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History of the Forest Products Laboratory

Interview #985: Levan, Susan L. (June, 2009)

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

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00:04:00 - 00:05:50 First Impressions

first impressions, early years, projects, fire performance of wood, colleagues

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00:04:00

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EJ

Great. So what were your first impressions, you know, in those first few days when you started working here? Did you have any?

SL

I was in awe. Being the new kid on the block and I didn't know very much about wood. I came from an engineering background, but I really didn't have any wood and a lot of the scientists here had a wood background. So, I had a lot of learning to do because wood is such a diverse material. So, but it was interesting and it was fun and the scientists here were very, very helpful and they were more than delighted to sit down and I'd say okay, well explain this to me. And they would do that.

00:04:46

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EJ

So what were some of the first projects that you worked on?

SL

One of the first projects that I worked on was smoldering combustion. At this time, there were a lot of, basically [ignition of] furniture from cigarettes. And so I developed, I worked on a project modeling that phenomena so, basically, developing mathematical formulas for smoldering combustion. Then once you can model it, then you can predict it. So that was my first project. I wasn't a smoker, but I'd have to take these cigarettes and stick it into insulation material. So it was kind of funny, you know, lighting a cigarette (coughs and laughs), you know and sticking it into these little boxes that were filled with cellulosic insulation and then I would measure with thermal couples at what point the smoldering boundary would reach it. So, it was fun. It was kind of interesting.

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