Bloomfield College Focuses on STEM

By Alicia Cook

According to US News and World Report, science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) degrees have become more common for both men and women over the last decade.

Even still, the U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics reports a shortage of qualified workers in certain STEM disciplines.

This tells us that students who have a passion for and excel in STEM disciplines are in demand. 

Today, it is not enough to simply study STEM in college. Where one decides to enroll is crucial. No one knows this more than the dedicated STEM faculty at Bloomfield College. Bloomfield College helps grow the future innovative leaders of tomorrow, while obliterating the stereotypes linked to STEM that one must be of certain means and upbringing to find a well-paying job in the field.

The College offers an impressive variety of foci for students who may be interested in the natural sciences. Students at the College are currently earning their bachelor degrees in biology, chemistry, medical imaging sciences and clinical laboratory science. In addition, students can minor in biology and chemistry, among others.

The College also offers a number of competitive articulated programs and professional track options in pre-chiropractic studies and pre-podiatry studies. In addition, there are articulation agreements with two medical schools.

“You do not need to be a rocket scientist to land a career in a STEM discipline. You have to be willing to put in the work,” said Dr. Maria Vogt, Professor of Chemistry. “Our students sometimes come from nothing. Sometimes they go to sleep hungry, but they accomplish such great things.”

Following completion of the Ph.D. degree, Dr. Vogt spent four years as a Research (postdoctoral) Associate at the Ben May Laboratory for Cancer Research at The University of Chicago, investigating aspects of carcinogenic polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs).

After completion of the postdoctoral studies, Dr. Vogt obtained a faculty position at Rutgers University-Newark then at Bloomfield College. 

Her areas of interest include instrumentation and method development of experiments to incorporate into the undergraduate laboratory experience.

“Find another undergraduate program in New Jersey that exposes students to Bloomfield College’s variety of instrumentation,” challenged Dr. Vogt.

Her students have participated in numerous poster sessions and have obtained scholarships from the American Chemical Society and the Independent College Fund of New Jersey (ICFNJ). In addition, a number of students have been accepted into highly competitive summer research experiences both in New Jersey and in other states.

“My office is Grand Central Station,” said Dr. Vogt, with a smile. “I love it that way!”

Dr. Vogt helps students with their resumes, job placements, and graduate and medical school applications.

Advising is a key driver of student success. Individual advising is commonplace at Bloomfield College, but the same cannot be said for many larger institutions.

This energetic, one-on-one guidance is just one reason why Bloomfield College graduates have gone on to become physicians, dentists, pharmacists, professors, and lawyers, after graduating in science from the Division of Natural Sciences and Mathematics. Students wishing to work have found employment with over 50 different companies, in the areas of pharmaceuticals, food, personal care products, environmental science, and quality assurance, to name just a few.

“If you want a profession in science, we have a huge variety of programs to facilitate students reaching their dreams,” promised Dr. Vogt.

Each year, a number of students become involved in research projects with STEM faculty.

“Juan Soto ('15) was a biology major who worked with me on my research project,” recalled Dr. James Murphy, Division Chair and Professor of Biology. “He is now a technician in an AIDS laboratory at the prestigious Rockefeller University. He recently published a paper on HIV infection. His colleagues included him as a ‘coauthor.’ This means he made meaningful professional contributions to the project.”

Dr. Murphy earned a Ph.D. in Biochemistry in 1994  from the Sackler Institute of the New York University School of Medicine and joined Bloomfield College the same year.

“Another biology major, Rafia Muslim ('15), worked with me on my research project and has since graduated and is currently earning her Master’s degree in Biotechnology Science over at Kean University,” recounted Dr. Murphy.

STEM professors know the importance of merging both book theory and real world application in the curriculum.

“Project based learning is most effective in STEM fields,” explained Dr. Gregory Edens, Assistant Professor of Chemistry. “That is what research is, that is what we do at this College, a lot of hands-on, problems-based learning.”

Dr. Edens, who earned his Ph.D. in Analytical Chemistry from Purdue University, joined the Division of Natural Sciences and Mathematics in September 2013, after having worked seven years in industry. Prior to that he had more than seven years experience teaching general, analytical, and instrumental chemistry.

In Summer 2015, Dr. Edens supervised two students in a research project to determine mercury in fish. The students found that chunk light tuna has less mercury than solid white albacore, while Ahi tuna has very high levels of mercury. With the support of a NASA grant, one of the students will study the geographic distribution of mercury as implicated by levels in fish.

For students interested in the “M” in STEM, the College offers a robust mathematics program. As a math major at Bloomfield College, students study theory and applications in algebra, geometry, calculus, and statistics, leading to careers in research, education, finance, economics, technology, and even business management.

“Math is the foundation for so many fields,” said Dr. Cook. “It allows you to really branch out.”

Dr. Grace Cook is a testament to this. Dr. Cook, who earned a Ph.D. in General Education from Walden University and a M.S. in Applied Mathematics, is currently the Freshman Mathematics Coordinator and an Assistant Professor of Mathematics at Bloomfield College.

She has been with the College since 2013. She also consults for ETS and the New York City Department of Education. She has previously taught at the high school and collegiate level, and worked as a test developer, statistician, and engineer.

Her non-trajectory career path solidify the fact that a career in math does not mean students become restricted to “just teaching.”

The Computer Science program at Bloomfield College, which offers a unique Network Engineering joint program with NJIT, prepares students for a successful, long-term career in the technology world. Recent courses have included “hot” topics such as ethical hacking, mobile application development, cybercrime, and electronic medical records software.

Recent graduates have had strong success with finding employment in the industry, and some recent graduates are pursuing graduate work. Employers include top firms such as Johnson and Johnson, ADP, Memorial Sloan-Kettering, McGraw Hill, and AIG.  

“Bloomfield College is a teaching school. Teaching is the focus,” said Associate Professor of Computer Science and Network Engineering, Dr. Steven Kreutzer.

Before coming to Bloomfield College, Professor Kreutzer was a hiring manager and recruited on campus for AT&T Bell Labs. This serves as a nice transition to perhaps the most important aspect of any pre-professional program: career readiness.

The numbers do not lie. Since 2014, the number of computer science majors doubled. 70% of computer science graduates were employed in their field of study by the time they moved their tassel over at commencement.

Joshua McNeil, a 2014 Bloomfield College graduate, currently works as an ITLDP Associate Analyst for Johnson & Johnson. The Information Technology Leadership Development Program (ITLDP) is a highly competitive, two-year rotational program for recent college graduates emphasizing leadership, professional development and technical/industry-based skills.

"One of the most important differentiators of the Bloomfield College Computer Science program is how classes are conducted. Many people think Computer Science students just type lines of code,” said McNeil. “Professor Kreutzer’s classes weren’t that type of experience. Yes, we did write code but there was so much more. Professor Kreutzer had us working on group projects, making presentations, and competing against each other. We didn’t realize it at the time but he was getting us ready and really helped prepare me for my professional career."

Outcomes matter, and the faculty, staff, and tight-knit alumni network proudly work together to help students, both while enrolled and beyond graduation.

“We’re good at what we do,” said Dr. Edens, matter-of-factly. “Bloomfield College excels at teaching to the diverse demographic of students who enroll. We help students and challenge students. Many of the faculty have worked in the industry – which is rare in academia, but it makes us more effective in preparing students for the business.”

It is because of this dedicated, hands-on approach that Bloomfield College students continue to write their own stories, break barriers, and pave their own successful paths in the STEM industry.

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