American Chemical Society Presents 2023 Herty Medal to “Chemist’s Chemist” David Sherrill

C. David Sherrill, Regents’ Professor with joint appointments in the School of Chemistry and Biochemistry and School of Computational Science and Engineering, is recognized for research into quantum chemistry, and his outreach.

March 27, 2023

Regents’ Professor David Sherrill is the recipient of the 2023 Charles H. Herty Award, awarded by the Georgia Section of the American Chemical Society (ACS). Sherrill has joint appointments in the School of Chemistry and Biochemistry and School of Computational Science and Engineering at Georgia Tech.

“I'm very honored to be selected as this year's recipient of the Herty Medal,” Sherrill said. “This is one of the oldest awards given by the American Chemical Society, named after Charles H. Herty, who founded several chemistry-related industries in the Southeast in the early 20th century. I've met many wonderful chemists through the ACS, and it's a delight to receive this recognition from such a great organization.”

The Herty Award has been presented for more than 75 years to honor outstanding work by a chemist in the Southeast. The award recognizes research, education, and service activities in the Southeast, which covers both a large geographic territory and many academic and industrial organizations.

M.G. Finn, professor, chair, and James A. Carlos Family Chair for Pediatric Technology in the School of Chemistry and Biochemistry at Georgia Tech, adds that the Herty Medal is one of the most prestigious honors in the “very active” community of local chapters of the American Chemical Society.

“Sherrill has been extraordinarily successful, and extraordinarily generous with his time and expertise,” Finn said. “Indeed, his entire professional life resonates with the concept of service, from the development of computational chemistry tools that everyone can use, to service as editor of a major journal, to leadership at the local and national levels of our professional society. He is a chemist’s chemist, and everyone else’s chemist, too.”

Sherrill has long been an active member of the ACS, both nationally and in the Georgia Section. In 2017, he received the ACS Outreach Volunteer of the Year Award for his work with K-12 teachers during National Chemistry Week.

Sherill will formally receive his Charles H. Herty Award — a solid gold medallion — at the 89th Herty Award Celebration in September. He is also set to serve as a keynote speaker at the Annual Herty Medalist Undergraduate Research Symposium (HMURS).

About David Sherrill

David Sherrill is the associate director of Georgia Tech’s Institute for Data Engineering and Science, which coordinates efforts in data science and high-performance computing. His research involves the development and application of theoretical methods and algorithms in computational quantum chemistry, and he is the lead principal investigator for the Psi4 open-source quantum chemistry software package. Sherrill is also the director of the Sherrill Group lab.

Sherrill’s recent research continues his career-long investigation into how molecules interact with each other, but it now involves computational techniques such as machine learning. “Intermolecular interactions control everything from the structure of biomolecules like DNA, to the energetics of organic crystals,” he explains.

“In collaboration with Bristol Myers Squibb, we've been developing models based on machine learning, and these models are nearly as accurate as rigorous quantum mechanics, but they are much faster. Our quantum-based software can only model a small portion of a drug's interaction with a protein — perhaps 500 atoms at most, and the computation takes days. With our machine learning model, we can compute the drug interacting with the entire protein in only seconds. We are very excited about the possibilities opened up by such a fast and accurate model.”

Sherrill is a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the American Physical Society, and ACS. He serves as an associate editor of the Journal of Chemical Physics and was recently elected to the board of the World Association of Theoretical and Computational Chemists.

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Writer: Renay San Miguel
Communications Officer II/Science Writer
College of Sciences