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The UC Santa Cruz Division of Physical & Biological Sciences has three large international research institutes, a 10,000-acre Natural Reserve System, and multiple research centers that are responsible for some of the most pivotal scientific discoveries during the last 50 years.

Research Institutes

IMS works to increase our knowledge of the world's oceans, the complex processes that affect their behavior, their fascinating inhabitants, and how people and environmental conditions impact them.
SCIPP leads research in experimental and theoretical particle physics and astrophysics, including the development of new technologies and applications to other fields, creating opportunities for students at all levels.
Photo of UCO Lick telescope at sunset by Willie Martini for UCO Lick.
UCO is a multi-campus astronomical research unit, with headquarters at UC Santa Cruz. The world-renowned institute operates Lick Observatory and is a managing partner of Keck Observatory in Hawaii.

Research Centers & Natural Reserve System

CfAO explores new adaptive optics (AO) techniques, provides training for our students and postdocs, and develops and tests new components that advance AO technologies in science, health care, industry, and education.
The world’s largest group of RNA research laboratories in the world that collectively contribute to the exploration of ribonucleic acid and the human genome.
CfNO directs the development of optofluidic devices and their application to single particle studies in molecular biology and biomedical diagnostics.
The center explores the geophysics of surface processes and changes affecting the ocean, land, and land-sea interface on Earth and other planets, as well as the search for extraterrestrial life.
Eschscholzia californica on hillside overlooking the Monterey Bay at the UC Santa Cruz Landels-Hill Big Creek Natural Reserve
The 10,000-acre NRS supports long-term research and teaching on protected lands at five natural reserves along the Central Coast of California.