Students make inroads in the quest to combat HIV and cancer thanks to new supercomputer on campus
February 20, 2003 GENEVA, NY – A second Beowulf computer cluster has been built in the chemistry department at Hobart and William Smith Colleges, enabling undergraduate student researchers access to additional cutting-edge technology.
The Beowulf system—comprised of individual nodes connected to a powerful master node via a 100 Mbp ethernet switch—aids research on HIV and anti-cancer drugs currently being conducted by HWS students, under the direction of Professor Carol Parish. Using the cluster, students can perform quantum mechanical and free-energy simulations at speeds up to 35 times faster than before. Results yielded from these simulations will be used to design more effective drugs with fewer unwanted side effects.
“Access to this type of computing power is unusual at an undergraduate liberal arts and science institution,” said Parish, assistant professor of chemistry. “A computer this powerful will allow us to study larger molecular systems while simultaneously allowing us to increase the rigor at which we perform our simulations, and will enable Hobart and William Smith to make significant contributions to the fields of intermolecular interactions and drug design.”
The computers used in the cluster were purchased by Hobart and William Smith Colleges with matching funds from a National Science Foundation MRI grant. Further details on the configuration can be found at http://people.hws.edu/parish/beowulf.htm.
The Hobart and William Smith chemistry program is designed to meet the standards set by the American Chemical Society Committee on Professional Training. These national standards are oriented toward the training of chemical professionals at the bachelor level, as well as preparation for graduate studies in chemistry, biochemistry and related disciplines. HWS offers this program in context of a liberal arts environment with an integrated general curriculum.