Distinguished Laura Weller-Brophy

Minorities and Women in OSA

Meet this female fellow

Laura Weller-Brophy

FluoroLogic, Inc., USA
OSA Member since: 1980
OSA Fellow since: 2002

Professional/personal highlights:

The most fulfilling aspects of my life are my marriage with my husband and motherhood. I have two college-aged children who have enriched my life beyond words. Since starting my own company, I have had the time to enjoy more of life, expanding our gardens, building the compost piles, learning to can, experimenting with fermenting pickles and sauerkraut, and starting a mission to make hats and mittens for refugees in the Rochester area. Professional Highlights: I was fortunate to be a student at The Institute of Optics, University of Rochester, earning my BS, MS, and PhD degrees there through 1987. The faculty were collegial, and had a wonderful balance of brilliance and humility � they treated the students as respected peers. Entering the work force, my first job in industry was with the best company that I have worked with, 3M. My time there was filled with opportunities to contribute in numerous ways, with the innovative culture nurturing personal creativity and welcoming technical and product advances. 3M had a corporate culture with strong belief in the basic creative potential of all employees � a great environment! More recently, I have been pleased to pass the Patent Bar Exam (provides a useful set of skills to those who invent). I was the founding member of FluoroLogic, Inc. and have advanced my skills in business plan development, strategy, finances, accounting, � along with more responsibility for the everyday R&D work that is needed to bring products to market. The work is thoroughly rewarding, enormously broadening, and holds one up to the highest accountability.

What is your advice for balancing one�s professional and personal life?

Finding joy in life requires thoughtful decision-making that is shaped by what you and those around you need for fulfilling lives. In some work situations, you may have supervisors who will ask for all of your time, all of your energy, and all of your creativity � these people are not your friends (and not very good supervisors!). It may be helpful to make note of what makes you most satisfied in life, in priority order. It is easier to live your values if you are aware of these values and have thought about concessions that you will make about lower priority goals. I think that it would have been helpful if I had maintained a �top 10� list of what made me happy � with thoughts around how much to give up from the bottom of the list to keep the top few. Having this in writing, able to be maintained as a dynamic document, may have kept me more awake to the impact of my decisions.

Do you have suggestions for how female scientists support each other�s career and development?

I believe that we are at a point in time where we have the capacity to support each other, regardless of educational status, gender and work position. It may be better for us to address the issue of people supporting each other, and valuing the success of the other � regardless of gender.

What differentiates the companies that you have worked for?

I have worked for a number of Fortune 100 and Fortune 500 companies. I think that the key differentiator between the most successful and least successful companies is the corporate culture toward the employees. The most successful company treated the employees as fundamentally good people who were able and eager to make important contributions. This expectation became reality � it energized the employees and the corporate bottom line. The least successful companies had corporate cultures that viewed the employees as needy underlings, treating them in a paternalistic manner. The employees were constantly watched, directed, advised, taught, and provided with copious rules. These companies had little real trust in their employees. I found this culture to stifle creativity, to quiet conflicting opinions, and to reduce discussions to ultra-polite verbal exchanges. My lesson, learned the hard way, is to get a firm understanding of the corporate culture during the interview � look for a company that views people as fundamentally good.

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