In 2004–2005, Hans Van Dongen served as topic director of the Penn Humanities Forum on Sleep and Dreams. He is currently Research Professor and Director of the Sleep and Performance Research Center at Washington State University, Spokane, where he also heads the Human Sleep and Cognition Laboratory.
Before joining Washington State University in 2005, he was a member of the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Pennsylvania, where his seminal research on sleep and chronobiology involved fields ranging from psychology to biomedicine to mathematics. In one of his projects, he and a team of researchers developed a biomathematical model of sleep and fatigue in astronauts. In other work while at Penn, he found that people whose sleep is chronically deprived show increasing wear and tear on what their waking brain is able to do, from which they may not recover. In this way, sleep may actually help protect humans from being awake too long.
Dr. Van Dongen holds a master's in astrophysics and a PhD in chronobiology and sleep from the University of Leiden in the Netherlands. He is the author of many peer-reviewed journal articles and is deputy editor of SLEEP, the leading journal in sleep research.