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Kohti parempaa kemian tutkimusta

Towards better chemistry research

Maria Virkkula

The computational chemistry spring school attracted a full classroom for the fifth time. Over four days, participants learnt and practised the basic techniques of computational chemistry.

– The goal was for participants to successfully complete their first calculations, to show them that these methods exist, aren't too difficult, and can be used to conduct better research. Once you've got started, it's easier to motivate yourself to learn more, believes Senior Applications Specialist Atte Sillanpää from CSC, who was involved in arranging the course.

The spring school seeks to bring the field's students and researchers together. It is aimed at anyone who needs to use computational chemistry techniques in their research. The starting level of participants can vary from beginner to more experienced.

– The same presentations can still be beneficial to everyone and the exercises come in three levels of difficulty. Classic molecular dynamics may be new to experienced electron theory modellers, and vice versa, says Sillanpää.
 

It was the fifth time the course has been arranged – and once again with a full house. Petteri Vainikka (right) focuses on the lesson.

 

"A must"

The course was attended by a total of 21 students and researchers. Petteri Vainikka, a third-year student at the University of Turku, was one of them. His thesis supervisor recommended the course after taking it last year.

– Computational chemistry and its tools are super interesting. I work in a computational chemistry team in Glasgow during the summer, and this course was a total must, says Vainikka.

Vainikka is working on a double degree in geology and chemistry.

– There's such a great deal on offer here. Electron theory is something I'm very interested in, and also ab initio molecular dynamics. At some point, I'd like to study conditions in the early atmosphere using ab initio methods. Reductive reactions in the early atmosphere could be analysed using molecular dynamics.

Vainikka was hoping for a top-quality course with good networking opportunities.

– If you've got questions, this would be the ideal place to ask them. Both CSC's personnel and the invited lecturers have been really knowledgeable. It's been great to get the chance to chat with them about their work and to ask all sorts of questions.

Vainikka would recommend the course to anyone interested in computational chemistry techniques regardless of their current level of experience.

– Whether you're a beginner or more experienced, they've got everything covered. Just being able to talk to the people here is definitely worth it.

Search leads Australian student to Finland

Mark Falkland from the Australian National University agrees.

– I'm just starting out in computational chemistry and molecular dynamics, and it's really challenging to find training. There's not much online. There are a few books, but I prefer guided study.

 
"The instructors are very passionate about the topic, and it shows. They really care about doing a good job and us being satisfied."
 

He's found the course useful and hopes to return next year to continue with the more advanced exercises. He praises the lecturers in particular.

– The instructors are very passionate about the topic, and it shows. They really care about doing a good job and us being satisfied.

The organisers have indeed received excellent feedback, and the participants have also been satisfied with their training. The feedback provided tips on how the teaching could be further improved. So will there be another one next year?

– Yes indeed! promises Senior Applications Specialist Sillanpää

The spring school is one of several events that are run by the Partnership for Advanced Computing in Europe's (PRACE) Advanced Training Centre (PATC) and held at CSC every year. This top-class training event is free to participants.

 



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