Carlos M.

Principal Research Scientist
Reaction Engineering Group
The Dow Chemical Company

Ph. D., Chemical Engineering, University of Wisconsin
B.S., Chemical Engineering, Universidad Pontificia Bolivariana, Colombia 

As a Principle Research Scientist specializing in in polymer reaction engineering within the Dow Chemical Core Research and Development organization, Dr. Carlos M. Villa’s most significant contributions come from his unique abilities to find novel solutions by combining disparate engineering disciplines such as Process Systems and Fluid Mechanics to address complicated manufacturing and processing challenges. 

Coupled with his capability to combine technologies, Dr. Villa is also highly valued for his unique ability to convert innovation into practice. His research has helped impact Dow’s 2025 sustainability and productivity goals by enhancing raw material usage and minimizing their global footprint through the development of advanced polymer reactor optimization routines. 

Dr. Villa has come a long way since his birth in a small mountain village in Columbia. With a father who started as an uneducated factory worker and only earned a high school education after his son was nearly nine-years-old — eventually becoming a high school teacher and finishing college — Dr. Villa learned the value of perseverance and hard work early in life.

After his family moved to Medellin, he proved his dedication by earning the highest GPA in the Chemical Engineering Department at Universidad Pontificia Bolivariana, a feat that won him three years of free tuition at the expensive private college. Dr. Villa worked as a Chemical Engineer in Columbia for the next five years and married his wife right before moving to Madison, Wisconsin to attend graduate school. 

After receiving his Ph.D., he moved back to Columbia, but, with work in his home country scarce, he, his wife, and their young daughter returned to Madison after a year where Dr. Villa found a position as a Research Associate at the University of Wisconsin Polymerization Reaction Engineering Laboratory.

The switch from being an Electrochemical Engineer to working as a Polymer Reaction Engineer eventually formed the basis for his move to Dow Chemical as a Research Engineer in the Math Modeling Group five years later. At Dow, he eventually transferred to the Polyols Process R&D Group before his acceptance of his current role as Principal Research Scientist in theReaction Engineering Group.

Dr. Villa’s work at Dow generating reaction kinetic constants and formulating the main product/by-product formation models have generated over 150 million dollars of productivity gains for Dow since they were incorporated into the company’s optimization phases. He has authored or co-authored numerous scientific papers for publication in professional journals and been awarded seven patents for his work.

With his contributions to innovative reactor designs, advanced numerical methods, and practical applications, Dr. Villa is a crucial resource for Dow Chemical’s polymer reaction engineering efforts as demonstrated by his being awarded the 2016 Doug Leng Award for Excellence in Engineering Research, eight Dow Technology Center Awards, and many other tokens of recognition.