David Hansen

Professional and Biographical Information


Ph.D., Harvard University (1986)
Sc.B., Brown University (1979)
A.M. (honorary), Amherst College (1996)

Teaching Interests

I teach organic chemistry and biochemistry and have often also taught the First-Year Seminar on the history and ramifications of Darwinian thought. Regardless of the course, I try to impress upon students the underlying and unifying themes in the material we are discussing. I also try to convey both the beauty and wonder of science. One of my favorite definitions of the liberal arts is making the familiar unfamiliar and the unfamiliar familiar. No question that, in my classes, I traffic in the latter: I endeavor to show students that the seemingly complex ideas of science follow from a series of reasonable, even straightforward, ideas, one linked to the next. I find this approach to teaching chemistry especially appealing since the particulars of the field change constantly—it truly is remarkable how much more we know now than we did even twenty years ago—but the intellectual underpinnings remain the same.

Awards and Honors

Camille and Henry Dreyfus Teacher-Scholar Award, 1991.
National Science Foundation Presidential Young Investigator Award, 1989.

Scholarly and Professional Activities

Senior Advisor, the Camille and Henry Dreyfus Foundation, 2000-2008, 2010-present

See also: Research Interests and Selected Publications