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Steve Murray, left, congratulates Robert Koch while Michael Goldman applauds.

Biologist Brings Home Andreoli Award

Koch Receives Systemwide Honor

February 2, 2010

By Russ L. Hudson

Robert A. Koch, chair and professor of biological science, is this year's recipient of the Andreoli Faculty Service Award, the highest faculty honor given by the California State University Program for Education in Research and Biotechnology (CSUPERB).

The group that nominated Robert Koch, center, includes Steve Murray, left, Koni Stone of Cal State Stanislaus, Katherine Kantardjieff of Cal Poly Pomona, Jim Prince Cal State Fresno and Michael Goldman of San Francisco State.

The annual award honors a Cal State faculty member who has made outstanding contributions to the development of biotechnology programs in the university system. Koch, a 33-year member of the College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics faculty, received the award in early January at CSUPERB’s annual biotechnology symposium in Santa Clara.

“This is quite an unexpected honor,” a pleased Koch said. “I know what the competition is like, and to have my name included among the remarkable people who have won in the past, it's an impressive list.”

Steven Murray, NSM dean, cited Koch’s determination to integrate individual attention to students and his own significant research.

“He has mentored more than 100 research students, several of whom have made presentations in both CSUPERB and the Society for the Advancement of Chicanos and Native Americans in Science,” Murray said. “He brought research training programs to campus, such as the Minority Access to Research Careers, the Beckman Scholars program and the Beckman-Coulter Research Scholars Program. [The Beckman programs provide grants to foster education and research in chemistry, health care and the life sciences.]

“In addition, he founded the Program for Applied Biotechnology Studies, a four-campus consortium offering a professional science master’s degree with an emphasis in applied biotechnology, and Cal State Fullerton’s Center for Applied Biotechnology Studies,” continued Murray. “Yet, he continues to find time to serve students well. I see this almost every day.”

Koch also mentors colleagues, said Amybeth Cohen, professor of biological science and MARC director. “He has been a wonderful mentor for the past 13 years, helping me establish myself in the department and counseling and supporting me on research and teaching.”

This is the second consecutive year a Cal State Fullerton science faculty member captured the Andreoli Faculty Service Award. Last year's honors went to Katherine Kantardjieff, then Cal State Fullerton professor of chemistry and biochemistry and, since January, chair of Cal Poly Pomona’s Chemistry Department.

Kantardjieff, speaking at the symposium both as a former colleague of Koch’s at Cal State Fullerton and on behalf of Cal Poly Pomona biologist Jill Adler-Moore, who nominated him, said, “Jill talks of Bob's incredible ability to focus on the task at hand and do what is the right thing, even if it is not the easiest thing to do.” In her years working with Koch, Kantardjieff stressed, “one of the things that impressed me most was his leading by example.“

A campus faculty member since 1976, Koch said that when he started in CSUPERB, he saw biotechnology as an application of molecular cell biology “and thought it was worth my time, that it could generate a lot of jobs for graduates.”

He has received more than $4.5 million in grants for research since arriving at Fullerton and has partnered with colleagues to attract additional support for a wide range of projects, including $1.4 million for stem cell research in the last two years. He received his doctorate in biological science from Florida State University, Tallahassee, and has served as a visiting scientist in the Division of Neuroscience at the Beckman Research Institute, City of Hope, and as a visiting scientist in the Department of Developmental Biology and Genetics at Caltech.

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