Mark Hartman

Graduate Program: Astronomy, Ph.D., 4th year

Subject: Physics/Astronomy

Partner Teacher: John Samp and Margaret Hart

Former Partner Teachers: Kate Maselli, Emma Stellman

Other Areas of Involvement: Science fair help, TELS simulation project

Personal Website:


Short Bio: I lived for 18 years in Fort Wayne, Indiana, where I began my interest in science education and public outreach as a student board member and science specialist at Science Central, a mid-sized hands-on science center. I earned a B.S. in physics from Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio. After being accepted into the Astronomy program at Harvard, I deferred admission for one year and worked as an optical engineer for a small R&D company in Rochester, New York. My wife and I moved to Cambridge in the summer of 2001 and I have attended grad school since then. In 2004, we bought a house on the shore in Quincy, MA and try to spend as much time near the water as possible.

Apparently, my goal in life has been to move eastward on US Interstate 90…I’m not sure where to move next.

Area of Research: I just finished a project in observational cosmology using the 2-micron all-sky survey (2MASS) to determine the luminosity function of the local universe. This information helps us answer the question “If you picked a galaxy at random out of the nearby universe, what is the probability that you’d pick a really bright or really dim one?” This is interesting because people who run simulations of the evolution of the universe must end up with the statistics we see today, or their theories go in the garbage!!!

Reason for Involvement in the GK-12 Program: I believe it is vital for all citizens to understand and question the science and technology that is transforming their lives. I am firmly opposed to life being run by an ever-expanding set of “black boxes” and “experts.” Consequently, I am looking for a way to act as interpreter to and liaison between the scientific, educational and public communities. Right now, the GK12 program is the most hands on way for me to do this.

I tell my students that I am not a teacher, but am here to provide a complimentary viewpoint. I do this by relating what they do in class to the following:

  • Cutting-edge current science (e.g. biotechnology for eyes, ears)
  • Science and technology in our everyday lives (e.g. how stuff works, public issues like nuclear waste and alternative energy)
  • Science careers
  • World-wide and local events (e.g. the transit of Venus 2004, public lectures/opportunities in Cambridge and Boston)