Gail G. Hanson was born February 22, 1947 in Dayton, Ohio. An experimental particle physicist, she received her B.S. in physics in 1968 and her Ph.D. in experimental high energy physics in 1973, both from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1973. She spent sixteen years at Stanford Linear Accelerator Center, first as a research assistant and then as a permanent physicist staff member. At SLAC, Hanson participated in the discovery of the J/psi meson and tau lepton.
Her work led to the first evidence for quark jet production in electron-positron annihilation, for which she was awarded the 1996 Panofsky Prize with Roy Schwitters. Hanson continued in staff physicist positions at SLAC until 1989, when she moved to Indiana University to become a professor of physics. In 1997, she was named Distinguished Professor. She continued research on electron-positron physics on the PEP storage ring and the SLAC Linear Collider at SLAC and on the OPAL experiment at the LEP electron-positron collider at CERN, where she served as Physics Coordinator and contributed to b-quark hadron discoveries and searches for new particles.
In 2002, she moved to the University of California, Riverside, as a Distinguished Professor of Physics. Hanson's later research was on the Compact Muon Solenoid (CMS) experiment at the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) at CERN and on development of a future u+u- collider. Hanson was elected a fellow of both the American Physical Society and the American Association for the Advancement of Science and was a Guggenheim Fellow.