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Provost Shields Announces $225,000 NSF Grant for MERCURY Consortium

The annual Conference in Undergraduate Computational Chemistry will move to Furman next summer.

Dr. George Shields, Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost at Furman University, announced today that the National Science Foundation (NSF) has awarded a $225,000 grant to the Molecular Education and Research Consortium in Undergraduate Computational Chemistry (MERCURY), a collaboration of undergraduate research teams at 25 primarily undergraduate institutions nationwide.

Furman Provost George Shields
Furman Provost George Shields

Shields, who joined Furman in July of this year, is founder and director of the MERCURY consortium. He said the group’s annual Conference in Undergraduate Computational Chemistry will move to Furman starting in July 2017.

The three-year grant, which will run through Aug. 31, 2019, is awarded through the NSF’s Major Research Instrumentation Program (MRI).  The MERCURY researchers share computational resources and use the consortium as a venue to collaborate and increase the visibility of their work.

“We are excited the NSF has chosen to support the important research work of the MERCURY program and we are equally excited that the annual conference will be coming to Furman,” Shields said.  “The university will make an excellent host since it has one of the strongest programs in the physical sciences of any liberal arts school in the country.”

Since its founding in 2001, MERCURY investigators have worked with nearly 600 students on research projects and published more than 230 papers.  Seventy-five percent of the students have been female and minority students, and about half of the program’s graduates have gone on to receive advanced degrees in STEM fields. MERCURY students have also won more than 50 national awards, including a Rhodes Scholarship, 10 Fulbright fellowships and eight Goldwater scholarships.

The annual national conference has been taking place on college campuses around the country since 2002.

“The conference allows undergraduates to present their work and to learn from experts in the field,” Shields said.  “It is equally valuable as a networking event for faculty working with undergraduates.”

For more information, visit the MERCURY website or contact Furman’s News and Media Relations office at 864-294-3107.

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