Professor Rene Ong is carrying out research in Astroparticle Physics - a dynamic and growing field at the interface of physics and astronomy. His current work focuses on the astrophysics of the high-energy Universe, as revealed by gamma rays, neutrinos, and cosmic rays, and on the quest to understand the nature of dark matter. High-energy particles can be produced by many different types of cosmic accelerators, including spinning neutron stars (pulsars), expanding shells of supernova remnants, jets of active galactic nuclei (AGN), and explosions of massive stars (gamma-ray bursts). High-energy particles can also come from new physics processes such as dark matter particle annihilation or primordial black hole evaporation. Dark matter annihilation can produce excess anti-matter particles that can be detected by balloon or satellilte detectors.
Ong's group at UCLA is involved in a number of forefront instruments in astroparticle physics. These instruments include VERITAS (a state-of-the-art ground-based gamma-ray observatory), GAPS (a balloon-borne experiment to search for signatures of dark matter annihilations in the cosmic rays), Fermi (a satellite gamma-ray telescope) and CTA (a very large ground-based gamma-ray observatory that is under development). Click here for details on these projects and on their scientific goals.
Prior to working in the field of high-energy astronomy, Rene Ong carried out research in cosmic ray physics and particle physics. For a list of selected publications that spans his research career, please look here.
Teaching and Education:
An important part of working at a university is a commitment to teaching with a goal of educating future scientists as well as improving the understanding and appreciation of science among the general public. Starting in 1991, Rene Ong has been heavily involved in all aspects of education, including: 1) teaching undergraduate classes, ranging from introductory courses in physics and astronomy for non-science majors to upper-level courses for physics majors, 2) teaching graduate classes and seminars, and 3) involving graduate, undergraduate and high-school students in research activities. A list of courses taught at UCLA and the University of Chicago can be found here. Ong has also been closely involved in graduate student admissions and recruitment, both at the University of Chicago and at UCLA, where he chaired the UCLA Physics graduate student admissions committee the period of 2003 to 2008.
Astroparticle Physics at UCLA:
UCLA has built a strong and very active group in astroparticle physics. Comprising nine faculty members and more than forty researchers overall, the group is involved in experimental and theoretical research in the areas of dark matter, high-energy astrophysics (using gamma rays, cosmic rays and neutrinos), and cosmology. The research carried out in astroparticle physics at UCLA is closely connected to research in the areas of experimental elementary particle physics (EEP), theoretical elementary particle physics (TEP), and astronomy. We welcome prospective graduate students interested in astroparticle physics to apply to the Ph.D. program in Physics or the Ph.D. program in Astronomy.