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CP 305L Phone: 765-285-8074
Department of Chemistry
Ball State University
Cooper Physical Science Building, room 305
Muncie, IN 47306
University of Pittsburgh Ph.D. (1999) University of Pittsburgh B.S. (1993)
Molecular Modeling Using Computers
Methyl salicylate, used as a wintergreen flavoring agent in candies, gums, and medicines, has a unique spectroscopic property—it absorbs ultraviolet light but emits blue light. You can witness this effect for yourself. Take a wintergreen Life-Saver into a very dark room with a mirror. Place the candy between your teeth and quickly bight down, holding your lips (and eyes) open. You will see blue 'sparks' from the methyl salicylate! It is believed that methyl salicylate undergoes a large geometry change in its excited state; and that it is this geometry change that causes the shift in emission (from UV to blue light). Our research group will study phenomena (excited state proton transfer and excited state hydrogen atom transfer) in molecules such as methyl salicylate, using computer software to determine which model best describes the excited state dynamics responsible for the red shifted emission.
Modeling excited state using computer software is complicated by the large data files and memory-intensive calculations that are required. A simple PC does not have enough computing power to run the calculations. Only a supercomputer, or its equivalent, running 64-bit processes is capable of performing the calculations necessary to describe the excited state of a dynamic system like methyl salicylate. Ball State has such a computer—the College of Science and Humanities Beowulf cluster. PC computers capable of running high-end graphical software will be used to access the cluster.
Chemical Education Research Using Computers
As society becomes more dependent on multimedia for entertainment and communication, students will utilize multimedia to learn subject matter. Our research group will work on the creation of a website to assist students in the laboratory of a chemistry course for the health sciences. The first part to this project is to create the working website. The second part is to survey and test the students who use this website, as well as those who do not, to find which students have a better understanding of the lab experiments and to determine if there is any correlation between the student's understanding of the laboratory material and their exam performance in the lecture. Base on these results, improvements would be made to the website—and perhaps even the laboratory experiments. Ultimately, the goal of this research project would be to create an interactive website accessible to the students to confirm that on-line multimedia can be used to facilitate the learning of complex chemical information.
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