Cristina Nevado’s Personal Story of Discovery

Professor Cristina Nevado has a passion for art. Like an artist, she’s always found inspiration in seeking to understand the world around her. Now that curiosity is improving our understanding of organometallic reactions.

Professor Nevado is a Professor in the Department of Chemistry at the University of Zurich. She is also a Senior Editor for ACS Central Science.


While growing up in Spain, Professor Nevado had a natural curiosity. “This is part of the motivation to become a scientist, to be able to understand what is going on in the background to make things work.” Her interest in science grew after taking chemistry and physics classes from a teacher who had an infectious passion for the subjects.  “I remember sitting in those classes and thinking, wow, it cannot get any better than this.”

After receiving her Ph.D. in organic chemistry at the Autónoma University of Madrid with a special focus on how metals catalyze and improve reactions, she worked on a completely different area—natural product synthesis—for her post-doc at the Max-Planck-Institut für Kohlenforschung in Germany. And during her time as both a grad student and post-doc, she had exposure to using computational tools in research.

This background proved to be inspirational to her as she started her independent research as a professor at the University of Zurich. Her lab conducts research in three primary areas. First, her group seeks to develop new processes for the construction of C-C and C-X bonds based on late-transition-metal catalysis. Second, they work to streamline the synthesis of complex natural products by implementing these new processes. A final focus is on molecular-level computational and experimental studies of relevant biological processes influenced by advanced organic molecules such as cancer progression, cancer metastasis, and cell motility.

The need to collaborate with other scientists was an aspect of being a scientist that greatly appealed to Professor Nevado.

“I have from the very beginning tried to combine our synthetic program with computational tools both in the area of methodology development, to understand reaction mechanisms, but also in the area of medicinal chemistry, we take advantage of tools to design actual molecules to improve our design and also to speed up our design. So I think this interface between synthesis and computation is one of those beautiful examples in which you see that, these days, collaborations are more needed than ever.”

Read selected research by Professor Cristina Nevado

Nickel-Catalyzed Reductive Dicarbofunctionalization of Alkenes
J. Am. Chem. Soc., 2017,139 (20), pp 6835–6838
DOI: 10.1021/jacs.7b03195

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Pd-Catalyzed Stereoselective Carboperfluoroalkylation of Alkynes
J. Am. Chem. Soc., 2015,137 (36), pp 11610–11613
DOI: 10.1021/jacs.5b07432

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Gold-Catalyzed Ethynylation of Arenes
J. Am. Chem. Soc., 2010, 132 (5), pp 1512–1513
DOI: 10.1021/ja909726h

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Chemical Space Expansion of Bromodomain Ligands Guided by in Silico Virtual Couplings (AutoCouple)
ACS Cent. Sci., (2018), 4, 180–188
DOI: 10.1021/acscentsci.7b00401

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Evidence for Direct Transmetalation of AuIII-F with Boronic Acids
J. Am. Chem. Soc. (2016), 138, 13790-13793
DOI: 10.1021/jacs.6b07763

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