Celebrating International Women’s Day with #WomenatRipple

To celebrate International Women’s Day, we’re shining a spotlight on some of the incredible female Ripplers making strides in a variety of fields: science, technology, engineering, math, and more.

Across the Ripple organization, women play an important role in pioneering food science and research, tackling complex issues and inventing new processes. The women at Ripple continue to push boundaries as they solve complicated problems with novel ideas, methods and technologies that positively impact our business, our customers and the environment.

At Ripple we believe the little things add up, and we’re constantly striving to get a little better each day. One of our goals for 2019 is to further foster a culture of inclusivity. We want to provide a platform for our women at Ripple to share their accomplishments and shape the future of Ripple.

We’ve highlighted just a few of our amazing #WomenatRipple below, but keep an eye out for even more profiles and insights from fantastic female leaders in the Ripple organization (fun fact: women make up more than 50% of all Ripple employees!).

Celia Homyak, Scientist

Celia Homyak, PhD, is a scientist at Ripple on the Protein Innovation team, where she works on characterization and manipulation of protein functionality, such as changing protein’s ability to gel, dissolve, whip, or foam (the next time you make a frothy Ripple latte using our Barista Style, you can thank Celia!).

“A typical day includes planning out experimentation to formulate and characterize new protein materials. Once I have optimized the small-scale materials, I then scale up to test in a model product such as a milk or creamer. Most days also involve interdisciplinary collaboration and communication with engineering, analytical, tech. transfer, and product development teams.”

Celia received her bachelor’s degree in Chemistry from Winona State University and a PhD in Chemistry from University of Massachusetts Amherst. While she was traditionally focused on organic chemistry and biomaterial science geared towards pharmaceuticals, about halfway through her graduate school, she converted to eating a plant-based diet.

“The minimal options for plant-based foods available inspired me to get into this field to make plant-based foods available to everyone, beyond just plant-based eaters.”

Her advice for women looking to break into the industry? “Many companies in the plant-based food industry hire an array of multi-disciplinary scientists, so there is no need to be intimidated by not having perfectly overlapping experience. That being said, reaching out of your comfort zone to network is vital in finding unique opportunities similar to the one I received. Overall, I found that bringing both interpersonal and technical skills to the table puts you at an advantage in this type of field.”

When she’s not in the lab, Celia and her husband like to take trips to Tahoe or the Sierras in their camper van. She’s also an avid trail runner and likes to explore parts of the Bay area through hiking and biking.

Eva Guilmo, Associate Director, Quality

Eva Guilmo, Associate Director of Quality, creates the management systems that allow Ripple to deliver delicious plant-based food that meet and exceed consumers’ expectations. “With my team we screen the origin of every component of the product, we set up control along the manufacturing process and check finished product to ensure they are up to our standards.”

Eva has a Master’s in agronomy, and always knew that she wanted to work in a field that combined biology and the environment.

“With my first project work on sustainable fisheries and my first role in quality at the mineral water company Evian, I realized how much the preservation of the environment can impact the sustainability of the food system and all related businesses. That’s when I decided to work in quality management for industries where there is a clear link between the environment, the raw material and the finished product. In French we call that ‘Terrior’.”

Her proudest accomplishment at Ripple so far has been building out the Quality team; it was a process that required finding people with the right skillset who also strongly embrace Ripple’s mission and values.

For women looking to break into the field of Quality, Eva advises, “there is never a “yes” or a “no” answer. You need to gather evidence that will help you make the right decision and balance risks and benefits. You need to like challenges and investigative work.” She continues, “In a nutshell, I think quality is a field where we, as women, can really take advantage of our patience, creativity, social and leadership skills.”

Outside of her work at Ripple, Eva loves being the outdoors, whether it’s sitting in the grass listening for birds, mushroom picking or mountain biking—she was raised in the countryside and finds that being outside is a source of energy for her. A fun fact about Eva: “don’t let me go to the farmer’s market by myself, or I will buy one of every kind of vegetable in season. It’s my happy place where nature connects with food.”

Taylor Witke, Associate Scientist

Taylor Witke, Associate Scientist, is part of the Analytical Team at Ripple. She can frequently be found in the Ripple lab, where she is typically analyzing samples from our Research and Product Development teams and maintaining all of the analytical instruments in the lab.

“My biggest accomplishment at Ripple so far has been automating our starch testing so that our automated liquid handling robot (Riptibot) can do it for us! This helps to improve efficiency in testing our samples for starch and also frees up some of my time to work on other innovative ideas.”

Taylor graduated from UC Berkeley with a B.S. in Chemical Engineering. Growing up, she always loved math and science and knew that she wanted to work in a related field. “Chemistry was my favorite subject in high school and because of that and my love for math, I landed on chemical engineering as a major.”

For any women looking to pursue a career in STEM, Taylor says, “If you have a passion for science or engineering, do not let anyone tell you that you can’t do it! And if they do, have confidence in yourself and work hard to prove them wrong.”

A fun fact about Taylor is that during her four years at Berkeley, she was a member of the Cal Cheerleading team—cheering on the Golden Bears during football, basketball, volleyball and other events. She was even cheering on the sidelines while Jared Goff, the current LA Rams QB, was the star quarterback at Cal. Go Bears!

Danica Wylin, Quality Engineer

Danica Wylin, Quality Engineer, helps support the quality and production teams at Ripple’s co-manufacturers to ensure that our partners make our product as safely and deliciously as possible.

“Every day at Ripple is unique! Most of my time is spent working on projects with different teams at Ripple as well as staying in close contact with our partners.”

Danica graduated from Purdue University with a degree in Biological and Food Processing Engineering—however, growing up, she says that she didn’t know that she wanted to be engineer. A friend encouraged her to apply to Purdue’s Women in Engineering program, which allowed her to combine her interests in math, science and food. Purdue’s Biological Food Processing Engineering program ended up being the perfect fit!

“I thought I would go in to the R&D side of food development, but after internships and work experiences within manufacturing, I found myself preferring the fast-paced nature and people-oriented side of operations.”

As far as her advice to women looking to pursue a career in a STEM field, Danica says, “Networking is key! Keep in touch with your professors and professional colleges.”

A recent west coast transplant, Danica has enjoying taking advantage of the outdoors, and has become an avid snowboarder and trail runner.

Stephanie Kraemer, Associate Scientist

Stephanie Kraemer, Associate Scientist, got her start at Ripple as an Analytical Chemist before transitioning to her current role on the Protein Innovation team, where she characterizes plant protein sources and researches functional applications for those proteins in Ripple products.

“Pea protein is very different than the proteins found in milk and, as a result, it behaves differently in food systems. I find ways to make pea protein act more like milk protein.”

Stephanie, who has a B.Sc. from UC Berkeley in Genetics & Plant Biology, originally intended to work in biofuels or agriculture. However, she always had a passion for (eating!) food and snack products. For Stephanie, it feels rather serendipitous that she’s found a role combining her background in plant molecular biology with her obsession for food.

One of Stephanie’s proudest accomplishments at Ripple involves the creation of an exciting new product that’ll hopefully be hitting store shelves in the next year: “My coworker Bridget and I collaborated with me to start a “garage project” formulating a new product with our proprietary Ripptein. We worked on this project in our spare time for over a year, and eventually pitched it to leadership as a formal prototype. Formulation is far outside our background and scope of work, but I’m very proud of the research and experimentation we did to execute this idea.”

Stephanie’s advice for women looking to get into a STEM career? “Don’t be afraid to ask questions, and don’t worry about seeming too aggressive. I honestly believe these qualities give people more faith in my work.”

In her free time, Stephanie enjoys taking her dog Lorraine for long walks.

Erin Cox, Technology Transfer Engineer

Erin Cox, Technology Transfer Engineer at Ripple, works closely with Product Development, Quality, Supply Chain and co-manufacturer partners to ensure we can successfully commercialize the delicious products made in Ripple’s lab; another part of her role involves continuously improving Ripple’s existing products and the processes that go into creating them.

“My “typical” work day looks different everyday…this could be anything from collecting and analyzing data for improvement projects at my desk, to validating process changes by analyzing finished product samples in the lab, to traveling to our co-packers to support line trials and ensure a successful new product launch or process implementation.”

Erin has a B.S. in Chemical Engineering from Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology and has always had a desire to make a positive impact in the world. One of her proudest accomplishments at Ripple has been the contributions she’s made to standardizing the line trial process. Through collaboration with multiple teams across the organization and her efforts to create useful new tools and methodologies, Ripple’s internal communication has improved across departments, which has allowed our organization to more efficiently plan and execute successful line trials.

Erin recognizes that engineering is still very much a male-dominated field; the biggest piece of advice she has for women looking to break into engineering is to “find allies and mentors who support them. Anyone, regardless of gender, can be an ally. Seek out companies which value diversity and inclusivity, and be active in driving the culture.”

Outside her work at Ripple, Erin likes rock climbing, playing board games and video games, and anything involving food – whether it’s trying a new restaurant, cooking with friends, or trying to recreate her favorite restaurant dishes at home.