Dor Ben-Amotz

Image of Dor Ben-Amotz
Visiting Faculty

Dor Ben-Amotz '76 obtained a PhD in Physical Chemistry from U.C. Berkeley and was a professor at Purdue University for over 30 years. In addition to his scientific interests, he is a musician and student of the human predicament.


Ben-Amotz’s early interests in art and science set deeper roots as a student at Bennington College, where his official plan of study focused on Black Music and Science, although it might just as well have been called a major in music, painting, sculpture, philosophy, poetry, mysticism, mathematics, and science. At Bennington, his worldview was transformed by classes on "The Influence of Music" by Milford Graves and "Religious Experience" by Claude Fredricks, as well as courses in philosophy, poetry, mathematics, physical chemistry, and classical mechanics.

One of the lasting lessons Ben-Amotz learned at Bennington is how agonizing it can be to follow one’s own interests with few constraints. Once he got a taste of that, there was no turning back, and thus he vowed to always welcome activities that made him feel disoriented and inept, as the only sure signposts along the path to discovery and the only sure antidotes to laurel-riding stagnation. Most importantly, Bennington provided Ben-Amotz with solid training as an explorer that left him well-equipped to interpret experimental observations and theoretical ideas in ways that are not excessively tainted by traditional views.

After obtaining his PhD in 1986 with Prof. Charles B. Harris, and serving as postdoctoral with Prof. Dudley R. Herschbach, Ben-Amotz accepted an appointment as an Assistant professor of Physical Chemistry at Purdue University, where he was subsequently promoted to Associate, Full and Distinguished Professor, before retiring from Purdue in 2021. His scientific accomplishments include publishing over 200 scientific journal articles, presenting over 250 scientific lectures at national and international meetings, and writing a textbook entitled Understanding Physical Chemistry. Ben-Amotz loves teaching and is honored to have received numerous teaching awards at Purdue, leading to his induction into the Academy of Great Teachers. Ben-Amotz is a visiting faculty member at Bennington for Fall 2024.