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Polk grad awarded top prize for biology at MIT

He has spent the past four years exploring the relationship between the innate immune system and neuroendocrine function and has discovered a novel gene linking the two areas. &bsp;

He has served as a teaching assistant in genetics at MIT, presented his research at national and international symposia and has several articles under review at scholarly journals. He has been selected to the NEWMAC all-academic soccer team for the past 3 years and carries a 4.9 GPA. He spent the month of January 2009 in the remote Himalayan province of Quinghai, China participating in a project distributing and developing low cost 3-in-1 solar cookers/heaters, which recently won this year&squo;s United Kingdom&squo;s St. Andrews Prize for the Environment. &bsp;

While in China, he also taught English at a local school and climbed many mountains to test water sources used by nearby villages for contaminants. He was inducted into the Phi Beta Kappa academic fraternity June 4. Next year, he will enter Harvard Medical School-HST, a highly selective international program limited to 30 students per year, which will allow him to attend Harvard Medical School and continue his research at MIT simultaneously. He graduated from MIT on June 5. Kooistra is the son of Carol and Paul Kooistra of Campobello.

Kooistra and his parents say they are very appreciative of the instruction, help and care that the Polk County School System provided him during his time here.

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