Dennis A Hansell

Professor

Phone:
(305) 421-4078
Locator Code:
VK

 
About

Professor, Department of Ocean Sciences - Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science

Dennis A. Hansell is a professor in the Department of Ocean Sciences at the Rosenstiel School. His research interests are in the biogeochemistry of the major elements (such as carbon and nitrogen), primarily conducted by inferring the biological processing of those elements from their spatial and temporal variations.

Hansell teaches courses in ocean biogeochemistry at both the undergraduate and graduate levels, and mentors graduate students and postdoctoral scientists toward careers as professional scientists.

Career
Hansell has been at the Rosenstiel School for over 18 years, having previously worked in Bermuda and the states of Washington, California, and Alaska. His PhD was awarded for studies of the nitrogen cycle in the Bering and Chukchi Seas, where he learned of the incredible biological productivity of those systems, as exemplified by concentrated marine mammal and seabird populations. He subsequently developed expertise in the cycling of carbon through organic matter in seawater, spending the past two decades working to understand and quantify the processes involved. Having spent more than two years at sea aboard research vessels, his research has taken him to all of the major ocean basins and to all of the continents. In the course of his research, he has flown to and landed on the ice shelves of Antarctica in C130 aircraft operated by the US military, broken ice for great distances on vessels plying polar seas, shared sea ice with curious Emperor penguins, met with inhabitants of remote Yupik villages of the Alaska coast, been escorted by Soviet gunboats to Siberia, avoided being the target in an ugly shark attack in the South Pacific, suffered from wet and cold while working out of Zodiac inflatable boats along the Arctic coast, shared those coastal waters with caribou swimming to escape blood-sucking black flies, dodged hungry grizzlies in the far north Brooks Range, visited islands such as Pribilof Islands with their northern fur seal rookeries, Little Diomede and St. Lawrence Islands with their native villages, and Easter Island, where he explored the famous Moai carvings. His research findings have been presented in over 100 journal articles, dozens of presentations, and multiple books.
Hansell has been at the Rosenstiel School for over 18 years, having previously worked in Bermuda and the states of Washington, California, and Alaska. His PhD was awarded for studies of the nitrogen cycle in the Bering and Chukchi Seas, where he learned of the incredible biological productivity of those systems, as exemplified by concentrated marine mammal and seabird populations. He subsequently developed expertise in the cycling of carbon through organic matter in seawater, spending the past two decades working to understand and quantify the processes involved. Having spent more than two years at sea aboard research vessels, his research has taken him to all of the major ocean basins and to all of the continents. In the course of his research, he has flown to and landed on the ice shelves of Antarctica in C130 aircraft operated by the US military, broken ice for great distances on vessels plying polar seas, shared sea ice with curious Emperor penguins, met with inhabitants of remote Yupik villages of the Alaska coast, been escorted by Soviet gunboats to Siberia, avoided being the target in an ugly shark attack in the South Pacific, suffered from wet and cold while working out of Zodiac inflatable boats along the Arctic coast, shared those coastal waters with caribou swimming to escape blood-sucking black flies, dodged hungry grizzlies in the far north Brooks Range, visited islands such as Pribilof Islands with their northern fur seal rookeries, Little Diomede and St. Lawrence Islands with their native villages, and Easter Island, where he explored the famous Moai carvings. His research findings have been presented in over 100 journal articles, dozens of presentations, and multiple books.

Honors & Acknowledgements

Awards and Leadership
Hansell’s research was recognized by the American Geophysical Union with the 2014 Sverdrup Lecture, by the American Association for the Advancement of Science with election as a Fellow in 2018, and he has served numerous national and international science committees. Among these, he served as chair of the United States Carbon Cycle Science Steering Committee and vice-chair of the international project Integrated Marine Biogeochemistry and Ecosystem Research (IMBER). He presently serves as a member of the Board of Trustees of the Bermuda Institute of Ocean Sciences and as Chair-elect of the University-National Oceanographic Laboratory System (UNOLS) Council.
Research
The primary question Hansell’s laboratory asks is “What is the role of dissolved organic matter in the ocean’s carbon cycle?” To address this question, which is far from solved, the lab goes to sea each year for extensive periods. Their observational work includes surveys of the major ocean basins, with measurements of dissolved organic carbon and nitrogen made throughout the ocean’s water column. The analyses are typically done in the shore-based laboratory, and interpreted for presentation in peer-reviewed journal articles.