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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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