Skip to main content

Trevor A. Hamlin

Assistant Professor Faculty of Science, Chemistry and Pharmaceutical Sciences

“My three-year-old daughter is my world…we love doing active things together.”

Can you tell us who you are and where you are from?

I’m Trevor A. Hamlin, “A” for Alexander. It is important to pick your name and then stick with it throughout your academic career, so people can find you when they’re looking for your papers. I was born in Fountain Valley, California, in the United States, a city just outside Los Angeles. I moved to Amsterdam in September of 2015 with my wife, Mary Kate Hamlin, for my postdoctoral training and we fell in love with the country, culture, and cycling.

What is your area of expertise and why did you get into this area of research?

My expertise lies in theoretical chemistry, where I use computational methods to study molecular interactions and reactions. Initially trained in organic synthesis, I was always fascinated by how molecules collide, react, and then transform into more complex structures. This led me to shift my core focus from synthetic to theoretical chemistry, allowing me to investigate reaction mechanisms using tools like density functional theory to understand reactivity and selectivity.

What inspired you to pursue a career in science, and how has that motivation evolved over time?

Since childhood, I’ve been fascinated with how things work, often taking apart and reassembling toys. With a background in construction, I learned building skills from my father, ranging from framing houses to installing doors and windows. In college, I became interested in building things on a small scale, such as in constructing molecules using organic synthesis.
Now, my focus is on theoretical and computational chemistry, where our predictions are used to explain and rationalize experimental results.

What role do collaboration and interdisciplinary approaches play in your work?

I enjoy collaborating with experimental chemists. They often come to me with a novel chemical transformation and ask me to figure out the individual mechanistic steps involved in converting the reactants into the products. To do this, we perform density functional theory calculations to understand the mechanism of the transformation. Using more advanced tools, we can then formulate elegantly simple models to rationalize why one product is formed over another viable product.

What impact on the world would you like to make? 

Well, I aim to showcase how computational chemistry and density functional theory calculations can predict and rationalize real-world chemistry. With increased computational power, we can design novel reactions or catalysts through theory-driven experimentation. Experimentalists can use our design principles when developing novel experiments. This approach has the potential to rapidly generate more efficient, selective, and high-yield reactions with fewer byproducts, thus minimizing waste and providing more precise recipes for successful organic transformations.

Tell us something we don’t know about you? Hobbies, interests…

My three-year-old daughter is my world. We love doing active things together, like exploring the forest, looking at insects, flowers, and plants, and digging in our garden. Our backyard is filled with a variety of fruits like raspberries, strawberries, blueberries, and red currants, along with flowering plants that bloom at different times of the year, ensuring there’s always color to enjoy.

Another hobby involves working out and lifting weights. Additionally, I volunteer in my neighborhood community group named ‘Van brug tot brug’ (from bridge to bridge) in Almere Kruidenwijk. We maintain flower beds, trees, and other plants in our designed area between the bridges, and we’ve planted a communal herb garden with basil, coriander, thyme, and rosemary. This garden provides fresh herbs for several months of the year, which is a great alternative to frequent trips to the Albert Heijn store for herbs in a plastic container.

It’s heartwarming to see the community come together and in the warmer months, you’ll see little kids from the neighborhood just go pluck berries off the vine.

About Meet the Scientist

Our Meet the Scientist series asks our amazing AIMMS talent to step away from their experiments and tell us more about themselves. From impact they want to make to their favorite hobbies, this is our chance to learn more about these inspiring minds.