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Spotlight Women in Science: Mary Kate Davies

Name: Mary Kate Davies

Title: Principal Chemist

Degree: PhD in Polymer Chemistry

As a child Mary Kate developed an interest in S.T.E.M. subjects. “I’ve always been excited about the sciences and math. When I first started learning about chemistry in fifth grade, I independently made a detailed periodic chart in my notebook. I like the idea that we can use these well-known building blocks to develop new materials…then we can predict how to further improve our materials.”

That keenness as a 5th grader led to college and eventually a PhD in Polymer Chemistry. It was during that time she encountered an advisor that mentored her and made a lifelong impact. “My graduate research advisor, Dr. Joe DeSimone, pushed me to take care of my mental health during a difficult time. He showed me that I need to take care of the basics before I can advance in science.” After graduate school, Mary Kate worked for a start-up company working with nanomaterial dispersions to enable manufacture of the next generation of microchips.

Mary Kate’s career continued to grow which brought her to Fenner Precision Polymers. As Principal Chemist, she is the formulation lead in our chemistry development. She works with team members on various projects providing guidance, as needed. She works with thermoset polyurethanes, which make up our precision belts, and thermoset phenolics with our textile products. She is learning silicones as part of our coated fabrics products, where she will lead projects from the project manager’s described need, through lab work, through the plant trials to validate a product.

She owns the Material Strategy, which draws on the material needs from the product managers, and puts it in a timeline, so that the chemistry team can plan their work according to when these new formulations are needed. Finally, she engages in exploratory work on materials with environmental benefits that could be implemented by Fenner Precision Polymers.

“I want to keep learning. I’m fortunate to have opportunities at Fenner Precision Polymers to learn about new materials and new processes”. She interacts with people from many different backgrounds within the company and she can learn something from each person.

Many of these interactions lead to mentoring opportunities. “I’ve found that providing encouragement to others to succeed is best done on a personal level. I love to share what I’ve learned, but I also listen to others, because we all come from different experiences. It’s humbling to know that there is so much we can learn from each other.”

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