STEM JOBS

EARLY FALL 2017

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22 EARLY FALL 2017 // STEMJOBS.COM When you think of chemistry, you probably think of test tubes, Bunsen burners, and beakers—not coatings, biomimetics, and eggplants. Yet that's exactly what Silvia Bezer deals with every day in her role as a research chemist at PPG. As she explains, "I work on developing new coatings with interesting performance for PPG and it requires that I solve puzzles. To me, the desired coating is the picture of the puzzle that I have to assemble; then I am thinking of all the components with the right properties that should go into the formulation of the coating just as I would think of the pieces of the puzzle that will go in the right order to complete it. To be able to develop new coatings, I need to be familiar with new advances in the coating domain, read scientific literature, and discuss and share my findings with my colleagues." The coatings industry is always changing and evolving, and Silvia says the green movement has played a huge part in determining the products and features that are in demand. Businesses are interested in reducing toxins in their products to be more eco-friendly while reducing the cost of the energy and materials they use. This shift in demand has changed the types of coatings chemists like Silvia are expected to develop. "In my opinion the future belongs to biomimetics, which is the discipline that is defined by human-made systems that imitate nature. Nature already found the solution to fundamental problems, and chemists are trying to inspire their work from natural systems to develop new products. For example, a new PPG coatings technology is helping commercial aircraft behave more like an eggplant to keep aircraft cooler. In addition to being a big energy saver for airlines that need to run air-conditioning systems to keep their passengers comfortable when the plane is on the ground at the gate, the technology gives airlines greater freedom in choosing darker aircraft livery colors (livery is the decoration on the outside of the plane). This example also shows that the future belongs to a cross-over into other areas besides the traditional chemistry paths by merging with other disciplines like engineering, medicine, and business," says Silvia. Who would have thought something as random as an eggplant could influence the types of chemicals airlines put on the outside of their aircraft? This is the true world of CHEMISTRY // SILVIA BEZER THE CURIOUS CHEMIST BY ELLEN EGLEY Chemist Turns Curiosity into an Incredible Career

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