Alvine Kamaha, assistant professor of physics at UCLA, won the 2024 Edward A. Bouchet Award from the American Physical Society for her leadership and accomplishments in the experimental search for dark matter in the universe and advancement of underrepresented minority scientists. Her research on radioactive contaminant control programs and calibration techniques to improve the sensitivity of dark matter detectors are geared to discover the so-called missing matter of the universe.

Kamaha joined the team assembling the state-of-the art LUX-ZEPLIN dark matter detector in 2018. She co-led the successful effort to keep it free of contamination during its assembly and the installation and commissioning of the calibration system of the highly sensitive completed instrument. Since then, Kamaha and her colleagues have been collecting and analyzing data, as well as developing new calibration technologies to further improve the already impressive sensitivity of the detector.

As UCLA’s inaugural Keith and Cecilia Terasaki Endowed Chair in Physical Sciences, Kamaha speaks passionately about inspiring students — particularly undergraduate students — to become physicists.

“Most of all, I want to share my love for physics and demystify it.,” she said. “I have used my time to train students informally and formally on key skills they need to become the scientists of tomorrow. I want them to know it doesn’t matter what category they fit in — I want them to know that they can do science and excel at it.”