Chemical Physics

You will explore the rapidly evolving research at  the intersection of chemistry and physics and build knowledge and lab skills in both fields. Your classes will be small and you will have extensive research opportunities.

Chris Whiting ’14
Chris Whiting '14 tests a sample from a 500 MHz variable-temperature multinuclear nuclear magnetic resonance spectrometer in the Taylor Science Center.

A student’s goal: becoming a ‘well rounded’ scientist

Chris Whiting ’14 is a science guy who loves the flexibility of his chemical physics major, but he entered college  looking for more than an education in pure science. Whiting is an admission intern for Hamilton College and tells prospective students he chose Hamilton because he wanted to study a wide variety of disciplines.

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“I knew I wanted to be one of those more well-rounded scientists, you could say. I didn’t want to go to just engineering school or just a science school, you know. I’m really interested in other subjects,” says Whiting, who is close to a minor in creative writing and has taken philosophy and comparative literature classes.

As for the flexibility of his chemical physics major, his senior thesis topic is almost purely organic chemistry. His work outside the classroom included summer research with an associate chemistry professor on structure-function relations in membrane-active peptides.

Post-Hamilton, medical school is on his horizon, but first Whiting wants to work for a while. He is aiming for a job with a management consulting firm, which would allow him to travel. The science guy says he leaves college with a well-developed eye for good writing.

“What I think is the best thing I’ve gotten out of Hamilton, the greatest thing, is actually the ability to write,” he says.

Carlos Rico '10
Carlos Rico '10

A graduate’s progress: a fellowship and pursuit of a Ph.D.

For Carlos Rico '10, studying science at Hamilton College was “pure bliss." “The professors were just so enthusiastic and loving of science, and it was very contagious,” says Rico, who was a chemical physics major and is pursuing a doctorate in the Tri-Institutional Training Program in Chemical Biology through The Rockefeller University.

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Rico is studying G-protein coupled receptors, which are proteins located in the plasma membrane of cells and are important for cell-to-cell communication.

“We are interested in working with a subset of receptors, known as chemokine receptors, because they are involved in many roles, such as inflammation, cell trafficking, organ development, viral infection and cancer,” Rico explains.

In 2012, he won a prestigious National Science Foundation graduate fellowship that supports his research and, he says, “gives me the scientific freedom to pursue ideas of my own with support from my advisor.” When Rico finishes his Ph.D., he wants to land a post-doctoral fellowship and then apply for academic positions.

“I would love to one day contribute to scientific knowledge by being able to answer a very difficult problem no one has ever been able to,” he says.