The iconic covered passage of Mayer Hall. The American Physical Society recently honored Mayer Hall as a historic site. (cr: Erik Jepsen / UC San Diego)

The Divisions of Physical Sciences and Biological Sciences at the University of California at San Diego are home to many distinguished professors and researchers, making bold discoveries that improve our understanding of the world, even at the subatomic level. Recently, three faculties were recognized by national physics associations for their achievements.

Benjamin grinstein

Benjamin grinstein

Distinguished professor of physics Benjamin Grinstein received the American Physical Society’s Fundamental Physics Innovation Award, awarded for stimulating innovative ideas in which emerging technologies can be used to solve pressing problems in fundamental physics. The award is funded by the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation.

Grinstein was recognized for his proposition that using different experimental techniques gave different measures of the rate at which a neutron decays because the neutron sometimes decays without emitting a proton. Knowing precisely the lifespan of neutrons is important for understanding the formation of elements in the history of the universe. Grinstein’s research not only has implications for the nature of the forces between elementary particles, but can also help uncover the origin of dark matter that permeates the universe.

Thanks to a visitor’s award that accompanied his recognition, Grinstein continues his research at the Instituto de Astrofísica de Canarias in the Canary Islands, where he studies the consequences of his proposal that can manifest in the decay of hyperons – elementary particles up close related to neutrons and protons that play a role in understanding the history of the universe.

Terry hwa

Terry hwa

Terry Hwa, Professor Emeritus and Presidential Chair of the Departments of Physics and Biological Sciences, will receive the 2022 Max Delbruck Prize in Biological Physics from the American Physical Society. The award recognizes and encourages outstanding achievement in biological physics research.

Hwa will receive the award for “developing quantitative studies which reveal fundamental constraints on bacterial physiology and for formulating simple phenomenological theories which quantitatively predict bacterial responses to genetic and environmental changes”.

In 2016, Hwa helped launch UC San Diego’s “qBio” PhD. specialization program, which seeks to predict and understand living systems in quantitative terms, including their behaviors, interactions and inheritance. qBio combines the power of abstract quantitative reasoning with advanced physics and engineering instrumentation to discover the fundamental organizing principles of living systems.

Suckjoon June

Suckjoon June

Suckjoon Jun, Associate Professor in the Department of Physics and Section of Molecular Biology, will receive the Michael and Kate Bárány Award for Young Investigators from the American Biophysical Society. The award recognizes outstanding contributions to biophysics by someone who has not yet achieved the rank of full professor. Jun is honored for his “groundbreaking research into the biophysical mechanisms of bacterial cell size control”.

In 2012, Jun’s lab, then at Harvard, discovered a quantitative principle they dubbed “the viper.” Jun moved his lab to UC San Diego in the same year, conducted extensive single-cell experiments to firmly establish the principle, and reported the results in 2014. In 2019, his lab reported the mechanical basis of the principle. of the adder.

These efforts have overturned a 50-year-old paradigm of how bacterial growth, cell cycle, and cell size are coordinated. This discovery was of fundamental importance and the concept of the viper now dominates the field. Several non-bacterial organisms, including mammals, have been shown to follow the adder principle, and the impact of his lab’s work will likely extend beyond the bacterial world.

“We are incredibly proud of these three professors and the tremendous work they do,” said Steven E. Boggs, Dean of Physical Sciences at UC San Diego. “We congratulate Terry, Ben and Suckjoon on their well deserved awards. These recognitions underscore the importance of their work and underscore the breadth and excellence of basic physics research conducted at UC San Diego. “

The American Physical Society also recently honored Mayer Hall as a Historic Site in recognition of research conducted by physicists Walter Kohn and Lu Jeu Sham on the theory of density functional. First occupied in 1963, Mayer Hall was later renamed in honor of former UC San Diego professors Maria and Joseph Mayer. Maria Mayer was a physicist whose heritage includes the development of the nuclear shell model of atomic nuclei, for which she was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics. Her husband, Joseph Mayer, was a renowned physical chemist.

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