Hope Mourns Death of Jennifer Hampton


Hope is mourning the death of Dr. Jennifer Hampton of the physics faculty, who was killed in an automobile accident in Holland on Sunday, March 14, 2021.

Hampton, who was 48, was a professor of physics and department chair at Hope, where she had taught since 2007 and was a dedicated mentor of students in collaborative research.

“This loss brings deep sorrow for all of us who knew and loved Jenny as a colleague, friend and teacher,” said Hope College President Matthew A. Scogin ’02 in a message sent to the campus community. “As kind and encouraging as she was brilliant, Jenny was a bright light at Hope.”

In an interview on local radio station WHTC, Dr. Gerald Griffin, who is interim provost and was a colleague in the Division of Natural and Applied Sciences, described Hampton as “a brilliant star, and a star that cast light on others so that others could see their great potential within themselves; a star that connected people, that mentored others, that really cared deeply about the world and the people of the world.”

The college held its Monday, March 15, Chapel service, offered virtually during the pandemic, as a time of prayer and remembrance, and set aside places on campus for small gatherings.

Hampton taught in all areas of the physics curriculum, from introductory classes to upper-level lectures and laboratories. She also served as the faculty contact for the Materials Characterization Lab, which includes the college’s scanning electron microscope and atomic force microscope.

Her research interests were highly multidisciplinary, drawing from chemistry and materials engineering as well as physics, and her areas of expertise included electrochemistry, nanoscale science, scanning probe microscopy, and batteries and fuel cells. She had received multiple research and equipment grants from the National Science Foundation and had several articles published in refereed journals. She had made a seminar presentation about her research during the college’s Winter Happening event in 2012.

Her collaborative research with students focused on understanding and controlling the fabrication of inorganic thin films and nanostructures for energy related applications. Through the years, students she mentored in research were co-authors on published research articles and received external awards and honors including a Goldwater Scholarship, a first-place research presentation award during the Annual Meeting and National Student Conference of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers, and being chosen to present research during the American Physical Society (APS) March Meeting, the largest physics meeting in the world.

She was a member of Faith Christian Reformed Church in Holland, where she regularly participated in the worship team and had served on the missions team and as a pastoral deacon.

She was a 1995 graduate of Oberlin College, where she majored in physics. She earned an M.Phil in physics from the University of Cambridge in 1996, an M.S. in physics from Cornell University in 1999 and a Ph.D. in physics from Cornell University in 2002. She had also been a post-doctoral fellow in a research laboratory at Penn State.

Survivors include her parents, Charles and Barbara (Settergren) Hampton; her two sisters, Ellen Miriam Filgo (Kelly), and Karen Rachel Hampton; two nephews; and aunts, uncles and cousins.