Joshua A. Cotter, PhD, FACSM

What fears or anxieties did you have about going to college?

I was actually excited to go to college! (weird right?) In high school, I thrived on learning from various classes, and I eagerly anticipated honing in on my specific interests in college. But the excitement gave way to anxiety once I actually started.

The pace of my college courses was a stark contrast to high school; they were faster, more demanding, and left me questioning my intelligence and ability to keep up. Suddenly, I was in the driver's seat, and no one was there to guide me. It was my responsibility to navigate this new terrain, and that realization took some time to fully grasp.

Adding to the complexity, I was living with three roommates in the residence halls, each with their own schedules and social lives. Balancing my new social life away from family with the rigors of college academics became a challenge in itself.

In hindsight, those challenges were valuable lessons in disguise. They taught me about responsibility, time management, the importance of perseverance, and building my support base. College was indeed a significant leap from high school, but it was a leap that shaped me in ways I couldn't have anticipated.


  • PhD/The Ohio State University

Embarking on the college journey as a first-gen student is like setting sail on an uncharted sea, filled with both excitement and uncertainty. Remember, your professors are not distant figures on the horizon; they are your navigators, ready to guide you towards greater opportunities. Reach out to them; they often become your greatest advocates.

Build a lighthouse of support with your family, spouse or partner, peers, friends, or even your professors. They will be the beacon that guides you through stormy weather. Embrace the challenges you will encounter, for they are not roadblocks but stepping stones leading you to growth and development. Failure? Welcome it with open arms, for it's a wise teacher that helps you learn and evolve.

Most importantly, wear your past like a badge of honor. The challenges you've overcome are evidence of your resilience and strength. They are the wind in your sails that will help you conquer the challenges you face in college.

I'm a man of varied interests! In the gym, you'll find me lifting weights, rowing on the erg, and having fun with Strongman exercises. I embrace the challenge and discipline that come with building the human body. When the sun's out, the beach calls me, whether it's for a game of volleyball or simply enjoying the waves.

Family time is precious, and I cherish every moment with my 4-year-old son and wife. At home, I dabble in gardening and love taking on DIY projects. Hiking trails offer a refreshing escape, and traveling has led me to incredible places like Iceland, Vietnam, and Thailand.

Though I no longer practice Wushu (Chinese martial arts), I spent many years immersed in it, and I'll often bust out some moves in an elevator when I'm by myself. I love pondering space exploration and pushing our boundaries in that extreme environment. My interests also extend to reading about nutrition, meditation, philosophy, and overall well-being. And for a unique twist, I enjoy practicing the jaw harp (look it up; it's a pretty cool instrument).

  1. My Wife: She's my partner in life and I wouldn't want to live without her.
  2. My Son: He is the greatest joy and motivation in my life.
  3. Solar-Powered Desalination Device: Fresh water is critical for survival.  I'd like to think we'll figure out the rest!

Courses I Teach: KIN 301 Exercise Physiology, KIN 494/594 Exercise Science Internship, KIN 551 Advanced Exercise Physiology, KIN 568 Sports Nutrition.  My research focuses on the study of skeletal muscle mass regulation and its impact on muscular strength, function, and health. I focus on interdisciplinary and collaborative research, blending biomechanics, exercise physiology, strength and conditioning, sports nutrition, and molecular biology.