Professor of Chemistry and Biochemistry

University of California San Diego
Office: Pacific Hall 5225A
Phone: 858-822-0456
Full CV
Google Scholar Link


Emmanuel A. Theodorakis received his B.Sc. Degree in Chemistry from the University of Athens, Greece, and his M.Sc. and Ph.D. Degree in Organic Chemistry from Paris XI University (Université d’ Orsay), France. His M.Sc. studies were performed at the Institute of Chemistry of Natural Products (ICSN-CNRS) under the direction of Professor H.-P. Husson, while his Ph.D. studies were performed at Texas A&M University under the direction of Sir Derek H. R. Barton. Following a postdoctoral appointment at TSRI under the mentorship of Professor K. C. Nicolaou, in 1995 he joined the faculty at UCSD where he is currently a Professor and Section Chair at the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry. His research focuses on the synthesis and biological studies of natural products and the design of small molecules as fluorescent probes for applications in imaging and sensing.


Over the span of his academic career, Professor Theodorakis has taught several classes including undergraduate organic chemistry (2nd and 3 quarter), Molecules that changed the world, Chemistry and drug discovery, Synthetic methods and Classics in Total synthesis. At present, he is teaching the following classes:

• Undergraduate organic chemistry (Chem 40B): The class material covers topics such as NMR, IR, MS and UV spectroscopy, the chemistry of alcohols, alkenes, alkynes, polyenes and allylic groups as well as the chemistry of carbonyl and carboxylic acid group. The class has a typical enrollment of 300-400 students and an instructor approval rate of 80-95%.

• Advanced organic chemistry class entitled “Synthetic Methods in Organic Chemistry” (Chem 152/252) for both senior undergraduates and incoming graduate students. The class material covers topics such as oxidations, reductions, protection/deprotection, and carbon-carbon bond forming reactions (catalytic and stoichiometric). The class has a typical enrollment of 70-100 students and an instructor approval rate of 80-100%.


One of the most important responsibilities of a university professor is to maintain a suitable environment for the education and training of all group members. Professor Theodorakis believes that students should develop not only proper laboratory skills but also critical scientific thinking. An open door policy as well as weekly group meetings accelerate experimental troubleshooting, facilitate exchange of ideas, encourage collaborations and promote scientific advancement. This close interaction is mutually beneficial and highly rewarding. Professor Theodorakis enjoys following the successful careers of his former group members and is proud of their accomplishments. At present, he has mentored more than 40 graduate students, more than 20 postdocs/visiting scholars and more than 50 undergraduate students. In most of these cases, the initial mentee-mentor relationship has evolved into a long-lasting friendship.

Diversity and Outreach

Professor Theodorakis and his group are engaged in various outreach activities including speaking at various conferences, symposia, institutions and schools, organizing conferences, and participating in career development workshops. These activities aim to convey to a broader audience the significance and excitement of scientific research. For a variety of departmental outreach and diversity activities see:

Professional Service

Professor Theodorakis participates in various scientific activities including: (a) reviewing scientific manuscripts and proposals, (b) acting as editorial board member of various journals, (c) consulting for various companies, (d) providing scientific expertise for patent litigation, and (e) participating in committees for the evaluation/accreditation of Chemistry and Pharmacy programs. He has also served as a member of the scientific advisory board of Nereus Pharmaceuticals and Senomyx Inc.