Chelsea Newton is Assistant Lab Manager at Purafil, Inc.. Purafil engineers and manufactures gas-phase air filtration media, modules, equipment and air monitoring instrumentation. Their focus is to create the world’s best air purification products to make your life and business better.
Ms. Newton’s Story:
What is my innovation story? When I first looked at this statement I had no idea how to answer this. I do not have a PhD, I do not have patents with my name on them, but I do love solving problems and implementing new processes to help daily activities run smoothly. When I first got to my company it was nice, we were small and everybody had their own way of doing things. In 2018 I decided that had to change. I had to realize the lab is my space and I can choose how to run it. It was time for us to up our game, this lead me to single handily having our lab ISO 17025:2017 accredited. Some people my not see this as a big accomplishment or innovative but it’s something I am definitely proud of. Implementing new work procedures and training sessions for our department was the best thing that could have happened. We are more aware or our surroundings and our work. Once that was accomplished, I moved into R&D work with my other colleagues. We found ways to increase gas capacity on our medias, I would spear head 3rd party testing when it came to creating our line of media used for Grow Houses, and I would also be innovating outside of the lab. There were other departments that would need help and simple tasks like having logistics sign out lab orders before removing them from the lab has helped in more ways than one. My innovation story is not about a specific product that I developed but more so on how I can help the company as a whole be more effect and efficient. I communicate with everyone in every department and see what it is that is hindering them from completing certain tasks, especially when it comes to the lab. I want to make processes for other departments run smoothly when they need the lab. This is my story, this is how I help innovate throughout my company.
Describe the most significant influence that led you to your line of work
Growing up I always loved Science and Math but it wasn’t until high school when I knew for sure my focus would be Chemistry. I transferred schools, due to unforeseen circumstances, my 11th grade year in High School and they placed me in Honors Chemistry because I was moving too fast for the regular chemistry class. My teacher’s name was Mrs. Heusel and she made chemistry so fun and exciting. She was tough but willing to help only if you helped yourself. I loved her class so much that I took AP Chemistry and then went on to further my education in Chemistry. She was the reason I chose Chemistry.
All throughout my colligate and graduate career, people always asked “Being that you’re in chemistry do you want to work in the medical field?” My answer was always “No”. I have so much respect for those individuals in the medical field but I love working in Air Quality. Many of my family members have respiratory issues and knowing that there’s a product that my company manufactures that can help my family, makes me smile and proud to be in the field I’m in. My family is the reason I chose Air Quality.
What do your family, friends and colleagues say about your accomplishments?
My family doesn’t understand my accomplishments but they are happy and proud of me. I broke generational curses in my family and I hope to continue to break them. My family just wants to see me succeed and if I’m happy with my accomplishments and career goals so are they.
My friends understand me. My closet friends studied chemistry just like me, and even though we are all in different areas of science they are still my biggest fans.
My colleagues must think I’m pretty great because they are the ones that nominated me for this amazing award. They are my second family. We joke and disagree but at the end of the day we praise one another for all we have accomplished. They tell me that my accomplishments are mine but I mostly feel that they are ours because of how helpful everyone is.
Tell us about something that made you grow the most as a leader:
Growing as a leader is an everyday thing and everyday I learn something new about being a “leader”. If I had to pick a specific moment in time that made me grow the most as a leader I would have to say it was in March 2020 when the United States shut down because of Covid-19. We’ve had people in our department that wasn’t sure what was going to happen or if their position was even “safe”. I stepped up more than I ever have in my life. I wanted people in my department to know that I am here for them. I did more than just my normal day to day. I learned new skills so that I could help when help was needed else where throughout the company. I feel as though a leader is only a strong as his/her weakest link, I know that sounds cliché but it’s true and I did not want anybody on the team falling short because I couldn’t help or tech them properly.
Share your ideas for mentoring the professional development of young entrepreneurs:
I have three rules that I live by:
2. Know what you want
3. Allow for criticism
Praying isn’t for everyone and I understand that, but even taking a moment to mediate can help one ease through the day to day activities going on around them. Taking time to breathe and focus a few moments throughout the day can help that person make decisions on situations they thought were impossible.
Knowing what one wants is a great quality to have. In my experience if you know exactly what you want, you will not lose focus on trying to achieve your goal.
Lastly, criticism is the key to growing as a person. Do not take criticism as a negative against you but more of a positive learning experience. I’ve learned that most people who give you criticism are trying to help you become a better you. They see your potential and want you to succeed.
Being a young entrepreneur is hard, you’ll feel like everyone is against you at one point, but never give up. I promise the reward in the end makes it all worth it.
To date, what project is your greatest success? What is the story behind that innovation?
To date, the project that I am most proud of would be a project I worked on in 2014 for detecting Ricin in Milk and Orange Juice. One of my favorite chemistry professors picked me to help her work on a specific project for Homeland Security. We would work to try and find a suitable procedure for detecting small amounts of Ricin in milk and in orange juice. We were able to reach detection limits below LD50 which is that of a typical adult person using Raman Spectroscopy. This project made me proud because we were able to come up with detection limits that could possible save someone’s life.