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News from the Physical Sciences


glow marks placement of epigenetic marksComputational strategy helps to map human epigenome

Novel computational methods developed by Wei Wang, a professor of chemistry and biochemistry, and his research group contributed to the success of a large-scale project to map chemical tags of genetic material.

These marks, collectively the epigenome, influence which genes are active in particular types of cells.

Read more.

Faculty and staff recognized for efforts to promote diversity

Five members of the division of physical sciences will receive awards for their work to support UC San Diego's commitment to diversity in a ceremony to be held February 24. Recipients include Brian Keating, associate professor of physics; Jane Teranes, associate director of the Environmental Systems and Marine Sciences programs; Michael Norman, professor of physics and director of the San Diego Supercomputer Center; Tamika Franklin, director of alumni relations for physical sciences; and Robert Pomeroy, lecturer in chemistry and biochemistry.

calibration satellitePrize for proposal to test fundamental physics

Two UC San Diego astrophysicists together with a colleague at Columbia University have been awarded a 2014 Buchalter Cosmology Prize for a paper proposing a way to significantly enhance cosmological measurements in a way that should enable sensitive tests of ideas fundamental to our understanding of physical laws. The paper by postdoctoral scholar Jonathan Kaufman, physics professor Brian Keating, and Bradley Johnson, professor of physics at Columbia, was posted to the online repository arXiv in September 2014.

The newly established prize “seeks to motivate and recognize innovative theoretical, observational, or experimental work in cosmology that has the potential to produce a breakthrough advance in our thinking.” Winners were announced at the winter meeting of the American Astronomical Society in Seattle. More.

A time series of a single E. coli cell from birth to division.What causes cells to divide

When a rapidly-growing cell divides into two smaller cells, what triggers the split? Is it the size the growing cell eventually reaches? Or is the real trigger the time period over which the cell keeps growing ever larger?

A novel study published online today in the journal Current Biology has finally provided an answer to this long unsolved conundrum. And it’s not what many biologists expected. More.

Tales from a Martian rock

Robina Shaheen looks for the origin of the Mars rock she analyzed

A new analysis of a Martian rock that meteorite hunters plucked from an Antarctic ice field 30 years ago this month reveals a record of the planet's climate billions of years ago, back when water likely washed across its surface and any life that ever formed there might have emerged.

"Minerals within the meteorite hold a snapshot of the planet's ancient chemistry, of interactions between water and atmosphere," said Robina Shaheen, a project scientist at UC San Diego and the lead author of the report. More.


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Kim McDonald
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(858) 534-7572

Susan Brown
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Research Highlight

Detecting microRNA

Chemistry professor Neal Devaraj's group has developed a more effective way to detect minute amounts of microRNAs. Because some microRNAs have been implicated in cancers, doctors would like sensitive and seletive tests to recognize them, but low levels of the tiny molecules have made this goal challenging. Devaraj's group reports a novel amplification technique to detect oncogenic microRNA in live cells and fluid samples that requires little sample preparation, a method they think will prove useful for diagnosis within medical clinics.microRNA