Roderquita Moore, a research chemist at the Forest Products Laboratory, received the Inspiring Woman in STEM award as part of the 2018 USDA Women in Ag award program. The winners represent a range of career paths from various agencies across USDA and they are located all around the world.
Read more about Moore’s career journey and highlights written in her own words below. Congratulations, Roderquita!
Tell us about your career journey and what brought you to USDA.
I was recruited by the USDA Forest Service Forest Products Laboratory while I was working on my Ph.D. at Clark Atlanta University. The program was described as a scientist’s initiative program for the next generation of young scientists. When I was selected I entered under the Student Career Experience Program (SCEP) which is now called Pathways. While I was matriculating, I would spend my summers in Madison, WI working with researchers learning about wood chemistry. I graduated and started working towards developing research to isolate and characterize high-value tree-derived chemicals which can be used for drug delivery and design.
Highlight the major contributions of your career.
I have been with the Forest Service 14 years and 9 of those years as a research chemist. Before joining the Forest Service I have always created programs that reached into the community. Working for the Forest Service has allowed me to reach back and give chemistry students a place to sharpen their laboratory and research skills for graduate school or industry. In 2010, I started training students in my labs to develop scientific and laboratory skills while developing my research investigating tree derived high value chemicals. Because of the work with University of Wisconsin-Madison (UW) chemistry students, I received an honorary fellow appointment in the UW chemistry department. Also, because of my research and outreach to students in STEM, I received the National Organization of Black Chemist and Chemical Engineering (NOBCChE) Presidential Award.
I am really excited with the next phase of my career because now I am extending my research support to Historical Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) junior faculty where one third are women. I have six collaborations utilizing nanocellulose materials and extracting chemicals for drug delivery. The HBCU collaborations are interdisciplinary relationships that reach across biomedical, regenerative, medicinal, and environmental areas.
I have consulted and supported international researchers/colleagues interested in my area of research. Female students and faculty are hard to find. Four out of 15 of my student researchers are female and 3 out of 9 of my faculty collaborations are female. I anticipate this number to increase in the next phase of my career.
What advice would you give to women, in particular, trying to break into STEM-related fields?
No matter how much the area of STEM evolves, there is a place in STEM uniquely designed for you to make an impact, innovate, and inspire.