Chancellor's Award for Research Excellence

The Chancellor’s Award for Research Excellence is given annually to a WSU Vancouver faculty member whose research quality and quantity are exemplary, and whose work has had a positive influence on the broader community. It is the university’s highest research honor.


Ed Hagen

Professor of Anthropology, College of Arts and Sciences

Ed Hagen

The Chancellor’s Award for Research Excellence is given annually to a WSU Vancouver faculty member whose research quality and quantity are exemplary, and whose work has had a positive influence on the broader community. It is WSU Vancouver’s highest research honor.

Scholarship in anthropology is richer and deeper because of Ed Hagen. He is a leader in introducing mental health research into biological anthropology and directs WSU Vancouver’s Bioanthropology Lab. He focuses on topics that have been largely neglected by other biological anthropologists—the use of tobacco, cannabis and other drugs, depression and suicide—topics that can cause enormous harm to the health and well-being of many people.

“He is an amazing scholar, teacher and colleague, and we are incredibly fortunate to have him at WSU Vancouver,” wrote Barry Hewlett, professor of anthropology, in nominating Hagen for the award.

Hagen and his collaborators have developed an extensive evolutionary framework for human drug use that challenges conventional thinking. His research has shown that popular recreational plant drugs are acutely toxic—a perspective that can explain some patterns in drug use that have not been understood. For example, there is a pervasive male bias in drug use, while children and women of reproductive age do not typically use drugs heavily, probably because they have evolved so to avoid toxic substances that interfere with their or their fetus’s development.

Hagen’s vast and varied research interests also extend to the study of suicide, leadership, the microbiome, gossip, music and dance. With some 90 publications to his credit, his work appears widely in prestigious journals, such as Human Nature, Evolution and Human Behavior, the American Journal of Physical Anthropology and the American Journal of Human Biology. His publications have been cited by other scholars about 6,000 times.

His work is international, ranging from the Venezuelan and Ecuadorian Amazon to the Central African Republic, and his students have established additional field sites in southern India, Argentina, southwest Ethiopia, an immigrant Pacific Island population in Portland, Ore., and Tanzania. Many graduate students who studied and conducted research with him have gone on to promising academic careers.

In being able to conduct research so expansively, Hagen said, “I feel like I’m very lucky. All of these projects have been very interesting to me.”

Hagen grew up on the West Coast and received his bachelor’s degree in mathematics at the University of California, Berkeley, then earned master’s and Ph.D. degrees at the University of California, Santa Barbara. Before joining WSU Vancouver in 2007, he taught and did research at Humboldt University in Berlin, the International Max Planck Research School, the University of California in Berkeley, and the University of California in Santa Barbara.

While in Germany, he learned of the position at WSU Vancouver. “The anthropology department at WSU is one of few in the country that specializes in evolutionary approaches to human behavior,” he said. “I was very attracted to that. Barry Hewlett has inspired my work and was a big factor in my coming here. So it really was a match made in heaven.”


Past award recipients

2020 – 2021
Dave Kim, Mechanical Engineering

2019 – 2020
Marcelo Diversi, Human Development

2018 – 2019
Bala Krishnamoorthy, Mathematics

2017 – 2018
Cheryl Schultz, Biological Sciences

2016 – 2017
Candice Goucher, History

2015 – 2016
John Harrison, School of the Environment

2014 – 2015
Tahira Probst, Psychology

2013 – 2014
Thomas Tripp, Business

2012 – 2013
Jane Lanigan, Human Development

2011 – 2012
Christine Portfors, Neuroscience

2010 – 2011
Stephen Kucer, Education

2009 – 2010
WenZhan Song, Engineering

2008 – 2009
Joe Cote, Business

2007 – 2008
Tamara Holmund Nelson, Education

2006 – 2007
Amy Wharton, Sociology

2005 – 2006
Barry Hewlett, Anthropology

2004 – 2005
Clayton Mosher, Sociology

2003 – 2004
Michael Morgan, Psychology

2002 – 2003
John Bishop, Biology

2001 – 2002
Susan Finley, Education

2000 – 2001
Hakan Gurocak, Engineering

1999 – 2000
Sally Hacker, Biology

1998 – 1999
Ed Brook, Geology

1997 – 1998
Meridith Newman, Public Affairs

1996 – 1997
Sue Peabody, History

1995 – 1996
Charles ‘Cap’ Peck, Education

1994 – 1995
Carol Siegel, English

1993 – 1994
Jerry Goodstein, Business