Chemistry professor Mary Hamilton, Ph.D., has always believed that while textbooks facilitate learning, the best way to master a subject is with hands-on experience and application. She believes so much in this philosophy that she established a $35,000 fund for the Enhancement of Undergraduate Research in the natural sciences at Fordham College at Lincoln Center. The grant will fund research projects that Hamilton conducts with undergraduate students.
“I hope that exposure to real problems will benefit our students as scientists by teaching them to think with their hands as well as their heads,” said Hamilton, who created the fund in 2002 with a $25,000 gift. She contributed an additional $10,000 this year.
Hamilton came to Fordham in 1982 to teach chemistry after having worked for 33 years at the Sloan Kettering Institute, where she conducted research on ribosomes. After officially retiring from Fordham in 2000, she found it difficult to leave not only her students, but also the many research projects she had been working on throughout nearly two decades. Hamilton decided to remain at Fordham as an adjunct professor, passionately mentoring undergraduate students in the research she finds so fascinating.
Hamilton’s expertise in research and her generous gift help ensure that quality hands-on learning continues in her department, but she views her gift much more modestly. “I benefit from this arrangement because I am able to continue doing research with talented students,” said Hamilton.
She credits Fordham for transforming her from a “narrowly focused researcher” into a teacher with a responsibility not only to teach her students scientific “book knowledge,” but also to give them practical knowledge to further their careers in science.
In addition to her own contribution, an award from the Dreyfus Senior Scientist Mentor Initiative funds Hamilton’s work at Fordham, as it provides grants to emeritus faculty engaged in mentoring relationships with students who conduct research under their guidance. Hamilton uses this grant to work with Fordham undergraduate chemistry students on summer research projects.
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