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Book talk Feb. 2, video sneak preview January 31, 2019

Posted by diannaobrien in Charles W. Gehrke General, Events.
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This interview on Paul Pepper & Friends gives you a sneak preview of the book “From Melon Fields to Moon Rocks.” You can get the whole story at 10 a.m. on Saturday, Feb. 2, 2019 at the OSHER Saturday Morning Book Talks at 1907 Hillcrest Drive.

The book is a rags-to-riches story about Charles W. Gehrke, who analyzed the moon rocks from the Apollo missions and founded ABC Labs, now Eurofins, with Jim Ussary and Robert Stalling.

Saturday’s talk is a series organized by Kit Salter and Cathy Salter and my appearance is sponsored by Yolanda Ciolli Compass Flower Press. Best of all the event kicks off with coffee and cake at 9:30 a.m.

This video was broadcast Jan. 31, 2018, but it stands the test of time offering a good sneak preview of the book. You can buy the book on Saturday or any time from Yellow Dog Bookshop or on this website below.

Here’s how to buy the book:

Online:

  • Barnes & Noble,
  • amazon.com or
  • This website by mail for $20 plus tax and shipping.Buy Now Button

Feb. 2 Book Talk about behind the scenes January 23, 2019

Posted by diannaobrien in Charles W. Gehrke General, Events.
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As the author of “From the Melon Fields to Moon Rocks,” I’m happy to present two firsts:

  • I’ll be speaking for the first time at the OSHER Saturday Morning Book Talks on Feb. 2, 2019. These monthly events kick off with coffee and cake at 9:30 a.m. followed by an author talk at 10 a.m.  The event will be in 1907 Hillcrest Drive and my appearance is sponsored by Yolanda Ciolli Compass Flower Press. Sales will be handled by Yellow Dog Bookshop, which always has copies of the book on its shelves.
  • Second, below is this website’s first guest written post by Kit Salter, who with his wife Cathy Salter, organizes the OSHER Book Talks.
Here’s what Kit Salter had to say about my upcoming talk (forgive my abridging, Kit).
Dear Osher Saturday Morning Book Talkers:
This is a perfect time to do the first ‘tease’ for our next Osher Saturday Morning Book Talk.  I am up in my ‘studio’ atop a fine structure 165 feet from our house. Cathy has her writing studio and library on the first floor of this converted garage…but upstairs I can now feel the earth move as major blocks of wet snow cascade down toward the welcoming earth below.  I am here because I spent some good hardscrabble (?) time to clear a 165’ path from our house to the garage structure…you all know what that means these several days.  I used a fine-tined pitchfork to slowly scoop and toss, scoop and toss, scoop and toss the wet snow to the side…slowly revealing a mulch path and leaf litter below the beautiful white layer of winter visiting us en route the east coast.
The reason this little bit of physical labor and the profound presence of the demanding of nature seem just perfect is that author Dianna Borsi O’Brien is going to present her work on the biography of Dr. Charles W. Gehrke on the first Saturday morning of February.  Gehrke is a man who came to MU as an Associate Professor in the College of Agriculture in 1949. He had worked two and three jobs from elementary school on in an effort to gain an education to be free of the very marginal living he and his older brother, Hank, and their mother Virginia and three younger children had been struggling with for decades. The book is called From Melon Fields to Moon Rocks: The adventurous life of biochemist and entrepreneur Charles W. Gehrke.(2017)
As Dianna will tell us all, Charles translated all the physical energy that had used to provide a very modest cash flow into the family coffers—augmented more completely by his older brother Hank’s decision to stay in blue collar labor so that Charles could go to Ohio State and work through a Ph.D in elements of farm ecology and biochemistry.   Charles took those skills and turned them into a productive career—and the early founding of what we have come to know as the ABC Labs on Hwy 63 south of Columbia.
This is a great transplant story from rural Ohio to academic Missouri and a long and productive career of the lead scientist charged with the analysis of the first ‘moon rocks’ to come back to Earth. Dianna worked on this book for several years, a good part of it in steady dialogue with Dr. Gehrke.  It is a story that literally takes us from Ohio melon fields to MU moon rocks…and its telling will include the usual supporting cast of homemade scones (welcome again, Sharmini) free hot coffee, and the return (we hope) of Debbie…all of which will make your first Saturday in February remind us how lucky we are to lead the lives we live and be resident in the place we know as mid-Missouri.
Looking forward to seeing you all on Saturday, February 2—coffee by 9:15; scones by about 9:30, words at 10:00…and easy conversation from beginning to end!
A Happy New Year to all!    Kit    657-1577

ABC Labs’ 50th Anniversary Celebrated August 17, 2018

Posted by diannaobrien in ABC Labs, Eurofins, Events.
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A business making it to 50 years in the same location and market is due to one thing: the hard work of the people said an executive at Eurofins, the company that now owns ABC Labs.

Tim Oostdyk, Group Senior Vice President at Eurofins, made the comment at ABC Labs’ barbeque lunch celebration on Thursday, Aug. 9 at the company’s Discovery Ridge location.

At the event, he lauded ABC Labs founder the late Charles W. Gehrke for instilling the two guiding principles of the company: great science and a love for people.2018_08_09 ABC Labs 50th cake

The celebration included a cake marking the 50th anniversary of the company started in 1968.

Gehrke’s children were on hand for the celebration. Jon Gehrke is an orthopedic surgeon in Des Moines, Iowa, and Susan Gehrke Isaacson is an attorney and CPA in Minneapolis. Former board members and employees also attended.

Susan Isaacson and Jon Gehrke, the daughter and son of ABC Labs founder Charles W. Gehrke. They were on hand to celebrate ABC Lab's 50th anniversary on Aug. 9, 2018.

Jon Gehrke and Susan Isaacson, the children of ABC Labs founder Charles W. Gehrke. They were on hand to celebrate ABC Lab’s 50th anniversary on Aug. 9, 2018.

Oostdyk said the combination of people skills and scientific drive is crucial to the success in the scientific contract testing business which requires fulfilling the demands of customers and conducting challenging scientific research.

ABC Labs was bought out by  EAG Labs in 2015 and then purchased by Eurofins Scientific in 2017.

Back in the day

ABC Labs got its start in 1968 through those principles of science and people skills and the hard work of three people, Gehrke, Jim Ussary and David Stalling, two of Gehrke’s former graduate students.

Each man brought his own science and skills to the job.

For the first six months, the company operated out of a desk in Ussary’s home. His contribution to the firm’s development included his scientific problem solving and sales skills.

Stalling was a whiz at scientific instruments and literally helped build the first few buildings at ABC Labs out of materials recycled from his father’s work clearing away buildings for the creation of Interstate 70.

Gehkre said he raised funds to get the company off the ground, collecting $200,000 within six months, an amount which would be more than $1.4 million today.

From those origins, ABC Labs grew until it employed 300 people prior to its 2015 buyout by EAG Labs and the 2017 purchase by Eurofins.

A farmer to scientist story

The humble beginnings — and ups and downs — of this global firm are detailed in the book “From Melon Fields to Moon Rocks.” 

The biography of Gehrke describes his tough start and his ups and downs as well. He grew up in the tiny town of Canal Lewisville, Ohio, having to work in neighboring farm fields to help support his family. His ticket out of farming literally came from his oldest brother, who put him on a train to Ohio State University, telling him he wanted a better life than farming for his brother.

From there, his education and scientific career would propel Gehrke to head up a scientific team that analyzed the moon rocks from the NASA Apollo moon landings and found ABC Labs.

Learn More

To read more about the path Charles took from a small town in Ohio to founder of a scientific firm, the book, “From Melon Fields to Moon Rocks,” is available at the following Columbia locations:

Online:

  • Barnes & Noble,
  • amazon.com or
  • This website by mail for $20 plus tax and shipping.Buy Now Button

If you’d like to hear more about Charles, ABC Labs and the writing of this book, Dianna O’Brien is available for talks and presentations.

 

Get an insider’s view of science at MU Life Science event April 6, 2018

Posted by diannaobrien in Charles W. Gehrke General, Events.
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Science isn’t all test tubes, experiments and instruments. The biography, “From Melon Fields to Moon Rocks,” provides an insider’s point of view of a scientist’s life from his struggles to gain instruments to his personal challenges.

The book will be on sale from 3:30-4:30 p.m. on Monday, April 9, 2018, outside the Monsanto Auditorium in the Bond Life Sciences Center building. The book will be available at one of MU’s major scientific gathering, Life Sciences Week 2018, according to the website.

From Melon Fields to Moon Rocks cover 032917

The book is a biography of longtime Columbia resident and MU biochemistry professor Charles W. Gehrke, 1917-2009, who also founded a scientific company which employed 300 people before it was bought out by a global firm in 2015.

Science on offer

Life Sciences Week brings together more than 300 scientific researchers offering presentations, talks and exhibits, according to the website for the event. The event highlights the research “of undergraduate, graduate, professional students, faculty and staff,” according to the website.

The book will be offered prior to and after the Dr. Charles W. Gehrke Distinguished Lecture presentation by Richard Caprioli titled, “Advances in Imaging Mass Spectrometry:  Molecular Microscopy in the New Age of Discovery.”

Caprioli is the Stanford Moore Professor of Biochemistry and director of the Mass Spectrometry Research Center at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine.  His accolades include receiving the 2014 Distinguished Contribution to Mass Spectrometry Award by the American Society for Mass Spectrometry.

His areas of research include a special interest in cancer tissues.

MU’s first mass spectrometer

In the book, “Melon Fields to Moon Rocks,” Charles W. Gehrke describes combining a National Science Foundation $500,000 grant with funds from MU to buy the university’s first new mass spectrometer in 1982. He and his team at the Experiment Station Chemical Laboratories had been teaching mass spectrometry since 1968 with a used mass spectrometer.

Cancer hits home
Gehrke would have had a special appreciation for Caprioli’s talk. One of the challenges in his personal life was his wife Virginia’s experience with cancer. Later in Gehrke’s career he worked on trying to find a way to detect cancer early via analysis of blood, serum and urine in the hope of sparring cancer patients from the invasive, painful detection and treatment procedures.
Moon rocks
Gehrke’s work went beyond this world. He was one of the analysts of the samples of moon rocks brought back from the Apollo NASA space flights and proved when other scientists couldn’t that there was no life on the moon.
Rags to riches
But Gehrke didn’t grow up with a silver spoon in his mouth nor did he even plan on going to college. It was with the support of his brother and his high school teachers that he was set on the path out of poverty into success as a teacher, scientist, and entrepreneur.
Charles W. Gehrke, circa 1928.

Charles W. Gehrke as a boy, circa 1928.

Learn how Gehrke went from a small town in Ohio to life in Columbia, guiding a laboratory at MU and building with the help of Jim Ussary and David Stalling, a company that employed hundreds of MU grads.

Can’t wait?

Have it shipped to you directly for $20, plus tax and shipping.

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The book is available in Columbia at Yellow Dog Bookshop, 8 S. Ninth St., the Columbia Mall bookstore Barnes & Noble and the bookstore at Boone County History and Culture Center at 3801 Ponderosa St.

The book was published March 2017 by Yolanda Ciolli’s firm, Compass Flower Press, and designed by Ginny Booker.

Or buy it here now and have a signed copy shipped to you directly for $20, plus tax and shipping.

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Paul Pepper and Melon Fields January 31, 2018

Posted by diannaobrien in Charles W. Gehrke General, Events.
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Paul Pepper talks about “From Melon Fields to Moon Rocks,” on his show Radio Friends with Paul Pepper. Hear and see author Dianna O’Brien talk about the book.

The show was broadcast on Jan. 31, 2018 — but the book is always for sale at Yellow Dog Bookshop, 8 S. Ninth St., in downtown Columbia, the Columbia Mall bookstore Barnes & Noble and the bookstore at Boone County History and Culture Center at 3801 Ponderosa St.

You can also buy a signed copy of the book for $20 plus tax and shipping by clicking “Buy Now” below.

Dianna O’Brien is available for talks and presentations. You can contact her at dobrien387@gmail.com or by telephone at 573.424.5749.

The book is also available in an electronic form from Barnes & Noble, amazon.com. or buy a signed copy via this website for $20 plus tax and shipping.

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Local author day at Columbia Library October 11, 2017

Posted by diannaobrien in ABC Labs, Charles W. Gehrke General, Events, Uncategorized.
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Mark your calendar! From 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. on Oct. 28, you’ll have another chance to get a copy of “From Melon Fields to Moon Rocks.” The Columbia Public Library is hosting a Local Author Open House at 100 W. Broadway.
I’ll be sharing the space with dozens of other local, mid-Missouri authors offering their books, so it’s your chance to stock up on books for yourself or for gifts for Christmas!
I’ll be selling books and will be accepting cash or credit cards. Softbacks are $20 each.
ABC Laboratories, local firm, now gone global
The book is a biography of longtime Columbia resident and MU biochemistry professor Charles W. Gehrke, 1917-2009, founder of ABC Laboratories, which has since been bought by a global firm. The company employed 300 people and was started by Gehrke and two of his former students in 1968.
Moon Rocks
Gehrke also analyzed samples of moon rocks brought back from the Apollo NASA space flights and proved when other scientists couldn’t that there was no life on the moon.
Rags to riches
But Gehrke didn’t grow up with a silver spoon in his mouth nor did he even plan on going to college. It was with the support of his brother and his high school teachers that he was set on the path out of poverty into success as a teacher, scientist, and entrepreneur.
Charles W. Gehrke, circa 1928.

Charles W. Gehrke as a boy, circa 1928.

Learn how Gehrke went from a small town in Ohio to life in Columbia, guiding a laboratory at MU and building with the help of Jim Ussary and David Stalling, a company that employed hundreds of MU grads.

Can’t wait?

Have it shipped to you directly for $20, plus tax and shipping.

Buy Now Button

The book is available in Columbia at Yellow Dog Bookshop, 8 S. Ninth St., the Columbia Mall bookstore Barnes & Noble and the bookstore at Boone County History and Culture Center at 3801 Ponderosa St.

The book was published March 2017 by Yolanda Ciolli’s firm, Compass Flower Press, and designed by Ginny Booker.

Or buy it here now and have a signed copy shipped to you directly for $20, plus tax and shipping.

Buy Now Button

Steve Weinberg and From Melon Fields to Moon Rocks June 21, 2017

Posted by diannaobrien in ABC Labs, Charles W. Gehrke General, Events.
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Steve Weinberg, a Columbia-based investigative journalist and author of six books, will be introducing Dianna Borsi O’Brien at the Thursday, June 22 reading/signing of From Melon Fields to Moon Rocks.

The event will be 5 to 7 p.m. in the Boone County Historical Society at 3801 Ponderosa St. If you can’t attend, the book will continue to be on sale at the BCHS as well as Yellow Dog Bookshop at 8 S. Ninth St.

Of course, all books are works of many hands, but in this case, Weinberg literally helped the book get started.

In 2007, Jon Gehrke called Weinberg about possibly working with Charles W. Gehrke to write his biography but Weinberg didn’t have space in his schedule. So Weinberg suggested Jon Gehrke call his former graduate student and fellow journalist O’Brien — and as they say, the rest is history.

From 2007 to 2009, O’Brien and Charles W. Gehrke worked on the book that outlines Gehrke’s childhood, from his childhood poverty growing up in Canal Lewisville, Ohio, near Coshocton, to his education at Ohio State University to his arrival at the University of Missouri, his NASA work analyzing the moon rocks of the Apollo mission, founding of ABC Labs, which employed 300 people prior to its 2015 buyout, and his family life along the way.

Yet, the book was more than the product of Gehrke and O’Brien’s efforts. The University of Missouri Archives office found crucial materials including a recording of a radio show from the 1970s that featured Gehrke speculating that scientists might actually find life on the moon, something we scoff at today.

Dozens of people gave their time during interviews, replied to email queries and helped during the reporting process for the book. Then when the manuscript was ready, the first edit was done by Karen Pojmann, a fellow journalist who has worked as an editor with several publications. The manuscript went through several other edits as well as the design process by Ginny Booker and publishing processes by Yolanda Ciolli of Compass Flower Press.

And along the way, Weinberg was there with suggestions, support and guidance. Now, he’ll get to give the introduction before the reading and book signing of the author of a book he literally started.

Other options

Can’t attend?

  • Come to see O’Brien at 11 a.m. on Saturday at Barnes & Noble in the Columbia Mall for local author’s day.
  • Yellow Dog Bookshop at 8 S. Ninth St. has the book on its shelves.
  • Contact O’Brien via this website and receive the book by mail for $20 plus tax and shipping.  Buy Now Button
  • The book is on amazon.com as well.

 

 

 

Learn the hows and whys of a fine pairing June 20, 2017

Posted by diannaobrien in ABC Labs, Charles W. Gehrke General, Events.
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On Thursday at a book signing and reading, author Dianna Borsi O’Brien will be talking about how and why the book From the Melon Fields to Moon Rocks came about.

The signing and reading will be 5 to 7 p.m. on June 22 in the Boone County Historical Society at 3801 Ponderosa St.

The book is a biography of a man, entrepreneur and scientist, a result that came about through a fine pairing of a determined man, Charles W. Gehrke, and a persistent, determined journalist. Yes, a fine pairing.

It all started when Jon Gehrke called O’Brien and said he was looking for a writer to help his father write his life’s story. He said they already had a title for the book. O’Brien asked why his father deserved a book. Yes, journalists ask those kind of rude questions.

From Melon Fields to Moon Rocks cover 032917

Jon said his father was an internationally known scientist. In Columbia, with the University of Missouri and two other colleges, the journalist said, those kinds of experts are fairly common. Jon said his father was an entrepreneur as well, having founded ABC Labs, now EAG Laboratories.

O’Brien noted again that in Columbia, Missouri, there are many entrepreneurs. Finally, the journalist noted something unusual about this interchange. The son of a well-known scientist and entrepreneur was calling. Not all successful scientists and business people manage to maintain close, warm family ties that would spur a son to call a cranky, questioning journalist like O’Brien.

Finally, O’Brien said she’d take the job if and only if Charles Gehrke called her. She had no interest in working with someone who wasn’t as determined about the project as she would be.

Several months later, Gehrke called O’Brien to set up a lunch meeting. During that first meeting, the last crucial hurdle came when O’Brien asked Gehrke if he wanted a biography that glossed over anything unpleasant or would she have the freedom to tell about whatever she found? The answer was tell it the way it was.

A fine pairing indeed. The two worked together from 2007 until Gehrke’s 2009 death. Then O’Brien continued to finish the book, using archival materials Gehrke had had stored in his basement, documents from the University of Missouri archives and family archives. Research for the book included interviews with dozens of Gehrke’s family members, friends, associates and former scientist colleagues.

The book, said John Bucksath, an employee of ABC Labs from 1989-2015, including three years as president and CEO, is accurate and concise, and reveals the chemistry that made Gehrke special. He noted, “Anyone who thinks they know Dr. Gehrke’s story should read this book to truly understand the man’s contribution not only to science, but his legacy to his family, the Columbia, Missouri community and beyond.”

The book signing and reading will include a more prosaic pairing. It will include light refreshments and soft drinks and wine for adults. The book will be for sale with or without the signature of the author.

Come and learn how the book went from a son’s suggestion to a biography of a man who rose from poverty to scientific stature that led to his opportunity to analyze moon rocks and start a company that employed 300 people prior to its 2015 buyout by EAG Laboratories.

 

 

 

Four solutions to an over-packed schedule June 15, 2017

Posted by diannaobrien in Charles W. Gehrke General, Events.
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Yikes! I know the feeling. You just can’t fit everything in and you’re not going to be able to attend the 5-7 p.m. Thursday, June 22 reading of From Melon Fields to Moon Rocks at the Boone County Historical Society. But you still want to get your hands on that book!

Charles W. Gehrke, circa 1928.

Charles W. Gehrke as a boy, circa 1928.

Aside from the tragedy of not getting to enjoy the mini-cupcakes at the reading, don’t worry. Here are four ways to get the book without coming to the reading.

Come to see me at 11 a.m. on Saturday at Barnes & Noble in the Columbia Mall for local author’s day. I’ll be there with bookmarks to hand out! I’ll have chocolate, too. Not mini-cupcakes, but close.

  • Yellow Dog Bookshop at 8 S. Ninth St. — Yes, that cute little bookshop downtown right across the street from Sparky’s Homemade Ice Cream — almost like mini-cupcakes! — Has the book on its shelves.
  • Contact me via this website and I’ll mail the book to you! Easy peasy, through the old fashioned snail mail system for $20 plus tax and shipping. And you don’t even have to get out of your jammies. Just click below.Buy Now Button 
  • The book is on amazon.com, too! I haven’t checked, but you could probably order mini-cupcakes from the online behemoth. Again, all in your jammies.

If none of these options work, really, I’d love to see you at the book reading at the Boone County Historical Society at 3801 Ponderosa St. It’s just 5-7 p.m. and I’ll even sign your book for you!

 

 

Three reasons to read From Melon Fields to Moon Rocks June 13, 2017

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Why do people read? So many reasons and all of them good for you — the list is below!

That’s why I would love for you to read my book, From Melon Fields to Moon Rocks, and attend the book reading from 5 to 7 p.m. on Thursday, June 22 at the Boone County Historical Society.

  • To find yourself: Discovering and creating yourself is one of 10 reasons people read, according to the website whytoread.com, a site designed to encourage reading. In From Melon Fields to Moon Rocks, you’ll be able to see yourself in the experiences of the late Columbia resident Charles W. Gehrke, 1917-2009. Perhaps you’ll see yourself in Charles’s experience, growing up poor but that keep him from becoming successful. He was an MU professor from 1949-1987. Perhaps you’ll be able to identify with Charles who toiled in jobs he didn’t necessarily like, such as inspecting slaughtering houses and restaurants for cleanliness. Perhaps you, too, know what it’s like to experience loss. Charles went through the grief of the loss of two infants and an adult son. The list could go on, but perhaps reading From Melon Fields to Moon Rocks might help you see yourself and perhaps imagine something else for yourself, as Charles did when he went off to college, when he began to investigate the moon rocks instead of agricultural fertilizers.
  • To learn: People also read to learn, says whytoread.com. In From Melon Fields to Moon Rocks, Charles tells about what it was like to be a young boy working on a farm in the 1920s and 1930s, how he would jump into the nearby canal to cool off and to stop the nagging itch of wheat mites. He describes why they stacked the wheat sheaves a certain way so rain would run off rather than into the stack. This is information we’re rapidly losing, but you can learn about it by reading.
  • For entertainment: I don’t know about you, but I love to lose myself in a good book. Cares and troubles fall away as I enter another world, one where there is no dust to clean, no deadlines to meet or pesky bills to pay. This is another reason whytoread.com says people read. In From Melon Fields to Moon Rocks, you’ll be transported into a man’s life where his teachers went to his mother’s house to convince her to send him to college, to a time when Charles turned to friends to start a company that went on to employ 300 people before it was sold in 2015 to a global scientific firm, a moment in history when no one knew whether there was life on the moon or not, when a man walking on the moon was fearful and amazing at the same time.

Of course, you can also buy the book at Yellow Dog Bookshop at 8 S. Ninth St. or order it below for $20 plus tax and shipping.

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