Roger M. Rowell

Position title: Emeritus Professor: Forestry, Composite Agricultural Materials


Phone: (608) 231-1821

Agricultural Engineering Building
460 Henry Mall
Madison, WI 53706

Roger Rowell

Education and Certificates

  • B.S. 1961 – Chemistry and Math, Southwestern College, Winfield, KS
  • MS 1963 – Biochemistry, Purdue University
  • PhD 1965 – Biochemistry, Purdue University
  • Post Doc 1966-1967 – Biochemistry, Purdue University
  • Honorary research fellow 1967-1968 – University of Birmingham, Birmingham, England

Fields of Interest

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


  • Wood chemistry
  • Biocomposites
  • Carbohydrate chemistry
  • Natural fiber chemistry



  • Rowell, R.M. ed. 2005. Handbook of Wood Chemistry and Wood Composites, Taylor and Francis, Boca Raton, FL, 487 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., 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., 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., 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., ed. 1984. Chemistry of Solid Wood, American Chemical Society, Advances in Chemistry Series No. 207, Washington, D.C., 614 pp.

Recent Publications

  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.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.
  • 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.
  • 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. 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. 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. 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.
  • 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., 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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., 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., 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Rowell, R.M. 2007. High performance envelopes for wood, In: Proceedings, Advancement in coasting series, Coating wood and wood composites, Seattle, WA July 2007.
  • 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. 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. 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.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. 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. 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. Acetylation of wood: A journey from analytical technique to commercial reality, Forest Products Journal, 56(9): 4-12.
  • Rowell, R.M. 2006. Chemical modification of wood: a short review. Wood Material Science and Engineering. 1(1): 29-33.

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