Often found inspecting asphalt shingle damage by looking down the barrel of a microscope, Heather Estes, materials staff scientist at the Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety (IBHS), keeps herself busy while analyzing various hail, wildfire, high wind and wind-driven rain tests at the IBHS Research Center.
Estes also makes time to assist women in the roofing industry through National Women in Roofing (NWiR), a national volunteer-based organization that provides networking, recruiting, mentoring and educational opportunities for women roofing professionals.
Launched just this year, the organization recently named Estes secretary of its Education Committee. We recently caught up with her to see what she hopes to accomplish with NWiR.
Why did you choose a profession in chemistry and roofing research?
I have always been fascinated with how things work and what makes them tick. I took as many classes in biology and chemistry as I could. Now, I get to put my interests and expertise to good use making roofs better.
My earliest memories of the sciences were when I was five. I remember placing bread and seeds on the window sill of our kitchen to observe how fast the mold and seedlings would grow. Soon after that, I was making rock candy in the kitchen to observe how crystals formed. Without sounding like too much of a nerd, I would stay in at recess in fourth and fifth grade to learn about acids/base reactions, phase changes, and separation techniques. I have always been fascinated with small things and how they change over time. I enjoy all of the sciences, but chemistry is the field that has really inspired me to become an expert and to try and make change.