A new state-of-the art hub for theoretical chemists at Illinois has been completed. The Center for Theoretical Chemistry modernizes space in Noyes Lab. “Bringing theoretical chemists together in one unified space is the key to the whole project,” said Benjamin McCall, professor of chemistry and astronomy and associate head of major projects for the Department of Chemistry.
The Center can accommodate four research groups in theoretical chemistry, including offices and collaborative work space for 40-50 graduate students, postdoctoral fellows, and faculty. The remodeling process of the 10,600 square-foot center began in June of 2016.
Students and faculty in theoretical chemistry conduct a wide range of research, from calculating the properties of small molecules to simulations of large biological molecules and inquiries into the origins of life.
“We were able to take space that was very much underutilized and not effectively serving the campus and convert it into a state-of-the-art center,” McCall said. “Certainly, being at a strong, research-intensive university such as ours offers opportunities like this.”
Before, theoretical chemists were scattered across different floors of the Chemical and Life Sciences Laboratory. McCall emphasized that this separation didn’t hamper the productivity of the department, but building a common space will only bring added value to the research. Hence the Center for Theoretical Chemistry was built in unused old labs on the third floor of Noyes Lab. It features state-of-the-art conference rooms, and a lounge area where researchers can interact in a relaxed atmosphere, as well as a beautiful entrance atrium and space for support staff. Currently the Hirata and Makri groups have moved in, and more will follow over the next year.
With faculty and grad students moving to the new space, McCall said the freed-up offices at the Chemical and Life Sciences Laboratory will be utilized by experimental chemistry groups.
Mary Jo Hettinger