Get Your Mind Fit for Class, Research at Upcoming Physical Chemistry Boot Camp

By Terrance Wade

(Aug. 3, 2015) - The Department of Chemistry in the University of Kentucky College of Arts and Sciences will host a "Mathematics of Physical Chemistry Boot Camp" to prepare students for mathematical and numerical approaches they will encounter in class and in research.

Comprising two sessions, the free boot camp will take place from 8 a.m. to early afternoon Saturday, Aug. 22, and Saturday, Aug. 29.

The sessions will be instructed by assistant professors of chemistry Peter Kekenes-Huskey and Chad Risko, and Caitlin Scott, a post-doctoral scholar in the department. Each of the sessions will consist of two one-hour lectures centered on an application and an underlying theory, and two one- or two-hour tutorials exploring analytical tools and numerical approaches to solve problems.

This camp is aimed toward students who anticipate a significant mathematical component to their university research or studies and would like to participate in a refresher course. For graduate students, the review will provide additional learning opportunities and skills that could complement their courses and studies, which could ultimately improve outcomes in classes. Undergraduates who have taken coursework in the math topics covered (linear algebra, partial and ordinary equations) may also benefit from seeing these applied to physical problems in chemistry.                  

"In my experience at a couple institutions, incoming students have quite varied levels of preparation for the mathematics involved in math-heavy disciplines like physical chemistry and even more so, numerical techniques to solve them, so we would like to give students an opportunity to brush up on a few topics before classes are in full swing," Kekenes-Huskey said. "I greatly benefitted from a similar program developed by Rob Phillips when I started at Caltech. I hope to see this develop into a comparable program as we understand and meet the needs of our students at UK."

While it will be primarily composed of incoming graduate students in chemistry, the program has been accepting RSVPs from current undergraduates and graduates within the department. A few slots for individuals outside the Department of Chemistry are also available.

The Mathematics of Physical Chemistry Boot Camp is free, but students will need materials such as pen and paper, and it is highly recommended that they bring a laptop and the text "Mathematical Tools for Physics."  

For more information, or to register for the boot camp, contact Peter Kekenes-Huskey at pkekeneshuskey@uky.edu. The deadline to register is Aug. 17.

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