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For a complete list of news items, see our News Archive below. 


Losing the Nobel Prize

And the Amazon Science Book of the Year Goes to …

Brian Keating’s “Losing the Nobel Prize: A Story of Cosmology, Ambition, and the Perils of Science's Highest Honor" was named one of Amazon's 2018 Best Science Books of the Year." The distinction puts him on the same list as noted writers like Stephen Pinker, Stephen Hawking and Carl Zimmer. Coincidentally, the fact that only two women in history—including UC San Diego’s Maria Goeppert Mayer (1963)—won the Nobel Prize in Physics changed this year when Donna Strickland became the third female physicist to win it.

Video of a mouse that cranes as it searches for a liquid food dispenser using sweeps of its whiskers through space. Data from the Martin Deschênes Laboratory (Laval University)

NIH Awards $15 million to Research Team led by Physics Professor

David Kleinfeld will lead a team of scientists to conduct research exploring how mammals sniff, nod, and move their faces and mouths—backwards. The five-year study is part of the NIH Brain Research through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies® (BRAIN) Initiative.

Members of the public experience UC San Diego's first portable planetarium hosted by Professor Shelley Wright and graduate students Maren Cosens and Lindsay Lowry. Photo by Erik Jepsen/UC San Diego

Astrophysicist Enlightens Campus, Community with Portable Planetarium

Astrophysicist Shelley Wright noticed an important gap in space—right on the grounds of campus. A proponent of teaching and training students through the observation of the night sky, Wright realized that it was time the university featured its own portable planetarium. Her vision materialized recently when she introduced UC San Diego’s first portable planetarium to 100 members of the public.

Cal-Bridge Professional Development Workshop

UC San Diego Hosts First Cal-Bridge Professional Development Workshop

UC San Diego is part of a consortium of UC and CSU campuses that received a five-year, $5 million grant from the National Science Foundation to dramatically increase diversity in physics and astronomy through the Cal-Bridge program. Adam Burgasser recently hosted the program’s first professional development workshop. Quinn Konopacky and Karin Sandstrom participate in the program as faculty mentors.

Vicki Grassian

Four UC San Diegans Named 2018 APS Fellows

The American Physical Society (APS) recently announced its 2018 fellowship class with a 77 percent increase in the number of women compared to last year’s class. This is the most women elected as fellows since tracking the number of females nominated and elected began in 2015. Professor Vicki Grassian was among this year’s class of fellows.

Alison Coil

High School Journalists ‘Space Out’ with UC San Diego Astrophysicist

Professor Alison Coil met with students from Etiwanda High School (Rancho Cucamonga, CA) to discuss issues around what’s being called the current space race. The student-produced video segment titled, “A New Race for Space,” is part of the PBS NewsHour’s Student Reporting Labs program.

George Feher

Physical Sciences to Honor Late Founding Faculty Member George Feher

UC San Diego’s Office of the Dean of Physical Sciences, the Department of Physics and the International Society of Photosynthesis Research is hosting a memorial symposium in honor of George Feher, one of UC San Diego’s founding faculty members, who died last fall at age 93. Called “George Feher: Commemorating a Life in Biophysics,” the symposium will take place in the Fred Kavli Auditorium in Tata Hall, Friday, Oct. 5, from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. The event is free/open to the public.

Left to right: Sergei Kalinin, 2018 Blavatnik National Laureate in Physical Sciences & Engineering; Len Blavatnik, founder and chairman of Access Industries and Blavatnik Family Foundation; Janelle Ayres, 2018 Blavatnik National Laureate in Life Sciences, and Devaraj.

Professor Honored as Chemistry Laureate

Chemistry & Biochemistry’s Neal Devaraj (pictured at far right) was recently celebrated as one of three 2018 Blavatnik National Laureates at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City. Devaraj was recognized as the national laureate in chemistry for his transformative work on the synthesis of artificial cells and membranes. Also pictured (left to right) is Sergei Kalinin, laureate in physical sciences & engineering (Oak Ridge Laboratory); Len Blavatnik, founder and chairman  of Access Industries and Blavatnik Family Foundation and Janelle Ayres, laureate in life sciences (Salk Institute for Biological Studies).

Schuller lab working on their research

Physicists ‘Condense’ Diversity, Outreach, Blue Jeans’ Dye in NSF Research

The National Science Foundation (NSF) awarded the UC San Diego Schuller Lab and The University of Texas at San Antonio over $500k to explore the electronic and magnetic behavior of one-dimensional (1D) metallic chains. The findings could lead to the development of new, smaller and faster electronic devices that can be used in computer memory, as well as to promising careers for future scientists.

Judy Kim

Physicists Train Robotic Gliders to Soar like Birds

Physics Professor Massimo Vergassola, PhD candidate Gautam Reddy and Salk Institute's Terry Sejnowski's findings provide a navigational strategy that is directly applicable to the development of autonomous soaring vehicles. Their research results of how birds find and navigate thermal plumes have been published in "Nature."

Chancellor Khosla and Mario Molina

Nobel Prize-winning Chemist Opines about California Climate Summit

Distinguished Professor of Chemistry and Biochemistry and Nobel laureate Mario Molina teams with fellow UC colleagues Veerabhadran Ramanathan and Durwood Zaelke to share their views on why Gov. Jerry Brown’s climate summit may be his last chance to alter the course leading to climate devastation. The professors refer to this course as the “disaster” trajectory since in their view that’s where the planet is headed, faster than most realize.

Kamil Godula

New National Training Program Aims to Mainstream Glycosciences

Kamil Godula, assistant professor in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, is part of a research consortium that received $20 million in funding from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) for a study of glycans. Mounting evidence suggests that glycans play important roles in human development, health and disease, and should be considered when designing and testing new therapeutics.

Schematic of the 2018 “Cosmic Bell” experiment

Physicists Race to Demystify Einstein’s ‘Spooky’ Science

CASS researcher Andrew Friedman and PhD candidate David Leon were part of an international team of scientists who experimented with light from distant galaxies. Results of their Cosmic Bell test with polarization-entangled photons pushed back to at least 7.8 billion years ago the possible alternatives to quantum theory.

UC San Diego Library

UC San Diego Climbs to No. 2 in the Nation for Quality Education at the Right Price

According to Money magazine, UC San Diego is one of the best schools for students to get a quality education at an affordable price. The magazine listed the campus in the No. 2 spot in its new 2018 Best Colleges for Your Money ranking. It is also a national leader in transforming lives of low-income students.

Two Grad Students’ Chance Meeting Leads to Research Breakthrough

The monthly magazine of the American Society of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (ASBMB) reached out to Chemistry’s Edward Dennis about Lyme Disease. The department chair shared a story with the writer about two graduate students who met at a conference and helped forge a collaboration between their professors. The resulting joint research helped solve a puzzle around treatment of the common vector-borne disease.

Image of fire. Courtesy of Mang Lin

Chemistry Research ‘Rocks’ New Data about Ancient Life

Chemical footprint in present-day atmosphere mimics that observed in ancient rock; opens up interpretations about early life’s oxygenation and evolution. The study was led by UC San Diego Professor Mark Thiemens, recent Ph.D. Graduate Mang Lin and Yanan Shen, a professor at the University of Science and Technology of China.

Scientists Introduce New Way to Mimic ‘Machine of Machines’

Assistant Professor of Physics Jeremie Palacci and postdoctoral scholar Antoine Aubret are working to mimic nature’s self-assembly using specially designed microscopic blocks. Their research could lead to revolutionizing science’s approach to synthesizing materials that could heal, contract or reconfigure.

Physical Sciences at Comic Con

Physical Sciences at Comic-Con

The Division of Physical Sciences was well represented at Comic Con this year, with a total of four panels. Among the panels was a discussion about the film "2001: A Space Odyssey," Professor Brian Keating talked popular science with the MythBusters and Professor Alison Coil spoke about shattering stereotypes with the producers of Marvel's "Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D."

voltage fade illustration

UC San Diego Researchers Charge Quest to End ‘Voltage Fade’

After a battery goes through a series of charge-discharge cycles, its voltage fades and the amount of energy it can hold, and release later for use, also fades. New research from a UC San Diego team including physics professor Oleg Shpyrko explains why this happens in Lithium-rich NMC cathode materials. The article was published in Nature Energy.

Judy Kim

Professor Judy Kim Named 2018 Fellow of the American Chemical Society

Kim focuses on biophysical chemistry and spectroscopy, researching membrane protein folding and amino acid radicals. She will be honored at the 2018 National Meeting of the American Chemical Society in Boston in August.

At the Clarke Center’s 2014 screening of “2001: A Space Odyssey,” actor Keir Dullea (left) and the film’s science advisor Fred Ordway III (right) discuss their roles in the film. Photo courtesy of the Clarke Center

UC San Diego Partners with Warner Bros. to Celebrate Iconic Film at Comic-Con

The Arthur C. Clarke Center for Human Imagination has partnered with Warner Bros. Home Entertainment to host a panel at this year's Comic-Con to discuss the film "2001: A Space Odyssey" and it's impact on shaping human innovation. The panelists will also draw attention to 70mm prints created from the film's original negatives, which will be release in October 2018.

Optical dilution refrigerator for low-temperature experiments at UC San Diego. Photo by Michelle Fredricks

Physicists Practice ‘Spin Control’ to Improve Information Processing

Using "excitons," electrically neutral quasiparticles that exist in insulators, a team of UC San Diego physicists are looking for faster ways for devices such as computers and cell phones to operate. Their latest study shows promise for our future devices and was recently published in Nature Communications.

Graphic (left) depicts å2018 Simons Investigator Kenneth Intriligator. Photo by Michelle Fredricksthe general process of applying TCL to a cell; images (right) exhibit generated ceramides applied to trigger cell death. Images courtesy of Neal Devaraj

UC San Diego Physicist Named a 2018 Simons Investigator

On July 10, the "New York Times" announced Professor of Physics, Kenneth Intrilligator, as one of 2018 Simons Investigators. The award is given to theoretical physicists who have made a transformative impact in their field and is appointed for a period of five years. Intrilligator's research program studies quantum field theory and tackles some of the biggest questions in science today.

Diagram of antifreeze protein used in the study as well as the process of the binding event to the ice surface observed through simulation. Image courtesy of Daniel Moberg and Francesco Paesani

Scientists Present New Cold Facts about Antifreeze Proteins

A team of UC San Diego Chemistry & Biochemistry scientists were able to model, for the first time, both infrared and Raman spectra of water at the interface with TmAFP through computer simulations. They applied the highly accurate water model (MB-pol) to their research in order to find out how antifreeze proteins attach to ice.

Graphic (left) depicts the general process of applying TCL to a cell; images (right) exhibit generated ceramides applied to trigger cell death. Images courtesy of Neal Devaraj

UC San Diego Chemists Develop New Strategy for ‘Hard-to-Study’ Lipids

Professor and Blavatnik National Laureate in Chemistry, Neal Devaraj, wrote a new article about his research on ceramides (waxy, oily lipids) that could possibly be helpful in cancer treatments. The only issue is that they cannot penetrate cell membranes on their own. However, using a chemical synthesis called "traceless ceramics ligation," they are able to deliver the ceramides to cells in order to study their effects.

Graphic depicting fusogenic pSi nanoparticle system. Image by B.J. (Byungji) Kim

Chemistry Professor Wins Blavatnik Award for Outstanding Young Scientists

Professor Neal Devaraj uses chemistry to solve questions in biology, while also developing new tools that uniquely perform tasks within living cells. For his inventive work that could reveal the secrets of life’s origins and improve disease detection and treatment, the Blavatnik Family Foundation and the New York Academy of Sciences have announced Devaraj as the 2018 Blavatnik National Laureate in Chemistry.

Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry’s Joel Yuen Zhou

Chemist Receives Significant Funding for Basic Energy Sciences’ Research

The Office of Science has selected 84 scientists from across the nation—including 55 from U.S. universities—to receive significant funding for research as part of the DOE’s Early Career Research Program. The Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry’s Joel Yuen Zhou was one of the new awardees who will receive $150,000 during each of the next five years for salary and expenses related to his work on emergent photophysics and photochemistry of molecular polaritons.

Daytime view depicting the conditions on Mt. Everest. Photo by Mang Lin

Scientists Go to Great Heights to Understand Changes in Earth’s Atmosphere

UC San Diego researchers Mark Thiemens and Mang Lin climb mountains such as Mt. Everest in hopes to better understand the impact of the human biogeochemical footprint on Earth. In their newly published findings in "PNAS," they provide details on the origin of sulfur isotopic changes and Earth's sulfur cycle.

A fanciful artistic rendition of plasmonic waves

‘Gold Standard’ Research Presents Promise for Plasmonic Devices

Through applying principles of condensed matter physics, Professor Michael Fogler and his team have determined the origins of plasmic dissipation. These results, published in "Nature," could lead to new generations of sensors, future high-speed devices and more.

Graphic depicting fusogenic pSi nanoparticle system. Image by B.J. (Byungji) Kim

Scientists Race to Outpace Lethal Bacterial Infections

Professor Michael Sailor from the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, along with colleagues from SBP and KAIST have successfully used a nanotherapeutic to deliver siRNA that targets cells in the immune system. The research, published in "Nature Communications," marks the first time siRNA has been one hundred percent effective against pneumonia in mice.

Ph.D. student Felipe Campos-vergara (left) reviews a stochastic model for chemical reactions with Williams. Image courtesy of UC San Diego Publications

Distinguished Math Professor’s Road to Success Takes her Full Circle

Australian native and UC San Diego Mathematics Professor, Ruth Williams, has been selected as a Corresponding Member of the Australian Academy of Science. Her work centers around analyzing traffic congestion and real-world systems running at near-maximum capacity.

Ph.D. candidates Erica Calman and Lewis Fowler-Gerace adjust the electronics and optics used for the experiment. Photo by Michelle Fredricks, UC San Diego Physical Sciences

Physicists’ Room-Temperature Research Leads to ‘Exciting’ Possibilities for Science

Excitons, bound states of electrons and electron holes attracted to each other by electrostatic force, currently exist in insulators and semiconductors. However, it wasn't until now that physics Professor Leonid Butov and his team established a way to bring them into the future of cell phones and laptops.

first in biomedical design with a two-dimensional protein crystal

Chemist Makes List of Finalists for 2018 Blavatnik National Awards

The Blavatnik Family Foundation announced the 31 U.S. National Finalists who will compete for the world’s largest unrestricted prizes for early career scientists—$250,000. This year Neal Devaraj from the Department of Chemistry was among the UC San Diego finalists. Three overall winners from three categories (Life Sciences, Chemistry, and Physical Sciences & Engineering) will be announced Sept. 24 at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City.

Astrophysicist Brian Keating Talks Google

Physics Professor Brian Keating was featured on Talks at Google recently, discussing his new book “Losing the Nobel Prize: A Story of Cosmology, Ambition, and the Perils of Science's Highest Honor.” Keating explains how his quest for the Nobel Prize in Physics was stymied when his experiment, which was thought to have discovered definitive proof of the Big Bang, ended up just being space dust. His account addresses his own journey of self-discovery and how the Nobel Prize process itself is broken, diverging from the original intent of its founder Alfred Nobel.

first in biomedical design with a two-dimensional protein crystal

Chemists Fashion New Biomaterial Design

UC San Diego Chemists Francesco Paesani, Akif Tezcan and colleagues have achieved a first in biomaterial design with a two-dimensional protein crystal that switches between varying states of porosity and density. Their research was published recently in Nature Chemistry, and it could lead to new materials for renewable energy, medicine, water purification and more.


Scientists, Middle School Students Share Research Space

With the potential of human space tourism becoming an everyday reality, scientists are contemplating biological and engineering challenges currently unfamiliar on Earth. So, recent research supported by University of California San Diego Divisions of Physical Sciences and Biological Sciences, and the National Science Foundation, paired present-day scientists with future scientists to try to learn more about life in space.  

Dean's Undergraduate Awardees

Dean Recognizes Undergraduate Excellence

Dean Steven Boggs recently recognized 30 graduating seniors with the Dean’s Undergraduate Award for Excellence. The celebration, which included an awards ceremony and reception, honored outstanding Division of Physical Science students, many who came from across the globe to study at UC San Diego. Their research experiences—ranging from studying AI in mathematics to mouthless aquatic predators—is sure to lead them to career success. Congratulations to all 2018 DPS graduates!

PBS NewsHour Student Reporting Labs with Alison Coil

Students from Etiwanda High School in Rancho Cucamonga traveled to campus to interview astrophysicist Alison Coil about the modern space industry.

The students are participants in the PBS NewsHour Student Reporting Labs: classrooms, after-school programs and clubs around the country producing original, inspiring news reports about national and global issues.

Vicki Grassian Named ‘Chemical Pioneer’

The American Institute of Chemists has selected Professor Vicki H. Grassian as a recipient of its 2018 Chemical Pioneer Award. Grassian was selected for her significant contributions to the area of heterogeneous atmospheric chemistry and the emerging area of the environmental and health effects of nanomaterials. She will receive the award at the Science History Institute in Philadelphia. Other Chemical Pioneer Award winners include UC San Diego Professor and Nobelist Harold Urey, who received the award in 1969.

Space Scientists See Clear Skies around ‘Hot’ and ‘Salty’ Planet

It seems fitting that an astrophysicist from the University of California San Diego, a location associated with sunny days, contributed to an important cosmic breakthrough around the discovery of an exoplanet’s unique cloud-free atmosphere.

Chemists ‘Crystallize’ New Approach to Materials Science

Researchers in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry mixed together unlikely materials to create a new hybrid form of crystalline matter that could change the practice of materials science. The findings, published online May 2 in Nature, present potential benefits to medicine and the pharmaceutical industry.

Scientists Sniff Out How the ‘Nose Knows’

The sense of smell, linked to emotion and memory in humans, is a vital way for many organisms to interact with their environments. This is why researchers at the University of California San Diego are tracking a new way to “normalize” the process of specifying odors in a smell-cluttered environment.

Physics Professor Named to Academy of Arts and Sciences

The American Academy of Arts and Sciences, one of the country’s most esteemed honorary societies and independent policy research centers, has elected three professors of UC San Diego as new members. The Department of Physics’ Ivan Schuller is one of them who will join the academy’s class of 2018.

Chemistry Alumnus Wins 40 Under 40 Award

UC San Diego recently announced the winners of its 40 Under 40 awards. The awards honor a group of rising stars across science, technology, medicine, arts, education and social justice. Among the recipients this year was Division of Physical Sciences’ alumnus Daniel Caspi (BS, chemistry, ’02) whose stellar grasp of organic chemistry helped develop a cure for Hepatitis C.

UC San Diego Physicist Flexes 'BICEP' to Introduce Controversial New Book

Astrophysicist Brian Keating will be reading and discussing his new book, "Losing the Nobel Prize: A Story of Cosmology, Ambition, and the Perils of Science’s Highest Honor” (W. W. Norton & Company; April 24, 2018), voted one of Amazon’s Best Books of the Month, at UC San Diego, April 25, 5:30 p.m., in Atkinson Hall Auditorium. The program is co-hosted by the Arthur C. Clarke Center for Human Imagination and the UC San Diego Library.</p

UC San Diego Chemist Stirs Hope for a New Flu Treatment

Each year people all over the world die from the flu. To protect against influenza epidemics and their potentially mortal results, medical professionals encourage vaccination. While generally effective for healthy individuals, vaccinations are less effective for the elderly, the immunocompromised and other high-risk groups. For the healthy, getting a shot doesn’t necessarily mean that you won’t get the flu since current vaccinations are not full-proof. But, thanks to the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry’s Seth Cohen, now there’s hope. 

UC San Diego's 'ZeroGDoc' Recalls Flight with Stephen Hawking

It was the flight of a lifetime for the University of California San Diego’s Erik Viirre, who embarked upon a zero gravity journey with none other than the late Stephen Hawking. 


Distinguished Professor Mario Molina Receives Haagen-Smit Clean Air Award

The 1995 Nobel Laureate in Chemistry is the third consecutive professor from UC San Diego to receive what is considered the “Nobel Prize” in air quality and climate change achievements. The award recognizes outstanding contributions to improving air quality.


Mathematics Professor Contributes to High Profile Study about Mothers who Drink While Pregnant

Lily Ronghui, Department of Mathematics and professor of family and preventive medicine, was the statistician on a high profile study published recently in the journal JAMA.


Astrophysicist Encourages Elon Musk to Boost Inclusion of Women, Minorities at Tesla

Alison Coil, associate dean of EDI, couldn't help but notice that somethign was lacking in the video footage of employees cheering during the SpaceX Falcon Heavy launch—diversity. Numerous studies show that it leads to stronger companies, higher revenues and more efficiency. Coil asks: If Elon Musk can launch a rocket into space, why not boost Tesla’s staff roster with diversity?


Three UC San Diego Physicists Earn Sloan Research Fellowships

The Alfred B. Sloan Foundation, known for its support of original STEM research and those who use it to improve the world, named three faculty members from physics and one from bioengineering as 2018 Sloan Research Fellows.


UC San Diego Chemists use Light to Pinpoint Gene Expression

Armed with skill, special tools and light, Associate Professor Neal Debaraj and a group of his chemistry graduate students activated cellular gene expression with unique precision.


Adam Burgasser Contributes to New Findings about Densities of Trappist-1 Planets

Findings from a new study suggest that some planets could hold up to five percent of their mass in water--equating to about 250 times more than the Earth's oceans.


UC San Diego Mathematician's Contributions Add Up to Fellowship in New Program Honoring Women

The Association for Women in Mathematics (AWM) has launched a new fellows program, and Department of Mathematics’ Linda Rothschild is among the first class of members. Rothschild, emerita faculty who specializes in differential equations and complex variables, was honored along with 31 other new AWM fellows, including UC San Diego School of Medicine’s Jill Mesirov. Each fellow was selected for her or his long and lasting commitment to supporting women and their advancement in the field of mathematical sciences.


Physical Sciences Adds EDI Leadership Role to Division

University of California San Diego Dean Steven Boggs has appointed Professor Alison Coil to the newly created position of Associate Dean for Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) in the Division of Physical Sciences.