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2013 Roy W. Tess Award in Coatings

Dr. Gordon P. Bierwagen of North Dakota State University, Department of Coatings and Polymeric Materials will receive the Roy W. Tess Award in Coatings for 2013.  The announcement was made by the Officers and the Award Committee of the Division of Polymeric Materials: Science and Engineering (PMSE) of the American Chemical Society.

Dr. Bierwagen began his career in the coatings industry in 1969 working initially as a Research chemist in the Electrochemical Engineering Dept. of Battelle Memorial Institute Columbus, Ohio labs. In 1969 he joined Sherwin Williams Co. in Chicago IL as Senior Chemist and later became Laboratory Director while gathering practical experience in industrial and architectural coatings. In 1987 he joined Avery Decorative Films Division as Director of R&D in Schererville, IL, where the focus was on industrial processes for continuously applying coatings and films on a variety of substrates

In 1989 he joined the Polymer and Coatings  Department of North Dakota State University as Professor. He was chair of the Department for ten years and is now currently Director of the Center for Surface Protection

Dr. Bierwagen received his Ph.D. in Physical Chemistry at Iowa State University  in Ames, IA. and he received a B.S. degree in Chemistry  and mathematics at Valparaiso University in Valparaiso IN.

At North Dakota State University Dr. Bierwagen carries out research activities in the areas of coatings formulation concepts and corrosion including the effect of coatings on corrosion and the development of anti-corrosion coatings. The coatings program has grown considerably over the years. Specific areas of focus include:

  • electrochemical testing of coatings
  • the use of conducting polymers as corrosion inhibitors
  • the invention of magnesium rich coatings as replacements for hexavalent chromium containing primers
  • the use of electrochemical sensors embedded in coatings.

Dr. Bierwagen’s invention of magnesium–rich primers protects aluminum alloys in the same way that zinc-rich primers provide sacrificial protection for ferrous substrates. When it was first proposed, the prevailing, external, scientific opinion was that the magnesium concept would not work, but Dr. Bierwagen, and his co-workers, have proven and developed a very viable technology that has now been licensed by AkzoNobel. Laboratory and field testing indicates that this magnesium approach inhibits corrosion as well as the chromate inhibitor. The magnesium rich system is in service trials on both military cargo and fighter aircraft, with no reports of problems after three years. This is a substantial accomplishment that has considerable benefits for the environment and human health while maintaining the necessary high level of performance.

Dr. Bierwagen has published over 160 peer-reviewed publications , edited the ACS Symposium Series volume 689 on Organic Coatings for Corrosion Control, and has a recent patent and four pending related to coatings corrosion control of metal substrates. He has been Editor-in-Chief of PROGRESS IN ORGANIC COATINGS journal for 16 years.

Dr. Bierwagen has won two Roon Foundation awards for best paper in 1972 and 2003. He was the 2007 Mattiello Lecture Award winner for the American Coatings Association. He has been an invited and plenary lecturer and keynote speaker at a number of international coatings and corrosion conferences.

Dr. Bierwagen will receive the Tess Award from Dr. David Martin, Chair of the PMSE Division, on Monday, September 9, 2013 during the 246th National Meeting of the American Chemical Society in Indianapolis, IN.  An evening reception in honor of the Tess award recipient and other PMSE and POLY award winners will be held during the ACS meeting.


The Tess Award is presented annually by the Division of Polymeric Materials: Science and Engineering in recognition of outstanding contributions to coatings science, engineering and technology. It is funded by a grant to the Division from Dr. and Mrs. Roy W. Tess. The purpose of the award is to encourage interest and progress in coatings science technology and engineering and to recognize significant contributions to the field. The Award consists of a plaque and a $3000 cash prize.