Nadia G. Léonard

Assistant Professor

Office Hours

By Appointment

Contact Phone

(805) 893-2605

Office Location

CHEM 3223


Inorganic & Organometallic

Energy, Catalysis & Green Chemistry

Molecular Design & Synthesis

Biologically Inspired Chemistry



Nadia received her Sc.B. in Chemistry at Brown University in 2012. She continued her studies in 2014 and pursued a Ph.D. in Chemistry at Princeton University, where she was a NSF Graduate Research Fellow under the guidance of Prof. Paul Chirik. Her doctoral research focused on developing earth-abundant transition metal catalysts for various site-selective C–H functionalization and hydrofunctionalization reactions. Following completion of her Ph.D. in 2019, she joined Prof. Jenny Yang’s research group at the University of California, Irvine, where she was a UC President’s Postdoctoral Fellow. Her research focused on understanding at a molecular level how electrostatic interactions, key to a variety of enzymatic processes, can be incorporated and harnessed at synthetic systems for reaction control. Nadia joined the faculty as an Assistant Professor in the Department of Chemistry & Biochemistry at the University of California, Santa Barbara in 2023.


Research in the Léonard Lab is centered on the design of inorganic molecular complexes and materials with unique physical and catalytic properties aimed at addressing some of the world’s most pressing challenges related to energy storage and conversion, pollutant sensing, and sustainable catalysis. We apply fundamental principles from coordination chemistry, enzymatic active sites, and electrochemistry to rationally tune the behavior and reactivity of our synthetic systems. The initial targets are (1) the activation of pollutants such as CO2 into valuable multi-carbon organic products; (2) the design of earth-abundant photoactive complexes for a variety photochemical and catalytic applications; and (3) the development of chemical sensing materials. Our approach combines synthesis with electrochemical and spectroscopic techniques. Researchers in the lab will employ physical characterization, mechanistic analysis, and kinetic studies to improve complex design and optimize reactivity.



Nguyen, H. M.; Morgan, W. T.; Chantarojsiri, T.; Kerr, T. A.; Yang, J. Y.; Alexandrova, A. N.;* Léonard, N. G.* Charge and Solvent Effects on the Redox Behavior of Vanadyl Salen-Crown Complexes. J. Phys. Chem. A 2023, 127, 5324-5334.

Léonard, N. G.; Chantarojsiri, T.; Ziller, J. W.; Yang, J. Y. Cationic Effects on the Effective Hydrogen Atom Bond Dissociation Free Energy of High Valent Manganese Imido Complexes. J. Am. Chem. Soc. 2022, 144, 1503-1508.

Léonard, N. G.;§ Dhaoui, R.;§ Chantarojsiri, T.; Yang, J. Y. Electric Fields in Catalysis: From Enzymes to Molecular Catalysts. ACS Catal. 2021, 11, 10923-10932.

Léonard, N. G.; Yruegas, S.; Ho, S. C.; Sattler, A.; Bezdek, M. J.; Chirik, P. J. Synthesis of Cationic, Dimeric a-Diimine Nickel Hydride Complexes and Relevance to the Polymerization of Olefins. Organometallics 2020, 39, 2630-2635.

Léonard, N. G.; Palmer, W. N.; Friedfeld, M. R.; Bezdek, M. J.; Chirik, P. J. Remote, Diastereoselective Cobalt-Catalyzed Alkene Isomerization-Hydroboration: Access to Stereodefined 1,3-Difunctionalized Indanes. ACS Catal. 2019, 9, 9034-9044.

Rummelt, S. M.; Zhong, H.; Léonard, N. G., Semproni, S. P.; Chirik, P. J. Oxidative Addition of Dihydrogen, Boron Compounds, and Aryl Halides to a Cobalt(I) Cation Supported by a Strong-Field Pincer Ligand. Organometallics 2019, 38, 1081-1090.

Léonard, N. G.; Chirik, P. J. Air-stable a-Diimine Nickel Precatalysts for the Hydrogenation of Hindered, Unactivated Alkenes. ACS Catal. 2018, 8, 342-348.

Léonard, N. G.; Bezdek, M. J.; Chirik, P. J. Cobalt-Catalyzed C(sp2)–H Borylation with an Air-Stable, Readily Prepared Terpyridine Cobalt(II) Cis(acetate) Precatalyst. Organometallics 2017, 36, 142-150.

Léonard, N. G.; Parker, G. V.; Williard, P. G.; Bernskoetter, W. H. Coordination Chemistry of Iridium Phosphine-Sulfonate Complexes. J. Inorg. Organomet. Polym. 2014, 24, 157-163.

Léonard, N. G.; Williard, P. G.; Bernskoetter, W. H. Synthesis and Coordination Chemistry of Organoiridium Complexes Supported by an Anionic Tridentate Ligand. Dalton Trans. 2011, 40, 4300-4306.

(Undergraduate coauthor. *Co-corresponding authors. §These authors contributed equally.)