Published: June 23, 2021
picture of Matt in a plaid shirt in front of a blue background

Matt Hartsock is a PhD student studying Neuroscience. His research focuses on circadian rhythms in emotional memory and emotion regulation in rats. Matt was recently awarded a Teaching Excellence Award based on his teaching philosophy and dedication to his students. We asked Matt a few questions to learn more about him as a teacher and get to know him better. Read more below!

What is your favorite part about teaching?

My favorite part of teaching is having the opportunity to get my students excited about neuroscience. It's a discipline I love, and there are few more rewarding experiences than seeing someone else develop that same love for the first time.

Please tell us a bit about your pedagogical philosophy.

I believe that teaching is about giving students access to knowledge. Access can mean many things. My personal focus is to make my lectures as clear and easy-to-understand as possible to support the students who may need the most guidance. I find that this approach is appreciated even by the students with the strongest educational backgrounds.

What are your recommendations for continuing or increasing student advocacy and engagement?

I teach Introductory Neuroscience, a class with an incredible amount of information to digest. Structure is everything. Simple tricks, such as using title sentences that summarize each slide, go a long way toward preventing confusion and thereby promoting engagement.

Tell us a fun fact about you that is not related to your teaching and research.

I write music, and my goal this year is to record an album's worth of my songs.

What is a good book you have read recently and why did you enjoy it?

I recently finished Guns, Germs, and Steel by Jared Diamond. It's a history book. I have very little background in world history, and it really broadened my perspective about how human societies have grown and changed based on environmental factors like vegetation and topography.

If you could have dinner with anyone (living or dead), who would it be and why?

Christopher and Jonathan Nolan (the writers/directors of Inception, The Prestige, The Batman Trilogy, Memento, etc.). Being a neuroscientist with an interest in memory, I think a lot about how the human brain makes sense of time. Virtually all of the Nolan brothers' films suggest that they do too, and I'd love to talk with them for a couple of hours about mind, memory, and time.