UW News

May 8, 1998

UW senior well prepared to live on Greenland glacier

News and Information

Hans-Peter Marshall seems to like the cold. That’s presented the University of Washington senior physics major with an unusual number of adventurous research opportunities.

The latest is a Bonderman Honors Travel Fellowship, a $5,000 award he will use to live in an Inuit village on a glacier in northern Greenland, far north of the Arctic Circle at the edge of the polar ice cap.

As part of his study of glaciology through the NASA Space Grant Program, Marshall has taken two research trips to Antarctica with Ed Waddington, research associate professor of geophysics. He also has studied the mechanics of avalanches in Snoqualmie Pass and probed Blue Glacier on the Olympic Peninsula with Howard Conway, also a research associate professor of geophysics.

Now Marshall is ready to take a closer look at the human equation.

“I want to take a step back from that study of snow and ice and learn about the people who live in that kind of climate,” Marshall said.

The 22-year-old native of Seattle’s Northgate area acknowledged he has gotten rare research opportunities for an undergraduate because of the Washington NASA Space Grant Consortium. The program, in its seventh year at UW, aims to broaden education in aerospace and technology sciences by pairing promising students with top researchers in various fields.

When Conway had to make his own trip to Antarctica last year, he left Marshall in charge of the Snoqualmie Pass study, the results of which are expected to be published this year. Marshall also joined Conway for several arduous, 20-mile hikes from the Hoh Rain Forest ranger station to the UW research station on Mount Olympus.

Marshall’s plan to “look at the human side of living in cold regions is very interesting,” Waddington said, and the student’s travels to Antarctica should prepare him for the conditions he will encounter in Greenland. The two did their Antarctic work during winter months in Seattle, which is summer in the Southern Hemisphere.

“I wouldn’t want to be there in June,” Waddington said. “The average temperature all year long is 40 below, (but) in the summer it sort of gets up to 20 below.”

Marshall expects to spend four to five months in Greenland starting in the fall of 1999.

To earn the travel grant, Marshall had to submit a proposal that would enhance his education but wasn’t part of his study program. The fellowship is created through a gift from David Bonderman, a successful investment adviser who received a degree in Russian from the UW in 1963. After graduating from Harvard Law School, he received a travel fellowship that led him to create similar opportunities for junior and senior honors students at the UW.

Marshall said the grant is simply another step in his education in glaciology, a field the NASA Space Grant program helped him to find.

“I knew I was interested in math and science but I had no idea what I wanted to do with it,” he said.

But glaciology seemed to be the perfect choice because “I have a real strong interest in the outdoors and the mountains and climbing and snowboarding.”


For more information, contact Marshall at hpmarsh@u.washington.edu or at (206) 985-1081.