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Chemistry Students Attend Annual MERCURY Conference


Janice Kang ’20, Kalvin Nash ’18 and Allen Park ’18 presented the results of their summer computational chemistry research at the 16th Annual Molecular Educational Research Consortium in Undergraduate computational chemistRY (MERCURY) conference. This year’s conference took place July 20th to 23rd at Furman University.

Kang Janice-MERCURY Conference 2017
Janice Kang’s poster was titled “Computational Investigation of the Binding Pathways of Zanamivir to H274Y Neuramindase.”

Kang, Nash and Park were part of Associate Professor of Chemistry Adam Van Wynsberghe’s biophysical chemistry research group. Each gave a short oral presentation and discussed their work in a poster session. As part of the conference, the students also attended a coding workshop lead by The Molecular Sciences Software Institute (MolSSI).

Allen Park '18-MERCURY Conference 2017
Allen Park presented “Characterization of Binding Pathways of Peramivir to H274Y Neuraminidase.”

In general, the Van Wynsberghe research group uses computational and theoretical techniques to study protein-ligand binding and the functional implications of protein dynamics. The group’s goals are to use chemical and physical principles to understand interesting problems in biochemistry and biophysics.

Kalvin Nash '18 - MERCURY Conference 2017
Kalvin Nash’s work, “Exploration of the Binding Kinetics of Zanamivir to WT neuraminidase via MM/GBSA Analysis of Molecular Dynamics Simulations,” was co-authored by Rich Wenner ’17.

In addition to the student presentations, the conference highlighted the work of six keynote speakers, all well-established leaders in various subfields of computational chemistry. Among the speakers was Hamilton alumna Katrina Lexa ’05. Lexa is currently a scientist at Denali Therapeutics; she attended MERCURY conferences as a Hamilton undergraduate. This is the second year in a row that MERCURY has had a Hamilton alumnus as a keynote speaker – Rich Pastor ’73 spoke at last year’s conference.

The MERCURY consortium was co-founded at Hamilton College in 2001 and exists to support faculty and students conducting computational chemistry research at primarily undergraduate institutions. The NSF-funded consortium is composed of 27 computational chemistry faculty from 25 institutions.

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