Alumni Alumni in the News

April 29, 2017 at 8:22 pm

Alum Lynn Soby Heads Up ‘The United Nations of Chemistry’

Lynn Soby, posing outside

Lynn Soby

Ohio University alum Lynn Soby is the Executive Director of the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry (IUPAC), an organization frequently referred to as “the United Nations of Chemistry.”

A recent article titled “Career Ladder: Lynn Soby Passion for addressing global problems led her to the helm of IUPAC, the “United Nations of chemistry” in Chemical and Engineering News profiles Soby’s remarkable career and notes her graduate work at OHIO.

“It’s global, which I have a passion for and experience with,” she says of her IUPAC position. “Also, it’s entrepreneurial. There’s a small staff, and you have to wear many hats as the executive director—operations, infrastructure development, project management, and financial management.”

1980: Making a name for herself

Before starting a master’s program at Ohio University, Soby spent the summer doing protein-sequencing work in Peter Johnson’s lab there. That work led to the “Soby-Johnson” reagent, [bis(trifluoroacetoxy)iodo]benzene, which became commonly used to identify asparagine and glutamine residues. Soby’s master’s thesis focused on identifying changes in cellular phospholipids in animal models of Duchenne muscular dystrophy. She earned a Ph.D. in macromolecular science and engineering at Case Western Reserve University, where she studied the viscoelastic properties of glycoproteins, such as those found in the mucus of people with cystic fibrosis.

1990: Industry leader

Soby then became the first woman with a Ph.D. in BFGoodrich’s corporate research laboratories. She enjoyed the challenges of applied research, such as using scanning electron microscopy to study structure-property relationships in injection-molded parts. “I was like a kid in a candy store,” Soby says, adding that she loved the complexity of the research problems. Goodrich supported Soby in pursuing an MBA, and she eventually took charge of an R&D group for a rheological modifier used in hand-sanitizing gels, pharmaceuticals, and other products.

2008: Continuing to innovate

After a decade at Goodrich, Soby saw the company culture change to emphasize aerospace and nearly eliminate basic research. She joined Avon to lead an R&D group there, then consulted for several years. Eventually, she landed at RTI International, where she created an innovation and commercialization group. “I began to really get into the process of commercializing technology, innovation, and entrepreneurship,” she says.

Read more in Chemical and Engineering News.



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