The Western Research Institute board of directors is responsible for overseeing management in the development of plans, policies, and business strategy. Through regular meetings, the board ensures effective organizational and fiscal planning and sees that company resources are managed properly, in line with the institute's goals. All board members serve without compensation. Current board members are as follows.
Professor Emeritus of Mathematics, University of Wyoming
Dr. Myron B. Allen of Laramie, Wyoming, currently chairs WRI’s board of directors. He is a Professor Emeritus of Mathematics at the University of Wyoming. His mathematical interests include numerical analysis, mathematical modeling, and fluid mechanics in porous media—all of which are applicable to the analysis and prediction of contaminant flows in groundwater aquifers and flows of native and injected fluids in oil and gas reservoirs. In addition to scientific journal articles, he has authored or co-authored six graduate-level books, most recently in 2021. From 2005-2013, Dr. Allen served as Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs at the University of Wyoming. He holds an A.B. from Dartmouth College and a Ph.D. from Princeton University.
Vice Provost for Strategic Planning & Initiatives, University of Wyoming
Dr. Anne Alexander of Laramie, Wyoming, is Vice Provost for Strategic Planning and Initiatives at the University of Wyoming. Her research and teaching focus on the history of American capitalism, international economics, and health economics. She regularly speaks to statewide audiences and state and national media about the Wyoming, US, and global economies. She previously served as Director of International Programs and Associate Dean of Outreach at UW. She has also served as a resource economist in the U.S. Department of State, Assistant Dean of the UW College of Business, and director of UW’s Health Economics Policy Center. She is a 2013 alumna of Leadership Wyoming. She earned her Ph.D. in Economics at UW and her Master’s and B.B.A. in Economics from New Mexico State University.
Former Senior Science Advisor, Royal Dutch Shell
Dr. Opinder Bhan of Bellaire, Texas, retired as a Senior Science Advisor with Royal Dutch Shell, where he led technology development for heterogeneous catalysis for environmentally selective refinery processes including hydro-processing. He has developed over 30 industrial catalysts for reducing transportable fuels emissions. An accomplished inventor, he holds over 60 issued US patents and over 900 international patents and patent applications and numerous journal articles and review papers. He earned a PhD in chemical engineering from Oklahoma State University.
Former Deputy Director, Enhanced Oil Recovery Institute, University of Wyoming
Mr. Rob Hurless of Casper, Wyoming, former Deputy Director of the Enhanced Oil Recovery Institute at the University of Wyoming. Mr. Hurless has served as Wyoming’s state energy strategist for Governors Matt Mead and Dave Freudenthal. For much of his career Hurless was publisher of the Casper Star-Tribune, Wyoming’s statewide newspaper. He has a B.S. in chemistry and B.A. in history from Montana State University, an M.B.A. from Harvard Business School and Masters in Applied Economics from Stanford University.
Executive Director, School of Energy Resources, University of Wyoming
Dr. Holly Krutka of Laramie, Wyoming, is Executive Director of the School of Energy Resources at the University of Wyoming. She previously served as Vice President for Coal Generation and Emissions Technologies at Peabody Energy. Before working at Peabody she held positions at Tri-State Generation and Transmission, a Colorado-based electric generation and transmission cooperative; as executive editor of Cornerstone, The Official Journal of the World Coal Industry, and as a senior research engineer with ADA Environmental Solutions in Colorado. She holds three patents, has served in leadership positions in the National Coal Council and the Carbon Utilization Research Council, and has participated in the Carbon Capture Coalition and as a judge in the Carbon XPRIZE competition. She earned a B.S. and a Ph.D., both in chemical engineering, from the University of Oklahoma.
President, Ralph Shirts Consulting LLC
Mr. Ralph Shirts of Spokane, Washington, is president of Ralph Shirts Consulting LLC. Mr. Shirts consults globally with petroleum asphalt-related industries. As an emeritus member and two time past chairman of the Asphalt Institute, he is an influential global industry leader. He was the founding chairman of the Asphalt Institute Foundation, where he still serves on the board of directors. He retired as a global executive from ExxonMobil after 36 years, most recently managing ExxonMobil’s asphalt technology business. In 2017 he was elected to the Asphalt Institute’s Roll of Honor. He holds a B.S. in civil engineering from Union College and is a veteran, having served in the US Army Corps of Engineers.
Managing Member, OptilytiX LLC, Houston, TX
Dr. Wasden is a licensed chemical engineer specializing in technology implementation in the global energy sector. Retired from Shell after 31 years, he most recently led Shell's "Asset of the Future" efforts, with primary focus on unconventional resources. Dr. Wasden has broad experience in global petroleum development and operations, as well as major oil company experience in Health, Safety and Environmental management and corporate strategy and portfolio management. He has served as industry liaison to several academic centers of excellence and has extensive experience in shaping and leading industrial technology programs. He holds a B.S. from the University of Wyoming, an M.S. from Stanford University, and a Ph.D. from the University of Houston.
Managing Director, Technology Licensing Company, LLC
Mr. Richard C. Willson, Jr. of Palm Harbor, Florida, is an attorney and chemical engineer specializing in intellectual property and technology transfer, including licensing, patents and trademarks and invention stimulation, for large multinational chemical and petroleum companies. He has served on the board for over a quarter century. He has broad experience conducting cross-cultural negotiations and managing legal-technical implementation of domestic and international transactions such as buying and selling chemical and refining industry technologies. He holds an engineering degree from Johns Hopkins University and a law degree from Temple University.