“The CEO of my current firm I had met at a conference back in grad school on environmental nanotechnology. And we had pseudo kept in touch over the years. So, I had reached out to him and I said, “Hey, I want to learn more about the business side of science. You have a consulting firm, can I pick your brain? Can I meet some of your staff?” And he said, “Sure, come on up.” So, I went to Seattle and it turned into a job interview and here I am.” This episode of the Smart Athlete Podcast is brought to you by Solpri, Skincare for Athletes. Whether you're in the gym, on the mats, on the road or in the pool, we protect your skin so you're more comfortable in your own body. To learn more, go to Solpri.com. JESSE: Welcome to the Smart Athlete Podcast. I'm your host, Jesse Funk. My guest today, see if I can get her credentials up here. She is a PhD and aquatic analytical chemistry. She's a staff scientist at an environmental toxicology consulting firm, and that's a mouthful. She's a former pro mountain biker, which we're definitely going to get into. Welcome to the show today, Anne Galyean. ANNE: Hey, how's it going? JESSE: Going pretty well. Thanks for adjusting with me. We had troubles this morning with timing and video and connection issues. But we got rescheduled and now we can see your face here on the video for anybody watching on YouTube. ANNE: Yes, we are here in overcast Seattle on my end, overcast and rainy as per usual this time of year. JESSE: See, I haven't been to Seattle or London, but I just assume that they're both the same, just dreary all the time and everybody is sullen. ANNE: Summers are amazing but come late fall, yeah, it's pretty dark pretty dreary most of the time. JESSE: Do you guys get pretty winters or is it just miserable? ANNE: No, it's just dark and dreary all winter. JESSE: Okay. Okay. So, we're waiting for the snow. We got snow in the middle of October, which was like ?? 2:17> in Kansas City. And it was like it snowed like the day before Halloween. I’m like, oh, this winter is going to be rough if it's already snowing. So, we get snow and it's pretty, it can be frigid. But at least we get that like, first snowfall and you're like, oh, everything's still beautiful. And then the misery sets and afterwards after you have that kind of like nice moment. ANNE: We might get snow once, maybe. It's mostly just mud season. JESSE: Yeah. Are you still outside on like riding trails in that weather? Or are you like I'm packing it up for the season? ANNE: Yes. So, we ride year round and I also commute your rounds, even in the dark and the rain. So, just have to get outside. Like when I first moved here, my husband grew up in this area, so he's kind of used to it. And he said, you just go, like you put on the right gear and you go or you spend the entire winter inside. So, you just do it. JESSE: Do you feel like you deal with seasonal ?? 3:24> disorder or anything if you don't get out? ANNE: Maybe it doesn't bother me so much like I kind of like the dark. And so when you're riding in the woods, and it's super dark, and you've got clear lenses on but that still seems like too little light. It's a good time, mud season is fun season. JESSE: So, are you out by yourself most of the time or are you actually like meeting up with people and riding trails? ANNE: Trail riding usually in groups. Commuting solo. JESSE: Right. Right. So, we’re gonna go down a rabbit hole, we’ll probably go down plenty of these. This is how I kind of do things. But commuting, I'm assuming you mean you're on a bike of some sort? ANNE: Yeah. JESSE: Okay. This is one thing I'm curious about since I have the advantage of working from home, I don't have to deal with this. But do you bring a change of clothes or shower at the office? How do you deal with-- I assume that you probably work up at least a little bit of sweat getting to work? ANNE: Yeah, so my commute is on the longer side. It's about 15 minutes in the morning and just over an hour on the way home. I typically go to the gym first. So, I ride from home to the gym, do my workout, I can shower at the gym, and then I ride from the gym to work which is only about 15 minutes. So, that's kind of how it goes. But I do carry usually way too much stuff. Like I put a back on, I got my gym shoes, my gym clothes. I also have lots of changes of clothes at work, just in case I ever forget something because that could be super awkward. But it's tricky, especially this time of year because you'll have these giant temperature swings. So, it might be 35 on my way to work and raining. And then on the way home, it's 55 and dry. So, I've got to carry like two different sets of clothes for each ride. It's kind of a guessing game. I spent a lot of time thinking about what I should wear my commute, for maximum comfort, and I usually get it wrong, but you just have to keep trying. JESSE: I mean here in Seattle. I feel like you should be able to find somebody to be like, all right, I need you to program like set up a program for me and we're going to put in the parameters for everything; for weather for temperature, for whether it's getting cold and getting warmer, warmer, getting colder, all this kind of stuff. And then all you have to do is just like pull up your program and it'll say, this is what you need today so you have to think about it anymore. ANNE: I have started keeping track of different temperatures and conditions because the humidity swings a lot. So, you might get real sweaty one day even though it's raining and then vice versa, it might be frigid and dry. So, it's a lot of guessing, you do your best whether it’s sitting on a bus or sitting in traffic. JESSE: Right. Well, it’s like I know I did this YouTube video, I have a different series talking about endurance, running basically, long distance running. And I was kind of answering questions about what do you wear for different temperatures and kind of give my guidelines. Like I did the video but at the same time I know I’m yeah, it depends. Is it getting warmer, is getting cooler, is it windy? Is it not windy? Are you doing this kind of like-- There's so many extra parameters on top of you and just the nonsense of trying to lay out that it's like-- That's why I'm saying you need a programmer to help you out like to put all these crazy parameters in, so you can free up brain space to do other things. ANNE: Yeah, usually it's just me bouncing I is off my husband and him rolling his eyes and saying, you're gonna be like, it's gonna be wrong no matter what you come up with. So, just pick something and go. JESSE: At this point, he's not just like you know what you should wear, just pick it out like it's okay. ANNE: We're getting there. JESSE: Yeah. Yeah. So, your job sounds like it's pretty interesting. So, I kind of want to jump into that. What are you doing? What does the company do? Are you saving us from a radioactive future or what's the deal? ANNE: So, it’s a toxicology consulting firm. More generally, we do public health consulting. So, that involves anytime people come in contact with chemicals that's in your food and drink, your air, it's your clothes, your personal care products, any products that you use. So, it's a pretty wide range of things that we can kind of or areas that we play in. Some of our larger clients tends to be in aerospace and aviation, we do a lot of cabin air issues. We’ll help with sometimes litigation support and the case of workers comp, maybe a maintenance worker gets exposed to chemicals on the job. We do a lot of products due diligence. So, if you've ever heard of Proposition 65, in California, that's where products have to have a warning label if they fall under a certain category of chemical. So, we help companies kind of navigate that regulatory space. And sometimes we go the other way and we go more on the chemistry side, and we look at extractables and leachables. So, maybe packaging material, is that leaching something into a food product. Every day is different, which is super fun, and it's also nice not to be in an academic research environment. Like you do that a lot when you're getting your PhD. It was nice to kind of shift gears and focus more on some real-world problem-solving. So, that's really, what I like about this kind of stuff. JESSE: With Proposition 65, and I haven't done a whole lot of that. I’ve done a little bit of like, testing for like, CPSC regulatory requirements for some children's products I've done. But I haven't dealt with it, the Proposition 65 stuff. I know and I've seen products like that, that sometimes I'm like, it seems like an overreach almost. It's a warning that basically says that, correct me if I'm wrong, that there may be materials or ingredients in a particular product that have known or may be linked to cancer. ANNE: It's cancer or reproductive toxicants. So, carcinogens or reproductive toxicants. And the lock, it changes every once in a while and the reporting requirements can change. I know recently, they passed an update where the sticker now has to at least list a chemical. So, if there are carcinogens in the product, it has to list one of the carcinogens. If they’re reproductive toxicants, they have the list one. Whereas before just had to say this product contains a chemical. So, that's a new update. A lot of the Proposition 65 regulatory confusion comes in with companies asking, do I need a sticker or not? My product does contain a chemical that's on the list. However, if it's not an exposure risk to someone, then that's a different question that needs to be answered. So, as an example, say you have an electrical product with a wire inside and the wire inside has led. Well, is anyone going to be ripping the product apart and chewing on the lead wire? Probably not. So, it may not pose an exposure risk. So, we kind of help companies navigate that. JESSE: Yeah, it kind of sounds like it's a matter of obviously, it's more complicated in this, especially when you get large numbers of people involved in terms of like, we have a population and you can't account for all variables. But it almost is a matter of, to me, common sense. Like with the example you make, you have something, it's basically encapsulated that is not intended for the end-user to ever come in contact with, let alone ingest or inhale. So, it doesn't need to be labeled? I would argue no. But I'm not a lawmaker nor in regulation. I just try to follow the regulations when necessary. ANNE: The regulatory phrase you’re looking for is reasonable expectation of average use. JESSE: Okay. Yeah. ANNE: That's what we make all our decisions based on. JESSE: Yeah. Yeah. So, I mean, how do you get there? Maybe you should explain what your PhD is in because I don't know that I've ever heard of aquatic analytical chemistry. This sounds pretty specialized. So, how do you get there and then from your PhD to where you are now? ANNE: So, the reason it's not very recognizable is because I kind of made it up. So, there's that. JESSE: That’s great. ANNE: So, I did my undergrad in chemistry, and was interested in analytical chemistry. I had done some research already and some nanosensor work, but I wanted to shift focus a little bit more on environmental. So, I went to UNC Chapel Hill, the Environmental Sciences program, and I created my own degree, blending my chemistry background and this aquatic science. And I had originally gone to grad school with these really lofty goals of coming up with a new way to treat water with silver nanoparticles and everyone in the nanoparticle EHS, so the Environmental Health and Safety community that I talked to looked at me was like, “Well, we don't even know what happens to the ones we unintentionally put into the environment. You're not going to be able to put them in intentionally.” That's fair. So, I had to take a big step back and have figured out a way to do research in that space but answer a different research question. So, I ended up doing a project where I looked at ways, analytical methods for the detection and characterization of silver nanoparticles in natural water systems. So, how do you take a sample of lake water that may or may not contain silver nanoparticles that are pollutants, run it through analytical instruments and actually find out if you know, how many silver nanoparticles there are, what form are they in? Are they dissolving into ionic silver? Are they clumped up? What size are they? So, those were kind of the questions that I was going for. But at UNC, no one had that experience and a lot of the instruments that I thought that I needed weren't available. So, I created a collaborative team at the National Institute of Standards and Technology in Maryland, which is a government research lab. And I pitched the idea to them and I said, I want to work on this project. You have instruments that I think could be helpful, and I said, “Come on up.” So, I actually moved to Maryland my second year in grad school, still going to UNC but living in Maryland and doing all my research at NIST, which was super fun. And so finished that, ended up doing a postdoc, the Chemical Engineering Department at the Colorado School of Mines. And there I looked at nano biosensors, where we could put these sensors inside of a growing bacterial biofilm, like watch metabolic changes, super fun. They basically would light up under different concentrations of whatever our target was. And after that, I started looking outside of academia. Academic research, I was a little burned out on it and I was really interested in the business side of science. So, I started tapping my network, I started cold emailing people on LinkedIn. I started asking everyone I knew, what do you do and why do you do it? What do you like about it? What do you not like about it? And the CEO of my current firm I had met at a conference back in grad school on environmental nanotechnology. And we had pseudo kept in touch over the years. So, I had reached out to him and I said, “Hey, I want to learn more about the business side of science. You have a consulting firm, can I pick your brain? Can I meet some of your staff?” And he said, “Sure, come on up.” So, I went to Seattle and it turned into a job interview and here I am. JESSE: Once you got there he was like, Why did you sit down?” ANNE: Yeah, that's pretty much how that went. But it's cool because it's a very interdisciplinary firm. It's very small. We only have about 10 people, but it's very interdisciplinary. We have backgrounds in microbiome research, in marine science, a lot of toxicologists, we have a mathematician on board, we've got me as a chemist. So, it's cool because we get to solve a lot of interdisciplinary problems, and it's very collaborative. JESSE: I'm ?? 16:48> any time I-- I've talked to, I'll say academics fairly often and I'm always interested in like, okay, how do we take what you're doing and then apply it. So, that's just my bend. ANNE: That's a very good question. Academic research is a different mindset to like practical Applied Science, most of the time. Every once in awhile you get like a bombshell project that you can send it through tech transfer and all of a sudden you have a new company. But in general, academic research is just you're going down the rabbit hole on something you want to find out why and how. It may or may not have practical implications, at least, maybe not for 30 years. But you got a different mindset with academic research. JESSE: Well, yeah. The way I kind of view academic research is almost like we're, ?? 17:42> say take almost like a shotgun approach to solving problems where it's like, just solve as many, like find as much knowledge as you possibly can. And then maybe somebody will come across the research that's been done and apply it to something that we didn't know it necessarily applied to later on. Don't worry about the specifics of what this may be useful for, just find out what's actually happening and hope for the best. ANNE: Yes, that's pretty accurate and that works for a lot of people. A lot of people really like going down those rabbit holes and figuring out how and why, and poking at it. Not me. I like the faster burn type projects. I like solving a problem, achieving it and moving on. Like, to me that's a lot more satisfying. So, the consulting world really fit for me. JESSE: Right. You can actually see an impact where you're like, okay, this is what we did. This is the resolution, we solved the problem, client is happy or whatever the case may be. And then there's actually a resolution for you when you've completed the project versus like, even if in an academic sense getting a paper published or presenting that paper. Okay, you do that, that is your ?? 19:02>. Okay, now what? ANNE: Yeah, it's one small step forward. Operating in a consulting firm, though, it's very challenging for those of us who came from academia because we have to change that mindset. We're used to going down the rabbit hole, we're used to spending a lot of time, and a lot of effort answering questions that may or may not be relevant to the problem at hand. When you're consulting or operating in any sort of client situation, you've limited time and you have limited budget, and you have to answer the question that the client wants. So, it really focuses you in on your work and that's a big mindset shift. So, it took a little, it was a learning curve to kind of get used to that. JESSE: Yeah. Well, any time you spend enough time in a certain environment, whether it's the environment you grew up in or an academic environment, whatever it is, when you're insulated and have this kind of almost mantra repeated over and over and over, this is how we do things. Anytime you have to shift your paradigm, it's a matter of like, almost beating that paradigm down with a new paradigm. Like, no, this is the new way and it keeps popping up over and over and over until it becomes more and more quiet. Although, I have I'll say the inkling that it doesn't ever really go away entirely. It's still there somewhere, like just hanging around waiting to bother you. And you get to beat it down again. ANNE: I mean, it's good. It helps you keep an open mind about things and you know, perspective is always good. And it sounds very similar to something you might find in a sports training. What happens if you are doing one discipline and decide you want to train for something else? Same sort of thing, you've got to retrain your body or retrain your brain. JESSE: Yeah. Go to Part 2 Go to Part 3
Smart Athlete Podcast Ep. 33 - Anne Galyean - EMBRACE FEAR - Part 1 of 3
The CEO of my current firm I had met at a conference back in grad school on environmental nanotechnology. And we had pseudo kept in touch over the years. So, I had reached out to him and I said, “Hey, I want to learn more about the business side of science.