Profile: John J. Curro
Bachelor of Science in physics, 1976; Master’s and Ph.D in materials science/polymers, University of Cincinnati, 1982 | Joined Procter & Gamble in Cincinnati in 1982; Became the 25th member of P&G’s Victor Mills Society in 1998 for innovations resulting in 35 patents.
In the Beginning | He worked in the diaper division developing softer, drier, lighter, stretchier diapers. Favorite line: “I was in diapers for 18 years.”
Benefits | His inventions allow Procter & Gamble to supply developing countries with a lower-cost diaper that has fewer amenities than diapers here, yet still provides the basics. “It’s one of the things I’m most proud of because of the benefit to the world’s consumers.”
And Now | His research stretched into creating new uses for a synthetic fabric he invented out of polymers. It’s used in products such as sanitary pads, Thermacare heat wraps and Dryel home dry-cleaning sheets.
The Invention | A new way to treat plastic sheeting such as that used to make plastic bags. The process, solid state formation technology, makes the material stronger, more elastic, porous and soft.
What Good Is It? | By adjusting the process, it can be made light and gauzy, perfect for making spiderwebs at Halloween, or thick and stretchy, good for bandages or diapers, or heavier and softer, like a baby’s blanket.
Other Uses | Curro’s team of researchers is seeking solutions to problems people don’t even know they have.
Theory of Work | “I took Tae Kwon Do lessons at Xavier, and the mental side of that is that failure is not an option. That’s what I bring to a project.”
Work of Theory | He’s usually told to make something three times stronger, twice as soft or half as costly.
Survival of the Funniest | “We’re exploring to see if we can provide value to the science of dead chickens,” he says about absorbent meat packaging. His deadpan face breaks into a smile. “You have to have humor. This is tough work and a sense of humor can help.”
Lock It Up | His is the only locked office on the floor. The counters and shelves are strewn with test fabrics, papers and equipment. He told his bosses: “If I had a clean desk policy, I would have a clean mind policy, and there would be nothing coming out.” So he got a lock.
Scary Moment | When physics professor John Hart told his father on graduation day, “Your son has made a terrible mistake. He’s wasted his time studying physics and should instead become a stand-up comedian.” Hart laughed, and his father realized it was a joke. Only then did Curro breathe easy. He has been ever since.