Liane Russell

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Liane Brauch Russell
Liane Russell.jpg
Liane Russell, hiking in 2011.
Born (1923-08-27) August 27, 1923 (age 95)
Alma materUniversity of Chicago
Spouse(s)William L. Russell
AwardsEnrico Fermi Award (1993), Marjory Stoneman Douglas Award (2012)
Scientific career
FieldsGenetics, Conservation Movement

Liane Brauch "Lee" Russell (born August 27, 1923) is an American geneticist and conservationist. Her studies in mammalian genetics provided the basis for understanding the chromosomic basis for sex determination in mammals and the effects occasioned by radiation, drugs, fuels and waste on mice.[1] Her research allowed better understanding of genetic processes in mammals, mutagenesis and teratogenesis effects on mammals, and knowledge of how these processes can be prevented and avoided.

Early life[edit]

Russell was born in Vienna, Austria, in 1923, to a Jewish household. Her father was a chemist.[2] From the age of 3 to 15, the family lived on the Wiedner Hauptstrasse, not far from the Vienna Opera. There were frequent musical gatherings in the apartment, and the family enjoyed skiing and other outings in the Alps. One of her childhood playmates was first cousin, Robert Starer, Austrian-born American composer and pianist. Her somewhat idyllic childhood abruptly came to an end on the evening of March 12, 1938, but her family stayed in Vienna even after the Anschluss. Through a clever business scheme, which involved the surrender of her father's business to the Nazis, the immediate family (father, mother, younger sister and younger brother) eventually escaped to London.[3] She moved to the United States in 1941 and became a naturalized American citizen in 1946.[4]

She met zoologist William L. Russell during a college summer school program, where he was her mentor. They married and worked together as geneticists at Jackson Laboratory and Oak Ridge National Laboratory. Together they had two children, a son, David (b. 1950) and a daughter, Evelyn (b. 1952).


Russell completed her secondary schooling in England. After the family moved to the United States, she earned an A.B. from Hunter College in New York City and her Ph.D. in Zoology in 1945 at the University of Chicago.[5]

Her first job was baby sitting while she studied in college; after that she worked as a receptionist in a doctor's office after class.[4]


Russell began her career as a research assistant at Jackson Memorial Laboratory from 1943 to 1947, and worked as a fellow at the University of Chicago. In 1947, she moved to Oak Ridge National Laboratory, where she eventually became a Senior Corporate Fellow and Section Head. She retired in 2002, but continues on guest assignment. Russell conducted genetics research focused on radiation-induced mutations.[6] Liane served as head of the Mammalian Genetics & Development Section Between 1975 and 1995. They expanded their research, studying the genetic effects of chemicals from drugs, fuels and waste on mice. Her studies allowed her to move from classic genetics to molecular analysis.


Liane Russell (right) and Fred Thompson, 1996.

Russell is also a conservationist working for protection of wilderness and national lands and rivers. In 1966 she helped to organize the Tennessee Citizens for Wilderness Planning (TCWP). In 1976, after 10 years of activity they helped to obtain protection of the 125,000-acre Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area and obtain National Wild and Scenic River designation for the Obed River.[7][8]



  1. ^ a b "Liane B. Russell, 1993". Biography. U.S. Department of Energy, Office of Science. Retrieved 17 October 2013.
  2. ^ "Russell, Liane: Center for Oak Ridge Oral History". Oak Ridge Public Library Digital Collections. 2003-04-23. Retrieved 2013-10-17.
  3. ^ "Russell, Liane - Interview January 18th - 19th, 2007". Oral History of Human Genetics Project. 2007. Retrieved 2013-10-17.
  4. ^ a b Alexander, Susan (June 7, 2009). "25 things you don't know about Liane Russell". Knoxville News Sentinel. Retrieved 2013-10-17.
  5. ^ Johnson, Leland R. "Liane Brauch (1923- ) and William Lawson Russell (1910- )". Tennessee Encyclopedia of History and Culture. Retrieved 2013-10-17.
  6. ^ "Dr. Liane B. Russell, ORNL". Oak Ridge National Laboratory. 2001-02-16. Retrieved 2013-10-17.
  7. ^ "Dr. Liane Russell". River Network. Retrieved 2013-10-17.
  8. ^ Russell, Liane B. "Introducing TCWP - past, present, and future". Tennessee Citizens for Wilderness Planning.

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