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You are here: Top Stories Ellen Kullman
“I remember being in elementary school when President Kennedy announced that the U.S. would land a man safely on the moon and then return him home,” said Ellen Kullman, the CEO of DuPont and one of the most powerful women in America.  “I wondered how they could do that, and started learning about the science and engineering behind that goal.”

Fifty years have passed since that announcement, and both Kennedy and Kullman have realized their lofty ambitions. At the helm of one of the most prominent companies in the United States, Kullman does more than learn about new advances—she makes them happen. And on September 16, 2011, she wasn’t watching great moments unfold on television; she was there in person. As a member of the U.S. Council on Jobs and Competitiveness, Kullman looked over President Obama’s shoulder as he signed the Leahy-Smith America Invents Act, a piece of legislation that revolutionizes the pursuit of innovation in the United States.

“The America Invents Act brings the U.S. patent system into the 21st century and will help speed and expand the innovation capacity of the American economy, creating new technologies and products,” she explained. “It will speed R&D investment, new product development and the creation of jobs.”
At her day job as the chief executive at DuPont, Kullman is always on the cutting edge of new technological advances. She joined the company in 1988 and became CEO in 2009. Today, DuPont has over 8,500 scientists and engineers working at R&D centers around the world, turning groundbreaking new innovations into commercial successes.

As DuPont spokesperson Michelle Reardon explains, the business was focused on explosives at the time of its foundation in 1802. But when the company began producing
Nylon in 1935—securing the patent for one of the world’s most popular synthetic polymers—DuPont saw its biggest explosion yet. “Nylon helped the company transform into one that’s focused on chemistry, providing better things for better living,” said Reardon. “Over the last 20 years now, we’ve incorporated the entire science toolkit, including biology, chemical engineering and other capabilities. Today we’re utilizing biology to make things that chemistry alone cannot make. It has become a niche because we create more sustainable products and technologies that have the same high performance that the DuPont brand has always signified.”

The business has an impressive list of patented technologies—household names like Tyvek, Teflon and Kevlar—and now they’re responding to new demands for greater sustainability and eco-friendly goods. “You see products today from DuPont that have smaller environmental footprints, but also products that are better for the environment. Just last month, for example, we announced a partnership to create OLED technology for television.” This advancement allows for crisp visibility on screens of all sizes, with less energy requirements than traditional methods. And that’s just one in a long line of innovations. DuPont holds patents for over 35,000 inventions, and in 2010 alone they came out with 1,800 new products.

Kullman knows she has an important responsibility moving forward. “Because of the dramatic increases in population growth, we are at a unique point in history where we need to determine how to feed and nourish a growing planet, how to protect those people from harm and how to do so with limited resources and alternative forms of energy,” she said. “These are problems that I think DuPont is uniquely positioned to create true solutions for.  It is an exciting time to be a scientist and an engineer.  The work that our people do at DuPont will help create lasting change across the globe.”

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