University of Pittsburgh
Research Manager, Center for Vaccine Research
CLASS OF 1998
While most people fear highly infectious diseases, Amy Hartman, Ph.D., chooses to face them head on. As research manager of the Regional Biocontainment Laboratory at the University of Pittsburgh’s Center for Vaccine Research, Hartman coordinates research efforts that are designed to eradicate deadly diseases such as avian influenza, tuberculosis, tularemia, Rift Valley Fever, and other infectious agents that are considered serious biohazards or terrorist threats.
Hartman first tackled serious biology research in 1994 as a freshman at Washington & Jefferson College. Aware of the College’s strong emphasis on a liberal arts education, Hartman pursued a unique dual major in biology and Spanish. “I really enjoyed learning the language,” she explains. “And not just Spanish—biology is its own language, too.” Outside the classroom, Hartman enjoyed her time with Kappa Kappa Gamma sorority and the W&J swim team, earning the title of Presidents’ Athletic Conference Swimmer of the Year in 1998.
Hartman regards Dr. Alice Lee, professor of biology, as the professor who had the most impact on her life during and after college. “Dr. Lee was a wonderful mentor,” Hartman recalls. “She guided me through the decision of what to do after college and pointed me down the path of scientific research.”
Unlike most biology majors at W&J, Hartman was not interested in attending medical school. Instead, after graduating in 1998, she enrolled in the doctoral program at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine where she earned her degree in molecular virology. During her post-doctoral fellowship in the Special Pathogens Branch at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in Atlanta, Georgia, Hartman studied Ebola Zaire and Rift Valley Fever viruses, two extremely deadly pathogens that require researchers to have highly specialized training and to use a “space suit” for protection. Hartman also traveled to Africa as part of a CDC-led outbreak response team in Angola. After four years in Atlanta, Hartman returned to the University of Pittsburgh in 2007 and began the work she continues today. In her short career, she is already on her way to becoming a leader in infectious disease research.