Summer Fellows 2023: Applications of Machine Learning on Quantum Molecules
Brock Dyer ’25 is a chemistry major at Ursinus, but he’s spending his summer researching a different discipline with his faculty mentor Ross Martin-Wells, a visiting assistant professor of physics and astronomy, as a 2023 Summer Fellow.
The Modern Physics class that Martin-Wells teaches includes lessons in quantum mechanics, which immediately sparked an interest in Dyer, who is investigating the cross-disciplinary world between chemistry and physics.
“Chemistry is famous for using the applications of quantum mechanics, [so sometimes] we can excite students about the basics of it,” Martin-Wells said.
Under the guidance of Martin-Wells, Dyer wants to discover a system to calculate and determine the properties and potential for any molecule he desires. He noted that some of the current methods of looking at molecules, such as the Hartree-Fock method, have many problems because they are just an approximation.
“I think it would be nice if I could get more real answers closer to reality with the application of machine learning,” Dyer said. “It seems like the exact tool to use for this research.”
Dyer’s research lasts eight weeks, but Martin-Wells isn’t worried about what they may or may not find. Their end goal isn’t discovery, it’s education.
“My job is to make sure that [Brock] learned something,” the faculty mentor says. “That will happen no matter what. The hope is that there’s also an exciting result underneath all of it that’s good for all of science, not just the young scientist.”