Although Rod Bartlett, the 1997-98 David Williams Term Professor, is a graduate research professor of chemistry, it is his work in quantum theory - a discipline chemists share with physicists - that has earned him the most acclaim. In a Science Watch article from 1992 he was identified as the 18th most-cited chemist in the world for the 1985-1990 period, the only person in the Southeast among the fifty listed. He has been a Guggenheim Fellow, and he is a Fellow of the International Academy of Quantum Molecular Sciences and of the American Physical Society.
"My research deals with the 'glue' that holds molecules together, i.e. electrons, and their motions," Bartlett explains. "This is described by quantum mechanics, so if we can get accurate solutions to the quantum mechanical equations, we can know nearly all there is to know about molecules.
"This includes their spectroscopic signatures for identification and detection, and how to put new molecules together to serve purposes such as designing new medicines and optical materials. We use the largest and fastest computers in existence to solve the equations that provide this information, so we tend to be about equal parts chemist, physicist, applied mathematician, and computer scientist."
Bartlett is presently writing a book on "Many Body Methods in Quantum Chemistry" with a colleague at Ohio State, and his professorship stipend will allow him to travel back and forth to Columbus during the research and writing stages of the project. "I feel very honored to be the Williams Term Professor this year. I also commend Dr. Williams for choosing this means to help support the University of Florida," Bartlett says, "as I'm a Gator twice, being a Florida PhD graduate, too."