Faculty Spotlight: Hosea Nelson

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Nelson Hosea

Congratulations to Professor Hosea Nelson on his promotion to associate professor with tenure, effective July 1, 2021.

Nelson earned a B.S. in Chemistry from University of California at Berkeley in 2004 and a Ph.D. from the California Institute of Technology in 2012 with Professor Brian Stoltz. After postdoctoral training at University of California at Berkeley with Professor Dean Toste, Hosea joined the UCLA faculty in 2015. That same year he was chosen as one of C&EN’s Talented Twelve

The research in Nelson’s group focuses on the discovery of chemical reactions that will enable the efficient and environmentally benign syntheses of fuels, materials and medicines. He and his team take an interdisciplinary approach, exploring chemical concepts that combine organic synthesis, inorganic chemistry and molecular biology. His laboratory is working to develop artificial systems that can catalyze chemical reactions in response to gene activation inside cells. Nelson’s long-term goal is to design catalysts that can operate within the body to synthesize specific drugs when and where they are needed.

Nelson Group
The Nelson group (including Official Nelson Lab dog Abi) in 2019.

In 2017, Nelson and his team developed a new technique for breaking carbon-hydrogen bonds and making carbon-carbon bonds. The approach uses catalysts made of two abundant and inexpensive elements, silicon and boron. Their research was published in Science.

Nelson is part of the team who have made profound discoveries through their use of electron microscopy, a field undergoing a revolution so significant that it was recognized through the 2017 Nobel Prize in Chemistry. 

In 2020, Nelson spoke about his research and the importance of diversity and inclusion in the sciences in a Physical Sciences video.

Nelson’s many other awards and honors include 2020 Novartis Early Career Award in Organic Chemistry, 2020 Eli Lilly Grantee Award for Organic Chemistry, 2019 Arthur C Cope Scholar Award, 2019 UCLA Alpha Chi Sigma (AXΣ) Glenn Seaborg Award, 2018 Pew Scholar in Biomedical Sciences, 2018 Sloan Research Fellowship, and 2017 Packard Fellowship for Science and Engineering.

Penny Jennings, UCLA Department of Chemistry & Biochemistry, penny@chem.ucla.edu.