09_Margaret Blohm

Advanced Technology Leader - Nanotechnology Program
GE Global Research

Improving Quality

Margaret Blohm has just one word for you: plastics. One of her breakthroughs? Lexan SLX, a scratch- and chemical- resistant plastic for auto bodies. It stands up to the most extreme weather and comes in almost unlimited high- gloss colors, virtually eliminating the need for paint. On February 21, Blohm and her team celebrated an important milestone when GE Plastics sold its first commercial batch.

From Margaret's original entry:

Tell us what you do (or what your team or organization does) and the specific challenge you faced.

Margaret serves as the Advanced Technology Leader for the Nanotechnology Program at GE. Her team's research spans several different scientific disciplines, including chemistry, ceramics, metallurgy and physics. Nanotechnology refers to the science and study at the nanoscale (one billionth of a meter) and the unique optical, electrical and mechanical properties observed at that level. As a polymer chemist at GE, Margaret understands how to move innovations from the lab to commercialization.

Margaret always knew science was her calling. However, balancing her love of the unique science she works in with her role as a mother has proven to be her toughest challenge.

What was your moment of truth?

Margaret seemed destined to be a scientist. She grew up surrounded by scientists and was part of the GE family from an early age. Her father was an electrical engineer at the company, while her mother earned a B.S. in chemistry and worked in GE's chemistry lab as an administrative assistant. Having grown up listening to her mother's excitement about chemistry and stories about the great research coming out of GE, Margaret knew that she wanted to become a scientist as well.

While at Russell Sage College, Margaret took a chemistry class and decided, "This is it!" After graduating from Russell Sage College in 1981, Margaret received a Ph.D. from the University of Minnesota in 1985, where she was awarded a National Science Foundation Predoctoral Fellowship. Following in her parent's footsteps, she then went on to join GE's research organization in 1987 as a Staff Scientist.

What were the results?

Since 1996 Margaret has held numerous leadership positions including Manager of the LEXAN(R) SLX Development Team. Today she manages the nanotechnology program where her team is constantly looking to create new materials that will lead to better products and services. Whether that is a new lightweight fan blade for an aircraft engine, a new material breakthrough for the next generation of medical imaging devices, or a new incredibly tough ceramic material for a power turbine, Margaret is convinced that nanotechnology will drive the future of GE.

While Margaret travels for speaking responsibilities, manages a team of scientists, holds 11 U.S. Patents and has authored more than13 publications, her greatest achievement is being an active mother to an 8-year-old son (a budding scientist) and a 5-year-old daughter (a future artist). She emphasizes that being a mom makes her a better scientist, because she sees her children looking at life through very unique perspectives and she challenges herself to do the same as a scientist and a mother.

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