Top UCLA news stories of 2019

Looking back at this centennial year on UCLA Newsroom
Royce projection with Ralph Bunche

UCLA began observing its 100th birthday this year and delivered new advances in research, health care, the arts, community service and teaching. These are some of the top stories from UCLA Newsroom in 2019 — those which made news and engaged the community of Bruins and beyond.

UCLA Newsroom will resume publishing on Jan. 2, 2020. For more, be sure to peruse the archives and to follow UCLA Newsroom on Twitter.

UCLA turns 100

Founders of UCLA would marvel at their creation

In just 100 years, UCLA has grown into a respected center of learning, research and health care — and a community pillar with transformational impact in California, the nation and the world.

Koreatown school shows how UCLA's commitment to access pays off

Since opening a decade ago, the Robert F. Kennedy UCLA Community School has greatly increased the college-going rate in largely immigrant Los Angeles neighborhoods.

UCLA Archive
UCLA from overhead in the 1930s.

[Not] a century of women's sports at UCLA

Women's athletics have changed campus culture and the lives of thousands of student-athletes — and created new role models.

'What began as an idea is now one of the greatest institutions in the world'

UCLA's centennial celebration launched with a light-and-sound show projected on Royce Hall.

Professor turns 100 in UCLA's 100th year

John McNeil retired before most current freshmen were born, but the professor emeritus of education still comes to campus every day.

More UCLA Centennial news

Science and technology

UCLA Engineering
Ning Wang and professor Mona Jarrahi work on a terahertz detector.

Einstein's general relativity theory questioned, but still stands 'for now'

A detailed analysis of a star's orbit near a supermassive black hole gives a look into how gravity behaves.

Light-sensing system could show distant galaxies in unprecedented detail

UCLA-developed sensors work at room temperature, unlike current technology that needs extreme cold.

Ancient stars shed light on Earth's similarities to other planets

A new method used to study planets' geochemistry implies that Earth is not unique.

New device creates electricity from snowfall

Researchers have designed a nanogenerator that can work in remote areas on its own power — and acts as a weather station.

Solar cells (like some people) work better with caffeine

Perovskite-based cells made with the chemical found in coffee maintained their power conversion efficiency for several weeks longer than those without it.

More science and technology news

Health and behavior

UCLA Health
Jason Esterhuizen is able to follow the sidewalk thanks to an experimental brain implant.

Brain implant restores visual perception to the blind

UCLA researchers implanted a wireless device that enables people without sight to detect motion and distinguish light and dark.

Biochemists discover new insights into what may go awry in brains of people with Alzheimer's

The findings could lead to new methods to get the body's repair enzyme to work better.

Deep learning enables scientists to identify cancer cells in blood in milliseconds

The invention relies in part on another UCLA invention: photonic time stretch.

A small electrical zap to the brain could help you retrieve a forgotten memory

Professor found that the left rostrolateral prefrontal cortex is important in accessing knowledge that was formed in the past and making decisions about it.

Researchers identify potential new combination treatment for pancreatic cancer

The findings stress the importance of learning how existing drugs work to repurpose them for potential use in treating other diseases.

More health and behavior news

Students and campus

Don Liebig/ASUCLA
Katelyn Ohashi performing her gymnastics routine.

Perfection (and joy)

Katelyn Ohashi's gymnastics routine went viral on the internet.

'Pink tax' activists made the most of their UCLA experience

Twin sisters Helen and Rachel Lee have dedicated themselves to repeal of the sales tax on feminine hygiene products.

Graduate helps victims of Syrian war 'rise again'

Haya Kaliounji founded the non-profit, Rise Again, which provides people wounded in the conflict in her home country with free prosthetic limbs.

Beach volleyball women earn 2nd straight NCAA title, UCLA's 117th overall

Later in the year, the softball team added UCLA's 118th national championship.

Michelle Obama and stars inspire future college students at Pauley Pavilion rally

College Signing Day was hosted by UC and Reach Higher, the college access and success initiative launched by the former first lady.

More student and campus news

Environment and climate

Arctic sea ice.

Arctic Ocean could be ice-free for part of the year as soon as 2044

UCLA study finds the ominous change could happen earlier than previously thought.

Many pregnancies are shorter as climate change causes more 90-degree days

Researchers estimate that about 25,000 births per year were affected over two decades.

UCLA experts are studying how the Woolsey fire affects plant and animal recovery

Research teams closely monitor the Santa Monica Mountains to examine impacts throughout the food chain.

UCLA aflutter over the butterfly effect

Why there were so many painted lady butterflies in Southern California this year.

More environment and climate news

Nation, world and society

Stefanie Keenan/Getty Images for UCLA
Terry George, Kim Kardashian West, Khloe Kardashian and Dr. Eric Esrailian.

UCLA to launch institute for scholarship on Armenia and its diaspora

The interdisciplinary institute, the first initiative of its size and scope, was created with a gift from the estate of Kirk Kerkorian.

Unearthing the mystery of the meaning of Easter Island's Moai

The Rapanui people most likely believed the ancient monoliths helped food to grow on the Polynesian island.

Political scientists launch one of largest-ever public opinion surveys

As the nation heads into another contentious presidential campaign, UCLA will study what drives voters' choices in 2020.

Black youth in Los Angeles County face an 'accumulation of disadvantage'

The study's authors urge educators and policymakers to address poverty, health and educational practices that undermine achievement and opportunity.

More nation, world and society news

Arts and culture

Warner Bros.
Director Patty Jenkins and actor Gal Gadot on the set of "Wonder Woman."

Hollywood Diversity Report finds bright spots for women and minorities

"We feel confident our partners in Hollywood today see the value of diversity in ways that they did not before," said Darnell Hunt, dean of the UCLA College Division of Social Sciences.

Inviting the public into the classroom for '10 Questions: Centennial Edition'

UCLA Arts program brings the public together with students and 30 leading minds from across campus to engage in conversations around 10 essential topics.

Wadada Leo Smith, musician and composer, receives UCLA Medal

The genre-defying artist was awarded the campus’s highest honor. This year's medal winners.

Expanded graduate art studios open in Culver City

The 48,000 square foot campus, designed with sustainable systems and materials, creates a true artist's neighborhood.

More arts and culture news

Community and service

UCLA UniCamp
UniCamp 2019 counselors

UCLA UniCamp is so much more than summer camp

Since 1934, student counselors at the Bruin-led camp have learned that volunteering with low-income kids is a life-altering experience.

Dental clinic shines as beacon of health and dignity

For 50 years, UCLA faculty and students have provided affordable oral health care for tens of thousands in Venice and beyond.

Engineers went into the field after major California earthquakes

Q&A with professor Jonathan Stewart about what the UCLA team he organized learned from the swarm of Ridgecrest quakes.

Thanks to UCLA and Make-A-Wish, 6-year-old gymnast scores a perfect 10

Joselin Palma became a member of the Bruin gymnastics team for a day.

More community and service news

Supporting UCLA

Mike Yarish/©2019 Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.
Actor and UCLA alumna Mayim Bialik takes a selfie with senior Kemeka Corry on the set of "The Big Bang Theory."

Henry and Susan Samueli give $100 million to expand engineering school

The couple have now given more than $188 million to UCLA and more than $478 million overall to the University of California.

David Geffen adds $46 million to landmark medical scholarships program

The reinvestment brings his total giving to UCLA to more than $450 million.

Faculty couple leaves $10.5 million for undergraduate scholarships

The bequest by Sidney Roberts and Clara Szego Roberts reflects the couple's backgrounds — both benefited from college scholarships — and their passion for science and the arts.

Bazinga! 'The Big Bang Theory' to support twice as many UCLA students

Undergraduates who received scholarships to pursue science, technology, engineering or math degrees visited the cast and crew on set.

More UCLA support news

Faculty and staff

John D. & Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation
Kelly Lytle Hernandez, professor and director of the UCLA Ralph J. Bunche Center for African American Studies.

Oncologist Dennis Slamon wins 2019 Lasker Award for clinical medical research

The prominent cancer researcher was honored for his invention of the breast cancer drug Herceptin.

Historian Kelly Lytle Hernández awarded MacArthur Fellowship

The renowned scholar of race, mass incarceration and immigration said she will continue to expand her social justice work.

Carter named executive vice chancellor and provost">Emily A. Carter named executive vice chancellor and provost

Carter took over as the chief academic officer of UCLA.

'I was shocked and grateful:' UCLA nurse wins nurse of the year award

Q&A with Melissa Reider-Demer, who was honored by a national organization that promotes clinical safety, patient experience and workforce engagement.

More faculty and staff news

Rankings headlines

UCLA named No. 1 U.S. public institution by U.S. News & World Report for third consecutive year


UCLA is No. 1 public college in 2020 Wall Street Journal/Times Higher Education ranking


UCLA Health hospitals rank No. 1 in L.A. and California, No. 6 in U.S.


More rankings news