Rachel Evans - Running towards silicones improvements!

The chemistry of silicone is similar to carbon, but also unique in its own way giving rise to some special properties - meaning it’s an extremely interesting field to work in.

You might be hard pressed to catch up with Rachel Evans – when she’s not competing in marathons, she’s satisfying her hunger for travel. And if she’s feeling any pangs of emptiness after returning from yet another cultural tour, she’ll probably be found on a cookery course where she can indulge her passion for discovery through culinary delights instead.

That energy and passion for new discoveries is something that’s stayed with her since falling in love with science as a young woman, before heading off to Cardiff University to study chemistry: a route she urges those now considering STEM subjects to follow thanks to the huge diversity of careers on offer.

The thrill of the chase – whether it’s for a new personal best marathon time or innovative recipe that will satisfy the demanding taste-buds of her husband and nineteen year old son – is something she translates into her day job, where she spends her time constantly looking for ways to improve analytical systems and production processes for the Performance Silicones business.

“Silicones touch our lives in so many ways, ranging from silicone sealants supporting energy efficient construction, to tread compounds in tyres which help them roll more efficiency, saving fuel,” she said. “They’re found in beauty products and detergents, surface cleansers and polishes – and even in the humble ‘post-it’ note where the silicone adhesive will stick and then peel easily away!

“My role is to work with chemists and laboratory technicians around the world to help drive new and improved test methods and technology, ensure analytical methods are of consistently high quality, and make sure we’re consistently pushing the envelope when it comes to problem solving for customers so we can continue to support creation of game-changing silicone-based solutions.”

Getting the best from others – and yourself

Driving constant improvement is something that seems to come naturally to Rachel. Not only has she represented her country in running events, she also helps others get the best from themselves as a coach on the athletics track – as well as supporting talent development at Dow, something she’s relished during her 18 years with the company.

“I work with great people from all over the world, helping to coach and mentor our chemists and technicians to develop their talent and expertise,” she explained. “I get to apply the science - particularly analytical chemistry - that I learnt in University in a really hands-on, practical environment in the real world, and am constantly learning new things myself too.”