A Passion for How Things Work
From salt marshes to fields to forests, Hannah Madson has trekked over 6,000 miles in search of the "whys" and "hows" of plant life. Thanks to the Clinton and Olive Hobbs Scholarship in Plant Science, her journey was made a little easier. Says Hannah, "I've done two major field surveys to study native Lobelia. I'm trying to find out why the female plants only grow in a limited area in the U.S. and can be very rare in other places within the species range. It's extremely complex work, but that's what I like about it."
Hannah became hooked on biology in high school, and was encouraged by a teacher who spent time with her after class explaining topics in more detail. "Once the possibilities opened up to me, I wanted to understand everything," she says. A professor in college suggested she study ecology because it was challenging and "not boring like medicine." Hannah is also an accomplished violinist, playing classical and folk music since the age of four.
Hannah's father was an engineer with Hewlett Packard, so the family moved around a great deal while she was growing up. She was born in Massachusetts, and has lived in Oregon, California, Missouri and Singapore, and eventually attended college in Middlebury, Vermont. Hannah recently completed her master's degree in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at Kent State. She jokes, "My dad changed careers later in life and is finishing up his studies to become a pastor. My mom loves to introduce us to people as 'My husband the pastor and my daughter the evolutionary biologist.'"
Hannah would like to continue her role as a researcher, in a university lab or botanic garden. But no matter where she ends up in the world, she is determined to unlock a few biological mysteries along the way, and there is no doubt in her mind that she will.