The WCS Samson-Adler Distinguished Service Award was introduced in 2009. Named for Mr. Maurice Samson (Los Angeles) and Mr. Barry Adler (San Francisco) in recognition of their pioneering efforts during the earliest days of the WCS, the award distinguishes an individual for lifetime service to their society, the WCS and the coatings industry in general.


This morning, the 2020 Samson Adler Award will be presented to Dr. Ray Fernando, who has been a professor and Arthur C. Edwards Endowed Chair, and the Director of the Kenneth N. Edwards Western Coatings Technology Center at California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo, CA, since 2002. Previously Dr. Fernando was a Lead Research Chemist at Air Products and Chemicals, Inc., Principal Scientist at Armstrong World Industries Inc. USA, and Research Officer at Rubber Technology Division of Ceylon Institute of Scientific and Industrial Research, Colombo, Sri Lanka.


Dr. Fernando received his North Dakota State University, Fargo, ND in the Polymers and Coatings department. He obtained his B.S. degree in Chemistry from the University of Sri Jayewardenepura in Sri Lanka.


Since his days as a Ph.D. candidate, Ray’s focus has been on understanding the rheology of paints and coatings. More specifically, Ray’s work has largely been devoted to understanding the structure and properties of the individual components of a coating’s formulation, including resins, additives like surfactants and rheology modifiers, and relating them to the application and performance properties of the final product. In a sense, Ray’s work bridged the gap between the synthetic polymer chemist and the process/application engineer, illuminating why a formulation worked the way it did, and the key raw material characteristics and specifications necessary to obtain satisfactory and reproducible results. Much of Dr. Fernando’s work has focused on the industrially important associative thickeners, which are used extensively in latex-based waterborne coatings. He also made significant progress in understanding the dispersing of nanoparticle rheology modifiers in formulations. Dr. Fernando is credited with over 30 peer-reviewed publications, four patents, and numerous other publications and presentations.


Prof. Fernando’s record of service to the industry is outstanding by any measure. Much of that work has been with the American Coatings Association (ACA - formerly the FSCT). In April 2018, his scientific and service contributions were recognized by the Joseph J. Mattiello Lecture Award. Previously his volunteer contributions to the industry and ACA/FSCT, in particular, were so extensive that in 2004 he received the FSCT Service Award, and in 2005 the FSCT President’s Award for Distinguished Service to Professionals in the Coatings Field. He has also served as an editor for ACA’s Journal of Coatings Technology and Research (where he is also a member of the Editorial Review Board), as well as Progress in Organic Coatings and other journals in the field. With the American Chemical Society, he has organized a symposium on nanomaterial applications in coatings, and edited proceedings for an ACS Symposium Series book that followed the symposium. In 2019 ACS Polymeric Materials: Science & Engineering Division credited Ray with the Ray W Tess Award in Coatings.


Since joining Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo, Dr. Fernando has mentored and advised over 100 polymers and coatings masters and bachelors graduates; most of these graduates are employed in the coating and related industries. Ray organizes and runs Cal Poly’s popular summer and winter coating short courses offered to industry professionals. In addition, he has served as the organizer and an instructor for short courses offered by ACA and PNWSCT. During his time at Cal Poly, Ray has visited all Western Coatings Societies, twice participating in the multi-society speaker tour. Dr. Fernando has been to every WCS event since 2003 as a speaker and presenter of the Cal Poly booth at the show. He has organized and facilitated the participation of many Cal Poly students in WCS, introducing them to the coatings industry and its professionals.