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Joe Morrissey

Joe Morrissey

1 October 1963 - 6 April 2010

Our colleague, Joseph James Morrissey, was killed by an intruder to his home in the early hours of April 6, 2010.  An active member of our Society, Joe was a versatile and prolific researcher, a loyal friend, and a tireless volunteer.  Joe’s extensive knowledge and willingness to help anyone who asked led him to become a good friend and valued colleague to his peers around the world and to his co-workers at Motorola and Nova Southeastern University (NSU). 

Joe earned his bachelors (1985) and masters degree (1987) from the University of South Florida.  His masters dissertation research dealt with cloning and characterization of the gene for the detoxifying protein glutathione S-transferase in Drosophila melanogaster.  He conducted research and attended Harvard Medical School before earning his Ph.D. degree from Stanford University Medical School (1993) in molecular biology, studying molecular and biochemical characterization of the oncogene fel implicated in childhood leukemia.  For two years as a Post Doctoral Fellow at the University of Miami, he researched the role of protein kinase C phosphorylation in the regulation of the Androgen Receptor (AR) mRNA levels in androgen dependent and AR transfected androgen independent prostate tumor cell lines. 

Before joining Motorola in 1997, Joe spent two years at the Goodwin Institute in Plantation, Florida researching stress response gene expression in mice exposed to RF.  At Motorola, his initial responsibility was to assist in managing the external biological research programs.  His intellect, creativity, and work ethic allowed him to apply his talents to new areas of interest.  Joe became an expert in electromagnetic interference and compatibility with emphasis on interactions between mobile phones and medical devices, aircraft navigation/communication systems, and hearing aid compatibility issues.  Joe was the initiator of the dosiphone for RF exposure assessment in epidemiology studies. 

He was very active in numerous Standards Committees dealing with RF safety and electromagnetic compatibility, including the IEEE, Consumer Electronics Association (CEA); American National Standards Institute (ANSI), International Organization for Standardization (ISO), and RTCA, a group that develops consensus-based recommendations regarding aviation system issues.  Joe served as co-chair of RTCA SC202 Working Group (WG) 6 on guidance for allowing transmitting portable electronic devices (PEDs) on aircraft; and served as chair of the following committees: CEA R7 WG 11 on recommendations for control of PEDs; ANSI ASC C63 Subcommittee 8 on standards for medical and non-medical devices; ISO TC215 WG7 on recommendations for PED compatibility in hospitals; IEEE 11073 WG 3 on health informatics and guidance for RF Wireless technology; and IEEE ICES TC95, where Joe, was instrumental in assuring that the research database was kept up-to-date for standard setting.  This effort kept him well informed of the literature, which contributed to his expertise performing critical reviews of published and presented work and writing reviews of the literature.
Following the closure of the major portion of Motorola’s RF health effects related program in 2009, Joe joined the faculty of NSU as an assistant professor of pharmaceutical sciences.  In addition to his teaching duties he conducted research on cancer drugs and on the thermal sensitivity of cells in culture and whether the sensitivity can explain some of the observed in vitro RF effects.  In January, Joe organized and conducted a highly successful workshop that featured world-class experts on thermal sensitivity of tissues.

Joe was a kind and loving person devoted to his family, often adjusting work hours to meet family obligations.  He was particularly devoted to his two sons, Nicolas, age 17, by his first marriage and his five year old son, Patrick.  He is also survived by his wife Kay, mother Rosalie, and brother John.

We are truly saddened by the death of Joe at the young and productive age of 46.  His can-do attitude not only led to a productive life but made working with him a pleasure.  His keen scientific insights will be sorely missed by the Bioelectromagnetics community.

Contributed by Mays Swicord and C-K. Chou (Supervisors of Joe Morrissey during his 12 years at Motorola)

Editor's note:  Online news sources report that a father and son were recently arrested in connection with the events that lead to Dr. Morrissey's death.

The BEMS Board of Directors voted to hold the next annual meeting (after this summer's meeting in Seoul, Korea) from June 13-18, 2011 at Dalhousie University, Halifax, Canada.


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Editor's note:  the website for the BEMS 2010 Seoul meeting is

The next annual meeting of the Bioelectromagnetics Society is just a few months away!  It is time to make plans.  Already more than 250 platform and poster sessions have been scheduled, and an exciting meeting is planned.  In addition to the scientific sessions, this is a good opportunity to meet with colleagues for collaborative discussions and to encounter new ideas and a new location!  Meeting organizers have incorporated the lessons learned from previous meetings (see article in this newsletter from the Meeting Quality Committee) in their efforts to make this the best annual meeting ever held by BEMS. 

On the website for the meeting, you'll find the preliminary schedule for the meeting, how to make travel plans and lodging arrangements, and additional information about the venue.  You'll also get a chance to learn a little about Seoul itself, a city that was recently cited by the New York Times as one of the top ten places to visit in 2010.

Note that the Board of Directors recently approved motions that impact the recording of material at the annual meeting:  Video and audio recording (including flash photography) of any presentation in any technical session is prohibited. No photography of poster or slides is permitted unless explicitly authorized beforehand by the presenter.  Access to scientific sessions by the media for the purposes of recording must be authorized in advance by the President of the Society.

For members unable to access information via the website, please contact the BEMS office ( to obtain registration information and details about the meeting.

Have you renewed your BEMS membership yet?  The Bioelectromagnetics Society's Executive Director, Gloria Parsley, reported recently that 2010 membership dues are still being received by the office.  As of February 3, 2010, only 107 renewals have been processed.  In comparison, by February 2, 2009, 242 renewals had been received.

She noted that in 2009, there were 11 charter members, 230 full members, 61 associate members, 44 student members, 31 emeritus members, and 4 retired associate members.  Membership classifications were pending for 13 members.  The membership is widely located:  in 2009, the 394 members came from North America (USA 152, Canada 22, Mexico 1), Europe (145), and the Austral-asian corridor (Japan 64, Australia 10, Korea 9, China 5, other 6), with ten members from other countries not represented by these categories.

In order to operate effectively, BEMS relies on membership fees.  If you haven't yet sent in your membership renewal, please do so today!

BEMS is truly an international society and the research to be presented at this year's annual meeting will show research from literally around the world.  Of the 266 abstracts accepted for the upcoming BEMS annual meeting in Seoul, 100 are from Asia (Japanese scientists submitted 43, scientists from the Republic of Korea submitted  35, Chinese scientists submitted 27, and there was one submission from Taiwan).  At the same time, Europeans submitted 103 of the abstracts (France 24, Switzerland 21, Italy 15, Germany 10, Finland 7, with between one and four submission(s) from each of the following countries: Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Portugal, Belgium, Netherlands, Austria, Slovenia, Poland, Hungary, and UK.  Forty-five reports come from the United States and Canada.  The remaining abstracts come from Australia, New Zealand, Israel, South Africa, the Russian Federation, Georgia, Bulgaria, and South Africa.

These abstracts cover a wide range of topics including dosimetry (66), in vitro studies (41), animal studies (35), epidemiology (23), risk, safety standards and public policy (23), instrumentation and methodology (20), human studies (13), theoretical and practical modeling (12), mechanisms of interaction (11), medical application studies (9), pulsed electric fields (7), and electroporation (6).

Published on: Mar 09, 2010

For many years, BEMS annual meetings were evaluated via paper cards distributed during the meeting. The evaluation focused on the different sessions and speakers, but also questions about other items such as the social event, meeting management, etc. Last year, in Davos, Switzerland, the traditional meeting evaluation cards were replaced by an online questionnaire that was sent to participants after the meeting. This questionnaire focused on questions about the meeting organization and about the expectations of its attendees.  In all cases, the goal was to identify what worked and what didn’t:  in short, how to improve future meetings.

So, what did we learn?  First:  meeting attendees are eager to participate in these questionnaires.  The number of participants who answered this online questionnaire was quite impressive: 254 persons attended the survey, and a lot of very helpful comments were given. We understand that the questionnaire’s format created some difficulties for responders because it inadvertently required non-presenters to mark something about abstract submission, or for non-members to answer membership questions (these will be changed in future surveys).  Despite this, we think some very useful information came from this survey.

The Davos meeting seems to have attracted a wide range of scientists:  one third of the attendees were new to BEMS meetings, 35% had visited more than 3 previous BEMS meetings. About 28% of the respondents considered Davos better than other BEMS meetings compared with only 8% who thought it was worse. About 37% found that Davos provided good value, 35% voted for “average”, and only 6% answered with a clear “no”. Frequent reasons cited for good value were good organization, the program, good quality.  Davos, the meeting location 2009, was described as a nice venue, but difficult to reach because of the long distance between airport or other arrival station and the meeting facility. Despite this, 76% of the survey participants scored Davos overall as “excellent” or “good”.

About 71% of the participants chose “excellent” or “good” for congress center in general, although the noise from nearby construction was criticized.  Within the congress center, the distance between the two meeting rooms where the platform presentations took place was criticized, because it took some time to switch between the parallel sessions.

The congress website appeared to be very useful for attendees:  it got very favorable  reviews (“best website ever”; “a must have for future meetings”). Only about 7% of the survey attendees considered the website to be confusing or lacking important information.  The main problem noted was that meeting registration and hotel reservations were separated, creating some confusion.

Additional points noted by responders about the presentations included:

  • A preference that presentations also be available online (at least keynote/ plenary presentations). Because many of these presentations include unpublished data, if this option in included in the future, authors should be able to select between these options regarding their presentations: not available/ available/ edited version available.
  • A desire for better coordination of sessions (strict adherence to published time schedules) so that attendees can move more easily between presentations of interest.  Extended discussions are fine and even encouraged, but should be scheduled after all the scheduled presentations or during coffee breaks.   One option proposed was a chaired public discussion session held during coffee breaks.
  • A need to limit the time for each comment or question made during the discussions:  the goal is to allow lively discussions and effective exchange of information related to the presentation just made rather than a secondary forum for opinions/ viewpoints and co-talks from the audience.

More than 85% of the survey participants were happy with the number of speakers in the plenary, topic in focus, and tutorial sessions.  By contrast, only about 65% thought that the duration or number of poster sessions were appropriate and 26% wanted to have more time or sessions for posters. This has already been implemented in the plans for our upcoming annual meeting this year in Seoul.

Overall, BEMS meeting attendees want scientific presentations of good quality followed by scientific and fair discussions afterwards and noted that:

  • interdisciplinary sessions with experts/ scientists holding different points of view or plenary sessions with controversial topics because these result in what are perceived as exciting, scientific, and fair discussions.
  • interdisciplinary sessions about gaps in knowledge, political & social implications, and public health concerns.
  • sessions not divided by methodology (in vivo/ in vitro/ human studies/ epidemiology/ dosimetry) but instead focusing on a single hot topic, interesting question, or problem with presentations from the different subjects/ disciplines. Thus, scientists in a session could compare results from the various methods, discuss advantages/ disadvantages, and clarify similarities, differences of results, and maybe fix hidden or yet unknown problems.

What do meeting attendees expect from BEMS?  The resounding answer was that BEMS should provide a variety of scientific platforms providing both information and possibilities for interactions by newsletter, website, annual meetings, and the journal. In addition to this, they noted a continuing need for more basic information for new members, more information about topic-related congresses and other intensive training opportunities, more online-services, and the promotion of young scientists and students.

Many thanks to Joachim Schüz, who brought up the idea of an online survey and helped a lot by thinking about the questions and to Niels Kuster - together with his coworkers, who was helpful with questions and provided great support to enhance the online appearance and evaluation of the questionnaire. And thanks to all the people who discussed details and gave comments to the test trials.

The outcome of this survey is invaluable to the technical program chairs of future BEMS meetings, the BEMS board of directors, and of course, to future meeting attendees.  The meeting quality committee sincerely appreciates all the survey respondents for your input and comments.  We hope that you will be pleased to see your suggestions implemented in our upcoming annual meeting in Seoul!

-- Maren Fedrowitz, Chair of the Meeting Quality Committee