Successful collaboration despite great distance

Friday 23 July 2021
Online-conference with Dr Karl Kirschner, Professor Dr George C. Shields and Mason Dudley

Current collaboration

Despite the great distance, Dr Karl Kirschner from Hochschule Bonn-Rhein-Sieg, University of Applied Sciences and Professor Dr George C. Shields from Furman University (USA) succeed in working together. Both are mentoring Mason Dudley, a Furman University bachelor student who will graduate in 2023.

The project idea originated from Professor Dr Meghan Breen (Furman), who is interested in developing novel drug treatments for yeast infections in humans. Kirschner has been helping mentor Mr. Dudley to develop a computational chemistry model of Candida glabrata Pho85, a kinase protein that is involved in yeast growth.

During the past couple of months, Kirschner, Shields and Dudley have been meeting weekly over Zoom to discuss the research project. Mr. Dudley presented last week the research at the “Molecular Education and Research Consortium in Undergraduate computational chemistRY (MERCURY)” 2021 conference (a consortium and conference that was started by Shields in 2000). The remote collaboration and research mentoring involving an undergraduate bachelor student has become truly productive due to the increased familiarity and usage of software like WebEx and Zoom - perhaps a bright outcome of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Hochschule Bonn-Rhein-Sieg

Due to his own background experience of conducting research as a undergraduate student with Shields, Kirschner has always promoted and mentored bachelor student in doing original research. He believes in the idea that original research and classroom education go hand-in-hand, synergistically strengthening the learning experience. While classroom education provides the foundation and factual knowledge, research puts that knowledge into context and motivates the students to learn more in courses. Plus, creating new knowledge is so very exciting. Currently, Kirschner is mentoring H-BRS bachelor students Thomas Gerlach and Peter Volbach in computational chemistry and machine learning research, as well as master and PhD students.

Background Info: Prof. Dr. George C. Shields (Furman) and Kirschner’s History

  • Shields was Kirschner’s research mentor when he was an bachelor student (1991-1995) at Lake Forest College
  • Shields and Kirschner became colleagues when Kirschner was a visiting assistant professor at Hamilton College (2004-2008). There they ran a joint computational chemistry research group and published many papers with bachelor students
  • Shields and Kirschner renewed their research collaboration this past year.