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Dr. Loredana Valenzano
Assistant Professor, Department of Chemistry,
Michigan Technological University
In my personal modern transposition of Galileo’s “Dialogue Concerning the Two Chief World Systems”, Simplicio is the scientist anchored to the explanations of experimental evidence as described by the laws of classical mechanics; Sagredo is the neutral intellectual who listens and asks provocative questions; and Salviati is the modern scientist who is challenged to break the conventions, and to open the doors to the new knowledge able to explain apparent inexplicable observations. I often wonder how Schrödinger, Heisenberg, Pauli, Dirac, Bohr and many others must have felt back at the beginning of the 1900s in their attempts of explaining their visions of the microscopic world that could experimentally be seen but that could not be theoretically explained. Newton’s laws put Mankind back in the center of the Universe; just like Aristotle did. But suddenly, at the beginning of the 20th century a new physics was needed. Scientists realized that physics needed to be rewritten in order to explain what could not yet be explained. It is there that quantum mechanics and quantum chemistry emerged. In this seminar, I will try to explain how quantum chemistry can be used as a powerful tool to explain the behavior of materials, and how its proper use can provide insights into the making and (re)engineering of structures designed for specific uses. Without forgetting that the robust and accurate prediction of the physicochemical properties of solids from first principles continues to present significant challenges across a wide variety of disciplines. I will show how practical approaches can be adopted to improve the current knowledge and enhance the performances of widely used materials. Examples are: (i) novel nanoporous metal-organic frameworks (MOFs), and (ii) active pharmaceutical ingredients (APIs). The research developed in my group, spanning a variegated types of materials, aims to serve as a strategic link between experiments and computational simulations in a synergistic process aimed to isolate well behaving materials.
Dr. Loredana Valenzano obtained her MS in Particle Physics from the University of Torino (Italy) in collaboration with SLAC (USA - BaBar experiment). She then moved to Southampton (UK) where she obtained her PhD in Theoretical Physical Chemistry in 2003. For the next two years she worked as a postdoc at the Leiden University (The Netherlands), and in 2005 she returned to the University of Torino as postdoc and instructor at the Department of Chemistry. During this experience she confirmed her current interest and expertise in solid state physical chemistry, developing and applying first principles approaches to address the properties of solid materials of different nature. In 2010 she moved to the Physics Department of Michigan Tech as assistant research scientist and instructor. In August 2012 she was appointed assistant professor of Chemistry at Michigan Tech. Loredana has published over 40 papers in peer review journals (h-factor=17) and conference proceedings, and she has presented her research all over Europe and the US.
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