Angus Hanson was born in Chilliwack, BC, in 1922 and obtained a BSA (Major in Agronomy) in 1944. Graduate work, in which he specialized in the areas of genetics, cytogenetics, plant breeding and applied statistics, led to the award of an MSc degree from McGill University in 1946 and a PhD from Pennsylvania State University in 1951.
Initially his career was in academia as a Lecturer and Assistant Professor at McGill University, where he taught undergraduate and graduate courses in applied statistics, forage crop management and breeding and was in charge of forage crop research program at Macdonald College. Then in 1949 Dr Hanson took up a position as Geneticist and Agronomist at the US Regional Pasture Research Laboratory, State College, Pennsylvania, which led to a distinguished career as a Scientist and Administrator with the USDA Agricultural Research Service.
As Project Leader in charge of grass and legume breeding and cytogenetics at the Pennsylvania Laboratory he conducted research on the breeding behavior and cytogenetics of orchardgrass, canarygrasses, fescues, brome-grasses, ladino clover, and alfalfa. In 1953 he took up a senior research position at the US Department of Agriculture (USDA), Agricultural Research Center, Beltsville, MD, where he led a program on grass and turf research in the Forage and Range Research Branch, Crops Research Division. In 1965 he became Chief of the Forage and Range Research Branch, Crops Research Division, at the Center. In that position he was responsible for a national program on forage and range improvement. The program included basic and applied research on alfalfa, clover, special legumes, grass and turf, humid pastures, arid pasture and range, and seed production. Subsequently in 1972 he was named Director of the Center, being responsible for organization, operations, and administration of integrated research program involving about 450 scientists and 800 support personnel in areas of pesticide usage, pesticide residues, alternative methods of pest control, waste management, soil science, agricultural marketing, animal parasitology, animal physiology and genetics, insect identification, beneficial insect introduction, plant genetics and germplasm, plant physiology, plant protection, animal nutrition and human nutrition.
Following retirement from the USDA in 1979 Dr Hanson became Vice-President and Director of Research with Waterman-Loomis Co, Highland, MD, until 1986, with responsibility for research planning, coordination and conduct of research on alfalfa; and for organizing programs at three research stations to meet the needs of both domestic and foreign markets for adapted varieties of alfalfa. He later joined the Board of that company and served as a Board member until 1992. He was a consultant to the National Academy of Sciences, National Research Council from 1992-1993.
Dr Hanson received many awards during his distinguished career, the most notable of which were: Superior Service Award, USDA, 1961; Merit Certificate, American Forage and Grassland Council, 1971; Medallion Award, American Forage and Grassland Council, 1972; Merit Certificate for Outstanding Performance, USDA, 1979; Distinguished Service Award, USDA, 1979; Distinguished Grasslander Award, American Forage and Grassland Council,.1988. In addition he was elected a Fellow of the American Society of Agronomy, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and the Crop Science Society of America. He served as President of the Crop Science Society of America, 1966-67.
Dr Hanson and wife Helen (Crook) reside in Silver Spring, MD, USA, and they have two sons and one daughter. In recollecting student life at UBC Dr Hanson states that “one of the most valuable portions of my UBC experience was the requirement then to prepare an undergraduate thesis. This was to give me a leg-up on many of my associates!”.