The philosophy of the chemistry department is to help each one of our students succeed. We do this by maximizing the attention that we give to each and every one of our students. Our first semester general chemistry classes have unusually small enrollments: Chem 125 lecture is limited to 24 and is a discussion-based seminar with lab sections of 12; Chem 120 usually enrolls 85-115 students total, distributed across three lecture sections and lab sections no bigger than 20 students. Organic Chemistry I, the second course in our curriculum, is taught in two or three sections to hold enrollments to around 40 per section. Organic Chemistry II has enrollments of 25-30 per section. The fourth semester classes in Inorganic Chemistry & Materials, and in Biological Chemistry, typically have enrollments of 15-40.
Besides small class sizes, the other hallmark of our program is our focus on research. Our lab program is structured to build the skills students need to be successful researchers in courses throughout our curriculum and numerous opportunities are available for students to do research during the academic year and during the summer. All senior concentrators do a Senior Thesis, most for the full year, and non-seniors can elect to do research for flexible levels of credit during the academic year, as well. Every summer we have roughly an equal mix of rising sophomores, rising juniors, and rising seniors participating in research projects with the faculty. We average working with more than 25 students per summer, and many of these research projects were either started in the previous academic year or continue into the subsequent one. Many of our students work multiple summers. Over the past five years our students have made 49 presentations at national conferences and published 4 papers with their faculty mentors. All of our majors in chemistry, chemical physics, and biochemistry graduate with a high degree of competence in science, research, and technical communication skills. Our program has been recognized as a top quality undergraduate research program by Presidents and Academic officers of other liberal arts colleges.
The results of this education are well-documented. Our graduates are very successful in a wide range of fields, from the typical ones that you would expect like excelling in graduate schools in chemistry and biochemistry, and professional schools in medicine and dentistry, but also in many other fields. We count successful teachers, social workers, investment bankers, and management consultants among our alumni, and you can find out more by exploring this web site. Most of our majors did not pick Hamilton specifically for chemistry, and we enjoy working with a diverse group of students who are surprised to find that they really enjoy the both the conceptual and the practical nature of chemistry. Working with great students who develop a passion for our field is a special treat. Please explore our web site, and write, call, or visit if you have any questions. Best of luck on your college application process!
Karen Brewer, Department Chair