Obama lauds early-stage OSU chemist for simulations

COLUMBUS, Ohio (Jan 13, 2010) — 

When other chemists reach the limits of what they can learn from experiments in the laboratory, Ohio State’s John Herbert leverages supercomputers to help fill in the rest of the story with computer modeling and simulation.

President Barack Obama talks with the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE) winners in the East Room of the White House, Jan. 13, 2010. (Official White House photo by Lawrence Jackson)

For his outstanding work as a theoretical chemist, President Barack Obama last week bestowed upon Herbert a 2009 Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers, along with 99 other early-stage researchers from across the country. The PECASE awards, established by President Clinton in 1996, are coordinated by the Office of Science and Technology Policy within the Executive Office of the President.

“These extraordinarily gifted young scientists and engineers represent the best in our country,” the President said in a statement. “With their talent, creativity, and dedication, I am confident that they will lead their fields in new breakthroughs and discoveries and help us use science and technology to lift up our nation and our world.”

Herbert was among twenty awardees nominated by the National Science Foundation for the award –the highest honor that beginning researchers can receive in the United States – for exemplary integration of “research and education within the context of the mission of their organization.” He was recognized for “his work in developing novel algorithms for the simulation of electronically excited states consisting of hundreds of atoms and for applying these techniques to the characterization of photochemical processes in DNA, and for his work in developing open-ended research projects to be integrated into undergraduate teaching laboratories.”

Herbert’s work also was highlighted last fall in an annual research publication of the Ohio Supercomputer Center (OSC). Herbert leverages the power of OSC’s flagship system, the “Glenn” IBM Cluster 1350, to accomplish the complex modeling and simulation work his research group conducts. “We are thrilled for the recognition John has deservedly received at the highest levels early in his career,” said Ashok Krishnamurthy, interim co-executive director of OSC. “John’s research is cutting-edge, and we’re pleased to be able to share with him our state-of-the-art computing and storage resources.”

Herbert’s group, along with several other researchers throughout the world, are co-developers of a quantum chemistry software package called ‘Q-Chem.’

“The target audience for this software consists not only of computational chemists, but also – in fact, primarily – experimental chemists who wish to do some calculations in support of their experimental work,” he said. “Our job is to develop and implement the theories and computational models that are then, we hope, widely adopted and used by the chemistry community.”


The Ohio Supercomputer Center is a catalytic partner of Ohio universities and industries that provides a reliable high performance computing infrastructure for a diverse statewide/regional community. OSC promotes and stimulates computational research and education in order to act as a key enabler for the state's aspirations in advanced technology, information systems, and advanced industries. For additional information, visit http://www.osc.edu