William Hembree, a chemistry major, published a paper “Three-Dimensional Mapping of Microenvironmental Control of Methyl Rotational Barriers” last June in the Journal of Physical Chemistry as the first author. In the paper, sterical (van der Waals-induced) rotational barriers of methyl groups are investigated theoretically, using ab initio and empirical force field calculations, for various three-dimensional microenvironmental conditions around the methyl group rotator of a model neopentane molecule.
Hembree started working on the project with his mentor Jerome Baudry, assistant professor of the Department of Biochemistry & Cellular and Molecular Biology in the summer of 2008. Baudry was proud of what Hembree was able to achieve. “It is rare for an undergraduate to be the first author of a peer-reviewed publication, in particular on a paper of American Chemical Society caliber,” Baudry said. On top of that, being one of the two authors means Hembree “did the bulk of the work himself.”
Hembree is grateful for what this research experience has given him. “I was fortunate enough to work at Oak Ridge National Lab and the University of Tennessee with many top-level scientists. The knowledge and instruction they gave me has been invaluable in my studies. Above all, I owe many thanks to Dr. Baudry for all his help,” Hembree said.
Hembree is graduating this May with a degree in Chemistry and a degree in German. He is excited to see what future will bring him. “My plans are uncertain after graduation; I am in the process of applying for a post at the International Atomic Energy Agency in Vienna, Austria. I am considering graduate school as well.”