• The Women of Acuron | Episode 18 | The Story of Xinyun, Katie and Cheryl

April 03, 2017

In life, it takes a village to get anywhere and in agriculture, it is even truer.  Teams are essential whether on a family farm or working in a large corporation.  Teams matter whether you are raising a herd of cattle, a family, creating a product or communicating your message.  

When we think of agriculture, we often think just of the end product, the food that is grown or made out of commodities like corn or soybeans.  We don’t often think about all of the layers of people, organizations, and resources that go into getting that food on your table.  Science plays a large role in the availability of that food.  And just as in farming, you may not think of a woman when you picture a scientist.  On my trip to the Syngenta labs, I met three women who are working together to change our world; the women of Acuron.

Acuron is a herbicide that helps farmers who grow conventional corn have more residual control of more weeds with a single product.  This means less chemicals being used and less cost for the FarmHer or farmer...a win-win.  The effort associated with developing, testing and bringing a product like this to market is immense and it was led by three amazing women; Katie Oshige, Xinyun Wen and Cheryl Dunn. 

The product starts in the lab with Xinyun Wen, a scientist at Syngenta’s labs in North Carolina.  Xinyun spent a morning showing me around her lab, and walking me through the processes that she goes through in formulating a new product like Acruon.  It involves careful work and meticulous documentation.  She has spent her career working as a scientist and takes pride in her ability to create new products that aid in food production. 

From Xinun’s lab, the formulations get sent to sunny Florida and into the hands of Cheryl Dunne.  Cheryl, a nearly 30 year veteran of the organization, is a Group Leader at the Vero Beach Florida research center.  She heads up a team that works to field test the formulations.  In additional to testing the formulations on actual plants, both in a greenhouse and in the field, Cheryl’s team also works to help identify and isolate weed resistance problems that pop up around the world for their customers.  

Once the women have worked together to come up with a formulation for the product that will work for widespread use, the project then goes into the hands of Katie Oshige.  Katie is a formulation chemist who also works in North Carolina.  She then starts creating the product in large batches, working to get the formulation just right so that it can be mass created and used in fields all over the world.  

At an organization like Syngenta, which is one of the largest seed and chemical companies in the world, teams matter.  Teams like Xinyun, Cheryl, and Katie who work together closely to bring new products to market timely, efficiently and effectively and ultimately help farmers grow the food needed to feed the world.

Hear more from Katie by watching here video clip

Cheryl shares her story and experiences here

Watch the episode preview here

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