PCA’s Director-Materials Research and Innovation Named Recipient of TAPPI’s 2021 Gunnar Nicholson Gold Medal Award

Highest TAPPI honor recognizes lifelong scientific achievements

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TAPPI is pleased to announce that Benjamin Frank, Ph.D., Director-Materials Research and Innovation, Packaging Corporation of America (PCA) has been named winner of the prestigious Gunnar Nicholson Gold Medal Award.

Dr. Frank is recognized as one of the most prolific contributors in the North American containerboard/corrugated industry in the last 20 years. His work has enabled the development of more effective, efficient and sustainable containerboard and corrugated packaging, while his contributions have led to improved understanding of the physical/mechanical properties and contributions of fiber, containerboard and combined corrugated board.

Dr. Frank has done extensive work on the performance of materials, resulting in packaging that dependably performs, provides economic advantages, and reduces product damage, spoilage, and economic-loss, all leading to improved consumer satisfaction.

In his current role at PCA, Dr. Frank leads a team involved in research, technical support, and product development. Their efforts focus on better understanding materials and improving existing test methods in both accuracy and precision. Through these efforts, the team has been able to advance modeling and prediction of compressive strength for containerboard, corrugated board and corrugated packaging, as well as assessments of overall package performance in various parts of the supply chain.

Dr. Frank oversees PCA’s Technical Center’s co-op program, where he has trained and mentored over 60 students. This outreach effort has also provided him the opportunity to guest lecture, teach and guide undergraduate and graduate students at many packaging schools across the country.

He has also authored or co-authored more than 15 peer-reviewed articles related to containerboard and fiber-based packaging and holds six U.S. patents. A TAPPI member since 2001, Dr. Frank has updated, (re)developed, improved and/or validated more than 50 TAPPI Standards and Technical Information Papers (TIPs).

The former Chair of the Corrugated Division’s Fiberboard Shipping Container Testing Committee (Fiscotec) as well as the Quality and Standards Management Committee (Q&SMC), Dr. Frank is actively involved in dozens of Standard Specific Interest Groups (SSIGs) as well as the U.S. Technical Advisory Group (TAG) to the International Standards Organization’s Technical Committee 6 (ISO TC 6).  

Dr. Frank received his doctorate in physics and master’s in colloids, polymers and surfaces (chemical engineering) in 1995 from Carnegie Mellon University. Following post-doctoral research at Stanford and IBM, he started his career in the forest products industry in 1996 at International Paper. He later joined PCA in 2001 as Manager of the Packaging and Materials Testing Labs. 

Dr. Frank is also active in the International Safe Transit Association, particularly through the Advocate Research and Value Delivery Program, and is chair of the Fibre Box Association’s Technical Committee. He has been deeply involved in many of their activities and technical publications, including various revisions of the Fibre Box Handbook and sponsored research projects.

The award will officially be presented at TAPPI/AICC SuperCorrExpo, August 8-12, 2021 in Orlando, Fla. He will also be inducted as a TAPPI Fellow at TAPPICon LIVE!, October 3-6, 2021 in Atlanta.


About the Gunnar Nicholson Gold Medal Award:
First presented in 1985, the prestigious Gunnar Nicholson Gold Medal Award is TAPPI’s highest technical honor in recognition of an individual’s exceptional industry contributions. It is presented annually only if the individual has made preeminent scientific and engineering achievements of proven commercial benefit to the world’s pulp, paper, board, and forest products industries including forestry, derived products, their process technologies, and their applications.


About TAPPI:
TAPPI is the leading association for the worldwide pulp, paper, packaging, tissue and converting industries and publisher of Paper360°, Tissue360° and TAPPI Journal. Through information exchange, events, trusted content and networking opportunities, TAPPI helps members elevate their performance by providing solutions that lead to better, faster and more cost-effective ways of doing business. It has provided management training and networking to the industry’s leaders for more than 100 years. For more information, visit TAPPI’s website.

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