In March of 2007, Evan Wang, '09, traveled to Vienna as a part of math professor Della Fenster's Quest-sponsored course, Vienna Circles. In addition to working on an independent project, required of each member of the class, Wang spent four to five hours a day in a computational chemistry lab, working with Professor Hans Lischka at the University of Vienna's Institute for Theoretical Chemistry.

Wang had been working with chemistry professor Carol Parish on modeling anticancer molecules since the summer before his first year at Richmond. Parish introduced Wang to Lischka so that Evan could learn to use the COLUMBUS software program, developed in the Lischka lab, and hopefully bring the expertise back to Richmond. "I was interested in learning the program Dr. Lischka designed, so I could model the molecules I was working on," said Wang, who is a chemistry major, as well as a Beckman and Goldwater scholar. When Wang returned to Richmond, the collaboration between the two laboratories continued, corresponding over E-mail and Skype.

Since last year, their joint efforts have grown to include five different projects. The newest member of the international team is Greg Springsted, '10, who is a double major in chemistry and English and is conducting summer research through an HHMI grant. Springsted's first project in the Parish lab was using molecular dynamics to model the behavior of novel AIDS drugs and he has recently begun using COLUMBUS to join the effort at harnessing the exotic anti-cancer molecule para-benzyne.

The collaboration has been very productive. The work begun by Wang during his Quest-sponsored trip has been completed and in July of 2008, Wang and Parish published a paper with Lischka, "An extended multireference study of the electronic states of para-benzyne," in the Journal of Chemical Physics, one of the top journals devoted to the intersection between chemistry and physics. The work between the labs has also resulted in numerous student and faculty presentations.

It's has been a busy summer for Wang and Springsted, both of whom are Oldham scholars. After completing the full 10-week summer research program at Richmond, they are off to spend the rest of the summer working in the Lischka lab at the Institute for Theoretical Chemistry. There, they will continue to communicate with Parish regarding on-going projects while simultaneously learning more about work in the Lischka lab and exploring Eastern Europe on the weekends. They were able to book their tickets and offset some of the costs associated with their stay in Vienna with the help of travel grants from the UR-HHMI program as well as the School of Arts and Sciences Summer Research Fellowship program.

Both Wang and Springsted look forward to continuing the collaboration, which has been beneficial for both labs, and are excited about the opportunity to conduct scientific research abroad.