Westmont Magazine Pioneering Painless Dentistry
Colette Day Cozean ’80 is a gifted scientist and a daring and successful entrepreneur. As chair, president, and CEO of Premier Laser Systems Inc. (PLSI) of Irvine, Calif., she has pioneered the manufacture and sale of dental lasers that eliminate the need for drilling and anesthesia. The national media have documented her success: articles about her company have appeared in the Los Angeles Times and other major newspapers, and Business Week Enterprise printed a three-page profile of her in their October 13, 1997, issue.
PLSI began developing the revolutionary laser in 1991 and won approval from the Federal Drug Administration (FDA) to manufacture and market it in 1997. Convinced that dentists wouldn’t jump to invest in such an expensive tool, she shrewdly decided to take her case directly to the public. When news of the FDA approval broke, the media covered her company and products extensively, and she appeared on shows such as “Good Morning America” and “NBC News.” The public responded with an enthusiastic call for painless dentistry, and her company is working to meet the demand.
To honor her for these achievements, the Westmont Alumni Association named Colette the 1998 Alumna of the Year. When she accepted the award at Homecoming in September, she credited Westmont with teaching her how to integrate science with her faith.
Colette epitomizes the ideal liberal arts graduate. Not only has she gained extensive expertise in her specialty, but she knows how to communicate effectively with a variety of audiences: engineers, dentists, reporters, and business people. Her wide-ranging skills helped her succeed in developing an innovative product, keeping her business afloat, and commanding the attention of the media.
In a 1997 Los Angeles Times article about PLSI, reporter Patrice Apodaca quoted analyst Scott Baily’s positive assessment of Colette: “She is unlike any CEO I’ve ever come in contact with. She has the whole package. The reason this company is at the forefront today is because of that woman.”
After graduating from Westmont with a B.A. in the physical sciences, Colette earned a B.S. in biomedical engineering from the University of Southern California, and a master’s in electrical engineering and a doctorate in biomedical engineering from Ohio State. She nearly earned an M.D. as well, attending medical school to expand her knowledge.
For four years she headed research at Pfizer Inc.’s laser-research division. When the subsidiary was sold, she succeeded in raising enough capital to acquire it. She learned her business sense at home; her father is a CPA who involved her in his work from an early age.
A former Warrior volleyball player, she stays active with backpacking, cross-country skiing, and horseback riding. She also loves teaching children at her church in Lake Forest, Calif., where she lives with her husband, Kim, and their two children, Jesse and Chelsea.