Company Background

 

SPECinc Offices

SPEC was incorporated in 1979 and was originally a consulting company owned by Dr. Paul Lawson. In 1989, SPEC expanded its view and aggressively pursued the US Government Small Business Innovative Research (SBIR) program, which offers funding on a competitive basis for new and innovative research proposals. Under funding from the National Science Foundation (NSF) SBIR program, SPEC developed its first cloud particle probe, the high volume precipitation spectrometer (HVPS). Since that time the company has been awarded twenty SBIR Phase I awards, sixteen SBIR Phase II awards, two STTR Phase I and Phase II awards, twenty-six NASA National Research Announcement awards, nine NSF grants and three DOE contracts, totaling over $30 million in funding.

SPEC now employs over 20 people, including 5 Ph.D. scientists, several engineers and occupies 10,000 square feet of office, lab and shop space. In 1998 the company instrumented a Learjet for atmospheric research that has been used as a test bed for Instrument Development and participation in major field programs. More recently the company was awarded FAA STC’s for installation of SPEC state-of-the-art cloud particle probes and supporting instruments on Super King Air 350 research aircraft for the Thai and Chinese governments.

The science underpinning instrument development and atmospheric research has always been the driving motivation for SPEC personnel. Our mission is to develop cutting-edge instrumentation that we take to the field to collect unprecedented data, which are then incorporated into peer-reviewed publications.

Senior Personnel

Dr. R. Paul Lawson is a Senior Scientist at SPEC. Dr. Lawson received a B.S. in Electrical Engineering from Michigan State University and M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in Atmospheric Science from the University of Wyoming. In 1999 he received the editor’s award from the Journal of Atmospheric and Oceanic Technology, in 2000 he was an invited speaker at the Gordon Conference on Climate and Radiation, from 1999- 2002 he was a member of the American Meteorological Society Advisory Committee on Cloud Physics. Dr. Lawson has been a member of several Science Teams from 1999 - 2012, including: NASA FIRE, NASA TRMM, NASA CRYSTAL-FACE, NASA MidCiX, NASA CR-AVE, NASA NAMMA, NASA TC4, DOE ARM, NASA MAPex, NASA ATTREX, NSF ICE-T, NSF/NASA DC3/SEAC4RS Science Team. He has been heavily involved in the development of instrumentation and analysis of meteorological data for more than three decades. Dr. Lawson is an airline transport rated pilot with over 6,000 total hours and 2,000 hours of atmospheric research. Dr. Lawson participated in the 2001, 2002 and 2009 South Pole field experiments and is well acquainted with policies and procedures on the Antarctic continent. He has participated in over 50 meteorological field programs as scientist and/or pilot including:
  • Learjet Pilot/Scientist during HIPLEX from 1977-1980
  • Pilot of the NCAR instrumented sailplane and scientist during the 1981 CCOPE.
  • Flight Scientist during CASP II field programs.
  • Scientist during the 1995 Canadian Freezing Drizzle Experiment.
  • Flight Scientist for the 1995 Small Cumulus Microphysics Study.
  • Principal investigator for the 1996 NASA DC-8 SUCCESS field program.
  • Principal investigator for the 1998 NASA FIRE.ACE field program.
  • Learjet Pilot and Principal investigator for the 1998 NASA TRMM TEFLUN-A field program.
  • Learjet Pilot and Scientist for the 1998-1999 NASA EOS cirrus studies.
  • Learjet Pilot and Scientist for the 1999-2000 Alliance Icing Research Study (AIRS) in Ottawa, Ontario.
  • Principal Investigator for the 2002 NASA CRYSTAL-FACE field program.
  • Principal Investigator and Learjet Pilot for the 2000 - 2006 NSF Wave Cloud Studies.
  • Principal Investigator and Learjet Pilot for the 2003 - 2006 NASA Cirrus Cloud Studies.
  • Principal Investigator 2003 - 2006 NSF Ice Crystal Studies at the South Pole.
  • Principal Investigator and Learjet Pilot for the 2004 NASA MidCiX field program.
  • Principal Investigator for the 2006 NASA CR-AVE field program.
  • Principal Investigator and Learjet pilot for the 2007 NSF ICE-L Wave Cloud field program
  • Principal Investigator for the 2006 NASA NAMMA project
  • Principal Investigator for the 2007 NASA TC4 project
  • Principal Investigator for the 2008 NSF Tethered Balloon project in Svalbard
  • Principal Investigator for the 2008 DOE ISDAC project
  • Principal Investigator and Learjet pilot for the 2009 - 2010 DOE SPARTICUS project
  • Principal Investigator and Learjet pilot for the 2011 NSF ICE-T project.
  • Principal Investigator for the 2012 NASA/NSF DC3/SEAC4RS projects.

 

Ten Selected Publications by Dr. Lawson:

Lawson, R. P., C. Gurganus, S. Woods, and R. Bruintjes, Aircraft Observations of Cumulus Microphysics Ranging from the Tropics to Midlatitudes: Implications for "New" Secondary Ice Process, 2017: J. Atmos. Sci., 74, 2899-2920Read Article

Lawson, R. P., S. Woods, and H. Morrison, The Microphysics of ice and precipitation development in tropical cumulus clouds, 2015: J. Atmos. Sci., 72, 6, 2429-2445, doi: 10.1175/JAS-D-14-0274.1Read Article

Lawson, R. P. and A. Gettelman, Impact of Antarctic mixed-phase clouds on climate, 2014: Proc. Nat. Acad. Sci., 111, 18156–18161   Read Article

Lawson, R. P., Effects of ice particles shattering on the 2D-S probe., 2011: Atmos. Meas. Tech., 4, 1361-1381Read Article

Lawson, R. P., K. Stamnes, J. Stamnes, P. Zmarzly, J. Koskuliks, C. Roden, Q. Mo, M. Carrithers, Deployment of a Tethered Balloon System for Cloud Microphysics and Radiative Measurements at Ny-Ålesund and South Pole , 2011: J. Atmos. Oceanic Technol., 28, 656 – 670Read Article

Lawson, R. P., B. Pilson, B. Baker, Q. Mo, E. Jensen, L. Pfister, and P. Bui, Aircraft measurements of microphysical properties of subvisible cirrus in the tropical tropopause layer., 2008: Atmos. Chem. Phys., 8, 1609-1620Read Article

Lawson, R. P., B. A. Baker, P. Zmarzly, D. O'Connor, Q. Mo, J.-F. Gayet, and V. Shcherbakov, Microphysical and optical properties of ice crystals at South Pole Station., 2006: J. of Appl. Meteor., Vol. 45, No. 11, 1505-1524Read Article

Lawson, R. P., D. O'Connor, P. Zmarzly, K. Weaver, B. A. Baker, Q. Mo, and H. Jonsson, The 2D-S (Stereo) Probe: Design and Preliminary Tests of a New Airborne, High Speed, High-Resolution Particle Imaging Probe., 2006: J. of Atmos. and Oceanic Technol., Vol. 23., No. 11, pp. 1462-1477Read Article

Lawson, R. P., and B. A. Baker, Improvement in determination of ice water content from two-dimensional particle imagery. Part II: Applications to collected data, 2006: J. of Appl. Meteor., Vol. 45, No. 9, pp. 1291-1303Read Article

Lawson, R. P., L. J. Angus, A. J. Heymsfield, Cloud particle measurements in thunderstorm anvils and possible weather threat to aviation., 1998: J. of Aircraft, 35, 113-121Read Article

Dr. Lawson‘s broad base of experience as a cloud physicist, research pilot and an instrumentation engineer make him uniquely qualified to head this atmospheric research and instrumentation company. Contact Paul

Key SPEC Personnel:

Dr. Christoph Roden is an Electrical Engineer and Aerosol Scientist at SPEC, Incorporated. He received a B.S. in Electrical Engineering from Tennessee Technological University, a M.S. in Electrical Engineering from Ohio State University and the Ph.D. in Environmental Engineering from the University of Illinois. Dr. Roden has over 14 years of engineering experience in the design, implementation and testing of digital and analog circuits, systems and embedded software. He was Lead Engineer at Motorola from 1994 – 2001 and Principal Design Engineer at Medtronic 2001 – 2003. He designed, synthesized, tested, performed timing analysis and Patented the Crypto Controller (an implementation of a hardware operating system for the scheduling and control of cryptographic algorithm execution) of the Advanced Infosec Machine (AIM) VLSI (a 9 million transistor, 0.35 µm design). In 2004 he went to University of Illinois to obtain his Ph.D, where he designed, built and maintained a portable, self-contained analyzer for measuring real-time aerosol and gaseous emissions from biomass burning sources. He calculated the climatic impact due to greenhouse gas and particulate emissions from biofuel cookstoves and built, tested and utilized a Humidifying-Tandem Differential Mobility Analyzer (H-TDMA) to characterize the size distributions and hygroscopicity of aerosols. In addition to his expertise in aerosol science, Dr. Roden has designed electronic printed circuit boards and written firmware code for SPEC’s most advanced instruments, including the FCDP, 3V-CPI and Hawkeye.

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Dr. Sarah Woods is a Research Scientist at SPEC. She received a B.S. with honors in Electrical Engineering from Colorado State University in 2004, and Ph.D. in Applied Marine Physics from the Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science at University of Miami in 2010. From 2010 to 2012 she was an ASEE Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the Ocean Sciences Branch of the Naval Research Laboratory, where she characterized the thermal structure, velocity fluctuations, and optical properties of turbulent flow and suspended particulates in laboratory, lake, and ocean environments through measurement of water column properties and determination of velocity flow field, turbulent kinetic energy and thermal dissipation rates. Dr. Woods deployed, processed and analyzed physical oceanographic and optical data from acoustic Doppler velociometers, fast conductivity and temperature sensors, a vertical microstructure profiler, ac-9, LISST, and backscattering sensors, and aided in team design, implementation and testing of Rayleigh-Bénard convective laboratory tank to produce controlled turbulent flow to be utilized for optical-turbulence experiments. Dr. Woods joined SPEC in 2012 and has participated in the DC3, SEAC4RS, ATTREX, ACME-V, POSIDON, and REThinC field programs.

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Dr. Qixu Mo is a Research Scientist at SPEC, Incorporated. Before joining SPEC in June 2002, Dr. Mo earned a B.S. in Electrical Engineering in 1983 and an M.S. in Space Physics in 1986 from Wuhan University. He received the Ph.D. with emphasis on Atmospheric Sciences from New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology (UMIMT) in 1997. Dr. Mo has over 12 years experience in research aircraft instrumentation, field projects and data analysis as well as post-doctoral experience in thundercloud research. From 1990 to 1997 he did graduate work at New Mexico Tech. He analyzed most of the aircraft data collected by the NCAR Kingair, Sailplane and T-28 for the CAPE Project. As a post-doctoral research scientist in South Dakota School of Mines and Technology, he calibrated, installed, evaluated and improved new electric field meters on the T-28 research aircraft.   He has published in several areas including electric field measurements, microphysics the electrification process in thunderstorms. Dr. Mo was a recipient of the Marvin Wilkening Award in 1998 for excellence in experimental physics and a member of the American Geophysical Union. 

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Dr. Colin Gurganus is a Research Scientist and Optical Engineer at SPEC. He received a B.S. in Engineering Physics from Eastern Michigan University in 2007, an M.S. in Physics from Michigan Technological University in 2014 and a Ph.D. in Atmospheric Sciences from Michigan Technological University in 2014. During his graduate career, he worked on fundamental ice nucleation studies in the laboratory, and was involved in the development of holographic cloud sampling instruments. He has a strong background in design and fabrication of experimental systems, particularly high speed imaging systems, and has experience in micro-fabrication of experimental systems, particularly high speed imaging systems, and he has experience in micro-fabrication techniques to develop nano-scale structure catalysts. Dr. Gurganus joined SPEC in March of 2014 and has become the leader of the SPEC calibration laboratory.

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Additional Key SPEC Personnel:

Mr. Don Stone is the Vice President of Operations and Chief Operations Officer at SPEC, Inc. In his 30 year career in engineering, Mr. Stone has held increasingly responsible positions with NCAR, Ford Motor Company, Lockheed Martin, and finally SPEC, Inc. Mr. Stone brings broad experience in hardware and software engineering, manufacturing and engineering management.

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Ms. Elizabeth Faircloth joined SPEC in the fall of 2016 as Business Manager. She has a B.S. in Biology with a minor in English from The College of New Jersey, and a Master's degree from Antioch University. She worked for government agencies, not-for-profit organizations and professional societies in New Jersey and Washington before moving to Boulder. Ms. Faircloth oversees SPEC's proposal submissions, contract reporting, and transactions with the Defence Contractor Auditing Agency (DCAA), as well as domestic and international shipping.

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Mr. Ted Fisher is a Software Engineer who received a B.S. in computer science from the University of Colorado. Mr. Fisher worked at NIST before joining SPEC in 2009. He is proficient in several software languages, including Matlab, IDL, C, C++ and real-time networking and programming.

 

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Mr. Nick Krause is a Mechanical Engineer who received a BS in mechanical engineering from the University of Colorado in 2009 and assists in designing optical/mechanical instrumentation. 

 

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Mr. Greg Rogers is a Purchasing Agent at SPEC and is responsible for the acquisition and organization of parts. 

 

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Ms. Jeanne Kayser is SPEC’s Bookkeeper and handles all of SPEC’s books, purchase orders, payroll and year-end accounting.

 

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Mr. Juan Martinez is an Electro-Mechanical Technician who has supported the manufacture, testing, and installation of SPEC's Super King Air 350 Atmospheric Research Systems for Beijing's BWMO, Thailand's DRRAA, Korea's KMA, Hebei's HWMO, and China's CMA. Mr. Martinez joined SPEC in 2013 and brings extensive knowledge of Manufacturing Processes and Quality Control Systems to SPEC's Production Department.

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Mr. Mike Carrithers is an Electronics Technician who has supported SPEC instruments at several high-profile field projects, including instruments on the NASA DC-8 and WB-57 during TC4, the Canadian Convair during the DOE ARM ISDAC field campaign, and the ALTOS tethered balloon deployment at Oliktok Point, Alaska. Mr. Carrithers also maintains and calibrates all instruments on the SPEC Learjet.

 

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Mr. Dan Tulenko is an Electronics Technician who worked for SPEC in the1990’s and returned to the company in 2012. He builds and tests SPEC’s cloud particle probes.

 

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Mr. Chuck Grow is a General Technician who joined SPEC in 2012. Mr. Grow holds B.A. and MBA degrees, is an FAA rated Airline Transport Pilot and FAA Certified Aircraft Mechanic who provides support services for SPEC’s Learjet aircraft and instrumentation.

 

 Mr. Kurt Shaw is a Master Machinist who fabricates several of the mechanical parts that SPEC uses to modify aircraft and build its instruments.

 

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Dr. Brad Baker was a scientist at SPEC for the past 10 years and is currently a consultant to SPEC. Dr. Baker continues to consult to SPEC on instrument performance and scientific interpretation of collected data.