Faculty Spotlight: Paula Diaconescu

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Diaconescu Paula 2015

The department would like to congratulate Professor Paula Diaconescu on her promotion to the rank of full professor effective July 1, 2015.

The rank of (Full) Professor is the highest rank that a professor can achieve (other than a named or administrative position) and is conferred upon sustained and distinguished track record of scholarly achievement within one’s university and academic discipline.  

Professor Diaconescu joined the UCLA Chemistry & Biochemistry department in 2005, after spending two years as a postdoctoral fellow in the group of Professor Robert Grubbs at the California Institute of Technology. She obtained her Ph.D. degree in 2003 under the supervision of Professor 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. (1998) from the University of Bucharest and worked on coordination complexes of transition metals and lanthanides at the University Politehnica of Bucharest (1995-1998). 

In addition to the Guggenheim fellowship she received in 2015, her awards and honors include the Alfred P. Sloan Fellowship, the National Science Foundation CAREER Award, and the Friedrich Wilhelm Bessel Research Award from the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation. 

A co-author on over 80 research papers (more than 55 of the papers resulted from her research group’s work at UCLA), Professor Diaconescu has given more than 100 presentations nationally and internationally and is an editorial board member for the journals Inorganic Chemistry Frontiers and Organometallics.  

Diaconescu Paula
Professor Paula Diaconescu with ferrocene, an organometallic compound used in her research.
The Diaconescu group is interested in the design and synthesis of molecules such as metal complexes with specific geometric and electronic properties. Current research efforts focus on the design of reactive metal complexes with applications to small molecule activation, organic synthesis, and polymer formation. A new project in the group is redox switchable catalysis. This new area of chemistry is inspired by nature’s sensory processes and uses external agents as switches in order to control the catalytic activity of multiple species with different reactivity. 
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The Diaconescu group – (left to right) Dr. Xinke Wang (former group member), Stephanie Quan, Jonathan Brosmer, Jun Gao (former group member), and Mark Abubekerov.  Not pictured: Scott Shepard, Alexander Laughlin, and Rongjia Zhang.
To learn more about Professor Diaconescu’s research please visit her group’s website.