Western Research Institute Appoints New CEO
Dr. Jean‐Pascal Planche, senior vice president at Laramie’s Western Research Institute, became WRI’s new chief executive officer effective February 1, 2020. Dr. Planche replaced Don Collins, who recently announced his retirement as CEO, after 12 years of distinguished service to the institute and to state and federal agencies.
Planche joined WRI in 2010, after working as an executive for the TOTAL Bitumen Division, part of the French major oil company TOTAL. An expert in asphalt chemistry, he earned a Ph.D. in macromolecular materials engineering from the University of Lyon.
Planche has authored or co‐authored over 150 scientific papers. In 2011 he was inducted into the U.S. Association of Modified Asphalt Producers hall of fame for lifetime achievement in the development of polymer‐modified asphalts.
At WRI, Planche has guided a significant transition in the Asphalt and Petroleum Technologies business unit, from
heavy reliance on federal contracts and grants to a more diverse portfolio of clients, including many international
“I am thrilled and humble to be given this opportunity to lead this institute which is well recognized worldwide in the field of asphalt materials,” commented Planche. “The teams at WRI are very talented and committed to diversifying the institute’s activities, particularly in the field of sustainable materials from fossil fuel resources. This amplifies a path initiated by my predecessor, Don Collins.”
Planche also commented on the value of WRI’s collaborations with the University of Wyoming. “Internal and external synergies with UW are potentially immense and full of promises. Commercially viable innovations are the keys for success, and we are good at it!”
Retiring CEO Don Collins, who successfully guided WRI through several challenging economic periods, expressed confidence in Planche’s leadership. “It has been exciting to observe the successful commercial applications of scientific research under Dr. Planche’s vision,” Collins said. “We all can be excited about WRI’s future with Dr. Planche at the helm.”
Western Research Institute is a nonprofit research and development institute with offices and laboratories in Laramie, Wyoming. The institute employs over 40 scientists, engineers, and other professionals. Much of the institute’s scientific work focuses on hydrocarbon chemistry and molecular structure to produce sustainable carbonbased materials and to repurpose waste plastics.
WRI has its roots in a U.S. Bureau of Mines petroleum research laboratory established in 1924. In 1974, the lab reorganized under the then‐new U.S. Department of Energy. In 1983 the lab became an independent institute operating under the University of Wyoming Research Corporation.