When Bridgette Shannon was in high school, upperclassmen advised her, "Whatever you do, don't take chemistry." She ignored them. "It was a breeze -- mixing things together, creating different compounds," she says. In Corning's environmental- technologies division, she helped develop a honeycomb material that nests in a car's catalytic converter; the honeycomb is coated with a thin layer of precious metal that neutralizes toxic exhaust compounds. "Every time I see a vehicle," she says, "I'm looking at the pipes and seeing what's coming out."