Dr. Lawrence T. Drzal, university distinguished professor of Chemical Engineering and director, Composite Materials and Structures Center at Michigan State University's College of Engineering (MSU, East Lansing, MI, US), has been named the 2016 Lifetime Achievement Award winner by the Automotive Division of the Society of Plastics Engineers (SPE). Drzal, the first academic winner of the award, is a composites expert who has specialized in surface and interfacial aspects of adhesively bonded joints, plus the fiber/matrix interphase in composite materials and their processing; adhesion fundamentals; sustainable bio-based structural composite materials; and nanocomposite materials. During his career, Drzal has given more than 400 invited presentations at national and international conferences, published more than 375 research papers, and has been awarded 35 patents. He will be honored for his role as a leader in transportation composites innovations at the 46th-annual Automotive Innovation Awards Gala on Nov. 9, 2016 at Burton Manor in Livonia, MI.
Drzal credits his early engineering and co-op training, coupled with his industrial and military service, for his "problem-definition approach to research, which has been characterized by observation of phenomena and identification of unresolved problems with common themes around technological advancement, sustainability, environmental friendliness, and benefit to society." As a result, Drzal says he always has had the desire to provide both practical knowledge and fundamental knowledge in each research area and in the research project he and his students have undertaken. He is a founding member of both the Adhesion Society and the American Society for Composites and has served as president (1998-1999) of the Adhesion Society. He has chaired the Gordon Conference on Adhesion and the Gordon Conference on Composites and has served in many other professional capacities related to chemical engineering, composite materials, and adhesion. He served on the editorial board of journals in the adhesion and composite materials fields (Composites Part A: Applied Science and Manufacturing; Journal of Biobased Materials and Bioenergy; Carbon Letters; and Nanocomposites) and was associate editor of the Journal of Adhesion.
Drzal earned a BS degree in chemical engineering from the University of Detroit and a Ph.D in chemical engineering and polymer science from Case Western Reserve University. He joined MSU's College of Engineering as a professor of chemical engineering in 1985 and became director of the school's Composite Materials & Structures Center in 1986. A decade later, he became a university distinguished professor of chemical engineering & materials science.