Snapshots: A Scientific Researcher

Augustana alumnus Dr. Keith Bostian

Meet 2016 Alumni Achievement Award recipient Dr. Keith Bostian '73, dean for the New Jersey Center for Science, Technology & Mathematics and Office of Technology Commercialization, Kean University.

Keith Bostian’s favorite class at Augustana was “Philosophy of Religion,” where he said he learned to think broadly about ideas and concepts that matter and to better understand different views of the world.

Bostian made his mark on the world through science and research after graduating in 1973 with majors in biology and chemistry. Initially, he had committed to attend an East Coast university but made a last-minute decision to attend Augustana, where he also played football and graduated in two and one-half years.

For his success, he credits the “outstanding Augustana faculty, a rich mentoring environment and the then state of- the-art research laboratory at the Gilbert Science Center.”

The flexibility at Augustana allowed Bostian to test out of many introductory courses and gave him the opportunity to do independent research early on, he said. Because of scheduling conflicts, he took some classes by recording. Instead of studying for final exams, he wrote a book on membrane biology.

“Augustana was hugely important in forming my adult character, and the liberal arts courses that I took (philosophy, religion, history of science, music) provided a broad platform for developing my interests and perspectives on the world.”

Dr. Keith Bostian '73

After graduating from Augustana, Bostian went on to earn a doctorate in biochemistry from the University of London. He is a fellow of the American Academy for Microbiology, was a member of the faculty at Brown University, and was an American Cancer Society Postdoctoral Fellow.

His passions are science and research, which have been the cornerstones for his entire professional career, he said.

At NJCSTM, Bostian introduced an innovative program, the Research First Initiative, using early authentic research experiences in a rich mentoring environment, to engage underrepresented students in STEM education. He currently serves as the dean for the New Jersey Center for Science, Technology and Mathematics and Office of Technology Commercialization at Kean University.

He’s also raising funds for the Institute for Life Science Entrepreneurship, a nonprofit where he serves as the interim CEO. ILSE is working to accelerate life science discoveries to improve human health through new medicines, devices and transformative technologies.

He said his greatest professional accomplishment is helping develop two drugs that have saved hundreds of thousands of lives — pushed through because of his role as an innovator and his determination to advance them to the market.

Bostian lives in northern California with his wife, Liz O’Donnell. They have seven children between them.

He continues to work in advancing ILSE as a self-sustaining non-profit and works with early-stage biotechnology companies as they create new enterprises, new inventions and drugs. His advice to current and prospective students: utilize the opportunities at Augustana in order to be successful and chart your own course.

“Understand and pursue your interests, develop a passion for them, form a vision for yourself and your career goals, think big, and work for it,” Bostian said.

“Also, take advantage of your Augustana career to do it.”