MilliporeSigma Employee Spotlight: Jane Murray
As part of our employee spotlight series, we’re sitting down with Jane Murray, global head of green chemistry at MilliporeSigma, to learn more about the work she’s doing to move the needle. The life science business of Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany operates as MilliporeSigma in the U.S. and Canada.
1. How did you get your start with MilliporeSigma?
I joined MilliporeSigma 11 years ago. I used the company’s products in my day-to-day work while studying for my doctorate, and always admired how the company was viewed as a trusted member of the chemical community.
2. Tell us about your background (where you grew up, went to school, your family, etc.).
I grew up with three siblings near Loch Lomond National Park in Scotland. Our house was on a nature trail, so we spent most of our childhood exploring outdoors.
My favorite teacher in high school was my chemistry teacher, Dr. Gorton. He made the subject fun and accessible for everyone, even those not naturally interested in science. Teaching was definitely a vocation for him, and I was very lucky to have been in his class.
3. Explain your role at MilliporeSigma.
I support chemists, both internally and externally, in their work to create products that improve quality of life while lowering environmental impacts. This is achieved by a variety of activities — from the increasing range of MilliporeSigma’s greener alternatives to our partnership with academic institutions for green chemistry education programs.
4. Were you always interested in green chemistry?
Yes! During my undergraduate program, I was honestly disappointed by how little consideration was given to the safety and sustainability of the chemicals used. That drove me to choose a green chemistry doctorate program. I’m very fortunate to work in my current role and witness the continued growth and application of the subject.
5. What led to the launch of the Cyrene™ solvent?
There was a gap in the market for greener alternatives to conventional solvents that are frequently used yet subject to increasing regulatory restrictions due to their associated toxicity.
6. How do you envision the future of green chemistry, and how does MilliporeSigma fit into this vision?
I hope that by increasing the number of environmentally benign technologies available, all chemistry in the future will be “green” — eliminating the need for “green chemistry” vs. “traditional chemistry.”
MilliporeSigma has a leading green chemistry portfolio and is involved in key educational programs. As the market leader in research chemicals, we’re in a very important strategic position to make a difference.
7. What is one thing that few people know about you?
When I was a student, I worked as an extra in television, mainly for commercials. It was great fun, and I enjoyed meeting a variety of people from different backgrounds.
8. What is most rewarding about your job; what makes it all worthwhile?
It’s exciting to be involved in bringing an extensive range of new innovations to the wider market. My personal highlights include identifying key technologies, such as MilliporeSigma’s Synthia™ tool and Cyrene™ solvent, and bringing them to our organization. I enjoy sharing these innovations with the scientific community and witnessing their application in the real world.
9. What is a challenge you face in your role?
Conventional products and processes are often well-established, so there can be a hesitancy to move away from using them. Fortunately, the standard of new greener innovations that we are involved in makes this process easier. In addition to supplying new products, we give chemists the data and on-going support they need to effectively carry out their work.
10. What do you like to do outside of the office (or lab)?
I’m happiest outdoors. I enjoy cycling, hill walking and exploring the countryside.
11. If you could have dinner with one famous person, living or dead, who would it be and why?
I’d love to have dinner with Robert Burns — Scotland’s national poet. I celebrate his birthday every year by eating his favorite meal of haggis — a Scottish dish consisting of a sheep’s or calf’s offal mixed with suet, oatmeal and seasoning — so that would definitely be on the menu. He famously wrote the poem “To a Mouse” after he accidently overturned the nest of a field mouse when ploughing a field. The poem discusses man’s relationship with nature — very timely given the current issues facing our planet.