Chemistry is a social, collaborative endeavor and involvement in an exciting undergraduate research project is the key to cultivating and retaining student interest in the sciences. I believe that mentoring undergraduate student involvement in cutting edge research is a valuable and integral part of being a research active chemist. My background in electrostatics, quantum mechanics, molecular dynamics, Monte Carlo methods and free energy perturbation has enabled me to build an active research program involving 34 undergraduates in the past six years at Hobart and William Smith Colleges. Computational chemistry and quantum mechanical research projects are ideal for student participation because they build upon and reinforce most, if not all, of the chemistry, biology and physics courses required for most undergraduate science concentrations.

My research involves undergraduate students in all stages of the work. Student research projects usually begin with a series of informal group discussions led by more experienced research students or myself. We discuss a wide variety of topics that prepare students to make significant intellectual contributions to their project. Discussions focus on topics such as literature searching, understanding potential energy surfaces, continuum solvent models, conformational searching methods, algorithms for solving the Schrodinger equation, criteria for evaluating the reliability of a quantum mechanical or conformational result, becoming proficient in running unix and linux on SGI, Sun and Beowulf computers, and learning to use various computational chemistry software packages such as MacroModel, Maestro, Gaussian, Jaguar and in-house code. Students work side-by-side with me to construct, monitor and evaluate their calculations. The opportunity to perform undergraduate research becomes a capstone experience for students, allowing them to construct, control and complete a project. It offers them the opportunity to develop strong professional and personal relationships with me and with the other highly motivated students in my group.

Students gain experience presenting their work at weekly research group meetings as well as bimonthly departmental research seminars and regional and national meetings. My students have been responsible for more than 37 research presentations at national American Chemical Society (ACS) or Council on Undergraduate Research (CUR) meetings. My students have requested and/or received research or scholarship funds from the the Barry M. Goldwater Foundation, the ACS Scholars Program, the United Negro College Fund/Merck program, the Council on Undergraduate Research, the Sigma Xi Scientific Honor Society and the local Rochester section of the ACS.