Meet Our Keynote and Plenary Speakers

The 2021 STLE Virtual Annual Meeting program features eight world-renowned thought-leaders, each presenting their perspectives on the latest emerging trends and technologies impacting the tribology and lubrication industry.

(All times listed are US Eastern Daylight Time)

Speakers and Presentations include:

Monday, May 17 (8:30 - 10:00 am EDT)

How Tribology Benefits Technology and Society (Keynote Presentation)
Dr. Said Jahanmir, Assistant Director for Federal Partnerships 
The National Institute of Standards Technology (NIST) Office of Advanced Manufacturing

“We don’t get no respect!” I heard this from a senior tribologist giving a keynote address at an STLE Annual Meeting many years ago. This sentiment has always resonated with me. Why is it that our work and contribution as tribologists and lubrication engineers is not recognized? So, what exactly is our contribution to technology and society? In this talk, we will discuss the impact of tribology over the past 75 to 100 years. ASLE, the predecessor of STLE, was formed 75 years ago “to foster the dissemination of lubrication knowledge and to encourage research and the exchange of ideas.” This was well before the term “tribology” was coined in 1966. This was near the end of World War II, often referred to as a “mechanized” war, when planes, automobiles, and mechanical weapons all needed to be lubricated; at a time of rapid expansion of the age of automobiles and planes; with newly emerging lubricant additive technology; and with the need for longer life and higher reliability of mechanical systems. Over the years, our work as tribologists and lubrication engineers has transformed technology and has made our lives much more comfortable and safer. We have made a huge impact through the development of advanced oil refining and treatment processes, new synthetic lubricants, lubricant additives, green lubricants, new materials, high-performance bearings, reliable seals and gears, and solid lubricants, just to name a few. All of us must be proud of what we have accomplished and deserve much respect and accolades. “How Tribology Benefits Technology and Society”
Dr. Said Jahanmir, assistant director for federal partnerships, at the National Institute of Standards Technology (NIST) Office of Advanced Manufacturing. Dr. Jahanmir received a doctorate in mechanical engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), where his work in tribology (friction, lubrication and wear) led to a new theory for wear of materials based on the fundamental mechanics and physics of contacts. Jahanmir, an STLE and ASME Fellow and Honorary Member, also served as the 2018-2019 ASME president. He is also currently the president and CEO of Boston Tribology Associates, an engineering consulting firm and serves as Adjunct Professor of Mechanical Engineering at Texas A&M University. He is a prominent technology leader with extensive scientific, technical, management and policy experience in the U.S. government, industry and academia.

Monday, May 17, 2021 (8:30 - 10:00 am EDT)

Inflection Point: A New Paradigm for Tribology Education (Keynote Presentation)
Dr. Mike Lovell, President, Marquette University

Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, the higher education sector was struggling to address a growing financial crisis. With years of shrinking public support, concerns about the value of a degree in today’s job market, increasing tuition, and the national student debt crisis, universities were ripe for disruption and needed to restructure. The pandemic accelerated this need for change; students and families have fewer resources to pay for college and universities across the country have lost more than $120 billion in revenue since March 2020. Higher education is at an inflection point. The disruption in higher education comes at a time when the tribology and lubrication engineering workforce will face necessary turnover. Developing a talent pipeline in the field of tribology represents both a challenge and opportunity. With limited academic programs available and the higher education sector on its head, we must reimagine how tribology education is delivered and how professionals in the field are developed. In this talk, we will examine what this new era of tribology education could look like. New instructional models, many of which are from the private sector, are emerging to replace traditional college education. Their credentials are faster, cheaper, and highly focused on skills and job placement. The field of tribology, with its practical nature and its natural link to the transportation, energy, and manufacturing sectors, can be on the leading edge in a new paradigm for higher education.
Dr. Michael R. Lovell, has served as the 24th president of Marquette University since July 2014. President Lovell holds three degrees in mechanical engineering, including a Ph.D. from the University of Pittsburgh. Prior to joining Marquette, Lovell served as chancellor at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and held faculty positions at the University of Pittsburgh and the University of Kentucky. As a renowned scholar, Lovell has published more than 100 articles in leading engineering journals, has written a dozen book chapters, and co-authored the book Tribology for Scientists and Engineers. President Lovell has received numerous recognitions including a CAREER award from the National Science Foundation, an Outstanding Young Manufacturing Engineer from the Society of Manufacturing Engineers (SME), and the Burt L Newkirk Award from the American Society of Manufacturing Engineers (ASME). Lovell holds several U.S. and world patents and is a fellow of ASME and the National Academy of Inventors.

Monday, May 17 (8:30 - 10:00 am EDT)

Advancing Tribology – How Will We The Tackle The Next 75 Years? (Keynote Presentation)
Dr. Kathy Wahl, Head of the Molecular Interfaces and Tribology Section, Naval Research Laboratory

Tribology has had a great ride over the past 75 years – becoming a named field and as a science and engineering discipline that can be fairly credited with truly transformational contributions to modern life. So where will we go from here? What challenges will we tackle? One of the most critical aspects of these questions involves time and money: How should we invest our research and development funds and efforts, given an ever-expanding set of technical challenges? Even considering purely tribology-related aspects, it’s a complex problem. On one hand we need and want to improve mature engineered systems and, on the other hand, emerging technologies demand solutions from advanced materials and engineering. Further, we simultaneously have unprecedented ability to apply highly advanced analytical tools, models and software to understand mechanics and chemistry of contact phenomena at scales from atoms to geological. How will we as tribologists support and enable the legacy engineered systems that have dominated 20th century life, while embracing science and technology advances to address emerging 21st century opportunities? Should we embrace machine learning, and if so what aspects of our field are best served by this approach? How can we project how advanced manufacturing approaches will influence wear and durability? The future is rich with opportunity, and tribology expertise remains a key science and technology area essential to a majority of modern and emerging technologies.
Dr. Kathryn J. Wahl, Head of the Molecular Interfaces and Tribology Section, at the Naval Research Laboratory. Dr. Wahl received a bachelor’s degree in physics and mathematics from St. Olaf College, and a doctorate in materials science and engineering from Northwestern University. She came to the NRL as a National Research Council postdoctoral fellow in the Tribology Section and studied friction, wear and transfer film formation of model solid lubricant coatings. Since joining the NRL research staff, her research has focused on fundamental physics and chemistry of sliding and adhesive surfaces for contacts ranging from macroscopic to nanometer-scale. Wahl has served on the Editorial Advisory Board of Review of Scientific Instruments, and currently serves on the editorial boards of Tribology Letters and Wear. She is a fellow of STLE and American Vacuum Society (AVS), and a member of Materials Research Society (MRS) and American Chemical Society (ACS).

Tuesday, May 18 (8:30 - 10:00 am EDT)

Recent Advancements in Additive Manufacturing at Boeing (Keynote Presentation)
Dr. Melissa Orme, Vice President, Boeing Additive Manufacturing

Additive manufacturing (AM) is a technology that is more than three decades old, and Boeing has been a leader in researching and implementing AM in the aerospace industry since 1997. Metal powder-bed AM technology, however, has only recently begun to demonstrate value for application into critical aerospace products that require high quality and rigorous process and manufacturing control. This presentation will discuss advancements in the AM modality of powder-bed laser fusion and will present two case studies where we have realized added value in converting traditionally manufactured parts to additively manufactured parts. Added value associated with additive manufacturing is distinguished into three major categories: part level, product level, and program level. On the part level, we discuss the added value of reduction of cost, lead time, weight, buy-to-fly ratio, and an increase in quality. On the product level, we discuss the ability of AM to enable the fabrication of differentiating products, or vehicles, in the case of Boeing. On a program level, we discuss the ability to enable rapid product development and the sustainable aspects of AM. For production at scale, repeatable and reliable printing and traceability are essential and hence a great deal of our background work is focused on establishing repeatable and reliable material properties across machines while enabling strict traceability through the integration of the digital thread.
Dr. Melissa Orme belongs to that small group of engineers who have participated ‘hands-on’ in the field of additive manufacturing before the term or even the industry of “additive manufacturing” existed. Her career has been divided between academia and small business. On the academic front, she worked as a professor at University of California, Irvine for 12 years, where she rose to the rank of full professor. She was an early pioneer in the field of 3D printing of metallic parts, resulting in 15 U.S. patents relevant to 3D printing, which are concerned with novel AM methods with molten metal micro-droplets, novel methods of customizing the size distribution of metallic powders, and high-speed direct circuit board printing. Prior to her current position, she served as chief technology officer of Morf3D for four years. Morf3D is a company that is focused on additive manufacturing of metallic components, primarily for the aerospace and defense industry. In that capacity, she oversaw the company’s AM development programs for small lot production, which includes new material parameter development, novel AM design implementation, component validation and qualification.

Currently serving as vice president of Boeing Additive Manufacturing, Orme continues to grow and scale additive manufacturing capabilities and help to rapidly expand understanding of the unique features that 3D printing can bring to our factories and production lines while improving safety and quality. She helps to drive application scalability for existing products, and mature technology for future franchise platforms across Boeing Commercial Airplanes, Boeing Defense, Space and Security and Boeing Global Services.

Wednesday, May 19 (8:30 - 10:00 am EDT)

Implant Materials in Arthroplasty (Keynote Presentation)
Dr. Amit Parikh, Research Manager, Smith & Nephew, Inc.

Osteoarthritis is a degenerative joint disease that can cause chronic pain and significantly impact daily life. While initial treatment involves conservative, non-surgical options, arthroplasty has increasingly been performed to restore patient mobility. Over the last several decades, innovations related to material and design have significantly improved the performance and longevity of joint replacement devices. Nonetheless, opportunities to improve patient outcomes remain. Greater patient expectations and an increase in the number of young, active patients may also create new challenges in the future. This presentation will discuss materials used in arthroplasty and also highlight current challenges and opportunities.
Dr. Amit Parikh is a research manager at Smith and Nephew, Inc., a leading portfolio medical technology company. Parikh has global tribology responsibility for the hip and knee business and has worked in the orthopaedic industry for over 17 years. During that time, he has performed failure analysis, designed new test methods, and conducted coupon and device testing to evaluate novel bearing materials and implant technologies. He has also played a key role in obtaining regulatory clearances and commercializing numerous hip and knee replacement products. In addition, he has been involved in technical marketing and sales training activities in support of new product launches. He is an active member of ASTM and the Orthopaedic Research Society and has authored over 35 abstracts and journal articles.

Wednesday, May 19 (1:00 - 2:00 pm EDT)

Hit the Right Notes with your Technical Presentation (Plenary Presentation)
Dr. Jack Zakarian, Consultant, JAZTech Consulting LLC

This plenary talk will give valuable advice from a technical expert and STLE Fellow who, throughout his 42 years in the industry, has been known for taking a lighthearted and unconventional approach to teaching people about tribology and lubricants. Zakarian will illustrate techniques for helping people learn, understand, and retain technical information. This presentation will amuse you with song and inspire your thinking about how to make a positive impression with every technical presentation. You can get an advance preview of Jack’s songs by visiting his YouTube channel:


Jack Zakarian went to work for the Chevron Research Company in 1979 after graduating with a Ph.D. in chemical engineering from the University of California, Berkeley. He spent 37 years working for Chevron’s Lubricants Business in the areas of base oil & lubricants product research & development. He retired from Chevron in 2016 and now works as an independent consultant. In 2019, he was named an STLE Fellow.


Thursday, May 20 (8:30 - 10:00 am EDT)

Tribology, Surface Science and Additive Manufacturing: Opportunities for a Symbiotic Relationship (Keynote Presentation)
Dr. Christopher B. Williams, Professor of Mechanical Engineering, Virginia Tech

The core function of additive manufacturing (AM) technologies – forming layers by the selective placement (or forming) of solid material – provides unsurpassed design freedom in both the geometric topology and the material composition of a product. Using AM, engineers have the power to selectively place multiple materials only where they are needed, and thus are afforded the opportunity to realize products that satisfy multiple functions and design objectives. However, broad industrial adoption of AM has been constrained by many open research challenges, many of which are related to topics of relevance to the STLE community. In this talk, we will provide an overview of the current status, present challenges, and future opportunities of additive manufacturing technologies. The presentation will include a range of opportunities for STLE expertise to engage and improve AM technologies and applications – spanning from characterizing and improving surface finish of printed metals to tuning the tribological performance of printed medical implants. In addition, we will discuss opportunities where the unique traits of AM (e.g., tailored geometries and materials) might find unique use in fields driven by STLE expertise, including offshore oil and gas drilling and self-lubricating components.
Dr. Christopher Williams is the L.S. Randolph Professor and the Electro-Mechanical Corporation Senior Faculty Fellow in the department of mechanical engineering at Virginia Tech, and is the director of the Design, Research, and Education for Additive Manufacturing Systems (DREAMS) Laboratory. The lab has published over 185 peer-reviewed articles on topics spanning innovations in additive manufacturing processes and materials, design for additive manufacturing methodologies, and cyber-physical security for AM.  Williams is a recipient of a National Science Foundation CAREER Award (2013) and the 2012 International Outstanding Young Researcher in Freeform and Additive Manufacturing Award. He currently serves as the vice chair of the Additive Manufacturing Community Advisors for SME. Dr. Williams holds a Ph.D. and M.S. in mechanical engineering from the Georgia Institute of Technology and a B.S., with high honors in mechanical engineering, from the University of Florida.

Thursday, May 20 (1:00 - 2:00 pm EDT)

Engine Icing Certification: Past, Present and Future (Plenary Presentation)
Dr. Jim MacLeod, Group Leader, National Research Council Canada

Icing is one of the most difficult certification requirements that a modern gas turbine engine has to pass to obtain a Type Certificate. This presentation will cover the history of engine icing, the airworthiness requirements and the damage that icing can inflict on gas turbine components and engine operability. Issues related to engine design and ice protection will be discussed.
Jim MacLeod is a NRC Fellow specializing in engine icing and environmental certification at the Gas Turbine Laboratory of the Aerospace Research Centre at the National Research Council of Canada. He joined NRC in 1982 as a researcher in the Propulsion Group. He has a master of engineering degree in aeronautical engineering from Carleton University, and has been extensively involved in turbine engine icing certification projects for all the major engine manufacturers. He was awarded a Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal and was the 2015 recipient of the NATO Science and Technology Organization von Karman Medal. He is currently the chairman of the Aircraft Icing Research Alliance (AIRA).