Undergraduate Researcher Learns Outside of Lab

Image Andrew Koch Andrew Koch, USD medical biology major and vice president of the Alternative Week of Off-Campus Learning program.

VERMILLION, S.D. -- Andrew Koch, a junior at the University of South Dakota who’s majoring in medical biology, balances school and work like other college students but also helps lead service learning trips and does research that could help in the understanding of human behavior.

Koch works alongside Ken Renner, Ph.D., professor in the department of biology, using mantis shrimp to study the neurochemical basis of aggressive behavior. The results of his work will add to literature on the topic, and it could potentially lead to future drug developments. This project is also the topic of his honors thesis.

Alongside his current research, Koch also serves as USD AWOL's (Alternative Week of Off-Campus Learning) vice president. He has gone on several trips to South Dakota American Indian reservations. His role in AWOL has sparked an interest in another study that focuses on adolescent stress in relation to environmental factors. After volunteering in communities with limited access to mental health services, he intends to continue to work to provide resources for people living in similar areas.

Balancing work, the honors program and traveling across South Dakota, Koch still has time to maintain good grades and build connections with faculty members. He plans to pursue master’s and doctorate degrees.


USD's College of Arts & Sciences offers students a top-notch undergraduate liberal arts education in the humanities, social sciences and sciences as well as graduate programs that have earned USD distinction as a research university by the Carnegie Foundation. The college's more than 22,000 alumni include famous journalists, Hollywood screenwriters, novelists, a Nobel Prize winner, South Dakota governors, attorneys, physicians, justices of the state Supreme Court, distinguished university faculty and international humanitarians.


Founded in 1862 and the first university in the Dakotas, the University of South Dakota is the only public liberal arts university in the state, with 205 undergraduate and 73 graduate programs in the College of Arts & Sciences, School of Education, School of Law, Sanford School of Medicine, School of Health Sciences, Beacom School of Business and College of Fine Arts. With an enrollment of nearly 10,000 students and more than 400 faculty, USD has a 17:1 student/faculty ratio, and it ranks among the best in academics and affordability. USD’s 17 athletic programs compete at the NCAA Division I level.


Michael Ewald
USD News