UCLA Law | December 16, 2022
Professor emeritus Herbert Morris, a globally renowned scholar and teacher of law and philosophy and a foundational member of UCLA School of Law’s faculty, died on Dec. 14. He was 94.
An instrumental leader at UCLA for seven decades, Morris earned his bachelor’s degree at UCLA, law degree from Yale Law School and doctorate in philosophy from Oxford University. He joined the faculty of UCLA’s philosophy department in 1956 and the law school in 1962.
During his uncommonly distinguished career, Morris served as dean of humanities of in the UCLA College from 1983 to 1992 and interim provost of the college from 1992 to 1993. He also chaired the board of the University of California Humanities Research Institute from 1988 to 1990, among many prominent leadership roles in academia.
“Herbert Morris was a seminal figure in the tradition of research and teaching in law and philosophy at UCLA, a tradition that he participated in for seven decades and that flourishes today,” says Mark Greenberg, who holds the Michael H. Schill Endowed Chair in Law at the law school and is a professor of philosophy who directs UCLA’s Law and Philosophy Program. “Thanks to his sharp and probing mind and warm and charismatic personality, he will have a lasting influence on his many students and colleagues.”
Morris was widely recognized for his prolific and wide-ranging scholarship on moral and legal philosophy. His book “On Guilt and Innocence: Essays in Legal Philosophy and Moral Psychology” (University of California Press, 1976) is a landmark in the field. He also authored several works of literary criticism: “The Masked Citadel: The Significance of the Title of Stendhal’s La Chartreuse de Parme” (University of California Press, 1961), “What Emma Knew: The Outrage Suffered in Jorge Luis Borges’s Emma Zunz” (Indiana Journal of Hispanic Literatures, 1997) and “Disclosures: Essays on Art, Literature, and Philosophy” (2017). Additionally, he served as editor of “On Guilt and Shame” (Wadsworth Publishing Company, 1971) and “Freedom and Responsibility: Readings in Philosophy and Law” (Stanford University Press, 1961).
The biennial Herbert Morris Lecture in Law and Philosophy – one of the law school’s most important public academic lectures – was established in his honor in 2009. The event, which hosts leading scholars from around the world, has featured presentations by preeminent philosophers including Ronald Dworkin and Martha Nussbaum.
Long after his 1994 retirement, Morris – who also trained and practiced as a psychoanalyst – continued his work on deep philosophical topics. He published “On the Soul” in the journal Philosophy in 2019, and began publishing art criticism, with a focus on the French Baroque painter Nicolas Poussin. Until quite recently, he continued to conduct research and teach at UCLA, producing new scholarship in philosophy, art and literature, and teaching the popular undergraduate class Law, Philosophy and Literature.
In 2020, Morris became the first law professor ever to receive the prestigious Constantine Panunzio Distinguished Emeriti Award, an honor that goes to retired professors from the entire University of California system, in celebration of their longstanding influence and leadership in their fields.
Narang is the first appointed in the field of quantum science and technology
UCLA quantum matter pioneer Prineha Narang has been appointed a 2023 US Science Envoy by the State Department.
Narang, on the faculty in Physical Sciences, will help initiate new partnerships with countries that are building their own quantum programs. Narang is the first science envoy to be appointed in the field of quantum science and technology. Narang joins the first cohort of Science Envoys since the covid-19 pandemic began in 2020.
“Quantum science and technology is an area not only of critical importance nationally but requires international partnerships,” Narang said. “Part of my role will be to connect scientists in these countries what we’re doing here at UCLA, what our National Quantum Initiative centers are doing, and how to get started. This is an incredible opportunity to initiate new partnerships with countries that are building their own quantum programs, and strengthen collaborations with existing partners.”
Through the Science Envoy Program, eminent U.S. scientists and engineers apply their expertise and networks to forge connections and identify opportunities for sustained international cooperation. Science Envoys focus on issues of common interest in science, technology, and engineering fields and usually serve for one year. They travel as private citizens and help inform the Department of State, other U.S. government agencies, and the scientific community about opportunities for science and technology cooperation.
“We are honored that the State Department has recognized UCLA’s strengths in the field of quantum materials with the appointment of Professor Narang as US Science Envoy. She is a perfect choice to forge the international relationships necessary to realize the potential of this new field of science,” Chancellor Gene Block said.
Narang’s groundbreaking research is at the intersection of computational science, quantum matter, and quantum information science. Her work has been recognized with international awards from the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation, Max Planck Society, American Physical Society, among others. In 2017, she was named by Forbes Magazine on their “30 under 30” list for her work in atom-by-atom quantum engineering.
Narang designs materials at the smallest scale, using single atoms, to enable the leap to quantum technologies. Quantum materials are used in emerging computing and communications technologies with capabilities that far surpass conventional technologies but still face many scientific and practical challenges.
“International collaborations are crucial in driving the field forward. I am delighted to see Professor Narang taking on this prestigious role building on her leadership across science, workforce development, and industry relations in the quantum domain,” Miguel García-Garibay, dean of physical sciences and senior dean of the College, said.
One of the personal goals Narang has set is to get students interested in quantum science at early stages in their education, including through exchange programs. She will give public lectures for early career scientists, budding engineers, and people interested in STEM about how to get involved in quantum science and engineering.
The longtime faculty member will continue to lead the division of physical sciences
UCLA Newsroom | November 1, 2022
Miguel García-Garibay, dean of physical sciences, has been appointed senior dean of the UCLA College, UCLA Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost Darnell Hunt announced. García-Garibay’s two-year term begins today, as current senior dean David Schaberg steps down.
The five deans of the UCLA College lead their respective divisions — physical sciences, life sciences, social sciences, humanities and undergraduate education — and share responsibility for college-wide issues and functions. García-Garibay will continue in his role as physical sciences dean, and as senior dean will be responsible for coordinating planning, budgeting, activities and decisions related to staffing, policies and development across the college. He will also represent the college at meetings and events on campus, systemwide and externally.
García-Garibay joined the UCLA chemistry and biochemistry faculty in 1992 and became dean of physical sciences in 2016. As dean, he has provided thoughtful and strategic leadership and developed a culture of cooperation and inclusion. Over the past six years, he has expanded the division’s academic offerings, led multiple collaborations in research and inclusive teaching, invested in the student experience, and had great success in recruiting and retaining exceptional faculty.
“Chancellor Block and I look forward to working with Dean García-Garibay in this additional role for the benefit of the college and UCLA as a whole,” Hunt said.
Lynn Vavreck and Chris Tausanovitch discuss their new book, ‘The Bitter End’
Jonathan Riggs |
With the nation’s social, racial and political divisions already laid bare by the emergence of COVID-19, the murder of George Floyd and other events, the 2020 presidential campaign became one of the most contentious in U.S. history.
In “The Bitter End: The 2020 Presidential Campaign and the Challenge to American Democracy,” UCLA political scientists Lynn Vavreck and Chris Tausanovitch, and John Sides of Vanderbilt University, assess why the campaign’s aftershocks will reverberate for decades to come. The book was published Sept. 20 by Princeton University Press.
“[H]ow leaders responded to the events of 2020 — and especially how Trump and his allies responded to the election and its aftermath — only exacerbated divisions that had been years in the making,” the authors write. “Understanding those divisions helps explain why the election came to such a bitter end, and why this bitter end may only signal the beginning of a new democratic crisis in American politics.”
The book draws observations and insights from data collected as part of Nationscape, a national political survey that the authors developed.
Now, with midterm elections upon us and a new presidential campaign on the horizon, Vavreck, UCLA’s Marvin Hoffenberg Professor of American Politics and Public Policy, and Tausanovitch, an associate professor of political science, discussed why the nation’s politics seem firmly stuck in place yet highly explosive.
What do you hope readers will take away from ‘The Bitter End’?
Chris Tausanovitch: One thing I hope they’ll take away is that “polarization” — a blanket term that gets thrown around a lot in the media — doesn’t really do much to explain the situation we’re in. Yes, we’re polarized. But talk to three different people, even three different political scientists, and you will get three different definitions of what polarization means. In the book, we use the term “calcification” because it better captures the features of American politics today.
Can you explain why calcification has become such an intractable problem?
Lynn Vavreck: The calcification we’re seeing today is born of four factors: The parties are farther apart than ever ideologically, voters within each party are more like their fellow partisans than ever, so many of our political conflicts are based on identity-inflected issues, and there is near balance between people who call themselves Democrats and Republicans right now.
That’s why politics feels both stuck and explosive: The stakes of election outcomes are very high because the other side is farther away than ever, and because of the balance between the parties, victory is always within reach for each side. That balance also means that when one party loses an election, instead of going back to the drawing board to rethink how they campaigned or what they offered, they don’t revamp their packages or strategies — they almost won! — they instead try to change the rules of the game to advantage their side. Preventing parties from changing the rules to erode democratic principles is the ultimate challenge to democracy.
You explore how the COVID-19 pandemic and other events in 2020 revealed divisions within the electorate …
Vavreck: No, those factors didn’t reveal divisions — they were subsumed by people’s existing adherence to their parties. That’s an important difference. Those factors should have reshaped politics, but they didn’t — people just doubled down on their party loyalty.
So do you see any hope for fixing the party-above-all mindset that has become the norm?
Tausanovitch: Politics doesn’t offer easy answers to big questions like how to address racism, regulate immigration or address a global pandemic. Our only prescription in the book is that we need to get past this period in which one major party is undermining one of the foundations of our democracy: our trust in the honesty and accuracy of our elections.
We have a lot of problems in this country, but accurately counting ballots is not one of them, so far. That could change if Republicans use election conspiracy theories as a pretext to meddle with the electoral process, and some candidates are currently running on a promise to do exactly that. But if we can get past this conspiracy-mongering, we can get back to the hard work of trying to resolve differences that are hard to reconcile.
What surprised you about the data you collected during the 2020 campaign?
Tausanovitch: Nationscape was designed in part to see how the public reacts to major events. We couldn’t have been handed a more dramatic year to study than 2020. Yet it turns out that Americans are very slow to change their political views and their priorities.
Lynn, you and John Sides have now written three books recapping presidential campaigns, but this was the first time Chris joined the collaboration. What did he add to the mix?
Vavreck: Chris brings a wonderful new dimension to our work. The Nationscape project was largely his idea, and the way we framed the survey questions that yielded some of the most interesting results was solely his idea.
Tausanovitch: Lynn and John are incredible political scientists, and I really admire their willingness to get things right, even if it means throwing away analyses we spent a lot of time on — or giving up on points we really wanted to make — because the evidence wasn’t quite good enough.
Now that the book is complete, how else are you planning to use the Nationscape data?
Tausanovitch: I’m currently using the data to expand on my work on understanding political priorities — the way they interact with primaries is really important. The more hard-line voters in each party have an outsized influence because they care more and are more likely to vote on the issues.
Vavreck: We completed 500,000 interviews for Nationscape, and a dream I have is to use the data to characterize the political landscape across the whole country: How are we different and how are we the same? I think people will be surprised by how many things people agree on.
Beginning Sept. 1, 2022, Abel Valenzuela Jr. — professor of labor studies, urban planning and Chicana/o and Central American studies and director of UCLA’s Institute for Research on Labor and Employment — will serve as interim dean of UCLA’s division of social sciences.
He will remain in the role through the end of the 2023–24 academic year as UCLA conducts a search for the division’s next permanent dean to succeed Darnell Hunt, who was appointed the university’s next executive vice chancellor and provost.
“I am proud to pass the torch to such an extraordinary colleague as Abel Valenzuela,” said Hunt. “He is an exceptional scholar, visionary and leader who exemplifies the highest ideals of the division, College and UCLA itself.”
“Stepping into this role is a deep honor and a remarkable opportunity to further the important and impactful work of the division under Dean Hunt’s leadership. The division is special for many reasons, including harnessing social science for the public good,” said Valenzuela. “We will move forward with excellence, doing what we do best at UCLA and in the division of social sciences: impactful research, teaching and service that make a difference locally, nationally and beyond.”
A faculty member since 1994, Valenzuela holds appointments in the César E. Chávez Department of Chicana/o and Central American Studies and the labor studies program in the UCLA College division of social sciences, as well as in the department of urban planning in the UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs.
He has held several administrative leadership positions, including chairing Chicana/o and Central American studies for six years and directing the Center for the Study of Urban Poverty. He recently stepped down as special advisor to the chancellor on immigration policy after working with the chancellor and an advisory council to safeguard and enhance student success among immigrant, undocumented and international students.
As director of UCLA’s Institute for Research on Labor and Employment (IRLE) for the past six years, he oversaw multiple units: labor studies, the Labor Center, the Labor Occupational Safety and Health Program (LOSH) and the Human Resources Round Table (HARRT), which are dedicated to advancing research, teaching and service on labor and employment issues in Los Angeles and beyond. Under his leadership, the Labor Center and LOSH have generated millions in extramural research grants and contracts. In fall 2019, the IRLE also launched the labor studies major for undergraduates — the first of its kind at the University of California — which continues to surpass yearly enrollment goals.
Valenzuela worked closely with campus and Labor Center leadership in the purchase, naming and current renovation of the Labor Center’s building located in downtown Los Angeles. In late 2021, the historic building was named in honor of Reverend James Lawson Jr., a labor and civil rights icon and UCLA Medal recipient.
During UCLA’s Centennial Celebration, Valenzuela led UCLA: Our Stories, Our Impact, an effort to recognize and uplift alumni of color who have dedicated their work to social justice and change. As a traveling exhibit, the project engaged the campus’s ethnic studies centers, UCLA community schools and local organizations.
Known as a leading national expert, Valenzuela continues to frame public and policy conversations on immigrant and low-wage workers. He has published numerous articles and reports on immigrant settlement, labor market outcomes, urban poverty and inequality. He earned his B.A. from UC Berkeley and his master’s and Ph.D. in city planning from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
“Given his experience in numerous leadership roles across campus and the UC, and his passion to leverage social science to better understand and lead positive change, I am confident Professor Valenzuela will provide effective leadership and continue the division’s momentum during this period of transition,” said Michael S. Levine, interim executive vice chancellor and provost. “I hope you will join me in wishing outgoing dean Darnell Hunt the very best as UCLA’s next EVCP, and in thanking Professor Valenzuela for stepping into this leadership role.”
Jonathan Riggs | July 28, 2022
“I believe in one thing,” goes the famous quote by Albert Einstein, “that only a life lived for others is a life worth living.” From one world-changing physicist to another — Einstein’s truism could also be the motto of Mani L. Bhaumik, who celebrated two milestones this year: his 91st birthday and the fifth anniversary of the Mani L. Bhaumik Institute for Theoretical Physics at UCLA.
“Mani’s generosity is truly amazing, matched only by his deep passion for fundamental physics,” says Zvi Bern, director of the Institute. “I am confident that 50 years from now, people will see that the creation of the Institute was a defining moment that changed everything, bringing UCLA’s physics department to the top global echelon.”
Beginning with a transformative $11 million gift in 2016 that was the largest in the history of both the UCLA Division of Physical Sciences and the UCLA Department of Physics and Astronomy, Bhaumik’s vision of a world-leading center to support foundational work in quantum field theory, unification of forces and, more recently, foundational issues in quantum mechanics, has surpassed all expectations. In fact, its success has allowed UCLA to compete head on with the best universities in theoretical physics.
“Just this past year, two of our students got great faculty offers one year out of graduate school — it is extremely rare even at top universities for a single student to accomplish this, but two students in one year is simply unprecedented,” says Bern. “I am also happy to report that the most-cited paper of 2021 on the hep-th physics arXiv — pushing the frontiers of precision general relativity by using ideas from the quantum field — is from the Bhaumik Institute. We are doing what we promised Mani.”
In addition, the Institute currently has 10 postdocs and is providing fellowships for 31 graduate students this summer; it has sparked more than 250 scientific papers — and counting; it is involved in efforts to diversify the field of nuclear physics; and it has attracted top-tier faculty to UCLA, including Mikhail Solon, who won a Sloan Research Fellowship, and Thomas Dumitrescu, who won the U.S. Department of Energy Office of Science Early Career Award as well as funding to establish multi-institute collaboration on symmetries.
“The Institute attracts the best people with different scientific backgrounds, and fosters an environment where they can freely exchange ideas and pursue bold new directions. The focus is on supporting young people such as postdocs and graduate students: the lifeblood of the field,” says Solon. “This density of people and ideas really elevates the day-to-day scientific interactions and provides the stimulus for creativity. We cherish the intellectual freedom the institute provides, and use it to pursue the best science.”
“For me personally, coming to UCLA as a faculty member was completely entwined with the promise of the Bhaumik Institute —I have the honor of being the inaugural holder of the Mani L. Bhaumik presidential term chair in theoretical physics,” says Dumitrescu. “I think the Institute has made amazing strides and this rapid progress has definitely been noticed and is appreciated at UCLA and far beyond.”
Of course, none of this would be possible without Bhaumik himself, the largest supporter to the UCLA Division of Physical Sciences. In addition to a 2018 gift of $3 million, he recently completed his pledges early ($15.26 million for current-use and endowed funds for the Bhaumik Institute and $1.175 million to support the construction of the UCLA Collaboratory, formerly the chemistry library in Young Hall).
Prior to his distinguished career as a laser physicist, Bhaumik’s love of theoretical physics originated as a student in India where he learned about Kaluza-Klein theories from S. N. Bose (of Bose-Einstein fame), igniting his passion for deep questions in theoretical physics.
“Mani’s vision for the Institute — to be a world-class center for theoretical physics, to plant the seeds for future Nobel prizes — can be intimidating, but I believe it can be realized and I am honored to be part of building this,” says Solon. “Mani’s vision for science is at the core of everything the institute is and does. His own quest to understand nature at a fundamental level inspires us all to pursue the deepest questions.”
“In addition to all the magnificent accomplishments of the Bhaumik Institute, I have immensely benefited from profound professional discussions with all the physics luminaries at UCLA,” says Bhaumik. “As a result, I have gained the intellectual satisfaction of confirming that non-relativistic quantum mechanics used by over 90% of the practitioners can be a real theory, and not just based on the collection of postulates.”
This June’s conference, Mani-Fest 2022: Directions in Theoretical Physics, celebrated the past while looking to the future, covering issues ranging from quantum field theory to black holes to string theory to gravitational waves and beyond as well as featuring several presentations highlighting research carried out at the Institute. Among the notable attendees were four Nobel Prize-winning physicists.
“It was nice to see physics outside of the classroom; I was especially interested in listening and talking to people in the field that I’m moving into, high energy theoretical physics,” says attendee Anna Wolz, a first-year physics doctoral student at UCLA. “It was inspiring to see who are so passionate about their research and their new ideas. Honestly, it reminds me why I’m here and what I have to look forward to.”
“We are so grateful to Mani L. Bhaumik for launching this visionary Institute, and to everyone who has contributed to making his dream an incredible reality,” says Miguel García-Garibay, dean of the UCLA Division of Physical Sciences. “Its remarkable success benefits so many, from faculty to students to the field of science itself, and this is only the beginning.”
Climate change is a significant factor, UCLA-led research finds
By Anna Novoselov
The drought that has enveloped southwestern North America for the past 22 years is the region’s driest “megadrought” — defined as a drought lasting two decades or longer — since at least the year 800, according to a new UCLA-led study in the journal Nature Climate Change.
Thanks to the region’s high temperatures and low precipitation levels from summer 2020 through summer 2021, the current drought has exceeded the severity of a late-1500s megadrought that previously had been identified as the driest such drought in the 1,200 years that the scientists studied.
UCLA geographer Park Williams, the study’s lead author, said with dry conditions likely to persist, it would take multiple wet years to remediate their effects.
“It’s extremely unlikely that this drought can be ended in one wet year,” he said.
The researchers calculated the intensity of droughts by analyzing tree ring patterns, which provide insights about soil moisture levels each year over long timespans. (They also confirmed their measurements by checking findings against historical climate data.) Periods of severe drought were marked by high degrees of “soil moisture deficit,” a metric that describes how little moisture the soil contains compared to its normal saturation.
Since 2000, the average soil moisture deficit was twice as severe as any drought of the 1900s — and greater than it was during even the driest parts of the most severe megadroughts of the past 12 centuries.
Studying the area from southern Montana to northern Mexico, and from the Pacific Ocean to the Rocky Mountains, researchers discovered that megadroughts occurred repeatedly in the region from 800 to 1600. Williams said the finding suggests that dramatic shifts in dryness and water availability happened in the Southwest prior to the effects of human-caused climate change becoming apparent in the 20th century.
Existing climate models have shown that the current drought would have been dry even without climate change, but not to the same extent. Human-caused climate change is responsible for about 42% of the soil moisture deficit since 2000, the paper found.
One of the primary reasons climate change is causing more severe droughts is that warmer temperatures are increasing evaporation, which dries out soil and vegetation. From 2000 to 2021, temperatures in the region were 0.91 degrees Celsius (about 1.64 degrees Fahrenheit) higher than the average from 1950 to 1999.
“Without climate change, the past 22 years would have probably still been the driest period in 300 years,” Williams said. “But it wouldn’t be holding a candle to the megadroughts of the 1500s, 1200s or 1100s.”
As of Feb. 10, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor, 95% of the Western U.S. was experiencing drought conditions. And in summer 2021, according to the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, two of the largest reservoirs in North America — Lake Mead and Lake Powell, both on the Colorado River — reached their lowest recorded levels.
Regulators have continued to implement water conservation measures in response to water shortages caused by the drought. In August, for example, federal officials cut water allocations to several southwestern states in response to low water levels in the Colorado River. And in October, California Gov. Gavin Newsom declared a drought emergency and asked Californians to voluntarily decrease their water usage by 15%.
Williams said initiatives like those will help in the short term, but water conservation efforts that extend beyond times of drought will be needed to help ensure people have the water they need as climate change continues to intensify drought conditions.
The study was a collaboration among researchers from UCLA, NASA and the Columbia Climate School.
Editor’s note: This breakthrough by UCLA College researchers was featured on BBC Click, the BBC’s flagship tech show. Click here to watch the clip at the BBC website.
By Wayne Lewis
The human body responds to stress, from the everyday to the extreme, by producing a hormone called cortisol.
To date, it has been impractical to measure cortisol as a way to potentially identify conditions such as depression and post-traumatic stress, in which levels of the hormone are elevated. Cortisol levels traditionally have been evaluated through blood samples by professional labs, and while those measurements can be useful for diagnosing certain diseases, they fail to capture changes in cortisol levels over time.
Now, a UCLA research team has developed a device that could be a major step forward: a smartwatch that assesses cortisol levels found in sweat — accurately, noninvasively and in real time. Described in a study published in Science Advances, the technology could offer wearers the ability to read and react to an essential biochemical indicator of stress.
“I anticipate that the ability to monitor variations in cortisol closely across time will be very instructive for people with psychiatric disorders,” said co-corresponding author Anne Andrews, a UCLA professor of psychiatry and biobehavioral sciences, member of the California NanoSystems Institute at UCLA and member of the Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior. “They may be able to see something coming or monitor changes in their own personal patterns.”
Cortisol is well-suited for measurement through sweat, according to co-corresponding author Sam Emaminejad, an associate professor of electrical and computer engineering at the UCLA Samueli School of Engineering, and a member of CNSI.
“We determined that by tracking cortisol in sweat, we would be able to monitor such changes in a wearable format, as we have shown before for other small molecules such as metabolites and pharmaceuticals,” he said. “Because of its small molecular size, cortisol diffuses in sweat with concentration levels that closely reflect its circulating levels.”
The technology capitalizes on previous advances in wearable bioelectronics and biosensing transistors made by Emaminejad, Andrews and their research teams.
In the new smartwatch, a strip of specialized thin adhesive film collects tiny volumes of sweat, measurable in millionths of a liter. An attached sensor detects cortisol using engineered strands of DNA, called aptamers, which are designed so that a cortisol molecule will fit into each aptamer like a key fits a lock. When cortisol attaches, the aptamer changes shape in a way that alters electric fields at the surface of a transistor.
The invention — along with a 2021 study that demonstrated the ability to measure key chemicals in the brain using probes — is the culmination of a long scientific quest for Andrews. Over more than 20 years, she has spearheaded efforts to monitor molecules such as serotonin, a chemical messenger in the brain tied to mood regulation, in living things, despite transistors’ vulnerability to wet, salty biological environments.
In 1999, she proposed using nucleic acids — rather than proteins, the standard mechanism — to recognize specific molecules.
“That strategy led us to crack a fundamental physics problem: how to make transistors work for electronic measurements in biological fluids,” said Andrews, who is also a professor of chemistry and biochemistry.
Meanwhile, Emaminejad has had a vision of ubiquitous personal health monitoring. His lab is pioneering wearable devices with biosensors that track the levels of certain molecules that are related to specific health measures.
“We’re entering the era of point-of-person monitoring, where instead of going to a doctor to get checked out, the doctor is basically always with us,” he said. “The data are collected, analyzed and provided right on the body, giving us real-time feedback to improve our health and well-being.”
Emaminejad’s lab had previously demonstrated that a disposable version of the specialized adhesive film enables smartwatches to analyze chemicals from sweat, as well as a technology that prompts small amounts of sweat even when the wearer is still. Earlier studies showed that sensors developed by Emaminejad’s group could be useful for diagnosing diseases such as cystic fibrosis and for personalizing drug dosages.
One challenge in using cortisol levels to diagnose depression and other disorders is that levels of the hormone can vary widely from person to person — so doctors can’t learn very much from any single measurement. But the authors foresee that tracking individual cortisol levels over time using the smartwatch may alert wearers, and their physicians, to changes that could be clinically significant for diagnosis or monitoring the effects of treatment.
Among the study’s other authors is Janet Tomiyama, a UCLA associate professor of psychology, who has collaborated with Emaminejad’s lab over the years to test his wearable devices in clinical settings.
“This work turned into an important paper by drawing together disparate parts of UCLA,” said Paul Weiss, a UCLA distinguished professor of chemistry and biochemistry and of materials science and engineering, a member of CNSI, and a co-author of the paper. “It comes from us being close in proximity, not having ego problems and being excited about working together. We can solve each other’s problems and take this technology in new directions.”
The latest research builds upon early work that was funded by the National Science Foundation and the National Institutes of Health. The current study received funding from the NSF CAREER program, the National Institute on Drug Abuse through an NIH Director’s Transformative Research Award, the National Institute of General Medical Science of the NIH, the Henry M. Jackson Foundation, the Stanford Genome Technology Center, the Brain and Behavior Foundation and the PhRMA Foundation.
The UCLA NanoLab, Electron Imaging Center for NanoMachines and Nano and Pico Characterization Laboratory, all housed at CNSI, provided instrumentation for the new study.
The paper’s co-first authors are UCLA postdoctoral scholar Bo Wang and Chuanzhen Zhao, a former UCLA graduate student. Other co-authors are Zhaoqing Wang, Xuanbing Cheng, Wenfei Liu, Wenzhuo Yu, Shuyu Lin, Yichao Zhao, Kevin Cheung and Haisong Lin, all of UCLA; and Milan Stojanović and Kyung-Ae Yang of Columbia University.
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