Monday, February 19, 2007

Bent SkovmandPlant Scientist

Bent Skovmand, 61, a plant scientist who helped oversee the creation of a "doomsday vault" to house as many as 3 million of the world's crop seeds in case of disaster, died Feb. 6 in Kavlinge, Sweden. Swedish media reports said he died of brain tumor complications.

The seed bank, which is under construction inside a mountain on the Norwegian island of Spitsbergen in the Arctic Ocean, will reportedly be the largest in the world when it opens in September. Its purpose is to ensure the survival of crop diversity in the event of plant epidemics, nuclear war, natural disasters or climate change and to offer a chance to restart the growth of food crops that might be wiped out.

Mr. Skovmand, a University of Minnesota graduate, traveled around the globe collecting and studying wheat and other plant types for the bank, protecting them from human encroachment and breeding them to make stronger, more disease-resistant strains.

Mr. Skovmand's scientific achievements earned him numerous awards, but most notable was the Knight's Cross of the Order of Dannebrog, given to him in 2003 by Queen Margrethe II of Denmark. After he was knighted, Mr. Skovmand was appointed director of the Nordic Gene Bank, a center in Sweden that works to conserve, document and use plant resources.

Sheldon K. FriedlanderPollution Investigator

Sheldon K. Friedlander, 79, whose work in identifying the sources of particles in Southern California smog led to new ways of studying and regulating air pollution, died Feb. 9 at his home in Pacific Palisades, Calif., of complications of pulmonary fibrosis.

While a professor at the California Institute of Technology in the 1970s, he was among the founders of aerosol science -- the study of gases and particles in the air. Dr. Friedlander discovered a way to analyze the chemical makeup of smog particles and trace what was creating air pollution at any given time. He linked lead particles to gasoline usage and zinc in the air to tire rubber.

"He developed a picture of what was in the smog that was far more detailed than anyone had put together before," said Rick Flagan, chairman of Caltech's chemical engineering department. More sophisticated versions of Dr. Friedlander's methods are used to regulate air quality around the world today.

He headed the Clean Air Scientific Advisory Committee from 1982 to 1998. The group gives independent advice to the Environmental Protection Agency.

Alan D. EamesBeer Historian

Alan D. Eames, 59, a beer historian and author whose globe-trotting research into exotic brews and their origins earned him the nickname "The Beer King," died of respiratory failure Feb. 10 at his home in Dummerston, Vt.

Mr. Eames, author of "Secret Life of Beer" and "A Beer Drinker's Companion," became interested in the beverage in 1970s after he bought a country store in Templeton, Mass., and began stocking exotic beers, turning it into a kind of mecca for aficionados. His expertise landed him work as a consultant to beer companies, microbreweries and importers, including Guinness, Beck's and Pete's Wicked Ale.

But he made his mark in publishing and travel, writing about the role of beer in ancient and traditional societies and traveling to Europe, Africa and South America for his research.

Once, during a trip to South Africa, he taste-tested a rare dark beer in a small village and liked it so much he asked to see the brewer, who was said to be a village grandfather. The women who served him began laughing.

"My translator informed me that the beer wasn't made by grandfather, it was made with grandfather," Mr. Eames told the Rutland Herald in an interview in October. "They put his cremated bone fragments in with the rest of the ingredients."

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