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Biographical Memoirs: Volume 91
The scientific community is indeed fortunate to have had such a truly unique and high-minded leader as C. Guy Suits. In addition to being an eminent scientist, Guy embodied commitment and dedication to excellence and leadership. Under Guy Suits direction the different units of the company paid into a central pool such that approximately two-thirds of the GE research lab budget was funded by internal money with only one-third coming from external grants and contracts. Unfortunately, over the next decades the ratio of internal to external research funding went from roughly two to more like one-half. Fortunately, the ratio is now heading back in the direction of the Guy Suits paradigm, with more of the research funding provided internally.
In life one’s values determine one’s actions (i.e., our response to stimuli is conditioned by our training and background). Science in some ways is just the opposite. The process of discovery, invention, and development naturally result in insights and technologies that redefine what is important. So it is that scientists play a vital role in shaping our society. It is thus important to analyze and study the lives of leaders who made the United States the scientific powerhouse that it became after World War II.
Guy was born in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, the son of a pharmacist. He grew up around Medford, Wisconsin, and completed his schooling there. During his graduate work, Guy worked as a consultant for the U.S. Forest Products Laboratory. One of his biggest contributions there was the development of new methods for measuring the moisture content of wood. Guy’s innovative achievements began turning heads, and in 1929 he was awarded an exchange fellowship at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology. He found the requirements for graduate work to be somewhat lax in Europe. To earn a Ph.D. degree at that time one needed only to produce a research work and pass a verbal exam. He earned his doctor