University of Pittsburgh
January 24, 2002

Pitt Graduate Student Wins International Award from American Chemical Society

Contact:  412-624-4147

January 24, 2002

PITTSBURGH—Feng Wang, a Ph.D. candidate in the University of Pittsburgh's Department of Chemistry, has won one of two American Chemical Society 2001 Graduate Student Awards in Computational Chemistry. The award was based on Wang's promising research exploring how excess electrons interact with water molecules.

"The competition is open to students around the world, so it is quite an honor to have Feng receive this award," says research advisor Ken Jordan, professor of chemistry and director of the Center for Molecular and Materials Simulations (CMMS) at Pitt.

The award, sponsored by IBM and the University of Minnesota Supercomputing Institute, includes a $1000 grant and 2500 hours of free research time on the University of Minnesota's IBM SP supercomputer.

Wang's project, "Drude Oscillator Models to Incorporate Dispersion Interactions into Model Potentials Describing the Interaction of Excess Electrons with Clusters of Polar Molecules," relies on computer simulations to describe the interactions between an electron and groups (or clusters) of water molecules. The unique feature of Wang's approach is the use of Drude oscillators to model the electrons associated with the water molecules. Wang is now rewriting his computer programs to run over several processors.

"The project for which Feng received this award has long fascinated experimental and theoretical chemists," says Jordan. "His approach is noteworthy in that it allows these systems to be more accurately described than by previous models and thus has the potential to resolve longstanding questions about the properties of excess electrons in water."