Elaine Black has always been ambitious. She left her small town—and ultimately her home country—in order to find the best opportunities for her.
Born in Cork, Ireland, Dr. Black spent most of her childhood in a small fishing village. Her father passed away when she was six years old, and her family lived on welfare for a period of time. After finishing high school, Elaine moved back to Cork to earn her bachelor’s degree.
Driven by her ambitions, Dr. Black pursued her PhD in food science. Her PhD studies took her to several places including the University of Delaware where she spent six months. Elaine returned to Ireland in order to find a post-doctorate position. She asked a former professor from Delaware for a reference, but he offered her a job instead. Elaine’s next job search coincided with the recession of 2008. She spoke to her contacts in Ireland, and they advised her to stay put. Dr. Black found a job at the University of Minnesota and promptly moved to St. Paul, a city with a large Irish-American community.
Currently, Dr. Black is a Lead microbiologist at Ecolab. She also volunteers for Minnesota middle school programs that encourage young women to pursue a career in the sciences.