Sarah T. Eckersley, Ph.D.

Global Leadership Award

Sarah T. Eckersley, Ph.D., Global Leadership Award, Headshot

Sarah T. Eckersley, Ph.D.


For exceptional leadership of a complex global organization; for building teams based on a culture of diversity and inclusion; and for inspired mentorship of future women leaders.

Sarah T. Eckersley, Ph.D., is global R&D director for coatings, monomers, and plastics additives research and development at Dow. She is one of five leaders reporting directly to Dow’s chief technology officer and the only woman. She is responsible for an organization of several hundred people, mostly Ph.D. scientists and engineers, in support of a $4 billion business. Groups in her organization are located on every continent but Antarctica. Dr. Eckersley has more than 25 years of industrial experience, of which nearly 20 have been leading global teams.

Originally from the United Kingdom, Dr. Eckersley moved with her family to the United States at age 9, and then to Canada for her remaining school years, forming the foundation for the global perspective that has shaped her life. Her academic research focused on the complexities of emulsions from their formation, to formulation into products, and finally to the structure-property relationships when those products are used in applications.

A position at a world-leading materials science company, such as Dow, was a natural fit for her. She began as an engineer in the company’s latex business, where she quickly became a team leader, delivering a track record of technical and business success. Both her responsibilities and technical breadth continued to expand, and soon, she was applying her expertise to new technology domains and businesses. She has led R&D organizations with wide-ranging technologies such as packaging, food ingredients, pharma excipients, coatings and adhesives. Dr. Eckersley has made significant contributions to each of these cornerstone businesses for Dow, and has discovered innovative crossover technologies along the way.

Dr. Eckersley prides herself on fostering collaboration and actively strives to grow an inclusive environment. As a role model for both female and male engineers, she is in high demand as a speaker and mentor. She was recently the keynote speaker at Dow’s PowerUP Conference (in partnership with Ernst & Young) with 150-200 attendees, whose objective is to advance gender equity. She is the site sponsor for Dow’s GROW University, an employee resource group targeting personal development.

Dr. Eckersley is a two-time recipient of the Roon Foundation Award, the premier recognition from the coatings industry, and was recently recognized as a Dow Women’s Innovation Network Champion, an employee-driven award. She is an inventor on six patents; author of more than 45 internal proprietary, peer-reviewed technical reports; and an author on 25 external publications.

She holds a B.A.Sc. from the University of Ottawa and a Ph.D. from the University of Waterloo, both in chemical engineering. The specialty runs in her family — she is married to a chemical engineer, and their daughter is pursuing chemical engineering at the University of Minnesota. She completed a Young Executives Residency from the UNC Kenan Flagler Business School (2001) and Women on Corporate Boards Program at Harvard Business School (2018). Dr. Eckersley lives in Michigan and spends her leisure time as a maker and creator, especially of jewelry.