Alecia McCall-Gabriel

Global Coordinator for Failure Modes and Effects Analysis (FMEA)

Röchling Automotive (Detroit-based for German company)

Dr. Alecia McCall-Gabriel was born and raised in Jefferson City, Missouri but claims Detroit, Michigan as home since moving there after her freshman year of high school. Later, she attended Xavier University of Louisiana in New Orleans, where she majored in biochemistry and minored in biology. Alecia enjoyed her undergraduate research in the synthesis of molecules for cancer treatment so much that she decided to pursue a PhD.  In the summer of 2007, she lived in Ghana where she conducted research at the University of Cape Coast, using analytical techniques to analyze phytochemical components of interest for the treatment of diabetes and hypertension.

Alecia joined the Department of Chemistry at Louisiana State University in Fall 2007 and was a member of the Vicente Group.  She was a Huel D. Perkins Fellow as well as a NIH Ruth Kirschtein Predoctoral Fellow. Her dissertation described the synthesis, purification and characterization of porphyrins and BODIPY bioconjugates with the potential to detect early stage colon and breast cancer. She graduated with her PhD in May of 2012. When asked about what Alecia appreciated the most about her time as a graduate student in LSU Chemistry, she answered, “I appreciated the sense of community among all of the graduate students and professors.  I felt welcomed into the program and this continued throughout my stay at LSU.  I never felt as though I could not get through the graduate school process.”

Toward the end of her graduate studies, Alecia was uncertain whether to pursue a career in academia or industry.  She says, “I became aware of my love for teaching and mentoring in science through LSU NOBCChE community service events, as well as working with my colleagues in the Baton Rouge community.”

After graduate school, Alecia worked at the University of Michigan Health Sciences Center.  This position involved grant management, research (some conducted in Zambia), as well as lecturing and mentoring of students.  Of this experience, she says, “my academic role at the University of Michigan highlighted my desire to work with people, to meet them where they are, and build positive relationships to solve complicated problems.”  Later, she worked in quality control for an aerospace company, an experience that further helped her identify what she enjoys. “The combination of knowing chemistry and learning engineering was intriguing, yet gave me a challenge,” says McCall-Gabriel.

Since 2015, she has been the Failure Modes and Effects Analysis (FMEA) Global Coordinator with Röchling Automotive, a company based in Mannheim, Germany.  Röchling is an automotive supplier that produces plastic, injection molded parts to positively impact aerodynamics of vehicles, decrease fuel consumption, decrease carbon dioxide emissions, and improve the overall efficiency of the vehicle. They supply to almost every major Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) around the world. Alecia resides in Detroit, Michigan.  Of her current position, Alecia says, “I travel frequently to Ohio, South Carolina, Germany, Italy, and soon to China.  I assist Product Engineers with determining potential failures in their engineering design and I assist Quality/Manufacturing Engineers with producing a quality product.  I am also responsible for teaching the methodology behind determining potential risk/failure of our designs and processes to the employees at Röchling worldwide.”  Alecia is also an adjunct professor at South University in Novi, Michigan, where she teaches an “Introduction to General, Organic and Biological Chemistry” course.

When asked if there was anything she would do differently, Alecia answered, “There is not a thing I would change.  Here’s the honest truth:  If you maintain your dedication to a goal, it will come to fruition.  My goal was to obtain my PhD no matter what happened.”  Through some sleepless nights, Alecia gained an understanding: “I realized I loved to teach, mentor, and encourage young people to get them excited to pursue careers in STEM.  I also realized that I love chemistry and learning about science.  So, if you only believe you have two options after graduating – academia or industry – you would be surprised as to what career you might find that is best for you.  As you finish your graduate degree, my advice is to pursue your passions, no matter what that looks like to everyone else.”

 Profile contributed by Ashley Taylor and Carol Taylor