University of Vermont

College of
Engineering and Mathematical Sciences

Journal of Mathematical Chemistry features research by Mary Cox

Release Date: 12-31-2007

Author: Dawn Marie Densmore
Phone: Array Fax: 802-656-8802

Professor Mary

Professor Mary Cox

Mary Cox, mathematics lecturer in UVM's College of Engineering and Mathematical Sciences (CEMS), has published a research paper in the Journal of Mathematical Chemistry as of December 8, 2007 (electronic publication date).

The paper, "Hydrocarbon links in an octet truss," is co-authored with Thomas S. Hughes (UVM Dept. of Chemistry), Joanna A. Ellis-Monaghan (St. Michael's College), and Kathleen R. Mondanaro (St. Michael's College). Using the octet truss of R. Buckminster Fuller, the co-authors have developed a geometric placement method for synthesizing braid representations of any knot or link in hydrocarbon molecules. The octet truss is a complete semi-regular tiling of 3-space with tetrahedrons and octahedrons, resulting in the strongest theoretical structure.

"Viewed mathematically, the hubs of the octet truss correspond to the centers of spheres of equal radius, packed tightly together," Cox explains. "In crystallography, this is called the face-centered cubic lattice. The points in the lattice are uniformly distributed, and the distances are equal between each point and its 12 nearest neighbors." The octet truss is used in engineering and architectural applications such as the Portland World Trade Center, its applications ranging in size from the nano-technological to the mega-structural.

An interesting mix of mathematics, chemistry and engineering, Cox's work is yet another example of the multidisciplinary research being conducted at CEMS. The research was supported by the Vermont Genetics Network (through an NIH Grant from the INBRE program of the NCRR), the National Security Agency (NSA), and the National Science Foundation (NSF).