Ana de Bettencourt-Dias

Ana de Bettencourt-Dias

Susan Magee and Gary Clemons Professor of Chemistry She/her/hers


Research interests

The de Bettencourt-Dias group tackles problems related to energy efficiency, therapy, and diagnostics with tools of inorganic, organic and materials chemistry. The group designs, synthesizes and characterizes compounds based on the luminescent lanthanide compounds. They routinely synthesize organic ligands that will enable coordinating lanthanide ions and efficiently transfer energy to achieve optimum light emission. This light emission can be harnessed for efficient multi-color displays. Moreover, by targeted ligand design, the compounds can generate singlet oxygen, and are thus potential phototherapeutic agents for photodynamic cancer therapy. Finally, the group also isolates compounds that report on temperature or viscosity, properties associated with specific diseases, within the intracellular environment, paving the way for more efficient optical biological sensors.


Ana de Bettencourt-Dias received her ‘licenciatura’ (M.S. equivalent) in Technological Chemistry from the University of Lisbon in 1993, and her ‘Dr. rer. nat.’ (Ph.D. equivalent) in Inorganic Chemistry from the University of Cologne in 1997 with Prof. Thomas Kruck. In her graduate work, she isolated new titanium complexes as single source precursors for the chemical vapor deposition of TiN thin layers. She joined the group of Prof. Alan Balch at UC Davis in 1998 as a Gulbenkian postdoctoral fellow, where she studied the electrochemistry and structure of fullerenes and endohedral fullerenes.

In 2001 she joined the faculty at Syracuse University and started her work on luminescent lanthanide ion complexes. She moved to the University of Nevada, Reno as associate professor in 2007 and was promoted to professor in 2013. Her research centers on light-emitting compounds and coordination chemistry of the f block of the periodic table. She has published over 80 peer-reviewed manuscripts, several book chapters and invited editorials and edited two books in lanthanide photophysics. Her work has been funded by the Department of Energy, the National Science Foundation, the Petroleum Research Fund, the Department of Agriculture, the Brazilian National Council for Scientific and Technologic Development, and the Research Foundation of the State of São Paulo.

She served on the editorial advisory board for Inorganic Chemistry from 2013 to 2015, has been on the editorial advisory board for Comments on Inorganic Chemistry since 2016, is a managing member of the editorial board of the Journal of Rare Earths since 2014 and an associate editor for Inorganics since 2022. She has given over 200 oral presentations and was plenary or keynote speaker at several international conferences. She was program chair of the 2011 and conference chair of the 2014 Rare Earth Research Conference, organized the lanthanides and actinides symposia at the national meetings of the American Chemical Society, was the 2019 Chair of the Division of Inorganic Chemistry of the American Chemical Society and is co-program chair for the Division since 2022. She served as the Associate Vice President for Research at the University from 2015 to 2019. She returned to being a full-time faculty in July 2019, and is now the Susan Magee & Gary Clemons Professor of Chemistry. She received the 2006 Science & Technology Award of the Technology Alliance of Central New York, is a 2021 Fellow of the American Chemical Society and a 2022 Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. She has also been named a Foundation Professor and received the 2023 Outstanding Researcher Award from the University.

About the Susan Magee and Gary Clemons Professorship

Mackay School of Mines graduate Gary Clemons '81 (earth science) and his wife, Susan Magee Clemons, established two endowed professorships in chemistry and physics to recognize professors who spark students' curiosity and creativity and motivate them to pursue careers in the fields of chemistry and physics. Established: 2012. (College of Science)


  • Licenciatura (M.Sc.) in Technological Chemistry, University of Lisbon, Portugal (1993)
  • Dr. rer. nat. (Ph.D.) in Inorganic Chemistry, University of Cologne, Germany (1997)


  • 2023, Outstanding Researcher Award, University of Nevada, Reno
  • 2022, Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science
  • 2022, Foundation Professor, University of Nevada, Reno
  • 2021, Fellow of the American Chemical Society
  • 2006, Science & Technology Award of the Technology Alliance of Central New York
  • 1999-2001, Gulbenkian Foundation Postdoctoral Fellow
  • 1992, ERASMUS Fellow
  • 1991, JNICT Young Investigator

Selected publications

Dr. de Bettencourt Dias's Google Scholar profile

Dr. Ana de Bettencourt-Dias in the news

Learn more about Dr. Ana de Bettencourt-Dias in these articles where she and her research are featured.

China’s Monopoly on Rare Earth Elements Tightens With Purchase of US Mine—Seeker
Seeker logo
How rare earth elements' hidden properties make modern technology possible
In August, China finished constructing a maglev train line that uses magnets made from rare earth alloys to levitate train cars without consuming electricity. (PC: Xinhua/Alamy Stock Photo)

Robotics Day 2017 featuring Dr. Ana de Bettencourt-Dias

Prof. Dr. Ana de Bettencourt-Dias opens the main event of the Robotics Day organized by the Autonomous Robots Lab.