Meet Dr. Erik Hoy, Assistant Professor of Chemistry & Biochemistry within the College of Science & Mathematics and the School of Health Professions.
Share an “aha!” moment that you’ve had within your discipline that made you feel passionate about your field.
As a theoretical scientist, one of the most exciting moments for me is when a new theory or method is “born.” Developing a new computational or theoretical method can take weeks or months of work and study, but I find that there is often an “aha” moment right at the end where the ideas and equations finally come together.
I will never forget when, as a postdoctoral scholar at Northwestern University, I created the new theoretical approach for studying electron transport that is the basis for much of my research today. The “aha” moment came when I finally figured out the final form of the transport equations. The excitement of bringing a new idea into the world that I could call my own was a moment that validated all of the hard work and study required to get to that point.
Describe for us an experience you’ve had with a student that made you feel excited about educating the next generation in your field.
Although I’ve been at Rowan for less than a year, I didn’t have wait long to meet an impressive student. After my very first day of teaching, a student came up to me asking to join my research group. He had a strong interest in nanoscale and materials science problems, so my group was a perfect fit. I was deeply impressed by the level of self-motivation that the student had. He has since become one of my top research students and is currently writing his own research software.
What’s your favorite thing about being on campus on a typical Tuesday?
On a typical Tuesday I often find myself walking around the third floor of Science Hall, and I often find students from my classes. Students usually sit in the central area of the floor and will often stop me to ask questions or just chat. This kind of organic interaction with students is one of my favorite things about Rowan. It brightens my day when I’m able to see how they are doing and answer their questions promptly.
What is your area of expertise?
My general area of expertise is theoretical and computational quantum chemistry. Basically, I focus on developing new theories within the field of quantum mechanics and then build computer models to study problems in chemistry. I’m particularly interested in problems that involve the transport of electrons at the quantum level. One major area of interest for me are electronic components (such as the transistors, resistors or switches) based on common organic molecules for use. These devices can replace the current generation of silicon-based components, yielding faster and more efficient consumer electronics like phones or laptops.
What is one thing you wish people knew about your academic discipline or your research focus?
As my area of research is a fairly technical field, many people have the impression that you need special skills or talents to do undergraduate research in quantum chemistry, especially since some of what we do is not covered by any course.
You don’t need any previous experience or skills to start research researching in quantum chemistry. I currently have students in my group ranging from freshmen to juniors all with varying levels of prior knowledge. In fact, those same technical skills, such as programming or working with supercomputers, can be seen as an advantage rather than a barrier. Computer skills in particular are always valued.
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Dr. Erik Hoy, Department of Chemistry & Biochemistry
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