When you reach for a cold brew—just waiting in the fridge for the big game—you expect it to taste, look and feel like you remember. When you pop the top, the head (foam) should gently spray and run down the side—just like you see in the commercials.
As the senior quality assurance manager for Molson Coors Beverage Company, Ruth Duffy-Krywicki ’77 ensures that the quality and safety of the beer meets and even exceeds the customer’s expectations. For the past 16 years, she has worked at Molson Coors Albany Brewery in Georgia. Molson Coors is the fifth largest beer company in the world. In her vast role, she oversees three different laboratories and leads and supervises a team of 19 chemists, microbiologists and food scientists. She is responsible for assuring that the quality conforms to specification and also for guaranteeing food safety (yes, beer is considered a “food,” like all beverages). Her job doesn’t stop with the liquid contents; she also oversees the quality attributes and characteristics for manufacturing and packaging by utilizing statistical modeling technology.
Looking back on her life, Duffy-Krywicki feels blessed. By all measures she is a success. However, she often wonders how her life would have turned out if she hadn’t taken a chemistry class in her freshman year with Sister Maria Josita, IHM.
“I didn’t come in as a chemistry major. I was home economics,” she says with a laugh.
Sister Maria Josita’s chemistry class was inspiring for Duffy-Krywicki, because when she was growing up, career paths for women were mostly predefined: teacher, nurse or secretary. With a love of science, Duffy-Krywicki marveled at how Sister Josita could make chemistry so understandable. “Even though I had chemistry in high school, it was Sister Josita who turned on the light bulb for me,” she adds. She continues to call Sister Josita her most significant academic influence.
In high school, Duffy-Krywicki enjoyed learning and wanted to attend college. Immaculata was the second college she visited. She recalled walking up the steps into the rotunda of Villa Maria Hall and right then, she decided that Immaculata was the school for her. Duffy- Krywicki reflects on the incredible experience she had at Immaculata. She noted that it was a time to grow up and “define who you are.” During her time at Immaculata, she was a member of the swim team and the chemistry club and made lifelong friends.
Duffy-Krywicki’s undergraduate degree in chemistry from Immaculata paved the way for her circuitous career path. After graduation, she accepted a job in Philadelphia and ultimately enrolled in Bryn Mawr College’s Ph.D. program in synthetic organic chemistry with the goal of securing a research job with a pharmaceutical company. She conducted her post-doctoral research and residency in San Antonio, Texas where her husband was serving as a physician. With no pharmaceutical companies in the area, Duffy-Krywicki did post-doctoral medical research in biochemistry.
Moving to Southwest Georgia allowed her to finally achieve her goal by accepting a position as a senior project scientist at a major pharmaceutical manufacturing plant. When that site closed after several years, Duffy-Krywicki pivoted and began working at Molson Coors in 2006. With a passion for lifelong learning, she expanded her scientific knowledge by earning a master’s degree in industrial engineering, which supported her manufacturing duties at Molson Coors.
The fundamentals that she learned at Immaculata, such as believing in yourself and having the ability to pivot and adjust to change, are skills that she has relied upon throughout life.
So, the next time you’re enjoying a cold beer with friends, you can appreciate the science that goes into making it perfect. You can also thank Duffy-Krywicki.