Alexandra Velian's research group is pursuing the total synthesis of atomically-precise inorganic nanomaterials for catalytic, electronic and quantum information applications. In 2020, Alexandra received the NSF Career award funding work on elucidating and harnessing metal–support interactions in single atom catalysts using designer nanoclusters as functional models.
Originally from Romania, Alexandra completed her undergraduate studies in chemistry at Caltech. There, she conducted research primarily with Professor Theodor Agapie. As the first member of his group, she developed the synthesis of low-valent mono- and bimetallic complexes supported by a terphenyl diphosphine framework. She then received her Ph.D under the direction of Professor Christopher C. Cummins at MIT, where she developed the synthesis of anthracene and niobium-supported precursors to reactive phosphorus fragments and studied their behavior using chemical, spectroscopic, and computational methods. For her work, she was awarded the Alan Davison Prize for the Best Thesis in Inorganic Chemistry at MIT, and the ACS Division of Inorganic Chemistry Young Investigator Award. Following her PhD, Alexandra was a Materials Research Science & Engineering Center postdoctoral fellow with Professor Colin Nuckolls at Columbia University, where she worked on creating well-defined functional nanostructures by linking atomically precise metal chalcogenide clusters.