Chemical physics explores the rapidly evolving research at the intersection where chemistry, the study of the composition of matter, meets physics, the study of the behavior of matter and energy. One of Hamilton's newest academic concentrations, the chemical physics major offers science students an opportunity to build their knowledge and laboratory skills in both fields. As an interdisciplinary program, chemical physics draws on the shared resources of two strong departments and exemplifies the College's innovative approach to making connections across different fields and perspectives.
The chemical physics concentration is designed with specific students in mind: those interested in teaching science at the high school level, where versatility is a strength; and those interested in moving directly into science-based professions after graduation. Chemical physics majors will advance to the intermediate level in both disciplines but will not be required to do theory-level courses in either. While the emphasis is on balance, majors choose to do their advanced laboratory work and senior project in either chemistry or physics.
Students are among Hamilton's most important researchers in chemical physics, working closely with professors in a variety of fields. In connection with their senior projects or as senior fellows, senior students do research with faculty members. Some juniors, sophomores and even freshmen work in the laboratory during the academic year as well. And summer research opportunities abound. In addition to the dozens of students who participate in campus research each summer, Hamilton students pursue summer research at other colleges, at government laboratories and in industry.
In recent years, students have presented research at the national meeting of the American Chemical Society and at an international symposium of the Quantum Theory Project. Hamilton College students won the outstanding poster award at an international symposium for two consecutive years. Students also have co-authored papers published in the Journal of the American Chemical Society, the Journal of Organic Chemistry, the Journal of Physical Chemistry, the Journal of Chemical Physics, the Journal of Luminescence, Tetrahedron Letters and Biochemistry.
THE SENIOR PROGRAM
All senior chemical physics students work collaboratively with faculty members on research projects as part of the Senior Program in either chemistry or physics. This intensive one- or two-semester project combines original scientific research with reading and understanding the scientific literature. It culminates in a senior thesis that is defended in a public presentation to departmental faculty and student peers.
State-of-the-art facilities, advanced technology and small classes at the new campus Science Center mean that Hamilton undergraduates have the opportunity to work closely with instruments available only to graduate students at many schools. The Science Center is fully wireless and houses more than 100 teaching and research laboratories as well as offices and classrooms, student areas and a coffee shop.
Instrumentation includes a laser lab, a 500 MHz variable-temperature multinuclear nuclear magnetic resonance spectrometer, several Fourier-transform infrared spectrophotometers, a gas chromatograph-mass spectrometer, and a dual pump, high-pressure mixing high-performance liquid chromatograph. Also available are versatile ultraviolet/visible spectrometers, a high-performance glove box, a refrigerated centrifuge and several vacuum lines.
Hamilton is an active member of the Molecular Education and Research Consortium in Undergraduate Computational Chemistry (MERCURY). In addition to sharing MERCURY computational resoucres, Hamilton also operates a state-of-the-art high performance computing cluster, one of the largest at a primarily undergraduate institution.