Dr. Steven Keller is a Professor in the Department of Chemical, Paper and Biomedical Engineering at Miami University specializing in measurement and characterization of structural properties and the mathematical analyses of heterogeneities. He and his team have developed new methods for mapping thickness of fibrous structures, space-scale spectral analysis of formation for streak analysis, and methods for assessments of the manufacturing processes that contribute to the final material structure. Dr. Keller has been a member of TAPPI since 1991 serving on TAPPI’s Paper Physics Committee, Process Control Committee, Coating Fundamentals Committee, and Research Management Committee. He was awarded the 2017 TAPPI Paper and Board Division Technical Award and Harris O. Ware Prize and the TAPPI Process Control Division’s Best Paper Award for his presentation at PaperCon 2016.
Dr. Keller is a contributing author in “Make Paper Products Stand Out”. He has co-authored numerous scientific articles and conference papers, chapters in the Proceedings of the Fundamental Research Symposia, and several book chapters as well as presenting at TAPPI’s PaperCon Conferences.
1. When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?
Having spent the first ten years of my career in industry, much of my writing skill was developed “in the dark”, protected within the company fence. I first realized the opportunity to write more prolifically after taking a position in academia, where written documents are subjected to broader scrutiny, and of course the peer review process. For most of my career, writing has been the natural expression of scientific disclosure of novel, innovative, or creative discoveries that result from years of struggle in the laboratory and deep contemplation. The struggle continues in creating a written manuscript that is thorough, accurate and clearly expresses the important concepts. More recently I have had the opportunity to write articles in a more casual context, which for obvious reasons has an altogether different set of style criteria to follow for the specific publication. I have found that it is enlightening to learn from an experienced editor the new communication styles needed to reach different audiences.
2. What is your work schedule like when you’re writing for a TAPPI publication?
Composing a technical manuscript for a TAPPI publication requires extended periods of deep focus. Clearly, this is not often possible, so I find the best approach is to begin with an organized outline of the key sections in the manuscript, then add important concepts that I think should be addressed under each subtitle. This could happen over a few weeks, or even several months, depending on self-imposed deadlines. Drafting sections is performed in brainstorming sessions, where all thoughts are recorded. In subsequent session, sections are developed, revised, reordered and groomed for readability. A sense of elation is felt when the SUBMIT button is pushed and the manuscript is off to the editor for the review.
3. What advice do you have for anyone considering writing for a TAPPI publication?
Writing for TAPPI, in most cases, is a generous sharing of knowledge among friends and colleagues that can directly benefit from your insight and experiences. Whether formed in the laboratory, the mill floor, or corporate office, written expressions in TAPPI’s periodicals, books or web forums not only provides immediate assistance to those who would benefit from your perspective, but it also documents an important perspective in that instance in time. Future generations might find historical value in the words you write. First and foremost, have clarity in the purpose of the information that you wish to convey. Thoroughly research the subject matter to ensure accuracy of the content. Know your target audience and welcome the advice from the editor or reviewers who provide a much needed second opinion of your manuscript.