Episode 9: Pioneers of Environmental Measurement

Episode 9: Pioneers of environmental measurement

What was the life of a scientist like before modern measurement techniques? Campbell Scientific’s Ed Swiatek and METER’s Dr. Gaylon Campbell discuss their association with three pioneers of environmental measurement. Learn what it was like to practice science on the cutting edge. Discover the creative lengths they went to and what crazy things they cobbled together to get the measurements they needed.

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Hello everybody and welcome to we measure the world, a podcast produced by scientists for scientists.


So I just got a drill and was ready to drill a hole. And he walked into the lab right then he saw what he was doing and he said you probably better measure that and make sure that you don’t hit one of the Freon tubes. And I said, “Yeah, yeah”, I mean, what would be the probability of hitting the Freon tubes, the coils were that far apart! And I thought, “Oh I can see well enough to know where that bed is gonna go.” And so I went ahead and drilled through the thing, and I hit dead on into one of the Freon tubes and all the refrigerant came shooting out of the thing. That was the hardest thing that I ever did in my life to walk into his office and tell him that I drilled a hole in the Freon tube.


That’s just a small taste of what we have in store for you today. We Measure The World explores interesting environmental research trends, solutions to research issues, and tools to better understand the entire soil plant atmosphere continuum. Stay current on applied environmental research, measurement methods and more. Thanks for joining us. Today’s guests are Ed Swiatek tech micro meteorologist and Application Engineer at Campbell Scientific, and Dr. Gaylon Campbell, founder and soil physicist at METER Group. Ed and Gaylon, thanks for joining us today. We really do appreciate you being here with us. Today we wanted to talk to you about your association with some of the founders and pioneers of environmental biophysics and environmental measurement, starting with Dr. Sterling Taylor, who was a researcher at Utah State University in the 1950s and 60s. And I know that you worked with him, Gaylon. And so can you just give us a brief introduction into who he was, and why he is considered one of the founders of environmental biophysics.


Sterling was part of that. I guess you could say cohort that we call the greatest generation, the the ones who grew up during the Depression, fought in the Second World War and went on after that and changed the world. And there were a number of amazing soil physicists that that I was acquainted with in group and Sterling was one of those. He grew up on a farm during the Depression, he got his bachelor’s degree at Utah State University, went through ROTC and was commissioned officer in the army, served throughout through World War Two, got his PhD at Cornell and then was hired back at Utah State as their soil physicist. What made him one of the founders of environmental biophysics; when he was doing his work, environmental physics or environmental biophysics weren’t really around. Those weren’t things that we’re talking about. But they did talk about the soil plant atmosphere continuum. Nowadays, when you go into a field, you tried to narrow down as much as you can, so that you can make a splash. But those scientists didn’t, they brought him down. Then they said, We need to look at the soil plant atmospheric continuum, all at once. And so they worked on plant physiology and micro meteorology and soil physics and all of the areas that that fit together for that, and became pioneers in in all of those areas, that that eventually did become what we call environmental physics now,


So Gaylon, what was your association with Sterling Taylor? How did he influence your life and your work in science?


He was like a second father to me. He influenced probably essentially everything, been with me throughout my life. I met him when I was a freshman in college. I was studying physics, but the physics curriculum, had space in it for taking other things. And I grew up on a farm and so spring quarter that year, I decided to want to take a soils class and so I signed up for beginning soils. And it turned out that Sterling taught it that year I think that’s the only time he ever taught beginning soils. But he was the teacher and it was an amazing class. At the end of the class, he came to me and said, “I’d like you to work in my lab”. And I said, “Well, I can’t. We have farm work to do and I’m needed there. But the next fall when it came back to school, he we met, We were just downtown, Logan together, and met, and he stopped to talk to me. And he said, Said, “I still would like you to come work for me”. And I said, “Well, we’re still trying to get fall work finished out. But when that’s over with, I’ll come in”. So I went in and he put me to work in his lab. And the things that he had me do with the there, measuring, like electrical conductivity, and soil measuring water potential, measuring plant water potentials, meteorological things, radiation, and wind and all of those things, the things that I have spent my whole career working on, were all things that he started me on there. And I’ve often thought if there had never been a sterling Taylor, there wouldn’t be any Campbell Scientific, there wouldn’t be any METER Group, there wouldn’t be any Juniper systems, all of those things grew out of the work that we did in his laboratory.


Gaylon, you had mentioned that, if there was no Sterling Taylor, there wouldn’t be a Campbell Scientific or a Decagon or METER Group. I’ve often contemplated over my life, how different individual events sort of changed, where I ended up. But I never really contemplated how events are people who are removed from me once or twice have also influenced my life. So in a way your interaction with with Dr. Taylor influenced me as well in so far that if it didn’t happen if he didn’t take you on as a student to work in his lab, there would be no Campbell Scientific and there would be no Ed Swiatek working for Campbell Scientific.


Are there any other contributions? You talked about how he really influenced, you know, the the work that we’re doing here today? Are there any contributions to the field or, or multiple fields that were going on in his day, where he kind of expanded our knowledge in environmental sciences?


He started out his career using water potential to determine when crops should be irrigated, and worked out the best scheme for managing water on crops that has been worked out, ever. We’ve tried to get Pat implemented for the past seventy years. And I think we’re making some progress now. But it’s amazing that something that good, I mean, we still go back to the tables and figures and work that Sterling did to guide us in that that was where his his research started was using water potential for irrigation management. And then he went on working on link transport of heat water in soil. And this may be an area that people aren’t all that familiar with, but a few bury an electrical cable in the soil that you run current through and heats the cable up. That’ll drive the water away from the cable and dry the soil around the cable. Then when it does that, then the cable will heat up even more. And you can have runaway situation, where are the cable mounts even. Well, he’s he studied that in some of the early work on that, and he decided he needed better theory to go with that. And so he got into non equilibrium thermodynamics, which is a field that still people are making in the Nobel Prize several years ago, was awarded in that area. And he worked with some of the best scientists they were, he did a sabbatical in Belgium, to try to learn more about that. And so you can see that his work spanned from the the most practical things from growing better crops to some of the most theoretical things that people have worked on.


That’s amazing. Do you have any other fun stories about Sterling Taylor that might help us get to know him better?


I have a very embarrassing story. I think it illustrates his patience. I was not the only person to be influenced the way I just described. There were a lot of young men that he worked with and brought along and not all of them went into soil physics, but, but a lot of them did go into science. This this has to be one of my most embarrassing situations. One of the jobs that he gave me there was to work on thermocouple psychometry. And that was the thing that produced Decagon in the beginning that eventually turned into Meter. In those days, we have to have a constant temperature bath with control to a 1,000th of a degree. And we didn’t have a lot of money to put into lab equipment. And so Sterling had built a constant temperature bath out of an old washing machine. And he had done just a beautiful job and insulated the surroundings and he had put a propeller on in place of the washing machine agitator and this is the old style washing machine, not the new ones that you have now. And he had built this copper core in there and wrapped copper tubing around it so that he could refrigerate it, control the refrigeration. So it was just a beautiful instrument. And that was the piece of equipment I was using in these things that I was trying to do. And I was I don’t remember exactly when that happened probably when I was a sophomore in college. But I you know, I’d grown up on the farm, I was pretty confident in myself. And I wanted to install some stuff on that drum. And so I needed to drill some holes through it to mount some things. And so I just got a drill and was ready to drill a hole. And he walked into the lab right then he saw what he was doing and he said “you probably better measure that make sure that you don’t have one of the Freon tubes.” And I said “yeah, yeah”, I mean what would be the probability of hitting the Freon tubes? The coils were that far apart. And I thought “Oh I, can see well enough to know where that bed is gonna go.” And so I went ahead and drilled through the thing and I hit dead on into one of the Freon tubes, and all the refrigerant came shooting out of the thing. That was the hardest thing that I ever did in my life to walk into his office and tell him that I had drilled a hole in the Freon tube. And I mean, what he should have done was ?????????bought my air sir. So aren’t me at least.?????????? But this, such a kind and patient man and he said, “Well, we’re gonna have to patch that up and recharge it aren’t we.”.


Sounds like you got off pretty easy with that.


Or not so easily! Because, you know, Gaylon was left to his own devices to punish himself! And you know, more often than not, you’re your worst critic and punisher.


That’s true. That’s true. Now his book called “Physical Edaphology” published in 1972 provides many key insights on physics in irrigated agriculture. How could a deeper understanding of principles that come from that book, in particular, change our approach to watering today, you know, especially in this age of water scarcity?


The way he did it, by measuring water potential in the soil, you can immediately know no matter what the soil is, you’ll know whether you’re over irrigating and running water out the bottom, or under irrigating and reducing the production of the crop that you’re doing. You can irrigate perfectly with that. People have tried now for 40 years, or maybe more than that to measure the water content of the soil and do that. But while that’s possible, it’s not easy, and mostly you get it wrong. Or with water potential, You don’t ever get it wrong. It’ll be right, every time. And so if we would just apply the things that he worked out. I mean, the tables are in that book for doing the irrigation. He has plenty of theory in the book but he also has those practical things. There was one other soil physics book when he published that one, but it had been published quite a few years earlier and a lot changed. The reason that he that he wanted to publish a book was just to have something to teach out of. That book is unique. It’s it’s one that every soil physicist should have a copy of.


He did die pretty young. And that cut short, a very promising career and decades, probably ahead of him and research. What do you think we missed out on because he died so early?


I’ve wondered about that too. One of the things that he was working on was a big experiment, irrigating fruit crops. At the time of his death, he, he had gotten a big grant to do that was working on some of the orchards down on the Wasatch Front. And that was, again cutting edge research that would have had A pretty big impact on things that we’re still trying to get right, buying the things that he had already worked out for, for yield crops. And I met, I think probably his non equilibrium thermodynamics would have made a bigger splash. Had he had more time to work on it.


So you mentioned that there’s still things that we’re working on to get right. Are there things that stand out about Sterling Taylor that we could emulate to improve our own research in the field?


I have transcripts from a number of the talks that were given it at Sterling’s funeral. And one of his colleagues in the soils Department said something about that, that I that I really like Win-Thorne was was his colleague. He said, “I learned further why Sterling devoted himself to research and studies with such vigor. I concluded that he had in common with a select body of great people, the trait of a never ending feeling of curiosity. He saw in nature, attributes and relationships that few other minds could see. He had the gift of curiosity. And that kept him in an almost perpetual state of excitement. He knew as few people do, the deep personal satisfaction that comes from ideas and the discovery of new truth”. And I thought if would try to summarize the thing that that we could emulate in Sterling. Well, there were a lot of wonderful things about him. But that was a fun thing. And working with him, that he was just so excited all the time about discovering new truths.


That’s beautiful. So with that, let’s move on to another pioneer in the world of environmental biophysics. And that is Dr. Champ Tanner. And I think it’s you Gaylon who had an association with him. So can you tell us who was Champ Tanner?


He was another of that greatest generation who came from southern Idaho, northern Utah. In the beginning, I think he did his undergraduate work at Brigham Young University, and his professor there inspired him to do go on for graduate work. But of course, that was in the middle of the Second World War. And so he went into the service for the period of the war and did his graduate work at University of Wisconsin. And then they hired him on the faculty there. He had polio during that time when he was in graduate school. He was pretty sure that that would prevent him from an academic career. And he was affected some by it but his determination, and the willingness of the University of Wisconsin to back him up and continue to support him through through that time, while he was recovering, he wouldn’t have left Wisconsin, no matter what I think from you know, he felt that committed to them from the commitment they showed when he was struggling to get through that difficult time in his life. And they were paid back many, many times over for that faith that they had in him. He established a program there that just just wasn’t any other one like it in the world. The students that he trained there; I have never known of anyone who trained a group of students that are as confident and able as that group, they’ve gone on to make enormous contributions on their own. And he covered almost every area he now it’s really popular to do Eddy Covariance work and that’s what he had his strength and he works with a lot of people doing that. But champ was doing that eddy covariance stuff back in the 60s and 70s. Before back when we called it, Eddy correlation, even then, it’s amazing to go back and look at those old papers and see all the things they tried. He worked in plant physiology, plant water relations, made some of the great contributions there. He worked on, evaporation through mulches did great contributions there. Over a broad range of subjects did amazing work. He was elected to the National Academy of Sciences which is the highest honor that you can receive in the US scientifically. And if I understand it, right, he was the first soil scientist ever to be elected to that body. Soil microbiology, he made some pretty big contributions there too, I think it actually was a soil microbiologist that elected him. So you just sit back and you wonder how can somebody accomplish that much in one career? And then in terms of commercializing that, in Campbell Scientific and METER Group wouldn’t be there without Sterling but like, wise we wouldn’t be there without Champ. So there’s a number of companies that that owe their existence to the work that these guys do.


So what is your association with Champ Tanner Gaylon? How did you get involved in working with him?


I worked with a number of his students. And somehow through working with them, I got adopted into that family. And it was a kind of a family the Tanners were, were just the most gracious people on the face of the earth. If you were there, in their circle, I they took good care of you. The Tanner hospitality is beyond words. For me. He just was amazing to be a part of that group to knowing that well, but once I had been sort of adopted him, I had a lot of interaction with him professionally.


Do you have any other stories of his interactions with his own students?


I spent almost 30 years on the faculty of Washington State University. So I had a lot of students of my own. So I had a lot of opportunity of first seeing students and professors and how they interact and what kind of students they produce. And Champ produced the, the best ones that I know of, he set the bar pretty high for them, and they expected them to perform at a high level and his students talk about the soil seminars that they had there. And the grilling that champ would give them in the seminars, they knew they had to be prepared. They would talk about how important he felt like it was to take care of the equipment they had. His lab was like Stirling’s in they built a lot of their stuff. And they didn’t have a lot of money to spend on things like you do in labs nowadays. And so he wanted the tools taken care of. They said that if somebody left a screwdriver, out of place, didn’t get it all the way back to the toolbox. The next morning when they came in, there would be the screwdriver sitting on their desk with a note from Champ encouraging him to not do that ever again.


And did that work?


I think it worked. I don’t think they left stuff around more than once.


What else then, do you think that scientists today could learn from Champ Tanner?


He was just determined to not kid himself or let his students kid themselves when they got a piece of equipment to make a measurement, why they better understand everything about that piece of equipment and have checked all of the calibrations and made sure that all of it worked the way it was supposed to. So that when they got data out of that they knew that they could count on those data. And he was just always very rigorous in, in the way he pursued his research, the way he did the analysis, the way he maintained the equipment and then check to make sure that it was properly calibrated he was just a very careful scientists. So you could count on anything that he did. It was done correctly.


I wonder if I could interject a story I heard secondhand about interacting with Champ Tanner. So I heard this story from a colleague of mine at Campbell Scientific, Joel Green, and Gaylon. He was a master student of yours. Is that correct?




So the story was about a student that Champ had and I label him Marcel Fuks. You had mentioned that note that accompanied the screwdriver that wasn’t put away from what I had heard it sounded like Champ was famous about leaving notes for everybody, not just another student who left the screwdriver out but those on what to do for the next day and whatever. And going through program with champ people, the students were were tested and made sure that they understood everything and then when they graduated, they were you know, top in sort of scientists. So this story is about Marcel coming back to the US and actually staying at the Tanner home in Wisconsin as a guest, Marcel got up in the morning went downstairs to the kitchen. And he saw a note and then the version of story I heard it was a note on a yellow piece of paper written in red pen. And when he saw that note, his heart skipped a beat because he had a flashback to being back as a graduate student. And then he approached the countertop to read the note to see what Champ wanted him to do. And it was a note to champs life K, started off with K, I would like you to please and then the assignment for the day or the request for the day. But what I found so endearing about that story was that while champ had high expectations of his students, they were also part of the family. And he treated them the same as he did his family.


That’s great. And that actually segues into our next and final individual that we’d like to highlight. And that’s Champ son, Bert Tanner, who was a scientist at Campbell, Scientific for many years. Can both of you and Gaylon tell us a little bit about who Bert Tanner was?


Bert did work in I think geophysics and he got a master’s degree at Utah State in biometeorology. I think they called it. And then he went to work at, I think, for the Forest Service was in the Bay Area. But he wanted to get a PhD. And so he and I started corresponding he was interested in coming to Washington State University to get a PhD. And we had everything worked out, he was gonna leave his employment there. And he and his wife Cookie were wanting to do some hiking in the Grand Canyon, before they came up to Pullman. So they, they were hiking around, accidentally kicked over a coffee pot and scalded Cookies, foot or leg. And so she had some pretty severe burns. And they brought her out and took her up to the the burn unit University of Utah, they have a good unit there that that can take care of that. And well, while they were there, Bert called me to let me know what was going on. He was kind of at a loose ends, waiting for her to heal. And and I said, “Well, if if you got a little bit of time, why don’t you run up to Logan and visit with my brothers. They’ve just started a new business there,” This was just a year or so after Campbell Scientific started, “you might enjoy visiting with them.” So Bert went up there and visited with my brothers. And the next thing I knew he was calling up and saying, Well, they offered me a job. And so I guess I’ll stay here. And so he never did come for his PhD he stayed in Logan and was an amazing help and example at Campbell Scientific for a lot of years and had a huge impact on on the whole direction that went.


That started, she told us almost verbatim to the version that I had heard that, that it was key, that Cookie got burned. And he had the visit to CSI. And then a little twist that I also got from Bert was that because Cookie was injured, there was need for insurance and steady employment. And that probably weighed heavily towards his, I’m sure he took and that this he agonized about the decision whether to go on to get a PhD, or work at CSI. But in the end, at the time, the practical matters of a stable income with insurance was was really critical for them. Bert joined um the marketing department, and then a group from Campbell Scientific left to form Omni data. And so then there was a need for some leadership in the marketing department. And then so Bert moved from the application engineer position into the vice president of marketing within Campbell Scientific, but he always enjoyed the application engineering type of work, specifically interacting with clients. And then at the time, that also was kind of hand in hand with being what we call now in application scientists. And so Bert was in the unique position that he was in upper management. And he just steered and mold, certainly the marketing department and probably to some extent, the company to service, the scientific community. And I have a quick story to sort of drive home that point how Bert was very interested in working with the scientific community. Campbell Scientific was invited to give a presentation and a little workshop to Brazil. This would have been probably in the early 2000s. I was preparing the lectures and the slides and I guess I didn’t really give it to Bert for review or I did And he just didn’t have the time to take a look at it. And so we were in Brazil, my title page came up, and I had what I thought was everyone’s title on there. And after birth name, I had vice president of marketing that I went ahead and gave the presentation. Then that evening, he kind of pulled me aside. And he said, While I am the vice president of marketing this week, I’m a scientist. And that was sort of represented over and over as we got involved with different individuals who needed instrumentation. And the instrumentation that they needed was not necessarily something that we had as a standard product. There were bits and pieces that could be used in these systems. And then Burt took it upon himself and the company took it upon himself to work and develop new systems for our clients to meet to meet their kind of measurement needs. So and again, it ties back into this idea in Sterling’s lab where you needed something and you went ahead and built it. Now, it’s a few years later, and the scientific community would approach Bert and say, Geez, this is what I really need to do. Can you help me in some fashion, he was more than willing to take on that challenge. When I joined Campbell, scientific It was initially to work in the air quality market, it was a kind of a new market that the company wanted to develop. But I had done my graduate work making Eddy covariance measurements at Utah State University. So I had experienced with these type of systems and instrumentation. And while that wasn’t my focus, it quickly changed to become my focus, as the scientific community is approaching Bert and wanted to build systems to meet these specific needs and the I, he ended up tapping me as a resource to help him do the programming within the data loggers. So that underlying theme was something that always drove birth, in terms of basically product development and r&d, that was really housed in the marketing department rather than, say, an engineering. So the washing machine came up. I really enjoyed that story, Gaylon, because I could see myself in that same position saying, “Yeah, I know how to drill a hole without hitting a coil”. When I started at CSI in 1992, one of the things that group did was kind of show me around the company. And he took me into production where we were building circuit boards. And there were two washing machines that were used to spin up the boards after they hadn’t been washed. They were genuine washing machines, as opposed to some kind of high end PCB type of device. So it’s just a washing machine like, wow, this is just wild. And then later on, I had heard a story about when Eric was a teenager. And I guess he always had a really curious mind. And one way to sort of tamp that down was to give him tasks that were a bit laborious. And he was assigned a task of reducing the weight of some sort of farming implement, probably a plow or something like that, basically drilling holes into it. And he was given a hand crank type of drill to drill these holes. And maybe he did one or two, and then decided that there was a better way of doing it. And then he promptly took the motor out of his mother’s washing machine, and built himself a drill or maybe a drill press or something like that. So I can’t, it’s interesting how the washing machine theme seems to be interwoven in this history. So another sort of side story, you had talked about the the quality of the students that came out of the Tanner lab. And Bert, he knew the first level of students that came out of his father’s lab, but then there was the second and third level. And when he would interact with these students, he always kind of questioned them as to their lineage. After this, you know, the third or fourth time I saw him go through this kind of q&a to see how this individual got back to Champ Tanner. Then I told Bert, over dinner I said up so he has a tanner number of three, and looks at ease and what. So he has a Tanner number of three. So there’s no this individual than his major professor who has a Tanner number of two than the one before him, which is typically like George or towel or some of that level. At a Tanner number one of the naturally Champ had a Tanner number of zero. So Bert really got a kick out of that that term.


Although he worked in industry, he was well respected and he was even a fellow of the American Society of Agronomy. So what were his contributions to the field of environmental measurement?


We might mention a few of the things that that Bert brought in the trace gas analyzer, that Campbell Scientific has built for quite a while that was a Bert project. He worked, I mean it came from George Thertell, but Bert knew about it and champion that and got it going. The Sonic anemometer, the Campbell Scientific CSAT three that we started out, I have built a little one dimensional Sonic on sabbatical years ago and Campbell Scientific started building that. But they really wanted a better thing. And so they hired Larry Jacobson, who built that CSAT three, but that was all. Bert Tanner, he was the one the force behind the co2 and water vapor analyzer if I remember what all…


Just the co2 gas analyzer.


Yeah. So that that was, again, some of the stuff that Bert pushed through. So some of these tools that are absolutely essential to the AmeriFlux, Veriflux and these huge programs and in China, those all came from Berts push that he put behind getting a set of tools out that could do that job properly. I mean, he was as demanding as his father was in terms of making solid measurements.


With all of those instruments, they were really to serve as the scientific community. They were not red butter, if I use that term, the sonic anemometer for example, there are already at least two or three other vendors on the market, that the manufacturer of sonic anemometers. But Burt felt that we could build an instrument, do a better job with our design, make it more economical for the community, and integrate it much better with our data loggers. And so like you said, Gaylon, he pushed a champion for that sort of product development. And then that held true with our gas analyzer as well, there was already a company that had a product, but he thought that we could do a better job integrating the gas measurements with the sonic measurements, and then that ultimately, poured out of the products that we have for measuring co2 and water vapor fluxes.


So even though he didn’t get a PhD, he should have been granted a DSC Dr. Science degree. They do that in England, once you’ve produced a body of scientific work that’s worthy of a PhD or give you the BSC degree, and we should do that in this country too.


Yeah, no, I agree for what it’s worth, Bruce Bugbee. And Larry Hips at Utah State University, champion to award Bert a PhD, posthumously. And they were successful about two years after he passed away.


And earlier, Ed, you talked about how Bert was really involved in helping his clients succeed. Can you add a little bit more about what he had done to influence or improve, you know, customer experience with Campbell Scientific,


Actually, I can think of, well, there’s there’s several cases, but two really pop to mind. This was work that was done for a client in Korea by the name of Jun Kim. He was a student of Sashi Berman, from the University of Nebraska Lincoln, June was interested in making methane fluxes over rice paddies. And so we ended up building and selling him. The first installation was a was an Eddy covariance methane sensor. The second one was a gradient system to measure methane fluxes along with co2 and water vapor. And then a few years later, Jun Kim was interested in making co2 and water vapor measurements within a forest canopy to get at the storage term. We didn’t have a system per se, but a Jun talked with Bert for a little bit actually emailed back and forth a little bit with Bert. Bert talked with our engineering staff. We got a resource from engineering. And then he grabbed me and we engineering provide us with hardware and I ended up doing the day logger programming. And then there was a trip to Korea for a week for training and installation. One more I think Gaylon had mentioned some work into into China. And this started in like January 2002, where our representative interacting with the Chinese Ecological Research Network, and they were interested in close path Eddy Covariance systems, and also profiling systems. And at that time, people were building their own. There wasn’t really commercially available systems per se, there were the components, no gas analyzers, data, loggers, pumps, and this kind of thing, but typically, they put it together, like in the old days with Sterling Taylor, but in this case, the representative wanted some turnkey kind of systems. And so there was some initial negotiations and a quote that was probably done in February. We submitted that to CERN, the Chinese Ecological Research Network, we weren’t really expecting them to place the order, but they did. And then we had a ship date of something like November of 2002. And we got the order at the end of the spring. And then it was just, you know, all hands on deck in terms of taking the designs that were sketched out on the back of a napkin, and then turning them into real engineering drawings, and then ultimately building systems with the hardware, then working out data logger programming and software and this kind of thing, shipping the equipment, and then going to China for three weeks to do the installation and training. A following year, there was a follow up enhancements to the systems that another three week training, but I think that was actually one of our first experience with a really large purchase of a network kind of hardware. And I heard this little comment from Paul Campbell, a couple years ago, where after that sale was made, Paul had mentioned, you know, we should do more sales like that. And currently, as far as like a business model for Campbell, scientific, that’s what we’re shooting for now is facilitating equipment designs or system designs for large networks.


I think I remember when that when that order hit. And you’re right, that was all hands on deck. And Paul might have said, “Oh, we should do more of that” but the engineers would not have said, that we should do more of that.


That was incredibly stressful time for everybody involved. David Liddell was our international sales manager at the time, and he was doing all the coding and working with Bert staying in the office till 10 or 11 o’clock routinely. Then when the order came in, then it switched, where, you know, we we had our day jobs of supporting individual clients, and then usually around three o’clock, then we switched to the back of the building back of building one, and then work on the China order until 11 or 12 o’clock at night.


Exciting times.


That just taught me some to its like, and really, um all the wives should get credit for the incredible patience that they exhibited doing that.


Definitely, they should be the ones getting overtime, right and double pay and all that!




Okay, so final question regarding Bert Tanner. Is there anything in particular that you feel that we can learn from his work in life?


Yeah, that the one thing that I would say, and I’ve kind of instilled that in my own work ethic is just real dedicated and unfettered devotion to the client and meeting their needs, listening to them, and not trying to sell them what we have, but listening to what they need, and then adjusting our product line to meet their specific needs.


I couldn’t say it any better than that perfect. Eric worked for Sterling to and that was, that was a really formative part of his training. So I’m not sure if which, you know whether Sterling’s influence on him or on me that have the biggest effect on creating Campbell Scientific but, but it all goes back to Sterling.


Our time is up for today. Thank you again, so much, Ed and Gaylon for taking time to share your association with some pioneers in the field of Environmental Biophysics. And I think that our listeners will really find this episode inspiring. If you in the audience have any questions about this topic or wants to hear more, feel free to contact us and metergroup.com or reach out to us on Twitter @meter_env. Or you can connect with Campbell Scientific at campbellscience.com you can also view the full transcript from today’s episode in the podcast description. Stay safe and we’ll catch you next time on We Measure the World.

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