There are four Nobel laureates in chemistry and physics at UC Santa Barbara. Numerous other faculty honors include National Medals of Science, a National Medal of Technology,  a Millennium Technology Prize, and the Humboldt Research Award. Thirty-three professors are elected members of the National Academy of Sciences; twenty-two are members of the National Academy of Engineering; and two have been elected to the Institute of Medicine.

The campus ranks 3rd in the country—behind Harvard and Massachusetts Institute of Technology—in the percentage of its assistant professors who receive prestigious research awards from the NSF and three private foundations. These organizations—the Arnold and Mabel Beckman, David and Lucile Packard, and Alfred P. Sloan foundations—award fellowships in science and engineering to researchers early in their faculty careers. Most recently, in 2011, Songi Han, associate professor of chemistry and biochemistry, received a 2011 New Innovator Award from the National Institutes of Health, and Benjamin Mazin, assistant professor of physics, received a Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers.

Many members of our science faculty have received campus awards for teaching and research. Recent recipients of the Plous Award, given by the College of Letters and Science to assistant professors who have shown exceptional achievement in research, teaching and service to the university, include Tommaso Treu (Physics) and  and Thuc-Quyen Nguyen (Chemistry and Biochemistry).  Recent recipients of the Academic Senate's Distinguished Teaching Award include Thomas Even (EEMB); Dawn Holmes (Statistics and Applied Probability); Stanley Klein (Psychological and Brain Sciences); Michael Mahan (MCDB); and Robert Warner (EEMB).