The Achim Lab

About Catalina Achim

photo of Catalina Achim

Phone: (412) 268-9588
Fax: (412) 268-1061
Office: Mellon Institute 833

Catalina grew up in Măcin, Romania, a city of ten thousand people on the board of the river Danube, about two hundred miles away from the Black Sea. The Roman ruins of the city Arrubium can be still seen at the outskirts of Macin and testify to the city’s two thousand-year existence.

She received her B.S. and M.S. in Chemistry from the Faculty of Chemistry of the Polytechnical Institute of Bucharest, Romania. After four years as research analytical chemist at the Meteorological Institute in Bucharest and as teaching assistant in the Department of Inorganic Chemistry of the Faculty of Chemistry of the University of Bucharest, she came in 1993 to Carnegie Melon University in Pittsburgh to obtain her Ph.D. She worked with Eckard Münck and Emile Bominaar on the characterization of iron proteins that have electron transfer role and on the structure and function elucidation of non-heme iron-oxo enzymes. In 1999, she joined the laboratory of R. H. Holm at Harvard and worked for two years on synthesis and characterization of mixed-valence iron complexes as well as on the use of peptides as scaffold for Fe-S cluster incorporation. She came back to the Department of Chemistry at Carnegie Mellon University as Assistant Professor of Inorganic Chemistry in 2001.

She was promoted to Associate Professor in 2007 and Professor in 2012. Since January 2013, Catalina Achim serves as (rotating) Program Director in the Chemistry of Life Processes Program at the US National Science Foundation.



2010 Julius Askhin Teaching Award, Mellon College of Science, Carnegie Mellon University
2006 Sloan Research Fellowship Award
2004 NSF Career Award
2004 ACS PROGRESS/Dreyfus Lectureship
2003 Camille Dreyfus Teacher-Scholar Award
2001 NIH National Research Service Award
1997 Graduate Student Award of the Spectroscopy Society of Pittsburgh for characterization of novel iron- oxo proteins using Mössbauer spectroscopy
1987-1989 National Merit Scholarship, Romania
1985 2nd Prize in the National Competition for Undergraduates in Analytical Chemistry, Romania


Member of the American Chemical Society

Member of the Society for Biological Inorganic Chemistry


BS, 1988, University of Bucharest, Romania
MS, 1989, University of Bucharest, Romania
PhD, 1998, Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh, PA
Postdoctoral fellow, 1999–2001, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA

Professional Experience

2013-present Program Director, Chemistry of Life Processes
National Science Foundation, Division of Chemistry
2012-present Professor
Carnegie Mellon University, Department of Chemistry
2009–present Associate Director, Center for Nucleic Acids Science and Technology
Carnegie Mellon University
2007-2012 Associate Professor
Carnegie Mellon University, Department of Chemistry
2005–2008 Research Associate in the Section of Minerals
Carnegie Museum of Natural History
2001-2007 Assistant Professor
Carnegie Mellon University, Department of Chemistry

Synthesis and characterization of polynuclear complexes

1999- 2001 Postdoctoral fellow with Prof. Richard H. Holm
Harvard University, Department of Chemistry and Chemical Biology

Synthesis and characterization of mixed-valence complexes

Solid-phase synthesis of peptides for Fe-S cluster incorporation

1993-1998 Graduate student with Prof. Eckard Münck
Department of Chemistry, Carnegie Mellon University

Characterization of novel iron-oxo proteins

Studies of [2Fe-2S] clusters from wild-type and mutants of C. pasteurianum

Theoretical studies of the relation between intra- and intermolecular electron-transfer properties of mixed-valent clusters with Dr. Emile Bominaar.

1991-1993 Research assistant, laboratory of Prof. M. Brezeanu
University of Bucharest, Department of Chemistry

Synthesis and characterization of platinum complexes with potential biological activity

1989-1991 Chemist, Air Pollution Research Laboratory, Meteorological and Hydrological Institute, Bucharest, Romania

Developed methods for analysis of trace elements

Research Projects
Supramolecular Assemblies Containing Transition Metal Ions
Magneto-electronics of Transition-metal Clusters


Group Members

Group Photos

Photos of Our Lab

About Catalina Achim

Employment Opportunities

Outreach: DNAZone

Carnegie Mellon    Department of Chemistry    Center For Nucleic Acids Science And Technology