Even though plant construction is still in progress, Valerie and her team are busy preparing the lab with the best possible technology to support their work once the site starts up. Since Shell Polymers is a greenfield project, Valerie and her team get to build the lab from the ground up, meaning everything that they are putting into it is state-of-the-art for the time. This includes automated sample preparation and measurement. Valerie is especially excited about this equipment since manual alternatives leave room for less consistent data based on who is operating it. With an automated solution bringing consistency to this process, it should play a significant role in providing higher-quality data to guide their decisions and recommendations.
A Seasoned Chemist
After earning a Ph.D. in organometallic chemistry from Cornell University and carrying out a postdoctoral fellowship in polymer chemistry at Carnegie Mellon University, Valerie joined Shell in 2015. She started her career as a research and development process chemist in the Higher Olefins and Derivatives group (HODer) at the Shell Technology Center in Houston. She worked heavily on catalyst design, trace chemistry mitigation, and analytical method development to support lab- and pilot-scale operations.
When asked about her passion for science, Valerie said she decided she wanted to pursue a chemistry career in high school, thanks to excellent teachers. A fun fact about Valerie is that she was initially drawn to inorganic chemistry because of the photogenic appeal of the compounds created in the process! She explained, “A lot of compounds that you make are just straight-up pretty. You have a lot of colors and photoluminescent things that glow… It’s kind of like a kid’s magic show!”