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Professor Rowell received his BA in chemistry and math from Southwestern College in 1961 and went on to get his MS and Ph.D. in Biochemistry from Purdue University in 1963 and 1965, respectfully. After spending one year as a post doctoral fellow at Purdue, he became a research chemist for the USDA, Forest Service, Forest Products Laboratory in Madison, WI. In 1967, he spent a year as a Research Fellow at the Haworth Institute for Carbohydrate Chemistry in Birmingham England. Returning to Forest Products Lab, he became a Project Leader for Carbohydrate Research and in 1980, took a joint appointment with the University of Wisconsin where over the next 27 years he was professor in Forestry, Biological Systems Engineering and the Engineering Research Center for Plasma Aided Manufacturing.
Professor Rowell has spent time as a Guest Professor at Chalmers University of Technology in Gothenberg Sweden, a Visiting Scholar at Beijing Forestry University, Beijing, China, a Visiting Professor at the Wood Research Institute, Kyoto University, Uji, Japan, at University College of North Wales, Bangor, UK, and at the Forest Research Institute, Rotorua, New Zealand. He has also been a United Nations Development Project Mission Leader for composites in India and was a Visiting Professor for the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science in Japan.
He is a Fellow in Sigma Xi, honorary research society, a Fellow in the International Academy of Wood Science and a Fellow in the American Chemical Society, Division of Cellulose, Paper and Textiles.
In 1995, he received the United States Department of Agriculture Group Honor Award for Excellence in Research; 1996 United States Department of Agriculture, Federal Laboratory Consortium Award of Merit for Technology Transfer; 1998 United States Department of Agriculture, Honor Award for Personal and Professional Excellence in Research; and in 1998 United States Department of Agriculture, Forest Service Chief’s International Forestry Award.
He retired from the University of Wisconsin in 2007 and is now a Professor Emeritus continuing to direct Graduate Students at Wisconsin and four other universities. He also retired from the Forest Products Laboratory in 2007 after 41 years as Senior Technical Pioneering Scientist. He is presently a Guest Professor, for EcoBuild, Stockholm, Sweden and consults for several companies in the US, Europe and Asia.
Roger has over 350 scientific publications, written/edited 10 books, holds 26 patents and has given lectures in over 50 different countries.