LSU alumna cooks up new technologies in the energy industry

Dr. Elizabeth Balapitiya

LSU Chemistry alumna Dr. Elizabeth (Conner) Balapitiya (LSU PhD 2015)

Science started out as a culinary experience for LSU alumna Elizabeth (Conner) Balapitiya. Throughout her childhood, each new recipe was a project that helped her develop a taste for science.

Although Elizabeth originally intended to pursue a medical career, her time at Baylor University in Texas shifted her focus to chemistry. She was inspired by her organic chemistry professor, who encouraged her to join his research group as an undergraduate assistant and supported her during her graduate program application process.

Originally from Lafayette, Elizabeth came to LSU to enroll in a graduate program closer to home. She wrote her PhD dissertation about her work with the Ragains research group, which focused on small molecule synthesis and visible light-promoted functionalization.

“Some of the best memories I have at LSU center around the people I met there,” Elizabeth said. “The LSU Chemistry Graduate program is really like a family. They were, and continue to be, so supportive.”

Elizabeth remembers her time at LSU fondly and encourages upcoming graduate students to slow down and enjoy their journey.

“Graduate school offers a great opportunity to meet a diverse group of people that are fully immersed in the same goals.” Elizabeth said. “Make sure to fully invest in building relationships and connections.”

In her current role, Elizabeth serves as a senior RD&E manager at Nalco Water, an Ecolab company. She leads a global research team in investigating new technologies in both traditional and transformational energy industries related to finished fuels and feedstocks.  She also leads an on-site analytical team, which performs testing on customer samples.  

“I am responsible for maintaining a 5-year innovation portfolio, ensuring technical business needs are met in a timely fashion, and removing roadblocks to success for my teams, which is my favorite part,” Balapitiya said.  For more information about Nalco Water and its mission, visit its website here.


Elaine Tagge | 2022