From Classroom to Start-Up

From Classroom to Start-Up Interview 7 March 2022


Lucie Chupin had embarked on a career in higher education when she made a profound change in direction and joined Carbon Waters in April 2021. Once she’d made the change, the young R&D application engineer never looked back. A fan of embroidery and submarine diving, as well as graphene, here Chupin gives us her start-up vision of life.

Before you began work at Carbon Waters, you seemed headed for a career in teaching.

Lucie Chupin: Exactly. After studying science, I became a polymer chemistry researcher and I received my PhD in 2014, in development of a glue for wood panels. I naturally continued in academia as a post-doctoral student, then as a university lecturer and researcher into bio-based composites at Sophia Antipolis. I’ve always enjoyed teaching; I like to transmit, exchange, and share my knowledge. After a brief stint as a teacher in Dijon, I joined the Université du Havre, where I taught the chemical formulation of polymers in cosmetics fields.

Then things took a 180-degree turn in 2019…

LC: In fact, I decided to take a huge leap into the unknown: I left academia to join the world of industry. My destination? The United Kingdom, at Solvay, to work on resin formulations for automotive composites. Brexit and the pandemic rained on my parade. I underwent a complete reassessment of my life during this complex and uncertain time. I wanted to stay in industry, but I also wanted to go back to France.

What made you choose Carbon Waters?

LC: Carbon Waters is a perfect match for my core job interests, since it works mainly on glues and polymers. I started out in April 2021 as an R&D application engineer. My job was to find applications in the field of polymers and thermosetting materials, often subjected to high temperatures, particularly in the automobile and aerospace industries. It takes a specific type of expertise to add graphene in its dispersed form. My role is to make sure it is stable in the mold, while improving mechanical properties, thermal and electrical conductivity, and the barrier or anticorrosion properties of a material…it’s a great deal of lab work, because you have to test various formulations. We also do a lot of observing and research into materials.

What do you like about your work?

LC: I like the team work and the overall energy. When you work at a startup, you start from nothing, with a powerful urge to succeed. That opens up a range of possibilities! Being in charge of my own research projects is also very challenging. It’s a nice balance between research and the world of industry.

Speaking of balance, where do you find balance in your own personal life?

LC: I really like embroidery and sewing; they call for attention to detail and concentration—two qualities required for research work! I also adore diving. In that silent world, I let go and my mind is a blank. It’s a funny feeling, filled with freedom, beauty, and communing with the elements. I remember some extraordinary dives in Australia, along the Barrier Reef, meeting up with sea turtles, manta rays, and sharks. It was just magical!

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