Thor Hanson

Biologist; Author, Hurricane Lizards and Plastic Squid
  • Hurricane Lizards and Plastic Squid
  • Contributors
  • United States of America

About Thor Hanson

Thor Hanson was born and raised in the  Pacific Northwest, where he now lives on an island with his wife and son. He caught his first salmon at age four, and often collected a wide array of temporary summertime pets, from caterpillars and tadpoles to  garter snakes, hermit crabs, and tree frogs. His early interest in the natural world steered him towards a career in conservation biology. Hanson received his bachelor’s degree from the University of Redlands, his master’s from the University of Vermont’s Field Naturalist Program, and his doctorate in a joint program through the University of Idaho and  the Centro Agronómico Tropical de Investigación y Enseñanza, Costa Rica.

Hanson’s research and conservation activities have taken him around the globe. He has studied Central American trees and  songbirds, nest predation in Tanzania, and the grisly feeding habits of African vultures. He served as a U.S. Peace Corps volunteer in Uganda, where he helped establish the mountain gorilla tourism program in Bwindi  Impenetrable National Park, and he has also helped manage a brown bear tourism project for the U.S. Forest Service in Alaska. He often works at the interface between natural and human systems, and has conducted  research on habitat fragmentation, endangered species, and the ecological impacts of warfare.

Hanson is a Guggenheim Fellow, a Switzer Environmental Fellow, and an independent conservation biologist. In addition to his writing, he consults for conservation groups and  government agencies, and is a sought-after public speaker. Hanson co-hosted the PBS Nature series American Spring Live, and has appeared as a guest on programs ranging from NPR's Fresh Air to On Point, Science Friday, The World, The Splendid Table, and Book Lust with Nancy Pearl.

Hanson is the author of Hurricane Lizards and Plastic Squid, Buzz, The Triumph of Seeds, Feathers, and The Impenetrable Forest, as well as the illustrated children’s favorite, Bartholomew Quill. Honors for his books have included The John Burroughs Medal, The Phi Beta Kappa Award in Science, The AAAS/Subaru SB&F Prize, and three Pacific Northwest Book Awards, and his writing has been translated into more than ten languages. Hanson’s academic work includes co-editorship of the volume Warfare Ecology, as well as dozens of papers in such journals as BioScience, Conservation Biology, Environmental Conservation, Neotropical Ornithology, Neotropical Primates, The Pan-Pacfic Entomologist, and Molecular Ecology. His popular articles and essays have appeared in publications ranging from Audubon and Orion to The Wall Street Journal, The Times of London, The Los Angeles Times, The American Scholar, The Guardian, and The Huffington Post.​

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