Paula Diaconescu joined the UCLA Chemistry & Biochemistry department in 2005, after spending two-years as a postdoctoral fellow in the group of Prof. Robert Grubbs at California Institute of Technology. She obtained her Ph.D. degree under the supervision of Prof. Christopher Cummins at Massachusetts Institute of Technology working on arene-bridged complexes of uranium. Her earlier education was completed in Romania, where she obtained her B.S. from University of Bucharest and worked on coordination complexes of transition metals and lanthanides at University Politehnica of Bucharest. Her current research efforts focus on the design of reactive metal complexes with applications to small molecule activation, organic synthesis, and polymer formation.
Dr. Paula Diaconescu’s current research efforts focus on the design of reactive metal complexes with applications to small molecule activation, organic synthesis, and polymer formation.
Early transition metals, lanthanides, and uranium
Early transition metals, lanthanides, and uranium (d0fn elements) have shown impressive reactivity in transformations ranging from the activation of small, inert molecules such as methane, dinitrogen, and carbon dioxide to reactions with applications in natural product synthesis (e.g. hydroamination) and formation of biodegradable polymers. The high reactivity of d0fn metal centers makes it difficult to tune their behavior without rendering them unreactive. Our solution to this problem involves the design and synthesis of complexes with specific geometric and electronic properties. For example, weak interactions, such as electronic assistance from an electron rich metal center, are used in small molecule activation to generate highly reactive metal species. In a uranium bisferrocene compound, uranium was found to mediate the electronic communication between the two iron centers better than zirconium did in an analogous complex.
Monreal, M. J., Carver, C. T., Diaconescu, P. L., Inorganic Chemistry 2007, 46(18), 7226-7228
Honors & Awards
- Guggenheim Fellow (2015)
- Bessel Award
- Humboldt Foundation (2014)
- AXE Seaborg Award
- NSF CAREER
- Sloan Fellowship
- UCLA Faculty Career Development Award
- BP Postdoctoral Fellowship
- Bruker/MIT Symposium Poster Prize
- MIT Department of Chemistry Teaching Assistant Award
- P & G Fellowship
- University of Bucharest National Scholarship