Two students nominated by the Henry M. Rowan College of Engineering have received the prestigious Goldwater grant 2022.
Ashleigh Jankowski, a junior from Catonsville, Maryland, is studying biomedical engineering with a major in pharmaceutical engineering and therapeutic delivery with a chemistry minor.
Isabella Marshall, a junior from Highland Park, Middlesex County, majors in Electrical and Computer Engineering and Mathematics with a minor in Mechanical Engineering and Computer Science. Both students are pursuing the Thomas N. Bantivoglio Honors concentration in the Honors College.
The federally donated Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship and Excellence Education Program is one of the most prestigious awards that undergraduate students in science, mathematics and engineering can receive. Under the scholarship program, students can receive up to $7,500 per year to help fund their college expenses. The award recognizes students with high potential to become leaders in their field and who intend to pursue the Ph.D. Degree.
Jankowski is the fourth Goldwater Fellow in the past five years, representing both Rowan’s Department of Biomedical Engineering and Honors College.
“It’s reassuring to see that something tangible is emerging from all this work,” said Jankowski.
Jankowski is President of the Rowan Student Chapter of the Biomedical Engineering Society and Service Chair of the Rowan Student Chapter of the Society of Women Engineers. Since her freshman year she has been working with graduate student Robert Mosley as a research assistant in the laboratory of Dr. Mark Byrne.
“Ashleigh is one of the best students in our major,” said Byrne, head of the Foundation Department and professor of biomedical engineering. “When you have students who are bright, hardworking, inquisitive and give them the opportunity to work on advanced research, it’s really exciting to see them grow and mature. It has been a pleasure to work with Ashleigh as she is one of the most talented researchers I have advised.”
Both in Byrne’s lab and during research internships elsewhere, including a National Science Foundation Jankowski, who received a fellowship at the University of Maryland last summer, has excelled at what Byrne called “groundbreaking cutting-edge research.”
In Byrne’s lab, Jankowski is working on “biomimetic nucleic acid nanocarriers for drug delivery.” These are novel DNA- and RNA-coated nanoparticles that mimic the way some cancer drugs work by binding to DNA. The mechanism is being used in new ways to design and manufacture more potent, controlled-release particles with high loadings of chemotherapeutic agents.
Jankowski said she plans to do her Ph.D. and a career in science.
“I hope to one day run my own university lab so I can mentor and give back to students while continuing to make breakthroughs in research,” said Jankowski.
Marshall is the first Goldwater Fellow to be nominated by the Rowan Department of Electrical & Computer Engineering.
Through her “untraditional” high school journey of three years of self-paced learning, Marshall completed 90 credits of community college courses before joining Rowan. Outside of academia, she works with President Ali Houshmand on West Campus Farm and is a circus performer, trains children in circus skills, and performs for charities that primarily support children. Marshall was also named a University Innovation Fellow.
Research was a constant focus throughout Marshall’s college career. Most recently, she completed an internship at Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory, Development of a program to speed up the complex calculations that nuclear fusion reactors use to generate clean plasma energy. This summer she will intern at Cornell University’s Boyce Thompson Institute and use STEM to create more sustainable agriculture.
“Isabella not only does so much, she does everything so well,” said Dr. Robi Polikar, Head of the Department of Electrical Engineering and Information Technology. “Perhaps problem-solving skills are more indicative of a student’s true aptitude than grades, and Isabella is able to find practical applications that are typically only found in the best graduate students.”
One reason Marshall “has the makings of a great researcher,” Polikar said, is in part because her research interests are closely tied to an interest in doing good.
“Isabella is passionate about using her skills for social causes, including causes like clean energy and sustainability,” said Polikar. “For a student so focused on research for the greater good, the picture that emerges is not often seen.”