When not sparking new innovations in polymer science, Curtis-Fisk is seeking to spark interest among children in chemistry.
Even if her children decide against pursuing science as a career, Jaime Curtis-Fisk, Ph.D., will know they’ve had more than ample exposure to the field. That’s because both Curtis-Fisk and her husband are career scientists for Dow—and successful ones at that.
But she knows that her kids’ situation is an anomaly. Far too many children in the United States don’t know what being a chemist really means, and as a result they don’t even consider chemistry as a career path, Fisk says.
“For a lot of students, science is not a career they assume that they can do and enjoy,” Curtis-Fisk says. “When they get excited about their experiment and you see that look in their eye, that’s the part that I love.”
The technical portion of Curtis-Fisk’s job focuses on application development for the use of hydrogels in delivering active ingredients for a range of applications, including pharmaceuticals and personal care. But she’s just as inspired conducting cutting edge research as she is in sparking excitement in the next generation of scientists.
Letting her passion be the guide, she’s developed a unique role at Dow that’s split between formulation development R&D and STEM education. When not devoted to polymer science, Curtis-Fisk is enhancing resources for science and math teachers by partnering with local and national organizations for professional development opportunities. Her goal is to make an impact in the classroom by supporting teachers in delivering content, exciting students about the real world applications of science, and introducing STEM careers.
She said that she discovered a love of teaching while serving as a professor in graduate school, and even earned a certification in college math and science education—experience that allows her to effectively “talk the talk” with other teachers.
“STEM wasn’t always part of my job,” Curtis-Fisk says. “My leaders and mentors knew that it was something I was interested in and they made this opportunity for me.”
Curtis-Fisk is among 10 scientists nationally to be recognized in 2015 by the American Chemical Society with a Women Chemists Committee (WCC) Rising Star Award. The award recognizes outstanding women scientists approaching mid-level careers who have demonstrated outstanding contributions to their respective fields. (Read more about the recognition.)
“I would not have been completely fulfilled doing lab work and technology work,” she says. “I’ve learned that there’s always a way to follow your passion, even if it doesn’t seem at first like it’s something that fits with the rest of your career.”
American Chemical Society and Women Chemists Committee
Jee, A.; Curtis-Fisk, J.; Granick, S. “Nanoparticle Diffusion in Methylcellulose Thermreversible Association Polymer.” Macromolecules. 2014, 47, 5793-5797.
Curtis-Fisk, J.; Sheskey, P.; Balwinski, K.; Coppens, K.; Mohler, C.; Zhao, J. “Effect of Formulation Conditions on Hypromellose Performance Properties in Films Used for Capsules and Tablet Coatings.” AAPS PharmSciTech. 2012, 13, 1170-1178.
Zhao, J.; Mohler, C.; Curtis-Fisk, J.; Coppens, K.; “Characterizing the Disintegration Rate of Hypromellose Films and Capsules.” Pharmaceutical Technology. 2012, 36, 65-72.
“High Throughput Solvent Screening for Ethylcellulose Barrier Membranes in Applications” Poster presentation at the 2013 American Association of Pharmaceutical Scientists national meeting
“Designing Formulations for Nasal Drug Delivery: Polymer and Active Structure Interactions Impacting Performance” Poster presentation at the 2013 American Association of Pharmaceutical Scientists national meeting
“Understanding Polymer and Solution Attributes Necessary to Achieve Optimal Nasal Deposition” Poster presentation at the 2012 American Association of Pharmaceutical Scientists national meeting
“The Effect of Active Pharmaceutical Ingredients and Plasticizers on the Cloud Point of Hypromellose Formulations” Poster presentation at the 2012 American Association of Pharmaceutical Scientists national meeting
“Effect of Solution Preparation Conditions on Hypromellose Film Properties” Poster presentation at the 2011 American Association of Pharmaceutical Scientists national meeting