Consumer Safety Officer

Judith Summers-Gates

She has worked in several different fields, always innovating and pushing boundaries. She has worked at the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Research Service (USDA ARS), the Department of Defense, and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

At FDA, she worked on a full range of products regulated by the agency: foods, drugs, cosmetics, and medical devices. Judy’s strong leadership and management potential was recognized and nurtured when she graduated from FDA’s highly competitive Leadership Development Program in 1999. Today, she trains and mentors newly hired FDA chemists and consumer safety officers who are responsible for detecting banned or unapproved coloring agents that could be potentially harmful.

As a little girl growing up, Judy always wanted to be a chemist. She received her B.S. in unified science (chemistry/ biology/ physics) from Drexel University. Her tenacity was key to achieving this goal because people with disabilities often are not encouraged to pursue careers in science.

Public outreach has always been a focal point for Judy’s activities both inside and outside ACS. She and her husband— fellow ACS member and USDA ARS research chemist Bob Gates—regularly participate in activities such as Kids & Chemistry and National Chemistry Week.

Judy is a member of the Philadelphia Section’s Diversity Committee and is CWD’s liaison to the ACS Minority Affairs Committee. When asked about the benefits of ACS membership, she enthusiastically states, “ACS has excellent programs and services for its members. I’ve benefited from the peer mentoring workshop, leadership seminars, and networking at ACS national meetings. I rely heavily on ACS’s electronic resources. I’ve grown both personally and professionally from my interactions with ACS and its members. Every member in ACS should become active in some way.”

Judy comments, “Scientists with disabilities have to combat negative stereotypes and potential underemployment to succeed. As a person with multiple disabilities and as the current chair of the ACS Committee for Chemists with Disabilities (CWD), I work to see that such attitudinal and physical barriers are removed so that people with disabilities can reach their full academic and professional potential.”