Researcher in UCLA Lab

UCLA’s impact on California economy is $11.06 billion

Researcher in UCLA Lab

Among UCLA’s contributions to the state are research and technologies that have been the basis for numerous startup companies.


UCLA is an economic powerhouse for Los Angeles, Southern California and California overall. A study by the Beacon Economics consultancy found that UCLA generated a total of $11.06 billion in economic activity and supported more than 72,700 full-time jobs throughout the state during the 2016–17 fiscal year.

The report also found that UCLA is the fourth largest employer in Los Angeles County, behind the county itself, the Los Angeles Unified School District and the City of Los Angeles, and ahead such companies as Kaiser Permanente, Northrop Grumman and Target Corp.

“UCLA’s contributions to our state’s economic vitality are significant and widespread, from discovering life-changing technologies to employing tens of thousands of Californians,” said UCLA Chancellor Gene Block. “Measuring this economic impact allows us to demonstrate how every dollar invested in UCLA pays substantial dividends back to people throughout our state.”

The UCLA Economic Impact Report also demonstrates that UCLA’s spending activity has a total impact far beyond that of its direct spending. For example, technology companies that license UCLA-developed technology and research are often valued in the hundreds of millions or even billions of dollars.

“UCLA is a source of pride for Angelenos everywhere,” said Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti. “The university’s impact can be felt all around us — in the workers it employs, the jobs it creates across our city and state, the startups it develops on campus, and the discoveries made in its labs and classrooms. Our economy and our communities benefit from UCLA’s presence and performance every day.”

Among the study’s highlights:

  • During the 2016–17 fiscal year, UCLA had a total impact of $11.06 billion on the California economy.
  • UCLA’s spending activity supported more than 72,700 full-time jobs throughout the state.
  • More than $4.15 billion in labor income (earnings) was generated by UCLA through direct, indirect and induced spending activity.
  • UCLA generated $5.86 billion in direct spending throughout California, including $2.61 billion in the City of Los Angeles alone.
  • UCLA helped generate $706.1 million in tax revenue throughout California through direct spending and secondary spending impacts.
  • UCLA had an economic impact of $2.42 billion in indirect (business-to-business) spending, including $2.31 billion in Southern California and $765.1 million in the City of Los Angeles.
  • UCLA had an economic impact of $2.79 billion in induced (household) spending, including $2.52 billion in Southern California and $718.9 million in the City of Los Angeles.
  • UCLA Health Sciences alone had a total impact of $6.49 billion on the California economy, including $6.13 billion in Southern California and $2.39 billion in the City of Los Angeles.
  • During the 2016–17 fiscal year, 24 startups launched using UCLA-developed technology.
  • For the same period, 251 U.S. patents were issued to UCLA.

With more than 45,000 students and 43,000 employees, UCLA is renowned around the world for the quality of its students and faculty, and its dedication to its mission of research, teaching and service. UCLA is consistently ranked each year as one of the best universities in the United States, including as the No. 1 public university in the nation by U.S. News & World Report and as No.1 among best-value universities by Forbes.

10 Questions Graphic

UCLA Arts launches ‘10 Questions’ event series that invites the public into the classroom

10 Questions Graphic

Clockwise from top right: UCLA’s Kristy Edmunds, Darnell Hunt, Tracy Johnson, Brett Steele, Ananya Roy and Peter Sellars are among the 40 scholars who will participate.


Giving community members a special opportunity to experience the conversations that drive innovation at the university, this fall the UCLA School of the Arts and Architecture will present “10 Questions,” a hybrid academic course and public event series that brings together leading minds from across the university.

Beginning Oct. 2, every Tuesday for 10 weeks UCLA faculty members from disciplines as diverse as dance, medicine, photography, astrophysics, athletics, Chicana and Chicano studies, law, philosophy and religious studies will join UCLA Arts Dean Brett Steele to explore a fundamental question such as: What is space? What is failure? What is freedom?

A new platform for UCLA Arts, this initiative seeks to stimulate dialogue and exchange, and cultivate a greater understanding of the profoundly interdisciplinary nature of knowledge production in the 21st century.

Faculty participants include fine art photographer Catherine Opie; sociologist and co-author of the Hollywood Diversity Report Darnell Hunt, who serves as dean of the division of social sciences in the UCLA College; astronomer and MacArthur fellow Andrea Ghez; labor and immigration expert Abel Valenzuela; artist, curator and Executive and Artistic Director of CAP UCLA, Kristy Edmunds; neuroscientist and dean of the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, Dr. Kelsey Martin; theater director and MacArthur fellow Peter Sellars; artist Andrea Fraser; psychological anthropologist and dean of the UCLA Graduate School of Education and Information Studies, Marcelo Suárez-Orozco; architect Greg Lynn; UCLA gymnastics head coach Valorie Kondos Field; director of the Institute on Inequality and Democracy at the UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs, Ananya Roy; and Shakespeare scholar and poet Robert Watson.

“L.A. is the creative capital of the world — and California its fifth largest economy: a vibrant, productive center for the arts, architecture and culture; scientific, technological and economic innovation; urban design; social and political action; environmental conservation; and more,” Steele said. “UCLA is the place where the leading minds in all of these areas come together to experiment, forge new ideas, push the boundaries and invent the future. I find that the most innovative ideas begin with truly fundamental questions. Too often, we get stuck in our own particular concerns or disciplines. ‘10 Questions’ is an opportunity for us, as a university, to re-engage and re-imagine big questions and possible answers through conversations across diverse, multidisciplinary perspectives. What better time than now to pose these questions? What better group than the brilliant minds from across UCLA to tackle them?”

“10 Questions” debuts an innovative program format for UCLA Arts. Both an upper-level undergraduate course and a public event series, it is the first course of its kind at the school that invites the public into the lecture hall to experience firsthand exciting, interdisciplinary conversation among some of UCLA’s most esteemed faculty. Each Tuesday evening from Oct. 2 through Dec. 4, the public will join UCLA students in class for an intimate panel discussion featuring two faculty from the School of the Arts and Architecture, and two from across the university.

To further the program’s goal of helping bring the creativity and research energy of UCLA to the public, all of the lectures will be recorded for public distribution and made available on YouTube.

The course, conceived and developed by Victoria Marks, associate dean of academic affairs, with Anne Marie Burke, executive director of communications and public relations for the school, places the arts at the center of interdisciplinary scholarly discourse.

“The arts have a unique and profound ability to communicate, bring people together, and, ultimately, to transform society,” Marks said. “Now more than ever, we are facing fundamental questions and challenges, and now more than ever we need an energetic exchange of ideas to seed innovation and progress. ‘10 Questions’ puts the arts at the center of this exchange — as they should be. We designed this program to build vital cross-university conversation as we work toward understanding the unique perspectives each discipline brings to the larger equation of knowledge. It is my hope that these dialogues will better prepare us as a learning community — and as a society — for a richer and more substantial appreciation of what our different fields bring to the question of human understanding.”


  • Tuesdays, Oct. 2 through Dec. 4 from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m.
  • UCLA campus, Glorya Kaufman Hall theater (room 200)
  • Free and open to the public (RSVP Required)
  • Pay by space parking available on campus adjacent to Kaufman Hall (Structure 4)

Oct. 2: What is space?
Dana Cuff, urbanist and architectural theorist; Andrea Ghez, astronomer; Rodrigo Valenzuela, artist; Paul Weiss, nanoscientist

Oct. 9: What is time?
Rebeca Méndez, designer and media artist; James Newton, composer, flutist, conductor; Asma Sayeed, scholar of Islamic studies; Scott Waugh, UCLA executive vice chancellor and provost

Oct. 16: What is beauty?
J.Ed Araiza, writer, director, performer; Paul Barber, evolutionary and conservation geneticist; Marla Berns, scholar and curator of African Arts and Shirley and Ralph Shapiro Director of the Fowler Museum at UCLA; Kathleen McHugh, feminist media theorist and critic

Oct. 23: What is freedom?
Andrea Fraser, artist; Lauren McCarthy, media artist; Ananya Roy, social justice scholar; Seana Shiffrin, moral and political philosophy expert

Oct. 30: What is memory?
Darnell Hunt, sociologist; Kelsey Martin, neuroscientist; Polly Nooter Roberts, scholar and curator of African arts; Peter Sellars, theater director

Nov. 6: What is a body?
Susan Foster, choreographer and scholar; Jennifer Jay, environmental engineer; Tracy Johnson, molecular, cellular and developmental biologist; Greg Lynn, architect

Nov. 13: What is failure?
David Gere, arts activist; Valorie Kondos Field, head coach, UCLA gymnastics; Lorrie Frasure-Yokley, scholar of racial and ethnic politics; Janet O’Shea, author and martial artist

Nov. 20: What is work?
Willem Henri Lucas, designer; Catherine Opie, artist; Alfred Osborne, global economy and entrepreneurship expert; Abel Valenzuela, labor and immigration expert

Nov. 27: What is knowledge?
Kristy Edmunds, artist, curator, and executive and artistic director of CAP UCLA; Victoria Marks, choreographer; Todd Presner, digital humanist and cultural critic; Marcelo Suárez-Orozco, psychological anthropologist

Dec. 4: What is a university?
Bryonn Bain, performing artist and scholar; Jerry Kang, legal scholar and UCLA vice chancellor for equity, diversity and inclusion; David Schaberg, scholar of comparative literature; Robert Watson, Shakespeare scholar and poet

For more information, please visit

Researchers in a UCLA chemistry lab

UCLA ranked No. 1 public university by U.S. News & World Report

Researchers in a UCLA chemistry lab

Researchers like chemistry professor Miguel García-Garibay are just a part of why UCLA excels in rankings.


UCLA tops the list of U.S. public universities in the 2019 U.S. News & World Report “Best Colleges” rankings, which are published today.

“It is wonderful to see UCLA recognized for our many academic achievements and the impact of our research,” UCLA Chancellor Gene Block said. “As a world-class university dedicated to the public good, we can also take great pride in being acknowledged for the access, opportunity and economic mobility UCLA provides to students from all backgrounds throughout California and the world.”

Five other University of California campuses were among the top 12 public universities in the overall rankings: Berkeley (No. 2), Santa Barbara (5), Irvine (7), UC Davis (11) and San Diego (12).

In the overall rankings UCLA was tied for 19th with Washington University in St. Louis.

The top 18 institutions on the list are private universities, led by Princeton and Harvard, with Columbia, MIT, the University of Chicago and Yale tied for third. The publication’s methodology includes factors that tend to favor private universities, such as endowment size, rate of alumni giving and student–faculty ratio.

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.

In addition:

  • UCLA tied for No. 3 among public universities (tied for No. 23 overall) among “high school counselors’ top college picks,” which is calculated based on guidance counselors’ assessment of the quality of undergraduate academic programs.
  • UCLA tied for No. 8 among U.S. public universities (tied for No. 13 overall) for ethnic diversity.
  • UCLA tied for No. 10 among public universities’ engineering schools that offer doctorates (tied for No. 18 among public and private institutions).

UCLA consistently performs well in a broad range of national and international rankings.

Most recently, UCLA was ranked No. 1 among U.S. public universities in the Times Higher Education/Wall Street Journal rankings of U.S. universities. In August, UCLA was ranked No. 2 among American public universities and No. 11 worldwide among public and private universities in the Academic Ranking of World Universities. In April, UCLA was ranked as the No. 1 best-value public university by the Princeton Review.

The launch of the UCLA-student-built ELFIN satellites

We have liftoff of student-built satellites

The launch of the UCLA-student-built ELFIN satellites

The launch of the UCLA-student-built ELFIN satellites aboard a Delta II rocket from Vandenberg Air Force Base at 6:02 a.m. on Saturday, Sept. 15.


For the dozens of UCLA students, faculty, staff and alumni braving the chilly temperatures near Vandenberg Air Force Base on Saturday morning, the brilliant ray of white that radiated across the predawn horizon was the best goodbye ever.

At 6:02 a.m. a Delta II rocket lifted off from the base in Lompoc, California, carrying ELFIN — twin micro-satellites, each weighing about eight pounds and roughly the size of a loaf of bread — into orbit aboard NASA’s ICESat-2 mission.

Saturday’s launch was the culmination of years of planning, dreaming, fabricating, designing, assembling, testing and programming, virtually all of it done by more than 250 UCLA students, most of whom were undergraduates.

“It’s really been a very emotional moment for a lot of students here,” said Ethan Tsai, UCLA graduate student in electrical engineering and ELFIN’s project manager. Tsai, more than two dozen other current students, alumni and faculty, including Vassilis Angelopoulos, professor of space physics and ELFIN’s principal investigator, watched from the VIP area.

“There’s half of my brain that’s trying to stick with the professional mode … and then part of me is just like I can’t believe this thing is launching and I can’t believe this thing is in space,” Tsai said. “I don’t know that it’s sunk in yet. But it’s really emotional for me.”

Luis Frausto, 34, a 2010 UCLA mechanical engineering graduate, who worked on early prototypes of ELFIN, said he was in “total awe” watching the launch from a public viewing site near Vandenberg Middle School.

Frausto, now a design engineer at TAE Technologies, Inc., was one of more than 200 (a record for the Vandenberg public viewing site, according to a base spokesman) who braved the chilly temperatures, including about 40 UCLA ELFINers and a few of their friends, who counted down to zero as the launch went off, sending the crowd into cheers and applause.

“You can’t compare it to watching it on TV. It was like a feeling inside my chest, like I was out of breath,” said Frausto, who left his home in Irvine at 12:30 a.m. to drive the 200 miles northwest to Lompoc. “I’m here and I’m honored to be around everyone who worked on ELFIN.”

ELFIN, which stands for Electron Losses and Fields Investigation CubeSats, is designed to help scientists better understand magnetic storms in near-Earth space. These storms are a typical form of “space weather” that is induced by solar activity, including flares and violent solar eruptions. Magnetic storms can result in damage or even destruction of orbiting satellites that humans depend on for GPS, communications and weather monitoring. Space weather research is also crucial for space tourism and space exploration.

Another former ELFINer who came out was Mike Lawson, who works at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena on the Mars 2020 mission. Lawson slept only two hours on a couch at UCLA before he left Westwood at midnight for what he described as an “emotional” drive on U.S. 101 that included listening to David Bowie’s “Starman.”

“It’s weird. It’s surreal. It was 10 years gone in like 20 seconds,” said Lawson, who earned his bachelor’s degree and Ph.D. in geology from UCLA. The 37-year-old was one of the original ELFINers 10 years ago who worked on prototypes for what would become the satellites that launched this morning. Work began five years ago on the actual satellites that went into orbit, aboard NASA’s final Delta II rocket mission.

Jessica Artinger, an astrophysics major who will begin her fifth year at UCLA this fall, left at 1 a.m. from Fountain Valley in Orange County to make the trip. Since fall quarter 2017, Artinger has led the fabrication team.

“Watching this,” said Artinger, who prior to the launch had expected to cry but despite the dry eyes was nevertheless moved, “my time here means something.”

Louise Tamondong, who is part of ELFIN’s flight operations team, said she got chills watching the launch, which was easily visible for just a few seconds before the rocket was shrouded in thick clouds. About 10 seconds after the sky lit up, the crowd finally heard the roar of the rocket’s engines.

“It felt so unreal that everything that we worked for is going into space … it only felt real when we saw that bright light and everything going up,” said Tamondong. After liftoff, she headed back to Westwood to listen for the first signal from the orbiting ELFIN through an antenna on the roof of UCLA’s Knudsen Hall. They received a signal around 4:30 p.m., confirming that both probes survived the bumpy ride to orbit. The team will now begin commissioning the spacecraft systems and instruments to prepare for the science operations phase.

As a new Bruin, Sixue Xu wasn’t part of the team that designed, tested and built ELFIN. But the graduate student in space physics will be among those who stand to benefit from ELFIN’s work.

“Now it’s our turn,” Xu said, “to make that data into science.”

Participants of the 2018 Collaborative Multiracial Post-Election Survey meeting

UCLA political science team leading the way in the study of race and ethnicity politics

Participants of the 2018 Collaborative Multiracial Post-Election Survey meeting

The 2018 Collaborative Multiracial Post-Election Survey meeting held at UCLA brought together more than 100 scholars from universities and colleges across the country.

How do race and ethnicity affect the U.S electorate and the nation’s political system? What effect did Bernie Sanders’ appeal to millennial voters have on Hillary Clinton’s candidacy? How do emotions make an impact on political ambition?

For researchers interested in trying to use data to answer questions like that, UCLA was the place to be this summer, as the second annual gathering of scholars who are participating in the multi-university Collaborative Multiracial Post-Election Survey, known as the CMPS, convened here in Westwood.

In early 2016, UCLA political science professors Lorrie Frasure-Yokley and Matt Barreto, along with co-principal investigators Janelle Wong from the University of Maryland and Edward Vargas from Arizona State University, launched the online survey, which is the first of its kind in the study of race, ethnicity and politics in the United States.

In early August, UCLA hosted its second annual gathering of more than 100 scholars to collaborate on work-in-progress studies using CMPS data including such topics as “Was Hillary Clinton ‘Berned’ By Millennials? Age, Race, and Third-Party Vote Choice in the 2016 Presidential Election” and “Riled Up about Running for Office: Examining the Impact of Emotions on Political Ambition,” both led by UCLA alumnus Jonathan Collins, now at Brown University.

“It’s great to see the diversity of ways the survey findings are explored by scholars of racial and ethnic politics across the country,” Frasure-Yokley said.

The impetus behind the self-funded nationwide research effort was also, in part, about academic inclusion, she said. The project was developed through a collaboration of more than 80 scholars from 55 universities and colleges and 17 academic disciplines and conducted in five languages.

“The 2016 CMPS is more than just a groundbreaking, high-quality, national dataset,” Frasure-Yokley said. “We are changing the way data is collected in the social sciences and collaboratively building a diverse and inclusive academic pipeline of scholars in political science and the social sciences more broadly.”

Collaborating scholars and UCLA workshop attendees included junior and senior faculty, graduate and undergraduate students, as well as postdoctoral fellows from large research institutions, smaller liberal arts colleges, historically black colleges and universities and Hispanic-serving institutions.

This event was an important incubator for feedback on more than a dozen current projects, Frasure-Yokley said, and served as an opportunity to brainstorm on efforts to update and improve the survey before it is launched again following the 2020 presidential election.

The CMPS was designed to house large and generalizable samples of racial and ethnic groups, which allow for within-group comparison and analysis of an individual racial group, or comparative analysis across groups.

series of articles has already been published using CMPS data, including a study of the Asian American vote in the 2016 election, published in the Journal of Race, Ethnicity, and Politics, and another about immigration politics in 2016, published in PS: Political Science & Politics.

The goal is to expand the 2020 survey in several ways, Frasure-Yokley said. The team plans to increase the sample size from 10,000 to 20,000 cases including, but not limited to the following groups: Latinos, African Americans, Asian Americans, whites, Muslim Americans, black Caribbean immigrants and/or black African immigrants, Native Americans and native Hawaiians. They are also planning to poll an ongoing panel of respondents about a subset of issues important to the study of race, ethnicity and politics in the United States.

Earlier this summer, Frasure-Yokley and Tyson King-Meadows, professor at the University of Maryland-Baltimore County, organized a working group to study black politics. The two-day writing retreat held in Washington, D.C. brought together an intergenerational group of 22 scholars, working in research teams of three or four people, who will write and publish together using data from the CMPS.

Rachelle Crosbie-Watson in her lab at UCLA.

Curing a deadly childhood disease, sharing her love of science, and a sleek ’68 Corvette drive this biochemist

Rachelle Crosbie-Watson in her lab at UCLA.

Rachelle Crosbie-Watson in her lab at UCLA.


Spend a brief amount of time with biochemist Rachelle Crosbie-Watson and you’ll quickly realize that “drive” is one of her favorite words.

With equal enthusiasm, she’ll describe studying “the small molecules that drive life,” and her 1968 convertible Corvette being “a blast to drive.”

The symmetry is hard to miss: Crosbie-Watson drives a classic muscle car to UCLA, where she studies the biochemical reactions that drive muscle cell functions. Her lab is hotly pursuing new drugs that one day may halt the progression of a deadly childhood muscle-wasting disease, allowing kids with the disorder to lead normal lives.

The popular digital network, Mashable, recently profiled Crosbie-Watson for its “How She Works” series, which shadows a day in the life of women professionals working in fields related to science, technology, engineering and math, or STEM.

With her fiery pink hair, charismatic personality and affinity for high-speed cars, Crosbie-Watson doesn’t resemble most people’s vision of a biochemist. But her talent for crafting fresh approaches to solving thorny scientific puzzles is exactly what makes her such an ingenious scientist.

“What I love most about my job is the opportunity to be creative,” Crosbie-Watson said. “To solve the biggest problems in the world, we need individuals with different viewpoints to chime in. Working with people who are learning science for the first time — coupled with the thrill of discovery — makes for a really exciting recipe.”

Crosbie-Watson wears a lot of hats. Starting July 1, she will chair the integrative biology and physiology department in the UCLA College. She is also a professor of neurology in the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, and the education liaison for the Center for Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy at UCLA.

In a sunny space in the Terasaki Life Sciences Building, Crosbie-Watson oversees a window-lined laboratory staffed by young researchers. Reflecting her appeal as a mentor and role model, 14 of the 17 are female.

Her team is intent on finding a cure for Duchenne muscular dystrophy, a deadly genetic disease that slowly weakens every muscle of the body. Striking 1 in 5,000 boys, the disorder typically reveals itself in frequent falls near age 4, reliance on a wheelchair by age 12, and teenage loss of the ability to move the upper arms. Young men with Duchenne frequently die in their 20s, when their heart and lung muscles stop pumping, leading to organ failure.

“Duchenne is a horrible disease that steals young boys’ childhoods and takes young men in the primes of their lives,” Crosbie-Watson said.

The disorder is caused by a genetic error that blocks the production of dystrophin, a protein that normally protects the membrane around muscle cells as they contract and relax. Left susceptible to damage from daily wear and tear, the unprotected cells eventually begin leaking their contents into the surrounding tissue, progressively weakening the muscle until it stops working.

Her lab’s earlier studies in mice gave Crosbie-Watson an insight into how to halt that process.

“We found that boosting levels of a molecule called sarcospan restored the membrane’s ability to protect muscle cells,” she said. “Sarcospan strengthens the muscle’s capacity to withstand the forces of daily use, diminishing the harm caused by Duchenne.”

Led by graduate student Cynthia Shu, the lab began scanning thousands of potential drugs to identify ones able to elevate cellular levels of sarcospan. Three years and 200,000 candidates later, the team has identified a handful of promising contenders for preclinical testing.

Crosbie-Watson applies the same imaginative approach she follows in research to her teaching. To educate the next generation of scientists about Duchenne, she created a virtual-learning course that invites Duchenne patients to describe what it’s like to live with the condition.

Open to undergraduate students enrolled at any University of California campus, the online course vividly illustrates the human toll and financial cost of the disease on patients and their families. Crosbie-Watson is currently developing a graduate program that explores muscle cell biology with an emphasis on translational research.

In recognition of her contributions to campus-wide education, Crosbie-Watson earned the 2013 UCLA Chancellor’s Distinguished Teaching Award. This year she received the UCLA Life Sciences Faculty Excellence Award for education innovation.

“Getting other people excited about science energizes me,” Crosbie-Watson said. “I love teaching young researchers how to put things in context and keep their eyes on the big prize.

“Science is something you can do for a really long time,” she added. “Asking the next question never ends, it drives you forward. The chase is the motivation; that’s what makes research so addictive.”