Kenneth N. Edwards Western Coatings Technology Center

Advancing Polymers and Coatings Science

Website Update

Industrial Advisory Council

The Polymers and Coatings Industrial Advisory Council is made up of leaders from the polymers and coatings industry.


  • Raised over $1 million for Cal Poly's first endowed chair: the Arthur C. Edwards Endowed Chair in Coatings Technology and Ecology (see above) 
  • Raised funds for equipment: to date over $150,000 raised for an equipment endowment making possible the purchase of a new Atomic Force Microscope, FT-IR spectrometer, UV and prohesion accelerated weathering equipment, and new Karl-Fischer titrator for VOC analysis 
  • Support research: to date over $350,000 raised for the Bill Moore Research Fellowship 
  • Raised $3 million to construct WCTC in Warren J. Baker. 
  • Raised $1.1 million for Kenneth N Edwards Western Coatings Technology Center Expansion


  • Support educational efforts
  • Provide mentorship for students

Industry Members

Todd Wirdzek (Chair)

Vice President
Kelly-Moore Paint Company
San Carlos, CA

Todd graduated from Cal Poly with a Bachelor of Science in Chemistry in 1993 with a concentration in Polymers and Coatings. He began work at Kelly-Moore Paints as an R&D chemist in San Carlos, California before accepting assignments at Kelly-Moore's facilities in Tempe, Arizona and then in Hurst, Texas. After returning to California as an R&D Group Leader he was then promoted to Technical Director and finally to his current position as the VP of Product Development which he has held for the past 11 years. Todd is a member of both the Architectural Coatings Committee and the Science and Technology Committee of the American Coatings Association. Recently Todd has been selected to be the Chair for the Industrial Advisory Council for the Western Coatings Technology Center.

Sam Abrami

Global Technical Manager
PPG Aerospace
Burbank, CA

Sam received his Bachelors and Master's degree from The Ohio State University. Since then, he has been working on aerospace coatings for PPG aerospace for 33 years.

Bob Ahn

President, Industrial Division
Horn Company
La Mirada, CA  

Chris Bruni

Global Manager, Manufacturing Design
Coatings and Inks
Apple, Inc.
Cupertino, CA  

    Frank Butch

    Accounts Manager, West
    Lubrizol Corporation
    Wickliffe, OH

    Frank Butch graduated from Ursinus College with a Bachelor's in Economics in 1987. After college, he worked in various rolls at BASF, Sun Chemical, and The Valspar Corporation. From there he became a part owner and Vice President of Farbotech Color Incorporated, where he was responsible for the sales and marketing functions of the company. He sold the company to Great Western Ink in 2011 where he took over responsibilities for the Los Angeles branch. For the past 5 years Frank has been working at The Lubrizol Corporation in Los Angeles and has over 30 years of experience in the Coatings Industry. In his spare time, he still plays competitive softball and enjoys playing his guitar. He has been married to wife Kathy for 27 years and has two sons Frank Jr. 24 and Timothy 22.

    Steve Broadwater

    North America Technical Service Manager, Coatings
    GRACE Materials Technologies
    Baltimore, MD

    After graduating in chemistry with Magna Cum Laude from McDaniel College in 2001, Steve Broadwater moved into a Ph.D. in Organic and Applied Polymer Chemistry at Cornell University. After graduating in 2006, Steve worked as the President and Co-founder of a Cornell based company Systanix Inc. for over two years. From there he was a pharmaceutical consultant for about a year before beginning work with DOW in 2008. After 4 years at Dow, Steve went on to do consultant work for DuPont and Chemours Company for just under 3 years. Currently, He has been at W.R Grace & Co. for over 3 years, most recently as the West Region Sales Area Manager.

    Joseph Cristiano

    Chairman of the Board
    The MCM Group
    Pleasanton, CA

    Joseph (Joe) attended the State University of New York and went on to earn his MBA at Baldwin Wallace University in Berea, Ohio. He joined Sherwin-Williams and during a 23 year career achieved the position of Division President. In 1984 Joe joined Kelly-Moore Paint where he served for 18 years as President/CEO and Member of the Board of Directors. Upon retiring in 2003 he became a member of the Dunn-Edwards Board of Directors where he has served for the past 15 years. Since 2003 he has been a member of 10 Boards of Directors and currently is Chairman of three Boards - Bank of San Francisco, Pacific Signaling and the MCM Group. Upon retirement with a desire to "give back" he founded and is CEO of the Northern California Entrepreneur Mentoring Group where over the past 15 years he has offered pro bono mentoring and coaching to over 400 entrepreneurs. With a passion for both community service and the coatings industry he has been recognized by numerous community service awards and in 2018 Coatings Research Group honored him for his years of service to the Coatings industry by naming their new facility in Ohio the "JP Cristiano Technology Center".

    Gary Dombrowski

    Fellow, Dow Chemical Company
    Collegeville, PA

      Melinda Forbes

      Sr. Account Manager
      J.F. Shelton Company
      Covina, CA

      Melinda received a Bachelor of the Arts in Social Sciences in 1974 from San Diego State University. She has been an Account Manager for multiple companies including Elementis Specialties, Kronos Worldwide Inc., and most recently J.F. Shelton Company. She has held this most recent position for over 9 years. Melinda served as first female President of Los Angeles Society for Coatings Technology (1988-89). She received the first Samson-Adler Distinguished Service Award in 2009 at the Western Coatings Symposium. She serves as treasurer and Ruling Elder of her Presbyterian Church for the past 25 years.

      John Gilbert

      Senior Vice President, R&D
      Behr Process Corporation
      Santa Ana, CA

      John Gilbert was born and raised in the Cleveland, Ohio area. He attended the College of Wooster in Wooster, Ohio, receiving BA degree in chemistry in 1980. He continued his education at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, receiving the Ph. D. degree in 1984. After a one-year postdoctoral assignment at the University of Michigan, John joined BASF Corporation in Southfield, Michigan in 1985. John spent 22 years in the automotive coatings area at BASF, working in various product development roles in electrodeposition coatings, primers, basecoats and clearcoats. From 1990 to 1992, John was assigned to BASF's European automotive coatings group in Muenster, Germany.

      In 2007, John joined Behr Process Corporation in Santa Ana, CA. His current position is Chief Research and Development Officer. Under John's direction, the Behr team released the Premium Plus Ultra Interior and the Marquee Interior, and Marquee Exterior lines. Other recent product releases from his group include several pro contractor paint lines, a stain-blocking ceiling paint, a deck restoration product and an all-acrylic exterior stain line.

      John and his wife Carol live in sunny Orange, California as happily displaced Midwesterners, enjoying occasional visits from their three sons, two daughters-in-law and three grandchildren.

      Trish Jones

      Key Account Manager, West
      DSM Coating Resins
      Wilmington, MA

      Howard Killilea

      Global Technical Director
      Valspar EPS Materials
      Minneapolis, MN

      Eunice Leung

      Business Unit Manager
      BYK USA Inc.
      Fullerton, CA

      Eunice Leung is a Sales Manager and Distribution Manager for BYK USA Inc., a global leader in specialty process additives, and a division of ALTANA. Eunice has a Bachelor of Science in Chemistry for Polymers and Coatings from California Polytechnic State University (Cal Poly), San Luis Obispo, CA. She started her chemical career at Miller Paint's coatings R&D lab after she graduated from Cal Poly.

      Eunice earned her Executive Master of Business Administration (EMBA), from University of Southern California (USC). She held various positions in different specialty chemical distribution companies including P.T. Hutchins, Brenntag Pacific and Brenntag Specialties before she was recruited by BYK.

      Eunice enjoys volunteering for many regional and national chemical organizations. She is a Past-President of the Los Angeles Society of Coatings Technology (LASCT) and is a current Technical Committee Chair and Employment Chair for LASCT. Eunice has been on the Board of Directors and has been a Technical Program Chair for the Western Coatings Symposium since 2006. She is the President for the 2019 Western Coatings Symposium.

      David Mukoda

      Senior Technical Marketing Consultant
      Wilmington, Delaware

      David Mukoda holds a BS in Chemical Engineering from Drexel University and has over 30 years experience in Titanium Dioxide for DuPont/Chemours. David has held positions in R&D, operations, sales, business development, M&A and global product management/technical support for coatings/inks/paper/specialty market segments.

      Joan Pinder

      Retired, Executive Director IDEMA

      Joan Pinder is a 1979 graduate of Cal Poly with a BS in Chemistry. She did a specialization in Polymer Chemistry during a year long study abroad program at University of Manchester Institute of Science and Technology. Professor Dane Jones was her senior project advisor on Cell Casting of Polymethyl Methacrylate, one of the first polymer senior projects in the college. Joan is retired from the hard disk drive industry, most recently as the Executive Director of IDEMA, the industry trade association. In addition to the Industry Advisory Council, Joan serves as the COSAM Director for the Cal Poly Alumni Board and on Dean Wendt's Leadership Council.

      Hamid Pourshirazi

      Technical Director
      Vista Paint Inc.
      Fullerton, CA

      Hamid has 43 years' experience in Architectural Coatings, he started his career in paint industry in summer of 1975, when United Coating Inc. in Chicago, hired him as a summer help. After school, he worked for the same company in R&D until 1988. At this year he moved to California and started with "Fine Line Paint" as lab manager in Santa Fe Spring. In spring of 1990, he joined Vista paint R&D, where he currently working as Technical Director. Hamid has earned Bachelor of Science in Chemistry from Southern Illinois University, and MBA from National University. He has two daughters and four grandkids. Hamid lives in Fullerton California.

      Joseph Reilly

      JCR Enterprises
      Fullerton, CA

      Joe Reilly received a B.S. in Chemistry in 1965 from LaSalle University, Philadelphia, PA. He worked at Quaker Chemical for 3 years in quality control, 2 years at Pennwalt in organic-synthesis, 17 years at Rohm & Haas pioneering research, and an additional 17 years at Rohm & Hass in industrial coating technical sales. Following his time at Rohm & Haas, he was a consultant for 3 years, then he founded JCR Enterprises and American Rooftile. The latter led to development of Cool Roof Coatings based on Joe’s work under a CEC grant with the Heat Island group at LBNL, ORNL and CRRC. Joe was LASCT Education Committee Chair in 1990 and helped LASCT form the Cal Poly SLO Polymers and Coatings Program and later the Western Coatings Technology Center, acting on Ken Edwards’ and Dave Kittredge’s idea to establish a university link with the coatings industry.

      Scott Van Remortel

      Technical Sales Manager
      Unimin Specialty Minerals, Inc.
      Spruce Pine, NC

      Scott Van Remortel is a Technology Manager with Sibelco North America. He earned his B.S. degree in Polymer & Coatings Technology from Eastern Michigan University in 1992. Scott has over 25 years of experience with mineral filler processing and applications development, holding several patents in coatings, UV-cure and plastic composites. Scott is presently the technical committee chair and Vice-President for the Piedmont Section of the Southern Coating Society and is a member of the Industrial Advisory Council for the Polymers Program at Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo. He has two teenage children, and his wife Bridget runs an Artisan bakery from their kitchen on a small farm in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina, near Asheville.

      Myron Shaffer

      Director, Product and Technical Service, NAFTA
      Covestro Corporation
      Pittsburgh, PA

        Chris Wessels

        Vice President, Product Development
        Dunn-Edwards Corporation
        Los Angeles, CA

        Chris joined Dunn-Edwards over 9 years ago as Group Leader Product Development and worked as Technical Director for 7 years helping to develop new products and capabilities for the technical group, prior to being promoted to Vice President in 2017. Additionally, he served in Technical Management roles at Behr Process, Valspar, and Southern Diversified Products to develop various water-based products for the architectural coatings market. For his educational background Chris received a B.S. in Polymer Science with a minor in Chemistry from the University of Southern Mississippi.


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        Cal Poly Members

        Dean Wendt

        Dean, College of Science and Mathematics

        Dean Wendt graduated from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo with a BS in Biology in 1993 before moving to the east coast and completing a Ph.D. in Biology at Harvard University in 1999. After his Ph.D. Dean did a Postdoctoral Fellowship at the University of Hawaii at Manoa. He then went on to be an Assistant Professor at University of North Carolina at Greensboro for 2 years before returning to Cal Poly SLO as an Assistant Professor in 2002. A year after receiving his Full Professorship in 2010 Dean became an Associate Dean for the College of Science and Mathematics. Not long after Dean became the Dean of Research at Cal Poly. Since then Dean Wendt has become the Dean of the College of Science and Mathematics. Dean has had a two decade long career developing marine coatings. For part of this time he was funded by the Office of Naval research to develop non-toxic, foul-release coatings for marine applications.

        Ruzena Brar

        Director of Advancement
        College of Science and Mathematics

          Seth Bush

          Chair, Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry
          College of Science and Mathematics

          Seth D. Bush is the Chair of the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry at California Polytechnic State University in San Luis Obispo California. He received his PhD in Physical Chemistry from the University of California, Berkeley working in Magnetic Resonance with Dr. Alexander Pines and his bachelor's degree in Chemistry from Reed College, completing his thesis in Biophysical Laser Spectroscopy with Dr. Arthur Glasfeld and Dr. Daniel Gerrity. Since joining the Cal Poly faculty in 2005, Bush has been promoted through the ranks to Full professor and was elected chair of his department in 2015. He is a Science Faculty with an Education Specialty whose research focuses on improving K-16 STEM education and studying Undergraduate Science Education reforms. Bush is a proud father of two who enjoys reading high- and low-brow fiction, cheering at his kids games, and cooking for friends and family.

          Ray Fernando

          Arthur C. Edwards Endowed Chair
          Director, Western Coatings Technology Center
          Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry
          College of Science and Mathematics

          Dr. Ray Fernando received his Ph.D. in 1986 from North Dakota State University in Polymers and Coatings, emphasizing studies in the coating rheology field. He has fifteen years of industrial experience in coatings, with extensive knowledge in waterborne technology, and joined Cal Poly in 2002. Dr. Fernando is the Arthur C. Edwards Endowed Chair in Coatings Technology in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, and the Director of the Kenneth N Edwards Western Coatings Technology Center at Cal Poly. Prior to joining Cal Poly, he spent 3 years at Air Products and Chemicals, and 12 years at Armstrong World Industries in various R&D positions. Dr. Fernando has many publications and patents, and he has given numerous lectures and presentations related to coatings. He received FSCT's President's Award in 2005. In 2017, Ray received Cal Poly Provost's Leadership Award for Partnership in Philanthropy. Ray received the American Coatings Association's Mattiello Award in 2018.

          Derek Gragson

          Associate Dean
          College of Science and Mathematics

          Derek Gragson completed his Bachelors in Chemistry from Cal State East Bay in 1991. From there he received his Ph.D. in Physical Chemistry from the University of Oregon in 1997. In 1999, after a brief PostDoc at Harvey Mudd, Derek took the position of Assistant Professorship of Chemistry at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. In 2015, five years after he had achieved Full Professorship, Derek became an Associate Dean for the College of Science and Math.

          Chad Immoos

          Department of Chemistry & Biochemistry
          College of Science and Mathematics

            Dane Jones

            Emeritus Professor of Chemistry
            Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry
            College of Science and Mathematics

            Dr. Dane Jones received his Ph.D. in Physical Chemistry from Stanford University in 1974. He has held research and teaching positions at Uppsala University, the University of Utah and The University of California, San Diego. He joined Cal Poly faculty in 1976. He was instrumental in developing the Polymers and Coatings program at Cal Poly and was director of the program until 2002. His research interests include spectroscopic analysis of polymers and coatings, VOC analysis, and applications of coatings in art preservation. Dr. Jones serves as a consultant to several polymers and coatings manufacturers. He is the recipient of Cal Poly’s Distinguished Teacher Award, the Los Angeles Coating Society’s Distinguished Service Award, the Western Coatings Societies’ Samson-Adler Distinguished Service Award, and the American Coatings Association Industry Excellence Award.

            Andres Martinez

            Associate Professor
            Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry
            College of Science and Mathematics

            Andres W. Martinez is an associate professor in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry at California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo. He was born in California, raised in Bolivia, and then returned to the United States for college. Andres attended Diablo Valley College for two years and then transferred to Stanford Unive rsity, where he completed his B.S. in chemistry in 2003. He then conducted research on kidney dialysis at the Stanford Medical School before obtaining his Ph.D. in chemistry at Harvard University with George Whitesides in 2009. While in graduate school, Andres developed some of the first examples of paper-based microfluidic devices. His current research is focused on expanding the capabilities of paper-based microfluidic devices for applications in point-of-care diagnostics.

            Erik Sapper

            Assistant Professor
            Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry
            College of Science and Mathematics

            Dr. Erik Sapper has a BS degree in chemistry and a MS degree in Polymers and Coatings Science from California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo, and holds a PhD in Coatings and Polymeric Materials from North Dakota State University. Since 2010 he has worked in the St. Louis Chemical Technology Polymer Simulation group at Boeing, where he managed simulation, synthesis, and testing programs, and also performed multi‐platform simulation work. Erik is the author of one book chapter, many journal articles, and multiple peer‐reviewed conference proceedings. In 2015, Erik's work on the computational design of aerospace coatings systems was recognized with the John A Gordon Award for the best paper at the American Coatings Association's Coatings Tech 2015 conference. Erik joined Cal Poly as a faculty member of the Chemistry and Biochemistry Department in 2016.

            Shanju Zhang

            Associate Professor
            Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry
            College of Science and Mathematics

            Dr. Shanju Zhang received his Ph. D. in Polymer Chemistry and Physics from Jilin University, China in 1998. Prior to joining the Cal Poly faculty in 2011, he has held research positions at Yale University, Georgia Tech, Cambridge University, Technical University of Berlin and Chinese Academy of Sciences. His research interests include synthesis, structural analysis and processing of polymers, liquid crystals and nanomaterials. He has published some 60 peer-reviewed papers and a patent. He is the recipient of the Alexander von Humboldt Fellowship.

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