Kyle Coppola, a State College of Florida, Manatee-Sarasota (SCF) alumnus, said the biotechnology classes he took at SCF helped him land his dream job. After graduating from SCF and completing an internship at Enzymedica, Coppola was offered a job as a molecular biology research assistant at the Roskamp Institute. The non-profit bio-medical research company specializes in neurological research and potential therapies for diseases such as Alzheimer’s and other neurodegenerative conditions including Traumatic Brain Injury.
Coppola, who graduated from Riverview High School in Sarasota, took molecular biology, bioethics and plant and animal cell culture and biotech methods courses concerning DNA, proteins and RNA while at SCF. “Those classes landed me the job,” Coppola said. “I am doing research and using skills I learned in class.”
As part of his job, through cellular models and animal models of neurodegenerative disorders Coppola must detect and quantify key proteins of these disorders by separating proteins from samples and binding them with antibodies. These antibodies can contain chemical “tags” that react to various kinds of light or may be detected using other chemical interactions.
“SCF prepared me for this job,” Coppola said. “Having run these experiments in the lab has proved to me the classes at SCF are really, really valuable. Most degrees are book knowledge, but what landed me the job was being able to do experiments. I could walk into any of the labs here and run the experiments. I could even design experiments.”
Coppola said SCF was the perfect environment because he wasn’t exactly sure what he wanted to do after graduating high school. He knew he loved science and wanted to pursue that. He spent one semester at Florida State University, but said he wasn’t sure what path he wanted to take and was anxious about spending a lot of money on college without knowing where he was headed. He saw that tuition at SCF was far less and he found the biotech program and “saw a good opportunity for a career.”
“I felt like SCF was more interested in engaging with students and helping them get ready for a career,” he said.
SCF’s internship program helped Coppola get the job. The college partners with Enzymedica on an internship program. “The internship was an important experience, it showed me what biotech looks like in a professional setting and allowed me to confirm my interest in research and development.”
Coppola was interested in the nonprofit from the beginning. “I was more interested in research and looking for cures,” he said. “Roskamp seemed exciting; there were more unknowns and chances for discovery.”
The position also offers him more opportunities in education. Once Coppola completes his bachelor’s degree in biological science and has spent a year working at Roskamp, the Institute offers a doctoral program in neuroscience through a partnership with a university in the United Kingdom.
For more information on SCF’s biotechnology program, contact Matt Thomas, program manager, at Thomasm1@SCF.edu or 941-752-5624.