top of page

Meet Makeda

Makeda Tekle-Smith was born and raised in Santa Barbara, California. She obtained  her B.A. in chemistry at Pomona College in 2014. As an undergraduate, she investigated new anti-malarial compounds with Prof. Cynthia Selassie. She then obtained her Ph.D. with Prof. James Leighton at Columbia University in 2019. There she developed new methods to construct asymmetric C(sp3)–C(sp3) bonds and applied these technologies to the total synthesis of non-aromatic polyketide natural products. Makeda then went on to conduct her postdoctoral research with Prof. Abigail Doyle first at Princeton University and then at the University of California Los Angeles. Makeda's postdoctoral work has focused on generating and harnessing reactive radical intermediates through photoredox catalysis to unveil new reactivity platforms. Makeda began her independent career at Columbia University in 2022. Along with chemistry, Makeda enjoys mentoring, playing soccer, and art.



2021 - 2022

University of California Los Angeles

Postdoctoral Fellow

2019 - 2021

Princeton University

Princeton Presidential Postdoctoral Fellow

2014 - 2019

Columbia University

PhD in Chemistry

2010 - 2014

Pomona College

BA in Chemistry

Selected Awards

  • Merck Research Award for Underrepresented Chemists of Color (2021)

  • CAS Future Leaders Award (2020)

  • Pegram Award for meritorious achievements in research (2019)

  • WCC/Merck Research Award (2018)

  • Jack Miller Teaching Award (2017)

  • National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellow (2016)

bottom of page