Officers and Board of Directors

IRI is governed by an elected Board of Directors, operating under a Constitution and By-Laws formulated by the membership. The Board consists of the Chairman, Chairman-Elect, Vice Chairman, immediate Past Chairman, and 12 other directors. Each member of the Board is elected to a three-year term and is not eligible for two consecutive terms. When a person is elected Vice Chairman, that person automatically becomes Chairman-Elect the following year, and Chairman the year after. Two candidates for Vice Chairman and for each opening on the Board are presented to the membership by a Nominating Committee in an annual election.


Chairman: Tom Kavassalis, Xerox Innovation Group.
Chairman-Elect: John B. Hillenbrand, Owens Corning
Vice Chairman: Spencer A. Pugh, Battelle
Past-Chairman: Daniel A. Abramowicz, Crown Holdings, Inc.

Board of Directors


Name Company Term Ending
Sherri L. Bassner      Intertek 2018 
Virginia M. Brandt Energizer 2016
John D. Evans      Lockheed Martin  2016 
Joseph R. Fox Ashland, Inc. 2017
Louis A. Gritzo     FM Global 2018
E. Jefferson Hynds Ingersoll Rand  2016 
K. Andrew Kintz LORD Corporation  2018
Mark Matlock  Archer Daniels Midland 2017 
Richard I. Michelman  Michelman, Inc.  2017 
Karen Milley J.M. Smucker Co. 2017
Anthony D. Nickens Ceramatec 2016
John F. Reid Deere & Company 2016

Media Inquiries

For more information about IRI programs, services, Research-Technology Management Journal, or to arrange an interview with an innovation or Research & Development expert, please contact Michele Taussig, Vice President, Marketing & Communications.


Tom Kavassalis, Vice President
Strategy and Alliances
The Xerox Innovation Group

As Vice President of Strategy and Alliances, Tom leads strategy development for the Xerox Innovation Group. In this role, Tom ensures that Xerox has a balanced portfolio of research and technology investments supporting Xerox's near term business strategies and creating options for the future. His alliances work is focused on leveraging external innovation.

Joining the Xerox Research Centre of Canada (XRCC) in 1987 as a member of the research staff, Tom worked in the field of polymer physics, developing theories and models to explain the mechanical and rheological properties of polymeric materials. He also established a competence in modeling and simulation of material systems. His further research areas included the study of molecular level models of phase transitions, solubility behaviors and stress-strain behaviors. While conducting research at XRCC, Tom maintained a concurrent appointment as adjunct professor at the University of Waterloo. Tom became Associate Centre Manager of XRCC in 1995. He has been associated with the strategy and planning functions in XIG, and the former research and technology organizations, since 1997.

Prior to joining Xerox, Tom served as a research scientist at Ontario Hydro Research Division and as a visiting scientist at the Instituut Lorentz in the Netherlands.

Tom holds a B.Sc. in Chemistry from the University of Toronto and a Ph.D. in Physical Chemistry from MIT. His thesis research was in the field of statistical mechanics.

Away from work, his interests include nature photography, woodturning, rebuilding vintage cars, and auto-racing. He will always be a bad golfer.



John B. Hillenbrand, Vice President & Chief Innovation Officer
Owens Corning

Mr. Hillenbrand joined Owens Corning as Vice President and Chief Innovation Officer 6 years ago. In this role he has direct accountability for the Science & Technology organization and leads innovation across the global building materials and composite solutions businesses. In addition to these duties, he currently serves on the Corporate Partners Program at the University of Toledo’s College of Engineering, and the Chemical Engineering Advisory Board and the College of Engineering Committee of 100 at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University. He recently chaired the Industry Advisory Subcommittee of the Technology Transfer and Commercialization Task Force, established by the Ohio Board of Regents.

Prior to Owens Corning, Mr. Hillenbrand spent 23 years in a variety of global business, technology, and operations roles at DuPont. Two of these roles were vice president of innovation and technology for DuPont Packaging & Industrial Polymers, and director of DuPont Ventures. The latter business sought out and partnered with entrepreneurial companies to create growth opportunities for them and DuPont; the experience involved developing and implementing a new model to broadly enable open innovation at DuPont.

Mr. Hillenbrand earned a Bachelor of Science degree from Virginia Tech, and master’s and doctorate degrees from Carnegie Mellon University, all in chemical engineering.

Away from work, his interests include nature photography, woodturning, rebuilding vintage cars, and auto-racing. He will always be a bad golfer.

Vice Chairman

Spencer Pugh, Vice President & General Manager

Energy & Environment

Spencer Pugh is the Vice President and Manager of Business Development and Open Innovation of Battelle’s Energy, Environment, and Material Sciences Global Business. Spencer, who joined Battelle in 2005, leads business development, oversees internal research and development, and manages intellectual property for the global business. He and his team work closely with Battelle’s experts to provide technical solutions for Battelle’s clients that drive economic growth while enabling them to be good stewards of the environment. Spencer also serves on the Boards of Directors of Battelle India and Battelle Japan.

From 2005 to 2010, Spencer led a marketing group in Battelle’s National Security Global Business, developing business opportunities with domestic and international clients. He also managed the business’ intellectual property and had responsibility for the portfolio internal R&D projects.

Before coming to Battelle, Spencer was a senior laboratory head in Research and Development at Eastman Kodak in Rochester, New York. His team developed new products for enhanced performance, improved manufacturability, and reduced cost for Kodak’s manufacturing plants in China, France, and the U.S. Prior to that, Spencer was a program leader and project manager. Spencer holds a B.S. in Chemistry and Physics from The College of William and Mary and a Ph.D. in Physical Chemistry from Stanford University. In 2003 he earned a Six Sigma Black Belt.


Immediate Past Chairman

Daniel A. Abramowicz

Chief Technology Officer

Crown Holdings, Inc.

Dan Abramowicz is responsible for innovation and technology development across Crown’s business platforms. These efforts include new product design, new process development, product and process improvements, material developments, engineering, process monitoring, database management, standard setting and cost reductions across the breadth of Crown’s packaging products (food cans and ends; beverage cans and ends; aerosol containers; metal vacuum closures; specialty packaging; and packaging equipment). In addition, Dr. Abramowicz heads Crown’s Environment, Health and Safety Organization and Crown’s Sustainability Initiative.

Before joining Crown, Dr. Abramowicz was a Technical Director in GE’s Global Research Center. In this leadership role he was responsible for technology development across GE’s Industrial and Consumer Businesses, including Appliances, Lighting, Transportation Systems, Industrial Control Systems and Electrical Distribution & Control. In an earlier role with GE, Dr. Abramowicz headed GE’s Environmental Laboratory, utilizing chemical, biological and physical methods to develop innovative remediation and pollution prevention systems, as well as initiatives in green product design.

Dr. Abramowicz received his B.S. degree in Chemistry and his B.A. degree in Mathematics and Computer Science from St. Francis University and his M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in Physical Chemistry from Princeton University. During his time with GE, he was also an Adjunct Professor in the Department of Biology at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. Dr. Abramowicz is an active volunteer for non-profit organizations and he is currently serving in several leadership roles with such organizations, including Vice-Chair of the Board of Trustees at Salus University, Board of Director for the Industrial Research Institute, Chair of the Executive Corporate Committee of The Franklin Institute (a renowned science museum), and Chair of The President’s Advisory Board of Conwell-Egan Catholic High School. Dr. Abramowicz is also a current member and past-Chair of the Advisory Board of the Clemson University’s Department of Packaging and past-President of the Board of Governors of the Association of Princeton Graduate Alumni.

Dr. Abramowicz has recently been recognized with two honors for alumni, being elected to the Andrew Fleming West Society of Princeton University and with St. Francis University’s Distinguished Alumnus Award in Science.



Sherri L. Bassner, Vice President Chemicals Services

Intertek USA, Inc.

Sherri Bassner obtained her PhD in Inorganic Chemistry from The Pennsylvania State University in 1988.  She began working for Air Products and Chemicals, Inc., in the fall of that year.  Most of her 22 years with Air Products were spent in Business Unit R&D positions, first as an individual contributor and then in Technology Management positions.  Her areas of expertise focused on solvent and water-based coatings and adhesives.   Her experience with Air Products included almost 4 years in Mexico where she built applied technology organizations in both Mexico and Brazil to provide local support to business in region and managed the Mexican business.  After four years managing Air Products’ Global Analytical Sciences organization, Sherri moved to Intertek USA in July 2010, where she assumed business management responsibility for the Intertek Chemicals and Materials lab in Allentown, PA.  She is currently Vice President for Chemicals Services, building a platform across Global Business Lines to provide comprehensive testing, development support, investigations, and regulatory consulting for customers across industries. 

Virginia holds a bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering from the University of Missouri, and a MBA from the Kent State University. Virginia brings a passion for engaging future generations to pursue their interests in STEM fields. She currently holds a regional officer position and has held a number of area leadership positions in engineering organizations. She is a frequent participant in outreach speaking and workshop opportunities.


Virginia M. Brandt, General Manager
Battery Research & Development

Virginia works for Energizer, where she currently serves as the global Technology and Engineering leader for primary alkaline round cells and miniature batteries. As a member of the Senior Leadership Team for Operations, Technology and Engineering, she also holds key leadership roles for the Household Products Division in the areas of Product Safety, Sustainability, Mentoring, Project Management, and Product Planning and Development, and serves as the coordinator for the Technology Fellows program. She has held past roles in quality assurance and engineering and production management and leading the Product Technical Services group for the Energizer Household Products Division. Virginia’s service with Energizer stands at 29 years.

Virginia holds a bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering from the University of Missouri, and a MBA from the Kent State University. Virginia brings a passion for engaging future generations to pursue their interests in STEM fields. She currently holds a regional officer position and has held a number of area leadership positions in engineering organizations. She is a frequent participant in outreach speaking and workshop opportunities.


John D. Evans, Vice President
International Engineering & Technology
Lockheed Martin

Dr. John D. Evans is Corporate Vice President, Technology and Innovation for Lockheed Martin Corporation. In this capacity he provides technical and strategic leadership for 60,000 technologists and 120,000 employees, ensuring global access to cutting edge technology and enabling the corporation to rapidly develop new capabilities and open new markets. His unique approach, simultaneously integrating business, strategic, and technical perspectives, is central to the framing of new corporate initiatives both in Lockheed Martin’s core business as well as in adjacent markets such as social media analytics, autonomous systems, cyber security, and health care. As the corporation’s technical ambassador, Dr. Evans develops and enhances relationships with governments, universities, and businesses globally to promote sales, ensure access to technology, and promote economic development.

Prior to joining Lockheed Martin, Dr. Evans served as Program Manager for the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), leading initiatives in the fields of space, communications, micro-technology, and nuclear energy. He has held positions as Chief Technical Officer for the west coast venture-funded start-up Microfabrica; lead MEMS scientist for Becton Dickinson; and energy consultant for the United States Congress Office of Technology Assessment (OTA).

Born in Minneapolis, Minnesota, Dr. Evans earned a BA degree in physics from Carleton College; an MS in civil engineering and a Ph.D. in mechanical engineering from the University of California, Berkeley; and an MBA from Duke University. He serves on the board of Lockheed Martin Saudi Arabia, the Economic Advisory Committee of the U.S. Council on Competitiveness, the National Science Foundation Business Expert Panel, and the Industry Advisory Board for King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST). He served as host and sponsor for the 2009 and 2010 USA Science and Engineering Festivals. Dr. Evans is a member the American Society for Mechanical Engineering (ASME) and a senior member of the Institute for Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE). Recognitions include the Office of Secretary of Defense Medal for Exceptional Public Service; the DARPA Innovation Award; the Charles Lofgren Carleton College Alumni Business Fellowship; and the Becton Dickinson Special Achievement Recognition Award. He has been awarded ten United States patents.


Joseph R. Fox, Director
Emerging and External Technologies
Ashland, Inc.

Joe Fox is the Director of Emerging and External Technologies for Ashland Inc., a global, diversified Fortune 500 specialty chemical company. In his current role, Joe is responsible for a portfolio of growth and platform projects in support of Ashland’s Performance Materials Division, a leading supplier of thermosetting resins for composite and adhesive applications. Joe received his bachelor’s degree in chemistry from Lehigh University and his Ph.D. in organometallic chemistry from Penn State. He has worked at Ashland for 20 years in a variety of technical and managerial roles. He is currently a member of the board of directors of Polymer Ohio and the Ohio Bioproducts Network.

Joe is also the focal point for Performance Materials’ open innovation initiatives and for identifying technology at other companies, universities and federal laboratories that can impact Ashland. He has been an active member of the IRI’s External Technology Network (ETN) since 2006 and served as co-chair of the network in 2010-12. In that capacity, he facilitated several productive collaborations between the ETN and the Federal Laboratory Consortium.


Louis A. Gritzo, Vice President & Manager of Research
FM Global

Dr. Louis Gritzo is VP of Research at FM Global, an industrial and commercial property insurance company whose clients include 1/3 of the FORTUNE 1000. His responsibilities include management of FM Global’s $125-million, 1,600 acre, Research Campus for physical property loss prevention research in Rhode Island, and three Research Directorates (Fire and Explosions, Structures and Natural Hazards, and Risk and Reliability) at the Center for Property Risk Solutions in Massachusetts. Gritzo has a Ph.D. in mechanical engineering, with a minor in applied mathematics, from Texas Tech University. Prior to joining FM Global in 2006, Gritzo was a manager at Sandia National Laboratories.

Lou currently serves on the Governing Board of the Global Earthquake Model, on Advisory Committees for several universities, and on the Editorial Board of several technical journals Gritzo also serves as an FM Global corporate spokesperson, including recent interviews in Fast Company, Bloomberg Business, and The Wall Street Journal.


E. Jefferson Hynds, Director
Ingersoll Rand Company

E. Jefferson Hynds is Director of Innovation at Ingersoll Rand Company. In this role, he works with strategic business units across the global enterprise to identify and move innovative ideas through the front-end of the development pipeline. For each new product or service offering Jeff identifies the specific target customer segment, defines precisely what technologies, performance and features the offering will deliver, confirms that the offering will create superior and differentiated customer value, estimates the financial opportunity and return-on-investment for the company and develops a plan for moving the offering through the remainder of the development process. In addition to developing breakthrough products such as the IBM Proprinter, Cadillac Northstar engine, Delphi Electric Power Steering, and Club Car Precedent golf car, Jeff holds six U.S. patents. He is a 2008 winner of the Maurice Holland Award, a member of RTM’s Board of Editors, and a former member of the Sustainability Accounting Standards Board Advisory Council. He has B.S. and M.S. degrees in mechanical engineering and an M.S. in management of technology from the Georgia Institute of Technology.


K. Andrew Kintz, Senior Staff Scientist
Open Technology Innovation
LORD Corporation

Andy Kintz works for LORD Corporation, a privately held specialty chemical and mechanical engineering company, where he currently serves as Senior Staff Scientist leading the company’s efforts to understand technology trends and their impact on business growth. Andy has over 25 years (17 at LORD) of broad based industrial experience in job functions ranging from research and development to operations management. He has worked globally on LORD Corporation’s adhesive business and spent several years as the Market Manger for LORD’s automotive products. As Manager of LORD’s Open Innovation team, Andy helped establish an outwardly focused vision resulting in mergers and acquisitions for the company. He holds 14 United States patents, numerous international patents and several publications. He earned a Bachelor’s of Science degree in Chemistry from Bowling Green State University with graduate studies in business at Wright State University, and is a certified pricing professional. Prior to LORD Corporation, Andy worked for Reichhold Chemicals and Mead Imaging.  Additionally, he serves on the boards of directors of Treyco Environmental Solutions and The Center for Hope and Healing.


Mark Matlock, Senior Vice President
Food Research
Archer Daniels Midland

Mark Matlock joined Archer Daniels Midland Company in 1980. Mark Matlock was appointed Senior Vice President Food Research division where he directs food ingredient research. Prior to his current appointment, Mark served as an Analytical Chemist, Manager-Process Development, Laboratory Manager-ADM BioProducts, Director-Food Applications and Vice President Business Development. He has conducted research that has led to new soy protein isolates for ADM. He has managed research efforts that lead the introduction of trans free fats for margarines and shortenings via a novel enzymatic rearrangement technology. In addition, Mark Matlock was elected president of the American Oil Chemists’ Society for 2003-2004 and in 2007 was appointed an AOCS Fellow.

Mark holds a Bachelor of Science degree in chemistry from Millikin University and a Master’s of Science degree in polymer chemistry from the University of Akron.

Mark is author or co-author of nine U.S. patents, two of which relate to an analytical instrument (OSI) that measures the oxidative stability of vegetable oils.


Richard L. Michelman, Chief Technology Officer
Michelman, Inc.

Michelman is a mid-sized, family owned, global coatings and additives company with a focus on packaging, paints and coatings, and composite materials. We invent, manufacture and sell our products, and have an active and successful acquisition program. In his current role, Dr. Michelman has worked to greatly increase product commercialization rates, introduce open innovation, and set both leading and lagging metrics in place to measure corporate technology results. Past roles within Michelman have included VP of the Flexible Packaging Business Unit, VP of the Paper Coatings Business Unit, Market Manager focusing on end user engagement, and Technology Manager and Product Development positions. Prior to joining Michelman, Rick worked at Raychem, now part of Tyco,

Dr.Michelman graduated from the Chicago Executive Institute of the University of Chicago Booth School of Business, holds a PhD in Chemistry from the University of California at Berkeley, and an AB in Chemistry from Cornell University. He sits on various non-profit boards, and currently serves as President of the Cincinnati Regional Office of AJC, an international human relations organization, bringing them a more business oriented approach.


Karen Milley, Vice President
Research & Development, Consumer Foods
J. M. Smucker Company

A thirty year career in the food industry in Research and Development as well as Quality Control at General Mills, Yoplait, and Nabisco Foods. Currently Vice President of Research and Development for the Consumer Foods Strategic Business Unit of the J M Smucker Company.

Responsible for all R&D activities to meet current as well as long term growth plans through new item introductions, and packaging and process innovation, as well as profit improvement using new technologies for the following product brands: Smucker’s, Knott’s, Dickinson’s, Jif, Laura Scudder, Adam’s, Uncrustables, Hungry Jack, Smucker’s, Pillsbury, Martha White, White Lily, Robin Hood, Crisco, Eagle Brand, PET, Carnation Canada, in the categories owned by the company in North America.

Graduated from the Ohio State University with a Bachelor of Food Science and from Indiana University, Kelley School of Business, with an MBA in Marketing.


Anthony D. Nickens, Vice President, Energy Group
Ceramatec, Inc.

Anthony is the Vice President of the Energy Group at Ceramatec Inc., an advanced R&D company, where he leads a group of scientists, engineers and lab technicians. Anthony is also responsible for business development and collaborative technology commercialization where he manages alliances with Fortune 100/500 companies and government research efforts.

Anthony holds the rank of Captain(0-6) in the Navy Reserves, where he serves as the National Director of NAVSEA’s SurgeMain Program overseeing over 1,450 Sailors dedicated to providing manpower to our Navy’s Shipyards.


John F. Reid, Director
Enterprise Product Technology & Innovation
Deere & Company

As Director, Product Technology and Innovation, Reid is responsible for John Deere’s Global Technology Innovation Network. John Deere’s network of technology innovation centers in Europe, India, China, Latin America, and North America leverage internal and external R&D linkages to accelerate contributions of technology innovation to business growth. Reid and Advanced Marketing colleagues jointly orchestrate an Accelerated Innovation Process and Enterprise Technology Process to coordinate the delivery of technology innovations to the marketplace and to build capabilities to support future business growth ambitions.

In previous roles, Reid was the Technology Team Leader for John Deere’s Enterprise Technology Strategy in automated and unmanned vehicle systems including robotics and automation.

Reid came to Deere and Company in January 2001 after a 14-year career at the University of Illinois where he was recognized internationally for his contributions in automation and control for off-road equipment. Reid’s expertise includes machine vision perception, controls, and hardware-in-the-loop design. Previously, Reid served as a consultant to agricultural and military industries in their effort to deploy advanced technologies into precision agriculture and systems automation. At the University, Reid was research director and chairman for 6 completed M.S. degrees and 15 completed Ph.D. students. Reid’s awards have included the Japanese Society for the Promotion of Science Research Fellowship (1998), the University of Illinois University Scholar Recipient (95-97) and the Karl Gardner Advising Award (1997). Reid has received 24 patents and has published more than 186 papers, including 61 refereed journal articles.