Roger M. Rowell, Ph.D., Biochemistry, Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN (1965)

Emeritus Professor: Forestry, Composite Agricultural Materials

460 Henry Mall
Madison, WI 53706
Tel: (608) 231-1821
Fax: (608) 231-9262

Education and Certificates

BS, Chemistry and Math, Southwestern College, Winfield, KS, 1961
MS, Biochemistry, Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN, 1963
PhD, Biochemistry, Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN, 1965
Post Doc, Bilchemistry, Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN, 1966-1967
Honorary research fellow, University of Birmingham, Birmingham, England, 1967-68

Fields of Interest

Wood Chemistry
Carbohydrate chemistry
Chemical modification of wood
Dimensional stability of wood
Biodurability of wood
Water repellency
Wood hardening


Wood chemistry
Carbohydrate chemistry
Natural fiber chemistry



Rowell, R. M., ed. 1984. Chemistry of Solid Wood, American Chemical Society, Advances in Chemistry Series No. 207, Washington, D.C., 614 pp.
Rowell, R.M., and J. Barbour, eds. 1990. Archaeological Wood: Properties, Chemistry, and Preservation. American Chemical Society Advances in Chemistry Series 225, Washington, DC, 472 pp.
Rowell, R.M., T. Schultz and R. Narayan, eds. 1992. Emerging technologies for materials and chemicals from biomass, Symposium Series 476, Am. Chem. Soc., Washington, D.C., 469 pp.
Rowell, R.M., T.L. Laufenberg, and J.K. Rowell, eds. 1992. Materials interactions relevant to recycling of wood-based materials, Materials Research Society Symposium Proceedings, Vol 266, 306 pp.
Rowell, R.M., R.A. Young and J.K. Rowell, eds 1996. Paper and composites from agro-based resources. CRC Lewis Publishers, Boca Raton, FL, 446 pp.
Rowell, R.M. ed. 2005. Handbook of Wood Chemistry and Wood Composites, Taylor and Francis, Boca Raton, FL, 487 pp

Recent Publications

Rowell, R.M.
2006. Chemical modification of wood: a short review. Wood Material Science and Engineering. 1(1): 29-33.
Rowell, R.M.
2006. Acetylation of wood: A journey from analytical technique to commercial reality, Forest Products Journal, 56(9): 4-12.
Rowell, R.M.
2006. Removal of metal ions from contaminated water using agricultural residues. In Proceedings: 2nd International Conference on Environmentally-Compatible Forest Products. F.C. Jorge, ed. Oporto, Portugal, September, 241-250.
Rowell, R.M.
2006. Advances and challenges in wood polymer composites. Proceedings of 8th Pacific Rim Bio-Based Composite Symposium. Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, 2-11, November.
Rowell, R.M.and H.P. Stout
2007. Jute and Kenaf. Handbook of Fiber Chemistry, 3rd Edition, M. Lewin ed., Marcell Dekker, New York, NY, Chapter 7, 405-452.
Rowell, R.M.
2007. Composites from forest biomass. Materials, Chemicals and Energy from Forest Biomass D. Argyropoulos (ed) ACS Symposium Series 954, Chapter 5, 76-92.
Rowell, R.M.
2007. Chemical modification of wood. Handbook of Engineering Biopolymers: Homopolymers, Blends and Composites. S. Fakirov and D. Bhattacharyya (eds), Hanser Publications, Munich, Germany, Chapter 22: 673-691.
Rowell, R.M.
2007. Holistic approach to wood protection. In: Proceedings Wood protection 2006, H.M. Barnes, ed. Forest Products Society, Madison, WI, 115-119
Rowell, R.M.
2007. High performance envelopes for wood, In: Proceedings, Advancement in coasting series, Coating wood and wood composites, Seattle, WA July 2007.
Chandra, A., L-S. Turng, P. Gopalan, R.M. Rowell and S. Gong
2007. Semitransparent poly(styrene-r-maleic anhydride)/alumina nanocomposites for optical applications. J. Applied Polymer Sci. 105:2728-2736.
Westin, R.M. Rowell and T. Nilsson
2007. Acetylated fiberboards - results from over ten years of field and commodity testing, In Proceedings: International Panel Products Symposium, M Spear (ed) 11-18, Cardiff, Wales, UK.
Segerholm, B.K., R.M. Rowell, P. Larsson-Brelid, M.E.P. Walinder, M. Westin and O. Soderstrom.
2007. Mirromorphology and durability of WPCs made from chemically modified wood. In: Proceedings 3rd Nordic Baltic Network in Wood Material Science and Engineering, J. Rikala and M. Sipi, (eds) 57-63, Helsinki, Finland.
Rowell, R.M., R.E. Ibach and T. Nilsson
2007. Influence of moisture on brown-rot fungal attack, In: Proceedings 3rd Nordic Baltic Network in Wood Material Science and Engineering, J. Rikala and M. Sipi, (eds) 65-69, Helsinki, Finland.
Rowell, R.M., E. O’Neill, A. Krzysik, D. Bossman, D.F. Galloway and M. Hemenover
2007. Incorporation of animal manures as reinforcing fillers in high-density polyethylene and high-density polypropylene composites. In: Proceedings 9th International conference on wood and biofiber plastic composites, Madison, WI, 371-374.
Rowell, R.M., B. Kattenbroek, P. Ratering, F. Bongers, F. Leicheer, and H. Stebbins.
2008. Production of dimensionally stable and decay resistant wood composites based on acetylation. Proceedings:11th International Conference on Durability of Building Materials and Components. A.N. Turkeri and O. Sengul, eds. Durability of materials II, Istanbul, Turkey, May, 693-701.
Rowell, R.M. and J.D. McSweeny.
2008. Heat treatments of wood fibers for self-bonding and stabilized fibreboards. Mol. Cryst. Liq. Cryst. 483: 307-325.
Boving, T.B., J. Klement, R. Rowell and B. Xing.
2008. Effectiveness of wood and bark in removing organic and inorganic contaminates from aqueous solution. Mol. Cryst. Liq. Cryst. 483:339-347.
Manolache, S., H. Jiang, R.M. Rowell and F.S Denes.
2008. Hydrophobic wood surfaces generated by non-equilibrium, atmospheric pressure (NEAPP) plasma-enhanced coating. Mol. Cryst. Liq. Cryst. 483:348-351.
Rowell, R.M., E. O’Neill, A. Krzysik, D. Bossman, D.F. Galloway and M. Hemenover.
2008. Industrial applications of animal manure filled thermoplastics. Mol. Cryst. Liq. Cryst. 484:616-622.
Totolin, V., S. Manolache, R.M. Rowell, and F.S. Denes
2008. Application of Cold Plasma to Improve Properties of Phenolic-Bonded Aspen Fiberboard. Journal of Natural Fibers. 5 (2):170-192
Rowell, R.M.
2008. Natural fibers: Types and properties. In: Properties and performance of natural-fibre composites, Kim L. Pickering, ed. Chapter 1. Woodhead Publishing Limited, Cambridge, UK, 3-66.
Rowell, R.M.
2008. Sustainable development: What is it and how do we deal with it? In: Proceedings 3rd International Conference and exhibition on environmentally compatible forest products, F. Caldeira Jorge, ed.,Oporto, Portugal, September, 2008, 57-62.
Rowell, R.M.
2008. A shift in thinking: From wood composites to biomaterials. In: Proceedings 3rd International Conference and exhibition on environmentally compatible forest products, F. Caldeira Jorge, ed.,Oporto, Portugal, September, 2008, 165-172.
Rowell, R.M.
2008. Production of Dimensionally Stable and Decay Resistant Wood Composites Based on Acetylation. In: Proceedings of the International Panel Products Symposium 2008, M. Spear (ed). Espoo, Finland, 203-210.
Rowell, R.M. 2008. Use of Acetylation for Production of Decay Resistant Wood
Composites. Proceedings of International Symposium on Wood Science and
Technology, IAWPS2008, Harbin, P.R. China, 27-29 Sep 2008, p. 401-403.
Inoue, M., N. Sekino, T. Morooka, R. M. Rowell, and M. Norimoto
2008. Fixation of compressive deformation in wood by pre-steaming. J. Tropical Forest Science. 20(4):273-281.
Inoue, M., K. Adachi, K. Tsunoda, R.M. Rowell and S. Kawai
2008. A new procedure for treating wood. Wood Material Sci. and Eng. 1(2):46-54.
Rowell, R.M., F.Bongers, B. Kattenbroek and H. Stebbins
2008. Enhancement of lower value tropical wood species acetylation for improved sustainability and carbon sequestration. In: Proceedings Fortrop II International Conference, Bankok, Thailand, November, 2008, 1-11.
Rowell, R.M., R.E. Ibach, J. McSweeny, and T. Nilsson
2009. Understanding Decay Resistance, Dimensional Stability and Strength Changes in Heat Treated and Acetylated Wood, In: Proceedings 4th European Conference on Wood Modification, Stockholm, Sweden April, 2009, 489-502.

Selected Awards and Honors

Elected to Sigma Xi (1966).
Listed in American Men and Women of Science, 12th ed., R. R. Bowker Co., New York (1979).
Certificate of Merit and cash award from the Department of Agriculture for outstanding contribution to the Forest Service and the scientific community in conceiving, compiling, editing, and writing the book, “The Chemistry of Solid Wood” (1985).
Certificate of Merit for Performance substantially exceeding the requirements of his position from US Department of Agriculture (1986 - 2007).
Foundation Builder Award, Presented for outstanding achievement in Chemistry, Southwestern College, Winfield, Kansas (1987).
Elected a Fellow of the International Academy of Wood Science (1987).
Elected as Fellow of the Cellulose, Paper and Textile Division of the American Chemical Society, in recognition for outstanding contributions to the American Chemical Society, 1991.
Special Act Award given by the Director of the Forest Products Laboratory for serving as Chairman of the FPL Committee to draft a reply to the Washington Office on Reinventing the Forest Service, 1994.
U.S. Department of Agriculture Group Honor Award for Personal and Professional Excellence for pioneering technologies to manufacture products made from recycled plastics, waste wood and paper, and agricultural fibers, 1995.
U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Chief’s Award in Technology Transfer for development of an advanced flooring system and the transfer of that technology to industry, 1996.
Distinguished Speaker Award, Society of Plastics Engineers, Gulf South Central Section, 1996.
U.S. Federal Laboratory Consortium for Technology Transfer Award of Merit for development of an advanced flooring system and the transfer of that technology to industry, 1996.
U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Honor Award for Personal and Professional Excellence in Research, 1998.
U.S. Department of Agriculture, Honor Award for Personal and Professional Excellence in Research, 1998.
U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Chief’s International Forestry Award, 1998.
Inducted into the Southwestern College Natural Science Hall of Fame November 2008.

Engineering Practice

USDA Forest Service, Forest Products Laboratory, Madison, WI.
1966-1967 GS-1320-12, Research Chemist
1968-1969 GS-1320-13, Research Chemist
1969-1972 GS-1320-13, Supervisory Research Chemist, Project Leader of Properties and Reactions of Wood Carbohydrates Research Work Unit FS-FPL-3408.
1972-1976 GS-1320-13, Research Chemist
1976-1986 GS-1320-14, Research Chemist
1986-1993 GM-1320-15 Supervisory Research Chemist, Team Leader, Chemical Modification of Wood
1993 - 2005 Project Leader, Modified Lignocellulosic Materials, RWU-4722, GM-1320-15
2005 - 2007 Senior Technical Pioneering Scientist
2007 - Retired

Expertise Summary

University of Wisconsin, Madison, WI

1980-1987 Adjunct Professor of Forestry
1988-2000 Professor - Department of Forestry
2000-2005 Professor - Department of Forest Ecology and Management
1995-2007 Professor - Biological Systems Engineering Department
1996-2007 Professor - Engineering Research Center for Plasma-Aided
Manufacturing, University of Wisconsin, Madison, WI
2007 - Present Professor Emeritus

Other Positions Held

1983-2000 Research Professor, Chalmers University of Technology,
Department of Technical Chemistry, Goteborg, Sweden
1983-2005 Team Leader, International Team on Property Enhancement of Lignocellulosics
Through Chemical Modification
1985 Guest Professor, Forest Chemistry Department, Beijing Forestry University, Beijing, China (2 months)
1985-1986 National Science Foundation Exchange Professor, Wood Research Institute, Kyoto University, Kyoto, Japan (Total 3 months)
1986 Guest Professor, Department of Wood Science, University College of North Wales, Bangor, North Wales (5 months)
1988 Guest Research Fellow, Forest Research Institute, Rotorua, New Zealand
(4 months)
1991 Guest Scholar, Kyoto University, Kyoto, Japan (1 month)
1990 - 1997 Mission Leader for Composites for United Nations Development Program, New York and India to develop a program to expand the use of jute fiber in India (2 weeks each year in India)
2002 Fellow, Japan Society for the Promotion of Science, Kyoto University, Uji, Japan,
(6 weeks)
2002 Guest Professor, Korea National University, Soal, S. Korea. (2 weeks)
2002 Visiting Scholar, Kyoto University, Kyoto, Japan (2 month)
2003 Visiting Professor, Capetown, South Africa (1 month)
2004 Visiting Professor, University of Trondheim, Norway (1 month)
2004 Visiting Professor, National University of Taiwan, Taiwan (2 month)
2005 Visiting Scholar, Kyoto University, Kyoto, Japan (1 month)
2006 Visiting Professor, University of Guadalajara, Mexico (1 month)
2007 - Present Visiting Professor, EcoBuild Institute, Stockholm, Sweden