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Carl Mensch
HPC consultant | Computational chemist at University of Antwerp

Your beginnings? Where did you grow up? 

My comic book heroes when I was a kid were the characters in lab coats. I dreamt of being an inventor and scientist just like them. Growing up it quickly became clear that science and especially chemistry were exactly what I wanted to do.

What makes you interested in your current field?

Chemistry allows me to understand how our world works in fascinating detail. And now I don't even need a lab coat to do that anymore. By taking advantage of the power of computers, we can calculate how molecules – the building blocks of life – interact and react with each other. High-performance computing gives us a magnifying glass to see the chemistry that is going on, in anything from the test tubes in the lab to the biomolecules in our body, right on our computer screen.

On which project are you working on?

​One of the great aspects of my job is that I get involved in many different projects. I'm passionate about research that takes advantage of using computers, and I enjoy promoting it both within academia and the private sector. Witnessing firsthand the immense impact of computing power, from revolutionizing the diamond industry to propelling breakthroughs in the aerospace, life sciences, and chemical sectors, is undeniably exciting.

What do you want people to know about the work or research that you do?

With my background in chemistry, I'm very enthusiastic about some of our projects where we design computational workflows to assess and predict sources of impurities in medicines. Such chemical applications of computer predictions immediately demonstrate the importance of our work and the impact that high-performance computing can have. It is very fulfilling to witness that computational approaches are increasingly being adopted in routine workflows. It's an exciting time for computational scientists and more is definitely yet to come.

High performance computing gives us a magnifying glass to look at molecules in action right on our computer screen, so we can see the chemistry going on in anything from the test tubes in the lab to the biomolecules in our body

Something that you have achieved that you are most proud of (in research or life)? 

As a young researcher, I vividly remember the day that I obtained my Ph.D. in chemistry. A day of celebration. A day on which I could share my passion for research with my family and friends after working hard in the (virtual) lab. And beyond that? If I'm not working, you can find me outdoors. (Ultra)running, walking, cycling, camping, and hiking replenish my energy levels, while coffee fuels me along the way.

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