R. David LeButt Award

Dave LeButt

In 1999, the ISTA Educational Foundation (ISTAEF) established the R. David LeButt Award after the untimely death of Dave LeButt, an ISTA officer. Recognizing a need to honor a friend and colleague who participated in, and realized, the importance of a packaging education, the Board of Directors created the award to recognize educational contributions in transport packaging.

The ISTAEF honors members of our community by awarding the prestigious R. David LeButt in recognition of their outstanding contributions to education in transport packaging. The award resides at Georgia-Pacific‘s Innovation Institute in Norcross, Georgia where Dave worked.

Announcing Award Recipient | Sam Sheppard Fidler

The ISTA Educational Foundation (ISTAEF) is thrilled to announce Sam Sheppard Fidler as the recipient of this year’s R. David LeButt Award, which honors packaging professionals for their outstanding contributions to education in transport packaging.

Sheppard Fidler is vice president of Europe for Smithers, overseeing its Materials Science and Engineering Division and packaging, plastics and rubber expert teams and laboratories. He has over 25 years of experience in packaging, testing, laboratory management and business leadership. With an emphasis on customer satisfaction and fostering a growth-centric culture, Sheppard Fidler's broad knowledge of packaging materials, performance testing, and supply chain dynamics has propelled him as a leader in the industry. His technical knowledge is centered on the challenges associated with cost effectiveness and sustainability of shipping packaged products. Sheppard Fidler is also a past chair of the ISTA Global Board and past chair of the ISTA European Board.

“Sam’s impact on our industry cannot be overstated,” said ISTA Global Board Director Emeritus Ed Church. “His dedication to educating others about the critical role of testing in packaging design has resonated globally, influencing professionals across sectors. Through his leadership and expertise, Sam has elevated the standards of packaging testing, emphasizing its importance in ensuring product safety and sustainability.”

Sheppard Fidler has conducted numerous projects addressing compliance, damage reduction, materials resource reduction, test method development and cost avoidance for leading global brands across sectors including consumer, personal care, medical, automotive and industrial. He has a degree in physics and chemistry from the University of Manchester and a diploma in packaging.

“For more than two decades, Sam has been an invaluable leader in our industry,” said A.J. Gruber, ISTAEF president. “His contributions have been instrumental in shaping industry standards and best practices, particularly in the European market. Sam's passion for education and his ability to communicate complex concepts have empowered countless professionals to prioritize testing in their packaging designs, ultimately enhancing product protection and minimizing environmental impact.”

The ISTA Educational Foundation established the R. David LeButt Award in 1999 after the untimely death of Dave LeButt, an ISTA officer who participated in — and realized — the importance of a packaging education. The award has been given to 23 other professionals since its creation.

"I consider myself very lucky to follow in the footsteps of such an outstanding group of prior recipients, who I respect and admire greatly for their expertise, warmth, leadership and contribution to our industry,” said Sheppard Fidler."

Sam Sheppard Fidler was recognized at the annual ISTA Forum, including TempPack and TransPack events, which was held April 22 - 24 at the Marriott Marquis in San Diego, California.

See all previous award recipients

Make a Nomination

Award candidates are nominated by industry peers and reviewed by the Foundation Board Members for final selection. The selected recipient will be honored at ISTA's Annual Forum. Review full nomination criteria below prior to making a nomination. Nominations may be submitted for consideration at any time through the online form.

Nomination Criteria and Online Form

Previous Award Recipients

Eric Joneson

2023 | Eric Joneson

Vice President of Technology, Lansmont Corporation
Paul Russell

2022 | Paul Russell

Director of Device Packaging, Amazon's Lab126
Jay Singh

2019 | Jay Singh

Professor and Packaging Program Director, Cal Poly University
Marshall White

2018 | Marshall White

Professor Emeritus Packaging Systems and Design, Virginia Tech
Brian Wagner

2017 | Brian Wagner

Cofounder and Principal, Packaging Technology Integrated Solutions (PTIS)
Ed Church

2016 | Ed Church

Secretary General, International Association of Packaging Research Institutes (IAPRI)
Karen Proctor

2015 | Karen Proctor

Packaging Professor, Rochester Institute of Technology
Paul Singh

2014 | Paul Singh

Professor Emeritus, Michigan State University; Packaging Forensic Associates, Inc.
Leon Venech

2014 | Leon Venech

Technical Director, SGS U.S. Testing Company
Larry Dull

2013 | Larry Dull

President, Packaging Knowledge Group, LLC
Joan Pierce

2012 | Joan Pierce

Vice President, Colgate-Palmolive
Alan Crawford

2011 | Alan Crawford

Abbott Nutrition
Larry Rutledge

2010 | Larry Rutledge

Manager, Packaging Design & Development, FedEx
David Shires

2009 | David Shires

Chief Consultant, Smithers
Bill Armstrong

2008 | Bill Armstrong

Technical Development Manager, Sealed Air
Steve Pierce

2007 | Steve Pierce

Lejo Brana

2006 | Lejo Braña

Senior Consultant, Central Philippine University
John Clarke

2005 | John Clarke

Technical Director, The Nelson Company
Dennis Young

2004 | Dennis Young

Specialist, Michigan State University School of Packaging
Jorge Marcondes

2003 | Dr. Jorge Marcondes

Professor, Clemson University
Herb Schueneman

2002 | Herb Schueneman

Chairman of the Board, Westpak
Al McKinlay

2001 | Al McKinlay

Industrial Engineer, General Electric
Bill Kipp

2000 | Bill Kipp

Consultant, W. I. Kipp Compan

Nomination Criteria

Nominate now!

Who May Nominate

Any ISTA member in good standing may nominate candidates for any of the awards.

Nominee Eligibility

  1. ISTA wishes to recognize its members through the R. David LeButt award program while also recognizing the most respected individuals worldwide. ISTA membership is not required. However, because contributions to the packaging community are important criteria in the selection of award recipients, ISTA service or participation may be a discriminator between otherwise equal candidates.
  2. It is the nominator‘s responsibility to verify the nominee‘s eligibility. In general, the nominee must not have been a rostered member of the ISTA Global Board of Directors or the ISTA Educational Foundation Board of Directors for at least 1 year prior to the nomination deadline.
  3. Under extraordinary circumstances, however, individuals who are or have been members of the ISTA Global Board of Directors or the ISTA Educational Foundation Board of Directors during the preceding year may be considered for the award provided the procedures contained in this document and the following additional process and conditions are followed:
    1. Prior to preparation of the nomination package, the nominator should contact the Chair of the AC with a request for waiver, allowing sufficient time prior to the nomination deadline. The nominator should provide a brief write-up describing the nominee‘s achievement and its importance and why the nominee should receive the award at this time.
    2. If the AC receives a nomination package (without waiver approval) for an individual who is or was a member of the ISTA Global Board of Directors or the ISTA Educational Foundation Board of Directors during the preceding year, ISTA will return the nomination requesting that the nominator contact the Chair of the AC to determine eligibility. If the waiver is granted, the nominator may re-submit the nomination with the letter or email from the Chair of the AC.
      1. The Chair of the AC will only consider eligibility waivers when extraordinary circumstances exist. An example of a circumstance where the waiver might be warranted is for someone who is being nominated for a recent accomplishment where waiting might result in a disadvantage to the potential nominee.
      2. If the Chair of the AC approves the waiver, the nominator may begin preparation of the nomination form. A copy of the Chair of the AC‘s approval letter or email will be included as part of the package which is submitted to the AC on or prior to the nomination deadline. If the CHAIR OF THE AC does not approve the waiver, the nominator may submit the nomination when the nominee becomes fully eligible.
    3. Current AC members are not eligible to be nominated for the award that is under their oversight. Additionally, they should not serve as a nominator or reference for awards under their purview during their term of service.
    4. Nominees/awardees may not receive more than one ISTA award for the same accomplishment or body of work. Nominating the same person for multiple ISTA awards during the same nomination cycle is not allowed. Careful consideration should be given when nominating to ensure that the relevant accomplishments of the nominee are presented clearly and precisely, so that overlap between prior and future awards does not exist.
      1. Some ISTA awards may recognize specific and recent accomplishments, while others recognize lifetime achievement. As discussed in the previous point, nominators should be careful to distinguish new nominations from previous ISTA Award winners in either of these two categories so as to ensure there is no overlap.

Nomination Deadline

  1. The deadline for nominations to be considered in a given year is January 31.
  2. A complete nomination form must be received by the AC on or prior to the deadline date. Nomination forms will be accepted on a daily basis and considered for the appropriate award year.


  1. All award nominations must be submitted using the online nomination form. At the nominator‘s option, additional letters of endorsement may be attached to the online form.
  2. All nomination packages must be received at ISTA on or prior to the deadline.