Rowan’s Rachel Moskowitz Leads the Way for Future STEM Scholars While Creating Her Own Career Path Through Research

Rowan University sophomore Rachel Moskowitz was named a 2018 Governor’s STEM Scholar. Moskowitz is the only Rowan student to earn the honor in 2018 and one of only 16 college students in New Jersey. The remaining scholars are high school students in the state. As part of the program, she is leading a team of high school students in research.

​Developed in 2013, the​ ​goal​ of the Governor’s STEM Scholars program​ ​is​ ​to​ ​give​ ​promising​ ​STEM​ ​students​ ​a​ ​thorough introduction​ ​to​ ​the​ ​state’s​ ​STEM​ ​economy​ ​through​ ​conferences,​ ​field​ ​trips,​ ​and​ ​research​ ​opportunities. “At​ ​the​ ​heart​ ​of​ ​the​ ​Governor’s​ ​STEM​ ​Scholars​ ​program​ ​is​ ​its​ ​efforts​ ​to​ ​leverage​ ​the​ ​resources​ ​of​ ​its STEM​ ​professionals​ ​and​ ​institutions,” commented David Hodges, Director of the Governor’s STEM Scholars.

Moskowitz, a native of Fleming, NJ, is majoring in bioinformatics and biochemistry and is also in the Thomas N. Bantivoglio Honors Concentration. Moskowitz decided to attend Rowan because of the bioinformatics program. “When I found Rowan’s bioinformatics major, I instantly got excited because the program is incredibly inter-disciplinary and combines many of my favorite subjects, including computer science and biology, into one,” explained Moskowitz.

She has a passion for bioinformatics and knows that excelling in bioinformatics can prepare her to reach all of her goals. “I get to take some of the coolest classes,” exclaimed Moskowitz. “From biology, to chemistry, to physics, to computer science, to bioinformatics, to statistics. Bioinformatics majors really get it all.”

Moskowitz is planning on pursuing a career in research, but is still deciding on the academic or industrial route. She currently is doing research with Dr. Mark Hickman who is the bioinformatics program coordinator. “Rachel has been performing bioinformatics research with me, studying how gene expression changes over time,” commented Hickman. “She has been a great addition to my lab and is working with high school students to develop an algorithm for identifying genes that exhibit significant changes.”

“Doing research with Dr. Hickman and leading my own project through the NJ Governor's STEM Scholars program has really confirmed my career aspirations,” said Moskowitz.  

Moskowitz is teaching the students the R programming language as well as advanced bioinformatics. These students will benefit tremendously by working with Moskowitz. With her course and research experience, she has become extremely well-versed in computer programming, molecular biology and statistics.

College leaders in the program meet throughout the year with a driven group of high school students, who also applied and were accepted to the program, on a research project of their choice. “I love the leadership component of the program, because no matter what your major is or what your goals are post-graduation, leadership skills are skills that will follow you throughout your entire life, and will definitely make a big impact in any situation,” explained Moksowitz. “On top of that, being a leader also means being a mentor, and I love talking to high school students about my academic pursuits and discussing different ideas for their futures with them.”

Moskowitz loves the challenge of working alongside professors and peers on real issues and real questions, as opposed to only simulated ones in the classroom. Following her undergraduate career at Rowan, she will be applying to graduate programs to pursue a higher degree in bioinformatics, which will even further her opportunities to continue doing research and to take even more in-depth and interesting courses.