The Chief Scientific Officer of CSI, who has 40 years of experience in research on lignocellulosic substances, has pioneered the application of Raman spectroscopy and Solid State 13C NMR spectroscopy for characterizing the molecular organization of celluloses, both in their native states and after modification by traditional industrial processes. He and his collaborators have also pioneered the application of Raman spectroscopy to the study of native lignins. He has served as a consultant to many companies in the forest products and cellulosics industries. He has also undertaken research under contract for the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) and has served as a member of working groups for the US Department of energy. After a period as a research engineer in the private sector he served as Professor of Engineering and Chemical Physics and as Principal Scientist at the Institute of Paper Chemistry during its tenure in Appleton, Wisconsin. In 1989 he became Head of Chemistry and Pulping Research at the USDA Forest Service Forest Products Laboratory in Madison, Wisconsin and Adjunct Professor of Chemical and Biological Engineering at the University of Wisconsin, Madison. In 2007 he established CSI to undertake research under contract with NREL and to begin development of the CSI process on the basis of the results of investigations he had earlier undertaken concerning structural transformations in cellulose.
In the course of studies in the 1970s he developed methods for creating high degrees of decrystallization and disorder in celluloses, whether in their native state or as commercially available pulps. These decrystallized states are much less resistant to disassembly by enzymes or acid. In 2007 these processes were adapted for producing monosaccharides from cell wall polysaccharides, while simultaneously extracting a wide range of phytochemicals from the plant biomass.
Joining Cellulose Sciences International in January of 2009, Mr Atalla has served as the President and Chief Operating Officer for the last 5 years. He oversees business arrangements and day to day operation of the lab. Mr Atalla is responsible for all vendor and service provider relationships, as well as the implementation of CSI’s pilot scale facility plans. Rowan is a cum laude graduate of Lawrence University, receiving his BA in Theatre in 1992. After spending several seasons working as a stage electrician and carpenter, Mr Atalla moved from professional theatre into the field of software development.
Mr Atalla has worked for 18 years in software development, including time spent in the roles of independent developer, graphics production specialist, team manager, project leader, and executive. He has worked with teams as small as 2 and as large as 40 people. He has substantial experience in business administration, team management, and project planning and management. As a software developer, Mr Atalla also has substantial experience with information systems, both with hardware and software.
His substantial expertise with computer graphics systems is now being applied to Raman spectroscopy, and the operations, troubleshooting, and data collection from CSI’s new Horiba XploRA Raman Microprobe. Additionally, Mr Atalla is able to apply his practical experience with technical systems and business administration to the day-to-day lab operations and administrative needs of Cellulose Sciences International.