Spring2023 Workshop on Packaging Innovation and the Circular Economy Workshop Banner

2023 Spring Workshop

Packaging Innovation and the Circular Economy


Thursday, May 11, 2023 | 8:00 a.m - 5:00 p.m. EDT (Banquet Dinner at 6.00 p.m.)
Friday, May 12, 2023 | 8:00 a.m - 12:30 p.m. EDT
sponsored by

The Renewable Bioproducts Institute

Location: Bill Moore Student Success Center 
219 Uncle Heinie Way Northwest, Atlanta, GA 30313

The Renewable Bioproducts Institute sponsored a one-and-a-half-day in-person workshop on "Packaging Innovation and the Circular Economy.“ Attendees learnt about cutting-edge developments in the packaging industry and an opportunity to network with leading researchers and peers from the industry. This unique workshop featured speakers from:

  • Forest Products Laboratory (FPL)
  • PaperBottle
  • Stora Enso
  • Georgia Tech 
  • University of Maine
  • and many more...
Georgia Tech's Packaging and Circular Economy Research Community

The workshop provided an excellent opportunity for external organizations to interact with Georgia Tech students and faculty involved in renewable bioproducts research. In addition to the seminars and presentations, there were social and networking activities scheduled throughout the event.


THURSDAY, MAY 11, 2023
           Time                         Activity
8:00 a.m. - 9:00 a.m. Registration and Continental Breakfast
9:00 a.m. - 9:15 a.m.

Welcome & Introductions

Carson Meredith | Executive Director, Georgia Tech Renewable Bioproducts Institute

9:15 a.m. - 10:00 a.m.

Process-Structure-Property Relationships of Encapsulants and Barrier Films: The Path Towards Roll-to-Roll Manufacturing

Speaker: Tequila Harris | Professor in the George W. Woodruff School of Mechanical Engineering, Georgia Tech

10:00 a.m. - 10:45 a.m.

Driving Innovation in Paper Based Packaging

Speaker: Jeff Pristera | Westrock

10:45 a.m. - 11:00 a.m. Break
11:00 am - 11:45 a.m.

Processing and Mechanical Properties of Renewable Layered Barriers

Speaker: Meisha Shofner | Associate Professor & MSE Faculty Fellow in the School of Materials Science and Engineering, Georgia Tech 

11:45 a.m. - 12:30 p.m.

Renewable Barriers from Carbohydrates

Speaker: Carson Meredith | Executive Director of Renewable Bioproducts Institute & Professor in the School of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, Georgia Tech

12:30 p.m. - 1:45 p.m. Lunch (Boxed Lunches Provided)
1:45 p.m. - 2:30 p.m.

Redefining the Future of Water

Speaker: Brennan Besser | Paper Bottle

2:30 p.m. - 3:15 p.m.

Making a Sustainable Future with Forest Products at the USDA Forest Products Laboratory

Speaker: Ken Zwick | USDA Forest Products Laboratory

3:15 p.m. - 3:30 p.m. Break
3:30 p.m. - 4:15 p.m.

Opportunities and Threats for Fiber Based Packaging in the Circular Economy

Speaker: Jose Gonzalez | AFRY

4:15 p.m. - 5:00 p.m.

Can the Circular Economy Work Without Equity?

Speaker: Joe Bozeman, Assistant Professor of Civil & Environmental Engineering, with a courtesy appointment in the School of Public Policy, Georgia Tech

5:00 p.m. - 6:00 p.m. Poster Session & Reception
6:00 p.m. - 8:00 p.m.

Dinner & Keynote Presentation on "Xylochemistry based upon Lignocellulose as a sustainable replacement for Petrochemistry"

Speakers: Bo Ardeungo & Stefan France | Georgia Tech, School of Chemistry & Biochemistry

FRIDAY, MAY 12, 2023
8:00 a.m. - 8:30 a.m. Continental Breakfast
8:30 a.m. - 9:15 a.m.

Investigation of Dye Choice and Parameters of the Dye-Penetration Test and the Influence on Defect Detection in Waterborne Barrier Coated Papers

Speaker: Sharon Vuong | Dow

9:15 a.m. - 10:15 a.m. Break Out Sessions, Report Back & Discussion on Materials, Processing & Systems
10:15 a.m. - 10:30 a.m. Break
10:30 a.m. - 11:15 a.m.

Circularity in Renewable Packaging Materials

Speaker: Jonas Pettersson | Stora Enso

11:15 a.m. - 12:00 p.m.

Renewable Packaging Innovations Enabled by Cellulose Nanofibrils

Speaker: Mehdi Tajvidi | University of Maine

12:00 p.m. - 12:45 p.m.

Innovation in Fiber-Based Cold Chain Packaging

Speaker: Jason Cho | Ranpak

12:45 p.m.  Conclude and Boxed Lunches to go

Accommodations - Local Hotels

Georgia Tech is located in the heart of Midtown Atlanta and has a wide variety of hotel options to choose from. Georgia Tech has partnered with a variety of nearby hotels to provide discounted rates to our visitors. View hotel list and pricing on our Campus Travel page.
Student Poster Session

Students attending the workshop participated in a poster session from 5 p.m. - 6 p.m. 


Parking Information

Parking for the Bill Moore Student Success Center was at the Visitor Area 1 parking lot at 176 North Avenue NW, Atlanta, GA. For ease and safety, please use the pedestrian sky bridge to cross over North Avenue from the top level of visitor parking area 1.

For directions and other details, please visit the Bill Moore Student Success Center Parking Information page.

Parking map for Bill Moore Student Success Center

About the Speakers

Brennan Besser Headshot

Redefining the Future of Water

Brennan Besser


Brennan Besser graduated from Duke University and currently operates his company, Eco Star, from his hometown Chicago. Eco Star, is working to create the first-ever truly biodegradable bottled water product. Eco Star's superior water is the only natural mineral water source in America, certified and approved by the Water Sommelier Union, bottled in plastic-free packaging made from sustainable materials.

Portrait of Joe Bozeman

Can the Circular Economy work without Equity?

Joe Bozeman
Assistant Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering, with a courtesy appointment in the School of Public Policy


Joe Bozeman is an Assistant Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering, with a courtesy appointment in the School of Public Policy, at the Georgia Institute of Technology. His research focuses on developing equitable socioecological, urban carbon management, and food-energy-water strategies.  He has over a decade of private and public sector experience, and his award-winning work has been featured in major media outlets such as Popular Science, the Geographical Magazine, and NPR.

Portrait of Jason Cho

Innovation in Fiber-Based Cold Chain Packaging

Jason Cho


Jason Cho is Vice President of R&D and Corporate Development at Ranpak. In this role, he leads new product development efforts around fiber-based protective packaging and automated solutions as well as driving innovation initiatives through strategic partnerships.


Portrait of A.J. Bo Arduengo

Xylochemistry based upon Lignocellulose as a sustainable replacement for Petrochemistry

A.J. "Bo" Arduengo
ReWOOD, Professor, Georgia Tech


Anthony J. “Bo” Arduengo is Professor of the Practice in the School of Chemistry and Biochemistry at the Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta, Georgia. He was graduated from Georgia Tech in 1974 with a B.S. in Chemistry and in 1976 with a Ph.D. He has held numerous positions in industry and academia over the course of his career. He is a co-founder of the STaNCE consortium (Technology for a Sustainable Chemical Economy) focusing on sustainable chemical technologies employing biomass. He is an administrative and technical leader with Georgia Tech’s ReWOOD center focusing on sustainable technology through xylochemistry as a replacement for petrochemistry. Current research efforts in the Arduengo group have significant focus in the pharmaceutical synthesis area, unusual bonding and structure, and sustainable chemistry.

Portrait of Stefan France

Xylochemistry based upon Lignocellulose as a sustainable replacement for Petrochemistry

Stefan France
REWOOD, Associate Professor, Georgia Tech


Stefan France received his B. S. in Chemistry (2000) from Duke University. He then obtained his M. A. (2003) and Ph.D. (2005) degrees from Johns Hopkins University. After a postdoctoral fellowship at Emory University, he began his independent career in 2007 at Georgia Institute of Technology, and was appointed Associate Professor in 2013. His scientific interests include the development of catalytic methodologies for applications in  biomass upcycling, complex molecule synthesis, and medicinal chemistry.


Portrait of Jose Gonzalez

Opportunities and Threats for Fiber-Based Packaging in the Circular Economy

José González


Jose has over 25 years in the industry and has significant experience in business analysis and strategic direction for Wood Products, Packaging, Hygiene, Paper and Coating based companies. He supervises strategic and complex engagements in North America and Latin America and advises CEO and Board/Senior level executives. Jose is the liaison with AFRY engineering teams.

Portrait of Tequila Harris

Process-Structure-Property Relationships of Encapsulants and Barrier Films: The Path Towards Roll-to-Roll Manufacturing

Tequila Harris
Professor, Georgia Tech


Tequila A. L. Harris is a Professor in the George W. Woodruff School of Mechanical Engineering, at Georgia Institute of Technology. Prior to joining Georgia Tech, she earned her Masters and Doctorate degrees from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and a Bachelors in Physics from Lane College. Harris’ research is focused on exploring the connectivity between thin film quality and its functionality, durability and performance, based on its manufacture. Her aim is to elucidate mechanisms that cause system failure, which may have initiated at the manufacturing stage. Harris has received several awards and honors, of note, the L. E. Scriven Young Investigator Award and the National Science Foundation CAREER Award.

Portrait of Carson Meredith

Renewable Barriers from Carbohydrates

Carson Meredith
Executive Director, Renewable Bioproducts Institute, Professor, Georgia Tech


Carson Meredith is the Executive Director of Georgia Tech’s Renewable Bioproducts Institute, one of ten interdisciplinary research institutes on the campus. In this role, he is catalyzing an interdisciplinary innovation community engaged in translational research in pulp, paper and packaging, circular materials from biomass, and bioindustrial manufacturing and biorefining. His research interests are biomass-derived renewable and sustainable materials and high-throughput materials discovery and characterization. He is on the Editorial Board of the journal Green Materials and the External Advisory Boards of the Bioproducts Institute (University of British Columbia) and the Joint BioEnergy Institute (JBEI). He is the winner of the 2023 Georgia Tech Class of 1934 Outstanding Service Award.

Portrait of Jeff Pristera

Driving Innovation in Paper Based Packaging

Jeff Pristera


Jeff Pristera, with WestRock Packaging Development, is a career R&D professional in the packaging industry. He originally graduated from Georgia Tech (BSMSE 2002). He then earned a Master’s in Polymer Physics from Penn State and eventually an MBA from Butler University. After spending much of his career in plastics packaging, he now focuses on paper application development. WestRock’s Packaging Development team applies the company’s innovative paper science and coating developments to real world solutions for brand owners. While not working, Jeff loves to cook for his family at their home in Richmond, VA. He also enjoys long walks on the beach, and he is a Pisces.

Portrait of Jonas Pettersson

Circularity in Renewable Packaging Materials

Jonas Pettersson
Stora Enso


Jonas Pettersson has a worked for 25 years in various Sales Leadership positions in Stora Enso in 4 different countries. He was also Vice President for Product Management and Marketing for Stora Enso’s Packaging Materials Division prior to his current position as the Regional Head for North America for Stora Enso based out of Alpharetta, GA. On his free time he spends time with his wife, 3 children + dog, is passionate about food and coffee, restores an old vintage BMW motorcycle, plays tennis and learns ball room dancing with his wife Anette. Jonas holds a Masters in Economics and Business Administration from Abo Akademi University in Finland, speaks 5 language and is a dual citizen of Sweden and Finland. 

Portrait of Meisha Shofner

Processing and Mechanical Properties of Renewable Layered Barriers

Meisha Shofner
Associate Professor and MSE Faculty Fellow in the School of Materials Science and Engineering, Georgia Tech


Meisha L. Shofner is an Associate Professor and MSE Faculty Fellow in the School of Materials Science and Engineering at the Georgia Institute of Technology. She joined the Georgia Tech faculty, following post-doctoral training at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. She received a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering from The University of Texas at Austin and a Ph.D. in Materials Science from Rice University. Prior to graduate school, she was employed as a design engineer at FMC in the Subsea Engineering Division. Shofner’s research interests include processing strategies for polymers and nanocomposites, auxetic and tensegrity structures, bio-based polymers, and additive manufacturing. 

Portrait of Mehdi Tajvidi

Renewable packaging innovations enabled by cellulose nanofibrils

Mehdi Tajvidi
University of Maine


Mehdi Tajvidi joined the School of Forest Resources at University of Maine in September 2013. He started his scientific career at Forest Products Laboratory, Madison, WI in 2001 where he worked as a visiting scientist working on his dissertation on dynamic mechanical analysis of wood plastic composites. After completing his Ph.D. program in Natural Resources Engineering at the University of Tehran in 2003, Mehdi worked as an Assistant and later an Associate Professor at the Department of Wood and Paper Science and Technology, the University of Tehran for 8 years. In 2007 Mehdi received the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science (JSPS) award to do research at the Department of Biomaterials Sciences, the University of Tokyo, Japan where he worked as a Visiting Professor for two years. Upon moving to Canada in 2011, Mehdi worked as a Visiting Professor at the Department of Chemical Engineering, University of Waterloo, ON, Canada before Joining the School of Forest Resources in September 2013. Mehdi’s areas of research interest are production, characterization and performance evaluation of renewable nanomaterials and their composites. Mehdi’s core research area at University of Maine is focused on utilization of cellulose nanomaterials in high volume applications such as coatings, packaging and building products. To date, Mehdi has published over 160 papers in academic journals, presented over 70 presentations at international conferences and advised/co-advised over 60 graduate students and postdocs.

Portrait of Sharon Vuong

Investigation of Dye Choice and Parameters of the Dye-Penetration Test and the Influence on Defect Detection in Waterborne Barrier Coated Papers

Sharon Vuong


Sharon Vuong joined Dow in 2014, focusing on architectural binder development for non-drip paints with Dow Coating Materials. In 2017, she transitioned over to Core R&D Formulation, Automation, and Materials Science, where she is currently a Research Scientist supporting the development of fundamental understanding and technical expertise for a broad range of application areas including coatings, home and personal care, packaging and specialty plastics, silicones, and polyurethanes. Sharon enjoys using her colloid and interface science background in combination with Dow’s high throughput equipment and capabilities to identify solutions with a tailored product performance profile. She also takes an active role in developing and supporting her workgroup culture, and has served as the Safety Action Committee Leader, Ph.D. recruiter, and mentor during her time at the company. Prior to joining Dow, Sharon received her Ph.D. in Chemical Engineering from Carnegie Mellon University, where she conducted research under the advisement of Shelley Anna. She studied the phenomena governing crystallization and gelation of particle suspensions using microfluidic techniques. Sharon holds a bachelor’s degree from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) in Chemical Engineering.

Portrait of Ken Zwick

Making a sustainable future with forest products at the USDA Forest Products Laboratory

Ken Zwick
USDA Forest Products Laboratory


Ken Zwick joined the Forest Products Laboratory (FPL) in 2021 as Assistant Director for the Wood, Fibers and Composites Research (WFCR) Division. WFCR explores ways to efficiently break wood down into smaller parts, and then transform those parts into higher value products. Ken joined the FPL after 22 year at Kimberly Clark Corporation where he most recently led product technology strategy for the tissue and towel business. Ken holds over 45 U.S. utility patents in tissue mechanics, structures, absorbency, and drying, as well as several patents in gasoline fuel injection. He holds a B.A. and BSME from the University of Michigan, and an MSE and Ph.D. from the University of Pennsylvania.  

Student Posters - Details

           Name Major Poster Title Advisors
William Berkey CHEM

Unprotected Carbohydrate Derived Furans for the Synthesis of Value-Added Chemicals

Stefan France, Christopher Jones

Woosung Choi

MSE Renewable, Biodegradable Polyesters with Barrier Properties for Next-Generation Packaging Zhiqun Lin, Vladimir Tsukruk

Caria Evans

CHEM Photodegradable Polymers for Recyclable and Sustainable Towels and Packaging Stefan France, Blair Brettmann

Elyssa Ferguson

ME Sustainably Sourced Natural Fibers for Thermal Insulation in Buildings Akanksha Menon

Qiang Fu

ChBE Recovery and Purification of High-Value Organic Acids from Kraft Black Liquor Sankar Nair, Scott Sinquefield

Danae A. Chipoco Haro

MSE Electrocatalysis for a Bio Economy: Nitrate Reduction and Lignin Oxidation for Added Value Products Marta C. Hatzell, Faisal Alamgir

Tanner Hickman

ChBE Making Cellulose-Based Films Work in High Humidity Carson Meredith,  Natalie Stingelin

Elnaz Jamshidi

MSE Bioadhesive for OSB wood Kyriaki Kalaitzidou

Kwangjun Jung

ME Process-Structure-Property Relationships of Chitin Nanofiber and Cellulose Nanocrystal Bilayer Barrier Films Tequila Harris

Hsiang-Ju (James) Kai

ChBE Unraveling the Physical Chemistry of Polyolefin-Cellulose Interfaces Thomas E. Gartner

Dogukan Karahan

ME Analysis of Fiber Orientation in Converging Channels Cyrus Aidun, Devesh Ranjan

Jungin Kim

ME Design of Biodegradable Polymers with Quantum Optimization Yan Wang

Geng-Sheng Lin

ChBE Triboelectric Membrane Sensor for Heavy Metal Ions Removal and Detection Zhaohui Tong

Opeyemi Ojelade

ChBE Lactic Acid Upgrading on CeZrOx catalysts • Christopher Jones, Sankar Nair

Jimin Park

ChBE Mechabochemical Hydrogenation and Acetylation of 4-nitrophenol to Paracetamol in a Multi-Phase Ball Mill Reactor System Andreas Bommarius, Carsten Sievers, Marta Hatzell

Kim Anh Pham

MSE High-Performance Lightweight Nanocellulose Composites through Scalable Manufacturing for High Volume Applications Kyriaki Kalaitzidou, Tequila Harris, Karl Jacob

Erin Phillips

CHEM Mechanocatalytic Depolymerization of Lignin and Lignin Model Ethers Carsten Sievers

Arjun Thangaraj Ramshankar

CEE Life Cycle Assessment for Nanocellulose Production - An Overview and Future Direction Joe Frank Bozeman lll

Michael Rettstatt

ChBE Mechanism of Aqueous Phase Reforming of Organics over Bimetallic Catalysts Carsten Sievers

Fariha Rubaiya

MSE Elucidating Connections between the Piezoelectric and Auxetic Responses of Nanocellulose Meisha Shofner, Lauren Garten

Javaz Rolle

ChBE Nanochitin/Nanocellulose Coatings for Paper Packaging Carson Meredith, Natalie Stingelin

Harsh Kumar Verma

MSE Regenerated Silk Fibroin for a Biodegradable Thin and Flexible Vibration Transducer and a New Approach Towards Sustainability Josiah Hester, Blair Brettmann

Andrew Wu

ChBE Bio-Based Covalent Adaptable Networks of Thermoset Polymers to Improve Recycling of the End-of-Life Waste Natalie Stingelin, Kyriaki Kalaitzidou

Kaung Su Khin Zaw

CHEM Effects of Graphene Oxide Membrane Thickness Reduction on Microstructure and Crossflow Separation Performance in Kraft Black Liquor Dewatering Sankar Nair, Meisha Shofner

Li Zhang

MSE The Effects of Atomic Layer Deposition on the Enzymatic Degradation of Cellulose Fabrics Mark Losego