White House Honors UA Geology Professor

Samantha Hansen

Dr. Samantha Hansen has been selected to receive a Presidential Early Career Award, which is given annually by the White House to recognize top young scientists.

From the February 2014 Desktop News | President Barack Obama recently announced that he will award Dr. Samantha Hansen, assistant professor in the Department of Geological Sciences, a Presidential Early Career Award. The Presidential Early Career Award is the highest honor bestowed by the United States government on science and engineering professionals in the early stages of their independent research careers.

Hansen is being recognized by the President for a $715,000 CAREER grant she received in 2012 from the National Science Foundation, an already prestigious honor. She is among 102 researchers recognized by the White House this year. She will travel to Washington, D.C., this spring to accept the award.

“The impressive achievements of these early-stage scientists and engineers are promising indicators of even greater successes ahead,” President Obama said in a recent announcement.  “We are grateful for their commitment to generating the scientific and technical advancements that will ensure America’s global leadership for many years to come.”

As part of her research, Hansen is using energy signals from earthquakes occurring worldwide to image the Transantarctic Mountains. Much of the mountain range is covered in deep layers of snow and ice, and imaging the mountains is an attempt to better understand how the range formed some 55 million years ago across Antarctica.

In December, Hansen and two UA graduate students returned from a six-week stay in Antarctica where they retrieved data from 15 seismic stations that Hansen and her research colleagues installed along portions of the mountain range in late 2012. It was Hansen’s fourth trip to Antarctica.

Hansen earned her bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of Wisconsin, Madison, where she triple majored in engineering, geophysics and geology as an undergraduate. She earned her doctorate from the University of California, Santa Cruz, and completed her post-doctoral work at Penn State before joining the UA faculty in 2010.