I grew up outside Detroit. My parents were math and science teachers, so I suppose that explains why my three brothers and I all ended up in science and engineering careers. After studying chemical engineering at Michigan State University, I assumed I’d get a job in the auto industry—but first, I joined the Peace Corps. I spent two years in Guinea and Burkina Faso, West Africa as a volunteer math and science teacher. I quickly found myself in front of a crowded classroom of over a hundred seventh graders eager to learn math with only paper, pencils, and a chalkboard. It was an eye-opening, empowering-yet-humbling experience, and the culture’s resourcefulness, resilience and sense of community left a lasting imprint on me.
When I returned to the States, I moved to Boston for grad school. I studied chemical engineering at MIT and did research focused on synthesizing novel drug delivery materials. It was through one of my research advisors, Bob Langer, that I got to know the founders of Lyndra. I learned about the drug delivery technology they were working on to aid malaria eradication efforts in sub Saharan Africa. The global health impact of the project caught my interest, and I recognized the potential of the technology to help patients in a variety of settings. As I got to know the new company’s leaders and their vision, I could see that they would create a team and a culture that would make me proud, so I joined Lyndra when I completed my PhD. I was the first scientist hired.
Lyndra’s culture really encourages openness in offering ideas and voicing opinions. I feel like my thoughts and concerns are valued, whether I’m speaking to whoever happens to be at the lunch table or directly to the CEO. This creates an environment where individuals can contribute far more than their titles may suggest. As a scientist it is exciting to brainstorm concepts with really smart people, and as a person it is validating to see that your opinions are heard.
Our team members come from all over the country and all over the world, and they bring fascinating stories and diverse perspectives. I’m amazed by everyone who has moved here from abroad and who has navigated the US immigration system to bring their talent to us.
And the team is more tightly knit than other teams I’ve worked on. People of varied backgrounds are united by common goals, and we work very closely. In other teams I could be anonymous, but people here know me well and show that they care about my life. When my wife and I got married this summer, the team surprised me with gifts and cake.