2021 TAPPI/PIMA Awards: Rising to the Challenge


Each year, Paper360° is honored to spotlight the recipients of TAPPI’s national-level awards, as well as those receiving awards from several TAPPI Divisions. These outstanding professionals demonstrate that volunteer leadership and personal achievement all contribute to the success of our industry. For more than a year, our industry has been impacted by the effects of the global coronavirus pandemic; yet that has not stopped the individuals featured here from continuing to make noteworthy contributions to their association, their companies, and their peers.

With the exception of the Gunnar Nicholson Gold Medal Award, all awards will be presented at TAPPICon, October 3-6, 2021, in Atlanta, GA. (Dr. Frank will receive the GNGM award at TAPPI/AICC SuperCorrExpo, August 8-12, 2021, in Orlando, FL.) We hope many of you will safely join us in person to celebrate their achievements. Through service to others, exemplary management, and other contributions, these awardees demonstrate that our industry has a bright future, in spite of past and current challenges.

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. On the following pages, we are pleased to introduce this year’s winners.

For Scientific Achievement:
Gunnar Nicholson Gold Medal Award

Dr. Benjamin Frank is recognized as one of the most prolific contributors in the North American containerboard/corrugated industry in the last 20 years. As a researcher, mentor, author, and volunteer leader, Dr. Frank’s work has enabled the development of more effective, efficient, and sustainable containerboard and corrugated packaging, while furthering our industry’s understanding of the physical/mechanical properties and contributions of fiber, containerboard, and combined corrugated board.

First presented in 1985, the prestigious Gunnar Nicholson Gold Medal Award is TAPPI’s highest technical honor in recognition of an individual’s exceptional industry contributions. For 2021, the GNGM honors Dr. Frank.

In his current role at PCA, Dr. Frank leads a team involved in research, technical support, and product development. Their efforts focus on better understanding materials and improving existing test methods in both accuracy and precision. Through these efforts, the team has been able to advance modeling and prediction of compressive strength for containerboard, corrugated board, and corrugated packaging, as well as assessments of overall package performance in various parts of the supply chain.

Dr. Frank also oversees PCA’s Technical Center’s co-op program, where he has trained and mentored more than 60 students. This outreach effort has also provided him the opportunity to guest lecture, teach, and guide undergraduate and graduate students at many packaging schools across the country.

A TAPPI member since 2001, Dr. Frank has contributed to more than 50 TAPPI Standards and Technical Information Papers (TIPs); authored or co-authored more than 15 peer-reviewed articles related to containerboard and fiber-based packaging; and holds six US patents. He has provided leadership on numerous TAPPI Committees and dozens of Standard Specific Interest Groups (SSIGs).

He received his doctorate in physics and master’s in colloids, polymers, and surfaces (chemical engineering) in 1995 from Carnegie Mellon University. Following post-doctoral research at Stanford and IBM, he started his career in the forest products industry in 1996 at International Paper. He later joined PCA in 2001 as manager of the Packaging and Materials Testing Labs.

Dr. Frank is also active in the International Safe Transit Association and is chair of the Fibre Box Association’s Technical Committee. He has been deeply involved in many of their activities and technical publications, including various revisions of the Fibre Box Handbook and sponsored research projects.

For Business Leadership:
TAPPI/PIMA Executive of the Year

Though Graphic Packaging’s history spans more than 100 years, it’s a forward-leaning innovator that serves some of America’s leading brands—and recently earned a spot on Newsweek’s 2021 list of America’s Most Responsible Companies. Much of that success can be traced to the leadership of its president and CEO, Michael P. Doss, our 2021 Executive of the Year.

In making the announcement, TAPPI President and CEO Larry N. Montague said, “Under Michael’s guidance, Graphic Packaging has made environmental, social, and corporate governance a top priority. He has championed the organization’s efforts to develop diversity and inclusion programs and is a big supporter of the TAPPI/PIMA Student Summit.”

Says Doss, “Being selected as Executive of the Year is a great honor. Like TAPPI, Graphic Packaging has been involved in this industry for more than a century and both organizations have served as leaders—breaking new ground, forging new paths, and inspiring our industry onto a better, stronger, and more sustainable future.”

Doss began his career at Graphic Packaging in 1990, serving as plant manager for the Gordonsville, TN, and Wausa, WI, plants; he has held positions of increasing management responsibility ever since. Prior to January 2016, he was president and chief operating officer of Graphic Packaging, and he has served in various other leadership roles.

Currently, Doss serves on the Board of Directors for the American Forest & Paper Association, the Sustainable Forest Initiative, the Paper Recycling Coalition, the Atlanta Area Council of the Boy Scouts of America, and the Paper & Packaging Check-off Board. He is also active in the Metro Atlanta Chamber of Commerce.

Doss holds a bachelor’s of science in Industrial Marketing and a master’s of business administration in finance, both from Western Michigan University. He is also a graduate of Harvard University’s General Manager Program. Graphic Packaging, headquartered in Atlanta, is a leading provider of paper-based packaging solutions to food, beverage, foodservice, and other consumer products companies.

For Service Leadership:
Herman L. Joachim Distinguished Service Award

The Herman L. Joachim Distinguished Service Award is the highest honor TAPPI can bestow upon an individual for exemplary leadership that has significantly contributed to the advancement of the association. For his decades of service and support, Frank Sutman is a worthy choice.

Sutman retired from Solenis as senior group leader, global technology. He received his BS from The University of Idaho and his MS from The Institute of Paper Chemistry. He launched his career with Great Northern Paper and, in 1984, his manager and mentor encouraged him to become active with TAPPI. Sutman joined at his first TAPPI Engineering Conference and eventually held leadership roles in both the Water Removal Committee and the Engineering Division Council.

After his initial stint in paper manufacturing, Sutman spent the majority of his career in chemical product development at Betz PaperChem, Hercules, Ashland, and eventually Solenis. His work resulted in 13 US patents and 17 publications. His greatest technical contributions improved the sustainability of papermaking through increased recycled fiber utilization.

In the early 2000s, Sutman helped develop what eventually became PaperCon. After his term as Engineering Division chair, Sutman spent several years on the PaperCon Steering Committee, chairing in 2010. He served on TAPPI’s Board of Directors from 2013-2015.

In 2005, Sutman and a handful of others started the annual Runnability Fun Run; he chaired the Fun Run Committee until 2010. Still going strong, in 15 years the Fun Run has raised more than US$176,000 for TAPPI Division Scholarships, with generous support from sponsors and participants.

Sutman received the Engineering Division Leadership and Service Award in 2005 and became a TAPPI Fellow in 2010. Though retired, Sutman remains active within TAPPI.

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

A TAPPI member since 2015, Travis Plains is an active participant in the Gulf Coast TAPPI Local Section, currently serving as vice chairman. He has made a lasting impact on the section’s operations through his planning and participation in the section’s meetings, improvements to communications, and updates to the membership roster.

Plains serves as senior regional terminal operations manager for Lhoist North America in Birmingham, AL. He has a BS in Business from Arizona State University and an MBA from the University of Phoenix. He joined Lhoist in 2011 as a market analyst at its Fort Worth, TX, facility. In 2013, he transitioned into sales and now works in Lhoist’s Southeast region, specializing in the paper and steel industries.

The Magnabosco award recognizes remarkable leadership and service at the Local Section level; recipients are those whose exceptional service has resulted in significant and measurable benefits to their section. Plains’ contributions to Gulf Coast TAPPI—an active section that offers regular informational programs and sponsors TAPPI student chapters at both Auburn University and Mississippi State University—have earned him this notable award.

Women in Industry Division:
Woman of the Year Award

Paula Hajakian is a paper industry professional with 33 years of experience and has been with United States Gypsum Company as paper technical manager for the last 13 years. A tireless member of the Women in Industry (WIN) Division, Hajakian has contributed to the success of that group and many others at TAPPI, while her organized approach to leadership and her passion for service to others continue to inspire those around her. For these reasons, Paula Hajakian has been selected as the 2021 WIN Division Woman of the Year.

“Paula is a perennial leader,” writes one colleague. A look at her activities within TAPPI back up this statement. A 30-year member and a TAPPI Fellow, Hajakian has been involved in numerous committees and divisions, serving in the officer chairs for many, with particularly notable service to the Papermaking Committee and the Paper and Board Division, as well as to WIN.

Hajakian earned her BS in Chemical Engineering from the University of Lowell, MA, and is a Six Sigma Black Belt. She has authored or coauthored six patents and presented papers and/or chaired sessions at numerous PaperCon and Coating Conferences. She has also contributed her expertise as a TAPPI Mentor and by working on TIPs. “Her perspective is always incisive, passionate and caring,” writes fellow WIN member Pam Cowan. “She’s a great choice, and so deserving!”

Coating and Graphic Arts Division:
Division Technical Award and the Charles W. Englehard Prize
BASF (Retired)

Peter Hayes is a retired polymer chemist who has worked for BASF and Omnova for 30-plus years. During his career, he has developed and commercialized innovative latex binders for packaging and graphical coated paper grades. His experience covers styrene butadiene, styrene acrylate, and vinyl acetate emulsion polymers, together with rheology additives. Hayes is the author of 30 patents and publications.

Division Leadership and Service Award & DuPont Soy Polymers Prize

A graduate of the University of Maine, Sandreuter worked with the S. D. Warren Paper Company for 17 years; about half that time was spent in coating research and the remainder was with the graphic arts testing group. She later joined Acme Printing Company, leaving in 1985 to start her own business. NPA was incorporated in 1986, specializing in ink and paper testing and diagnosing print related complaints of all types. Sandreuter is a recognized expert in the printing/paper field.

CGA Division and WestRock Outstanding Educator Award

Dr. Bauer is professor in paper and pulp technology at Graz University of Technology (Graz, Austria), where he heads the Institute of Bioproducts and Paper Technology. His research interests are in paper physics, coating technology, and lignocellulosic biorefinery products. He spent 12 years with Sappi Fine Paper Europe before returning to the university in 2003. Dr. Bauer has been a TAPPI member since 1996 and is member of several committees. He has authored more than 200 peer-reviewed papers in journals and conference proceedings.

Paper and Board Division:
Division Technical Award and
Harris O. Ware Prize

Sweet is a mechanical engineer with more than 40 years in the pulp, paper, and containerboard industry; he has visited almost 350 paper mills in 11 countries. Sweet holds two US patents for papermaking equipment, has published many articles in US and Canadian trade journals, and is a frequent speaker at paper industry conferences. Since 2001 he has been an independent consultant specializing in paper machine vacuum system optimization and energy reduction projects. Past awards include TAPPI’s Engineering Division Award and Beloit Prize; and PIMA’s Thomas F. Sheerin, Sr. Service Award.

Division Leadership and Service Award and Oscar May Prize

Covarrubias received a BS in Chemical Engineering from the Instituto Technologico de Chihuahua in Mexico, a master’s in Polymer Chemistry from the University of Portland, an MBA from the University of Phoenix, and a Project Management Certification from Western Carolina University. She began her career at Buckman in 1997 and is now innovation director-packaging. Prior to Buckman, Covarrubias worked for Papelera De Chihuahua S.A. De C.V., Chihuahua, Mexico, as a process engineer. Her areas of expertise include sales, project management, marketing, technical service, and R&D.

Jasper Mardon Memorial Prize for Best Papermaking Technology Paper

John Neun is an engineering consultant whose career has involved analyzing and optimizing paper and tissue machines all over the world. He is past chairman of TAPPI’s Paper and Board Division, Water Removal Committee, and Papermakers Committee (now PTOC) and is a TAPPI Fellow. Neun has bachelor’s and master’s degrees in Mechanical Engineering from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, and is a registered Professional Engineer in New York State. Neun has been a part of the paper industry since 1979, when he began work at Albany Felt Company.

Process Control Division:
Division Technical Award

Lampela holds a M.Sc in process and control technology engineering from University of Oulu, Finland. He joined Valmet in 1995 and is now business manager, Pulp Analyzers and Performance Solutions. He specializes in fiber line optimization, control strategies, and data analysis and has extensive experience with fiber line special measurements. Lampela has published several articles and patents in the kraft pulping area. After 13 years in Atlanta, he returned to Oulu, Finland, where he currently resides.

Division Leadership and Service Award

Forbes is a control research engineer for Honeywell and has worked for control technology providers supporting the pulp and paper industry for more than 16 years. In addition to his current role with Honeywell, he is an adjunct professor at the University of British Columbia. Forbes has published or presented more than 50 papers and has been awarded 13 patents. During his past 10 years of TAPPI involvement, Forbes has been a frequent presenter and co-author of papers at PaperCon and served for four years as the Process Control Division Technical Program chair.

Process and Product Quality Division:
Division Technical Award and Richard S. Hunter Prize

Senior research director of R&D for Georgia-Pacific at its Neenah Technical Center, Dr. Lundeen’s industry career spans almost four decades. He has a wide range of experience in pulping, bleaching, and many grades of paper, paperboard, and nonwovens. Dr. Lundeen has been a TAPPI member since 1989. During that time, he has been an active member of the Chemical Properties, Physical Properties, and Optical Properties committees as well as the Tissue Subcommittee. He received the P&PQ Division Leadership & Service Award in 2018.

Division Leadership and Service Award

Berg is vice president of sales and marketing for Thwing-Albert Instrument Co. and has worked in the physical testing industry for more than 45 years. He joined Thwing-Albert as a machinist in 1974. In 1985 Berg transferred into the sales department and worked his way up, attaining his current post in 2009. Berg joined TAPPI in 2009 and has been active in the P&PQ division committees. He was chairman of the P&PQ division from 2015 to 2020 and is past chair of the Tissue Subcommittee.

International Research
Management Committee:

Technical Award and William H. Aiken Prize

Doug Coffin is a professor at Miami University in the Department of Chemical, Paper, and Biomedical Engineering. Before joining Miami in 2002, he was on the faculty at IPST in Atlanta. Coffin’s research in paper physics investigates the mechanical behavior of fiber-based materials and products. Previous awards include the Van den Akker prize in Paper Physics and the Division Technical Award and Bettendorf Prize from TAPPI’s Corrugated Packaging Division. Coffin is also an associate editor with TAPPI Journal and the TAPPI representative to the Pulp and Paper Fundamental Research Society. 

Welcoming the TAPPI Fellows Class of 2021

“TAPPI Fellows truly represent our best and brightest, and their service forms the foundation of TAPPI,” says TAPPI President and CEO Larry Montague. The 10 individuals featured here prove him right.

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. TAPPI Fellows represent every area of the industry and hail from all over the world, creating a global fellowship of men and women whose professionalism and high personal standards serve as inspiration.

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 upon completion of their term.

Innovators—leaders—mentors—the distinguished body of TAPPI Fellows welcomes the following individuals who join their ranks in 2021:

Mary Beth Cornell
TAPPI Member since 1985

Glenn M. Hanson, III
Metso Outotec
TAPPI Member since 1994

Donald F. Hiscock
CP Kelco (Retired)
TAPPI Member since 1980

D. Steven Keller, Ph.D.
Miami University
TAPPI Member since 1991

Femi Kotoye, Ph.D.
Dow (Retired)
TAPPI Member since 1987

Lokendra Pal, Ph.D.
North Carolina State University
TAPPI Member since 2002

Scott Rosencrance, Ph.D.
Kemira Chemicals
TAPPI Member since 1998

2021 Gunnar Nicholson Gold Medal
Award Recipient:
Benjamin Frank, Ph.D.
Packaging Corporation of America (PCA)
TAPPI Member since 2001

From the TAPPI Board of Directors:
Carrie D. Enos
University of Maine Pulp
and Paper Foundation
TAPPI Member since 2014

From the TAPPI Board of Directors:
Matthew A. Szymanski
Green Bay Packaging
TAPPI Member since 1990

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 2021, TAPPI has chosen five recipients based on their outstanding leadership, community service, and problem-solving contributions to scientific or engineering projects. In addition to receiving their award, the YPs honored are also awarded one full year of TAPPI membership.

Kyle Duffy
Finished Products Manager
International Paper
While serving as environmental health and safety manager at IP’s Franklin, VA, mill, Duffy was able to drive the expansion of the mill’s safety leading indicator-tracking system leading to more than a year free of recordable events. He is Lean Six Sigma Green Belt certified and holds a BS in Engineering from Miami University.

Kimberly Hollifield
Manufacturing Excellence Leader—Paper
International Paper
“Building relationships with people on the team and helping them achieve their goals” has been a driving force in Hollifield’s career. In her current role, she improves engagement and morale on her team of newly hired engineers by giving them an opportunity to voice their suggestions on ways to improve their development within the company.

Josiah Fonte
Sales Service Specialist
A TAPPI member since 2017, Fonte recently joined Solenis from WestRock, where he had analyzed data for various processes and performed an extensive capabilities analysis of his facility’s paper lab testing. Fonte holds a BS in Bioresource Science and Engineering from the University of Washington.

Lena Sharesky
Packaging Sales Representative
Packaging Corporation of America (PCA)
As director of events for the TAPPI Young Professionals Division, Sharesky has successfully executed several activities for TAPPI’s YP and student members, including the division’s first virtual orientation event, a panel on recruiting and retention for PIMA Management Division, and a series of virtual networking mixers. These events directly contributed to the division’s 2020 recruitment efforts.

Avery Wilson
Process Engineering Professional Intermediate
Wilson developed multiple mill-wide mass and energy balances for major pulp and paper clients, who then used this work to help develop long-term capital project and execution strategies. A TAPPI member since 2019, Wilson holds a BS in Chemical Engineering from the University of South Carolina-Columbia, where he is also on track to earn an MBA.