Celebrating Veranova’s Women in Science

“Science and everyday life cannot and should not be separated. Science, for me, gives a partial explanation for life. In so far as it goes, it is based on fact, experience, and experiment.”

These are the words of Rosalind Franklin (1920-1958), the British chemist whose pioneering work on X-ray crystallography revealed the double helix structure of DNA. Overcoming the prejudice she faced throughout her education and career, Franklin’s contributions to solid form science revolutionized our understanding of life, as well as how we treat disease.

Gender equality within the scientific community has improved in recent years: many women are now able to pursue a scientific career, and the contributions of female scientists throughout history have now been more widely recognized. However, there is still a substantial gender bias within science, with women constituting only 33.3% of science researchers worldwide.1

In preparation for the International Day of Women and Girls in Science on February 11, we are celebrating the contributions and achievements of female scientists everywhere. Here, we spoke to ten inspiring women at Veranova about what led them to take up science as a career, and what working as a scientist means to them.

 

Carol Chouest, Business Development Manager

“I am honored to witness and participate in a transformation of science into actionable medical insights, which ultimately supports one’s quality of life. It is a gift to be part of a community whose commitment and focus is for the benefit of others.”

Claire Wombwell, Team Leader

“The thing I enjoy most about my career is that it always involves problem solving. I enjoy applying scientific knowledge to solve issues for customers quickly and effectively.”

Dorothy Zelent, Senior Business Development Manager

“I went into science because I always had a curiosity in the natural world starting in early childhood. Scientific knowledge allows us to develop new technologies, solve practical problems, and make informed decisions — both individually and collectively – and that is something that I love being part of.”

Dyanne Cruickshank, Senior Scientist

“I always enjoyed biology and physical science at school, which led to me enrolling for a Bachelor of Science degree at university. During the degree, I really enjoyed the chemistry courses and was not a huge fan of biochemistry and microbiology. I enjoyed the finer details of the chemistry course, such as how the properties of molecules changed due to the strength of interactions between them. Since then, I have enjoyed working in the field of small molecules and continue to be passionate about the work I do.”

Heather Taft, Director, Kilo-lab Operations

“When I was 10, my grandmother passed away after battling throat cancer for several years. That was when I knew I wanted to help people with these types of diseases. I obtained my PhD in chemistry, and as part of the Veranova Kilo-lab Team, I help patients every day with the medicines we make.”

Jade Owen, Senior Scientist

“I’ve always been interested in science and was drawn to analytical chemistry due to its wide-reaching applications in multiple industries. I’ve been fortunate enough to work with a variety of samples, from forensics to pharma, and throughout my career in both academia and industry, I’ve enjoyed the challenge of analytical method development. To me, it’s all about using knowledge, experience, and research (and in a few cases some trial and error or thinking outside the box!) to discover the most appropriate way to prepare a sample and the parameters needed to analyze it. I am privileged to be a part of the Veranova Analytical Research & Development (ARD) team where I can do breakthrough research with challenging or unique compounds every day.”

Laura Wilson, Principal Scientist

“For as long as I can remember, I’ve been deeply curious about the world – going into science always seemed inevitable. I’ve discovered a community full of amazing coworkers and mentors who help me continue to learn new things and I can’t imagine doing anything else.”

Lauren Andre, Senior Chemist

“Growing up, I always wanted to learn new things, and a passion for the sciences fulfilled that desire for me. The opportunities I have for new knowledge and experiences both in and out of the workplace are endless.”

Olana Couzins, Principal Team Leader

“I have always been interested in science, particularly from a pharmaceutical perspective as I have been treated for chronic kidney disease since childhood. Medicine and the drug development process in particular is therefore something that piqued my interest, particularly as I grew older and began selecting subjects at college. Eventually, I secured a role at Veranova and have been very happy here ever since, due to the varied nature of the work. The opportunity to work in many different areas of early-stage development projects provides a sense of contribution to ‘the bigger picture’. Working in science is great because, although it’s incredibly broad, the community is ‘small’ and there are so many areas to master and discover!”

Ruth Lunt, Senior Scientist

“When I was younger, I had no idea what I wanted to be. Becoming a scientist was not a matter of conscious choice and careful career planning, but more a matter of simply following what I was good at and what interested me. I am continuously amazed at how my career has progressed – to be able to satiate my desire for intellectual challenge and conduct valuable research is empowering, and to get paid for it is, of course, a bonus!”

 

1 https://www.unesco.org/reports/science/2021/en/dataviz/share-women-researchers-radial

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