UF professor wins award for quantum mechanics computing research
GAINESVILLE, Fla. — The American Chemical Society named University of Florida professor Kenneth M. Merz recipient of its prestigious Award for Computers in Chemical and Pharmaceutical Research.
Merz, a faculty member in the chemistry department and member of the Quantum Theory Project, was honored in recognition of his use of quantum mechanics to study chemical, biological and pharmaceutical problems. Merz is one of 24 people who have won the award, including the Nobel Prize winner John Pople.
Quantum mechanical models provide a more realistic representation for the study of chemical, biological and pharmaceutical processes. Current models used in chemical biology provide an incomplete picture, in that only nuclei are explicitly represented. Quantum mechanics-based techniques allow for individual electrons to be mapped in relation to the nuclei, creating a more accurate picture of a molecule and its interactions with the environment.
“This is a cutting-edge, next-generation tool,” said Merz. “It will lead to a greater understanding of all of these processes.”
The award has special meaning for Merz. His doctoral degree adviser, Michael Dewar, won the award in 1994. A year later, his postdoctorate adviser, Peter Kollman, received the award. Merz will receive his award at the annual society meeting in March 2010.
The Quantum Theory Project, a joint institute of the departments of chemistry and physics, is one of the world’s largest research centers for theory, modeling, and computation of complex novel molecular and materials systems.