Front Range Seed Analysts
1993 Seed Forum Volume 7 Number 3
Colorado Seed Laboratory Director Dr. Arnold Larsen Retires
After 36 years in seed analysis, Dr. Arnold Larsen, Director of
the Colorado Seed Laboratory and CSU professor, will retire on July
30. The legacy he leaves to the seed testing profession seems to
be all around us. Every laboratory in the country has benefited because
of his hard work, publications, teaching efforts and many inventions.
Born and raised in Iowa, Dr. Larsen was always interested in agriculture. Between undergraduate and graduate training, he worked for Roberts Produce selling feed and seed for three years and he worked a farm for five years. He married Dorothy Ann Lauritsen in 1950 and they have two children and three grandchildren. He received his M.S. and Ph.D. with a major in economic botany with minors in taxonomy and crop production from Iowa State University. Before coming to Colorado, he was a supervisor in the Iowa State Seed Laboratory and a Research Botanist for the U.S.D.A. in Beltsville, Maryland.
His research addressed diverse problems. He was a pioneer in the use of protein electrophoresis for varietal purity of seeds, performing assays in the 1960's, long before widespread commercial application of the techniques. The years of careful experiments for blowing points yielded seed testing protocols and equipment that eliminated countless hours of tedious work for analysts. Another time-saver, the multiple-unit rule, with its table and drawings, has been adopted internationally for testing seeds with multiple units. Dr. Larsen authored the "Study Guide to the Seeds of Colorado", an excellent identification aid that has helped over a decade of beginning analysts.
Equipment improvements were a perennial interest. Dr. Larsen's designs for purity stations were copied in several other laboratories. He invented the two-way thermogradient plate, a device widely used today, for simultaneous seed testing at a range of temperatures. His seed blower and divider design research showed creativity.
Dr. Larsen tackled thankless jobs like the revision of AOSA Handbook 25: Uniform Classification of Weed and Crop Species. This effort took several years and involved changing the entire method of classification as well as expanding a manual that had covered a few hundred species to one that covered over 2000 kinds. The old handbook was a mere 36 pages. The new one is several hundred pages. To cap this achievement, the Handbook was approved for use at this year's annual AOSA business meeting.
Less tangible but just as important was the time spent training analysts and working with graduate students. He was often praised for being a director who delved into the everyday work of the lab and keenly appreciated the skills and problems of the analysts. Often as not, when visitors stopped by, Dr. Larsen was at the purity board or checking TZ tests or helping a new worker at the divider. He often gave impromptu anatomy lessons, carefully dissecting the complicated rangegrasses for novice analysts. His efforts were instrumental in establishing the Larimer County Voc-Tech Seed Analysis program which trained analysts for nearly a decade. When the program was discontinued, he pushed for introducing new seed related courses at CSU.
His teaching and research skills were valued beyond the CSU campus. He was invited to work with analysts at seed schools in several other states. He received the merit award from AOSA in 1982, honorary membership in SCST in 1989, and Colorado Seedsman of the year in 1986. He worked on many committees of the AOSA and was elected President in 1980. The International Seed Testing Association also tapped his expertise with committee involvement through the years. He served as president and advisor of the Front Range Seed Analysts. Most recently, he was part of the effort to revise the Colorado Seed Act and was in attendance when Governor Romer signed the new act into law, June 2, 1993.
So the work of Dr. Larsen is all around us, seen and unseen, and there are many reasons to celebrate his career. The Colorado Seed Laboratory will feel the vacuum the most but he assures the Front Range Seed Analysts that he will still be in town.
compiled by Annette Logan
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