Faculty Directory
Mitra Hartmann

Professor of Biomedical Engineering

Professor of Mechanical Engineering

Director of Graduate Studies for Biomedical Engineering


2145 Sheridan Road
Tech B284
Evanston, IL 60208-3109

847-467-4633Email Mitra Hartmann


Center for Robotics and Biosystems

Hartmann Lab


Biomedical Engineering

Mechanical Engineering


Master of Science in Robotics Program

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Post-doc Bio-Computing, Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, CA

Post-doc Computational Neurobiology, California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, CA

Ph.D. Integrative Neuroscience, California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, CA

B.S. Applied and Engineering Physics, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY

Research Interests

Sensorimotor integration; robots as tools for studying neuroscience; sensory acquisition behaviors; neuroethology

Significant Recognition

  • McCormick School of Engineering Teacher of the Year, 2010
  • McCormick School of Engineering Teacher of the Year, 2011, 2010, 2009
  • NSF CAREER Award, 2008
  • NAE 14th Annual U.S. Frontiers of Engineering Symposium, 2008
  • Invited Participant, NINDS Workshop on Neuroprosthetics, 2008
  • Packard Nominee, Northwestern University, 2006
  • Searle Junior Fellow, Northwestern University, 2006-07
  • Everhart Distinguished Graduate Student Lecturer Award, Caltech, 1996

Significant Professional Service

  • Editorial Board Member, Journal of Neurophysiology
  • NIH SMI Study Section Member
  • Programming Committee Member, Barrels Society, 2007 - Present
  • Guest Editor, Autonomous Robots, Special Issue on Biomorphic Robotics, 2001

Selected Publications

Yang AET, Hartmann MJZ, and Bergbreiter S (2018) Contact-Resistive Sensing of Touch and Airflow Using a Rat Whisker 7th IEEE RAS/EMBS International Conference on Biomedical Robotics and Biomechatronics August 26-29, 2018, Enschede, The Netherlands

Emnett HM, Graff MM, and Hartmann MJZ (2018) A Novel Whisker Sensor Used for 3D Contact Point Determination and Contour Extraction. Proceedings of Robotics: Science and Systems.  Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania June. doi.10.15607/RSS.2018.XIV.059

Belli HM, Bresee CS, Graff MM, and Hartmann MJZ (2018) Quantifying the three-dimensional facial morphology of the laboratory rat with a focus on the vibrissae PLoS ONE 13(4): e0194981.https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0194981

Zhuang C, Kubilius J, Hartmann MJZ, and Yamins D (2017). Toward Goal-Driven Neural Network Models for the Rodent Whisker-Trigeminal System. In Advances in Neural Information Processing Systems (NIPS) 30, pp. 2552-256

Abraham IA, Prabhakar A, Hartmann MJZ, Murphey TD (2017) Ergodic Exploration using Binary Sensing for Non-Parametric Shape Estimation. IEEE Robotics and Automation Letters 2(2):827-834

Huet LA, Rudnicki JW, Hartmann MJZ (2017) Tactile sensing with whiskers of various shapes: Determining the three-dimensional location of object contact based on mechanical signals at the whisker base. Soft Robotics 4(2):88-102.

Belli HM, Yang AET, Bresee CS, and Hartmann MJZ (2017) Variations in vibrissal geometry across the rat mystacial pad: base diameter, medulla, and taper. Journal of Neurophysiology. 117:1807-1820

Bush NE, Solla SA, and Hartmann MJZ. (2016) Whisking mechanics and active sensing. Current Opinion in Neurobiology.  40:178-188. doi: 10.1016/j.conb.2016.08.001.

Yu YSW*, Graff MM*, Bresee CS, Man YB, and Hartmann MJZ (2016) Whiskers aid anemotaxis in rats. Science Advances. e1600716 DOI:10.1126/sciadv.1600716     *equal contributions

Bush NE, Schroeder CL, Hobbs JA, Yang ET, Huet LA, Solla SA, Hartmann MJZ (2016) Decoupling kinematics and mechanics reveals coding properties of trigeminal ganglion neurons in the rat vibrissal system eLife 5:e13969. doi:10.7554/eLife.

Kaloti AS, Johnson EC, Bresee CS, Naufel SN, Perich MG, Jones DL, and Hartmann MJZ (2016) Representation of stimulus speed and direction in vibrissal-sensitive regions of the trigeminal nuclei: a comparison of single unit and population responses PLoS One 11(7) e0158399 doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0158399.

Huet LA and Hartmann MJZ (2016) Simulations of a vibrissa slipping along a straight edge and an analysis of frictional effects during whisking. IEEE Transactions on Haptics 9(2):158-169.

Yang AET and Hartmann MJZ (2016) Whisking kinematics enables object localization in head-centered coordinates based on tactile information from a single vibrissa. Frontiers in Behavioral Neuroscience. 10:145. doi: 10.3389/fnbeh.2016.00145

Yu Y, Graff M, and Hartmann MJZ (2016) Mechanical responses of rat vibrissae to airflow. Journal of Experimental Biology. 219:937-948. doi:10.1242/jeb.126896

Hobbs JA, Towal RB, and Hartmann MJZ (2016) Evidence for functional groupings of vibrissae across the rodent mystacial pad. PLoS Computational Biology. doi:10.1371/journal.pcbi.1004109 

Hobbs JA, Towal RB, and Hartmann MJZ (2016) Spatiotemporal patterns of contact across the rat vibrissal array during exploratory behavior. Frontiers in Behavioral Neuroscience. doi:10.3389/fnbeh.2015.00356.

Hartmann MJZ (2015) Vibrissa mechanical properties. Scholarpedia. 10(5):6636.

Hobbs JA, Towal RB, and Hartmann MJZ (2015) Probability distributions of whisker-surface contact: Quantifying elements of the rat vibrissotactile natural scene. Journal of Experimental Biology. 218:2551-2562.                       *Journal highlight        ** 2015 Outstanding Paper Prize

Huet LA, Schroeder CL, and Hartmann MJZ (2015) Tactile signals transmitted by the vibrissa during active whisking behavior. Journal of Neurophysiology. 113:3511-3518.

Huet LA and Hartmann MJZ (2014) The search space of the rat during whisking behavior. Journal of Experimental Biology. 217:3365-3376.                                                               *Journal highlight

Quist BW, Seghete V, Huet LA, Murphey TD, and Hartmann MJZ (2014) Modeling forces and moments at the base of a rat vibrissa during noncontact whisking and whisking against an object. Journal of Neuroscience. 34:9828-9844.


In the Classroom

Profesor Hartmann teaches ME 241 and BME 270. Both classes are titled Introductory Fluid Mechanics. The flow of fluids is important in many applications ranging from blood flow in the human body to air flow over the wing of a jet aircraft. Undergraduates take this course at the end of their second year or at the beginning of their third year. The course uses integral calculus and differential equations, so these courses are prerequisites. It also helps to have taken physics and thermodynamics prior to this course.

Professor Hartmann also teaches a graduate level course, BME 462: Neural Engineering - Sensory Acquisition through Movement. This course focuses on an understanding of how animals move to acquire sensory data across multiple modalities, including vision, audition, and somatosensation. A previous introductory course in neuroscience is helpful.