Paul Zimmerman, PhD, is Assistant Professor of Chemistry, College of Literature, Science, and the Arts, at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor.
The Zimmerman research group is a pioneer in computational chemical reaction discovery, and has developed algorithms which map out complex multi-component, multi-elementary step reaction mechanisms without reliance on prior chemical knowledge. These methods, being low computational cost compared to other quantum chemical techniques, provide a large amount of detailed and accurate chemical information to be processed and exploited. These data present an opportunity for application of statistical methods, specifically from machine learning, to determine the key chemical features that enable chemical reactions to occur. Machine learning not only provides a detailed analysis of how chemical processes work, but also provides a rapid, predictive method to determine the rate and selectivity of novel chemical reaction sequences. Ongoing work in the Zimmerman group is taking advantage of tools such as the Kernel Ridge and logistic regressions, k-nearest neighbors, and genetic algorithms to transform chemical reaction data into predictive tools applicable to many types of chemistry.