Photo by: Heather J. McClelland
As a Principal Scientist and Senior Manager of Scientific Communications in Beauty Care at Procter & Gamble, Rolanda has been a part of scientific work that has helped improve the formulations for numerous popular hair care products.
Born and raised in Baker, Louisiana, she would do hair and experiment with makeup on her dolls and friends. Her hobby, combined with an early interest in science, evolved into a career as she studied chemistry at Southern University and earned a PhD in Organic Chemistry from LSU.
The daughter of a science teacher and a chemical plant manager, Rolanda was exposed to STEM concepts at an early age, and believes young women should have the same opportunities to explore science. Now residing in the Cincinnati area, she regularly gives talks around the nation to expose young girls to STEM opportunities while encouraging them to achieve their personal best and break out beyond the limits placed on them by society.
We recently chatted with Rolanda to discuss her work and life. Read some highlights of the conversation below.
What role did your parents play in your career path?
My mom is a retired science teacher and my dad is a retired chemical plant manager. Starting at a young age, they encouraged my interest in science by exposing me to STEM opportunities. I was in an educational or science-related program every summer when I was a younger. We also went on family vacations and were exposed to science-related activities. Influence from my parents, coupled with my passion for beauty-related activities, has brought me to where I am today.
What inspires you to give talks around the country to inspire girls?
Many young girls are not aware of the opportunities available to them in STEM. As a scientist, I believe it is a part of my purpose to help expose young girls to who and what they can become, what they can achieve, and not allow society to place them in a box. The talks I give focus on exposure to STEM but also encourages them achieve their personal best.
What fascinates you most about the science of beauty?
From my perspective, beauty is not just about how something looks, it is the primarily characteristics of a thing or person that produces good feelings. The science of beauty allows us to protect, nurture and enhance those characteristics that women personally care about, helping them to continue to feel good, healthy, confident and beautiful.
If you weren’t looking at the science of beauty, what would you be doing?
Teaching and encouraging young girls and women all over the world!
Do you maintain connections with Louisiana?
Although I am no longer physically located in Louisiana, I travel home a lot and I consider myself a Louisiana girl true and through. I have several fleur de lis around my home to remind visitors of where I was born.
What’s the one place you have to see when you return to Baton Rouge?
I enjoy going back to the labs where I did research to see the changes and advances in the research program. Oh, and Tony’s Seafood.
What do you do to relax and unplug from your work?
I unwind with Chai tea and my neck massager at home!
To learn more about Rolanda or about TEDxLSU 2019, follow TEDxLSU on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Reserve your seat now to experience Rolanda’s talk, as well as the talks of all of the other TEDxLSU 2019 speakers.