UA professor to be honored by President Obama for work in Antarc - WVTM-TV Birmingham, AL

UA professor to be honored by President Obama for work in Antarctica

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Dr. Samantha Hansen Dr. Samantha Hansen
TUSCALOOSA, AL - A University of Alabama professor is being honored by President Obama for her work in Antarctica.

Dr. Samantha Hansen is part of a group of 102 researchers receiving the Presidential Early Career Awards for Scientists and Engineers. Hansen won for her research studying how mountain ranges were formed in Antarctica fifty-five million years ago. The award is the highest honor bestowed by the United States government on science and engineering professionals in the early stages of their research careers.

Hansen’s office for about a month last year was miles and miles of snowy mountains. She and a team of 5-7 people were gathering data from machines already in place that record energy signals earthquakes. Hansen said, “Most of the continent, like 99 percent of the continent is buried beneath snow and ice so there is very little we know about it.”

The hope is that the data the team collects can give clues to how the mountains were formed.

Hansen said her favorite part of spending weeks at a foreign continent is being able to go places no humans has ever been. She added, “There is so much we don't know about that continent and its pretty fun to work in a place where everything you do is a new discovery.”

After returning from Antarctica, two days before Christmas, Hansen got an email from the White House.

The email explained that she has been awarded the Presidential Early Career Awards for Scientists and Engineers and there will be trip planned for her to Washington, D.C. to receive the award.

“You know the concept that you have to think about, you know what do I wear to meet the president is not something I generally spend my time worrying about,” Hansen said.

The date for the trip to the nation's capital hasn't been nailed down, but the professor has planned two more trips to Antarctica to retrieve data buried beneath the ice.

Hansen's research is funded by the National Science Foundation. Her trip last November was put on hold because of the government shutdown, but the team was able to go during the schedule window once the government reopened.

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