Bentley Wilking ’21 and Sean Conroy ’21 at work in the lab.
In high school Bentley Wilking ’21 was a science and math person, but he wasn’t interested in attending a tech college where he’d have to tightly focus his academic pursuits. He wanted a chance to branch out, which is one of the reasons he picked liberal arts Hamilton — and how he discovered his major.

Coming into College, Wilking knew he would study physics, but he didn’t expect he’d love chemistry as much as he did after he took a chem course sophomore year. In the end, he doubled-majored in math and chemical physics. Here Wilking answers three questions about his studies at Hamilton.

What’s been your best moment so far academically as a chemical physics student?

Definitely in quantum physics I feel like when we go over subjects, it’s really interesting material...  And learning about the universe in a deeper way is special, and it’s something that stays with you.

Bentley Wilking ’21

Majors: Chemical Physics and Mathematics
High School: South Burlington
Hometown: South Burlington, Vt.

Do you have a favorite course?

At the moment? Probably physics superlab, so Physics 390. It’s probably my hardest course right now, too. We’ve been doing the Miliken oil-drop experiment, and in lab you’re doing stuff that’s interesting, even though you might be spending like 10 hours in a lab staring at oil droplets, and that’s not necessarily the most interesting thing. But you also get to break into groups and talk about what might be impacting what you are studying and all the possible errors that are coming into play, and the discussion on a small-group basis is something that’s really interesting to be a part of. 

Has the academic atmosphere been right for you?

Not too competitive, a little bit collaborative. Everyone here is really pushing to challenge themselves, no matter what. Everyone wants to do as well as they can, and it’s definitely a tough environment to thrive in, necessarily, but you also have a lot of people around that are going to be there willing to help you get through problems. And everyone wants to work as a group to find answers.

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