Multidisciplinary professor demonstrates passion for travel, active learning

Professor of biology Gregg Hartvigsen (pictured above) has taught at Geneseo for the past two decades and is involved on campus. Aside from teaching, Hartvigsen advises various on-campus organizations (Malachy Dempsey/managing editor).

As a large presence on this campus for 20 years, quantitative ecologist Gregg Hartvigsen’s passion for biology has helped students shine. 

Biology professor Gregg Hartvigsen has been a professor at Geneseo since 1998. He is teaching two different classes this semester including Principles of Ecology and Biological Data Analysis. Beyond his regular classes, Hartvigsen plays a large role in research studies on campus, mostly surrounding ecology.

He completed his doctorate in biology at Syracuse University and his post-doctoral work at the prestigious Princeton University. 

Hartvigsen explained his very unconventional academic journey, where after his junior year at Connecticut College, he made the decision to drop out. 

“I asked my friends, ‘what would you do if you only had a year to live?’ They answered that they would travel,” Hartvigsen said. “I thought, ‘why don’t we live life as though it matters that much?’”

This realization made Hartvigsen boldly choose to put his undergraduate career on hold and to live like he had one year left. Hartvigsen explained his unbelievable experience where his only mode of transportation was hitchhiking with random strangers all across the United States. 

Hartvigsen started his journey with low funds where his talent with the acoustic guitar carried him financially through his gap year around the U.S.

After a year of traveling across the U.S., Hartvigsen chose to resume his academic career. This proved to be a smart choice given his current success as an ecologist. 

“I share this with students because I know students experience challenges with college, whether with life or academic, and I experienced that as well,” Hartvigsen said. 

Hartvigsen still pursues his passion for traveling every summer by riding his motorcycle across the U.S.—solo with his guitar, of course. Through his years of travels, his favorite American state has become Wyoming, one of the 49 states he’s visited—Alaska is the only one he hasn’t been to. 

He has a blog named “Ecologist on Two Wheels” that provides pictures and written experiences about his travels throughout the United States. 

Hartvigsen proves to be a role model and mentor for his students. He explained how much he respects his students and tries his hardest to help them move in the right direction. It’s apparent—through his immense involvement on campus—how much he really cares for his students. 

Hartvigsen is a faculty advisor for Humans vs. Zombies, Outing Club, Biology Club, Quidditch, Tennis, Club Tennis, Women’s Hockey, Guitar Club and the fraternity Sigma Alpha Mu.

Beyond his passions for traveling, the guitar and ecology, his favorite sport to both play and watch is tennis and he enjoys acoustic rock. Hartvigsen lives in Geneseo with his wife and children. His daughter, Phoebe, is currently a senior biology major enrolled at Geneseo.

Hartvigsen exemplifies the fact that with success comes failure, and that the pathway to success is anything but a straight line without obstacles. His huge presence on campus and unconventional journey to success proves to be an inspiring outlet for Geneseo students.