Kenneth G. Standing

Born: April 3, 1925 | Winnipeg, CA

Kenneth Standing grew up in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. Standing says he ended up in science by process of elimination, by gradually ruling out subjects he did not love. He won a senior scholarship to the University of Manitoba. World War II intervened, and he joined the University Naval Training Division for a year. For his PhD, Standing followed a friend to Princeton University’s physics department, where he worked on scintillation counting in Rubby Sherr’s nuclear physics lab and then on a fast-cycling cloud chamber with Milton White. As a faculty member at the University of Manitoba, Standing was one of the first to study gamma-ray scattering. He spent five years building a cyclotron for Manitoba, tried to help fix the one in Grenoble, France, and then returned to Manitoba to become director of the cyclotron there. A project analyzing protein in wheat for the Grain Research Laboratory, and the arrival of Brian Chait from University of Oxford, pushed Standing toward mass spectrometry. Standing discusses developing and perpetuating the field of time-of-flight mass spec, citing as his most important contribution his 1981 publication of the design of his original time-of-flight mass spectrometer.

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Interview Details

Interview no.: Oral History 0922
No. of pages: 92
Minutes: 215

Interview Sessions

Michael A. Grayson
29 October 2014
University of Manitoba, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada

Abstract of Interview

Kenneth Standing grew up in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, the oldest of four children. His father was an accountant, his mother a primary school teacher and housewife. Standing says he ended up in science by process of elimination, by gradually ruling out subjects he did not love. He won a senior scholarship to the University of Manitoba. World War II intervened, and he joined the University Naval Training Division (UNTD), which had him stoking and cleaning boilers in Halifax, Nova Scotia, and Shelburne, Ontario, for a year. For his PhD, Standing followed a friend to Princeton University’s physics department, where he worked on scintillation counting in Rubby Sherr’s nuclear physics lab and then on a fast-cycling cloud chamber with Milton White. Both experiments failed, but Standing’s two theses, one on double beta decay; and the other on proton-deuteron (p-d) reactions in nitrogen-14, got him his degree. As a faculty member at the University of Manitoba, Standing was one of the first to study gamma-ray scattering. He spent five years building a cyclotron for Manitoba, tried to help fix the one in Grenoble, France, and then returned to Manitoba to become director of the cyclotron there. A project analyzing protein in wheat for the Grain Research Laboratory, and the arrival of Brian Chait from University of Oxford, pushed Standing toward mass spectrometry. When Chait went to Rockefeller University, Werner Ens and Ronald Beavis became Standing’s first graduate students in mass spectrometry. All of his honors have been bestowed since he left nuclear physics, he says. Standing discusses his many collaborations, pointing out that he needed chemists to provide the raw materials for his work. He explains his collaboration with SCIEX on a hybrid mass spectrometer. He talks about developing and perpetuating the field of time-of-flight mass spec, citing as his most important contribution his 1981 publication of the design of his original time-of-flight mass spectrometer. He also believes that his work on collisional damping was seminal. He talks about his publication record and his patents. When his funding from the National Institutes of Health and Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council came to an end, Standing retired, but he continues to provide analysis for other faculty members and good public relations for the University.

Education

Year Institution Degree Discipline
1948 University of Manitoba BSc Mathematics and Physics
1950 Princeton University AM Physics
1955 Princeton University PhD Physics

Professional Experience

University of Manitoba

1953 to 1959
Assistant Professor
1959 to 1964
Associate Professor
1959 to 1967
Director, Cyclotron Laboratory
1964 to 1995
Professor
1995 to 2015
Profesor Emeritus

Honors

Year(s) Award
1950 to 1951

Class of 1883 Fellow, Princeton University

1952 to 1953

Charlotte Elizabeth Procter Fellow, Princeton University

1958 to 1959

Nuffield Fellow, University of Bristol

1967 to 1968

NRC Senior Research Fellow (and Professeur Associé), Université de Grenoble

1985 to 1986

NSERC France-Canada Exchange Scientist, (and Professeur Associé), Université de Paris XI (Orsay)

1998

CMS Award for Distinguished Contributions to Mass Spectrometry, Canadian Society for Mass Spectrometry

2000

Meloche Lecturer, University of Wisconsin

2000

Synergy Award for University-Industry Cooperation, NSERC/Conference Board of Canada

2003

CAP Medal for Outstanding Achievement in Industrial & Applied Physics, Canadian Association of Physicists

2004

Elected to Fellowship, American Physical Society

2004

ACS Field/Franklin Award for Outstanding Achievement in Mass Spectrometry, American Chemical Society

2004

Elected to Fellowship, Royal Society of Canada

2006

Establishment of the “Ken Standing Award by the Enabling Technologies Symposium

2006

Brockhouse Award for Interdisciplinary Research, NSERC

2009

Honorary DSc, University of Manitoba

2009

Sir John William Dawson Medal, Royal Society of Canada

2010

Encana Award for Innovation, Manning Foundation

Table of Contents

Early Years
1

Grew up in Winnipeg, Manitoba, oldest of four children. Father accountant, mother primary school teacher and housewife. Senior scholarship to University of Manitoba. World War II; enlisted in University Naval Training Division (UNTD); stoked, cleaned boilers in Halifax, Nova Scotia, and Shelburne, Ontario. Back at university after one year.

Graduate School
14

Followed friend to Princeton University’s physics department; scintillation counting in Rubby Sherr’s nuclear physics lab. Fast-cycling cloud chamber with Milton White. Both experiments failed. Cyclotron burned up. Did not worry about uranium isotopes. Sherr at California Institute of Technology during rebuilding of cyclotron; returned in time to read Standing’s two theses: double beta decay; proton-deuteron (p-d) reactions in N-14.

First Job
27

Began work at University of Manitoba. With Jovan Jovanovich on gamma-ray scattering, publication in Nature. Nuffield Fellowship to University of Bristol to work on gamma-ray astronomy. Trying to find gamma rays from Crab Nebula; unsuccessful. One of first to work on measuring gamma rays.

Returning to Manitoba
37

Building cyclotron like UCLA’s; took five years. Ronald Macfarlane. Repair work on cyclotron at University of Grenoble unsuccessful. Strikes forced closure, so after one month back to gamma-ray scattering at University of Manitoba. Director of cyclotron. Beginning interest in biological questions. Analyzing protein in wheat for Grain Research Laboratory. Brian Chait’s arrival from University of Oxford; increased research with practical applications. Moving toward mass spectrometry. Using californium, stored at Pinawa, Manitoba. David Torgerson and cesium ions. Alfred Benninghoven and ion formation from organic solids (IFOS).

Mass Spectrometry
56

Chait to Rockefeller University. Standing’s first graduate students in mass spectrometry. No interest in industry, except for collaboration on instruments with SCIEX. Anatoli Verentchikov from St. Petersburg to Manitoba. Igor Chernushevich and Xue-Jun Tang and collaboration with SCIEX on hybrid mass spectrometer (quadrupole/time-of-flight). Standing to Orsay, France; Ens to Uppsala, Sweden, then back to Manitoba; many collaborative papers. Paralleled Hillenkamp and matrix-assisted laser desorption/ionization (MALDI). National Institutes of Health (NIH) funding stopped, then Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC) funding; retirement.

General Observations
64

Publication record. Patents and patent income. Working on plant viruses with Dallas Seifers and Steve Haber. Oleg Krokhin and liquid chromatography collaboration. No longer paid by department, but provides good public relations and aid to other faculty members. Grain analysis never worked. Bendix instruments. Paper with Marvin Vestal. Importance of time-of-flight mass spec; field kept going by Standing, Robert Cotter, and Macfarlane. Most significant publications: collisional damping; original paper on time-of-flight machine; contributed to addition of liquid chromatograph to mass spec.

Index
90

About the Interviewer

Michael A. Grayson

Michael A. Grayson is a member of the Mass Spectrometry Research Resource at Washington University in St. Louis. He received his BS degree in physics from St. Louis University in 1963 and his MS in physics from the University of Missouri at Rolla in 1965. He is the author of over 45 papers in the scientific literature. Before joining the Research Resource, he was a staff scientist at McDonnell Douglas Research Laboratory. While completing his undergraduate and graduate education, he worked at Monsanto Company in St. Louis, where he learned the art and science of mass spectrometry. Grayson is a member of the American Society for Mass Spectrometry (ASMS), and has served many different positions within that organization. He has served on the Board of Trustees of CHF and is currently a member of CHF's Heritage Council. He currently pursues his interest in the history of mass spectrometry by recording oral histories, assisting in the collection of papers, and researching the early history of the field.