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ORNL establishes Liane B. Russell Distinguished Early Career Fellowship

OAK RIDGE, Tenn.  Dec. 5, 2013 – With the goal of expanding opportunities for early career researchers, the Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory has established a research award in the name of its most acclaimed woman scientist.

The Liane B. Russell Distinguished Early Career Fellowship is intended to attract a diverse work force of scientists and engineers who have demonstrated outstanding scientific ability and research interests that align with DOE and ORNL research missions.

The competitive, three-year fellowship is aimed toward establishing long-term research careers at ORNL. In the spirit of ORNL’s groundbreaking female geneticist, Dr. Russell, these fellowships will be available to outstanding scientists and engineers who have received their doctorate degrees within the past seven years, with emphasis given to attracting women and minority candidates.

“We’re privileged to have the legacy of someone as scientifically accomplished and socially conscious as Liane Russell to associate with these grants,” said ORNL Director Thom Mason.

With her husband, the late William L. Russell, Liane Russell led a research program that charted significant advances in the field of mammalian genetics and mutagenesis. Shortly after World War II, the Russells moved from the Jackson Laboratory in Maine to establish ORNL’s famed Mouse House, a colony of mutant mice used in genetics research.

“In my life, I was very fortunate in being given opportunities to pursue my own ideas in exciting research areas," Russell said.  "But this is, sadly, not the case for many young women hoping for scientific careers and ending up in merely supporting roles, perhaps doing only routine jobs.  So, I’m particularly honored to have my name attached to this program.”

The Russells’ studies on how the frequency and nature of inherited mutations are affected by radiation and chemicals provided major information toward establishing occupational dose limits for humans. Liane Russell’s findings on the vulnerability of embryos to radiation led to changes in radiological practices for female patients of child-bearing age. Some of the most universally significant Mouse House discoveries were the roles of the X and Y chromosomes in humans, including sex determination.

Liane Russell is the recipient of numerous awards, including DOE’s Enrico Fermi Award and the prestigious International Roentgen Medal. She is a member of the National Academy of Sciences. The Russells were also a force in preserving rivers and natural areas in their adopted home of Tennessee. Liane Russell, a native of Vienna, Austria, and a naturalized U.S. citizen, retired from ORNL in 2002 but continued her research on a guest assignment in the years following.

She joins a prestigious list of ORNL luminaries with namesake fellowships including Nobel laureates Eugene Wigner and Clifford Shull, former Lab Director Alvin Weinberg and mathematician Alston Householder.

UT-Battelle manages ORNL for DOE’s Office of Science. The Office of Science is the single largest supporter of basic research in the physical sciences in the United States and is working to address some of the most pressing challenges of our time. For more information, please visit