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Chemistry

You will work in Hamilton's state-of-the-art science center. Even as a first-year student, you may get the chance to do research during the academic year and summer. Many students pursue summer research on campus, at other colleges and in government labs.


Leah Krause ’14 present her research at the 11th Molecular Educational Research Consortium in Undergraduate Computational chemistRY (MERCURY) conference at Bucknell University.

A student’s initiative: landing a national grant

Chemistry major Leah Krause ’14 needed an extra chunk of computer time to continue her research with Assistant Professor of Chemistry Adam Van Wynsberghe. Their work focuses on a protein that is part of the influenza virus and on how a variety of small molecules bind to the protein.

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While she was in a summer program at University of California San Diego, Krause heard about a science foundation grant that provides computational time on a supercomputer. She did the legwork and wrote the grant, with minor editing by Van Wynsberghe. Her name went on the application as co-principal investigator, an honor for an undergraduate. They got the grant.

Students at Hamilton College take charge of their work, Krause says.

 “Whereas I felt like at a large university, a lot of times you’re being told what to do or you’re being led along. and there are people who are wiser than you and smarter than you who are maybe informing how the project goes along. Here, you have a lot more individual agent and personal agent in your project. And that really helps develop your mind as a scientist and your ability to think critically,” Krause says.


Alex Thompson '13

A graduate’s progress: study at Yale

Alex Thompson ’13 went from Hamilton College to Yale University to earn a doctorate in chemistry. When he attains that, he wants to work in industry to develop new therapeutic drugs.

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In his first year at Hamilton, Thompson asked if he could work with his bio professor on summer research. The answer was yes, and Thompson had found his academic element. He majored in chemistry, minored in biology and sought out opportunities to conduct research with his professors.

As an undergrad, Thompson spent a summer working at the Max Planck Institute in Berlin and interned at Genentech, a biotech company in San Francisco, among other accomplishments.

“Only at a small school like Hamilton that doesn’t have graduate students can undergraduates have the opportunity to conduct research as freshmen or sophomores,” he says. “When applying for outside internships that are extremely competitive, students who have already had research experiences are much better candidates. I definitely would not have gotten the internship at Genentech if I hadn’t already had so much lab experience working with Hamilton professors.”