In Memoriam: Alan K. Bruce


Adapted with permission from The Buffalo News, 24 February 2017

Alan K. Bruce, who established the first radiation safety program at the University at Buffalo (UB), died 16 February 2017 at his home in the town of Tonawanda, New York, after a brief illness. He was 89.

Born in Nashua, New Hampshire, Alan served in the Army after graduating from Nashua High School. Assigned to the 158th Armored Division at Fort Knox, Kentucky, he was company clerk and played clarinet in the post band.

Returning from service, he attended the University of New Hampshire, graduating cum laude with a bachelor's degree in chemistry in 1951. He then attended the University of Rochester on an Atomic Energy Commission fellowship in health physics, earning a master's degree in radiation biology and doctorate in radiation physics. He did postdoctoral work at Oak Ridge National Laboratory.

Alan joined the UB faculty in 1957, teaching biological sciences, radiation science, radiation protection, and radiation biology. Serving as the university's radiation safety officer from 1957 to 1984, he designed safety measures to eliminate dangers from radioactivity from UB's nuclear reactor, which was commissioned in 1960. He also served on the reactor's decommissioning committee in 1995.

He published 28 papers and was mentor to more students completing master's degrees and doctorates than any other professor in the UB Biology Department. His major research projects included low-dose radiation studies in rats, studies of the effects of low-dose x rays on erythropoietic bone marrow, and the development of techniques to measure and analyze radon levels. He retired in 1997.

Alan was a longtime member of the Health Physics Society, the American Society for Microbiology, the Radiation Research Society, and the Canadian Society of Microbiologists. He was a past president of the Buffalo Chapter of Sigma Xi, the scientific research honor society, and an emeritus member of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

Survivors include Alan's wife of 29 years, the former Frances R. Holland McLean; two sons, Andrew D. and James E. McLean; four daughters, Jennifer A., Nancy V., Pamela L. Hornung, and Jeanne M. Wilson; and 12 grandchildren.