3M drives innovation through an extraordinary pool of talented researchers, technicians, scientists and engineers around the world. With the unique opportunity to encourage our youth to explore the wonders of science, the following 3M scientists are vey excited to participate as hosts of the Discovery Education 3M Young Scientist Challenge:
Dr. Olester Benson is currently a staff scientist and technical group leader in the 3M Corporate Research Process Laboratory. Since joining 3M in 1988, Benson has spent the majority of his career leading research efforts to develop environmentally friendly manufacturing process technologies using high-energy radiation. He has applied these technologies in the medical, safety, traffic control, energy, aerospace, home improvement, semiconductor processing, and electronic display industries. Benson has received over 40 issued patents for his work.
Benson also serves as a volunteer and mentor in the 3M Science Training Encouragement Program (STEP), which recruits, supports, and trains promising high school students from underrepresented groups.
Alex C. Cirillo, Jr. currently serves as Vice President of Community Affairs, as well as Vice President of the 3M Foundation, which devotes half of its resources to education. The 3M Foundation also invests in teacher development and other programs that connect learning to every day life, college access and support for student retention at all levels.
Cirillo started at 3M in 1983 as a senior physicist working in small particle technology and later moved on to lead 3Mâ€™s first laboratory in filtration products. Since then, Cirillo has held many roles within 3M, which have taken him from the Commercial Graphics Division all the way to the President and General Manager of 3M Canada. Cirilloâ€™s professional responsibilities at 3M are complemented by extensive mentoring experience both inside and outside the company, which he has done for several years.
Eric Jackson, a chemical engineer in the 3M Home Care Division, started working at 3M in 1995 as a project engineer. He became a process engineer shortly after, working with polymers, specialty chemicals, and ceramics. During Jacksonâ€™s tenure he has worked on a wide variety of 3M products, including medical and dental devices, abrasives, tinted auto window films, adhesives, liquid filtration, and most recently, the Scotchgardâ„˘ and Scotch-BriteÂ® brands.
Jackson came to 3M with what most would call an unusual background. After receiving a B.A. in music, Jackson spent twenty years working for a number of record and production companies.
Dr. Sarah Mullins, a Research Specialist in the Abrasive Systems Division at 3M, works on material development for one of its proprietary platforms for high performance abrasives. With a PhD in Chemistry from the University of California at Berkley, Mullins joined 3Mâ€™s Corporate Research Laboratory in 2001 and initially focused on adhesives.
In her seven years at 3M, Mullins has been a dedicated volunteer to both 3M and the community. Having volunteered her time with several community organizations and served as chair of the Technical Teams Encouraging Career Horizons (TECH) program, Mullins was awarded the 3M Community Volunteer award in 2003.
Dr. Thomas Wood, a 3M Corporate Scientist, joined 3M in 1980 and played a valuable role in creating the foundation for nanotechnology development at the company. Since then, Woodâ€™s research has focused on inorganic and ceramic materials, which has led to a wide range of inventions that have improved highway safety, power conduction, and environmental conservation. To date, his inventions have resulted in 35 granted patents, with seven still pending.
Wood has also been the recipient of multiple 3M awards and grants, and is a member of the Carlton Society, which honors outstanding technical employees at 3M. Wood has frequently contributed as an editor and chairperson for professional societies, and also gives invited lectures at different universities and professional meetings. In addition, he occasionally teaches a module at Dakota County Technical College in Rosemount, Minnesota.
Caroline Ylitalo is the lead research specialist for the Safety, Security and Protection Services Business Lab at 3M. Throughout her career, Ylitalo has focused on developing new technologies that can be used across many 3M businesses and has over 30 issued patents. Examples include a line of inks and films for digitally printed commercial graphics and traffic signs, antimicrobial wound care dressings and odor resistant insulation.
Since joining 3M in 1992, Caroline has always been an active participant and volunteer in various science encouragement organizations including participation in the 3M Visiting Wizards program, judging at local and state science fairs and coaching Destination Imagination teams.