Rachael Buck, Ph.D., is a mom, scientist, Senior Research Fellow at Abbott and pioneer in infant nutrition. As a scientist of immune health, Rachael studies the components of breast milk to help Abbott nutritionists develop infant formulas that are closer to breast milk than ever before. Let’s get to know her.
You'd describe your childhood as … Noisy and hectic! As the sixth of seven children and the youngest daughter in a family of nine, I had lots of role models. I learned to listen, speak up and often lean in as peacemaker for my siblings!
Your 20-word (or so) resume … Expert in immune health studying milk components to develop infant formulas closer to breast milk; currently leading a global research program on human milk oligosaccharides (HMOs). Ph.D., Immunology, Cambridge University. Joined Abbott in 1995.
What inspired you or drew you to this field/area of research? I was intrigued by the idea that nutrition could be a silver bullet for optimal health. Studying pediatric nutrition is appealing because breast milk is recognized as the gold standard, which means there’s a blueprint to develop optimal nutrition for formula-fed infants.
Your proudest professional moment? Leading the science team to help deliver the first infant formula with an HMO to support immune development. This breakthrough innovation leveraged a vast, cross-functional, best-in-class team of scientists with the will to win for our customers.
What do you like to do for fun? Exercise! I'm passionate about jogging to bolster immunity and working out with weights to build muscle and maintain mobility. I also enjoy going to a cabin in the woods, where my husband and I spend quality time with our three sons.
What are your dreams for the future? In addition to lifestyle, there's a need for consumers all over the world to embrace and recognize the power of nutrition for health and wellness throughout life. The adage is true, "you are what you eat."
What is the best advice you ever heard? "You don't have to be the smartest to succeed." And: "Recognize that defeat can build determination." Also, my scientist brother-in-law encouraged me to pursue science. I never thought I could be a scientist, but it was one of my favorite subjects. I worked very hard and learned to believe in myself!
Any closing thoughts? We often learn more from failure than success. Never underestimate the value of experience, leveraging mentors to help foster a promising future and treat others the way you would want to be treated.