Internationally known Oak Ridge Scientist remembered after death


An internationally-known Oak Ridge scientist whose research continues to impact modern medicine has passed away. Liane Russell died Saturday morning.

The 95-year-old was an Oak Ridge National Labratory Corporate Fellow and one of the state’s leading conservationists. She was also a founder of the nonprofit environmental advocacy group, Tennessee Citizens for Wilderness Planning.

A TCWP board member, Jimmy Groton, said he and the people close to Dr. Russell are all feeling her loss. He’s remembering her as an unwavering advocate for both science and protecting environmental resources.

“Knowing that she’s not going to be helping us with the newsletter or figuring out the next environmental problem, it’s a big, big jolt. There’s a big hole in my heart,” Groton said.

Dr. Russell achieved international recognition. Some of her research detailing the genetic risk to humans from radiation and chemicals. She also discovered the Y chromosome is male-determining.

“She came at a time when women weren’t being recognized much at all in academia and stuff like that. She never let that slow her down,” said Groton.

People around the world know of Dr. Russell and her work. But Jimmy Groton has some personal memories. One in particular is watching the solar eclipse a few years ago.

“We just hung out and made a day of it. Swam and played in the water and watched the eclipse happen. So that was a blast,” he said.

Her legacy? Groton says it’s fighting for what you’re passionate about. And two of her biggest passions were science and the environment.

“We don’t have her with us physically but we definitely have her in our hearts and in our brains. In that regard, she’ll always live,” he said.

The Tennessee Citizens for Wilderness Planning putting out a note on its Facebook page Monday that Dr. Russell was not only a scientist and leader in conservation and environmental advocacy but also a friend and role model, adding quote, “we will miss her.”

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