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Class Notes: N. Ga. professor granted access to supercomputing cluster
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A chemistry professor at North Georgia College & State University has become one of only 17 professors in the country granted access to the MERCURY Super-Computing Cluster.

Aimée Tomlinson, associate professor of chemistry at North Georgia, has joined MERCURY — Molecular Education and Research Consortium in Undergraduate computational chemistRY.

The college is one of only 14 institutions granted access to MERCURY’s resources.

MERCURY is a group of undergraduate institutions that promotes research in computational chemistry, using a cluster of high-performance computers used by chemistry students and researchers at multiple undergraduate institutions across the country.

“Our acceptance into the consortium will allow us access to the MERCURY Super-Computing Cluster,” said Tomlinson. “The type of calculations we do in computational chemistry could take a month to perform on a normal computer, but the cluster can perform those calculations in about eight hours.”

Created and directed by George Shields, MERCURY holds an annual symposium during which students present research conducted with aid from the supercomputing cluster. The first MERCURY symposium was held in 2002.

Shields spoke at North Georgia in 2009, and invited Tomlinson to participate in that year’s symposium.

Tomlinson was invited to join the consortium in December 2011 and two of her students presented research this summer at the 2012 symposium.

Before gaining access to MERCURY, Tomlinson’s students had performed their calculations via supercomputing clusters in Pittsburgh and San Diego.

“Being a part of MERCURY will allow us to run high-power calculations even faster,” Tomlinson said. “It also makes training students in these calculations much easier.”

One of Tomlinson’s main projects is developing organic materials for use in solar cells. She and her students use supercomputing clusters to perform the calculations for potential structures, and then make recommendations based on these results to Tomlinson’s synthetic collaborators at Iowa State University.

“The research focuses on benzobisazoles, a synthetic compound that we manipulate the core of to make it more conducive to collecting and storing solar energy,” Tomlinson said.

Lee Johnson covers education issues for The Times. Share your thoughts, news tips and questions with him:
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