Teaching in the New Science Center

"With this building, Hamilton makes a strong statement about the important role that science plays at a liberal arts college. This is not only a place where science is taught; it's also a place where science is done. So much of modern science pedagogy is built around students doing science, including discovery-based and inquiry-led laboratories and student-faculty undergraduate research. The building has extraordinary laboratory space for these teaching and research activities. It is bright, open, handsome and safe. Science does not only happen inside the classroom and lab. It happens when we discuss results and brainstorm about the next question or experiment to pursue. This building gives us the critical laboratory space and provides casual space for faculty and students to interact outside of the classroom and lab. I can't imagine a finer facility."
-- Tim Elgren, associate professor of chemistry and past president of the Council on Undergraduate Research

"Faculty-student interaction is the cornerstone
of a Hamilton education. In the sciences, the most important form of this is faculty-student collaborative research. In the old Science Building, the Geosciences Department quite simply did not have adequate space; for the past decade, five faculty members had been sharing space that once was utilized by a department of two. In many ways it was like trying to play baseball in your backyard -- it could be done, but it wasn't easy or very pretty. We now have a first-class science 'stadium' that will undoubtedly enhance year-round faculty-student research and, in addition, will promote faculty-faculty interdisciplinary research."

-- Dave Bailey, associate professor of geosciences

"One of the biggest benefits of the new Science Center will be in helping to foster a sense of community and identity among our psychology concentrators. The new building has ample (and comfortable) space for the students to meet for study groups, hang out in our statistics lab and the student lounge, and conduct research with faculty in the many laboratories. We hope that students will come to feel that the psychology floor is their home away from home, and that they will begin to identify themselves as belonging to a group of faculty and student researchers."

-- Jennifer Borton, assistant professor of psychology

"The teaching and, especially, the research that we do
are greatly enhanced by having bright, enthusiastic students with whom to work. It is also enhanced by having talented colleagues with whom to collaborate formally or with whom to discuss ideas. The new Science Center will allow us to do a better job of attracting both. It is amazing to watch people's reactions as they walk around the building. Prospective students and their families are floored by the ample windows, the look of the glass and wood in the hallways and the abundance of comfortable areas in which to study and to relax. Visiting scientists are highly impressed by the quality of the laboratory and teaching spaces and the organization of the office and interactive spaces. It will be very hard for anyone to turn down an offer of admission or of a job when the privilege of working in the Science Center lies in their future."

-- Ian Rosenstein, associate professor of chemistry

"Accessible yet secure spaces in the new Science Center make it easier for students to manage biological studies realistically. Living things run on a schedule that often does not fit expectations of 9-5 and weekdays only, and some things cannot be automated. Returning to check on chick embryos, mice, tissue cultures or seedlings is often a necessary part of study and research. There is also inducement for more flexible study. For example, sometimes a student just cannot face that dissection for another minute on a particular afternoon. At many colleges and universities, students must use or lose their assigned lab time. They are locked out afterward or some other class uses the space. Having a lab dedicated to a course makes it possible for students to return for study when their minds are receptive in the evening or over the weekend."

-- Sue Ann Miller, professor of biology

"Now that we are moved to our new facility, lecture-based teaching and laboratory teaching can be more closely integrated. I can teach my morning Attention and Performance lectures in the same space as the course's afternoon laboratory. Thus, we can seamlessly incorporate laboratory exploration or hands-on experience into the lecture without having to wait for a laboratory meeting. In addition, the students in this junior-level laboratory course can easily visit the adjacent advanced research laboratory (where the senior project and independent research projects are set up) to get inspiration for their own eventual senior projects. Also, it is no longer necessary to use the same laboratory for two courses (one mornings, one afternoons), as was the case for the Cognitive Psychology and Learning and Cognition courses. We now have a laboratory with appropriate air handling and acoustic isolation that can be dedicated to operant conditioning laboratory work with rats, which has a long tradition here at B. F. Skinner's alma mater."

-- Jonathan Vaughan, professor of psychology

Contact Information

Stacey Himmelberger

Editor, Hamilton Alumni Review
198 College Hill Road
Clinton, NY 13323
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