Professor Ong is carrying out research in Astroparticle Physics- a young 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 are produced in cosmic accelerators that are powered by spinning neutron stars (pulsars), by the expansion of supernova shells into the interstellar medium, by the accretion of mass onto black holes (active galactic nuclei), or by the 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 also 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), and Fermi (a satellite gamma-ray telescope launched by NASA in June 2008). 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, having chaired the UCLA Physics graduate student admissions committee for the five years between 2003 and 2008.
Astroparticle Physics at UCLA:
UCLA has built a strong and very active group in astroparticle physics. Comprising ten 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 at the interface between, and 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 either the Ph.D. program in Physics or the Ph.D. program in Astronomy.