Society Foundations

The Memorial Committee recently updated its web database of obituaries of deceased members and people strongly tied to Bioelectromagnetics research. During the process, they found these two memorials of people who were a key part of the early years of the Bioelectromagnetics society.

Members will recognize this name from the Student Awards given each year at our Annual Meeting. This text appeared in the precursor to the BEMS newsletter, the Bioeffects Newsletter, No. 5, April 1978, just before BEMS was formed. It was written by Thomas Rozzell, who also served as an early editor of the BEMS newsletter.

The bioelectromagnetics research community and the many friends of Curt Johnson were deeply saddened to learn of his death on 25 March 1978. Curt had been severely ill for about two months.

Born in Long Beach, California on November 7, 1932, he received the BS and MS degrees in Electrical Engineering from CalTech in 1954 and 1955 respectively, and the Ph.D. degree in Electrical Engineering from Stanford University in 1958. He first joined the faculty of the University of Utah as an Assistant Professor in 1961. In 1967, he joined the Bioengineering Center at the University of Washington and was involved in research and development of biomedical instrumentation and biological microwave effects. In 1972 he returned to the University of Utah as Professor of Biophysics and Bioengineering and Director of the Institute for Biomedical Engineering. He was appointed Chairman of the New Department of Bioengineering in 1974.

Dr. Johnson was a prolific writer. He published two textbooks in electromagnetic theory and contributed to three other books in bioengineering. He published more than 65 journal articles and made more than 70 presentations at technical meetings. He holds seven patents and filled several editorial positions for technical and scientific publications.

I first became acquainted with Curt as a contractor for the Office of Naval Research. Shortly after I came to ONR in 1971, we collaborated in the invention of the liquid crystal/optic fiber temperature probe, and he (along with Jim Lords and Carl Durney) and I hold a patent on that device. A brilliant researcher, Dr. Johnson was internationally recognized for his work in bioengineering, and in particular, for his work in bioinstrumentation and the biological effects of microwaves.

I am certain that everyone who knew Curt joins me in expressing to his widow, Wilma, and his four children our deep sense of sorrow and our great feeling of loss. We are all much better individuals because he walked amoung us and so unselfishly shared with us a part of his life.

In order that future students will continue to benefit from the research program that Curt developed, a Memorial Fellowship Fund has been established at the University of Utah. Checks may be made to the University of Utah-Dept. of Bioengineering and sent in care of the University of Utah Development Office, 306 Park Building, Salt Lake City, UT 84112.

The following obituary was originally published in BEMS NL #68, May/June 1986

HERBERT A. POHL, 1916 -1986
Professor Herbert A. Pohl passed away Saturday, 21 June, of a heart attack. Born 1916, Pohl earned his Ph.D. in chemical physics at Duke University in 1939. He was a faculty member at the Departments of Anatomy and Chemical Engineering, Johns Hopkins Medical School. He served in the Navy during World War II at the Naval Research Laboratory, and later worked for the DuPont Company on nylon, dacron, and in the atomic energy division. From 1957-1962 he taught at Princeton University. Later he joined the Brooklyn Polytechnic Institute, then was a Visiting Professor at the University of Uppsala, Sweden as a Wallenberg Fellow from 1963-1964. He served as Professor of Physics at Oklahoma State University from 1964-1981. As a NATO Senior Fellow, he did research at Cambridge University in 1971, and at WoodsHole, MA in 1976. His active research was on electroactive organic polymers, and on biological dielectrophoresis, a phenomena he discovered and named.

Dr. Pohl was the Editor of the Journal of Biological Physics, and Co-Editor of the IEEE Digest of Dielectrics. He was also the Director of the Pohl Cancer Research Laboratory, Stillwater, OK; and at his death was a Visiting Scientist at the Francis Bitter National Magnet Laboratory, Massachusetts Institute of Technology.