What she does: Birnur and her team of scientists evaluate products designed to meet health, beauty, and fitness needs. They also review products related to pet food and grooming, and environmental quality. Their product evaluations for Good Housekeeping magazine and GoodHousekeeping.com have ranged from self-tanning lotions, eye makeup removers, and facial moisturizing creams to insect repellents, water purifiers, pedometers, and exercise machines. In addition, they look for substantiation of all advertising and packaging claims before a product can be accepted for an ad in Good Housekeeping or for the Good Housekeeping Seal.
Her background: Born in Turkey, Birnur came to the United States in 1987. She studied at Stevens Institute of Technology in New Jersey, where she earned a master's and a Ph.D. in chemical engineering in 1996. She has published articles in more than 10 professional journals. Prior coming to the Institute, she worked at Unilever and Takasago. She holds several patents in the personal wash products area.
Why she finds her job fascinating: Working at GHRI entails being a scientist, a reporter, and a consumer — all at the same time!
Outside of GHRI: Birnur's time outside work is devoted to her two daughters, ages 11 and 6. She and her husband are heavily involved in helping out with their homework and extracurricular activities. Like any other working mom, she at times feels guilty about not being able to join a class trip or not being more active in school.
Question she gets asked most frequently: What did best when we tested products that claim to extend hair color between dye jobs?
What she promises herself every week: A 30-minute morning workout at the Hearst Tower gym every other workday. Unfortunately, due to her hectic schedule, she ends up visiting the gym once a week at best.
What she does: As director of the Good Housekeeping Research Institute, Miriam is the editorial link between the Research Institute and Good Housekeeping magazine. Having been an editor for 20 years at magazines relating to women’s health and family issues, she ensures that the product categories tested at the Research Institute and the expertise offered meet the needs of today’s women. She oversees a staff of engineers, chemists, nutritionists, and other scientists who are committed to educating consumers, advocating for families, and helping them navigate a crowded, confusing marketplace by identifying what works...and what doesn’t.
About her background: Miriam was editor in chief of Child magazine, a parenthood magazine from 2000-2007, and editor in chief of American Health, a women’s health magazine prior to that. She serves on the National Board of Trustees of the March of Dimes Foundation and has been an adjunct professor in magazine publishing at New York University. She earned her bachelor’s degree from the University of Pennsylvania and her master’s degree in journalism from New York University. She is the author of The First Year of Marriage, based on a nationwide study of newlyweds, and wrote the introduction to the book Feeling Safe: Talking to Children About War and Terrorism.
Outside of GHRI: Miriam is a wife and proud mother of two daughters: Sarah, a costume designer, and Elizabeth, a film school student. In addition to her family, her passions are the arts, travel, and reading.
Some of her favorite GHRI tests: Best women’s swimwear (tested for fading in both chlorine and salt water, perspiration, pilling, drying time, and much more), moisturizers (the drugstore brand did best), low-flow toilets (evaluation included how many golf balls a toilet could flush), and pool alarms (GHRI identified three that failed — important lifesaving information).
Request from you, the consumer: Tell us what products you want tested by GHRI and what product information you crave most.
What she does: Sabina conceives, creates and carries out experiments to evaluate beauty and health products. She also researches and reviews advertisements that appear in the magazine to make sure they deliver on their claims.
Background: Sabina holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Chemistry from Ithaca College. Before joining the Good Housekeeping Research Institute, she was an organic chemist in the pharmaceutical and biotech industries. While working for Clairol, she implemented the synthesis of potential couplers in hair dye programs and researched various hair color applications. At ImClone Systems she worked as a research scientist in medicinal chemistry, where she contributed to the synthesis and characterization of novel compounds that were used as potential cancer treatments. Most recently she worked at Troy Corporation where she conducted exploratory and applied chemical research toward commercial industrial products.
Outside GHRI: Sabina loves spending time with her 7-year old daughter, which includes lots of reading, helping with her inventions, and making fresh pasta. She can spend hours at local flea markets and feels uneasy if she doesn’t recycle. She loves reading fiction, though most of it is now done on the commute into work. She lives in Brooklyn with her husband and daughter.
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