MSU Researcher named Society of Plastics Engineers fellow

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Laurent Matuana was named a fellow of the Society of Plastics Engineers in recognition of his work with wood-plastic composites. (view larger image)

EAST LANSING, Mich.—Michigan State University (MSU) School of Packaging associate professor Laurent Matuana has been elected a fellow of the Society of Plastics Engineers (SPE), the world’s premier organization for plastics researchers and industry professionals.

“My initial reaction to being named a fellow was just, ‘Wow!’” said the MSU AgBioResearch scientist. “I feel very honored to have been elected, especially so early in my career. It was a moment of reflection for me, an opportunity to look back on the years of work I have done with my graduate and undergraduate students that brought me to this point. It is a great joy.”

Matuana is internationally known for his work in blending biobased materials with plastics. His efforts to add value to underutilized wood species yielded an entirely new class of materials—wood-plastic composites—that has become widely used in the construction and automotive industries. He is also recognized for his related work developing microcellular foam materials, which are incorporated into the composites to reduce their weight and enhance their impact resistance. Together, these materials have resulted in durable, easily fabricated, cost-effective and attractive products that do not require expensive wood treatments using toxic chemicals.

Matuana, a member of the MSU faculty since 2002, has worked with wood-plastic composite materials for 17 years, beginning with his work on using wood fiber to augment PVC plastic as a Ph.D. student at the University of Toronto. Since then, he has gone on to hold five U.S. patents for wood-plastic composite technologies and has contributed to more than 80 studies on the subject. He also advises master’s and doctoral students in the School of Packaging.

The SPE is an international society providing technical information, educational and networking opportunities, and research support to professionals and academics from all areas of the plastics industry.

Founded in 1942, the society now boasts nearly 16,000 members from 84 countries. The rank of fellow is an honor reserved for those who have made substantial contributions to the art of plastics engineering through advances in technology or its commercial practice. Only 5 percent of the society’s membership holds this rank at any given time.

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MSU AgBioResearch engages in innovative, leading-edge research that combines scientific expertise with practical experience to generate economic prosperity, sustain natural resources, and enhance the quality of life in Michigan, the nation and the world. It encompasses the work of more than 300 scientists in seven MSU colleges—Agriculture and Natural Resources, Arts and Letters, Communication Arts and Sciences, Engineering, Natural Science, Social Science and Veterinary Medicine—and has a network of 13 research centers across the state.

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