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Stories from the Field

Women in Chemistry: Stories from the Field

Stories from the Field preserves and celebrates the contributions of women in science. From students striving for degrees to scientists looking back on their careers, this audio library captures triumphs, challenges, and insights in short, conversational interviews.

We at CHF thank all our Stories from the Field participants for sharing their experiences with us—and with generations of scientists to come.


“Don’t limit yourself to just science.”

The job market for highly skilled positions is more competitive now than in previous generations, says Savannah Sullivan. Learning outside your chosen discipline, she says, is the key to standing out.

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“Everything in life has always been a puzzle, and I’ve always wanted to figure it out.”

When other kids wanted to play with Barbies and watch Power Rangers, Takara Scott wanted to play with a microscope and watch science documentaries. She talks about not letting anyone discourage you from pursuing your interests—no matter how nerdy they may be.

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“Family life and work/life balance in the field is a challenge for women.”

People expect a woman’s professional life to suffer when she starts a family, says Jendai Richards. While it can be a challenge, she believes women can overcome that bias if they work harder and smarter.

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“Find any opportunity you can to gain experience doing what you love to do.”

Linda Wang, senior editor at Chemical and Engineering News, talks about how she incrementally turned a beloved hobby into a vital and exciting part of her job.

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“Find something that you enjoy and that is meaningful to you.”

For a young Rachel King a microscope, a dissecting kit, and walks in the woods sparked a lifelong fascination with biology. She talks about the importance of finding work that you enjoy, and if you’re lucky, learning that work from people you admire.

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“Follow your heart. Do something that you’re passionate about.”

For Wendy Young Reed, life is too short for disliking a job. To find a career you enjoy, she says, the key is to network the old-fashioned way: without a computer.

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“For me it was always about going to work most days and feeling happy with the things I was doing.”

Patti Parziale, manager of the Fungicide Discovery chemistry group at DuPont, shares her secret to building a strong reputation and successful career. Hint: It’s not the 5-year plan.

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“I feel like it’s in my blood, that this is where I belong.”

After getting her master’s degree Kristine Chin found herself working in industry as the first woman in an all-male lab. It was a challenging experience, and one that she left to eventually find her true calling.

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“I felt like I had to follow my passions.”

Melanie Szulczewski, assistant professor of environmental science at the University of Mary Washington, shares her decision to take the scenic route to her career in academia.

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“I realized I didn’t want my career in chemistry to take the traditional path.”

Carmen Drahl, senior editor of Chemical and Engineering News, used her Ph.D. in chemistry as a springboard into the career she envisioned for herself. Here she shares some advice that helped her make the decision.

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Catalyst Series: Women in Chemistry

Women in Chemistry

Follow the adventures of eight leading women in chemistry and celebrate their life-changing, chance-taking, thrill-seeking love of science.