Green Field Solution’s Q&A series, Interview With A Scientist, is embracing the theme, #ChooseToChallenge in coordination with this year’s International Women’s Day on March 8, 2021. Today — and everyday — we seek out and celebrate the achievements and diversity of our team of scientists, who continually challenge themselves to improve animal nutrition sciences. We asked our very own Katie Barry, Ph.D., to share what she does, who inspired her, and what #ChooseToChallenge means.
What is your job?
I am a product development scientist, and my job is to turn human food co-products into consistent, high quality pet food and animal feed ingredients. I specialize in pet food ingredients since my background is in pet nutrition.
How do you challenge yourself?
I enjoy learning about new topics, which challenges me to get out of my comfort zone and increase my scientific knowledge, ultimately enabling me to apply new science-based approaches to product development. I love the challenge of new ingredients—there are so many options—and I have to find the one (or ones) that work in our production environments and that our customers want to use in their foods. I also challenge myself to ask “Why?” This can be a very important question in business (and personal) decisions, whether it’s choosing between vendors or making sure the team of experts assembled is the right group for the task.
Why did you want to get into the sciences?
I have always wanted to help animals. At first, I thought it was as a veterinarian, but I learned as an undergraduate that there were many other options to help animals other than as a vet. I earned a Ph.D. in pet nutrition so I could help more dogs and cats stay healthy by eating healthy, nutritious foods.
Who encouraged you to pursue a career in science?
I’ve had many strong women (scientists and otherwise) encourage me along my career path. My mom always supported my dreams of becoming a veterinarian even as a young child, and never doubted me when I changed paths to being a pet nutritionist. My aunt Sue, a nurse and Air Force veteran, encouraged me to follow my dreams. The veterinarian I worked for in high school, Dr. Aileen, taught me so much about animal care. The post-doctoral researchers I worked with as an undergraduate, Drs. Beth and Chris, set me on the path I’ve followed by stoking my interest in pet nutrition science. They offered me a chance to not just help with nutrition research, but actually run a project at our university that would be used in a global project to improve pet nutrition. Each of these women—and these are just a few of them!—inspired and encouraged me to take the next step in becoming the scientist I am today.
What does #ChooseToChallenge Mean to You?
The world of pet food and animal feed is incredibly diverse in terms of people—I really love this. It has changed from almost exclusively men in all roles to women and men from all over the world working together to improve the health and well-being of animals. At Green Field Solutions, I was the first woman scientist hired into the product development team. It’s been incredible to see our technical team grow to include four men and two women from diverse backgrounds. We need to continue to challenge each other to find the right people to support our growth. I will continue to support diversity and inclusiveness in my field, my company, and my world.
“Women belong in all places where decisions are being made. It shouldn’t be that women are the exception.” — Ruth Bader Ginsburg