Sharon participated in a special nationally piloted chemistry course in 8th grade, and to her surprise, looking at the world at the molecular level made a lot of sense. She immediately desired to become a research chemist.
Sharon’s aspiration to get her doctorate in chemistry was a bit at odds with her grandfather’s hopes for her. As a reward for Sharon’s good grades in school, her grandfather Penn purchased an expensive typewriter so that she could become proficient in typing and get a good job as a clerk typist at the Social Security Headquarters in Baltimore, MD. However, neither Sharon nor her grandfather ever regretted her career decision some 35 years ago.
Today, Sharon is a research scientist at the Experimental Station for the Dupont Co., where she has been since 1984. Her research projects have included developing new materials for therapeutic use and new bioprocesses that use renewable feedstocks, such as corn sugar (glucose). Nearly all of the programs in which Sharon has been involved have been team projects. This multidisciplinary nature has enabled Sharon to pursue her interests while enjoying the collaboration and collegial spirit of industrial research.
Sharon also uses her research laboratory as her setting for teaching. She explains, “The laboratory is the environment I’m most comfortable in, so as one way of giving back to those who have helped me, I offer a little hospitality to those students who may be at a disadvantage for realizing a career in science.” As a summer research mentor for high school students through the ACS Project for Summer Educational Experience for the Disadvantaged (SEED) and SEEDelaware, Sharon constantly stresses the importance of critical thinking and encourages students to consider various job functions as a way of exploring their career paths.