Chuck Frazier, Ph.D. is our Senior Director of Research and Development and spends his days managing all of the scientific efforts happening here at Apeel Sciences. Raised in Southern California, Chuck received his bachelor’s in Chemical Biology from the University of California, Berkeley, and went on to receive his Ph.D. in Organic Chemistry from the University of California, Santa Barbara. After graduating, he began working with the Apeel team and now spends his time outside of work hanging out with his family, gardening, playing sports, reading, and exploring Santa Barbara. Get to know our Senior Director of Research & Development by reading on!
What do you do for Apeel Sciences?
I oversee the R&D team at Apeel, which encompasses Analytical, Biological, Material, and Molecular Sciences, as well as Process Development. The R&D team at Apeel leverages knowledge in chemistry, biology, and materials to understand produce physiology at every length scale, from small molecules that make an avocado taste nutty, to understanding how mold grows on citrus, or even to why a bunch of bananas ripen at the same time. Building on that knowledge, the team then identifies and extracts compounds from biomass that have useful properties for our formulations. After scaling our processes, those compounds are formulated into coatings to extend the shelf life of fresh produce, so you can enjoy the whole bunch of fresh bananas instead of needing to use some of them for banana bread.
What first interested you about working in materials, biology, and organic chemistry?
From the time I was very young, I have always been fascinated with how the world surrounding us works. I wanted to know what plastic is made of, why shampoo works, how chemicals come together to create things, and so on. The form and function of the world have always interested me, and because of this, I’ve known since high school that I wanted to be a chemist.
When I was in college, I discovered organic chemistry and I was hooked. Understanding how organic molecules form the world around us, I became fascinated with the interplay between chemistry and biology. Then in graduate school, even though my focus was synthetic organic chemistry, my Ph.D. advisor, Prof. Javier Read de Alaniz was also interested in materials science, and the group extended some of the chemistry research into the materials side. My experiences in both undergraduate and graduate school exposed me to the value of being able to bridge your knowledge in one scientific discipline into another. At Apeel, the R&D team does that to great effect, successfully bridging chemistry, biology, and materials science on a day-to-day basis.
For the non-scientists, what is organic chemistry?
Organic chemistry is a branch of chemistry focused on building and manipulating molecules containing carbon. I love organic chemistry because everything happening around us (or inside of us) is organic chemistry at work. Humans are carbon-based lifeforms, and every living thing surrounding us in our day-to-day life is composed of organic molecules in some shape or form. When you study organic chemistry, you’re basically given the key to understanding how the world works.
What is your favorite thing about working at Apeel Sciences?
The people! I work with a set of really talented people who are interested in solving hard problems. I derive a lot of energy and satisfaction from seeing my team tackle complicated technical challenges.
What is the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?
I was at a conference during my Ph.D. and asked someone a question about how to become a manager at his company. He told me that I should stop worrying about that and focus on demonstrating a consistent pattern of execution and success with whatever responsibility I have. By doing that, the scope of work would continue to expand and I’d find myself taking on more and more responsibility. From that point, the rest would take care of itself.