LSU’s Dr. Víctor García-López Reveals How Chemistry Has Allowed Him to Become an Inventor

by Elizabeth Cui | LSU Chemistry


Dr. Garcia-LopezBATON ROUGE, April 9, 2021- LSU Assistant Professor Víctor García-López's academic ambitions began where most people do, in high school, and like most young people, medical doctors were the profession to be.

García-López had his mind set on medical school until one day when the school announced a chemistry competition. The announcement caught his attention and he sparingly decided to participate even though he did not know much about the subject. 

García-López received a call shortly after the exam and was surprised to find that he earned the best test score in his state and progressed to the national chemistry Olympiad. 

Unfortunately, natural talent only got García-López so far, and he did not perform very well in the national chemistry competition. 

"I was pretty upset about it, so I went back to my home, and I decided to buy the books and studied on my own for one year," García-López said. "Back then, I still thought I wanted to go to med school, but in that one year, I really fell in love with chemistry, specifically organic chemistry.”

That year of academic soul-searching left García-López full of excitement and enthusiasm for his newfound passion, chemistry. After a rusty first try, García-López went back to the national chemistry competition the following year and earned second place. 

From that moment on, reactions, titrations, equations, and experiments were all a young García-López thought about as he went on to pursue a bachelor's degree in chemistry. 

After receiving his bachelor's degree with flying colors, the chemistry expedition was not over; García-López chased an opportunity and moved from his home in Mexico to Houston, USA, to receive his PhD with professors James Tour and Angel Marti at Rice University. 

"We [in Mexico] lack the infrastructure to do research," García-López said. "It was very challenging and undergraduate students in Mexico to get research experience."

Not only did García-López complete research in "Synthesis, Monitoring, and Molechanical Action of Light-Driven Motorized Nanomachines," he also won CNRS' First International Nanocar Race in 2017. Additionally, he received awards named for Harry B. Weiser – the Teaching Award and the Leadership Award.

García-López now serves as a faculty member at LSU and uses an interdisciplinary approach in his research. A combination of organic chemistry, chemical biology, biophysics, and photochemistry will help design and synthesize molecular machines and explore photocatalytic molecular containers.

"We utilize a lot of concepts from different fields," García-López said. "My main area is organic chemistry, and then we use some other concepts from biophysics, molecular biology, inorganic chemistry, and photochemistry. It's a very interdisciplinary project."

As well as overseeing and completing research, García-López also thoroughly enjoys teaching intermediate chemistry classes at LSU.

Unlike most chemists, García-López's favorite thing about chemistry is the ability to create and invent new molecules whenever he wants. 

"What I really love is that most of the time, I’m making a new molecule that nobody has made, García-López said. "We can go to the lab and create something that no one has made."