Luca De Angelis, Chemistry Ph.D. Candidate
By Ryan Schoensee

As a child, Luca's favorite pastime was playing with Legos. Now as a chemist, he compares his childhood hobby with what he does now, only he uses small molecules as his building blocks to understand the micro-world of reactions and catalysts.

Meet Luca De Angelis, a doctoral student who earned his M.S. in Inorganic Chemistry at UTSA and is currently pursuing a Ph.D. in Chemistry, which he anticipates earning in Spring 2022. Luca is from Rome, Italy and chose to study at UTSA because of the opportunities available in the College of Sciences.

"The Department of Chemistry brought me to UTSA," said Luca. "It is a small department so you can easily interact with all of the faculty, but at same time, the level of research and teaching happening here is second to none."

Luca's scholarly focus lies in developing new methods for the synthesis of complex compounds. Through his research, Luca found a practical and inexpensive method for the synthesis of nitrile oxides, which was published in a peer-reviewed journal named Organic Letters. Nitrile oxides are used in medicinal chemistry labs around the world to prepare compounds that are able to treat cancer, tuberculosis and more.

During his time in the College of Sciences, Luca has had the opportunity to work with several prominent faculty members within the Department of Chemistry. He served as a teaching assistant for two years under Hector Aguilar, distinguished senior lecturer, and collaborated with both Special Research Associates Daniel Wherritt and Wendell Griffith on various projects.

Currently, Luca is working under Michael Doyle, professor and endowed university chair, to help develop a new method for the synthesis of 1,2,3-triazine n-oxide which has applications in the pharmaceutical and materials science industries.

Luca encourages his fellow chemistry Roadrunners to stay the course, even when the going gets tough. "Don't give up, even if your course of study may look like a roller coaster at times," said Luca. "Keep going, your studies may get tough, but that's only because the classes at UTSA are of a very high-quality."


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