Gopal founded Auburn's pulp and paper program in 1984 and gave Auburn its well respected Pulp and Paper Specialization for engineering students. In 1985, he helped establish the Auburn Pulp and Paper Research and Education Center (PPREC), now the Auburn Paper and Bioresource Engineering Center, a key center which has advanced research and education in forest bioresources. He also served as Assistant Department Head of Chemical Engineering.
He obtained B.S. degrees in Chemistry and Chemical Engineering from Madras and Bombay Universities, respectively, and then became a supervisor in the paper industry in India. He later pursued his M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in Pulp and Paper and Chemical Engineering at the University of Maine, Orono. After a year of academic appointment at the University of Maine, he returned to India to start a tissue mill and then joined Auburn University in 1984. Gopal has 15 years of industrial experience the pulp and paper industry.
Gopal was named a TAPPI Fellow in 2002. In 2009, he received TAPPI's William H. Aiken Prize in recognition of his outstanding contributions in research. An active member of TAPPI since 1973, Gopal founded the TAPPI student chapter at Auburn University in 1985 and PIMA student chapter in 1996.