Wendy Hansen ’01 wins Rena Ratte Award
October 08, 2001
As a child living in rural eastern Oregon, Wendy Hansen ’01 spent endless hours playing in the woods and examining bugs. Today, she spends her time in the laboratory conducting cutting-edge research to learn more about geckos.
Hansen, who majored in physics and French studies, is the 2001 winner of the Rena J. Ratte Award. The award is the College’s highest academic honor.
Hansen describes life as a puzzle and science as “our best guess as to how it fits together.” In May, she graduated with honors in physics, with a grade point average of 3.9. The Rena J. Ratte Award recognizes one graduating senior for exceptional academic achievement.
“Wendy Hansen is an outstanding example of why a liberal arts education is a big advantage in the sciences,” says Kellar Autumn, assistant professor of biology.
“The creative way in which Wendy thinks and the breadth of knowledge she possesses are qualities that are difficult to find in any scientist. Her thesis on the self-cleaning properties of gecko adhesive represents a significant contribution to science. It could easily be two chapters of a doctoral dissertation,” he says.
Before Hansen enters the doctoral program in biophysics at the University of Washington, she plans to take a year off from school. During the summer, she conducted research in Autumn’s laboratory, and she plans to travel to Europe in the fall.
Rena Ratte was a Lewis & Clark philosophy instructor and professor during the 1960s. Colleagues, students and friends established the award in her memory following her unexpected death in 1970.
—by Pattie Pace