Dr. Agustin Pierri’s path to environmental testing and research looks different than most. Preceding his educational and professional track in chemistry, Dr. Pierri spent time as a kid supporting projects around his family’s business, Weck Laboratories (Weck Labs). Today, he serves as the company’s technical director and oversees the development of new research methods, the implementation of new technology, and the fine-tuning of all technical processes in the lab.
Decades ago, Dr. Pierri scurried around the lab putting stamps on envelopes and filing papers. Years later, he worked in the various lab sections . As he evaluated his future career, joining Weck Labs felt like a natural fit. After earning a graduate degree in chemistry, he decided to return to the lab, which handles everything from environmental testing for soil and air to clean drinking water at home and discharge in the ocean.
“I have chemist friends who work exclusively on very narrow research projects,” said Dr. Pierri. “And, sure, I could’ve gone that route, but returning to environmental testing brought a greater sense of purpose for me . What we do is essential for the community and touches every aspect of human lives. Working with Weck Labs presented an opportunity to not only do something that I like but also do something that creates good.”
An impactful moment came at the onset of the pandemic. As businesses shut down and most of the workforce transitioned to remote operations, the Weck Labs team came together for a difficult conversation; shutting down was not an option.
Weck Labs routinely tests drinking water sources and finished drinking water for water providers, which requires in-person, in-lab procedures. If those results aren’t delivered, the providers have to shut off the water.
“It was eye-opening to see how many people we affect, directly and indirectly” said Dr. Pierri. “If there had been a COVID-19 outbreak in our lab, it would have been catastrophic.”
The past two years also brought extreme hope and meaningful optimism to Dr. Pierri and his team. A few highlights include the development of capabilities to test wastewater to inform probable community infection rates for COVID-19—an efficient, cost-effective, and non-invasive way to reduce community transmission; and the implementation of cutting-edge technology to uncover previously unseen environmental pollutants.
Dr. Pierri expresses optimism for what lies ahead. With a laugh, he says, “We have great job security because there are always more problems to solve.”
In an industry with constant challenges and scientific questions yet to be posed, Dr. Pierri’s philosophy revolves around constantly pushing boundaries, seeking out and embracing emerging technology with an open mind, and always learning.
He expresses deep gratitude for vendors like Phenomenex that build the tools necessary for continuous scientific exploration. “It’s a synergistic relationship,” said Dr. Pierri.
The same philosophy naturally trickles into Dr. Pierri’s personal life where he tries to squeeze the most out of each day. He’s an avid traveler in all senses of the word. Beyond visiting other cities, states, and countries, Dr. Pierri explores his own city like it’s new—driving around new neighborhoods for the fun of it and trying every new restaurant that pops up around him.
He recalls a favorite quote from Saint Augustine: “The world is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page.”