“I am motivated to collaborate with community leaders, teachers, and scientists to bring strong intellectual property education and engagement to local communities."
A woman of firsts
Patent holder. Published researcher. Doctorate in organic chemistry. Patent signatory authority. Ana’s list of distinctions is lengthy and impressive, but perhaps the one she is most proud of is first-generation Romanian immigrant. Ana says she comes from a long line of Transylvanian farmers and glass factory workers and takes pride in where she has come from and the path she’s taken.
“I am a first: first born of four daughters, first in the family to go to college and earn a graduate degree, first generation immigrant; and with that comes stamina, humility, gratitude, a desire to give back, and leadership,” she says.
Ana says that her first introduction to chemistry was following her mother’s recipe notes in the kitchen, but she became more seriously interested in chemistry in middle school. A great chemistry teacher “delivered difficult-to-grasp concepts with eloquence and inspiration” and set her on her current career path.
After undergraduate and graduate studies in biochemical engineering in Romania, Ana attended North Carolina State University, earning a Ph.D. in organic chemistry. Her doctoral research, on developing a novel method for making a class of compounds, Palladium porphyrins, resulted in a patent and nine publications. Her work applies to studies in both artificial photosynthesis and photodynamic therapies in cancer treatment.
A unique career
Ana joined the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) as a patent examiner in 2012, initially drawn to the flexibility and benefits which, for a chemist and a mother, were invaluable. A “perpetual learner,” she found she was attracted to the innovative applications. She also appreciated the metrics used to measure performance, which gave her attainable goals she could meet and exceed, earning bonuses along the way.
“Working as a patent examiner is a unique career for a chemist, reviewing cutting-edge technology. Deciding the patentability of an application in a timely manner is gratifying,” she says.
Continued growth on detail
A self-described people person who finds “joy in connection,” Ana pursued an outreach coordinator detail position at the Eastern Regional Outreach Office (EROO) to find ways to share USPTO resources with diverse audiences and communities.
“I am drawn to the mission of the Eastern Outreach office to help people gain insight into the examining process, to communicate with stakeholders, to get feedback from inventors, to highlight the services and initiatives at USPTO, and to support students and educators by STEM education programs,” she explains.
The collaborative EROO environment immediately appealed to Ana, who says she has been taking mental notes on the office’s inspirational leadership and how they motivate the team to reach their full potential. She has also appreciated the opportunity to leverage her skills, both soft and technical, during her detail at EROO.
“Bringing resources to communities, particularity underrepresented communities, and speaking to people with a patent examiner perspective—it’s extremely valued, needed, and impactful,” Ana says.
Teleworking from North Carolina has also allowed Ana to engage with USPTO colleagues and local community members away from D.C. “I am motivated to collaborate with community leaders, teachers, and scientists to bring strong intellectual property education and engagement to local communities,” she says.
Ana says she is thankful for the USPTO’s celebration of diversity. As the president of the affinity group American Romanian Intellectual Property Association (ARIPA), she leads and organizes outreach events and motivates colleagues, regardless of background, to get involved. She describes USPTO culture as inclusive, a place where both diverse heritage and parenthood are genuinely supported and invigorated.
“You appreciate all the chances you are given as a first-generation immigrant,” says Ana. “You sense the value of you as an individual and the talents you bring to the table. I never dreamed of the life I’m living. Only in this country is such opportunity possible, and for this, I have a sincere gratitude.”