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MSU’s Drzal Honored with Two National Awards

Lawrence T. Drzal

University Distinguished Professor Lawrence T. Drzal will receive national acclaim in 2016 when two of his field’s most prestigious honors will be presented to him:

  • the Medal of Excellence in Composite Materials from the University of Delaware and
  • the 2016 Lifetime Achievement Award winner by the Automotive Division of the Society of Plastics Engineers (SPE®).

The Medal of Excellence in Composite Materials

Drzal, who is also the director of the MSU Composite Materials and Structures Center, called the honors an unexpected surprise. “I was first introduced to composite materials by Dr. Steven Tsai, one of the pioneers in the field, right after grad school when I was at the U.S. Air Force Materials Laboratory in Dayton, Ohio,” he said. “Steve was, and still is, a pioneer and an inspiration. It is a real honor to receive the award.”

Drzal noted that after accepting a position at MSU, he was able to build a foundation in aerospace composite materials.

“I have worked with dozens of talented grad students and postdocs to expand my research in composite materials for vehicles, plant fiber-based composites, and graphene nanoplatelet composites,” said Drzal continued.

Drzal considers himself fortunate to have collaborated with colleagues from the College of Engineering and to receive continuing support from college and university administrators. That resulted in the establishment of the Composite Materials and Structures Center at MSU, he explained.

“These awards are the result of many years of teamwork at all levels, and I am truly grateful,” Drzal added.

The University of Delaware will present the 2016 Center for Composite Materials Medal of Excellence to Drzal during the 31st Technical Conference of the American Society for Composites, Sept. 19-22, in Williamsburg, Virginia. It will be awarded for significant contributions to composite materials through leadership, scholarly endeavor, invention, and economic enterprise. (See more in Composite World: http://bit.ly/1U7MJOk)

The Medal of Excellence in Composite Materials was established in 1984 in conjunction with the Decennial Celebration of the Center for Composite Materials of the University of Delaware. The medal carries the names and likenesses of the four initial recipients of the award: Zvi Hashin, Tsuyoshi Hayashi, Anthony Kelly, and Stephen W. Tsai.

The 2016 Lifetime Achievement Award, Society of Plastics Engineers

Drzal will be honored for his leading role in transportation composites innovations during the 46th Annual Automotive Innovation Awards Gala on Nov. 9, 2016, at Burton Manor (www.burtonmanor.net) in Livonia, Mich. He is the first academic winner of the award.

First given in 2000, the SPE Automotive Lifetime Achievement Award recognizes the technical achievements of individuals whose work – in research, design, and/or engineering – has led to significant integration of polymeric materials on passenger vehicles. Past winners include J.T. Battenberg III, then chairman and chief-executive officer of Delphi Corp.; Irv Poston, retired head of the Plastics (Composites) Development-Technical Center, GM.; and Allan Murray, Ph.D., retired technology director at Ford Motor Co.

Drzal was co-director of the National Science Foundation State/Industry/University Center for Low-Cost, High-Speed Polymer Composites Processing at MSU from 1991-1999 and recently was appointed director of the Vehicle Technical Application Area in the Institute for Advanced Composites Manufacturing Innovation (IACMI).

His composite materials research is primarily in adhesion and the fiber-matrix interphase in polymer matrix composite materials reinforced with carbon, glass, polymeric and bio-based fibers and in multifunctional composites in which graphene nanoplatelets, cellulose nanofibers, and other nanoparticles added to the fiber-matrix interphase. He has over 400 peer reviewed research papers and 35 patents and was designated a “Highly Cited Researcher in Material Science” by ISIHighlyCited.com. He has received research awards from the Adhesion Society, U.S. Air Force Materials Laboratory, American Society for Composites, 3M, and Dow Corning.

Drzal has been elected a fellow of the American Society for Composites, Adhesion Society, American Institute of Chemists, Society of Plastics Engineers, and the Society for the Advancement of Material and Process Engineering. In 2007, Drzal co-founded XG Sciences, Inc., a private Michigan company that is currently the world’s largest manufacturer of graphene nanoplatelets using processes and technologies developed in his lab at MSU. He serves as its chief scientist.

Drzal earned a bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering from University of Detroit and a PhD in chemical engineering and polymer science from Case Western Reserve University. He joined the MSU College of Engineering in 1985.

– Patricia Mroczek, College of Engineering website

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