Editor’s note: Congratulations to all three UCLA faculty members elected to the National Academy of Sciences, including Professors Robert Bjork and Rosa Matzkin of the UCLA College!
By Stuart Wolpert | May 4, 2022
Three UCLA professors — Dr. E. Dale Abel, Robert Bjork and Rosa Matzkin — have been elected to the National Academy of Sciences in recognition of their distinguished and continuing achievements in original research. They are among the 120 new members and 30 international members announced by the academy May 3.
Membership in the academy is one of the highest honors a scientist in the United States can receive. Previous electees have included Albert Einstein, Robert Oppenheimer, Thomas Edison, Orville Wright and Alexander Graham Bell.
Dr. E. Dale Abel
William S. Adams Distinguished Professor of Medicine
Chair, department of medicine, David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA
Executive medical director, department of medicine, UCLA Health
Abel is a distinguished endocrinologist, researcher and clinician who leads UCLA Health’s largest department. His pioneering work on glucose transport and mitochondrial metabolism in the heart has guided his research on the molecular mechanisms responsible for the cardiovascular complications of diabetes. Abel’s laboratory has provided important insights into how mitochondrial dysfunction and aberrant insulin signaling contribute to diabetes-related heart failure risk. His research has been continually funded by the National Institutes of Health since 1995, with additional support from the American Heart Association and other sources. Prior to joining UCLA on Jan. 1 of this year, Abel held leadership and faculty positions at the University of Iowa, Harvard Medical School and the University of Utah. Among his many awards and honors, Abel is an elected member of the National Academy of Medicine, the Association of American Physicians and the American Society for Clinical Investigation. He serves as president of the Association of Professors of Medicine.
Distinguished research professor of psychology
Bjork is widely regarded as one of the world’s leading scholars of human learning and memory. His research focuses on the ways in which the science of learning can inform instruction and training, including identifying techniques that can enhance long-term learning. He has served as editor of the journals Memory and Cognition, and Psychological Review. An elected member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, Bjork received the Association for Psychological Science’s highest honor — the James McKeen Cattell Fellow Award — in 2016, the Norman Anderson Lifetime Achievement Award from the Society of Experimental Psychologists and a UCLA Distinguished Teaching Award. He delivered a UCLA Faculty Research Lecture in 2016.
Charles E. Davidson Distinguished Professor of Economics
Matzkin has developed new ways of using empirical data for economic analysis. Her methods exploit properties of economic models to avoid restrictive specifications that may lead to incorrect conclusions. These methods can be used to identify and estimate unobservable variables, to test whether data are consistent with any particular model and to predict behavior and economic outcomes when economic structures change. An elected member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, Matzkin is currently first vice president of the Econometric Society and is a former member of the executive committees of the Econometric Society and the American Economic Association. She is co-editor of Elsevier’s Handbooks in Economics series and of Vol. 7 of the Handbook of Econometrics. Previously, she served as chief editor of the journal Quantitative Economics, as co-editor of the Econometric Society Monograph Series and as a member of the editorial committee of the Annual Review of Economics.
The National Academy of Sciences, established in 1863 by a congressional act of incorporation signed by Abraham Lincoln, acts as an official advisory body to the federal government on matters of science and technology upon request. The academy is a private, nonprofit institution dedicated to the furtherance of science and its use for the general welfare.
Editor’s note: Congratulations to the 11 UCLA faculty members elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, including eight professors from the College of Letters and Science: John Agnew, Walter Allen, Wilfrid Gangbo, Haruzo Hida, Peter Narins, Brad Shaffer, Blaire Van Valkenburgh and Min Zhou.
Stuart Wolpert | April 28, 2022
Eleven UCLA faculty members were elected today to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, one of the nation’s most prestigious honorary societies. A total of 261 artists, scholars, scientists and leaders in the public, nonprofit and private sectors were elected, including honorary members from 16 countries.
UCLA had the second most honorees among colleges and universities, preceded only by Harvard. Stanford was third, UC Berkeley fourth, and MIT and Yale tied for fifth.
In February, UCLA was No. 1 in the number of professors selected for 2022 Sloan Research Fellowships, an honor widely seen as evidence of the quality of an institution’s science, math and economics faculty.
UCLA’s 2022 American Academy of Arts and Sciences honorees are:
Distinguished professor of geography
Agnew’s research focuses on political geography, international political economy, European urbanization and modern Italy. Among his many awards is the 2019 Vautrin Lud Prize, one of the highest honors in the field of geography. In 2017, Agnew was selected to deliver UCLA’s Faculty Research Lecture.
Distinguished professor of education, sociology and African American studies
Allen, UCLA’s Allan Murray Cartter Professor of Higher Education, is the director of UCLA’s Capacity Building Center and the UCLA Choices Project. His expertise includes the comparative study of race, ethnicity and inequality; diversity in higher education; family studies; and the status of Black males in American society.
Research professor of education
Gandara is co-director of the Civil Rights Project/Proyecto Derechos Civiles at UCLA and chair of the working group on education for the UC–Mexico Initiative. Her publications include the 2021 books “Schools Under Siege: Immigration Enforcement and Educational Equity” and “The Students We Share: Preparing U.S. and Mexican Teachers for Our Transnational Future.”
Professor of mathematics
Gangbo’s expertise includes the calculus of variations, nonlinear analysis, partial differential equations and fluid mechanics. He is the founder of EcoAfrica, an association of scientists involved in projects in support of African countries, and is one of the UC and Stanford University faculty members who launched the David Harold Blackwell Summer Research Institute.
Distinguished research professor of mathematics
Hida is an expert on number theory and modular forms. A highly honored mathematician, he has spoken about his research at numerous international conferences and was the recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship in 1991 and the Leroy P. Steele Prize for Seminal Contribution to Research from the American Mathematical Society in 2019.
Distinguished professor of human genetics and biological chemistry
David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA
Kruglyak is UCLA’s Diller-von Furstenberg Professor of Human Genetics, chair of the department of human genetics and a Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator. He studies the complex genetic basis of heritable traits, which involves many genes that interact with one another and the environment, and his laboratory conducts experiments using computational analysis and model organisms. He has been the recipient of many awards, including the Burroughs Wellcome Fund Innovation Award in Functional Genomics, the Curt Stern Award from the American Society of Human Genetics and the Edward Novitski Prize from the Genetics Society of America.
Distinguished research professor of integrative biology and physiology, and of ecology and evolutionary biology
Narins’ research focuses on how animals extract relevant sounds from the often noisy environments in which they live. His numerous honors and awards include a Guggenheim Fellowship, the Acoustical Society of America’s 2021 silver medal in animal bioacoustics and election to four scientific societies: the Acoustical Society of America, the Animal Behavior Society, the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the International Society for Neuroethology.
Distinguished professor of ecology and evolutionary biology
Shaffer, the director of the UCLA La Kretz Center for California Conservation Science, is an expert on evolutionary biology, ecology and the conservation biology of amphibians and reptiles. His recent work has focused on conservation genomics of endangered and ecologically important plants and animals of California, global conservation of freshwater turtles and tortoises, and the application of genomics to the protection of endangered California amphibians and reptiles.
Blaire Van Valkenburgh
Distinguished research professor emeritus of ecology and evolutionary biology
Van Valkenburgh, UCLA’s Donald R. Dickey Professor of Vertebrate Biology, focuses on the biology and paleontology of carnivorous mammals such as hyenas, wolves, lions and sabertooth cats. She is a leading expert on the evolutionary biology of large carnivores, past and present, and analyzes the fossil record of carnivores from both ecological and evolutionary perspectives.
Professor of computer science
UCLA Samueli School of Engineering
Varghese, UCLA’s Jonathan B. Postel Professor of Networking, devoted the first part of his career to making the internet faster — a field he calls network algorithmics — for which he was elected to the National Academy of Engineering in 2017, the National Academy of Inventors in 2020 and the Internet Hall of Fame in 2021. He is now working to jump-start an area he calls network design automation to provide a set of tools for operating and debugging networks.
Distinguished professor of sociology and Asian American studies
Zhou, UCLA’s Walter and Shirley Wang Professor of U.S.–China Relations and Communications, is director of UCLA’s Asia Pacific Center. Her research interests include migration and development, Chinese diasporas, race and ethnicity, and urban sociology.
“These individuals excel in ways that excite us and inspire us at a time when recognizing excellence, commending expertise and working toward the common good is absolutely essential to realizing a better future,” David Oxtoby, president of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, said of this year’s honorees.
“Membership is an honor, and also an opportunity to shape ideas and influence policy in areas as diverse as the arts, democracy, education, global affairs and science,” said Nancy C. Andrews, chair of the academy’s board of directors.
The American Academy of Arts and Sciences was founded in 1780 by John Adams, John Hancock and others who believed the new republic should honor exceptionally accomplished individuals. Previous fellows have included George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, Alexander Hamilton, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Albert Einstein, Charles Darwin, Winston Churchill, Martin Luther King Jr., Nelson Mandela and UCLA astrophysicist Andrea Ghez.
The academy also serves an independent policy research center engaged in studies of complex and emerging problems. Its current membership represents some of today’s most innovative thinkers across a variety of fields and professions and includes more than 250 Nobel and Pulitzer prize winners.
By Sean Brenner | April 14, 2022
Alexandra Minna Stern, currently the associate dean for the humanities at the University of Michigan’s College of Literature, Science, and the Arts, will be the new dean of humanities at the UCLA College. Her appointment is effective Nov. 1.
Stern is the Carroll Smith-Rosenberg Collegiate Professor of American Culture at Michigan, where she also holds appointments in history, women’s and gender studies, and obstetrics and gynecology. Her research has focused on modern and contemporary histories of science, medicine and society in the U.S. and Latin America, and, most recently, on the cultures and ideologies of the far right and white nationalism.
She is the founder and co-director of the Sterilization and Social Justice Lab, an interdisciplinary research team that explores the history of eugenic sterilization in the U.S.
Stern has two prior connections to the University of California: She earned her master’s degree in Latin American studies from UC San Diego, and later, from 2000 to 2002, she was a faculty member at UC Santa Cruz.
Stern said she looks forward to providing creative and responsive leadership in her new role.
“I am thrilled to be the incoming humanities dean at UCLA and eager to partner with the excellent and diverse units and communities that comprise the division,” she said. “I am honored to be joining a world-class public research university that recognizes the centrality of humanities to liberal arts and the mission of higher education.”
As associate dean at Michigan, Stern enhanced humanities research, promoted curricular and funding opportunities in experimental humanities, and supported languages and global studies. Prior to that role, she held a series of other leadership positions at the Ann Arbor campus: chair of the department of American culture (2017–19), director of the Latin American and Caribbean Studies Center/Brazil Initiative (2014–17) and associate director of the Center for the History of Medicine (2002–12). She has been a faculty member at Michigan since 2002.
Among the numerous grants and fellowships she has received are awards from the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Ford Foundation, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the National Institutes of Health. She is frequently quoted in prominent media outlets, from the Los Angeles Times to the Atlantic.
In a message to the campus community, Interim Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost Michael Levine wrote, “Chancellor [Gene] Block and I are confident that UCLA Humanities will continue to thrive and fulfill its vital role on campus under Alex’s capable leadership and that she will be an extraordinary addition to our campus leadership team.”
In addition to her master’s from UC San Diego, Stern earned a bachelor’s degree from San Francisco State University and a doctorate in history from the University of Chicago.
Stern will succeed David Schaberg, who has led the humanities division since 2011. Schaberg will return to teaching and research full time after a sabbatical.
By Jonathan Riggs | April 13, 2022
“Katelyn Ohashi epitomizes Bruin values with her strength of character, compassion and leadership in the face of challenges,” said David Schaberg, senior dean of the UCLA College. “She will inspire our graduating seniors and UCLA community to approach the next chapter of their lives with open hearts and limitless courage.”
From childhood, Ohashi was an avid gymnast, making her debut at the 2009 junior olympic national championships at age 12. She went on to become the 2011 junior national champion and defeated Simone Biles to win the 2013 American Cup. Despite suffering a back injury the next year and being told by doctors she might not be able to compete again, Ohashi persisted — earning a full gymnastics scholarship to UCLA.
“I am so proud to address my fellow Bruins and help celebrate this wonderful accomplishment in their lives,” said Ohashi, who graduated in 2019 with a degree in gender studies. “I hope to inspire them to embrace challenges, love themselves and find their voices.”
An eight-time All-American and four-time member of USA Gymnastics’ junior national team, Ohashi became one of the most decorated gymnasts in UCLA history. During her Bruin career, she earned 11 perfect 10s — including for a 2019 floor routine that became an internet sensation. She was named Pac-12 specialist of the year in 2018 and 2019, and was 2018 NCAA and Pac-12 co-champion in the floor exercise as well as 2019 Pac-12 co-champion in the floor exercise and balance beam. During her senior year, Ohashi took first place for each of her first seven routines.
In addition to her studies and gymnastics achievements while at UCLA, Ohashi led fundraisers to help individuals struggling with homelessness. She also volunteered for Project Heal, a nonprofit focused on helping people recover from eating disorders. As a motivational speaker and activist, she continues to advocate for body positivity. When Ohashi was honored at the 2019 ESPY Awards, she delivered a spoken-word poem denouncing body shaming, sexual assault and cyberbullying.
Ohashi was chosen to be the class of 2022 commencement speaker by a committee of students, faculty and administrators.
Richard Turco, the founding director of the UCLA Institute of the Environment and Sustainability, and his wife, Linda Turco, have pledged $1.5 million to the institute to establish an endowment for the support of undergraduate and graduate students.
The couple’s gift commitment has been augmented by $750,000 from the UCLA dean of physical sciences’ gift matching program, bringing the total to $2.25 million.
“Thanks in large part to the dedication and pioneering efforts of Richard Turco, the Institute of the Environment and Sustainability has evolved to become a real force for environmental truth and equity,” said the institute’s current director, Marilyn Raphael. “And now we add our deep gratitude for the Turcos’ generous gift commitment, which will provide the resources to effectively recruit, retain and empower generations of students eager to become change agents in the service of a sustainable environment.”
The initial gift funds will be contributed over the next five years, with the deferred balance coming from the couple’s estate. When fully funded, the endowment will support an annual lecture, publication awards and fellowships for graduate students, and research awards for undergraduates, with priority given to first-generation students and those with demonstrated financial need.
Richard Turco is a distinguished professor emeritus at UCLA and former chair of the university’s department of atmospheric and oceanic sciences. An atmospheric chemist, he joined UCLA’s faculty in 1988 and built a multidisciplinary research group focused on pressing environmental problems, including ozone depletion, urban air pollution and the impact of aerosols on climate. Those efforts eventually led to the establishment of the Institute of the Environment and Sustainability in 1997, which Turco oversaw until 2003. He retired from UCLA in 2011.
The recipient of a MacArthur Fellowship in 1986, Turco has also been awarded NASA’s H. Julian Allen Award for outstanding research, the American Physical Society’s Leo Szilard Prize and a UCLA Distinguished Faculty Research Lectureship.
The Turcos’ pledge is the latest major donation the couple has made to UCLA. In 2017, they established an endowment to fund fellowships for outstanding graduate students in their third and fourth years of study in the department of atmospheric and oceanic studies — vitally important years in a doctoral student’s academic career. A portion of that endowment also supports an award for research papers published in scientific journals by graduate students or postdoctoral scholars. A 2019 gift from the couple established the first endowed faculty chair in the department’s history.
“The future of human civilization will best be served by education — at all levels, in all places — and the world’s great universities will be called on to provide an unshakable foundation for global progress, equity and prosperity,” Richard Turco said. “With this in mind, those, like myself, who have benefited most from past access to education should be among the most willing to support future access for others, with generosity and hope.”
Miguel García-Garibay, dean of the UCLA Division of Physical Sciences, which houses the Institute of the Environment and Sustainability, lauded the Turcos’ ongoing support for students and faculty in the environmental sciences.
“Richard and Linda Turco have set a shining example of giving back, for which we are immensely grateful,” García-Garibay said. “Not only has Richard been instrumental in building UCLA’s excellence in researching environmental solutions, but he and Linda have chosen to establish a lasting legacy of financial support for this area, helping to ensure the institute’s impact for years to come.”
The building blocks of the Institute of the Environment and Sustainability
As the head of the department of atmospheric and oceanic sciences and a member of UCLA’s Institute of Geophysics and Planetary Physics in the 1990s, Richard Turco was well placed to tackle the challenges of what at the time was called “global change” — the planetary-scale environmental issues beginning to take center stage internationally.
Together with a group of like-minded faculty members from academic departments across campus, he organized a multidisciplinary research program to study the growing risks posed by ozone depletion, climate warming and other hazards. Turco and his colleagues felt strongly that a top research university like UCLA could — and should — take a lead role in the quest to understand and mitigate such existential threats to civilization.
Turco spearheaded several early projects, including a large-scale research study of the Los Angeles Basin watershed and the establishment of a geographic information system, or GIS, data processing lab. In 1997, the program officially became the UCLA Institute of the Environment and Sustainability, which has since grown into broad and powerful agent in the service of a sustainable environment.
During Turco’s tenure as director (1997–2003), the institute moved into the newly built La Kretz Hall (above). The building, funded by a donation from UCLA alumnus and longtime sustainability supporter Morton La Kretz, was the first on campus to receive LEED, or Leadership in Energy and Design, certification by the U.S. Green Building Council.
By Stuart Wolpert
The UCLA Department of Physics and Astronomy has received federal government funding for a pilot program designed to help low-income, first-generation and historically underrepresented undergraduate students from across California pursue graduate degrees and careers in nuclear physics, with the aim of increasing the diversity of scientists in this field.
The $500,000 grant from the nuclear physics program in the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science will support training, mentorship and hands-on research experiences for students, including internships at national laboratories and the opportunity to work on research related to the DOE’s cutting-edge Electron-Ion Collider, said associate professor of physics Zhongbo Kang, who is heading the program at UCLA.
The grant-funded program is a collaboration among UCLA, UC Riverside, the Lawrence Berkeley and Lawrence Livermore national laboratories, Cal Poly Pomona and the Cal-Bridge program, a statewide network of nine UC, 23 CSU and more than 110 community college campuses that seeks to create greater opportunities for underrepresented minorities in STEM fields. The undergraduate trainees are selected through Cal-Bridge.
“The UC and CSU systems are among the largest engines for social mobility in the United States and play a key role in providing opportunities to students from disadvantaged backgrounds,” said Kang, who is a member of both the Mani L. Bhaumik Institute for Theoretical Physics and the Center for Quantum Science and Engineering at UCLA. “Their student bodies contain the largest pool of low-income, first-generation and underrepresented minority students in the nation, and we are in an excellent position to tap into this pool and broaden the nuclear physics pipeline.”
During each year of the two-year program, four trainees will join research groups at UCLA or UC Riverside and will intern for 10 weeks during the summer at either Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory or Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. At UCLA, the nuclear physics group conducts theoretical research under Kang’s leadership and experimental research under professor of physics Huan Huang. Trainees will be integrated into one of these groups based on their research interests and will work with the professors and a team of undergraduates, graduate students, postdoctoral scholars and staff scientists.
DOE’s Electron-Ion Collider: The future of nuclear physics
The chance to conduct research related to the nascent Electron-Ion Collider, or EIC — the DOE’s flagship research project for the future of nuclear physics — is a one-of-a-kind opportunity for the trainees, Kang said, and he hopes the experience will help them see themselves as members of the EIC community. The massive facility, to be built on Long Island, New York, will use electron collisions with protons and atomic nuclei to produce images of quarks and gluons — the elementary building blocks of matter. In California, scientists will be working on the physics undergirding the collider and developing the facility’s detectors. The next few years will be a critical period for the design of the detectors.
“Given that the EIC experiments will likely start in about 10 years and run until mid-century, the students will see that they could become deeply ingrained with the project,” said Kang, who will coordinate the EIC research training programs with the California EIC consortium. “Our goal is to establish a Ph.D. bridge to the EIC program by training a cohort of students from diverse backgrounds that will be in an excellent potion to apply to graduate school. The EIC project provides an excellent platform for training the next generation of scientists.”
The undergraduate trainees will present their research results at conferences and participate in the meetings and workshops of the American Physical Society’s Division of Nuclear Physics and the California EIC consortium. They will learn to work effectively on large research projects, communicate results to other scientists and general audiences, learn software skills to run large-scale physics simulations and develop technical expertise in data science and machine learning.
The first trainees began the program this month. The $500,000 grant is part a larger, $3 million DOE effort to broaden and diversify nuclear and particle physics through research traineeships for undergraduates.
“The ability to fulfill our mission to discover, explore and understand all forms of nuclear matter relies on the availability of a highly trained, diverse community of investigators, researchers, students and staff,” said Timothy Hallman, the DOE’s associate director of science for nuclear physics. “The goal of this program is to help broaden and diversity this community to ensure that it is drawn from the broadest possible pool of potential nuclear and particle physicists within the U.S.”
Editor’s note: Congratulations to all of the UCLA scholars selected to receive 2022 Sloan Research Fellowships, including six professors from the College of Letters and Science!
By Stuart Wolpert
Eight young UCLA professors are among 118 scientists and scholars selected today to receive 2022 Sloan Research Fellowships, making UCLA No. 1 among U.S. and Canadian colleges and universities in the number of new fellows.
The fellowships, among the most competitive and prestigious awards available to early-career researchers, are often seen as evidence of the quality of an institution’s science, math and economics faculty. MIT, with seven new faculty fellows, had the second most.
“Today’s Sloan Research Fellows represent the scientific leaders of tomorrow,” said Adam Falk, president of the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. “As formidable young scholars, they are already shaping the research agenda within their respective fields — and their trailblazing won’t end here.”
Miguel García-Garibay, dean of the UCLA Division of Physical Sciences and a professor of chemistry and biochemistry, said, “UCLA has an exceptional faculty — world-leaders in their fields. The quality of our faculty research is mind-boggling, and I’m delighted but not surprised that UCLA is No. 1 in faculty awarded 2022 Sloan Research Fellowships.”
UCLA’s 2022 recipients are:
Assistant professor of economics
An expert in macroeconomics and international trade, Baqaee studies the role production networks play in business cycles and economic growth. His research tackles a central macroeconomic dilemma known as the aggregation problem, which involves reasoning about the behavior of aggregates composed of many interacting heterogenous parts — for instance, how shocks to oil production or trade barriers in parts of supply chains may affect real GDP. He has also studied monetary and fiscal policy, the macroeconomics of monopoly power and the macroeconomic consequences of supply and demand shocks caused by COVID-19. A faculty research fellow at the National Bureau of Economic Research, Baqaee is also affiliated with the Center for Economic Policy and Research.
Assistant professor of economics
Assistant professor of public policy, UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs
Bau studies a variety of topics in development and education economics, with an emphasis on the industrial organization of educational markets. Her research has looked at how cultural traditions affect economic decision-making, how interpersonal skills facilitate intergenerational investment, whether government policy can change culture, and the effects of human capital investment in countries with child labor. She is affiliated with the Center for Economic and Policy Research and is a faculty research fellow at the National Bureau of Economic Research.
Assistant professor of biological chemistry, David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA
Using bioinformatics, single-cell genomics and developmental neurobiology, Bhaduri studies how the human brain is created with billions of cells, as well as how certain cellular building blocks can reappear later in life in brain cancers. She is detailing the hundreds or thousands of cell types in the developing brain, allowing her to produce cell atlases that improve our understanding of glioblastoma. Her research is revealing how stem cells give rise to the human brain during cortical development and how aspects of this development can be “hijacked” in glioblastoma and other brain cancers.
Assistant professor of computer science, UCLA Samueli School of Engineering
Gu leads UCLA’s Statistical Machine Learning Lab. In his research on machine learning, he is developing and analyzing what are known as non-convex optimization algorithms to understand large-scale, dynamic, complex and heterogeneous data and is building the theoretical foundations of deep learning. Gu aims to make machine learning algorithms more efficient and reliable for a variety of applications, including recommendation systems, computational genomics, artificial intelligence for personalized health care, and government decision-making. In March 2020, he and his research team launched a machine learning model to predict the spread of COVID-19 — a model that has informed predictions by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Assistant professor of inorganic chemistry
Liu, who holds UCLA’s Jeffrey and Helo Zink Career Development Chair, is an authority on electrochemical systems for energy and biology. His laboratory combines expertise in inorganic chemistry, nanomaterials and electrochemistry to address challenging questions in catalysis, energy conversion, microbiota, and carbon dioxide and nitrogen — with important implications for the environment. In 2020, he received $1.9 million from the National Institute of General Medical Sciences to conduct research on electrochemically controlled microbial communities, and in 2017, Science News chose him as one of 10 Scientists to Watch who are “ready to transform their fields.”
Assistant professor of mathematics and statistics
Montúfar, who leads the Mathematical Machine Learning Group — centered at UCLA and the Max Planck Institute for Mathematics in the Sciences, in Germany — works on deep learning theory and mathematical machine learning. Through investigations of the geometry of data, hypothesis functions and parameters, he and his team are developing the mathematical foundations of deep learning and improving learning with neural networks. Montúfar is the recipient of a starting grant from the European Research Council and a CAREER award from the National Science Foundation, and he serves as research mentor with the Latinx Mathematicians Research Community. He and his team have organized a weekly online math machine learning seminar since 2020.
Assistant professor of Earth, planetary and space sciences
Moon studies the weathering and erosion or bedrock using various methods, including fieldwork, laboratory analysis, topographic analysis, numerical models, near-surface geophysics and rock mechanics. Among her research topics is physical and chemical bedrock weathering, which affects groundwater storage and soil nutrient supply and can result in natural hazards like earthquake-induced landslides and debris flows. Her expertise includes tectonic geomorphology, low-temperature geochemistry and quaternary geochronology, as well as quantitative geomorphic analysis and landscape evolution of Earth and other planetary bodies.
Assistant professor of physics and astronomy
Solon, a member of UCLA’s Mani L. Bhaumik Institute for Theoretical Physics, holds the David S. Saxon Presidential Term Chair in Physics. His research explores phenomena that can be described using the mathematical and physical tools of theoretical high-energy physics. He focuses on using new and wide-ranging applications of quantum field theory to understand the nature of dark matter, the large-scale structure of the cosmos and gravitational waves. He was awarded the J.J. and Noriko Sakurai Dissertation Award, the American Physical Society’s highest honor for doctoral research in theoretical particle physics.
Sloan Research Fellowships are intended to enhance the careers of exceptional young scientists and scholars in chemistry, computer science, Earth system science, economics, mathematics, neuroscience and physics. Fellows receive a two-year, $75,000 award to support their research from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, which was established in 1934.
Fifty-three Sloan Research Fellows have gone on to win Nobel Prizes, including Andrea Ghez, UCLA’s Lauren B. Leichtman and Arthur E. Levine Professor of Astrophysics, in 2020. Seventeen have won the Fields Medal in mathematics, 69 have received the National Medal of Science and 22 have won the John Bates Clark Medal in economics.
Editor’s note: Congratulations to the UCLA College scholars included in this year’s Clarivate Analytics list of the most highly cited researchers in the sciences and social sciences!
By Stuart Wolpert
The world’s most influential researchers include 43 UCLA scholars.
In its latest annual list, Clarivate Analytics names the most highly cited researchers — the scholars whose work was most often referenced by other scientific research papers in 21 fields in the sciences and social sciences. The researchers rank in the top 1% in their fields, based on their widely cited studies. The 2021 list is produced using research citations from January 2010 to December 2020.
Current UCLA faculty members and researchers who were named to the list, and their primary UCLA research field or fields, are:
- Carrie Bearden, psychiatry and biobehavioral sciences
- Matthew Budoff, medicine
- Jun Chen, bioengineering
- Bartosz Chmielowski, medicine
- Giovanni Coppola, neuroscience and human behavior
- Michelle Craske, psychology
- Xiangfeng Duan, inorganic chemistry
- Bruce Dunn, materials science and engineering
- David Eisenberg, chemistry
- Richard Finn, medicine
- Gregg Fonarow, medicine
- Edward Garon, medicine
- Daniel Geschwind, neurology
- Michael Green, psychiatry and biobehavioral sciences
- Sander Greenland, epidemiology
- Ron Hays, medicine
- Steve Horvath, biostatistics
- Yu Huang, materials science and engineering
- Michael Jerrett, environmental health sciences
- Richard Kaner, inorganic chemistry
- Baljit Khakh, physiology
- Nathan Kraft, ecology and evolutionary biology
- Dennis Lettenmaier, geography
- Yuzhang Li, chemical and biomolecular engineering
- Roger Lo, medicine
- Jake Lusis, medicine
- Bengt Muthen, education
- Stanley Osher, mathematics
- Aydogan Ozcan, electrical engineering
- Matteo Pellegrini, molecular, cell and developmental biology
- Mason Porter, mathematics
- Steven Reise, psychology
- Antoni Ribas, medicine
- Lawren Sack, ecology and evolutionary biology
- Jeffrey Saver, neurology
- Michael Sawaya, molecular biology
- Michael Sofroniew, neurobiology
- Marc Suchard, biostatistics
- Kang Wang, electrical engineering
- Edward Wright, astronomy
- Yang Yang, materials science and engineering
- Wotao Yin, mathematics
- Jeffrey Zink, inorganic chemistry
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