Stephanie Brownstein recently came to ISTC as a research engineer working on carbon capture and utilization projects. Prior to joining our staff, she worked as an environmental engineer in the food manufacturing industry.
What is your degree in and where did you graduate from?
B.S. Chemical Engineering – Cornell University, Ithaca, NY (2009)
M. Eng. Chemical Engineering – Cornell University, Ithaca, NY (2010)
How old were you when you first became interested in science? What sparked your interest?
I can’t call out a specific age, but as a little kid I always loved building with K’Nex and trying to understand how thing worked. I fondly remember making multiple trips to COSI science museum in Columbus, Ohio, and the Museum of Science in Boston.
Who or what drew you to your field of study?
My high school chemistry teacher Dr. Shaun Heale really pushed my interest in chemistry, and in college Professor Al Center was a wealth of knowledge about chemical engineering in industry. I had an internship in the oil drilling business and at that point made the decision I wanted to use my degree to improve the environment (sustainability, renewable energy, etc.) rather than perpetuate the energy status quo. Chemical engineering can apply to so many different industries, so it was a great springboard into environmental engineering.
What is your background before coming to work at ISTC?
I held multiple positions in the food manufacturing industry including Continuous Improvement Engineer, Environmental Engineer, and EH&S Manager.
What are you looking forward to the most in your new role at ISTC?
Working on projects that will support new technologies and policies to improve the environment, versus just enforcing existing regulations.
What are common misconceptions about your career?
That if you come from industry you don’t care about the environment, or that if you are a scientist you don’t care about business. It’s possible to have a balance.
What are some challenges you’ve faced in your career?
Being able to implement environmental sustainability projects in the face of low utility prices. Influencing people was also challenging in a different way – it’s never simple trying to get 900 people in a facility to care about waste reduction.
What do you wish more people understood about science or being a scientist?
Contrary to popular belief, science is sexy! (I really don’t have a good answer for this one)
What advice would you give to future scientists?
Get exposure to as many experiences and fields of study as you can. Sometimes figuring out what you don’t want to do can help drive you towards your passion.
Any random facts you could share with us?
I am a CrossFit coach and love spending time outdoors.