Small College, Big Science

Amherst College has a distinguished history of advancing scientific understanding. That legacy continues today, as faculty pursue research in topics ranging from the quantum behavior of molecular nanomagnets, to brain circuitry, to fish evolution, to disease transmission and genomics.

Amherst students are taught by and collaborate with these renowned scientists. Forty percent of Amherst students conduct independent honors work that is often similar in scope and depth to graduate-level work. In fact, it’s not unusual for Amherst students to be listed as co-authors of scientific articles in peer-reviewed journals and to present findings at national conferences.

Saraswathi Vedam ’78 is among the most prominent midwife researchers in the world.

Our graduates bring high capability and a sense of responsibility to their roles as medical researchers, scientists, educators and innovators. Among these graduates are such luminaries as (to name three) Nobel laureate Harold E. Varmus ’61, who is director of the National Cancer Institute; public health advocate David Kessler ’73, former U.S. Food and Drug Administration commisioner; and biochemist Amy Rosenzweig ’88, who received a MacArthur “genius” grant in 2003. Others include Saraswathi Vedam ’78, who is among the world’s most prominent midwife researchers, and medical ethicist Ezekiel Emanuel ’79, former White House senior counselor on health policy during President Obama’s first term.

Science education at Amherst is decidedly personal: Students collaborate directly with faculty on cutting-edge research. When students take part in original research, they experience the thrill and challenges of scientific discovery as they work alongside faculty with a passion for teaching.

In today’s world, scientific knowledge has enormous implications for the global community, and scientific literacy—the ability to pose questions, examine evidence and apply conclusions—is at the heart of the liberal arts education at Amherst.