Rising Senior Gets Foot in the Door with Help from Passionate Professor

close up of chemistry vials

When it comes to science, senior biochemistry major Eric Kohn of Pitman, Gloucester County, knows that the chemistry between him and his colleagues is just as important as the chemistry that he studies in the lab. A little connection can go a long distance when it comes to networking, and he wisely takes full advantage of all the opportunities Rowan has to offer. His passion for chemistry, accomplishments and positive relationships with his professors is what recently landed him a game-changing partnership this summer in terms of his future — lab research fellow at Syracuse University. 

Student Eric Kohn examines a sample in the lab where he does research.
Eric examining a sample in the lab.

Syracuse REU (Research Experiences for Undergraduates), is a selective ten week summer program that allows students to participate and contribute to lab research in various scientific fields. Research roles are critical to forging a successful career in the sciences, and gaining hands-on experience in this welcoming environment is something Eric is very grateful for. He notes that this experience has given him “the opportunity to be a fully functioning scientist,” with freedom to independently conduct experiments, prepare chemical reactions and perform original research. It not only looks excellent on a resume, but with 40 hour work weeks and guidance from renowned leaders, it is preparation for the challenging yet exciting career ahead

of him. “Every day you encounter failures and setbacks but if you still come out enjoying what you are doing, then you will know that this is something that is worth spending your life studying.”

“Rowan is investing more into research and making it easier to find these opportunities,” Eric notes, “so students like me are able to join in even during their freshman year and get involved early on.” Interacting with fellow students in a laboratory environment provides necessary skills for a successful future such as problem solving, organization, networking, dedication to long term projects and an expanded knowledge of scientific techniques and equipment. “One thing unique to this university is that undergrad students are able to publish their own scientific research, which is a great advantage in comparison to opportunities at other schools.”

Eric notes that his academic experiences at Rowan played an instrumental role in landing this position, and has significantly prepared him for this fellowship. With leadership roles in the Governor’s STEM Scholars Program and the American Chemical Society, of which Eric is the president at Rowan, he has made many connections throughout his field. He has been working in the Rowan labs for three years with Dr. Greg Caputo and looks to his professors for guidance throughout his college career. They gave him critical career advice and steered him in the right direction, helping to select and narrow down research programs to apply to.

You never know where a simple conversation about your passions can lead you, so when it comes to taking steps toward a future career, Eric fully advises students to network as often as possible. “Talk to your professors about your strengths and reach out to people you want to work with. Be nosy. Look online to see what opportunities are best for you.”

“It gives me confidence to be able to walk into a lab and show people that I know what I’m doing thanks to my experience at Rowan,” Eric says of his research opportunities. “I’m excited for the future.”

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By: Nicole Cier, junior writing arts major