Kenneth N. Edwards Western Coatings Technology Center

Advancing Polymers and Coatings Science

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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

Eunice Leung (Chair)

Senior Sales, Marketing & Business Development Leader

Los Angeles, CA


Eunice Leung is a Senior Sales, Marketing & Business Development Leader at Covestro. Eunice has a Bachelor of Science in Chemistry with Polymers and Coatings Concentration from Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo. She started her chemical career at Miller Paint's coatings R&D 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, BYK and DSM before DSM Resins was acquired by Covetro.

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 is a Past-President and Board of Directors and a current Technical Committee Officer for the Western Coatings Symposium.

Sam Abrami

Global Technical Manager

PPG Aerospace
Glendale, CA


Sam received his Bachelor’s and Master's degrees from The Ohio State University. He has been working on aerospace coatings for PPG Aerospace for 33 years.

Chris Bruni

Director, Manufacturing Design-Coatings

Apple, Inc.

Cupertino, CA


Chris received a Bachelor and Master of Science in Chemical Engineering along with a Master of Science in Engineering Management from Drexel University. He served in various roles in process technology and product development at DuPont for 8 years. He has been at Apple for about 8 years in Manufacturing Design relating to paints, inks, and coatings, and he is currently the Director of Manufacturing Design in Coatings at Apple.

Frank Butch

Account Manager-Western Region

The Lubrizol Corporation
Los Angeles, CA


Frank Butch graduated from Ursinus College with a Bachelor's degree in Economics in 1987. After college, he worked in various roles at BASF, Sun Chemical, and Valspar Corporation. From there he became a part owner and Vice President of Farbotech Color Inc., 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 8 years Frank has been working at Lubrizol Corporation in Los Angeles and has over 30 years of experience in the Coatings Industry. In his spare time, he plays competitive softball and enjoys playing his guitar. He has been married to wife Kathy for 30 years and has two sons Frank Jr. 27 and Timothy 25.

Steve Broadwater

Lead Technical Service Manager-Americas

W.R. Grace & Co.

Baltimore, MD


After graduating with his Bachelor’ degree in chemistry with Magna Cum Laude from McDaniel College in 2001, Steve Broadwater moved into a Ph.D. program in Organic Synthesis and Applied Polymer Chemistry at Cornell University. After graduating with the PhD in 2006, Steve worked as the President and Co-founder of a Cornell based company Systanix Inc. for over two years. Then he served as a pharmaceutical consultant for about a year before joining Dow Chemical in 2008. After 4 years at Dow, Steve did consulting work for DuPont and Chemours Companies for just under 3 years. He has been at W.R Grace & Co. for over 5 years, most recently as the Lead Technical Service Manager in the Americas.

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. During his 23-year career at Sherwin-Williams Joe held various positions rising to be a 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 18 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


DOW Chemical Company
Collegeville, PA


Gary Dombrowski completed his Ph.D. in Organic Chemistry at the University of Minnesota before conducting further postdoctoral research at the University of Rochester for 3 years. After his postdoc, he went on to a position as a Senior Scientist at Rohm and Haas for about 11 years. In 2009, Rohm and Haas merged with the Dow Chemical Company, where Gary served in roles as a Research Scientist and Principal Research Scientist for 3 and 5 years, respectively. He has been serving as a Fellow for The Dow Chemical Company since 2017.

John Gilbert

Senior Vice President-R&D

Behr Paint 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 a BA degree in chemistry in 1980. He continued his education at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, receiving a 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.

Howard Killilea

Global Director of Strategy and IP Management


Minneapolis, MN


Howard received a B.S. in Chemistry and subsequently a M.S. in Polymer Chemistry from North Dakota State University. From there, he completed a Master of Business Administration, Finance and Financial Management Services at the University of Minnesota and later a J.D. from the Mitchell Hamline School of Law while working at EPS. He worked at EPS for 28 years, serving as a Global Technical Director before recently joining Sherwin-Williams as the Global Director of Strategy and IP Management.

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 46 years of experience in Architectural Coatings, since he started his career in the 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. Then he moved to California and joined Fine Line Paint in Santa Fe Spring as Lab Manager. In spring of 1990, he joined Vista Paint R&D, where he is currently working as Technical Director. Hamid earned a Bachelor of Science in Chemistry from Southern Illinois University, and an MBA from National University. He has two daughters and four grandchildren. 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 & Haas in industrial coating technical sales. Following his time at Rohm & Haas, he was a consultant for 3 years, and 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

Manager, Applications Technology Coatings & Elastomers

Covia Corporation

Bakersville, NC


Scott earned his B.S. degree in Polymer & Coatings Technology from Eastern Michigan University in 1992. He 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.

Chris Wessels

Vice President, Product Development

Dunn-Edwards Corporation
Los Angeles, CA


Chris joined Dunn-Edwards over 11 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. Prior to joining Dunn-Edwards, 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. Chris has a B.S. in Polymer Science with a minor in Chemistry from the University of Southern Mississippi.

Todd Wirdzek

Vice President

Kelly-Moore Paint Company
San Carlos, CA


Todd graduated from Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo 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 from Arizona as an R&D Group Leader he was promoted to Technical Director and to his current position as the VP of Product Development which he has held for the past 13 years. Todd is a member of both the Architectural Coatings Committee and the Science and Technology Committee of the American Coatings Association.


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Cal Poly Members

Dean Wendt


College of Science and Mathematics


Dean Wendt graduated from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo with a B.S. 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. He 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.

Seth Bush


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.

Leslie Hamachi

Assistant Professor

Department of Chemistry & Biochemistry
College of Science and Mathematics


Dr. Leslie Hamachi joined the Chemistry & Biochemistry department at Cal Poly in 2020 as a tenure-track faculty member. She obtained her BS in chemistry, with a concentration in materials chemistry, in 2013 from the University of California, Berkeley, graduating with honors. She earned her PhD from Columbia University in 2018 under the supervision of Prof. Jonathan Owen, where she received the Pegram Award for her thesis work on developing a library of new chalcogen precursors for use in rate-controlled core/shell nanocrystal synthesis. After completing her PhD, she joined Prof. William Dichtel's lab at Northwestern University as a NSF Center for Sustainable Polymers postdoctoral research fellow. Prior to joining the faculty at Cal Poly, Dr. Hamachi worked in nanocrystal colloid R&D and manufacturing at Oxonica Materials, Inc., and taught as an adjunct professor at the Fashion Institute of Technology.

At Cal Poly, Dr. Hamachi's research focuses on the synthesis and characterization of organic materials. Students work on projects aimed at studying polymer recycling via dynamic covalent bonds, sustainable polymer nanocomposite materials, and the synthesis of covalent organic frameworks. Students learn a variety of materials characterization techniques including nuclear magnetic resonance, gas chromatography mass spectrometry, electron microscopy, X-ray diffraction, and tensile testing. This work is highly interdisciplinary, so students from a variety of majors including chemistry, biochemistry, materials engineering, and chemical engineering have opportunities to participate and get involved.

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.

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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