Global Leader of Discovery Research Dow AgroScienc
Bill Kleschick’s taste for discovery and adventure started early in life. “As a kid, I didn’t want to watch TV or cartoons,” Bill said. “I just always wanted to be outside, and I loved playing sports, so I was always getting pick-up games going, whether it was baseball or football.” Bill became interested in science during high school, but he began his undergraduate studies at North Carolina State University as a computer science major. After comparing his computer science classes with chemistry, he quickly figured out that his interests were more aligned with the laboratory than a computer screen. “Once I had the opportunity to work in the lab, I was hooked.” Bill went on to graduate school and earned his Ph.D. in organic chemistry at the University of California at Berkeley. That’s also where he picked up his considerable knowledge and appreciation for wine. “During grad school, I lived only about 90 minutes from Napa Valley, so it wasn’t uncommon for a group of us to take off on a Friday and go explore the wineries there. The wine industry was just getting going at that time, so oftentimes we could talk with winemakers in tasting rooms and I learned a lot about the industry.” That natural curiosity has served Bill well during his 35-year career at Dow and Dow AgroSciences. However, just like fine wines, Bill knows that some of the best discoveries take many years to develop. “One of the projects I’m most proud of is developing the new sulfonamide family of herbicides,” he said. “I was responsible for starting the project and catalyzing the molecules that led to seven novel active ingredients for controlling broadleaf weeds in various crops. From inception to commercialization, the project lasted 17 years. Throughout those years, there were definitely some very frustrating times. But I’ve been pretty good at dusting myself off and looking ahead to the future.” Bill’s optimism and patience have been important in a career that has been a hybrid of research and management. He credits one of his early supervisors, Len Smith, for helping him learn about agriculture, the dynamics of the marketplace and the unique nature of discovery. “Len taught me that in the discovery environment, there is a balance between ‘looseness and tightness’ to stimulate innovation. Looseness is about risk taking – you have to think creatively to find solutions that are beyond the incremental. But that must be balanced with tightness or process discipline to make solutions viable and valuable,” he said.
Chemical process engineering chemical safety and management reservoir engineering Chemical Engineering