Emily Moore graduated from Queen’s University’s engineering chemistry program, then won a Rhodes Scholarship and subsequently completed her doctorate in physical chemistry at the University of Oxford. She worked for Xerox Canada and is currently managing director, Innovation at the engineering consulting firm Hatch. She served as president of the Canadian Society for Chemical Engineering from 2011-2012 and in 2016 received the CIC SCI Canada Kalev Pugi Award in recognition of her outstanding accomplishments in research and development. That same year she was also named by Women in Mining (UK) as one of the Top 100 Inspirational Women in Mining.
I was one of those kids who was always making ‘potions”. We used to go up to the cottage and I would grab stuff out of the garden and mix it in water. My mother was also an early childhood educator, so she made sure we had lots of exposure to science through things like regular trips to the Ontario Science Centre.
Why engineering chemistry?
I went to Queen’s for the engineering chemistry program and more specifically because I was interested in polymers. You don’t do a lot of actual chemistry in chemical engineering, which is more about the mathematics of dealing with thermodynamics and fluids. Engineering chemistry has much less of an emphasis on plant design and much more of an emphasis on reaction design. So with polymers I was engineering the molecule within the reactor as opposed to building a plant around a black box reaction.
How did this academic interest lead you into working life?
My doctorate is in physical chemistry and gas phase reaction kinetics, which I enjoyed, but I always wanted to know the application for the research I was doing. When I had the opportunity to join Xerox Research Centre of Canada in Mississauga, Ontario, one of Canada’s major polymer research centres, it enabled me to get into these real world applications. I started there in 1997, just as they were scaling up production of an emulsion aggregation toner, which was invented by Xerox. This product uses a kind of nanotechnology approach, where you make latex and aggregate it with additives for nicely shaped particles. It was a wet chemical process that was a big change from the previous method, which combined pigments with polymers then extruded and ground it up. Emulsion aggregation needs less energy and gives you more control over the structure. I came at a great time: they’d worked out how to do it at the lab scale but were struggling with reproducibility in scale-up. I got to come in and model the kinetics of latex polymerization.
Did you find a similar challenge when you moved to Hatch?
Hatch is a professional services firm with a very different model of innovation, much more about innovating with your clients on projects and getting them to take on new technologies. Whether we’re developing technologies, or we’re working with new vendors or developers, we’ve always been involved in the process technology side. When I took over the water team, one of the ways that I thought Hatch could add value was in applying our industrial water expertise, where we had strong process and operational knowledge and combining that with our water management expertise to take a much more integrated approach. In a new project, water is often treated as an afterthought, something we’ll fix later. But when our clients took that approach, a lot of them would get hit with some pretty big bills in treating the discharge. Some of them were even having their operations shut down by water issues. So we worked with them to manage water more effectively, reducing contamination in the first place and thus the quantity of water that needs to be treated. We were able to demonstrate the value of doing things differently, taking a holistic approach across the whole plant or mine site.
How did you become involved with CSChE?
All the way back to high school and university I looked at service as a big thing and got involved in student politics because of a strong feeling that you need to participate to build up your community. Later I found that attending CSChE conferences was a really great way to connect with the chemical engineering community. I found out what was happening in research across Canada and my interest led me all the way to the presidency. Then I got to visit more universities and meet more people and since it was not political, I enjoyed it much more than student government! This was really just a pleasure.