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Chemistry professor joins prestigious board, publishes research

Dr. Aimee Tomlinson
Dr. Aimée Tomlinson, with a model (background) demonstrating the research she recently had published in the Journal of Organic Chemistry.

To have access to one of the world's most advanced collections of digital resources is a rare accomplishment. To be on the board that decides who has access to those resources is even more impressive.

Dr. Aimée Tomlinson, associate professor of chemistry at the University of North Georgia, was granted permission to use the resources wielded by the National Science Foundation's Extreme Science and Engineering Discovery Environment (XSEDE) in 2010. Recently, she was accepted onto the review board that will consider how best to allocate XSEDE's resources to the many scientists and engineers around the world who wish to be part of its member ranks.

"Dr. Tomlinson's analyses have resulted in a number of scientific publications in highly regarded journals specific to her field," said Dr. Mike Bodri, dean of UNG's College of Science and Mathematics. "Her research time with XSEDE is due to the great deal of collaboration and the sophisticated computational work involved in her research, and to be asked to serve as a board member for XSEDE is an honor. Tomlinson has helped promote the recognition of the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry at UNG as a premier choice for undergraduate students interested in majoring in the chemical sciences."

Tomlinson added that XSEDE provides access to super-computing clusters to research groups around the world. Those who wish to use XSEDE's resources will submit a proposal to the review board, so that the board may decide how much processing time to give them.

XSEDE currently supports 16 super-computing clusters, which possess computers that are at the cutting edge of modern processing capacity. Supercomputers are often most prized for the speed at which they can perform calculations. As an example, some of the systems that the Tomlinson group is researching would take weeks and sometimes months to calculate on standard computers. Supercomputers can perform the calculations in hours.

"It was truly an unexpected honor to be asked to join XSEDE's review board," Tomlinson said.

Tomlinson also recently published research in the Journal of Organic Chemistry with UNG graduate Alden Ryno. Their work involved organic solar cells, which can be synthesized using greener techniques than their inorganic brothers. The condensation methods used to create the organic cells are much more environmentally friendly than the harsh acids and other reagents used in inorganic solar cell production.

"Dr. Tomlinson has been involved in exciting, cutting-edge research in the exploration of organic conjugated polymers that could be used as replacements for inorganic materials such as silicon, which are routinely used in the manufacture of solar cells, light-emitting diodes and certain types of transistors," Bodri said. "Her work has engaged a number of students in undergraduate research, with several presenting their results at meetings of the American Chemical Society."

Tomlinson's research is based on making organic cells more efficient so that they can be used in place of inorganic cells. The organic solar cells can also be used to create power sources that are cheaper than those that are currently used, and have many other advantages above current inorganic structures, such as their non-brittle nature, which makes them much tougher than the current mass-produced variety. Ryno assisted Tomlinson by performing all the research calculations through processing power derived from XSEDE.

"We are attracting talented, motivated students who are already making contributions to their field during their time here," Tomlinson said. "Our graduates are being accepted into some of the most prestigious graduate schools and programs in the country."

Ryno's older brother, Sean Ryno, is also a UNG graduate and works for Dr. Jean-Luc Bredas, a top-level chemist at Georgia Tech.

"Dr. Bredas has published more than 900 articles, and currently has an h-index of 99, meaning he has 99 scholarly articles that have been referenced at least 99 times each," Tomlinson said. "He is a leader in our field, and Sean's success in working with him further demonstrates the potential of our graduates."

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