Randall Watson
Proctor & Gamble Co.,
Research & Development Section Head

Chemistry B.S., Summa Cum Laude, 1986
Ph.D. Inorganic Chemistry, University of Illinois at Champaign/Urbana, 1991

My career in chemistry effectively began while I was still at Indiana State. I spent summers in a number of different settings, practicing and furthering what I had learned. I spent a summer in the Quality Control lab at Eli Lilly in Clinton, IN; a summer (and most semesters thereafter) doing research with Dr. Kjonaas at ISU; a summer doing research at the University of Iowa; and I had numerous "odd" jobs as lab assistant, chemistry tutor, and even making kits for detecting illegal racing fuel additives at a local racing fuel company. I spent the summer before graduate school at Argonne National Lab near Chicago. Almost all of these experiences came via recommendations and suggestions from my professors at ISU.

I took a job as a Research Scientist at Procter & Gamble immediately after completing my PhD in Inorganic Chemistry, and thus began a career in industrial chemistry that has proven more amazing than my wildest dreams. My first several years were spent working on laundry products for developing (a.k.a. third-world) countries where many women are still washing clothes in buckets and streams with unclean water. The chemistry was challenging and diverse and my eyes were opened wide by travels to many developing nations. (At last count I have been to over 20 countries on 4 continents.) My research led to multiple US and international patents in areas as diverse as water-soluble polymers, new surfactants, oxidizing bleaches, new enzymes, and overall formulation.

A couple of promotions later and I found myself leading a research team of over 20 scientists working on liquid laundry formulations such as Liquid Tide, Cheer, and Gain. Again, the complexity of the chemistry and the global nature of the job proved stimulating and rewarding. The work also carried me to Brussels, Belgium where I worked for over 2 years and then on to Beijing, China where I lived for over 4 years. In China I led a research team on a number of diverse projects, including discovery and engineering of new enzymes, development of new nano-particle technology, and new water-soluble polymers. I also led numerous joint research projects between P&G and various Chinese universities and the Chinese Academy of Sciences.

The excitement of a career in chemistry is that it always brings something new. I could not tell you today exactly what I'll be doing in 3 or 6 months. It depends on where the research leads, what the business needs are, and any number of other factors. It's a career of continual learning, new surprises every day, and it offers a chance to really make a difference. The personal education I received at ISU laid a great foundation for everything that has followed.