I AM STEM: LATOSKA PRICE
“Don’t put any limits on what you can do.”
Latoska Price is the technical service manager for coatings in the Americas for Synthomer, one of the world’s leading suppliers of vinyl and acrylic polymers.
Did you have a mentor?
In high school, I had a fantastic chemistry teacher, and she actually worked in the Henry Ford soybean laboratories at that time. Henry Ford wanted to do with the soybean what George Washington Carver did with the peanut. So she actually had a chance to work on different things made out of soybeans. She was also a nuclear physicist. She brought that information, that type of technology, to high school chemistry. You know, we were doing nuclear fission reactions and calculations and things like that. And so it was really very, very instrumental. She said this is good, you have a talent for this. And I felt really buoyed by that.
What advice do you have for kids exploring the world and discovering what they’re interested in?
Well, I really would say just don’t put any limits on what you can do, especially with science, because most people I found throughout the years think that all science has so much math, but really the math helps you to the understanding. And when you work with people, especially with mentoring, with my high school teacher, who is a wonderful mathematician, you learn how to use log tables, you learn how to use all these tools that actually helped with your understanding of chemistry, because chemistry is a very mathematically-based science as well. And so you really start to learn more and you say, oh, I can make the math work for me. And that’s what you have to just not not be afraid of that. Just go for it.
What does STEM mean to you?
I think of it as an exciting field. I mean, it means that I get a chance to work with a lot of the things that I’ve learned over the years, not only what I learned in school, but how to apply it in many areas, especially in the coatings area, which is where I have spent most of my career. Being able to actually see things, I have an idea and actually see things kind of come to fruition, and actually make a product and see something that actually creates sales and then all these other things that makes it a really a lot of fun. And I think that’s the other part of it, too, is just to realize that, you know, science for me is fun. It really is. I read about it all the time. I always feel like I’m learning something every day with whatever I’m reading in the chemistry world, or in the physics world, or any of those other sciences. There’s always something new to learn. And I just like to stay open-minded with it at all times, and just enjoy that journey.