Chemists in the Real World

 

Amber Evans, Development Scientist

BASF
Ph.D., Pharmaceutical Science


Amber Evans received her Ph.D. in pharmaceutical sciences, with and emphasis on cosmetic science, in 2011. After she graduated, she applied online for a postdoctoral position at BASF and waited for a response. When that seemed to fail, she decided to take a more aggressive approach. "I reached out to a BASF employee and industry expert to express my interest in career opportunities at BASF via email, and we remained in occasional contact over the following months," she said. "He contacted me when a position opened and invited me to interview." 

The story of how Evans found her current job was featured in the November 4, 2013 issue of Chemical & Engineering News. (Ainsworth, S. J. Strategy, Serendipity, and a Paycheck. Chem Eng. News 2013, 91(44), 46–48.   http://cen.acs.org/articles/91/i44/Strategy-Serendipity-Paycheck.html) In that article, she noted, "I am proud to say that those initial e-mails between two strangers—a helpful employee and a determined job seeker—ultimately led to my gaining a great mentor and starting the career I had always envisioned."

Evans now works for BASF in Tarrytown, NY, developing technologies related to hair care, including ingredients for improving the performance of hair care products and methodologies for studying hair properties and measuring product performance. This is how she works.

What's a typical day on the job like?

My typical day comprises laboratory and office work. I usually spend the first two to three hours of my day handling office tasks such as emailing, planning experiments, preparing reports and presentations, and reading and researching relevant material online.  The rest of the day is spent in the laboratory or in meetings. There are exceptions to this schedule, and my workflow may change based on workload and priority.

Typically, how many days each month do you spend away from your workplace on travel?

I am not required to travel.

Are there any apps/software/instrumentation/tools that you can't live without?

Software:  Microsoft Office (word processing, presentations, data management); LotusNotes (email, calendar, all of the company’s databases)

Instrumentation:  Tensile Tester for testing material properties, for example, quantifying a formulation's ability to strengthen a hair fiber or make a hair tress easier to comb

Describe your work environment.

I currently work in an office space that is divided into four parallel cubicles, each equipped with standard office equipment, e.g. laptop, docking station, monitor, and phone. My laboratory is adjacent to this office area, and it is equipped with various instruments used for testing hair properties, a digital microscope, overhead mixers for batching, and standard laboratory equipment.

Does your job follow a typical 9-to-5 schedule?

I typically work forty hours per week on site, and I occasionally complete reports, presentations,  experimental designs, and data analyses at home. The environment is usually relaxed, but it becomes hectic sometimes, especially when there is a major customer project deadline]  or when the company is preparing for an industry trade show in which we plan to launch new products or concepts.

What do you like most about your job?

I like the idea of my efforts having the potential to affect people's lives by providing them with innovative and sustainable technologies for personal care applications. The personal care field is quite dynamic, and it is truly a pleasure to contribute to addressing unmet consumer needs and desires.

What is your best productivity trick?

I write a weekly “Get Done” list that allows me to organize and prioritize my responsibilities, and thereby manage my time and focus more effectively. I like to have the “Get Done” list in writing because I can keep it in a notebook with relevant notes. It’s also somewhat rewarding when I physically check off a completed task versus just mentally acknowledging that it’s done. My next best productivity trick, starting the work day before 8 A.M., is almost as important as having a “Get Done” list. However, I realize that starting the day early might not always be feasible.

What's the best career advice you've received?

“Follow your heart rather than money, because the satisfaction that you get from doing something that you are passionate about can be more rewarding than monetary compensation.” There are certainly limits and exceptions to this statement, but the genuine happiness that one feels when they are passionate about their career field is unrivaled. 

Do you have any special talents or traits that make you a great fit for your job?

My analytical nature makes me a great fit for my job. This trait is excellent for solving scientific problems and driving innovation because it allows me to think in a detail-oriented fashion, manage information, and execute work in a way that effectively addresses the key issue. 

What is your favorite ACS resource?

My favorite ACS resource is the webinar series because it provides helpful information in a concise manner. It offers a more personal feel than other ACS resources, since viewers can experience and interact with the speaker.

How have you benefited from being an ACS member?

One of the key benefits has been  my participation in the ACS Scholars Program. The program awarded scholarships that were helpful in completing my undergraduate chemistry degree and provided opportunities to better acclimate me to a chemistry-related career. The ACS Scholars Program shared information about summer internships at The Procter & Gamble Company and encouraged scholars to apply. It was this effort of the program that afforded me the opportunity to gain my first industrial internship experience, and it ultimately led to multiple summer internships at Procter & Gamble and collaboration on my dissertation project.