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USD Computational Chemist Receives Grant from Department of Energy

Bess Vlaisavljevich Bess Vlaisavljevich, a USD chemistry professor, received a grant from the Department of Energy to study chemical systems.

VERMILLION, S.D. – University of South Dakota Assistant Professor of Chemistry Bess Vlaisavljevich, Ph.D., received a four-year, $600,000 grant from the Department of Energy to study chemical systems with challenging electronic structures.

“We want to understand these systems a bit more, and look at how the structure of the molecule and the spin are connected,” Vlaisavljevich said. “This will give us insight into designing better complexes and catalysts.”

Using commercially available software and USD’s Lawrence Supercomputer (named after Nobel Laureate E. O. Lawrence, who received his bachelor’s degree in chemistry from USD in 1922), Vlaisavljevich can explore different aspects of the experiment, from the most basic interactions between molecules to more complex reactions.

Vlaisavljevich collaborates with colleagues such as Rick Wang, Ph.D., an associate professor of chemistry at USD whose research on super-container molecules has applications in healthcare and other fields. She also works with researchers from other institutes including the University of Iowa, Northwestern University and France’s National Center for Scientific Research–Grenoble.

Using only a standard laptop or desktop with the ability to connect to a powerful supercomputer, Vlaisavljevich said her chemistry lab is either her desk at her office or nearly anywhere else.

“It’s the good and bad of being a computational chemist,” she said. “Anywhere there is Internet, you can work.”


USD's College of Arts & Sciences offers students a top-notch undergraduate liberal arts education in the humanities, social sciences and sciences as well as graduate programs that have earned USD distinction as a research university by the Carnegie Foundation. The college's more than 22,000 alumni include famous journalists, Hollywood screenwriters, novelists, a Nobel Prize winner, South Dakota governors, attorneys, physicians, justices of the state Supreme Court, distinguished university faculty and international humanitarians.


Founded in 1862 and the first university in the Dakotas, the University of South Dakota is the only public liberal arts university in the state, with 202 undergraduate and 84 graduate programs in the College of Arts & Sciences, School of Education, Knudson School of Law, Sanford School of Medicine, School of Health Sciences, Beacom School of Business and College of Fine Arts. With an enrollment of nearly 10,000 students and more than 400 faculty, USD has a 16:1 student/faculty ratio, and it ranks among the best in academics and affordability. USD’s 18 athletic programs compete at the NCAA Division I level.


Hanna DeLange
USD News