Research Opportunities

The close student-faculty collaboration that is at the heart of Hamilton's physics program means that every major completes at least one substantial research project before graduation – with opportunities for many more. Student projects often lead to papers that are presented at professional conferences and/or published in scholarly journals. Recent student-faculty collaborations have been published in Physical Review, New Journal of Physics and Classical and Quantum Gravity.

Hamilton regularly offers research options in such fields as theoretical quantum gravity, general relativity, nuclear physics, laser spectroscopy, nonlinear dynamics and astronomy. Faculty members maintain active research programs in such fields as materials science, laser spectroscopy, atomic physics, theoretical physics and computational chemical physics. In addition, students may arrange independent study projects based on topics of interest not offered in the regular curriculum.

The Taylor Science Center.
10 Female Students Funded for Science Research by Luce Foundation

Ten women participating in summer research in the Hamilton College Chemistry, Computer Science and Physics departments have been recognized as Clare Boothe Luce Undergraduate Research Scholars. Funded through a grant from the Henry Luce Foundation and matching funds from Hamilton College, these awards provide stipends and funding for equipment, supplies, and travel to encourage women to either begin or continue research projects in the three disciplines.  More ...

Steve Laurent Cunden '18 works on a robotic arm.
Building a Better Robot

Steven Laurent Cunden ’18 is this summer helping to further develop the robotics technologies used in the Physics 245 course, Electronics and Computers. Cunden is working with the class instructor, Associate Professor of Physics Brian Collet, on enabling the relatively simplistic robotic arms used in the course to receive and react to positional feedback.  More ...

Thomas Hoffman '16
Thomas Hoffman ’16 Adds Discovery to Hamilton Intro. Physics Labs

When people recall what they enjoyed most about science classes – whether  in college, high school or even earlier – chances are they remember hands-on experiments and the excitement of discovering something new for themselves. This element of discovery is important to Thomas Hoffman ’16 and Adam Lark, director of physics laboratories. The two are working together to add more discovery-based elements to introductory physics labs on campus, hoping to improve the learning experience for physics students.  More ...

Nine Students Awarded Class of '79 Travel Grant

Nine Hamilton seniors have been selected to receive the Class of 1979 Student Travel Award. The award, established by the alumni of Hamilton's Class of 1979, offers financial assistance to Hamilton students who wish to pursue extensive research projects in different parts of the world.  More ...

Jacob Davidson '15, left, and Andrew Morrison '14.
Physics Students Engaged in National Research Project

Four fundamental forces - gravity, electricity, the strong force and the weak force - control all of the subatomic interactions that exist in our universe. The strong force dictates interactions between molecules in a nucleus while the weak force governs the process of radioactive decay.  The scientific community currently understands the first three forces well, but obtaining knowledge about the weak force has challenged physics researchers for decades. Andrew Morrison ’14 and Jacob Davidson ’15 are contributing to the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) aCORN Project, to gain a better understanding of the weak force.  More ...

Bennett Heussler '15
The Physics of Sound

Most people are aware that blowing across the top of a bottle produces a tone, or driving on the highway with an open sunroof yields uncomfortably loud turbulence.  The physics behind daily occurrences similar to these regularly go unnoticed, but not so by Bennett Heussler ’15.  He decided to study what causes these sounds and to reexamine previous experiments related to these observations.  More ...

Nick Sylvester '13, Brandon Wilson '14, Jill Hallak '13, Kerkira Stockton '14.
Students Work Electron Calibration for Collaborative aCORN Project

Hamilton physics concentrators Nick Sylvester ’13, Jill Hallak ’13, Kerkira Stockton ’14 and Brandon Wilson ’14 have spent the summer conducting research for the aCORN collaborative, a project being carried out by five universities and colleges and the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST).  More ...

Katie Pierce '14 and McKinley Brumback '14
Student Researchers Study Supernova Variations

McKinley Brumback ’14 and Katie Pierce ’14 are working with Assistant Professor of Physics Natalia Connolly and her husband, University of Pennsylvania Postdoctoral Researcher Brian Connolly, on a summer research project that has the potential to fundamentally change much of what is known about the universe.  More ...

Emi Birch '14
Emi Birch ’14 Works to Build the Perfect Foucault Pendulum

As a physics and philosophy dual concentrator, Emi Birch ’14 has taken an interdisciplinary approach to her education, an approach that is also reflected by her summer research project. Birch is attempting to replicate an experiment conducted by French physicist Jean Foucault in 1851. Foucault hung a 67 meter (about 220 ft.) pendulum from the roof of the Pantheon, in Paris, in order to demonstrate the rotation of the earth.  More ...

Sunrose Shrethsa '14 and Elizabeth Jonathan '13
Jonathan ’13 and Shrestha ’14 Work to Optimize Solar Panel Efficiency

According to The Wall Street Journal’s “Market Watch,” alternative energy is one of the fastest growing industries in the United States.  Elizabeth Jonathan ’13, a physics concentrator and mathematics minor, and Sunrose Shrethsa ’14, a physics and mathematics double concentrator, are using their summer research grant to investigate new possibilities in this dynamic field.  More ...