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Conference Attracts Chemists with Mississippi College Connections

Chemistry major Brooke Nash of Brandon

Chemists joined award-winning researchers and students from across the Southeast at a conference with plenty of Mississippi College connections.

A total of 124 participants attended the 2017 meeting of the Southeast Theoretical Chemistry Association at the University of Mississippi.

MC chemistry major Brooke Nash of Brandon presented her research at the May 19-20 meetings on the Oxford campus.

“Every person who came to talk to me was very interested and encouraging towards my research,” Nash said.

Her Mississippi College professors and advisors, David Magers and Shelley Smith, were delighted to showcase her research. Both educators made the Rankin County resident feel right at home.

“They both are my biggest encouragers. I am forever thankful for them and what they do for their students,” Nash said. “It was a great experience.”

Brooke Nash was recognized as one of the outstanding undergraduate presenters at the conference.

Other MC students in attendance were Aubrey Smyly and Sarah Grace Travis. A Clintonian, Sarah Grace is the daughter of MC Mathematics Department Chairman John Travis.

Two recent Mississippi College alumni, Ben Peyton, and Conrad Lewis were also on hand for the discussions. The MC chemical physics graduates are working on doctorates in theoretical chemistry. Peyton is enrolled at Virginia Tech and Lewis at Middle Tennessee State.

In addition, three of the 22 conference speakers are Mississippi College graduates. They researched theoretical and computational chemistry as MC students under the guidance of Dr. Magers, a professor of chemical physics.

Speakers included such Mississippi College graduates as Ryan Fortenberry, an assistant professor of physical chemistry at Georgia Southern University. His parents are MC professors Cliff and Melanie Fortenberry. Other MC grads speaking were: Qianyi Cheng, a research scientist at the University of Memphis, and Shelley Smith, an associate professor at MC’s Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry.

The first Southeast Theoretical Chemistry Association meeting was held in 1970 at Florida State University in Tallahassee. Next year’s annual conference will be at Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge. Ole Miss, the University of Memphis and Microway, a high performance computing company in Massachusetts sponsored the event.

Magers was impressed by the quality of the speakers from Texas, Florida, Virginia and other Southeastern states. But the nice outpouring of Mississippi College people made the conference much more rewarding.

“There was a lot of good science. It was great to see former students as well as old friends and colleagues,” Magers said. “There were many more MC connections this year than usual.”

Magers mentored more than 100 students in research in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry since he started the MC Computational Chemistry Group in 1994. Many completed degrees in graduate school.