Posted 13/12/2023

Learn more about Jenna Valentin, our Head of Operations. Find out what made her pursue a career in science and how she delves into the future of scientific research, envisioning the crucial role our lab will play in shaping it.

Q: What inspired you to pursue a career in science, and how long have you worked at Source Certain?
A: I’ve always had an interest in science and maths which probably stemmed from stories from my Grandpa about what he did when he was working as an engineer, as well as being fortunate to enjoy many visits with my family to Scitech when I was young. Engaging and encouraging science teachers throughout my high school education solidified my interest in the physical sciences, leading to my particular interests in chemistry, physics and maths. My subsequent university studies combining both law and science, both heavily based on problem-solving and critical and analytical thinking, really led me into my career with my main focus and passion for analytical chemistry. I started my work with the Source Certain team as part of my research for my post-graduate studies in 2008 and have been working with Source Certain since its inception.

Q: Can you describe any projects, partnerships or specific research areas you have been involved with that interest you?
Some of my early research in applied analytical chemistry focused on using the existing methods and building on these to improve techniques for analysis and provenance establishment of coffees grown worldwide. Having the opportunity to visit local coffee growers and collectives on-site at their farms in Indonesia as part of an origin visit with the suppliers of some of my coffee samples used for the research to visit the source of where the coffee was grown gave me the chance to get hands-on to pick my own coffee samples straight from the trees on the farm to bring back to the laboratory for subsequent analysis. So I have a special interest in developing this technology and capabilities within the Provenance Verification programs that Source Certain can offer coffee growers and producers.

Q: Can you describe some of the day-to-day responsibilities and challenges that come with overseeing lab operations?
As Head of Operations, I’m responsible for managing the progression and delivery of the Provenance programs. From arranging logistics and conducting sample collection on-site at orchards, farms, factories, manufacturing facilities, and in-market retail locations to workflow and analytical processing of the samples through the laboratory to delivering reports to our customers. Challenges sometimes arise from the management of a very wide variety of materials and products that may range from perishable foods such as prawns and cherries to laboratory-grown diamonds and gold ore to agricultural products, including wheat and other grains, as all these materials require quite varied sample management and treatment through the laboratory. Applying my technical expertise and experience to assist in designing the sampling and analytical part of the programs for new materials and products has been a significant part of dealing with some of these challenges.

Q: How do you see the future of scientific research evolving, and what role do you envision your lab playing in shaping that future?
The nature of all science is that it is constantly evolving. From new and improved ways to conduct analytical processes to developing different or more efficient ways to manage samples through the laboratory and simple logistics, there are always aspects of research and delivering the Provenance programs that will continue to develop and progress into the future. Source Certain uses technology that, by its nature, is and should be constantly evolving to ensure the application of the technology continues to scale adequately as the programs and needs of customers grow.