Meet the Innovator: Jenn Belelie

Tell us about your role at XRCC?

I’m the manager of the Synthesis and Formulation group, which develops new materials through advanced materials research for applications such as toner, ink, printed electronics, security and additive manufacturing. In this role I work with project leaders to staff their projects appropriately, build the synthesis and formulation competency and manage the human resource needs of the people in the group.

I have also led technical projects in a number of areas, ranging from inks to security to healthcare applications. I have recently started working on business development as part of Xerox Research Centre of Canada’s (XRCC) Client Services Business. I love learning new things – it’s been a great experience.

How long have you been with Xerox? What made you decide to join?

I have worked for Xerox for 13 years – I started less than one week after defending my thesis. My graduate work focused on asymmetric synthesis techniques that are typically used in the pharmaceutical industry. I always imagined that my career would involve the design and synthesis of new drugs, but when I was in my final year at the University of Waterloo I was recruited by XRCC. I was unsure at the time about my career options at the centre until I started researching Xerox and the XRCC as part of my interview preparation. I was impressed by the technical breadth of the research, as well as with the numerous papers and patents which were published every year. When I arrived for my interview, I was blown away. Research was at the forefront – even the building resembled a question mark from an aerial view! The tipping point for me was the caliber and diversity of XRCC’s staff.  It was an easy decision to make.

What inspires you to be innovative?

My colleagues inspire me to be innovative because they make solving problems fun. XRCC researchers have a wide variety of science and engineering educational backgrounds, and when we start a new project we form a multidisciplinary team to tackle the problem. It’s one of the best things about working at XRCC – people with different backgrounds bring different perspectives. We borrow pieces of and build on everyone’s ideas, which inevitably leads us to a better solution.

What projects are you excited to be working on? 

I am excited to be getting more involved in business development and to have the opportunity to highlight XRCC’s capabilities to the external world. We have a wealth of knowledge in molecular, polymer and particle design, formulation and pilot plant scale up and engineering, which can be applied to a number of different materials problems. At the moment, I am focused on expanding our security materials portfolio. We have provided a number of product authentication materials for an external client, but XRCC has a lot more to offer in this space. I am looking forward to the challenge of helping leverage our expertise to grow this part of XRCC’s business.

What are your passions in life? How do you spend your free time? 

Earlier this year one of my daughters fell gravely ill and required a liver transplant. Luckily, I was a good match and was able to donate a portion of my liver to her. Six months post-transplant, both my daughter and I are doing very well. As a result of our journey, I’ve become extremely passionate about organ donation and have volunteered to mentor other parents and live donors who find themselves facing similar circumstances. It is a small way to recognize the absolutely amazing care that we received at Sick Kids Hospital and to give back to a community that supported us during a very difficult time.

Now that our lives are returning to normal I actually have some spare time! I enjoy baking, knitting, attempting sewing projects and practicing yoga.