Educating the Next Generation

The Rubenstein Group strongly believes that it is our duty as scientists to educate the next generation not only about science but the larger impacts of science in society. Education is critical to ensuring that the free pursuit of science remains possible and that mankind can shape science and technology in positive ways before it shapes us. Towards this end, we proudly and daily work toward educating the wider community through some of the following programs and more:

Rhode Island ACS Project Seed Program

For the past six years, Prof. Rubenstein has co-led the Rhode Island Project Seed Program. This local branch of the national ACS Project Seed Program provides fully paid summer chemistry research internships to underserved high school students in Rhode Island and neighboring areas. We have hosted nearly ten students to date, many of whom have gone onto successful careers in science, medicine, and computing. Please feel free to research out to Prof. Rubenstein if you are interested in participating in this program.

Leadership Alliance Program

The Rubenstein Group frequently participates in the Leadership Alliance Summer Research Programs and Symposium. The Leadership Alliance aims to diversify higher education by providing fully-paid research experiences for underserved undergraduates from across the country. The Rubenstein Group has hosted a number of Leadership Alliance students over the years, all of whom have gone on to successful graduate studies in chemistry.

Hosting International Students

We routinely host international undergraduates from around the world, including China, the UK, India, and Africa, to diversify their experiences and enrich our own perspectives. Many of these students have subsequently pursued graduate studies in the United States. If you are interested in joining us over a summer or through a fellowship, feel free to inquire!

Cottrell Collaboratives - LABSIP and ESCIP

We are pleased to help lead two exciting Cottrell Collaboratives: LABSIP (Lowering Activiation Barriers to Success in Physical Chemistry) and ESCIP (Enhancing Science Courses by Integrating Python). These collaboratives bring together leading teacher-scholars with the aim of initiating positive change in the physical science curricula. LABSIP focuses on developing new materials and approaches for teaching modern physical chemistry that emphasize modern techniques, nonroutine problem solving skills, and computation. ESCIP has been developing and disseminating Python materials for teaching physical sciences courses so that students are exposed to coding much earlier in their education. Please see more about our ESCIP contributions related to my Accelerating Chemical Discovery Course below.

Teaching at Brown

Prof. Rubenstein teaches a range of general chemistry, physical chemistry, and computation courses at Brown. She also advises first-year students, second-year students, biochemistry concentrators, chemical physics concentrators, and incoming first-year physical chemistry graduate students. Please read more about specific offerings below.

Note: Prof. Rubenstein frequently offers Independent Studies (CH0980 or CH2980) on such topics as quantum computing, alternative computing, computational chemistry, and quantum materials - just ask if you have an idea!

CHEM0330, Equilibrium, Rate, and Structure

Chem0330 explores the fundamentals of modern chemistry: the electronic structure of atoms and molecules, thermodynamics, solution equilibrium, chemical kinetics, and reaction mechanisms.

Atoms of fewer than 30 elements comprise nearly everything we see and use: food, computers, cars, buildings, forests, continents, oceans and the atmosphere. How does this vast array of materials, with such varied properties, derive from so few elements? How do we generate new materials to address environmental, health and resource challenges? What will be sources of energy to improve global quality of life?

Developing answers to these questions is a common goal of research in the sciences, mathematics, engineering and medicine. Chemistry provides a framework connecting the behavior of electrons and nuclei to the structures, properties, and reactions of molecules. Quantum mechanics and thermodynamics shape this framework. This course explores these and related physical principles to build a qualitative understanding and some quantitative evaluations of atomic and molecular structure and properties. The course utilizes the resulting framework of chemical principles and analytical tools to investigate and understand structures and reactions of increasingly complex molecules.

CHEM1560Q, Accelerating Chemical Discovery

For centuries, chemists have relied upon chemical intuition gleaned from limited sets of experiments to guide their chemical discovery. However, with the advent of electronic laboratory notebooks, high throughput synthesis and characterization techniques, and microscopes and spectrometers that routinely produce TBs of images, chemists are now being inundated with data that hold the promise of transforming chemistry into a truly predictive science. This newly-developed course aims to equip students of the chemical sciences with the tools of data science and computational chemistry so that they can fully leverage data for discovery. This course is broken up into four key modules: Intro to Data Science & Chemical Discovery (an Introduction to Data Science in Chemistry and Python programming using chemical examples), Chemical Discovery (an Introduction to RDKit, chemical databases, and machine learning), Modern Spectroscopy (an Introduction to image recognition and computational chemistry), and Atomistic Simulation (an Introduction to the Atomic Simulation Environment, computational catalysis, and molecular dynamics simulations) that challenges tduents to solve practical chemistry problems via data science and/or simulation.

CHEM2010, (Graduate) Advanced Thermodynamics

In this class, we will learn the overarching laws and key ideas that undergird thermodynamics, the study of energy and its transformations. Students will be expected, among other things, to be able to:

  1. Explain and apply the four laws of thermodynamics to everyday situations observed in the physical and biological worlds, such as the working of mechanical and biological “engines.”
  2. Derive basic thermodynamic equations and manipulate key derivatives, including the Euler Equation and the Gibbs-Duhem Relation.
  3. Understand Legendre transforms and the interrelation of different thermodynamic potentials.
  4. Interpret phase diagrams and explain why and how phase transitions occur in different systems using different levels of theory.
  5. Read and describe modern (or recent) pieces of literature that describe/derive/employ key ideas in equilibrium and non-equilibrium thermodynamics.

By the end of this course, students should be able to use what they have learned to inform their study of statistical mechanics, quantum mechanics, quantum field theory, many-body physics, biophysics, and renormalization group theory.

CHEM2780, Graduate Quantum Chemistry

The goal of CH2780 is to introduce students to modern methods for studying quantum mechanical systems, including lattice models, molecules, and solids, as well as recent developments in quantum chemistry/physics. Electronic structure and quantum dynamics methods and phenomenology will be covered from both the theoretical and computational perspectives. Electronic structure techniques including Hartree-Fock (HF) Theory, Moller Plesset Perturbation (MP-X) Theory, Configuration Interaction (CI), Coupled Cluster (CC) Theory, Density Functional Theory (DFT), and embedding theories will be described. Numerical techniques for implementing these methods will also be introduced and applications based upon problems in molecular spectroscopy will be outlined. The end of the class will highlight research-relevant quantum phenomenology not typically covered elsewhere including topological insulators, quantum computing, and cold atoms/molecules.