posted June 12, 2008

Professor Edward Hansen Receives Fulbright Award

Dr. Edward Hansen, professor of geology and environmental science at Hope College, will spend August to January conducting research in Sweden through an award from the Fulbright U.S. Scholar Program.

Hansen is the fifth member of the Hope faculty to receive one of the awards in the past five years. Vicki Ten Haken, associate professor of management, held one of the awards earlier during the current school year to teach and conduct research in Krakow, Poland. Dr. Victor Claar, associate professor of economics, spent the 2006-07 school year teaching at the AmericanUniversity of Armenia in Yerevan, Armenia, through a Fulbright award. In 2004, Dr. William Cohen, professor emeritus of history, and Dr. David Klooster, professor of English, received Fulbright awards to teach in Japan and Austria respectively.

Hansen will be learning research techniques in support of his ongoing investigation of the movement of sand dunes along the southeastern coast of Lake Michigan across the past 5,000 years.

Working collaboratively with student researchers, Hansen has been exploring the history of the dunes from as far south as Michigan City to as far north as Muskegon, with particular focus on the dune complex in the Holland area. He has worked on the research since about 1998.

Through the Fulbright support he will be working in the laboratory of a researcher at LundUniversity in Sweden who has pioneered a technique for studying storm history, a methodology that Hansen hopes will help his research team answer questions they have regarding West Michigan's sand dunes.

"We've been puzzling over the fact that we can't explain by lake levels alone the behavior of sand dunes in Michigan," he said. "I'll be learning the techniques and then will bring them back to Hope so that our students can learn them and we'll apply them to the storm history of the Great Lakes."

Also while in Sweden, Hansen will travel to Copenhagen, Denmark, which is only about 45 minutes away, to meet with a research team that has been studying sand dunes in Europe.

His Fulbright-supported work has developed from another project based in Sweden. This month and next month, he and three students are working with researchers from LundUniversity and from the Geo Forschungs Zentrum in Potsdam, Germany, to map metamorphic rocks and structures in Sweden's Halland Province. Metamorphism, the process by which rocks are transformed by heat, pressure and chemically active fluids in the interior of the earth, was Hansen's original primary research focus, and he has continued to work on the topic even while continuing his sand dune investigations. He originally visited Sweden to follow up on reports of rocks that were similar to others that he had previously studied in India and in the course of talking with colleagues there learned about the storm-history researchers.

If the metamorphism project goes well, it, too, could become on-going. "The hope is that if we can get good results doing this, then we'll try to set up a continuing project," Hansen said.

It is an active summer abroad for students in the department. Another student is conducting research in Argentina with geologist Dr. Arancha Pinan-Llamas.

Hansen has taught at Hope since 1984. He joined the faculty as an assistant professor, and was promoted to associate professor in 1990 and to full professor in 2000. He served as chair of the department from 1995 until 2001. He was president of the Michigan Academy of Science, Arts and Letters during the 2005-06 school year, with his service to the academy also having included serving as a member-at large on the executive committee and leading the section in the geological sciences.

He graduated from the University of Cincinnati in 1978 with a B.S. in geology, and completed his doctorate in the geophysical sciences at the University of Chicago in 1983. After completing his Ph.D. he continued to work with his thesis advisor as a research associate for a year.

The flagship international educational program sponsored by the U.S. government, for more than 60 years the Fulbright Program has sponsored the exchange of students and scholars between the United States and many other countries around the world through a variety of initiatives to "increase mutual understanding between the people of the United States and the people of other countries of the world." The Fulbright U.S. Scholar Program sends approximately 800 American scholars and professionals per year to more than 140 countries, where they lecture and/or conduct research in a wide variety of academic and professional fields.

Hansen will be on an academic-year sabbatical leave while in Sweden. Following his Fulbright-supported research, he plans to spend a month and a half in Berlin doing work related to his research on metamorphism, followed by time in Minnesota conducting additional work related to his sand-dune research.