Alumni Spotlight: Ronda Grosse '92

November 10, 2016
Ronda Grosse Headshot

Stay Teachable

Ronda (Benson) Grosse ‘92 was born and raised in New Castle, Pennsylvania. For the first 18 years of her life, her summers were spent traveling by car, tent and camper to visit other parts of the U.S. She believes the traveling as well as the close-knit neighborhood she grew up in, had an extremely positive influence on her life. From camping all the time to playing outside at all hours of the day, usually only coming in for dinner, Ronda lived an adventurous childhood.

Ronda discovered her love for chemistry in her 10th grade chemistry class at New Castle Senior High School. Her teacher, Mr. Spina, made science come alive. The way the physical world works truly captivated her and she recognized that there was much more to learn. Up until this point in her life, Ronda had preferred history, math and literature. However, once her love for chemistry was discovered, she never looked back!

In 1988, Ronda received her B.S. in Chemistry from Bethel University in St. Paul, Minnesota. Four years later she received her Ph. D. in Analytical Chemistry from The Ohio State University. The strong reputation of the university as well as the work going on in the Chemistry Department by well-known scientists are what originally attracted her to OSU. Her grandparents, who are huge Buckeye fans and lived just an hour away from Columbus, also had an impact on her decision. Ultimately, the generous fellowship Ronda was offered sparked her final decision to attend The Ohio State University.

Ronda has countless memorable experiences here at OSU but her most memorable was meeting her husband, Curt, in the Mathematics Department. She believes her entire time as a full-time Buckeye was exceptional and is grateful for the experience. Ronda spent most of her time working in the lab with her fellow graduate students and post-docs. “We set up a laser laboratory, developed new apparatus, solved a multitude of hardware and experimental problems and generated some interesting and challenging-to-interpret Raman data. I learned more than I could have imagined,” Ronda stated. She truly enjoyed spending time with like-minded students discussing important life issues, and laughing about most anything.

Ronda mentioned how much she looked up to Dr. Terry Gustafson. Upon meeting him her first year, she became interested in his research using laser spectroscopy and promptly joined his group. She knew that Dr. Gustafson had worked in industry prior to OSU, and based on an internship she had received in the Analytical Sciences department at Dow Chemical Company, she was hoping to take a job in industry upon completing graduate school. “Terry helped me prepare for a corporate career in many ways, especially giving me the freedom to develop my own experimental plans with chemistry new to the group,” she shared. She also stated that Terry provided an outstanding example of balancing work, family and faith that she still admires to this day.

Classes, research and even cumulative exams at OSU taught Grosse how to delve into a new challenge and find a solution. This helped prepare her for her position at Dow. She stated, “Though the subject matter was vastly different from what I’d studied in graduate school, the tools and approaches I’d learned helped immensely as I worked on numerous technical projects throughout my career.” As for her personal life, she believes that the diversity throughout OSU has benefited her in countless ways - expressing her long-lasting friendships with many people from various cultures and backgrounds.

Ronda has worked as an Analytical Chemist, Researcher and Manager at Dow Corning for nearly 25 years and spent her time focusing on product development and materials characterization using molecular spectroscopy, chromatography and mass spectrometry. She loves that her job consists of technical problem-solving and resolving product or customer issues. In addition to developing useful products and analytical methodologies, she enjoys developing people and helping scientists achieve their career goals. Ronda finds it very satisfying to see those she’s mentored succeed in their work!

Ronda recently decided to begin a new chapter of her life and move from a corporation into the non-profit sector, volunteering for Chemists Without Borders. She joined Chemists Without Borders’ Board of Directors in 2015, serving as the organization’s liaison with the American Chemical Society. Ronda enjoys supporting projects by providing technical guidance and assisting with grant writing and other communications. The goal of Chemists Without Borders is to solve humanitarian problems by mobilizing the resources and expertise of the global chemistry community and its networks. Ronda states, “I am passionate about improving quality of lives by combining science and service, and exploring sustainable ways that we can collectively create positive change in our global community.” Good Luck, Ronda!

Ronda was modest and humble in regards to her greatest professional accomplishment, however she is proud of the new materials and capabilities/technology that she helped develop. She is honored to be a recipient of four Technical Achievement Awards (high honor in R&D at her company). The one she values most involved bringing Raman spectroscopy into Dow Corning with the first industrial application: real-time spectroscopic monitoring of chlorosilanes in a production process. She enjoys seeing many of the talented scientists she had the privilege of hiring and mentoring now thriving in their careers! Ronda supports science education at the primary and secondary school level and regularly conducts chemistry demonstrations in her community.

Ronda has some exemplary advice for current students and young alumni - “Keep an open mind about career options for chemists… Stay teachable.” She continued, “New Ph.D.’s know a lot about a narrow field - you still have so much to learn! Take advantage of every opportunity for international travel or expanding your outlook to other areas.” Ronda mentioned that she was fortunate to spend 6 months doing research in Japan with Prof. Hiro-o Hamaguchi from KAST/University of Tokyo. Throughout this she learned about different ways of approaching scientific challenges and also about living in another culture and enjoying new places and experiences. She was also fortunate to contribute to an extended technical service project in India a few years ago, where they worked on affordable and sustainable housing alternatives for those without homes. “Wherever you live or work, seek opportunities to grow and expand your thinking.”

In her free time, Ronda loves to travel and wants to see as much of the world as possible. She has visited all 50 states in the U.S. as well as many countries in Europe and Asia. “I am also a roller coaster enthusiast; my daughters and I are continually seeking the tallest, fastest coasters we can find, learning some physics along the way,”  Ronda explained of her free time. She elaborated that they are frequent Cedar Point visitors. She also remains an avid OSU football fan. They are the only team she watches! “Go Bucks!”

Last, but certainly not least, Ronda stated that her children are her biggest inspiration with their kindness and sensitivity towards others. She described them as creative, studious, dedicated, and so much fun. “I feel very blessed to have Hannah and Megan and they inspire me to be a better person.”