Last week, we celebrated the 2020 Black Engineer of the Year Award (BEYA)  winners at a glittering awards gala held in Washington D.C. The event was streamed live to thousands of people in America and around the world. No doubt about it, the evening’s performances are a hard act to follow. But over the coming weeks, we’re going to look at which science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) disciplines the BEYA-winning professionals are engaged in throughout the year.

First up is the Most Promising Scientist in Industry Award winner: Kimberly Steward joined Dow AgroSciences, now Corteva Agriscience, in 2012 after receiving her Ph.D. in Organic Chemistry from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, a public research university. She began her career at Dow and grew her knowledge of and expertise in agrochemical markets, particularly, the global cereal fungicide market. She has distinguished herself through her synthetic creativity and discovery of crop protection solutions and a strong commitment to STEM outreach.

“To be curious is to be eager to know and learn something,” Dr. Steward said in her acceptance speech. “To poke, and pry, with a purpose. I’m a scientist, so naturally, I am passionately curious. Curious is also defined as novel and unexpected. I’m a black female. I am a curious scientist.

“I’ve embraced what makes me unique and I’ve learned to take pride in never being what people expect me to be,” she continued. “I will continue pushing the boundaries of what a great scientist looks like and I will celebrate the day when my curiosity doesn’t merely make me curious to others, but makes me, me.”

Dr. Steward’s work has enabled the advancement of an exciting area of chemistry. She has also discovered a novel chemical class that is being evaluated for potential commercialization. As the Discovery Chemistry Fungicide group leader, she is responsible for leading a team of scientists responsible for delivering next-generation crop protection solutions. She also directs a chemistry effort to initiate a new fungicide project that is targeting a cereal fungicide product concept. Dr. Steward joined the organization through the Building Engineering & Science Talent (BEST) symposium offered by the Dow Chemical Company. She remains dedicated to identifying African American, Hispanic, and Native American talent and introducing these scientists to the possibilities of a career in the STEM industry.

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