Colter shares the ‘enormous impact’ of Rolla with S&T Ph.D. grads 

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On May 15, 2024

Dr. Kim Colter

Dr. Kim D. Colter, a family medicine physician for Mercy Clinic Community Hospitalists in Washington, Missouri, shared with Ph.D. graduates of Missouri University of Science and Technology the importance Rolla, Missouri, had on his life and provided advice for their future careers.

Colter spoke during the Missouri S&T Ph.D. commencement ceremony, held at 6 p.m. Friday, May 10, in the Gale Bullman Building on the S&T campus.

“Brain research shows that peak memory and cerebral prowess occur at the age of today’s graduates,” Colter said. “Peak wisdom is down the road a bit and will be nurtured by the slings and arrows of experience. The longer you live with a sharp mind, the more benefit you get from your engineering education, and the more value society derives from your expertise.

“The degrees you receive today are a testament to your growing prowess in research. I want you to consider if your communication skills are as muscular as your research skills. We must all do our best to improve our ability to communicate, particularly with the portion of the public that does not have a scientific background.”

Colter described the importance of serendipity in scientific discovery and encouraged the graduates to to be ready for serendipity.

“Let’s for a minute consider the history of momentous scientific discovery,” he said. “It is a bit of a surprise, and fascinating to me how common serendipity is in scientific discovery. It is not rare. Serendipity is felt to be a factor in 50% of scientific advances. I also suspect that inspiration is most likely to occur in the aftermath of perspiration.”

Colter suggested the following ways to foster an environment conducive to serendipitous discovery.

“Exercise enough to raise your endorphins; see if there is a spark in the aftermath of exercise,” he said. “Watch the sun rise or set. Listen to the brook babble. Turn your cell phone off for a while. I’m unaware of momentous discoveries made while watching cat videos. Recite a favorite poem. Relax and spend time with your loved ones. Recharge your batteries. Take a vacation.”

Colter closed with an homage to Rolla, Missouri.

“For me, the word ‘Rolla’ evokes a warm glow, camaraderie, love, hopes realized and challenges met,” he said. “As I reflect on seven decades of life, I increasingly realize the enormous impact that Rolla, Missouri, has had on me. In the coming decades, many of you will say the same thing.”

Colter earned a bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering from Missouri S&T in 1973. Colter also earned a master’s degree in chemical engineering from the University of California, Berkeley, in 1974. He earned a medical degree from Washington University in St. Louis in 1978. Following his residency training in family medicine at the University of Missouri School of Medicine in Columbia, Colter has practiced family medicine in Washington, Missouri, for 43 years.

Colter and his wife, Elaine Menke, who earned a bachelor’s degree in computer science from S&T in 1973, have two adult daughters and one grandchild.

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