Faculty Spotlight: Q&A with Professor Steven Lopez, PhD

To commemorate National Chemistry Week 2022, we would like to highlight one of our chemists in the College of Science, Professor Steven Lopez, PhD.

Lopez is a chemistry professor at Northeastern who continues to inspire future chemists in and out of the classroom.

With a B.S. in Chemistry from New York University, a PhD in Chemistry from UCLA, and doing his Postdoctoral Fellow with the Department of Energy at Harvard University, Lopez uses his education and experience to enhance the research practices for those around him.

Professor Lopez leads a research group of five graduate students, two postdoctoral fellows, and five undergraduates, focusing on understanding light-induced dynamic processes in organic and materials chemistry by using and developing computational and machine learning methods.

Lastly, Professor Steven Lopez was awarded the Inter-American Photochemical Society (I-APS) Award for Young Investigators. He will present an invited lecture at the I-APS meeting in Florida in January 2023. To learn more about this accomplishment, read here.

Q: Who or what inspired you to go into the field of chemistry and why?

A: I started my undergraduate studies at New York University as a Biochemistry major but changed when I took Organic Chemistry with Prof. Maitland Jones. His class was based in problem-solving and he created a highly engaging environment; Prof. Jones’ obvious passion for organic chemistry helped me decide to switch majors from Biochemistry to Chemistry. Soon after, I joined Prof. Jim Canary’s lab as an undergraduate researcher and his guidance put me on a path to graduate school, and ultimately my current position here at Northeastern as a chemistry professor.    

Q: What is one piece of advice you would share with someone looking to go into the chemistry profession/field? 

A: Chemistry is known as the central science. I didn’t realize how important creativity would be in chemical research–I’m now convinced that creativity and diversity drives chemistry. As a first-generation Cuban-American chemist, I’ve also come to learn that everyone is welcome in chemistry–your creative solution to a chemical problem can change the world.

Q: What is your favorite chemistry fun fact? 

A: There are a lot of possible molecules. Imagine all the grains of sand on Earth–On every beach, desert, and at the bottom of every lake and ocean–there are about a billion (1,000,000,000) times more than all of those grains added together.

Chemistry and Chemical Biology