Biology professor offers distinct perspective on teaching, lifestyle

Through extensive involvement on campus, participation in the outside community and his passion for eco-friendly lifestyle choices, professor of biology Gregg Hartvigsen is a unique member of the Geneseo community. Hartvigsen recently earned the Drs. Carol and Michael Harter Endowment for Faculty Mentoring Award for mentoring over 200 students during his time at Geneseo. He is dedicated to his work and to aiding students in their success. “It’s very rewarding helping students advance their careers,” Hartvigsen said.

Before being hired as a quantitative ecologist at Geneseo in 1998, Hartvigsen earned a PhD in biology from Syracuse University and spent three years researching ecological modeling at Princeton University. At Geneseo, he makes it his priority to engage in as many organizations as possible.

With his latest project, Hartvigsen demonstrates his ability to engage with students in unique and stimulating ways. “Right now I’m working with students in the Humans vs. Zombies group in collaboration with Lisa Smith from the math department—analyzing the Humans vs. Zombies data and building a model we can use to make the game more fun,” he said. In addition, he is an advisor to the juggling club, the women’s hockey team, the biology club, the outing club and the guitar club among others. Hartvigsen is also on the Campus Auxiliary Interviews board and is a past chair of college senate.

Despite the time commitments he has on campus, Hartvigsen admirably finds ways to contribute positively to the community outside campus as well. He is a past president of the Genesee Valley Conservancy—a land trust that protects more than 16,000 acres of the Genesee Valley. Enthusiastic about environmental health and protection, Hartvigsen endeavors to \ minimize his carbon footprint and to live as sustainably as possible.

“The last time I drove to a job was in 1987. So since then, I either walk or I ride my bicycle,” he said. “I have always lived near where I work to reduce the use of fossil fuels. That has always been important to me. Also, a couple of months ago, my wife and I covered our house in solar panels. These types of things are important to me.”

Hartvigsen took an unusual trip he took after leaving his first undergraduate program during the middle of his junior year. “I’ve always been kind of wild. I went hitchhiking for two months all over the country—10,000 miles,” he said. “I finally ended up in Boulder, Colorado and I decided I was done. I liked it there. I was looking for a beautiful place to live and Boulder, Colorado was it.”

He gives this expedition credit for his present mentality and achievements. “That’s when I realized I really liked nature and started hiking, so I went back to college and basically never left college,” he said. “I’ve been interested in ecological systems ever since. If I didn’t have the experiences of that trip, I certainly wouldn’t be the professor I am today.”