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Ana and John Davis Start Centennial Fund

For alumni Ana and John Davis (B.S. ‘91), the CBE Department has played an integral role in their personal and professional lives.

Ana and John first met in Dr. Carol Hall’s thermodynamics class during their junior year. From there, the pair became study partners who frequented the Riddick Hall study lounge. 

Fast forwarding to today, Ana and John have been married for nearly 30 years and have three children together – two of whom are also NC State CBE alumni! The pair continues to be heavily involved with the department, and they both serve on the Alumni Advisory Board and as mentors in the CBE alumni-student mentoring program.

Ana, originally from Spain, was inspired by her father to major in chemical engineering: “My dad instilled in me a love for math and science. He told me girls could do anything that boys could do, and he pushed me into a degree that was less traditional back then.” 

After graduating, Ana began her career as a process control engineer with ExxonMobil in Baytown, TX, and later joined Advanced Micro Devices in Austin, TX as a quality and facilities engineer. She has since worked for Union Carbide/Dow Chemical in South Charleston, WV as a production manager, for Dow Chemical in Freeport, TX, as a plant manager, and for Kao Specialties America in High Point, NC, as a health, safety, and environment manager. Ana is currently the Head of Health, Safety, and Environment (HSE) for Syngenta’s North American Crop Protection Business in Greensboro, NC.

She also serves as the Global Health, Safety & Environment Business Partner for the Seeds Development business.

“My favorite part of my job is the fast paced problem-solving aspect of it. There are so many problems we are facing as a society today, and I love being able to have a part in solving them. My time at NC State has prepared me well for this,” says Ana. 

John, a native of North Carolina, grew up a Wolfpack fan and was “destined to go to NC State.” His father was also a graduate of NC State, so John’s decision to attend was no surprise.

He took a different path than Ana after graduation. John went on to earn his Ph.D. at the University of Texas at Austin in 1996 because he initially thought he wanted to go into academia. However, he ultimately decided to go the industry route as he liked seeing the tangible results of his work.

After graduating from UT, John worked at Union Carbide/Dow Chemical in South Charleston, WV, as a senior engineer in research and development and later transferred with Dow Chemical to Freeport, TX, as a senior process development specialist.

John joined Syngenta Crop Protection in Greensboro in 2005, where he held roles in process development, operational excellence, and supply chain management. Currently, he is the Head of Crop Protection Formulation, Fill and Pack for Syngenta’s North America region.

“My chemical engineering education has really given me a toolkit and a set of skills that I’ve been able to deploy in my career. It’s given me the opportunity to contribute to several different areas and fields,” says John.

Ana and John both cite the impact the department has had on their lives – during and after their time at NC State. 

“The department has shaped our family’s life very deeply, professionally and personally. It’s been a real pleasure to be part of this outstanding community. Not only did we meet at NC State, but we had two of our kids go through this institution,” says Ana.

Davis Family Photo
Carmen, Ana, Isabel, John and Jack

Specifically, their daughter, Carmen, graduated in 2019 with a dual degree in chemical engineering and textiles. She now works at Nike in Portland, Oregon. Their son, Jack, graduated in 2021 in chemical engineering with a concentration in biomanufacturing and currently works at Merck in Durham, NC. Their youngest, Isabel, will deviate from the family tradition and attend Duke University starting this fall to pursue biomedical engineering. 

“As sad as it was to leave my kids at the doors of NC State, I felt like I was leaving them with family. It was a calming moment for me to know that my kids were going to be so well taken care of while they were away. The entire department is committed to making sure your child has a really good experience and is prepared for the big things they will do in the future,” says Ana. 

The couple remarks that individuals like Lisa Bullard and Russ O’Dell have especially made an impact. “Lisa and Russ have always been so caring and thoughtful. They really nurtured our kids and helped them in so many different ways,” says John. 

The department’s impact on the couple and their family have influenced them to remain active and give back in numerous ways. Aside from both serving as mentors and on the department’s Advisory Board, Ana and John are also donors of an endowed undergraduate scholarship. 

To the couple, the idea of giving has always been very rewarding. “By giving, you show that you believe in the students, and when you believe in them, they believe in themselves a bit more. You’re helping shape someone’s journey – and that in itself is a tremendously rewarding gift,” says Ana. 

Most recently, Ana and John have donated $50,000 to establish the CBE Centennial Endowment. The fund will serve as a source of discretionary funds for the department to advance its vision of being a global leader in chemical and biomolecular engineering as it enters its second century, including scholarships, faculty support, undergraduate and graduate awards, experiential learning opportunities, research, and outreach. 

As Department Head Sindee Simon says, “This fund will have an incredible impact. Our goal through the Centennial is to build the fund to over a million dollars, and the return on that will give us flexibility and agility – to pursue new initiatives, enhance student learning, create new programming, and promote and reward excellence!”

“The Centennial marks a time to reflect on the past but also to work together to share in a future in which chemical engineering is at its greatest need,” says John. 

“In the next 100 years, we are dreaming big. We want the department to be at the top of the global rankings. We are dealing with some of the most difficult and complex problems in the world today, and we want our department to be at the forefront of the problem-solving community. We believe that ‘the strength of the wolf is the pack,’ and if the alumni can come together as one and give back in any way they can, we can reach our department’s full potential,” says Ana.