Prof. Paula Diaconescu


Paula 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 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. from the University of Bucharest and worked on coordination complexes of transition metals and lanthanides at the University Politehnica of Bucharest.

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 redox switchable catalysts. 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. The findings from this research project also further the understanding of fundamental aspects of catalysis.

Paula has co-authored about 120 research papers since 1997. She is an Alfred P. Sloan Fellow (2009), a Guggenheim Fellow (2015), and an American Association for the Advancement of Science Fellow (2019), and received the National Science Foundation CAREER Award (2009) and the Friedrich Wilhelm Bessel Research Award from the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation (2014). She has given more than 150 presentations nationally and internationally, is an associate editor for Inorganic Chemistry Frontiers, and an editorial board member for Organometallics, iScience, Chem Catalysis, and WikiJournal of Science.


  1. Switchable Ring-Opening Polymerization by a Ferrocene Supported Aluminum Complex. Lai, Amy; Hern, Zachary C.; Diaconescu, Paula L. ChemCatChem 201911, 4210-4218.
  2. Computational mapping of redox-switchable metal complexes based on ferrocene derivatives. Lai, Amy; Clifton, Jamie; Diaconescu, Paula L.; Fey, Natalie Chem. Commun. 201955, 7021-7024.
  3. Investigation of a Zirconium Compound for Redox Switchable Ring Opening Polymerization. Dai, Ruxi; Diaconescu, Paula L. Dalton Transactions 201948, 2996-3002.
  4. Redox-Switchable Ring-Opening Polymerization with Ferrocene Derivatives. Wei, Junnian; Diaconescu, Paula L. Accounts of Chemical Research 201952 (2) , 415-424.

Group Website