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Spotlight On … Dan Hammer ’07

Dan Hammer ’07, an environmental economist and doctoral candidate at the University of California, Berkeley, was honored with the first-ever Pritzker Emerging Environmental Genius Award, for expanding the accessibility of satellite data.

What does this honor mean to you?

I am no genius. I pride myself on being a productive, thoughtful, and kind member of the environmental community. This is why I think I was given this award. I am excited about this award, above all, because it validates that you don't have to be a self-promoting asshole to be successful.

How has Swarthmore shaped your career—and your life?

The field of data science should really be called data arts. Data science for public policy is a combination of statistics, programming, visualization, communication, moral philosophy, history, and economics. Science accounts for only a small part of the work. Swarthmore taught me the value of a broad perspective. The liberal arts curriculum granted the ability to learn new things quickly—and to love that process.

What advice would you give current Swarthmoreans hoping to follow in your path?

Be kind. Take responsibility and give credit. Enjoy the grind. I did not rush toward this award, or elbow people out of the way. No award is worth living like that.

Anything else you’d like to say?

My dad and godfather went to Swarthmore. I met my wife at Swarthmore. My daughter, Lily, will be a third-generation Swarthmore student—graduating in 2038. (She is damn cute.)