New Faculty Focus: Víctor García-López
Dr García-López received his BS in Chemistry from the Monterrey Institute of Technology and Higher Education, in his homeland of Mexico. He had a number of undergraduate research experiences, including one in the USA. He was inspired to return to the United States for graduate studies and completed his PhD with Professors James Tour and Angel Marti at Rice University. His dissertation was titled, “Synthesis, Monitoring, and Molechanical Action of Light-Driven Motorized Nanomachines.” In an unusual claim to fame, one of Victor’s molecules won the CNRS’ First International Nanocar Race in 2017. He received a number of more conventional awards during his graduate career, including two named for Harry B. Weiser – the Teaching Award and the Leadership Award. He was the last postdoctoral fellow of Professor François Diederich at the ETH, where he developed a new generation of resorcinarene cavitands that can switch between kite and vase forms. These molecules have the potential to carry cargo in a deep cavity of the vase and release from the kite form.
His collective scientific and academic experiences have inspired Víctor to pursue a career as a faculty member in the USA. To facilitate that goal, he returned to the Tour Laboratory at Rice as a postdoctoral fellow in 2018. He was first author on a recent authoritative review titled, “Light-Activated Organic Molecular Motors and Their Applications” (Acc. Chem. Res. 2020, 120, 79-124). In 2019, Dr García-López was named a recipient of the prestigious and lucrative Career Award at the Scientific Interface from the Burroughs Wellcome Fund. This grant serves as a bridge between his postdoctoral studies and his independent career. Víctor anticipates that his future research program will be at interfaces between organic chemistry, chemical biology, biophysics, and photochemistry. He plans to design and synthesize molecular machines that will provide insights into the workings of lipid and plasma membranes. He will also continue to explore photocatalytic molecular containers. Keen to take his molecular machines into the biomedical area, Víctor plans to collaborate with biophysicists.
At Rice, Víctor recently received an Outstanding Undergraduate Research Mentor Award; he was nominated by his mentee, Alex Pollatos. To summarize his teaching philosophy in the research environment, Víctor says, “My goal as teacher and mentor is to empower the students and give them the necessary tools to develop their strengths and personal attributes so they can find their own path to success and become ethical, analytical, and independent scientists.”
Contributed by Carol M. Taylor (June 2020)