Forest Products Laboratory Scientist Makes Historical Black College / Science Connection

Attendees pose for a group photo during the 2022 Engineering Conference of the Alabama State University Biomedical Engineering Program. Dr. Roderquita Moore is pictured in the front row, second from left. Photo by David Campbell, ASU.

Roderquita Moore, a research chemist with the Fiber & Composites Research department of the Forest Products Laboratory, has two strong outside interests. As a young woman growing up in a family who was devoted to their church in rural Georgia, she loves music and helping others.

“Being involved in church activities formed the foundation of who I am today,” she said.

Having graduated from Tuskegee University with her BS and MS degrees, then going on to Clark Atlanta University to obtain her PhD – all Historical Black Colleges and Universities – Roderquita joined the Forest Products Laboratory in 2004 as a research scientist intern through the Student Career Experience Program – now known as “Pathways.”

During her years of research here at the Lab, she has eagerly gotten involved in mentoring young people as much as she can. Over the summer four years ago, for example, she worked with K-12 public school teachers and students at an HBCU in Charlotte, N.C., instructing the teachers on the creation of materials using nanocellulose created by the Lab.

One of her most notable initiatives has been the Research Leadership Consortium, which Roderquita developed on her own in 2010.

During her visitation on the ASU campus, Dr. Roderquita Moore worked in the laboratory of Derrick Dean, a professor in the Biomedical Engineering Department, with three student interns (left to right): James Cade II, Nicholas Barlow, and Chris Capshaw, who are pictured here using a 3D printer. The students also used an extruder to mix the materials, a tetrahedral press to mold the materials, and a scanning electron microscope to examine materials at a nanometer range. Photo by Roderquita Moore.

“The objective of RLC is to collaborate with Historical Black Colleges and Universities and establish research in developing environmental and therapeutic applications, using Forest Service resources in the areas of added/high-value chemicals, sustainability, and nanotechnology,” Roderquita said. “These efforts expose K-12 as well as higher education faculty and students to USDA-FS research.”

Above all, Roderquita has made it her mission to increase the diverse pool of scientific candidates at the higher-education level for research and development work in all areas of scientific pursuits with the Forest Service and other major public and private institutes.

The most recent Historical Black Colleges and Universities / Forest Services connection Roderquita has been involved with was just two months ago at an engineering conference with the Alabama State University Biomedical Engineering Program, where she was invited to attend as a visiting professor.

She gave the opening address, “My Transition from Student to Forest Service Researcher,” and worked with faculty and students on the fabrication of shape-responsive composites.

“My presentation introduced students to Forest Service research and the surprising connection of wood to biomedical engineering,” explained Roderquita. “I encouraged students to be open to a forever-evolving career in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics.”

Interested students were encouraged to add their names to the Forest Service recruitment database.

One student, Chris Capshaw, thanked Dr. Moore for the opportunity to participate in the internship at Alabama State University. “I was able to gain knowledge about specialized instruments, which allowed me to see and understand the results of mixing Cellulose nanocrystals with polylactic acid,” he said. “Dr. Moore’s presentation inspired me to continue to remain focused on learning the research techniques I need to use my biomedical engineering degree to help others.”