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Our People

Meet: Dr. Bernice Karlton-Senaye, Principal Scientist in Microbiology

At SEE, celebrating our people and their accomplishments is a core part of our culture. In our “Meet: Our People” series, you’ll hear directly from our people across the globe on what it’s like working at SEE, and a little bit about them outside of work.  

Where are you located?  

Charlotte, N.C., U.S.A.  

How long have you been at SEE?

Five-and-a-half years. 

Can you share a bit about your background and how you got to where you are today? 

Growing up in Ghana, I had the opportunity to attend a French school for six years during my primary education, which gave me a strong foundation in both French and English. Initially, my dream was to become a bilingual secretary, but fate had other plans for me. It was my uncle, the late Kenneth Kumaple, who visited us from Belgium who changed the course of my life. He encouraged me to pursue a career in science, specifically to become a medical doctor. Interestingly, my father used to tell people, even when I was just a teenager, that I would one day become a doctor. Little did I know that his words would become a prophetic vision for my future. But my true inspiration came from the community where I grew up. I witnessed frequent cases of malnutrition and food infections, which deeply affected me. It was these real-life experiences that ignited a passion within me to make a difference.

When I won a scholarship to pursue graduate studies, I knew exactly what I wanted to study. I chose a degree in Food Microbiology; driven by the desire to address the pressing issues I had observed in my community. After earning my Bachelor of Science degree in Home Science from the University of Ghana, Legon in 2002, I embarked on my professional journey. I joined the Food Research Institute (FRI) for a 1-year internship, and at the end of that internship, I was offered a full-time position as a Junior Scientist in the FRI Department of Nutrition in 2003.

In 2006, my life took a significant turn when I was selected as one of seven young scientists for a prestigious U.S. scholarship through the USAID Long Term Training Program. At that time, I hadn't yet taken the GRE or TOEFL exams, but my dedication and potential were recognized. I was granted a conditional award, which allowed me to pursue a master's degree in food science. I chose Purdue University in West Lafayette, thanks to my collaboration on a peanut research project with Purdue University. 

After completing my master's degree, I was fortunate to receive another scholarship grant from North Carolina A&T State University in 2010 to pursue a PhD. degree in Food Microbiology. Pursuing a PhD. degree with two toddlers and a teenage son was very challenging even with the help of my husband who was my support. However, I graduated with honors and a GPA of 4.0. After graduating in 2014, I continued my journey by joining the NCAT Center of Excellence in Post Harvest Technology as a Postdoctoral Scholar. For four years, I conducted research and mentored both graduate and undergraduate students, solidifying my impact in the scientific community.

Throughout my career, I remained dedicated to my work, as evidenced by my impressive publication record, with 32 articles published and over 180 citations. 

While I had the opportunity to pursue an Assistant Professor role at N.C. State University in 2018, I deliberately chose to join SEE to gain industry experience after being recruited through LinkedIn. Simultaneously, I was appointed as a five-year Adjunct Professor at N.C. A&T State University, allowing me to continue mentoring Ph.D. students.

My journey reached a significant milestone when I earned a Ph.D. and honors, which enabled my family and me to become U.S. permanent residents and later naturalized citizens after navigating the immigration process for 13 years. I consider myself extremely fortunate to have followed my passion in addressing food science issues, and I am committed to giving back through volunteering and mentoring young scientists.

In hindsight, although my initial interests differed, I am thankful that I ultimately followed my inspiration from my surrounding needs and my family's encouragement. I feel blessed and fortunate, and that's why I always enjoy giving back through volunteering and mentorship, embodying the principle of paying forward the good fortune I have experienced.  

What's your favorite part of your position at SEE?

The best part of my role is promoting food safety through innovative packaging that extends shelf life. My day-to-day responsibilities include performing shelf-life testing, quality control, upholding good manufacturing practices, managing the microbiology lab, overseeing personnel, and directing all microbiology lab activities. Beyond my core microbiology projects, I collaborate with scientists and engineers across disciplines on multifaceted initiatives. This interdepartmental collaboration allows me to be creative, develop new skills beyond microbiology, and constantly challenge myself.  

I also appreciate opportunities to give back through mentorship and volunteering. As an Adjunct Assistant Professor, I mentor Ph.D. students. I support high school and elementary students through the Charlotte Youth program. And I volunteer with Project Scientist to further engage with youth in STEM fields.  

What advice would you give to new employees in a similar position? 

Focus on Your Role: First, focus fully on your own role and learn everything needed to perform it effectively. This is the foundation upon which you can build.  

Seek Opportunities: Look for opportunities to join other projects by participating in relevant meetings and taking on supplementary roles. This will not only broaden your horizons but also help you understand different areas of the business.  

Pursue Continuous Learning: Pursue continuous learning by leveraging resources available to you. Never stop growing and expanding your knowledge.

What has been your biggest accomplishment so far in your career? 

My biggest accomplishment so far in my career has been rising from a BSc. in Home Science in Ghana to a Principal Scientist at a Fortune 500 company. After earning my bachelor's degree, I set my sights on advancing my education. Through hard work and perseverance, I attained a Ph.D. in Food Microbiology. This enabled me to secure a position at SEE, where I now collaborate with a multidisciplinary team of scientists and engineers on complex projects.  

I am proud to be named co-inventor on a pending intellectual property for the development of an innovative bioprocessing and medical film. The journey from my undergraduate studies in Ghana to now leading major initiatives at a global corporation has been challenging but rewarding. My academic achievements, coupled with the opportunity to innovate professionally at SEE, represent my biggest career accomplishments thus far. 

What are you most passionate about in your current role?  

I feel passionate about our ability to provide customized, innovative, and sustainable packaging solutions for the food and medical industry and products with automation at SEE. This is achieved by “swarming” (collaborating) with other scientists, engineers, marketing and sales teams.

Do you have a favorite mantra or quote that motivates you?  

“To be your best, you must put in your best.” This mantra stems from the fact that one can only succeed if you put in your best effort and all you have.  

What's your favorite book or movie?

My favorite movie is Special Operations/intelligence movies that are challenging to watch – Special Ops Lioness.  

If you could have lunch with one person from history, who would it be?  

Michelle Obama. This is because she represents a powerful career woman, a family woman, and a woman of faith and wisdom whom I can identify with on several levels.  

Interested in joining us? Check out our careers page for open roles. 


Amanda Murvin

Amanda Murvin is an Internal Communications Manager at Sealed Air. She writes stories about employees, the employee experience, company culture, and is responsible for employee communications and strategy.

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Amanda Murvin
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Internal Communications Manager

Amanda Murvin is an Internal Communications Manager at Sealed Air. She writes stories about employees, the employee experience, company culture, and is responsible for employee communications and strategy.