New ornithology lab is dedicated to former lab instructor

Gay Hansen, a lab instructor in Mt. A’s Biology Department from 1979 to 2018, is the namesake of the newly dedicated Gay Hansen Ornithology Lab. Her impact on students and faculty alike demonstrates just how much this dedication is deserved.

Dr. Diana Hamilton, the Head of the Biology Department, has known Hansen since she began teaching at Mt. A in 2005. According to Hamilton, Hansen was a “remarkable educator” who “taught me so much” about the components they worked together on, such as animal biology and ornithology. Specializing in both field and shorebird ecology, Hamilton said that Hansen taught her a great deal during their shared 13 years at Mt. A and that it was a “privilege to work with her.”

While Hansen’s enthusiasm and passion for her work are among her top gifts to the lab, her collection of birds, many of which she has prepared and kept, cannot go unmentioned. Hansen’s collection of birds shows off her incredible taxidermy skills and will allow students for years to come to learn from the mounts of creatures all over her building. In the words of Hamilton, Hansen is “basically still teaching even though she’s gone.”

Hamilton believes that this dedication is “absolutely” well-deserved and was pleased that the process of dedicating the lab was quick. Hansen passed away in July 2021, and the entire department wanted to see the lab’s dedication realized quickly. The dedication was announced in the fall of 2021.

In addition to the new Gay Hansen Ornithology lab, the Gay Hansen Award has been created. The recipient of this award, chosen by lab instructors, will be a biology student entering third year who demonstrates a fundamental interest in the material, enthusiasm in the subject matter, and intellectual curiosity. Each trait contains “all things that Gay espoused and taught,” and said student would also reflect Hansen’s visions, values, and goals, with respect to learning.

Hamilton expressed her pleasure with the dedication and the new award for students, as well as the tremendous response to the Hansen fund. In her opinion, it speaks to how well-regarded Hansen was within the Mt. A community.

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