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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Title: Historical overiew of John M. Norman's involvement in the development of several key instruments for biophysical measurement

item Welles, Jon
item Anderson, Martha

Submitted to: Agricultural and Forest Meteorology
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 7/20/2009
Publication Date: 12/4/2009
Publication URL:
Citation: Welles, J.M., Anderson, M.C. 2009. Historical overiew of John M. Norman's involvement in the development of several key instruments for biophysical measurement. Agricultural and Forest Meteorology. 149:2064-2070.

Interpretive Summary: If you've ever used a quantum sensor, or measured the LAI of a plant canopy, or lugged around a portable photosynthesis system, then you are likely the beneficiary of just some of John Norman's work in instrumentation. In his nearly 40 year career of trying to understand plants and their environment through modeling and measurements, John's boundless creativity and enthusiasm have never let lack of available instrumentation stop him for long. He leaves behind an impressive wake of gadgets and devices. Most served their purpose, and provided the missing information being sought. Some of his devices have gone on to world-wide success, while others are found only in the dust of former students' memories. John's legacy, however, is clear, and goes well beyond instrumentation: he is a joyful, creative resource, as all who have had the privilege of knowing him can attest.

Technical Abstract: Professor John M. Norman has played a key role in the development of many measurement devices currently used in the field of Environmental Biophysics, including the LAI-2000 for measuring leaf area index and plant canopy architecture and the LI-6000 Portable Photosynthesis System for measuring plant carbon uptake. This paper gives a historical overview of the development of these and other widely used instruments, showing the thought and experimental process that led to refinement of early products, and how John’s thinking and approach evolved in response to new findings in the areas of photosynthesis and canopy functioning. This article is intended as part of a Special Issue dedicated to the contributions of Dr. Norman to agricultural sciences during his long and fruitful career.

Last Modified: 10/20/2017
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