Member Spotlight: Jamel Lawrence

Jamel Lawrence
Professional Member
North Canton, OH

For 15 years, Jamel Lawrence has been working his way up the Lubrizol Advanced Materials ladder, but it all actually started after a field trip in 8th grade to a Lubrizol plant in Painesville, Ohio.

That’s when Jamel met a chemical engineer during a two-week college prep and career planning summer program through Case Western University. After that, he knew that chemical engineering was what he wanted to pursue. In fact, as a middle-schooler, he was frequently taking his running and basketball shoes apart to look at how the cushion was constructed using polymer technology. In college, Jamel was encouraged by an engineering professor to broaden his perspective beyond how polymers were used in shoes and explore other ways they could be manipulated. Jamel went on to earn a B.S. in Chemical Engineering from Ohio University and an M.S. in Polymer Science from the University of Akron.

Jamel’s lab experience in polymer applications, working from polymer design to commercial scale-up, prepared him for his current position at Lubrizol as a Technical Marketing Manager. In this capacity, he provides support to customers as they work with applying and formulating Lubrizol products.

“Filtration and fiberglass construction are the areas where I did most of my research,” notes Jamel. “My application work includes foam testing, shear stability, and structure-property development (which involves modifying the polymer backbone and correlating that change through physical property testing such as tensile and tears). I also have additional characterization done through our analytical lab that includes tests such as NMR, IR and GC Mass spectroscopy.” He added, “The polymers Lubrizol produces can be used in various applications on paper and fiberglass. Some common paper applications include air and liquid filtration used in vehicles, coatings for book covers, specialty paper and masking tapes. Fiberglass applications include fiberglass wallboard and insulation used in HVAC ducting. Our polymers are used for other applications as well such as graphic arts, wood, metal, masonry and textiles to name a few.”

Jamel has been involved with various TAPPI events since 2007. He became more involved with TAPPI in 2014 as his job responsibilities focused more on customer service, and Lubrizol encouraged him to obtain leadership positions on committees.

“My TAPPI involvement has led to great networking and learning opportunities,” Jamel enthusiastically says. More specifically, the opportunities that led him to membership included TAPPI’s Hands-on Workshop for Pulp and Paper Basics, Specialty Papers Conference, PaperCon, the TAPPI Standards Committee and the annual Fiberglass Mat Technology Committee Meeting (this year’s meeting is September 19 – 21 in Charleston, SC). “Attending workshops, conferences and other events helps me stay current with the technical needs of the industry. Engineers are problem solvers, and many issues can arise with the chemistry and physics of polymers. I have encouraged numerous colleagues to attend TAPPI events to their technical toolbox up to date,” he said.

Jamel is an active member of the Fiberglass Mat Technology Committee and is particularly proud of his work to implement suggestions from a survey that focused on topics such as regulatory and fiberglass mat technology during annual meetings. Additionally, his work with peers to develop a short course that Lubrizol presented on binder technology in 2016, which doubled the attendance of the committee meetings, was equally satisfying. The record attendance was highlighted in the 2018 TAPPI Products and Service Guide.

Q. What prompted you to join TAPPI?

A. The learning opportunities prompted me to join, and being a member has provided a chance for me to meet other peers in the industry.
Some of the courses, conferences and seminars I find interesting are on market overviews, trends in the world of specialty paper, sessions on technology and applications developments, as well as sustainability and lifecycle analysis. Also, topics on environmental and regulatory updates are always critical because it impacts the types of chemicals we can produce. These subjects are important because they help our lab stay current. At times, we may need to develop new lab tests or modify our polymers to make sure they are compliant with local environmental regulatory laws when used by our customers.

Q. Have you been published in journals or other publications?

A. Yes. I’m a contributing author in writing a chapter in a textbook by Dr. Judith E. Puskas: Introduction to Polymer Chemistry: A Bio-based Approach.

Q. Have you served on any TAPPI committee?

A. I’ve participated on the following committees:

1. TAPPI-Standard Specific Interest Group (SSIG) for Fiberglass Mat Testing

Reviewed and voted on standard tests procedure that were due for renewal for fiberglass mat quality testing.
2. Binders and Additives Committee

2015 – Present
Member – Provide suggestions and idea for conference content.
3. Fiberglass Mat Technology Committee –

Member - 2014 to Present – Provide suggestions for subject matter for committee meetings.
Secretary – 2017 – Record meeting notes.
Vice Chair – 2018 – Assist with the planning of the Fiberglass Mat Annual Committee meeting.

Q. How has your TAPPI membership benefited you and your career?

A. My TAPPI membership has been enriching to my career by providing a venue where I can learn best practices from fellow colleagues in the industry, meet other suppliers and manufacturers in the industry, and partake in educational programs (courses, webinars, conferences, etc.).
TAPPI courses help with trouble shooting and problem solving when process issues arise. Being in the application field, this information is useful in my day-to-day lab work.

Q. Please provide insights into how you use TAPPI publications (Paper 360o, Tissue 360o, TAPPI Journal) as a resource for practical on-the-job application and/or research opportunities.

A. I like reading about the companies that make the Pulp & Paper International Top 100 listed in Paper 360o magazine. I also read Over the Wire articles in my emails. I like the easy-to-read format that includes headlines on new products, market round-up, and sustainability.

Q. What is a unique or fun fact about you?

A. I enjoy bike rides (see photo of Jamel astride his trusty bike to the right). I often take 20-mile rides with my co-workers after work. Our longest ride has been what we call a “40-miler,” which we ride all day on a Saturday in the summer, generally in late summer between August and September. Because I enjoy eating ice cream, I look forward to stopping at an ice cream stand at the 20-mile mark. It’s my motivational pit-stop.

Q. Tell us about your personal hobbies or volunteer activities?

A. I mentor eighth graders, high school and college students, as well as participate in college fairs (in photo at left, Jamel talks to an engineering student during a career fair about co-ops and internships at Lubrizol). The True2u program I’m involved with has reached over 1,000 students in more than 40 schools and focuses on STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math) and business careers. In 2016, Lubrizol won an award for having the largest number of volunteers in its inaugural program year.

Q. Closing sentiment?

A. Being a TAPPI member is a wonderful way to learn about the past, present and future of the paper and fiberglass mat industry. I encourage any inquisitive person in the field to join.