The University of Alabama

White House Honors UA Geologist

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President Barack Obama talks with the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE) recipients in the East Room of the White House, April 14, 2014. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. – A University of Alabama geologist was among researchers honored at the White House Monday, as a recipient of the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers.

Dr. Samantha Hansen, a UA assistant professor of geological sciences, received her award in a ceremony at the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and then she and the group of 102 scientists and engineers were greeted at the White House by President Obama who thanked them for their achievements.

This 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.

Dr. Samantha Hansen

Dr. Samantha Hansen

Hansen is using energy signals from earthquakes occurring worldwide to image the Transantarctic Mountains in attempts to better understand how the mountain range formed some 55 million years ago across Antarctica. Much of the mountain range is covered in deep layers of snow and ice.

In December 2013, Hansen and two UA graduate students returned from a six-week stay in Antarctica where they retrieved data from 15 seismic stations she and research colleagues installed along portions of the mountain range in late 2012. It was Hansen’s fourth trip to Antarctica. This aspect of her research is funded through a five-year $715,000 CAREER grant from the National Science Foundation.

To see the Office of Science and Technology blog about Monday’s event, click here.

To learn more about Hansen’s research, see this archived story.

UA’s department of geological sciences is part of the College of Arts and Sciences, the University’s largest division and the largest liberal arts college in the state. Students from the College have won numerous national awards including Rhodes Scholarships, Goldwater Scholarships and memberships on the USA Today Academic All American Team.

The University of Alabama, a student-centered research university, is experiencing significant growth in both enrollment and academic quality. This growth, which is positively impacting the campus and the state's economy, is in keeping with UA's vision to be the university of choice for the best and brightest students. UA, the state's flagship university, is an academic community united in its commitment to enhancing the quality of life for all Alabamians.