Science and Technology Innovators

Moriah Baxevane-Connell, CST ’13
Wired to inspire

Moriah Baxevane-Connell is a proud woman in tech. The 28-year-old recently earned a prestigious position as a cloud consultant at Google in London. It’s a dream job that meshes her dual Temple degrees in information science & technology and psychology, as well as the University of Oxford MBA she completed last fall.

When Baxevane-Connell, from a small, rural town in Pennsylvania, started college, she admits she didn’t even know what computer programming was. But after stumbling upon a coding course her first year, she was hooked. Thanks to her passion and drive, and three incredible Temple mentors—Claudia Pine-Simon, Rose McGinnis and Wendy Urban—Baxevane-Connell persisted in her studies and excelled in a field that many women historically haven’t pursued.

Her hope, Baxevane-Connell says, is that she can give back to the next generation of women in tech: “I’ll do anything I can to help any woman in the field.” 

While at Temple, Baxevane-Connell joined other College of Science and Technology students in attending the annual Grace Hopper Celebration—the largest gathering of women in computing in the world, named after the inspiring computer pioneer and naval officer. Following college, while working at Microsoft, she found herself so committed to the conference’s mission that she began volunteering on its planning committee.

Then, in 2015, Baxevane-Connell landed an amazing opportunity, unimaginable so early in her career. She was asked to open the conference’s evening celebration in front of a crowd of 5,000 at the Houston Astros’ ballpark by detailing her journey into the field. 

 “It was one of my most favorite moments in my career,” she says.

Arooj Khan, ENG ’18
Driven to precision

Arooj Khan came to Temple to pursue a lifelong dream of becoming a physician, but her bioengineering classes showed her there is more than one way to have a positive impact on patient health.

“Bioengineering opened up a world to me,” says Khan. “While I was at Temple, I worked on devices that helped either detect a medical issue or diagnose a medical condition. I saw that I could also make a difference by developing tools for the clinical setting.“ 

“Solving problems is itself rewarding, but knowing that the precise measurements I’m making will benefit patients is the most inviting aspect of my work.”

By the time she delivered the College of Engineering’s commencement address in 2018, Khan already had a job offer in hand. Today, as a quality engineer for Biogen in Boston, she is working on software for physicians treating multiple sclerosis (MS) patients. The iPad app, which features six sections for evaluating an MS patient’s quality of life, neurological state, manual ability, cognitive ability, vision and gait, is used around the world, and is constantly being updated, thanks to Khan and her teammates. 

Hope Watson, CPH ’17
Data detective

Hope Watson believes the answers to some of public health’s biggest problems can be found in data. 

During her senior year, she earned the top prize in the Temple Analytics Challenge. Two years later, after earning a master’s degree at the University of Cambridge, she landed a full-time job at Alexion, one of the sponsors of the universitywide competition.

As a data scientist, she designs algorithms and uses statistics to help more patients gain access to important treatments. Her focus is on developing and delivering life-transforming therapies for patients with rare diseases. 

Jacqueline Mejia, CST ’12
Balancing act

Environmental scientist and cofounder and COO of the biotech startup Pathogenomica, Jacqueline Mejia is bringing her academic research to the marketplace. Pathogenomica applies DNA sequencing technology to a single comprehensive test designed to prevent pathogen outbreaks and improve product quality in the food, beverage and water industries. The nascent company, established in 2016, is still finding its niche through market analysis and customer validation. 

And while Mejia manages her startup, she simultaneously holds a position as a postdoctoral fellow in the Earth Sciences Department at the University of Minnesota, where she studies fungi that can remove toxic selenium and other harmful metals from contaminated sites.

It’s a busy time, to be sure, but Mejia wouldn’t have it any other way. “I like having this balance, with a foot in the entrepreneurial world and a foot in the academic world.” she says. “In many ways, they can complement each other.”

Mejia credits Temple’s Maximizing Access to Research Careers program for not only preparing her for a career in academia, but also underwriting her tuition to a summer research program at University of Wisconsin. Her work in the program sparked Mejia’s interest in alternative energy sources, which evolved into her current research and led to the launching of her company. 

“That summer took me in a new direction,” she says. “I started thinking about how we can use DNA sequencing to study microbe transformations and how that affects our soil and water.”

Three years into her new role as an entrepreneur, this academic scientist is excited about what her future holds on both fronts. 

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