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TCC Alum Thrives at FSU

TCC Andrew Koutnik 2.jpgTALLAHASSEE, Fla. (February 7, 2013) -- TCC graduate and Chiles High School alumnus Andrew Koutnik got involved in scientific research soon after transferring to Florida State University in 2012. Now, at age 23, he is already listed as a co-author on several academic papers being prepared for publication.
 
Koutnik got his start as a student researcher by assisting with ongoing studies in the Cardiovascular Laboratory led by Dr. Arturo Figueroa. The lab is part of FSU’s Department of Nutrition, Food and Exercise Sciences.
 
During that time, Koutnik signed on to help one of Figueroa’s students, Dr. Marcos Sanchez-Gonzalez, conduct his dissertation research. Koutnik had taken a class taught by Sanchez-Gonzalez and impressed him with his academic background and work habits.  “Anatomy and Physiology is a very important class for students in exercise science and biology. It’s also a hard class, but Andrew was ready for that kind of challenge. I was curious how this guy coming from a community college was the top student in my class,” said Sanchez-Gonzalez, who later became an adjunct instructor at TCC. “Now that I have taught at TCC myself, I know that part of it is the dedication of the instructors and the curriculum preparation at TCC.”
 
In Koutnik’s senior year, Figueroa gave him the opportunity to undertake an “Honors in the Major” thesis project investigating the effects of passive vibration on cardiovascular function in people who have had a stroke. That led to further opportunities in the Cognitive Cardiology Lab and the Department of Biomedical Sciences.
 
Koutnik is a supporter of undergraduate research across campus. He served as an ambassador for the Student Council for Undergraduate Research and Creativity, worked on FSU’s undergraduate research journal, and was one of only five students selected to represent the university at the prestigious ACC Meeting of the Minds Conference. He also joined FSU’s spring break medical mission trip to Ecuador in 2012. Dr. Joe O’Shea, director of the Office of Undergraduate Research, said Koutnik is committed to helping others and “goes out of his way to advise and mentor younger students.”
 
Dr. Joi Walker, professor of chemistry at TCC, is not surprised by Koutnik’s success. “Our organic chemistry sequence emphasizes critical thinking and complex problem solving. Students are pushed to assimilate all the pieces and subtleties into what I consider the ‘big picture.’ This is possible within the smaller class setting we have here at TCC. Andrew enthusiastically delved into the complexities of organic chemistry and developed a depth of knowledge that has served him well at FSU.”
 
The Tallahassee native said he’s glad he chose to complete his Associate in Arts degree at TCC. “I had some outstanding professors who love to teach. I had the opportunity to excel at TCC, and I took that feeling with me to FSU and carried it over.”
 
Koutnik graduated from FSU in December 2012 with a bachelor’s degree in exercise science and a 3.95 GPA. He is now wrapping up a publication based on his honors thesis research and looking forward to attending medical school or pursuing graduate studies and further research. He agreed that it’s unusual for an undergraduate to have his name on one publication, let alone several. The key, he said, is to never turn down a good opportunity. “It’s caused me some extra stress, but each opportunity that I took led to another opportunity. If you say ‘yes’ to the opportunity, you’re going to keep moving forward.”
 
For more information, contact the Office of Communications and Public Information at (850) 201-6049 or communications@tcc.fl.edu.
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Tallahassee Community College does not discriminate against any person on the basis of race, color, ethnicity, genetic information, national origin, religion, gender, marital status, disability, or age in programs or activities. Inquiries regarding the non-discrimination policies may be directed to: Renae Tolson, Equity Officer | Room 146 Administration Building | 444 Appleyard Drive | Tallahassee, FL 32304-2895 | (850) 201-6200 | tolsonr@tcc.fl.edu (Other Languages)
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