SRU’s names first ‘da Vinci Faculty Fellow’


Leonardo daVinci

The name of Slippery Rock University’s da Vinci Faculty Fellow pays tribute to Leonardo da Vinci, the Italian Renaissance man who painted the "Mona Lisa" and crossed boundaries between art, science, philosophy and mathematics.

Sept. 16, 2016

Heike Hartmann


SLIPPERY ROCK, Pa. - In an effort to expand undergraduate research; scholarship and creative activity; and strengthen collaboration between academic departments, Slippery Rock University has named Heike Hartmann, associate professor of geography, geology and the environment, as its first "da Vinci Faculty Fellow."

Hartmann will serve two years in the position, which was created by Philip Way, SRU provost and vice president for academic and student affairs. The position will report to Brad Wilson, interim associate provost for transformational experiences.

The name pays tribute to Leonardo da Vinci (1452-1519), the Italian Renaissance man who painted the "Mona Lisa" and crossed boundaries between art, science, philosophy and mathematics.

"I am excited to be named the inaugural da Vinci Faculty Fellow," Hartmann said.

"Collaborative learning prepares graduates for a pluralistic world and to tackle global problems. Many research problems of the 21st century need an interdisciplinary approach to be solved. Therefore, academic collaboration between departments is essential. Students who get involved in an interdisciplinary research project will be prepared to solve the problems of tomorrow."

According to Wilson, the new fellow will look to:

  • Expand undergraduate research, scholarship and creative opportunities to include collaborations with business and non-profit organizations as well as between higher education institutions;
  • Expand opportunities for international exchange with respect to research and creative activity;
  • Develop programs and partnerships with academic colleges and departments, as well as non-academic departments;
  • Promote the integration of undergraduate research into curriculum; and
  • Promote diversity and inclusion in research.

"I plan to develop an assessment program to evaluate the effects of research experiences, to organize workshops for students, faculty and staff and to create an open information system that will include research topics, keywords, names and contact information of faculty, staff and students involved in research," Hartmann said.

During SRU's Oct. 4 Professional Development Day for staff and faculty, Hartmann said she will present a session entitled "Integrating Undergraduate Research Experiences into Four-Year Degree Programs." This year's event theme is University-wide learning and student success.

"I plan to quickly go over the positive results undergraduate research has on student learning," said Hartmann. "I will also provide examples of how undergraduate research can be integrated into the curriculum in general and how it can possibly be integrated into the liberal studies program to strengthen its impact on student learning."

One example of successful collaborative research at SRU was a March 2016 student-faculty venture to The Badlands in South Dakota. The outing was led by Patrick Burkhart, professor or geography, geology and the environment, and Katherine Mickle, associate professor of art. Students in both fields learned from each other by working as a unit. Geology majors studied how to include light and perspective in their notebook illustrations of the land. Art majors learned a little geology and to find inspiration for sketches, paintings, sculptures, photographs and prints. The end result was an art exhibit, "Art and Geology: Landscape Impressions," that was staged at SRU's Martha Gault Art Gallery.

Hartmann, a native of Germany, joined SRU in 2009. She received a Juris Doctor from Justus Liebig University in Giessen, Germany in 2007. At SRU, she teaches "Discover Geography" and "Natural Environment," while conducting research into how access to water and weather patterns affect farming in northwestern China.

The fellow builds on SRU's commitment to the value of undergraduate research, which is most evident during the University's annual Student Symposium for Research, Scholarship and Creative Achievement. Students also have the opportunity to collaborate with faculty members on research projects and present findings at regional and national conferences.

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