Faculty & Staff Spotlight: Guido Verbeck, UNT

Thursday, June 2, 2022

Employee Spotlight: Guido Verbeck, UNT


Guido Verbeck is an awesome (according to RateMyProfessors.com) 16-year UNT Professor of Chemistry and Biochemistry and a member of the Royal Society of Chemistry, with a research emphasis on the use and development of new mass spectrometers and analytical instruments. His focus on portable instruments for portable labs and new biomedical applications for mass spectrometry has led to some recent newsworthy notoriety by developing the first COVID-19 breathalyzer. Learn how Dr. Verbeck's variety of personal passions from working on classic sports cars and reading children's books with imaginative narratives, and watching anything Star Trek guides his principles and applies them to his teaching and explorations. 




What is your favorite aspect of your job? Discovering new uses for mass spectrometry and training the students.

What led you to your particular field of study/expertise? 
My undergraduate professor, Dr. Morgan Kidd, at the University of Louisiana at Monroe. He introduced me to where instrumentation met chemistry. I was then forever hooked.

Your research has helped elevate UNT as a Tier 1 research university regarding the Covid Breathalyzer. How did you first get involved with Tim Wing and John Redmond from Frisco, Texas-based InspectIR
John and Tim reached out through a mutual friend, and we got together as they needed some help with an application for a stand-off IR instrument that they had developed. As we sat around the conference table, we discovered some new needs that our portable instrument could plug in. Initially in the new area of intoxication around THC and Opioids. We designed and built the instrument for this, and then COVID hit. We then realized it could be used for breath detection for some upper respiratory illnesses, such as COVID. 

Also, what do you see next as the most exciting areas for the present and future impact of chemistry, biochemistry research, and instrument development? 
As for next, since this is the first device to be FDA-approved as a breath test, I think we should continue to develop new non-invasive devices for disease states. The flood gates open anytime there is a paradigm shift, and there are many good groups out there working on breath analysis. Also, I will continue to make a fieldable instrument to break down the barriers of traditional laboratories. Let’s make the world a laboratory.

What is your proudest work moment? 
There are multiples, but all around graduating the students and seeing where their path leads. It is humbling to see what great things these students dream up and become. 

What is your proudest non-work moment? 
My wife, Gennie and I are filled with humility also for the success of our children. I have two girls, both sophomores, in high school and college. They both have a heart for teaching and competing, of which I am very proud.

What is a fact about you that may surprise your colleagues? 
I am passionate about working on sports cars. I have owned 2 MGBs, 1969, and 1972. Then 2 Alfa Romeo Spiders, 1986, and 1992. I currently have a 1990 Porsche 944S2


Book:? Phantom Toll Booth by Norton Juster – there is a wonderful statement from the author that is paraphrased when he was asked why he wrote a children’s book with so many hard words. He expressed that there are only words you know, and words you don’t know: no such thing as hard words. I read this book with all my children. A wonderful story and allegory about language and adventure.


Movie:? TV Show:? Anything Star Trek. I know this is spoken like a true science geek, but so much in science is discovered because of imagination, and these types of shows bring out the imagination.


Song:?Doing This” by Luke Combs. Always starts with a great tune and lyrics. But the famous line I most relate with is “I would still be doing this if I wasn’t doing this”. True about my life. Love what I do.