Judith Lockwood History
In 1981, I found myself with a degree in chemistry from Carleton University and no full-time employment, so I co-founded (with Michael Farrington) an independent laboratory under the name Farrington, Lockwood Company Limited (FLCL) – the one name that could be incorporated immediately and fast enough to allow us to meet the bid deadline on our first lithium battery research contract. Much to our surprise and delight, we were awarded the contract! But now we were in business, and had to learn things very quickly.
Our first lab was a rented bench in the Chemistry department at Carleton University. A couple of years later we moved to 1000 sq. ft. of rented space on Colonnade Road, Nepean, Ontario. In 1987, FLCL outgrew its rented space and we built our own custom-designed laboratory and office at 100 Terence Matthews Crescent in Kanata, Ontario.
While Michael continued to pursue battery related contracts, I took a different path.
In the early days, most of my contracts involved doing hands-on studies to develop and apply analytical methods (primarily chromatography and spectroscopy based) for the assessment of environmental pollutants and for spill response applications. This was an exciting time, as environmental test methods were just being developed and both chromatography and spectroscopy were going through some very rapid innovations…a new technology was being commercialized almost weekly. Also, I was the new kid on the block meeting with pioneers of chromatography, like Leslie Ettrie (Perkin Elmer), Walter Jennings (J & S Scientific), and Alfred Bader (Aldrich). Things quickly expanded so we hired other chemists to help.
In the mid-80’s, I and other FLCL researchers began work with the Department of National Defense on technologies to better protect our troops and decontaminate their equipment. These projects included: development and commercialization of the Canadian Reactive Skin Decontamination Lotion (RSLD™) and the Canadian Aqueous System for Chemical Agent Decontamination (CASCAD)/Surface Decontamination Foam (SDF), development of respirator fit testing methods, as well as studies on the modification and testing of polymer and carbon-based absorbents, military fabrics, and protective coatings. Decontamination technologies continue to be an area of expertise for FLCL.
As FLCL grew, I moved to a management and technical advisor role, but always keeping in close contact with the activities in the lab. I have never ceased to be in awe of the fascinating things that we observe in the lab. I have tried to share this experience with our clients, whenever possible. But I was always a little disappointed that our final reports on projects could not adequately convey the wonder of what we observe in the lab.
In 2012, I hired Dana Plesa, a chemist and art conservator, who has expertise in colour, physics, and chemistry and was willing to humour me in my quest to share the beauty of the science. We began working on ways to colour chemical reactions to show our clients. The obvious tool to record these images was macro photography, so she had to quickly learn a lot about lighting and the right camera settings.
Soon Dana was capturing images that highlighted how products clean surfaces and how they react with common contaminants. Our synthetic chemist, Dr. Michael Tjepkema, provided the knowledge and skills needed to tailor molecules to give them just the right properties. The resulting images not only allowed us to show our clients their products in action, but allowed the client to produce marketing materials and presentations that better explain their products to others.
We soon discovered images so beautiful that they looked like works of art…so we printed a few. And then, Dana began using her knowledge to choose the right combination of reactive molecules and solvents to “paint” her visions. And we printed a few more.
In 2013 Lockwood Scientific Group Inc. (LSGI) was founded and DecoScience was born with a view to share this interplay between art and science with others. DecoScience has just started pursuing exhibits, and opportunities to our artworks with others.
DECOSCIENCE™ artworks are already available for others to purchase or lease, but our vision is to expand our collection and provide other scientists with an opportunity to share their beautiful images and explain the value of their research. We have just brought an artist, Janice Willson, on board to share her perspective on science. I will seek other artists to show us their perspective on the science that occurs around us every day, and their observations as they explore new scientific phenomena. These diverse perspectives combined with the passion for their work that artists and scientists share, promises many exciting new possibilities and pathways forward.
I can’t wait to see how things unfold.
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