through the development and application of new theoretical and computational approaches. Learn more about the Paesani Group's research.


More faculty awards