2020 TAPPI/PIMA Awards: Excellence in Action


Each year, Paper360° is honored to spotlight the recipients of the TAPPI/PIMA National-level awards, as well as those receiving awards from several TAPPI Divisions. Many of these awards were scheduled to be presented during PaperCon 2020. While that event has been postponed in response to the coronavirus pandemic, we are pleased to celebrate these achievements in our pages. We hope that readers will feel free to share this article as a positive sign that, thanks to individuals like these who lead by example—in their service to others, their exemplary management, and their remarkable contributions—our industry has a secure future, in spite of the challenges we now face.

For many TAPPI Awards, nominations are open until August 1. Several national-level awards include generous honorariums funded by private donation. Visit tappi.org and choose the “Get Involved” tab for more information on TAPPI Awards & Honors.

Here, you’ll meet the winners of these prestigious awards. Recognizing scientific achievement, outstanding leadership, professional excellence, and service to our industry and communities, these awards do more than honor those receiving them—they highlight the qualities valued by TAPPI members.

For Scientific Achievement:
Gunnar Nicholson Gold Medal Award

After founding Sustainable Fiber Technologies (SFT) in 2015, Lewis guided the Renton, WA-based company through development of the Phoenix Process, an environmentally friendly method for pulping nonwood biomass materials. The Phoenix Process has been licensed by a number of facilities to produce sustainable packaging, molded products, tissue and toweling, and more. Today, Lewis is CEO of both SFT and Phoenix Pulp and Polymer. For his important technical contributions to the industry, Lewis is this year’s recipient of the Gunnar Nicholson Gold Medal, the highest honor TAPPI can bestow upon an individual.

Lewis began his education in pulping nonwoods 40 years ago, pulping corn stover alongside Dr. Herb Schroeder at Colorado State University. His corporate career started at the Weyerhaeuser research department in Longview, WA. He joined TAPPI in 1978 and within a year was involved in the various testing division committees. He finished his Weyerhaeuser tenure in the Papermaking Research Group working on the Extended Nip Project and felt development and prediction models.

After a stint with Noram Testing Equipment, Lewis went back into research as a papermaking research manager for a precipitated calcium carbonate manufacturer, a job that took him to fine paper mills across North America.

Lewis spent 17 years at the University of Washington teaching papermaking, fiber physics, and pulping and bleaching. There, Lewis renewed his research work in nonwood pulping, knowing as a papermaker that if he could have good fibers, he could make good paper. In 2015, Lewis left the university to start SFT and develop the Phoenix Process. Today, ten of his former students work for SFT, and the Phoenix Process is being used on a number of biomass materials in North America, with a European mill slated to start using the process in 2021.

Lewis has been an active TAPPI member, and served as TAPPI Student Chapter Faculty Advisor at the University of Washington from 1999-2014. He served as an officer with TAPPI’s Pacific Local Section and now chairs the TAPPI Nonwood Committee.

For Service Leadership:
Herman L. Joachim Distinguished
Service Award

For 2020, this award honors TAPPI Fellow Gordon Bugg, senior engineer at Kemira Oyj. He began his career in 1981 as a PM process engineer at the Mahrt, AL, mill of Alabama Kraft (later Mead and now WestRock). Bugg progressed to coating superintendent and held that post until 2001. He then joined Eka Chemicals and later Akzo Nobel; in 2015 his group was part of an acquisition by Kemira Oyj.

Paralleling his career in the paper industry, Bugg retired from the US Army Reserve in 2009 after 30 years of service, holding the permanent rank of Colonel. His assignments included Command positions in Chemical, Special Forces, and Logistics units. His awards include the Parachutist badge, the Bronze Star, and the Legion of Merit.

A TAPPI member since 1981, Bugg is very active with the Gulf Coast Local Section and received the Paul Magnabosco Outstanding Local Section Member Award in 1997. He became involved with the TAPPI Coating and Graphic Arts Division in 1988 and is active on the Division’s Coating Operations Committee. He has served as committee chair many times and played an active role in the Division. Bugg was elected to the TAPPI Board of Directors in 1999, concluding his term in 2002.

“Gordon has a natural ability to sense what needs improvement in organizational operations, define the root cause, and implement initiatives that become remedies,” writes TAPPI Fellow John Niemiec. “His service and contributions have had a significant and highly beneficial effect on TAPPI.”

For Business Leadership:
TAPPI/PIMA Executive of the Year

Bringing together different companies, and different corporate cultures, may be the ultimate test of a leader—but it’s a challenge Steve Voorhees has met time and time again. Voorhees is CEO of WestRock and is also a member of the board of directors. Prior to his current role, Voorhees was CEO of RockTenn and also served in various executive leadership roles, including president and chief operating officer. Voorhees earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in economics and mathematics from Northwestern University and a Master of Business Administration degree from the University of Virginia Darden School of Business.

Since WestRock was developed in 2015 from the merging of packaging giants RockTenn and MeadWestvaco, the company under Voorhees has completed nine acquisitions, including the US$2.28 billion buy in 2017 of Multi Packaging Solutions (MPS), as well as the spin-off of its specialty chemicals business, the sale of its dispensing business, and the sale of most of its land and development assets. The acquisitions dramatically grew WestRock in size, and expanded its geographic and end-product reach. WestRock, on track to US$16 billion in revenue and with 45,000 employees, is the second largest US paper industry company and is ranked No. 2 in containerboard and No. 1 in boxboard. Voorhees has earned this prestigious honor—presented to senior-level executives in the pulp, paper, or converting industries for excellence in management and outstanding contributions to the industry—for leading WestRock through unprecedented growth and success.

For Local Section Service:
Paul Magnabosco Outstanding Local Section Member Award

Andrew Chorney has a Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering from Auburn University and was a member of the university’s first solar car race team, the “Sol of Auburn.” Now a technical services manager for Essity Professional Hygiene North America, LLC, Chorney has more than 29 years of paper industry experience, starting with Champion International in Courtland, AL, which later became International Paper.

During his career, Chorney has been involved in green field and brown field mill projects from design, construction, startup, and operations. He has been active in talent acquisition and training of entry level engineers, operating technicians, and maintenance crafts into the paper industry and enjoys building a future for the next generation of paper professionals.

Chorney joined TAPPI in 1991. He is an active participant in the Gulf Coast TAPPI Local Section, sitting on its executive committee and serving in various officer positions for repeated tenures. He has also been a participating member on the TAPPI Yankee Dryer Safety Committee.

The Magnabosco Award recognizes Chorney’s remarkable leadership and service to the Gulf Coast TAPPI Local Section. “Andy has gone far beyond organizing complete meetings, working through the chair positions (twice), and functioning as a true voice and guiding force,” writes fellow Gulf Coast member Glenn M. Hanson. “Andy’s efforts have helped keep the division viable.”

TAPPI Fellows: Leading the Way

Ambassadors, role models, thought leaders—the select few who earn the title “TAPPI Fellow” are all these things and more. For more than 50 years, TAPPI Fellows have continued to enrich the industry with their contributions. Only a small percentage of TAPPI members ever achieve this distinction.

Considerations for selection include longstanding TAPPI Membership, exemplary volunteer leadership, and outstanding contributions to the industry’s knowledge base. The TAPPI Fellow designation is also conferred upon recipients of the Gunnar Nicholson Gold Medal or Herman L. Joachim Distinguished Service Awards, and those who have served on TAPPI’s Board of Directors. “TAPPI Fellows truly represent our best and brightest,” says TAPPI President Larry Montague.

We welcome the nine new Fellows who will join this elite group in 2020:

John Bergin
Technical and Investor Consulting, LLC
TAPPI Member since 1967

Jim Brewster
Irving Pulp & Paper, Ltd.
TAPPI Member since 1985

Przemyslaw Pruszynski, Ph.D.
Pruszynski Paper Chemistry Consulting, LLC
TAPPI Member since 1992

Jack Tippett, Ph.D.
EnTech Engineering, PC
TAPPI Member since 1996

Roland J. Trepanier, Ph.D.
OpTest Equipment Inc.
TAPPI Member since 1978

Angela Wensley, Ph.D., P.E.
Angela Wensley Engineering Inc.
TAPPI Member since 1983

2020 Gunnar Nicholson Gold Medal Award Recipient:
Mark Lewis
Sustainable Fiber Technologies/
Phoenix Pulp and Polymer
TAPPI Member since 1978

From the TAPPI Board of Directors:
Fernando Bertolucci
TAPPI Member since 2011

From the TAPPI Board of Directors:
Donald Haag
Packaging Corporation of America (Retired)
TAPPI Member since 2013

For Service and Emerging Leadership:
Young Professionals of the Year Award

The Young Professionals of the Year is an annual contest that identifies aspiring young leaders in the global forest products, pulp, paper, tissue, packaging, and associated industries. Eligible nominees are age 35 or younger with less than 10 years of industry experience. For 2020, TAPPI has chosen five recipients based on their outstanding leadership, community service, and problem-solving contributions to scientific or engineering projects.

Peyton Clifton

A 2017 graduate from the University of Tennessee, Clifton holds a Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering with a minor in Aerospace Engineering. As lead project engineer for a cost savings- and safety-driven project at his mill, Clifton developed a passion for reliability and long-term profitability. He hopes to someday bring his talents to a role as maintenance and engineering manager.

John DeJarnette

DeJarnette’s research work has focused on advancing paperboard product performance and developing new pulping, bleaching, wet end chemistry, and refining techniques. As part of the Tres Barras project team, he earned the 2017 WestRock Innovation Excellence Award for fiber science contributions. DeJarnette’s analysis of mill process information to determine the impact of refiner plate performance on PM quality resulted in a US$500,000 potential cost savings for his mill.

John Edwards

“Making a positive impact on people” is a driving force for Edwards, an NCSU graduate who was instrumental in recent water reduction efforts at his mill. He is already a respected leader at his mill and aspires to continue to develop his leadership skills to serve as a mentor to others. Edwards is a staunch contributor to his community and his church, and serves as secretary of TAPPI’s Papermaking Technology and Operations Committee.

Natasha Melton

At WestRock, Melton has worked to develop aqueous coating solutions for paperboard, ranging from graphical print quality enhancement to development of new and sustainable materials for barrier performance in packaging. She graduated cum laude from James Madison University with a Bachelor of Science in Biotechnology. Melton led the Richmond Women of Science and Engineering Diversity and Inclusion team, and has mentored Hispanic high school students interested in STEM careers.

Nika Wanserski

As a shift supervisor, Wanserski strives every day to solve problems and develop engineering solutions. She hopes to eventually serve as a VP of operations. A graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point, Wanserski triple-majored in Paper Science, Chemical Engineering, and Spanish, with minors in Biofuels and Chemistry; her hard work earned her the 2016 PIMA Student of the Year Award.

PIMA Management Division:
Brookshire Moore Superintendent
of the Year


Sherman has been a superintendent with GPI for more than five years, most recently as the superintendent on K1 in the Kalamazoo, MI, mill. In that role, he has overseen improvements in safety, quality, production, and cost—his cost reduction projects in coating and fiber have delivered more than US $2,500,000 in savings over the past three years. With almost 30 years in the industry, Sherman has dedicated significant time to coaching and mentoring young engineers on the fundamentals of papermaking and process troubleshooting.

Technologist of the Year

Since joining the IT Committee in 2017, Zerr, a director of manufacturing services for GP, has been adding value through his suggestions, ideas, and participation in special groups. He has made a solid contribution toward the group’s development strategy of forming Common Interest Groups to explore issues in digitization and infrastructure. Zerr has been instrumental in helping to solidify the direction of the PIMA IT Committee through his leadership, perseverance, and dedication to knowledge-sharing.

Mill Manager of the Year

Glowdowski is responsible for all aspects of operation at the company’s Quinnesec, MI, mill, which has 430 employees and produces 700,000 tons of coated paper and market pulp annually. He has been with Verso for 30 years, first joining the company in 1990 at the Sartell, MN, mill as pulp mill manager. He holds a degree in Pulp and Paper Science and Engineering from the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point.

PIMA Student of the Year

A senior in the Department of Chemical Engineering at Auburn University with specialization in Pulp, Paper and Bioresource Engineering, Ivan completed three “Co-Op” terms at International Paper’s Riverdale, AL, mill; did an internship at PCA’s Valdosta, GA, mill; and has accepted a job as an engineer with Yates Engineering. As president of Auburn’s TAPPI Student Chapter, she demonstrated outstanding leadership skills and a drive for excellence. Ivan has received the Auburn Pulp and Paper Foundation Scholarship for three years and was awarded the Neal McDevitt Scholarship in 2019, in recognition of strong academic performance.

Women in Industry Division:
Woman of the Year Award


Elice-Invaso is a passionate advocate for supporting and developing the next generation of leaders and innovators. As executive director of the Australasian Pulp and Paper Industry Technical Association (Appita), she has led the development of new programs and events to better engage, connect, and develop young industry professionals. She has 23 years’ experience in the pulp and paper industry across various roles, including management, advocacy, technical sales and marketing, publishing, and consulting.

Recently Elice-Invaso has been involved in the development of a new online master’s program: The Master’s Bioproduct Manufacturing Engineering at BioPRIA (Bioresource Processing Research Institute of Australia), Monash University. This first-of-its-kind program is designed to prepare a new generation of engineers with entrepreneurial and advanced manufacturing skills.

Elice-Invaso has extensive experience engaging with stakeholders and building and strengthening collaborations for research and development between industry, universities, and not for profit groups, and has held a wide range of representative positions focused on industry education, training, and research. She is a member of the Monash University BioPRIA Management Committee; the Pulp & Paper Industry Reference Committee; and the Australian Forest Product Association (AFPA) – Pulp & Paper Industry Chamber Committee.

Coating and Graphic Arts Division

Division Technical Award and
the Charles W. Englehard Prize


Lyons received his doctorate degree in Chemical Engineering from Lehigh University, and has more than 36 years of experience in fluid mechanics, paper coating, paper finishing, and mineral pigments. He worked with Westvaco and Repap Technologies, and retired in 2017 from Imerys after 25 years. Lyons is an adjunct professor at University of Maine and Western Michigan University. An active TAPPI member since 1985, Lyons has held various leadership roles in TAPPI including on the board of directors.

Division Leadership and Service Award & DuPont Soy Polymers Prize

Kotoye retired from his most recent post as a technical sales leader with Trinseo, and has been a TAPPI Member since 1987. His very active support of the C&GA Division includes years of service on both the Technical Program Committee and the Steering Committee, and he has served as chair for both. He has shared his coating expertise by presenting papers at both PaperCon and the C&GA Conference.

Coating and Graphics Arts Division and WestRock Outstanding Educator Award

With 27 years’ experience working for polymer suppliers to the paper, paint, and coatings industry, Ottone has made his mark in the area of technical service and development. His previous experience includes stints with Container Corporation of America and St. Regis/Champion Paper. Much of his work and knowledge-sharing have centered on improved binders for printing, writing, and packaging grade coatings; and barrier coatings for paper, packaging, and construction surfaces.

Paper and Board Division

Division Leadership and Service Award and Oscar May Prize

A graduate of Georgia Institute of Technology with a Master’s degree in Mechanical Engineering, Wedel began his career as a research engineer with Beloit Corporation. In 2000, he joined Kadant Johnson and has served in his current role as president since 2006. Wedel has been an avid inventor of novel technologies, particularly in paper drying methods, systems, and equipment, and holds 60 US patents. He is an active member and TAPPI Fellow.

Division Technical Award and
Harris O. Ware Prize


A TAPPI Fellow and frequent TAPPI conference presenter, Kormano spent 17 years with Valmet as an application engineer, project engineer, and product manager. In 2004, he helped start up Deublin Steam Systems and was a senior engineer for them for 13 years; He is currently an Engineering Fellow for International Paper. Kormano is known for his deep understanding of papermaking steam and hood systems, exemplary leadership, and his knowledge-sharing.

Process Control Division

Division Leadership and Service Award

Moore graduated from the University of Maine and has worked in the pulp and paper industry for more than 36 years. He started his career as an R&D process engineer at PH Glatfelter and has worked at the Sappi Skowhegan, ME, mill for the last 31 years as a process engineer, papermill production engineer, and lately as technical specialist focused on special capital projects. Moore has served as chair of the TAPPI Process Control Division and now serves as awards chair.

Division Technical Award

Lahouaoula is a QCS optimizer expert at Honeywell Sheet Manufacturing Center of Excellence. His career at Honeywell has spanned more than 23 years. Lahouaoula has authored or co-authored more than 15 papers and holds a Ph.D. in Automatic Control from University of Paul Sabatier, Toulouse. An expert in QCS paper machines application specializing in cross direction control applications, he has dedicated his efforts toward commissioning and optimizing paper machine cross direction control.

Process and
Product Quality Division

Division Leadership and Service Award

During his 26 years at CTS, Czyryca has held overall responsibility for operations in seven of CTS’s 11 programs; he has served in his current role as president for 10 years. Czyryca joined TAPPI in 1994. He is chair of the Quality and Standards Management Committee and has led numerous committees in the P&PQ and Corrugated Divisions. He holds a BS in Physics with an Applied Science minor from Marquette University in Milwaukee and served as an officer in the US Army on both active and reserve duty.

Division Technical Award and
Richard S. Hunter Prize


Currently president and CEO of Technidyne Corporation (New Albany, IN) and owner of Technidyne Inc. (Dorval, PQ), Popson’s pulp and paper industry career has spanned almost three decades. He is involved in a variety of committees within TAPPI, ISO, PAPTAC and CIE. Popson is also chair of the US Technical Advisory Group (TAG) to ISO Technical Committee 6 and head of delegation for the US to ISO TC6. He was named a TAPPI Fellow in 2015.

Nonwovens, Engineers, & Technologists (NET) Division

Division Leadership and Service Award

Ramkumar holds a Ph.D. from University of Leeds, UK, and is a full professor of technical textiles at Texas Tech University, where his work centers on advanced materials and functional finishing of fibrous materials. Two of his inventions are FiberTect, a toxic chemical decontamination wipe; and Towelie wipe, an oil absorbent. He is an Honorary Fellow of Textile Association (India) and received TAPPI’s Mark Wollingsworth Technical Prize for nonwoven research. Through his column “TexSnips,” he disseminates news on textile R&D around the world.