Bridgewater College recently highlighted the research and classroom activities of associate professor of chemistry Sara Higgins Fitzgerald, who attended the school as an undergraduate and now specializes in computational chemistry.
“Computational chemistry can be any number
of things. At its heart it’s using the computer to ask questions about
chemistry, about chemical systems,” Fitzgerald said.
Her field has profound implications for the
pharmaceutical sector, allowing researchers to better define the parameters of
scientific studies by providing them with better models for the molecules they
are working with.
“Research chemists have access to these
huge libraries of molecules that they can test, so if they’re interested in
influenza, they might run this influenza target against hundreds of thousands
of compounds, but every one they test costs money,” Fitzgerald said. “One of
the first things I helped them do was decide out of this huge compounds data
base that they could pull from — what was a really diverse set of molecules that
they could choose and test. And then they could go back and get into the finer
details once they saw which types of molecules were working…. If I had one
phrase that describes my research it would be a study of the diversity of