December 13, 2019
Based on her book, Deep Freeze: The United States, the International Geophysical Year, and the Origins of Antarctica’s Age of Science, historian Dian Belanger will share the exciting, important, and little-known story of how pioneering scientists from twelve nations during the IGY (1957-1958) began a systematic probe of the secrets of Antarctica’s ice and atmosphere, with path-breaking results. Sailors braving Earth’s most hostile environment transported, built, and maintained an infrastructure to sustain life and enable the research. Together, their scientific, practical, and political successes—in the depths of the Cold War—inspired the Antarctic Treaty of 1959, which dedicated the entire continent to peace and the cooperative pursuit of science. It still does. Polar science becomes ever more relevant to our planet and life on it.
Dian Olson Belanger, an independent historian, is the author of Deep Freeze: The United States, the International Geophysical Year, and the Origins of Antarctica’s Age of Science (University Press of Colorado, 2006). Her first book, Managing American Wildlife, won The Wildlife Society’s national book award as the year’s “outstanding publication in wildlife ecology and management.” Her second, Enabling American Innovation: Engineering and the National Science Foundation, opened the door to Deep Freeze and Dian’s passion for Antarctica.
Dian served as associate curator and technical editor for engineering exhibits at the National Building Museum in Washington and curatorial associate and docent at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History. Her volunteer commitments have included a decade of national leadership of the American Association of University Women. She is currently a docent at the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery and an AAUW lobbyist and archivist.
She earned a Bachelor of Science degree, summa cum laude, in history from the University of Minnesota Duluth, and a Master of Arts in American Studies from the George Washington University, with additional graduate work at the University of Southern California and California State University at Los Angeles. She grew up in northern Minnesota where winters were polar.