Heather Estes

Heather Estes, Materials Research Scientist

  • Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety
  • BS, Biology, Florida Institute of Technology; MS, Chemistry, University of North Carolina-Wilmington
Heather Estes works in the following areas:

Non-profit ∎  AnalyticalOrganicPaint, Pigments, CoatingsOil & Petroleum ∎  Materials

At the Insurance Institute for Business and Home Safety in South Carolina, Heather Estes specializes in material identification to provide a better understanding of the performance of residential and commercial construction materials. Her research in full-scale wind tunnels and how materials respond to forces of high winds, rain, hail and wildfire exposure helps manufacturers develop cost-effective, high performance building materials.

What is your workplace like?

The environment is pretty fast-paced, but people are collegial and do their best to work together. Because we are conducting cutting-edge research, we all wear different hats and work together to get the job done.

What is your work environment like?

I split my time between the office and the lab. During the spring, I travel to the field to gather ground-truth data for hail.

Approximately how many hours per week do you generally spend on the following tasks?

Task Hours per week
Attend meeting 11-15
Manage people 6-10
Plan experiments 6-10
Analyze data 11-15
Write reports
Consult with colleagues 11-15

What do you like most about your job?

I like that there is something new every day. Some days I miss being away from the bench, but I enjoy not conducting monotonous research.

What personal talent or trait makes you a great fit for your job?

I enjoy multi-tasking, and I'm very detail orientated. I enjoy making an impact on my industryand being a part of the changing environment.

What apps and tools are must-haves for you?

Our instrumentation is unique. We use a full-scale wind tunnel, hail cannons, and other customized tools to conduct research. For materials sciences, I couldn't live without a universal testing machine and an FTIR (Fourier Transform Infrared Spectroscopy).

What is your favorite ACS resource?

Following ACS on Twitter. I love the infographics about different materials.

How have you benefited from being an ACS member?

I have become more involved with local chemists and have been able to talk to several student groups about getting involved.

What advice would you give undergrads interested in following in your footsteps?

Networking opportunities are all around you. You never know what door may open by making a new connection.

And always remember to have fun! You will spend a large amount of your time at work and in your research, so try to find something you are passionate about.