Kent State’s Gary Koski Honored With Distinguished Teaching Award
When accomplished researcher Gary Koski, Ph.D., began his teaching career at Kent State University in 2010, he had no prior teaching experience. Today, Dr. Koski, an associate professor in the Department of Biological Sciences within the College of Arts and Sciences, is a recipient of Kent State’s Distinguished Teaching Award. The award, sponsored by Kent State’s Alumni Association, is one of the university’s most prestigious teaching honors that is presented to full-time, tenure-track faculty members who demonstrate exceptional teaching in the classroom and an unwavering dedication to students.
“When I was a graduate student, I was doing research as opposed to being a teaching assistant,” Dr. Koski says. “My education was supported by a National Science Foundation Fellowship, and one of the covenants of the fellowship was that I strictly do research. In many ways, even though I’m older now, I’d like to think that I never forgot what it was like to be a student.”
Dr. Koski got his start at Kent State as a zoology pre-med major before getting a Ph.D. in immunology and infectious disease at Johns Hopkins University. After receiving his doctorate, Dr. Koski conducted research at the National Institute of Health, University of Pennsylvania Medical School and Cleveland Clinic.
“Dr. Koski has been one of the most influential professors for me at Kent State University,” says one of Dr. Koski’s former students who was one of his nominators for the award. “He was willing to meet outside of classes to answer questions and discuss, not only course material, but also my own goals and aspirations. He has been very supportive and encouraging for me to accept new challenges and do my best.”
Dr. Koski says he pulls inspiration from the best teachers he had as an undergraduate student and the way he learned.
“When I design a course, I really try to take the viewpoint of the student and imagine that I’m a student again,” Dr. Koski says. “I think to myself, ‘what kind of courses would I like to take; what kind of courses did I enjoy?’ When I was a student at Kent State, I had a number of remarkable teachers, two of whom actually received Distinguished Teaching Awards.”
Dr. Koski currently teaches Immunology and Principles of Infectious Disease.
“I often open a lecture with a story to tie back the lesson to history,” Dr. Koski says. “Specifically, in my infectious disease course because some of the diseases we talk about have been with mankind for a millennia and had a large impact on society.”
Dr. Koski says the most impactful part of teaching is the influence he has on his students.
“When I’m contacted by a student who is now in medical school and they say that my course prepared them well, it makes me smile and makes me feel like I’m doing a good job,” Dr. Koski says.
For more information about Kent State’s Department of Biological Sciences, visit www.kent.edu/biology.