Portrait of Courtney Anderson: Her Grandmother’s inspiration to work in science
Courtney Anderson, a senior scientist at our Bristol site in Pennsylvania, lights up when speaking about her role model growing up — her grandma. Courtney always loved science and idolized her grandmother, who was the first female scientist to teach at a local high school in Pennsylvania back in the 50’s. Seeing her grandmother break barriers motivated her to pursue a career in science. “If she could do it, so can I,” Courtney exclaimed. The flame really ignited in high school when Courtney excelled in chemistry. We asked Courtney to respond to a series of questions…
How long have you been with Solvay and at what site?
“I have been with Solvay for eight years at the Bristol site. I am Senior Scientist I in the Analytical Group for the Novecare business and I work on mass spectrometry and all types of chromatography (liquid, gas and gel permeation), testing samples to determine what and how many impurities are in them to make sure we are making safe products. I spend most of my time in the lab preparing samples and setting up instruments and the rest of my time in the office analyzing data and writing reports.”
What are some of the obstacles the team runs into in the lab and what do you need to do to overcome these obstacles?
“The labs receive some customer complaints where we need to develop or reproduce a method very rapidly, usually because there was a significant amount of cost to Solvay on the line. We are able to make it happen not only in the timeframe needed but at a cost savings as well.”
Why do you like working for Solvay?
“Solvay provides a lot of career growth opportunity. I feel as if they are truly listening and want to develop the career path that works for you. The overall compensation package is great and I met my husband at Solvay.”
Gene Anderson was the first person Courtney met at Solvay when she started eight years ago. In fact, on her first day, he did her safety training. They’ve been friends ever since. Courtney describes Gene: “A super friendly, smart, funny, and gentle guy with an easy going personality to counter my high energy and type ‘A’ one. We were both in long term relationships that did not work out for different reasons. In looking back, we were the rock for each other through the difficult times. Our friendship developed and grew into deeper and genuine love. Since then, we’ve spent the last five years traveling the world, enjoying different foods, cultures and sights (we especially love France). We had our engagement overlooking the snow-capped Alps and a crystal teal lake in Annecy, France and our wedding on the bay in Long Beach Island this past October.”
What’s a little-known fact about you and what is something you wished you had spent more time on in school?
“Two things I would change if I did it all over again: I am a huge Yankees fan- I met Derek Jeter when I was 12 years old. I asked him if I could kiss him and he said that his mom was in the stands and she wouldn’t be happy with him if he did that. I died a little bit inside and wish I had kissed him. The second thing is I wish I had spent more time studying organic chemistry. I use it frequently with my current role in mass spectrometry and it would help a lot for structural analysis if I was better at “drawing structures” and “predicting reaction products.”
Courtney concludes, “Spreading the word and raising awareness about the fact that, hey, women do science too (and they’re actually pretty good at it!).” She also stresses, “Our industry needs advocates for women in science and more work needs to do be done to encourage, empower and highlight women in STEM. As for me, I couldn’t have asked for a better role model. Grandma, thank you for making me the woman I am today!”