Joshua Figueroa

Chemistry and Biochemistry


Research Focus
Inorganic, Organometallic and Materials Chemistry: Synthesis, Small Molecule Activation and New Transformations.

Research Summary

Research in the Figueroa Group centers on the design and synthesis of highly tailored and reactive transition metal complexes for small molecule activation chemistry. A major focus is the development of new and useful transformations of stable small molecules such as N2, O2 and CO2. We hope to discover efficient means to utilize these abundant chemical feedstocks in transformations relevant to organic synthesis, industry and alternative energy. A second theme is the modulation and control of redox equivalents in chemical reactions through the explicit use of redox-active ligands and/or spectator agents.

Students in the Figueroa group will become well-versed in organic and inorganic synthetic methodologies. In addition, we routinely use a host of spectroscopic techniques including UV-vis, FTIR, EPR and multi-nuclear NMR. X-ray crystallography and quantum-chemical calculations (DFT) are also major components of our research effort and allow us to both predict and interpret molecules of interest.

Joshua Figueroa
Lab Website


Professor Figueroa completed his graduate studies at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 2005 under the direction of Christopher C. Cummins. From 2005-2007, he was a National Institutes of Health Postdoctoral Fellow at Columbia University in the laboratory of Gerard Parkin. He is currently a Professor of Chemistry and Materials Science at the University of California, San Diego (UCSD), having started his independent career there in 2007. Figueroa’s research and educational efforts have been recognized with several awards, including the National Science Foundation CAREER Award (2009), an Alfred P. Sloan Research Fellowship (2011), the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE, 2011), the Department of Energy Early Career Research Award (2012) and the Camille Dreyfus Teacher-Scholar Award (2012). He was named a Fellow of the Royal Society of Chemistry (UK) in 2014 and an Alexander von Humboldt Research Fellow in 2017. Most recently he received a 2021 NSF Award for Special Creativity for his synthetic work on low-valent transition metal isocyanide compounds. Figueroa’s research interests are focused broadly on synthetic inorganic, organometallic, and materials chemistry and applications in catalysis.