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History of the Forest Products Laboratory

Interview #929: Johnson, Bruce R. (June, 2009)

View all of First Interview Session (April 18, 2008)

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00:12:06 - 00:14:55 First Impression, Forest Products Lab

first impression, Forest Products Lab; Tarkow, Harold

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00:12:06

AP

Yes, I guess one thing I was wondering is what were your initial impressions of the Lab? I know you said that you got kind of a sense of what the Lab did while you were still in school, but if you could maybe describe a little bit more what your initial impressions were going in to the Forest Products Lab?

BJ

Sure. Well it's true, I was kind of setup for a favorable impression, you can't study in wood science or wood technology any time at all without running across reference to the Forest Products Laboratory. For people in that discipline it's regarded, and it was for me, regarded as a Mecca. Much of the pioneering work, the early work, the fundamental work on the nature and properties of wood came out of the Forest Products Lab. It's the only national lab working on wood utilization, at least I should say government lab, a number of universities do have some research departments that work on wood utilization. So it stood pretty tall in my mind and it did after I visited in '65, I was impressed, when I was the student trainee undergraduate, and certainly my working there as a grad student and then employment.

It's an impressive facility, it was in some ways it was good. Meeting and putting faces to names that I had seen on technical papers for example, one that was referenced quite a lot was by Tarkow, Harold Tarkow, who was a division chief and later called assistant director at the Lab. In fact I worked under him for a while, that was terrific, Harold incidentally is still alive, I sure hope somebody is going to get an oral history from him because fascinating guy he's probably 97 now and still sharp as a tack, he always was. So I was kind of in awe of him and still hold in the highest regard. But, so again my impressions of the Lab were very favorable and I guess it continued to be sort of a Mecca for me.

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