If you walk into the Innovation Center’s chemistry lab, you’ll likely find Senior Chemist Dustyn Sawall working on making a product perform better for farmers.
“I’m always trying to fix problems that the farmers have,” he says. “For example, there’s a product that I’m working on making a better version of today. Something that is more stable, easier to use and better performing.”
Dustyn’s work, and much of the work happening across departments at the Innovation Center, is rooted in the concept of breaking things apart to rebuild them better than ever.
“I’m chemically taking things apart to chop the problems up into constituent pieces so that I can prioritize what to work on to improve the performance of the whole system,” he explains.
Chemically taking things apart also helps Dustyn understand the limitations of products and the components that go into them. This helped him overcome supply chain shortages during the pandemic so he could keep helping farmers.
“We were able to get through supply chain hurdles with minimal disruptions by knowing formulations and chemistry,” he says.
Dustyn has always loved engineering. As a child he says that “building and taking apart Legos was my favorite. I just do that with molecules now.”
It’s this passion that helps him problem-solve at work. When he was recently asked to improve the shelf life of a product, “I didn’t just say ‘oh it doesn’t work’ when presented with the issue,” he remarks.
“I asked myself, ‘Specifically what’s wrong? And how can I overcome the problem?’ Chemically taking things apart helps me find the problem more easily because it offers a much more focused approach.”
On the weekends, Dustyn is busy introducing his passion of taking things apart to his kids.
“I actually found a broken DVD player in my house recently,” he says. “So one Saturday my kids and I took it apart to see what was in it.”
Perhaps they’ll follow their father’s footsteps and become chemists who help farmers, too.