North Texas Daily

Chemistry student chosen for national excellence award

Chemistry student chosen for national excellence award

March 28
19:48 2013

Melissa Wylie / Senior Staff Writer

Chemistry doctoral student Marie Laury was chosen as one of five nationally selected graduate students to receive a Chemical Computing Group Excellence Award from the American Chemical Society.

Laury will travel to the ACS national meeting in New Orleans on April 9 to present her research in computational method development.

The award provides $1,150 to cover travel expenses for the national conference where she will receive the honor, Laury said.

Laury studies chemical experiments from a technological perspective, using computer programs to model chemical experiments that are performed in the lab, she said.

“What we do is a predictive tool for people in the experimental setting,” Laury said.

Laury is part of chemistry professor Angela Wilson’s research group within the Center for Advanced Scientific Computing and Modeling at UNT.

“It is a delight that Marie was selected for this award. She has done a nice job in her research, and it is terrific that she is being recognized for it,” Wilson said. “For the chemistry program, it highlights what strong students we have in our program.”

Wilson will be attending the ACS conference as well, which usually hosts about 15,000 to 20,000 chemists from around the world.

“[The event] is nearly around the clock chemistry of every sort,” Wilson said.

In the chemistry department, there are two areas where experiments can be conducted.

“You can fall on two sides of the fence,” Laury said. “There’s the theoretical computational side, where I’m sitting a computer modeling things, or you can fall on the experimental side where you’re in the lab setting.”

Laury analyzes small systems of 12 atoms or less and focuses on the interaction of electrons through the use of computer programs.

“I’m looking at how we can manipulate and modify current computational methods to study these systems so it can be cheaper,” Laury said. “Using less amount of memory, disk space and processing time, but still getting accurate results.”

Chemistry doctoral student Andrew Mahler is also a member of Wilson’s research group.

Mahler said the group of graduate students has a sense of camaraderie that is not always seen in research teams due to members like Laury, who makes an effort to get to know the others.

“It’s not tight-knit, but it’s as close as it gets in graduate school,” Mahler said.

After she graduates in August, Laury said she will continue her research in an academic setting and work toward holding a position as a professor.

“I studied chemistry and math [as an] undergrad and I’m basically obsessed with math,” Laury said. “This was a way to do applied mathematics. This was a way to continue pursuing my love of math with a broader application in chemistry.”

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