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Physics

You will learn in small classes with faculty members who know you as an individual. Lab work in state-of-the art facilities will be central to your studies. As a senior physics major, you will conduct an in-depth research project with a faculty member. The projects often produce work that is presented at professional conferences or published in scholarly journals. Astronomy is offered as minor as part of the Physics Department.

Joelle Baer ’16
Joelle Baer ’16 spent her summer interning at the National Institute for Standards and Technology’s Center for Nuclear Research.

A student discovers physics and a way to view the world

After a summer of reflection, Joelle Baer ’16 started Hamilton knowing math and science were her deepest interests. Her love for physics was a surprise. “That freshman mechanics course with Gordon Jones completely blew me away - everything I had taken for granted about the world around me was being explained right before my very eyes. The class was enthralling, the problems exciting, the professor entertaining. I was completely sold on the major,” says Baer, who went on to a summer internship at the National Institute for Standards and Technology’s Center for Nuclear Research.

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“My project involves optimizing the polarization inversion of a helium-3 neutron spin filter. I am extremely excited for this opportunity to gain lab and research experience, as well as meet other interns from across the country who share a common interest in the sciences,” she says.

Baer makes a point to take courses in subjects far outside her core interests. And she discovered another new passion at Hamilton – computer science.

“I took my first course this past semester and had a blast. Every lab felt more like a puzzle than actual work - I sometimes programmed as a break from writing papers or doing problem sets. It is definitely something I want to pursue further,” she says.

Stephanie Higgins Bealing ’04 presenting at a Hartford Young Professionals and Entrepreneurs Awards ceremony, just before she won an award.
Stephanie Higgins Bealing ’04 presenting at a Hartford Young Professionals and Entrepreneurs Awards ceremony, just before she won an award.

A graduate’s progress: more degrees, a new direction

Since her Hamilton College days, physics major Stephanie Higgins Bealing ’04 has earned two advanced degrees and launched two businesses. “Studying physics definitely prepared me for all of the problem solving that is needed when you run your own show,” she says.

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After Hamilton, Bealing studied materials science engineering, with a focus on fuel cell research, at the University of Connecticut’s Institute of Materials Science. She also did research at Imperial College London. Bealing landed a job at Rolls-Royce in the United Kingdom, but after a few years returned to school to earn a master’s in business administration from Carnegie Mellon’s Tepper School of Business. That’s when she fell in love with entrepreneurship.

“I founded my own company, Replacement Lens Express, in 2010, and am very happily self-employed. Last year I started another company, Little Red Golf Shop, which I hope will meet with the same success as RLE,” she says.

Bealing’s minor in studio art played a role in her trajectory, even though she says she nearly failed ceramics.

“My ceramics professor was slightly baffled that I could comprehend quantum physics yet I couldn’t throw a decent mug. He encouraged me to look into ceramic engineering, which is what led me to UConn.,” she says.