Rosalyn Kent, 31, earned a bachelor's degree in chemistry from Xavier University of Louisiana as well as a master's degree in chemistry and doctorate in materials chemistry from the University of Michigan. Her first industry role was with Dow Specialty Plastics.
"I was attracted to this group because the team developed Elvaloy RET resins that enable plastic waste to be recycled into roads. This chemistry is exciting to me because I am passionate about protecting the environment for future generations," she said. "I wanted to be a part of projects like this one to make a positive impact on global carbon emissions."
The associate scientist for technical service and development's many career highlights include her first author research paper in a peer-reviewed journal; commercializing the DowSil EC-6601, an electrically conductive silicone adhesive for electromagnetic interference shielding in automotive devices; and commercializing Surlyn ionomer resin for the glass lamination industry.
Kent volunteers as the Dow SURE focal point for Prairie View A&M University. Dow SURE is a partnership with historically Black colleges and universities and minority-serving institutions that financially supports undergraduate research, develops talent in STEM and addresses pipeline issues.
"I decided to pilot a new program structure based on scientific methodology with deliverables for students and faculty. The new structure features seminars from industry-leading scientists to expose students to different types of careers," Kent said. "Additionally, each student is paired with one Dow mentor that provides guidance and resources on their research project.
"I am the product of a similar undergraduate research program hosted at my alma mater, Xavier University of Louisiana. The skills that I developed during this experience enabled me to attend graduate school and earn a Ph.D. Similarly, I believe that Dow SURE will be a career launching pad for students like me," Kent added.
Q: What is your greatest achievement?
Kent: My greatest achievement is earning a Ph.D. in chemistry at University of Michigan. My journey in graduate school was not easy. I faced many challenges with difficult research projects and family illness; however, through faith, grit and determination, I persevered and succeeded. That experience taught me resilience, which has sustained me through my short career at Dow.
Q: What should the plastics industry do to expand its efforts in diversity and inclusion?
Kent: The plastics industry should financially support recruitment, scholarships, internships and research at historically Black colleges and universities, as well as minority-serving institutions. There is a reservoir of scientific talent at these institutions, and they are often overlooked for programs and funding. Creating partnerships with universities and actively supporting them will create a pipeline for diverse talent to enter the plastics industry.
Q: What emerging technology or market most interests you?
Kent: I am most interested in emerging gasification process technology. This recycling process leverages plastic waste to produce gaseous feedstock that is ultimately used to manufacture new polymers. Gasification is a process that can use all plastics as feedstocks and is more forgiving of impurities than other recycling processes. I believe that future gasification process technology will enable the plastics industry to move the needle on reducing CO2 emissions by recycling plastic waste at scale.