A coal-ash heap kills all the children in the school in Abarfan Wales, 2,300 people are killed in the Turkish Earthquake and Nuclear tests – a lot of them, are conducted by USA, Russia, France and China. Gasoline is 5 shillings per gallon, Star Trek debuts on NBC and the first black senator is elected in the USA. England beats Germany in the World Cup final and John Lennon thinks he is more popular than Jesus. Roger Daltry dies (they incorrectly announced in France and Germany) and the Troggs get banned for inappropriate lyrics in …….. Australia. (who also beat India for the Davis Cup). Mao Zedong Swims the Yangtze River; Uruguay and the Dominican Republic pass their constitutions. Women in Switzerland form a Suffrage movement there. U.S., British and Danish citizens protest the Vietnam war, Belgium mandates use of the Polio vaccine and the first picture is taken of Earth from the moon. Appropriately perhaps, ‘They’re Coming to Take Me Away, Ha Ha He he’ is a hit.
The Year is 1966, and our first President, Professor Gunther Becker, publishes his seminal paper on the efficacy of borates against termites – I have an original version of this, thank you so much Ina Stephan. Anyway, I digress, it was also the year I, Jeffrey Douglas (after my grandfather) Lloyd was born. My mother called me Jeffrey and suggested that if I were ever knighted, then Sir Jeffrey sounded good (unless you watch Game of Thrones) and if I became a dustman (trash collector), then Jeff would work also. Please call me Jeff. Francisca Latorre suggested that I be picked on for the Newsletter Bio this time and thanks to her and to Alan for asking me. I have really enjoyed reading about other IRG members’ lives and try to do so during a coffee break. It is sort of like joining them for coffee (or a beer J ). I am also enjoying writing this, and Gry says “of course, you are, you are talking about yourself!”
I was born near Southampton England, the port city where both the Pilgrim’s ‘Mayflower’ and the ‘Titanic’ sailed from, and we then moved to the Isle of Wight – a great place where Tony Bravery (another IRG past president) – are they Dirty Wight Boys? - comes from (Gry suggests it is like Tolkien’s ‘The Shire’). I am the eldest of three brothers, 18 months and 12 years apart. I sailed, camped and rode motorcycles with friends Reg and Gav, and I was a lifeguard. It was hard for me in school to be the receiver of free meals, and impossible to appreciate then the sacrifices made by a mother raising us, for a while, in a single parent family. I did not do so well in high school but managed to scrape into junior college and get a diploma in Applied Science at Brighton Tech. before doing a BSc in Microbiology and PhD at Imperial College in London. I was fortunate enough to study under David Dickinson and Richard Murphy on a borate project sponsored by CSI (Viance). I did a PhD for 3 reasons:
The previous student dropped out (and David was desperate to fill the position).
I was lazy and had too much pre-course work that I had not done, for my post graduate certificate in education (to be a teacher).
I really wanted to be like Indiana Jones.
My ex-wife Samantha, supported me through college, even working two jobs whilst we struggled with our new born Rebecca (and both attended IRG in Harrogate). It was David Dickinson who first introduced me to IRGWP and I attended my first meeting as a student and RCA recipient in 1991 (Kyoto, Japan). Carl Bechgaard gave me £200 towards my trip, and I shall never forget this, nor Carl, a dear and great gentleman, who refused to join IRG as a member because he considered himself to be a businessman and not a ‘real scientist’. He also suggested that when in doubt, order the Beaujolais ‘Fleurie’. Sound advice I have used. It was at that meeting that I met my first new and great friends within the IRG family. To name a few, Rolf Peek who made me very welcome and liked my ‘Save the Whales’ pin (not terribly sensitive in Japan, or Norway for that matter), and my dear friends Holger Militz and Dieter Rudolph who shared my taste for beer (I had travelled there with Lina Nunes, who was also a student at Imperial College). Somewhere in there, I also served on HMS Sussex and HMS Arun with the Royal Naval Reserve (part time). At 18 I had tried to join the Navy (a family tradition), but did not have the eyesight to be a seaman or the competence to be an engineer. My time with the RNR was great, my daughter was christened in the ships bell, and the camaraderie on board was second to none.
Following my presentation at the IRG in Kyoto, I was offered a job by Rio Tinto Borax. Dr. Scott Griffin, then head of R & D, told me he was unsure as they had never hired a biologist before, only clever chemists. Len Arthur taught me a lot, and actually did the first borate tie treatments about the time I was born, with the Malaysian railroad and introduced me to another close friend Khun Numchai in Thailand. It was at Rio Tinto Borax and at IRG meetings, that I met Mark Manning, a dear friend ever since and my son Stephen’s godfather. Within the IRG, I served as a convener of the Diffusible treatments group, then with Gareth Williams as his Vice-chair and then as Chair of Section 3, before serving as a sponsors rep on the executive committee.
Rio Tinto Borax moved my family to California in 1999 and I took my current job with Nisus in 2001. We are a family-owned small business who manufacture low toxicity pest control products and wood preservatives, especially based on borates (effective and similar toxicity to table salt and a chronic toxicity of lower risk than beer or wine) and copper naphthenate (very effective replacement for creosote with very low leach rates). I am proud of my work (led by Jim Pratt) in the development of treatments for Heterobasidion; products to help flood victims protect their homes and health; improve swimming pool health – you can see me as a cabana boy; and our products designed to protect humans and the environment by replacing pentachlorophenol, metaldehyde slug and snail baits and sulfuryl fluoride used in residential fumigation. Some of these other applications still actually kill people which is completely unacceptable. More recently we have come up with treatment regimes designed to double the life of some industrial wood applications such as Rail Road ties and bridge ties and timbers, both continue to make wood the best choice and to further reduce eco impact. Let me thank our owners Bud and Pat Deitrich and my boss Kevin Kirkland for their unwavering and altruistic support of my time within IRG.
In my own time I like to run, cycle, motorcycle, sail, to go backpacking, to read (David Gemmell is my favorite author – sword swinging stuff), bake and brew (we were graced with both grape and grain, and the brains to use them) and to work on my house or garden (all of which I should do more of). I rescued two old log cabins and rebuilt them together – with lots of help from friends and family, minimizing environmental impact by using previously used materials and with a arge mass of wood as a carbon sink. It has Bora-Care installed as a permanent termite defense instead of the traditional soil poison. Most recently I have installed solar panels in a desire to become net zero in my carbon footprint (although I have much work still to do regarding flights to Norway). Many IRG members have visited. We have a sort of ‘red-neck’ culture in the Volunteer state, and it can also affect visitors.
I was very proud to become Vice-President of IRG in 2010 - wow, if you had explained what would happen to that student back in Kyoto, I would have died of shock - and then President in 2013. However, I am now grateful to be able to hand over the reins to Joris Van Acker - I know you will give Joris and Lone all the support you gave me.
It was especially hard for me – as my friends will know, but I tried to listen to all and run a consensus organization. Of course I could not have done the job at all without all of the support I was given from all of the membership, especially Jack Norton, Alan Preston, Peter Hayward, Paul Maynard and our illustrious Secretary-General Jôran Jermer. We pushed hard to support the Legacy fund (thanks to Phil Evans); gave platform to the excellent initiative of Christian Brischke on the IRG Durability Database; initiated the Rich Ziobro Award for best poster in honor of Rich Ziobro; and for IRG to provide outside influence on the use of CLT in the form of the open letter arising from the Lisbon IRG47 meeting. But ultimately, if I was even half the President of my predecessors, I will happily drink with them in Valhalla.
Of course, IRG is also where I met min kjæreste, Gry Alfredsen. We have known each other for a long time but she is hard to impress. This summer we had a great back-packing trip in Norway and also got together with Per Otto and his family, and we went to a ‘crazy barn party’ to see the Australian band Cosmic Psycos (Troggs – your lyrics were fine…).
The IRGWP is without doubt the best group in the world and has filled my career with joy and friendship, not to mention the many technical, commercial and career opportunities it has given me, and in a small way perhaps, to the world. I am indebted to Rod Eaton and Harry Greaves for taking me seriously, and to David Dickinson for never doing so, and to Lina for her unconditional friendship over many decades. Dieter Rudolph is a brother I lost.
Live life, and try to give.
This bio was written for the October 2016 IRG newsletter.