In Memorium: James L. Lords

James L. (Jim) Lords, University of Utah professor emeritus of biology and founding member of the Bioelectromagnetics Society, died October 3, 2008. He was 80 years old.

Lords served as a member of the board and a loyal contributor to the Society throughout his professional career. In the early 1970’s he joined Curtis Johnson, Carl Durney, and Om Gandhi as they began the bioelectromagnetics research in the Bioengineering Department and the Electrical Engineering Department at the University of Utah. BEMS member Carl Durney noted that “without his expertness in biology and his unusual ability to collaborate in interdisciplinary research, the strong program in bioelectromagnetics research that was created at the University of Utah could not have developed as it did. As a biologist, he had keen insight into the engineering aspects of the research and was always patient in helping his engineering colleagues gain insight into the biological aspects of the work.”

His colleagues note that Jim was a key member of every research team that he developed. Some of his early work included collaborating in the development of a liquid-crystal nonmetallic temperature probe for measuring temperatures of biological elements during electromagnetic (EM) exposure. He also worked to determine the effects of microwave radiation first on isolated turtle hearts, and then isolated mammalian hearts. He then turned his attention to behavioral effects of EM radiation. He also contributed material on thermal response to the second edition of the Radio Frequency Radiation Dosimetry Handbook, 3 kHz to 300 GHz (1991). Colleague and BEMS member John D’Andrea recalled that “Jim was a great mentor to his students, and I particularly benefited from his expert guidance and scientific insight. His insights were extremely useful to the early versions of the C95.1 IEEE Standard for Safety Levels with Respect to Human Exposure to Radio Frequency Electromagnetic Fields.”

As well as being an accomplished researcher and teacher, Carl Durney further remembered that “[Jim] was an admired colleague who was always the perfect gentleman. In addition to enjoying close collaboration with him in research, I had the pleasure of playing handball and racquetball with him for many years until Jim’s knees gave out on him and his doctor ordered him to cease playing racquetball. He was a good athlete and the perfect example of sportsmanship on the court, and a cherished friend both on and off the court.”

Lords was born in Salt Lake City on April 5, 1928, to Lafayette (Lou) Lords and Rose Lenore Coppin Lords. He graduated in the Class of 1946 from West High School in Salt Lake City, where he was a football player and a member of the ROTC. After receiving his undergraduate and master’s degrees, he married Katherine (Kaye) Reeves on June 4, 1955, in Salt Lake City. Upon receipt of his doctorate from the University of Utah, he was awarded a post-doctorate at the University of Wisconsin, Madison. With a passion for teaching, he returned to the University of Utah for a 38-year teaching career in the Department of Biology. “Ol’ Doc” retired in 1997.

In addition to the Bioelectromagnetics Society, Lords was a member of Phi Kappa Phi, Sigma Xi, Honorary Colonels, and the Ambassador Duck Club. An avid Utah athletics ticketholder, supporting football and basketball for the past 50 years, he served as faculty advisor for both the Athletics Department and pre-medical students. He was also a 50-year member of the Mount Moriah #3 Masonic Lodge.

Jim Lords is survived by his wife, Kaye, and their two sons and four grandchildren.