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Current Winner - 2019

E.W.R. Steacie Memorial Fellowship

E.W.R. Steacie Memorial Fellowship

Department of Chemistry

Dalhousie University

Erin Johnson is building better methods to describe chemistry, starting at the very foundation. As a theoretical chemist, she is like a structural engineer, using math and physics to test and improve our models of the most basic processes that define chemistry — the way molecules bond, how chemicals will react, and what outcome they will produce, for example. The Dalhousie University researcher is applying her expertise to density-functional theory (DFT) — a powerful modelling tool used by researchers to design the chemical building blocks that lead to new materials and pharmaceuticals. Johnson is performing the equivalent of “stress tests” to see where DFT fails, so she can identify the causes and develop a stronger version using this knowledge. Her improvements to DFT are enabling chemists around the world to tackle problems previously beyond their reach, and will impact fields as diverse as health care, materials science and electronics.

Erin Johnson
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