Chemistry Grad Amy Gottschling recipient of inaugural Western Science Alumni Award of Achievement

Amy Gottschling

Amy Gottschling, PhD ’04, BSc ’99

Western Science’s inaugural recipient of its Alumni Award of Achievement is chemistry’s Amy Gottschling, PhD ’04, BSc ’99. This newly established honour recognizes Faculty of Science alumni who have made outstanding contributions to their professions.

Since her time at Western, Gottschling has followed her passion for advancing applied scientific knowledge of chemistry to advance technologies and solve challenges within the nuclear industry.  During her 17 years in private industry, she gained a strong understanding of how to launch business strategies. Gottschling started as a corrosion chemistry scientist, working for many years in an R&D capacity prior to moving into a leadership role. Over time, her teams grew in size and scope. In 2018, Gottschling was appointed as the first Vice-President of Radioactive Materials and Chemistry at Kinectrics in 2018.

During her time at Kinectrics, Gottschling demonstrated initiative and ingenuity. Of note was the establishment of the medical isotopes business line. Gottschling pulled together many areas of expertise within Kinectrics and drove partnerships within the industry. Lutetium-177 is now being produced in Bruce Power reactors. This radioisotope is used to destroy cancer cells while leaving healthy cells unaffected. This was the first of many medical isotopes initiatives that would pique her interest.

When Ontario’s nuclear industry re-opened an opportunity to launder work clothing worn in nuclear stations, Gottschling’s team rose to the challenge. Protective personal equipment (PPE) used at nuclear stations requires special chemical processes and knowledge of how to handle active materials safely. The Teeswater Laundry facility was constructed within a year and now serves Canada’s nuclear industry, with nearly 100 new jobs created in a small Ontario town of some 1,000 residents.

In February 2022, Gottschling joined Atomic Energy of Canada Ltd. (AECL), a crown corporation, as Vice-President of Science, Technology, and Commercial Oversight to continue her passion for advancing nuclear science and technologies. She oversees the performance of Canadian Nuclear Laboratories’ (CNL) nuclear science and technology projects, and its programs for the Government of Canada and private industry clients. CNL’s Chalk River Laboratories site is the birthplace of Canadian nuclear science, technology, and the site of Canada’s first nuclear reactor. Today, CNL is Canada’s premier nuclear science and technology organization, and a world leader in developing nuclear technology for peaceful and innovative applications. Its 2,800 employees—including engineers, scientists, and technicians—run 200 experiments concurrently on any average day. Their work includes decarbonization and clean energy programs as well as production of a promising new weapon in the fight against cancer – Actinium-225 – a radioisotope that can kill cancer and leave nearby cells unharmed.

“When Amy talks to current Western chemistry students, her career journey inspires them, particularly young women, who see someone who has completed the chemistry program they are in and has achieved so much through broad application of chemistry,” shares chemistry professor Jamie Noël, who nominated Gottschling for the award.

Although so much has happened since Gottschling’s time at Western, she remembers her experience here fondly, from late-night library sessions to ending a long week with friends at The Grad Club.

"When Amy talks to current Western chemistry students, her career journey inspires them, particularly young women" - Jamie Noël

“The chemistry department was a tight-knit group and we leaned on each other to learn. At Western we were challenged and encouraged to think critically, we learned to communicate scientific concepts in a compelling way. We received an outstanding quality of education - Western creates leaders,” states Gottschling.

And while Gottschling is honoured to be the first recipient, she believes “the best is yet to come” as more alumni are selected to receive this achievement in the future.