Dr. Liane Russell – In Memoriam

Dr. Russell in the “Mouse House” – Photo: ORNL

August 27, 1923 to July 20, 2019

Dr. Liane “Lee” Branch Russell, a distinguished and pioneering scientist in the fields of biology and genetics, has passed away.  Her lifelong enthusiasm for the sciences will continue to open doors for new generations of researchers to come. 

As a child, Dr. Russell’s family fled Nazi-occupied Austria.  Years later, Liane and her family found their way to the United States where she excelled in the sciences and began taking courses at a New York college.  Research opportunities eventually brought Liane to X-10 in Oak Ridge where she co-founded the “Mouse House” with her husband and fellow scientist, Bill Russell. 

While at X-10 Liane pioneered work in radiology’s effects on the body, and her research established how certain chromosomes during pregnancy can be affected by radiation.  Russell’s work and influence continues to set the standards and protocols used when pregnant people receive X-Rays and specific medical treatments. 

Throughout her career, Dr. Russell wrote several papers expanding her expertise beyond the relationship of biology and radiation to drugs, chemicals, and fuels. 

Liane’s heart for science and biology continued to shaped her years of retirement.  She was a founding member of Tennessee Citizens for Wilderness Planning. This organization has been instrumental in the Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area and the Obed National Wild and Scenic River.  The Liane B. Russell Distinguished Early Career Fellowship was established in 2013 by ORNL.  Russell Fellows have continued to spearhead innovative research in nuclear physics, nanomaterials, computer sciences, and, of course, genetics. 

From the AMSE family, our heartfelt sympathies extend to Dr. Liane Russell’s family and friends. As a hub of scientific understanding and sharing, our appreciation and gratitude will continue to showcase and tell the story of an incredible woman whose work has shaped modern scientific understanding.  Visitors to AMSE can see photos of her at work in the “Mouse House” as well as a photograph taken during her December 2018 visit to the museum. 

Dr. Russell at AMSE in December 2018