Two Nobel Laureates to visit JSU for 20th annual international computational chemistry conference

By Jean Gordon Cook

Nobel Laureate Walter Kohn

(JACKSON, Miss.) – Jackson State University will welcome two Nobel Laureates and two dozen other national and international experts during the 20th annual Conference on Current Trends in Computational Chemistry (CCTCC) to be held Oct. 27-29 at the Hilton Jackson Convention Center, 1001 E. County Line Road in Jackson.

Nobel Laureate Sir Harold Kroto

The Nobel Laureates include Walter Kohn from the University of California, Santa Barbara, and Sir Harold W. Kroto from Florida State University.

For 20 years, the JSU Department of Chemistry has gathered experts from all over the world to discuss scientific advances in computational and quantum chemistry during the CCTCC. This year’s conference will discuss applications and the latest developments of computational chemical techniques for calculating various chemical systems.

During the three-day conference, which is organized by JSU and the U.S. Army Engineer Research and Development Center, JSU graduate and undergraduate students will have the opportunity to present their research work, attend presentations and discuss ideas with the Nobel Laureates and two dozen other leading experts.

Sir Harold Kroto with JSU students during a previous visit.

“A key feature of the conference is the training of future generations of computational chemists,” said Jerzy Leszczynski, a presidential distinguished professor in chemistry at JSU who brings in chemistry research professionals from around the globe for the conference.

This year’s speakers include scientists from throughout the United States as well as Japan, Korea, Hungary, Greece, Austria and Italy.

Kohn received his Noble Prize in Chemistry in 1998 for his expertise in the development of the density-functional theory. He is also a matter theorist and an expert on the electronic structure of materials.

Kroto received his Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1996 for his role in finding buckminsterfullerene, a molecule of 60 carbon atoms that has the same geometry as the stitching on a soccer ball. Known as the “Bucky ball”, the molecule and has remained one of Kroto’s signature discoveries.

Both Kohn and Kroto have visited Jackson State before.

Walter Kohn with JSU students during a previous visit to Jackson.

“Our faculty and students are excited to meet these two very prominent scientists,” said Paul Tchounwou, interim dean of JSU’s College of Science, Engineering and Technology.  “One of our strategic goals is to organize international symposia that bring research innovation to our campus and enrich the technical and leadership skills of our students”.

JSU Department of Chemistry chair Hongtao Yu said having scientists of Kohn’s and Kroto’s caliber on campus contributes to the quality of JSU’s academic and research environment.

“Their presence and the messages they bring will greatly benefit our students and faculty members,” Yu said.

The conference will include a series of plenary lectures, professional presentations and three student poster presentations sessions. Among this year’s topics are the applications of computational methods towards biological species, computer design of new materials and the application of computational chemistry for atmospheric reactions.

More than 250 participants are expected to attend. Over the last 20 years, more than 3,000 participants have attended the CCTCCs, including five Nobel Laureates.

“We are very proud of the outstanding leadership of Dr. Jerzy Leszczynski,” said Felix Okojie, JSU’s vice president for research and federal relations. “This conference affirms that outreach activities like this provide visibility and international recognition to the high quality of research conducted at Jackson State University.”

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